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Posts Tagged ‘first amendment’

What If It Were A Ground Zero Church Instead Of A Ground Zero Mosque?

Posted by Job on August 17, 2010

When you consider the Ground Zero mosque controversy, I cannot help but think of the Orthodox Idolatry post at Judah’s Lion (courtesy of PJ Miller) of concerning the lengths that Christians will go to in order to defend the American system because they perceive the American system to be some Christian ideal and the result of God’s providence and part of His special plan for the redemption of mankind with a unique role in salvation history, and as a result defending America is tantamount to defending the gospel of Jesus Christ itself. From Calvinistic covenant theologians like D. James Kennedy who proclaim America to be the crowning achievement of that system to free will Christians who want the power of man to choose or resist God’s grace to be constitutionally protected by the most powerful nation on earth, there is a lot at stake in claiming that there is Godly virtue in America’s secular freedoms, secular freedoms that are truthfully – according to Judah’s Lion – are actually morally neutral. Nothing of real spiritual value is morally neutral – meaning that it can be used for either evil or good – because God cannot be the origin of evil (James 1:12). Instead, it should be stated that things that are morally neutral can be used to perform God’s purposes. And that is no evidence of the virtues of morally neutral – or amoral – things because even things that are incontrovertibly evil have been used to fulfill God’s purposes too (as in the slaughter of the innocent Jewish children by Herod, which fulfilled a Messianic prophecy).

Now a lot of things have been written by Christians on this mosque topic. So, I will focus on two issues: the need of Christians to submit to the government (Romans 13) and the need of Christians not to be hypocrites. On the first, the Bible makes it clear that failing to obey or respect the law when the law does not force Christians to violate scripture is a sin. To put it another way, attempting to defy or subvert legitimate government is a sin, because legitimate government is a servant of God because of its serving to restrain evil. This means that not only are we to adhere to the law ourselves, but we are to desire that others do so also, and further we are to desire that the law is applied justly, which means fairly and evenly.

With that in mind, make no mistake: the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the applicable state and local laws give Muslims the right to build this mosque. For Christians to go about looking for ways to hinder or intimidate Muslims from exercising and enjoying their legal rights is to attempt to subvert and reject our system of laws. It would make the Muslims the lawmakers and Christians the subversives, the rebels, the seditionists. It would be Christians attempting to subvert the rule of law and undermining a just application of them. Other nations, such as Saudi Arabia and Israel, do not have any pretense of equal treatment under the law. They do not have an equivalent to the Bill of Rights or the equal protection clause. So those nations can have different sets of rules for religious minorities and be justified in their own eyes. But it is America who has those things, and there is no justification for a Christian to attempt to prevent a nation from living up to and enforcing its own laws. Indeed, the Christian who does such a thing is guilty of promoting injustice and lawlessness.

Now a lot of people have taken the stance “it is legal but it isn’t right” under the grounds that it is offensive. The problem is that the First Amendment and other applicable laws are designed specifically to protect things that are offensive. To pretend otherwise is ridiculous. Now of course, most people are willing to respect the wishes and feelings of the majority. That’s not the point. The point is that they have no legal obligation to. Instead, the law is designed to protect people who have no regard for the majority, and indeed are opposed to the majority.

I don’t believe that a lot of Christians, especially those of a conservative political persuasion, have come to grips with the true nature of the founding of our country. This country’s founding was an act of rebellion, sedition, treason or what have you against England, who (notwithstanding the Native Americans) were the rightful rulers of this nation. Rebelling against a colonial power was a radical act, and it was justified not with the Bible, but with the radical Enlightenment thought that produced – among other things – the murderous French Revolution and ultimately spawned socialism, fascism and communism. So why are we surprised that a bunch of radical seditionists would produce a Constitution that protects the right of radical people to express themselves and organize? So, back then, it was the deists, humanists, rationalists, atheists, unitarians, freemasons (Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and similar) plus Jews and Roman Catholics who demanded these protections from our overwhelmingly Protestant nation, and thanks to a revolutionary (seditious) mindset that overthrew the previous experiences of nations from the Roman Empire to Calvin’s Geneva to Bunyan’s England which taught that the long-term survival of a nation (we have only been in existence 300 years!) requires limiting religious freedom, they got it.

