Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do
SIX CHAPTERS IN SEARCH OF A SHORTER BOOK
AND THE BIBLE REALLY SAID ABOUT CONSENSUAL CRIMES
- The group Jesus attacked most often (almost exclusively, in fact), were the Pharisees. Being political, the Pharisees cared more how they appeared than what they did. They knew how to posture, thus appearing more righteous and, therefore, more worthy to lead than others. They took advantage of every photo opportunity. They were in the right place at the right time doing the piously right thing.
Fine words and an insinuating appearance are seldom associated with true virtue.
- The Pharisees controlled Jerusalem's ruling body, the Sanhedrin. Although Rome's occupation of Jerusalem kept them from having complete power, the Pharisees appointed themselves to maintain "traditional Jewish values" in a time of social upheaval. One of their self-appointed tasks was to separate true prophets from false prophets. They "investigated" all reports of prophets, but it was merely show; the Pharisees knew that a prophet could only rise from within the ranks of the righteous: the Pharisees. Anyone not raised as a Pharisee didn't have the proper credentials for prophecy. The punishment for being a false prophet was death. One holy person after another fell before the judgment of the Pharisees. Said Jesus:
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness." (Matthew 23:2728)
- The Pharisees were well versed in Scripture. They could quote chapter and verse to justify whatever behavior they found expedient.
- The most dangerous part about the Pharisees, however, was that they believed what they were doing was right. They didn't see themselves as hypocrites; they saw themselves as exemplary spiritual leaders. They didn't see themselves as murdering people for expressing new religious points of view; they saw themselves as keeping the people safe from false prophets. While they certainly felt themselves spiritually superior to "ordinary" men, they were willing to share the benefit of their superior learning and discipline by sacrificing their personal time to take leadership roles in the synagogues. They did what they did because they honestly believed they were the chosen among God's chosen people.
Moralizing and morals are two entirely different things and are always found in entirely different people.
- While ordinary people were moved by the miracles of Jesus, the Pharisees denounced them as sorcerypunishable by death. While the people found the teachings of Jesus liberating, the Pharisees found them blasphemous. On the other hand, while the people found the Pharisees ideal role models for achieving righteousness and godliness, Jesus found them "hypocritical vipers."
- The Pharisees, then, (a) represented strict adherence to the letter of the law, while violating the spirit of the law; (b) inflicted harsh punishments for violation of the law (such violations as determined by the Pharisees); (c) knew everything and knew they knew everything, therefore could not be taught anything; and (d) were hypocritical in their holier-than-thou attitudes. It wasn't the Pharisees themselves whom Jesus opposed; it was this set of values and behavior.
- Let's take a look at the religious right in this country and compare what they do and teach with what Jesus said about the Pharisees. This is not an exhaustive lookthat's a book in itself. This discussion limits itself to those hypocrisies that directly affect the laws against consensual activities and the enforcement of those laws today.
Let's leave religion to the televangelists. After all, they're the professionals. CHEVIO
"Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: `These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.'" (Matthew 15:68)
"They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men." (Matthew 15:9)
The religious right relies on concepts such as "traditional American values," "family values," and "the American way." With great piety, they discuss the "faith of our fathers," "the pride of the pilgrims," and the "Christian nation." They misquote and misrepresent the American founding fathers mercilessly. And all to justify their hatred of anyone who is "different." They use the Bible to justify prejudice, exclusion, and persecution. They contradict Jesus' fundamental message, which is love everyone, not just those who believe what you believe or do what you do.
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You have neglected the more important matters of the lawjustice, mercy and faithfulness." (Matthew 23:23)
Since the Civil War, the churches that make up the religious right have not taken a leadership stand on any positive social change. Quite the contrary, they have opposed social change. Whether it be the treatment of blacks, Jews, immigrants, homosexuals, or any minority (including women), the religious right has quoted chapter and verse to prove that one group or another doesn't even deserve the "privileges" it already has.
"I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you." (Matthew 21:31)
The leaders of the religious right have the love of power, righteousness (read: intolerance), fame, and money in their hearts. They prayloudly and oftenbut only for effect.
"You Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness." (Luke 11:39)
I am patient with stupidity, but not with those who are proud of it.
- The lack of love, tolerance, and compassion in religious right leaders is evident to all but their most devout followers.
"But I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts." (John 5:42)
"Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." (Luke 12:1)
"Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers." (Luke 20:4647)
- The leaders of the religious right love to be photographed with presidents, governors, and dignitaries of all kind. They dress well (by their standards, anyway), travel first class, and seem to want for nothing. Meanwhile, all this luxury is financed primarily by widows, unemployed people, and the working poor, who send $5 and $10 donations, genuinely believing they are doing something for Jesus.
