Friday, January 15, 2010

Deals With the Devil: The Church in Bed With Politics

Recently, Pat Robertson, who is one among many individuals who are more interested in acquiring capital and entrenching themselves in politics (what i call "politichristians"), had the utter lack of sensitivity and compassion to say that the recent tragedy in Haiti was caused by their "pact with the devil," referring to a historical event centuries ago. Regardless of whether or not the event occurred in the way it was construed, the statement itself reveals the actual extent of Robertson's "compassion," which is about as deep as a mud-puddle. When an opportunity arises to come alongside another individual or nation, out of compassion and love (true expressions of Christ's presence in a person's life), this little bit of caustic fare is nothing more than a political statement wrapped in sanctimonious garb.

The Christian church, by and large, seems to believe that political power and standpoint are more important than spiritual power . . . it's a deadly poison that's spread through all denominations. Once an event or issue becomes politicized within the church, it creates dissention and division, which is exactly what it's intended to do. Any person in a position of leadership realizes the power that comes from associating himself or herself with God, or gods . . . regardless of whether the person in question shows the qualities that one of Faith would consider valuable. The "leader" in question can easily demonize any opposition by saying that their opponents are "against God" or "heretics," and in a time when people within the congregation or range of influence are troubled or afraid, they are less likely to cast aspersion on a person who makes strong verbal claims to being a servant of God (or gods). This is true for any religion . . . when mankind gets its hands on religion, the first thing that occurs to many is that it's a great tool for "putting people in their place." Christianity has been used, over the centuries, as an excuse for war, racism, and hatreds of every type. For a man of Robertson's influence to make a careless statement should, in a fair world, immediately destroy any credibility the man has gained by quoting gospel and claiming to be a servant of Christ. Unfortunately, there are many people who will believe that because a good Christian like Pat Robertson said something like this, then it must be true.

Haiti has had a long history of troubles, both political and natural. Its inhabitants suffer from frequent hurricanes because of its location. It has had a long and bloody history. The United States, its neighbor, regards it--for the most part--as insignificant, partly because it doesn't have a wealth of exploitable resources. "Haiti was the first independent nation in Latin America, the first post-colonial independent black-led nation in the world, and the only nation whose independence was gained as part of a successful slave rebellion." (see for more information on this). This alone seems to chafe the predominantly Anglo-Saxon "politichristians," many of whom carry the smoldering embers of racism and colonialism in their hearts. Most of Haiti's people are poor and uneducated--but poverty and lack of education are not, or should not be, a reason for hatred, exclusion, or oppression (although they often are). I am reminded of the words of the Ghost of Christmas Present to Scrooge, in reference to Tiny Tim--"It may be that in the sight of Heaven, you are no more fit to live than millions like this poor man's child." In fact, i'd argue that the wealthy are closer to being the "surplus population" than the poor. To vilify or demonize a people in a time of great hardship, especially when one carries the name of Christ, is odious at best, and verges on blasphemy, flying in the face of Christ and all the Prophets. When Christ walked the earth, He associated with people who--in that time--were considered the lowest of the low, people that the status quo regarded as untouchable. If a person is to affirm Christ as their Lord and Savior (and, if asked, Pat Robertson would undoubtedly claim this), then they are to exhibit Christlike qualities. Any reasonable individual, Christian or otherwise, would have difficulty equating Robertson's statement with Christ's example.

This is a symptom of a larger problem that i have already mentioned. Too many people within the Christian church are too willing--almost eager--to immediately gravitate to an individual in politics who claims to be a "Christian," especially when that person touches all the right political "hot-buttons" that are almost guaranteed to generate the appropriate knee-jerks: abortion, the "war on drugs," the "dangers" of Islam, homosexuality, and so on. I'm going to take this a step further: a political "knee-jerk" is NOT a sign of a person's Christianity. The Enemy knows exactly how this process works, and uses it to both cause discord within the Church (the body of believers as a whole), and to distract the Church from its true mission: the spreading of the Message, and the alleviation of human suffering. Christians must, as a whole and as individuals, rush to the aid of those who are oppressed or suffering. The early Christian church made the Message of Christ their first priority; directly behind that, and intimately connected to it, was to render assistance to the poor. If we are to be "on our job," these things need to be pre-eminent features of our lives. Everything else must fall behind--possessions, politics, power, prestige, family ties. I'd call on Pat Robertson to make a public apology for his insensitive, inflammatory remarks--regardless of whether or not they were historically accurate--unless, of course, he wants the same kind of judgement to "boomerang" on him, and hold him accountable for the atrocities perpetrated falsely in "God's name" throughout the ages, from the Inquisition up to the present.


Pastor Kip said...

I agree wholeheartedly, Todd. I've long been uncomfortable with the overly-political church.

When the church gets involved in the political arena, it can only divide and distract.

Anonymous said...

Have to say this eloquently gives voice to my disgust.
Shelley Luke Ionescu