Now if it is time to state that the founders were wrong on unfettered religious freedom, fine. But should this reckoning be led by the very Christian leaders who supported the war in Iraq to “defend our religious freedoms and to give the Iraqis religious freedom too!”? If there is a fight to keep Muslims from imposing sharia law on Christians at home, the Christians who supported imposing western style democracies on sharia law on Muslims abroad should not be the ones to lead it. The reason is because such Christians do not support true justice or the rule of law, but instead only want to use these institutions to benefit Christians (and increasingly Jews, Mormons and Roman Catholics, who now all get to be called “Judeo-Christians”). We cannot continue to ignore that our system of laws was created in order to give a bunch of rebellious people that included in their ranks not a few deists and unitarians the “freedom” to reject legitimate Godly authority, which means that we also cannot persist in acting surprised that everyone from the Muslims to the feminists to the Marxists to the homosexual activists to the atheists have used this same system to pursue their agendas also.

Please note that I did not say “co-opt” or “hi-jack” because that would be dishonest. Instead, it can and must be said that these groups are properly utilizing our system according to the manner that it was intended. Our system was created by rebels for rebels. People who are appalled at the rebels of today (i.e. Muslims, homosexuals and other liberals) have forgotten how appalling the American Revolution was to the British! That’s right, the current tea party folks who oppose this mosque on the basis that it will become a breeding ground for terrorists (which it will be, trust me I have no illusion about Islam) conveniently forget how the British very properly viewed the original Tea Party and those who followed after them. Do you believe that the British had any higher regard for George Washington than many Americans have for Feisal Abdul Rauf? Why do you believe that they should have for the man that led a rebellion against their nation that killed many British soldiers? You don’t believe that the British cared any less for their soldiers fighting in America back then than we care about our soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan today? (And when you consider that unlike our troops occupying sovereign nations, the British troops were fighting to defend territory that was lawfully and properly theirs from traitors and seditionists?)

So, Christians who believe that by opposing the mosque they are defending America have simply deluded themselves as to what they are defending. It should be clear based on the Bible and our history (by this I mean actual scripture and history and not what we wish the Bible and our history to be for our own political or patriotic purposes) that seeking to either break the law or to intimidate Muslims to abandon their legal rights in order to oppose this mosque is not a legitimate expression of Christianity, which renders under Caesar that which is Caesar’s and submits to higher powers. As building this mosque will not stop a single Christian sermon from being preached or evangelist from being sent, contriving excuses to refuse to respect the law and the decisions of legitimately elected leaders (i.e. Bloomberg and Obama) makes the Christian guilty in this matter. And please, no speaking of how that site is “sacred ground.” Sacred in what sense? Not in a Christian sense, because the New Testament speaks only of the church’s identification with Jesus Christ – and through Jesus Christ God the Father – and it’s being indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The New Testament no longer even affords much special significance to Jerusalem or the temple. Biblical Christianity respects no concept of “sacred ground”, only an elect people, and stating otherwise is political idolatry.