"No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. (Luke 16:1314)
Moral indignation permits envy or hate to be acted out under the guise of virtue.
- The other effective money-raiser is fear. The religious right's ministries fight one "conspiracy" after another. They see every minority with "an agenda" and the agenda invariably is "recruiting your children" and "destroying the principles on which this great nation was founded." So, to save our way of life, our children, and the country itself, send money. ("There's an 800 number on your screen right now . . .")
"Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering." When Jesus left there, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely. (Luke 11:5253)
- The key to knowledge, as taught by Jesus, was prayer, nonjudgment, and forgiveness. All threealthough they do get occasional lip serviceare not part of what the religious right teaches.
- The idea of nonjudgment and acceptance does not clog the televangelist airwaves. Sermons, speeches, and teachings of the religious right are full of one hellfire-and-damnation judgment after another. Only those who accept Jesus, and practice that acceptance of Jesus the right way, are acceptable. Everything else is "abominable."
- These spiritual leaders seldom discuss forgiveness, but rely on "repentance." To them this means, "Change your ways to our ways and then you will be forgiven."
"And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them." (Luke 11:46)
Among life's perpetually charming questions is whether the truly evil do more harm than the self-righteous and wrong.
- Because the religious right teaches guilt, but not forgiveness, it heaps on its followers responsibilities (blame) for situations they cannot effectively deal with themselves. For example, the religious right teaches that God will hold each person in this country personally responsible for the 30 million abortions (which they categorize as "the murder of innocent little babies") performed since 1972. "If there's anything you could have done you didn't do, then God will hold you responsible." Never mind the 30 million illegal abortions that took place from 1952 to 1972 (and the women who died from them)as long as it's legal now, you are responsible. That's why anti-abortion protesters are so frantic, why one can shoot and kill a doctor outside an abortion clinic and sincerely believe he is doing "God's work," and why Jerry Falwell can excuse the shooting by saying, "Let's not forget the doctor was a mass murderer."[*FN]
[*FN] The Old Time Gospel Hour, May 2, 1993.
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are." (Matthew 23:15)
- The religious right points with great pride to its "overseas rescue missions," in which the "rescuing" that's going on is not so much feeding hungry mouths (although a little of that goes on because it makes good video) as it is "rescuing" human souls. In America we are supposed to keep our "traditional values," but around the world people are supposed to "cast off" their traditional values in favor of the Americanized version of "Christianity." These converts are then supposed to preach "Christianity," which is, of course, nothing but the religious right's own political conservatism. People in foreign countries are encouraged to become politically active, not for social change and justice within that country, but for policies that will favor the right-wing conservative causes the religious right preaches are one and the same with Christianity. The communists in their heyday never had a group of infiltrators as numerous, organized, and well-financed (by people who think they're feeding the poor of the world) as the standard-bearers of the American political-religious right.
God bless you and keep you safe from anything as dangerous as knowledge.
- With the religious right, there are no discussions any more. If you don't agree with them on everything, you hate Jesus. Pure and simple. No matter what position you take, if it's not the position they take, your reasoning will be knocked down by one pseudo-scriptural argument after another. That these arguments often contradict each other doesn't seem to matter.
Then they hurled insults at [a blind man healed by Jesus] and said, "You are this fellow's disciple! We are disciples of Moses!" (John 9:28)
- If you do anything that's not "in the name of Jesus," it doesn't count. You can heal the sick, feed the poor, and shelter the homeless, but if you don't do it in the name of Jesus, you're just part of the devil's work. The "secular humanists" (as the evangelicals call them) are some of Satan's greatest warriors. Those humanists go out and do good for the sake of humanity and not for the sake of Jesus. Can you imagine? Sacrilege! The religious right teaches that suffering is good because it leads one to Jesus, and anything that alleviates suffering except in the name of Jesus is bad because it postpones the sufferer's ultimate conversion. So, people who do good without doing it for Jesus are bad. The more effective one is at making positive change, the more one is seen as the agent of the devil.
All the people were astonished and said, "Could this be the Son of David?" But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons." (Matthew 12:2324)
- And, of course, the religious right demand more laws against consensual actsand the strict enforcement of the laws already on the booksin the name of Jesus.
"A time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God." (John 16:2)
A religion that requires persecution to sustain it is of the devil's propagation.
- For Christians, Easter is a day of celebration second only to Christmas. For many Christians, in fact, Easter is a greater day of celebration than Christmas: on Christmas the Christ Child was born; on Easter, Jesus, the man, was resurrected, proving he was not just a prophet or a martyr, but the Christ.
