I’m supposed to tread with the utmost sensitivity when discussing religious issues because of some distorted version of political correctness created by the religious right. Because they want to reserve the ability to cry “you religion-hater” when you simply report on what they’ve been doing lately. To wit:
Last week, (Pastor Wiley S. of the Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park) Drake got out his church letterhead again, and announced his endorsement of Mike Huckabee for the GOP presidential nomination — an endorsement he repeated on his radio show, just in case anyone missed it. “I announce,” wrote the pastor, “that I am going to personally endorse Mike Huckabee. I ask all of my Southern Baptist brothers and sisters to consider getting behind Mike and helping him all you can. First of all pray and then ask God, what should I do to put feet to my prayers […]
Americans United for Separation of Church and State struck back quickly. Yesterday, they filed a formal complaint with the IRS, documenting Wiley’s actions as a clear breach of tax laws that prevent churches and ministers from endorsing political candidates […]
Wiley’s retort to AU was swift, ferocious — and bizarre. Caught dead to rights, he didn’t even try to respond to particulars of AU’s IRS complaint. Instead, he immediately launched into the kind of wild-eyed, paranoid magical thinking you’d expect from any embattled cult leader. Which is to say: In a press release issued yesterday, he ordered his flock to petition God, who in turn would avenge this attack by smiting AU’s staff with poverty, starvation, scattered familes, and death.
No shit, the guy actually names specific staffers to target through prayer. Go read the whole thing.
We’re not supposed to talk about this, we’re supposed to “give the church a break,” when obviously I’m talking about a specific situation of intolerance, bigotry and hatred that doesn’t reflect on every religious man or woman in the country. If we are silent about these things that do matter, we allow these views to fester and grow. There is no difference between what this pastor in Buena Park is doing and what Islamists did in calling for the head of Salman Rushdie, for example. And this possibly falls under the legal standard of harrassment.
These fundamentalists, who believe they own the ultimate moral authority, are now showing what they plan to do with it: they would call for the summary execution of anyone who disagrees with them or points out their faults. That’s the danger we face with theocrats like this and it should be spotlighted.
UPDATE: I forgot to note the funniest part: Drake got the staffer’s name wrong.
Here’s the rub: Drake asked his followers to “target Joe Conn or Jeremy Learing.” Except, Jeremy’s last name is “Leaming.”
So, here’s the theological question of the day: if a bunch of people pray for God to punish some guy named “Jeremy Learing,” who had nothing to do with this incident, does it still count? What, if anything, happens to Jeremy Leaming?