Now the second issue is even easier: hypocrisy. Suppose this former Burlington Coat Factory site had been purchased by a Christian pastor for the purposes of building a church, seminary or similar. And suppose that the state and city governments were to deny the building of it. Suppose that the logic was that it would be inappropriate, insensitive, and a provocation. Suppose Mike Bloomberg and Barack Obama were to say “building a large church so close to Ground Zero would be an act of declaring that site a Christian site and this nation a Christian nation, and that would dishonor the memories of the Jews, atheists, Hindus, Wiccans and Muslims who died on September 11th, and it would also dishonor the non-Christian soldiers who are fighting for our freedoms.” What if devices or tricks such as declaring this Burlington Coat Factory to be some sort of historical landmark site or changes to zoning laws were done to prevent this “Ground Zero Church” from being built, and demands were made to respect it as “sacred ground.” Suppose that someone were to even propose that building a church on a site that Muslims regard as triumphialist – one where they believe themselves to have obtained a great victory over the west – would be considered a religious and ideological “counterstrike” that would incite and inflame “moderate Muslims” and provoke attacks from Islamists. What would be the response?

We know the answer. Many of these very same Christians would invoke the First Amendment and every other law in the books to support the church being built. The same laws that we are demanding that Muslims either abandon or be denied in this case, most of these same Christians would want to be enforced to the fullest extent possible were the roles reversed. The Alliance Defense Fund, the American Center For Law and Justice, and other similar organizations would be working overtime, as would so many Christian leaders and opinion-makers. They would reject the “this isn’t about the First Amendment … you can build a church anywhere, just not here!” excuse. And you know what, they’d be 100% correct in that hypothetical situation just as they are 100% wrong now.  Do not mistake me, I am a Bible-believing Christian who fully knows the difference between Islam and Christianity. The issue is that our laws respect no such difference because they were written by people who wanted a legal code that recognizes no distinctions between Martin Luther and Thomas Jefferson. Our laws can show no favor on Christians or disfavor on Muslims because in going with Enlightenment humanism, our founding fathers chose darkness over light. So then, what is the justification for Christians to completely cast aside the golden rule – let alone the rule of law – with regards to this matter? Simple: there is none. Instead, you have so many professing Christians that are standing up defending the right to treat Muslims in a manner that is not only illegal, but is not the treatment that they would want to receive themselves. (Again, no claims that “I would respect sharia law if I were living in Saudi Arabia” because this isn’t Saudi Arabia. This is America, and the Bible demands that American Christians be subject to American laws and rulers, not that we try to seek ways to justify violating our laws and defying our leaders.)

Now does this means that Christians should support and defend this mosque? Of course not. Christians should never willingly play a role in the promotion of another religion. (Ecumenical Christians who do so with Roman Catholics and Mormons as well as dispensationalists who do so with Jews, please take note.) The idea that we have to defend the freedom of other religions in order to defend our own freedoms is not supported by the Bible. It is akin to claiming that we have to defend homosexual marriage in order to protect state recognition of heterosexual marriage, or defend abortion in order to make sure that those who wish to have children will be allowed to. Also, it takes the position that the protection and advancement of the church comes from the state and not God. Some Christians, especially those of the liberal bent, would claim that the Bible commands us to speak up for the marginalized and dispossessed and make sure that they receive justice. It is my position that such people would be employing questionable hermeneutics and a faulty application based on them in a case like this. Allow me to say that it would be the duty of a Christian who holds a post in civil government to do his job and follow the law with respect to Muslims in this case. Beyond that, it is the duty of our civil government to protect the First Amendment rights of Muslims. Christians should simply allow our civil government to do its job with respect to Muslims seeking to practice their religion and not interfere.

Ultimately, this Ground Zero mosque is a great example of the dangerous deceptions of political Christianity, both right and left. Political Christianity causes us to error in our thought, speech and actions, and divert those things from what God in His New Testament actually told us to do, which is to go and make converts and disciples and to live under submission to Jesus Christ ourselves.

Update: Following Judah’s Lion has the best commentary on this topic to date.

Thousands of Jesus followers around the world are being persecuted and even martyred for their faith. And just like the Amish who forgave the man who murdered their little girls, these believers endure hardships and persecution with the grace that should remind us of the Savior upon that cruel tree.