- What, however, was the theme for the 1993 Easter Sunday sermon on Jerry Falwell's The Old Time Gospel Hour? The resurrection was never mentioned: there was not one word about Jesus conquering death so that we may all have eternal life. Nor was there a mention of the Crucifixion. I don't know why I was expecting some mention of Jesus on Easter. Perhaps I'm just too old fashioned for The Old Time Gospel Hour.
- Falwell's sermon was exclusively about what has been his pet subject for the past thirty-seven years: What is politically wrong with America? If Falwell dislikes something politically, it is, automatically and without further discussion, both immoral and unchristian. (No, more than unchristian: anti-Christian.) We are under attack. ("We" being "all good Christians," and "all good Americans" [those two being synonymous].)
He's all buttoned up in an impenetrable little coat of complacency.
- The show opens with Falwell not preaching, but peddling: he looks directly and sincerely into the camera from what is supposed to be his office (but is obviously a television set) and pitches four of his sermons: "a $100 value!" for "only $35." The set of four sermons is collected under the general title, "Who Killed America?" One of the sermons was today's sermon. If Falwell mentioned Easter in his sermon, you see, it would date the entire video package and make it less salable in the future. All good marketers know not to mention a holiday on a show that you want to sell year 'round, and Falwell is a good marketer.
- The Old Time Gospel Hour is not a religious show, but an infomercial for the religious right.
- Jerry Falwell, of course, inspired the Moral Majority, which inspired the bumper sticker, "The Moral Majority Is Neither." The Moral Majority did well by Falwell: it made him famous, rich, and fat. In the late 1980s, he declared "victory," and disbanded the organization. What really happened was that the Moral Majority had stopped making money because Falwell had run out of things to hate. Oh, there was still plenty to hate (from Falwell's perspective); hating just wasn't raising enough money any more. Even the war on drugs didn't raise much money: everyone had declared war on drugs. So Jerry shut down the Moral Majority.
- What brought Falwell back out of the closet? Homosexuality, of course.
- In the fall of 1992, an obscure fundamentalist church in the California desert began selling a videotape taken at a Gay Pride parade. It was carefully edited by the church to show only what the congregation would find as the most salacious homosexual activity: men kissing, men wearing dresses, lesbians walking about with their hooters outand all of them not going to church on Sunday. You could get nearly the same footage of heterosexuals by going to Fort Lauderdale during spring break, a Shriner's convention, or any fraternity beer bash. Nonetheless, it was presented as an example of what every town in America would look like twenty-four hours a day if the "Gay Agenda" came to pass. The tape was outrageously successful. It put a struggling church located in the California desert on the map, making it rich, famous, and powerful. Tens of thousands of copies of the tape were sold. Political commentators said it tipped the scales in the Colorado referendum in which voters narrowly decided that gays were not entitled to civil rights, and it was shown to the Joint Chiefs of Staff before they came out against gays in the military.
The partisan, when he is engaged in a dispute, cares nothing about the rights of the question, but is anxious only to convince his hearers of his own assertions.
- Falwell must have watched this phenomenon from his church in Lynchburg, Virginia, and chewed his nails (and everything else that wasn't nailed down). He had been against the homa-sex-ya'alls for years. He thought that vein of hatred had been fully mined. He was wrong. There was still gold in that thar homophobia, and damn if some other fundamentalist preacher hadn't struck the Mother Lode! Like the phoenix of old, Jerry girded his loins, put on his girdle, and set out again for the gold rush.
- Falwell sent his camera crews to cover the Clinton inauguration. Of the many inaugural balls, it seemed that the gays and lesbians had one of their own (Gasp!). Jerry's crew videotaped hours and hours of men in tuxedos dancing with men in tuxedos, women in formals dancing with women in formals, men in tuxedos dancing with men in formals, women in tuxedos dancing with women in formals, men in formals dancing with men in formals, women in tuxedos dancing with women in tuxedos, women in tuxedos dancing with men in formals, and even (can't these perverts get anything straight?) men in tuxedos dancing with women in formals. It's what Arthur Murray's Dance Party would have been like if Liberace had been the guest host.
Distrust all men in whom the impulse to punish is powerful.
- Yes, Jerry put together a video of this, and, over images of men kissing men and women kissing women (which you can buy for "only $35, and charge it to your Visa or MasterCard, so call toll-free now, and it's all tax deductible"), Falwell tells us that President Clinton "is considering" legislation to make homosexuals "a minority." Does this imply gays are currently a majority? No, Falwell explains, once gays are recognized as a minority, they are entitled to equal rights! They would be protected from job discrimination (Horrors!), entitled to equal housing (Terrors!), and might even be permitted to get married (No!) to each other (No! No!).