But in America a mosque is proposed to be built and millions of people who profess Christ get all up in arms and sound the alarm. The “alarm” they sound is not a call to sacrificial prayer for the souls of the Muslims who will frequent this mosque, but it is a caterwauling about America and the indignity of such a building. And these are people who doctrinally say they believe the Bible.

Evidently they do not.

What more can be said?

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Posted in Bible, Christianity, evangelism, false doctrine, false religion, false teaching, Jesus Christ, religious right | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The Bailout May Result In The Government Obtaining Church Mortgages

Posted by Job on October 6, 2008

After the Bailout, Government-Owned Churches?

Posted in Christianity | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Pulpit Freedom Sunday Is A Stench In The Nostrils Of God

Posted by Job on October 2, 2008

Romans 13:1-8 “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” Now read how people below plan to commit a high handed premediated sin against the Bible. Keep in mind: they are not sinning against man by doing this, but against the Word of the living God!

Pulpit Freedom Sunday

Participating pastors will exercise First Amendment right to speak on positions of electoral candidates Sept. 28 Thursday, September 25, 2008, 8:05 AM (MST) | ADF Media Relations | 480-444-0020

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Pastors participating in the Alliance Defense Fund’s “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” will preach from their pulpits Sept. 28 about the moral qualifications of candidates seeking political office.  The pastors will exercise their First Amendment right to preach on the subject, despite federal tax regulations that prohibit intervening or participating in a political campaign.

“Pastors have a right to speak about Biblical truths from the pulpit without fear of punishment.  No one should be able to use the government to intimidate pastors into giving up their constitutional rights,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley.  “If you have a concern about pastors speaking about electoral candidates from the pulpit, ask yourself this:  should the church decide that question, or should the IRS?”

Pulpit Freedom Sunday is an event associated with the ADF Pulpit Initiative (www.telladf.org/church), a legal effort designed to secure the First Amendment rights of pastors in the pulpit.  A document explaining what the Pulpit Initiative is and is not is available at www.telladf.org/UserDocs/WhatIsPI.pdf. “ADF is not trying to get politics into the pulpit.  Churches can decide for themselves that they either do or don’t want their pastors to speak about electoral candidates.  The point of the Pulpit Initiative is very simple:  the IRS should not be the one making the decision by threatening to revoke a church’s tax-exempt status.  We need to get the government out of the pulpit,” said Stanley. Stanley explained that, contrary to the misunderstandings of many, tax-exempt status is not a “gift” or “subsidy” bestowed by the government.

“Churches were completely free to preach about candidates from the day that the Constitution was ratified in 1788 until 1954.  That’s when the unconstitutional rule known as the ‘Johnson Amendment’ was enacted,” explained Stanley.  “Churches are exempt from taxation under the principle that there is no surer way to destroy religion than to begin taxing it.  As the U.S. Supreme Court has noted, the power to tax involves the power to destroy.  The real effect of the Johnson Amendment is that pastors are muzzled for fear of investigation by the IRS.” After Sept. 28, ADF plans to provide via news release a list of pastors who participated in Pulpit Freedom Sunday.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family. (Please note that this statement mentions Jesus Christ in no way, shape, or form.)

www.telladf.org

How do we live out Romans 13:1-8 in a lost and dying world? Simple: by not acting like the lost and dying. Jesus Christ said that we must fulfill all righteousness. So, one of the reasons why Christ did not follow the false teachers and political revolutionaries by refusing to pay taxes was because had He done so, He would have been, well, indistinguishable from false teachers and political revolutionaries.

The political revolutionaries stated not to pay taxes because they felt that it was God’s Will for them to be sovereign, free from Roman rule, and that paying taxes was submission to a wicked order that would be overthrown when the Messiah came to defeat Rome and take the throne of David. These people ignored that Israel lost its sovereignty when they the Sinai covenant, the result of which was the northern kingdom being wiped off the map and Judah going into captivity. The Messiah was not coming to restore the broken covenant, but to bring a new covenant. So, at best the political revolutionaries were being presumptuous in acting as if God needed their help by way of subversive behavior. At worst, they were pretending as if the Sinai covenant had never been broken, and the words of Jeremiah, Hosea, and Ezekiel had never been given by God. (Keep in mind, it was the Hellenistic Sadducees who denied the validity of the prophetic books, and they supported the Romans!)

As for the religious leaders, they may have had superficially religious reasons for claiming that taxes should not be paid to Caesar (i.e. idolatry), the truth was that their actual motivations were that they agreed with the political objectives of the subversives. So then just as now, you had false teachers at best claiming that secular aims were spiritual, and at worst calling sin righteousness. Jesus Christ rejected both groups (which in truth were really only one) by stating that it was OK to give back to Caesar what was Caesar’s anyway. The things of this world are ruled by the prince of this world (Satan) but the gospel and the kingdom are not of this world and cannot be given or taken by this world or those of it.

Now John Calvin did do the work of a theologian (that is, in Bible speak, a doctor of the law, or that is one who creates doctrines for Christians to live by) and state that it is OK to defy the law if it forces a Christian to sin. That is consistent with Biblical example, particularly how the apostles refused to stop preaching the gospel when the Sanhedrin told them to cease in Acts. (Please realize that the Roman empire gave local nations and tribes some degree of autonomy, so the Sanhedrin was the legitimate authority in this matter!) But a law against getting in the pulpit and telling your congregations that their key to justification and sanctification is voting for John McCain, Barack Obama, Chuck Baldwin, Bob Barr, or Cynthia McKinney (Republican, Democrat, Constitution, Libertarian, and Green Party candidates for president) or even for one of your own deacons for dog catcher does not hinder the gospel of Jesus Christ in any way, shape, or form. Were it the case, then in monarchies and other situations where rulers are not democratically elected, there would be no way to spread the gospel at all, and that was certainly the case in the Roman Empire, which was not only a monarchy, but in the time of the early church most Christians weren’t even citizens! 

This is the best part: these pastors aren’t even invoking their right or duty to break these statutes as coming to them from God either by special revelation via the Bible or even universal revelation and common grace through natural law. Instead, they are claiming that their right to use their pulpit to promote a bunch of lying thieving adulterous new world order occultist viper crooks into office comes from the state: the first amendment. Now from the example of Paul in Acts fully exploiting his legal rights as a Roman citizen to spread the gospel, on the surface this would seem to be OK. But look closer and you will see that A) Paul invoked his Roman rights TO SPREAD THE GOSPEL, not to put more evil people in office and B) if the state has the right to give you free speech, then that same state has the right to narrow or clarify that right. 

The state is not forcing you to kill your child, like China’s forced abortion policy. The state is not imprisoning you for preaching the gospel, like China is. (And by the way: the very same George W. Bush that so many of these people voted for LAST TIME worked very hard to get China into the WTO and most favored trade nation status!) The state is merely telling you that you cannot abuse your spiritual authority by telling your congregation to go out and vote for someone fully controlled by the Rockefellers, Rothschilds, Bilderbergers, the Council on Foreign Relations, you name it. In this instance, the righteousness of the STATE actually exceeds the righteousness of the CHURCH who not only seeks to break the law, but is deceiving their adherents into thinking that by voting for wicked men that they can advance the kingdom of heaven! 

The worst part is that there is no need whatsoever to do this. Americans United for the Separation of Church and State would LOVE to go after pastors for their political activism. But pastors have studied the law and found a way to legally separate their actions as private citizens from those as pastors. So, when a pastor would endorse candidates for office, the pastor does so not from their position as pastor of a particular congregation or leader in a denomination but as individuals, and they make it clear that their positions and activities were their own apart from their employers (churches or denominations). Now you may disagree with this SCRIPTURALLY, but the fact is that pastors has the same LEGAL right to do whatever they please when not on the job as does any doctor, lawyer, engineer, schoolteacher, janitor, construction worker, etc. Now your workplace can certainly fire you, but the state can’t touch you. 

So if a pastor is certain that the kingdom of heaven will be advanced by endorsing the candidacy of his dogcatcher, well then they have a very effective and legal model available for them. But instead of following the accommodations that do exist for them in the law, these people in their pride and hardened hearts have decided to be rebels against the living God and His Word. People, see how the mixing of religion and politics leads people into apostasy? This, my good Christians, proves that the Bible is true. For politics is of the world. The Bible states that you should not mix things that are common with those that are holy. Take a look at the Old Testament sacrificial system, and God spent thousands of years teaching His people with the Sinai religion that principle: certain altars and certain religious implements such as things used in sacrifices and religious ceremonies were either holy or most holy, and those things could not be defiled by unclean people or things. So why are these people trying to defile the gospel of Jesus Christ by A) electioneering for wickedness and B) engaging in and encouraging illegal behavior? The answer is that they love the world and the things in it. Well, to them this verse applies: 1 John 2:15 – “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

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Top U.S. Intelligence Official: Say Goodbye to Privacy

Posted by Job on November 12, 2007

foxnews.com/story/0,2933,310536,00.html


WASHINGTON — A top intelligence official says it is time people in the United States changed their definition of privacy. Privacy no longer can mean anonymity, says Donald Kerr, the principal deputy director of national intelligence. Instead, it should mean that government and businesses properly safeguards people’s private communications and financial information. Kerr’s comments come as Congress is taking a second look at the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act.

Lawmakers hastily changed the 1978 law last summer to allow the government to eavesdrop inside the United States without court permission, so long as one end of the conversation was reasonably believed to be located outside the U.S. The original law required a court order for any surveillance conducted on U.S. soil, to protect Americans’ privacy. The White House argued that the law was obstructing intelligence gathering.

The most contentious issue in the new legislation is whether to shield telecommunications companies from civil lawsuits for allegedly giving the government access to people’s private e-mails and phone calls without a court order between 2001 and 2007. Some lawmakers, including members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, appear reluctant to grant immunity. Suits might be the only way to determine how far the government has burrowed into people’s privacy without court permission.

The committee is expected to decide this week whether its version of the bill will protect telecommunications companies. The central witness in a California lawsuit against AT&T says the government is vacuuming up billions of e-mails and phone calls as they pass through an AT&T switching station in San Francisco. Mark Klein, a retired AT&T technician, helped connect a device in 2003 that he says diverted and copied onto a government supercomputer every call, e-mail, and Internet site access on AT&T lines.

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So The War Between Church And State Begins With Fred Phelps

Posted by Job on November 1, 2007

I will forgo the usual routine of prefacing my comments with a discussion as to whether the behavior of Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church was wrong; there are plenty of places where you can go find that. Instead, I will deal with this fact: since Westboro Baptist Church almost certainly does not have $10.9 million they will have to close. As such, this is the first time to my knowledge that the state is causing the doors of a church that has not been found to be in violation of any laws down. Rather, they received a $2.9 million judgment against them for invasion of privacy (despite the fact that the funeral was a public event in a public place) and an $8 million dollar judgment for causing emotional distress.

It is quite difficult to say what is worse. The $2.9 million invasion of privacy judgment that was a clear rejection of the actual facts of the case, the $8 million judgment for emotional distress caused by free speech in a public forum, or the stated aim of the plaintiffs “But Albert Snyder’s lawyer urged the jury to ensure the damages were high enough to stop the church campaigning” was granted. Keep in mind: the defendants were not found guilty of libel, slander, defamation, or trespassing. They incurred this verdict by making legal speech in a legal manner, and the sole purpose of this verdict was to prevent them from making legal speech in a legal manner again. Whatever you may think of Fred Phelps and his congregation, they are not the criminals here. The criminals are the jury that brought this verdict and the judge that failed to vacate it. If the state enforces this judgment, it will effectively nullify the First Amendment protections of free speech and freedom of religion and set a powerful precedent. As such, it is Fred Phelps’ church today but your church tomorrow.

Any church that preaches that homosexuality is a sin can be found guilty of causing emotional distress to homosexuals, and even facilitating the spread of AIDS. Any church that preaches against the genocide of abortion can be found guilty of inciting violence against the abortion mills and its employees, or even the mental anguish caused by the theoretical threat of increased violence. And any church that preaches against unjust government action can be labeled subversive.

Make no mistake, it is a perfect test case, so perfect that one would think that Phelps was some sort of a plant, though I sincerely doubt it to be the case. Phelps chose the funerals of the untimely dead, the most emotionally charged environment imaginable, as his forum. He went after homosexuality to enrage the left. He went after soldiers killed in combat to enrage the right. As a result, a law restricting such conduct was speedily passed without any opposition. The ACLU did not want to come down on the side of a homosexuality opponent, the ACLJ (owned by Pat Robertson) did not want to come down on the side of one who would grieve the families of dead soldiers. For both sides, protecting their own bases, their own constituencies, took priority over taking up an unpopular cause to defend rights from a government that hates righteousness. Such is almost certainly the reason why no prominent pastor, preacher, or theologian was able to muster a defense. When such people feel the heavy hand of the state pressing against their necks for the crime of offending Islam or Judaism by insisting that salvation is only through Jesus Christ, they will wish that they had not chosen the path of silent forbearance.

Finally, I wish to deal with part of Fred Phelp’s theology. He states that we are losing on the battlefield in Iraq because this nation promotes and celebrates homosexuality. Why not? First off, I realize that we are not Old Testament Israel. But the entire religious right movement is based on the fiction that we are, that we are a Christian nation founded by God to be the light among nations, the shining city on the hill. So let us adhere to their false theology in order to further convict the religious right sorts that were silent on this issue. Did not God punish Old Testament Israel, the elect nation that He founded, for their sins by not only allowing casualties and lost battles, but actually fighting for the enemy? Why should America be any different? Christian right, you cannot employ your false theology when it helps your fundraising campaigns and voter registration drives and then discard it when it is inconvenient because it offends the white evangelical Christian families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. You have to be consistent! The fact that you are not being consistent proves that you yourselves know that your theology is false, and that you are not serving Jesus Christ. Instead, you give people a theology that allows them to point the finger at someone else while basking in their own self – righteousness. No wonder it has been such a popular theology that translates to easily and effectively to political action for so long! But no, the true gospel of Jesus Christ that requires people to examine themselves first to see whether they be in the faith and then make tough stands and sacrifices for that faith, to suffer rejection and persecution as Jesus Christ did, has never been popular and it has never translated into anything that can be used for political power, financial gain, or anything else that is of this world.

Further, I wish to take issue with this notion that God for some reason has stopped judging people and their nation for wickedness. A lot of preachers, some that I respect highly and others that are vigorous apostates, make this claim. We heard a lot of this during Hurricane Katrina in response to the common claim – believed by many Katrina refugees themselves – that God destroyed that city for its wickedness. Oh so many theologians manifested with the notion “it cannot be true, for why would God destroy New Orleans and not San Francisco or Las Vegas?” This is not to say that Hurricane Katrina was an act of God. Instead, it is to say that you could hardly pick a worse possible argument for saying that it wasn’t! Who is man to question the ways of God, to suggest that He is arbitrary, unfair, and unrighteous unless He behaves according to man’s logic and values? Was that not the error of Job, who had to be reminded of God’s sovereignty and rebuked? If God chooses to judge one and spare another, is that not His prerogative? Is that not His grace? But far too many churches claim that we have earned grace by our own virtue, and as a result we have the right to sit and judge God. They have forgotten that we are all sinners, that we all deserve the lake of fire for our sins, but despite of that fact God will spare some that deserve destruction and give others the destruction that they deserve.

The clear evidence of this was Sodom and Gomorrah. Do you honestly believe that Sodom and Gomorrah was the only place that had homosexuality going on? Not to attach some level of significance to this one specific sin when the Bible says that all are equal, what about the idolatry, violence, greed, and oppression of the poor that was going on elsewhere? And let us not forget the – gasp! – gossiping and false judging! The truth is that the whole world deserved the very same punishment that Sodom and Gomorrah received because the whole world was as guilty of sin as Sodom and Gomorrah! The whole world deserved to be destroyed then because of sin, and the whole world deserves to be destroyed today. Instead of viewing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as punishment of the sin of homosexuality, we should look at it in terms of God’s GRACE because He spared everyone else! But oh no, we do not go there, because we are so convinced of our own virtue.

That is why all of those preachers said “Why not Las Vegas or San Francisco” instead of “WHY NOT MY CHURCH AND MY OWN HOUSE!” By using that argument, they are pretending in their self – righteousness that there is some sin in San Francisco or Las Vegas or in Sodom and Gomorrah that they are not guilty of in their person. But that is not what the Bible says. The Bible says that the man who says that he is without sin is a LIAR! So even if God theoretically did destroy New Orleans or cause the tsunami, He had just as much right to do that as He just as He has the right to destroy YOU!

Nay, God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah to demonstrate a theological point. The same was true of His destruction of Egypt. Egypt was not the only proud oppressive nation on the face of the earth at the time, far from it! But God destroyed Egypt in order to demonstrate His power and to show them as a parable against wickedness and defying His Will, and openly said as much in scripture. But do not be deceived: the whole world deserved what Egypt received and far worse then, and deserves the same still now.

Almost as deadly is what I call “neo – deism.” Some preachers claim that God only worked such spectacular interventions in history to judge the wicked and raise up the righteous in the previous dispensation before Jesus Christ, but now that Christ has come and overcome the world, God is allowing history to play out until Christ returns. Pardon me, but where does it say that in the Bible? Where does it say that the Father is sitting on His Throne with Jesus Christ on His Right Hand doing nothing? That is speaking as if God has fallen asleep and has forsaken doing righteousness! Claiming that “history is just playing out” or “this world is dying and disintegrating due to sin” seems to me to be either a religion of naturalism or claiming that these events are mere chance: evolution perhaps? Excuse me … “intelligent design” to use the lingua franca of evangelical politics.

Or worse … maybe you are giving SATAN credit and the glory for these events? Take God out of it, and it is either naturalism, random chance, or Satan. As for me, I say that a sovereign God is still ruling on the throne and intimately involved in world events just as He always has been, for He is a God that never changes. I have confidence in trusting an unchanging God or my salvation. What about you?

So whatever doctrinal errors Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church exhibit with their actions, it appears that mainstream respectable Christianity has problems of its own! At least it can be said about Phelps and his congregation that they are willing to put themselves on the line for something. As if “submit to Babylon” was a popular message during Jeremiah’s day. You know what Jeremiah was accused of? Harming the morale of our troops and the country, and helping the enemy. Sounds familiar to the same charges made by the Bush administration and the religious right to certain folks, right? Again, I am not endorsing their doctrines or their actions. I am merely saying that their doctrines and actions are not as wayward as many Christians choose to believe.

Update: a reader has left an excellent comment doing what I specifically refrained from doing for my own purposes, which was to make the plain Biblical case that Westboro Baptist Church was incontrovertibly wrong. As a matter of fact, he did a better job than I could have! So please read his comment, which God provided through him in order to make the treatment of this matter complete. Also, another reader made a related point that Westboro Baptist fell for a government trap, which complements the other comment.

Posted in Christian Persecution, Christian persecution America, christian right, Christianity, church state, Theodicy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments »

 
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