- Then Falwell crosses even his own line between reality and illusion. If we didn't know Falwell better, it might seem like simple paranoia, but, knowing Falwell as we do, we know it's nothing but a good fund-raising technique, one of Falwell's favorites: If he can scare the be-Jesus out of people with dishonest and outrageous statements, he can scare the money out of them too. Falwell explains that the federal government could require a certain number of homosexuals to be hired by private churches. Over videos carefully selected to show gays to be as salacious as possible, Falwell asks, "Do you want gays working in your church, preaching your Sunday sermons, educating your children?" The idea that the federal government is going to shove homosexuality down our throats and down the throats of our children in church is enough to open pocketbooks, purses, and checkbooks all across the country.
A fanatic is a man that does what he thinks the Lord would do if he knew the facts of the case.
|FINLEY PETER DUNNE|
- But buying a video is not enoughone must also vote. Falwell, you see, has discovered the 900 number. Legitimate network current affairs programs have used 900 numbers to have their audiences vote on controversial subjects for some time. The charge is nominal, usually 50 cents, and any profits are donated to charity. Falwell, too, has 900 numbers; one to call if you support protecting our children from federally imposed homosexuality, the other to call if you're in favor of perverts, perverts everywhere. Either call costs you $1.95 per minute. The moneyafter the phone company takes its cutgoes to Jerry Falwell. If you oppose homosexual rights, Falwell will send your name to the White House stating your position (which Falwell has kindly worded for you, including biblical citations). Falwell will also be kind enough to add your name to his mailing list, as you are obviously a right-thinking, all-American Christian. (Besides, you might want to buy some of his tapes, books, sermons, or even send your children to his university.) If you support gay rights, Falwell does nothing. No petition to the White House, no mailing list, no solicitations for videos, books, sermons, and your children are not welcome at his university. He keeps your $1.95 per minute anyway.
- Speaking of education, Falwell also regularly gives an extended pitch for Liberty University. Thereover images of Falwell roughhousing with the guys, talking respectfully to the girls, roughhousing with the guys, talking respectfully to the girls, and roughhousing with the guyswe are told that this institute of higher learning has no co-educational dorms; no drugs; no alcohol; no secular, humanistic, atheistic teachings (such as evolution); no Marxist, Leninist, communist propaganda (the kind you might find at, say, the Democratic National Headquarters); no Godless liberalism; andmost important of all"no sex outside of marriage." With all these restrictions, it's no wonder that the pitch is directed toward "parents and grandparents" and not at the potential students themselves.
I never saw a contradiction between the ideas that sustain me and the ideas of that symbol, of that extraordinary figure [Jesus Christ].
- One thing there's obviously plenty of at Liberty University, however, is white people. Of the dozens, perhaps hundreds of students shown in the promotional video, I spotted precisely two students who were darker than Debby Boone. One must suspect from this footage thatat Liberty Universityeither (a) the term racial minority is given new and vibrantly literal meaning, or (b) Falwell wants the parents and grandparents to think the term racial minority is given new and vibrantly literal meaning.
- The whole idea is that your children or grandchildren will be safe at Liberty Universitysafe from drugs, safe from alcohol, safe from radical politics, safe from homosexuals and other minorities. Your child or grandchild will even be safe from his or her own lust. One assumes the school motto is "Non libertas Libertaum" ("No liberties are taken at Liberty").
- As the weeks passed, I continued watching The Old Time Gospel Hour (it's like a traffic accidentcan't look at it; can't look away). The videos taken at the gay inaugural ball (under the title "Expos of the Clinton Inaugural Gala") must have been a hit. Falwell sent a camera crew to the 1993 Gay March on Washington, and brought back even more "shocking and disgusting" video of men kissing men, women kissing women, and (prepare yourself) men marrying men and women marrying women.
- If Falwell was the Pharisee I believed him to be, I wondered how long it would take me to discover hypocrisy. The rules of my little game were: it had to be his hypocrisy and he had to be hypocritical on his own terms. It didn't take long. In fact, I had my choice. On his show of May 2, 1993, Falwell said seventeen times that this was the absolute last and final week to get a copy of the "Expos of the Clinton Inaugural Gala." Two weeks later, he offered it again. I faxed a letter to Jerry, pointing out his, shall we say, discrepancy, just in case his misrepresentation was inadvertent. No: he meant it. The next week he offered the "Expos of the Clinton Inaugural Gala" again. Again, he said it was the last week. The following week, guess what? Yes, more Clinton Inaugural Galas. But this time, he actually admitted that he had previously said, "this is the last week," on two other broadcasts, and sure enough, he was offering them again. He freely admitted that he was going to, in his own words, "renege," "change my mind," and "go back on my word." Isn't this commonly known as lying? Well, what had Falwell said about lying and its consequences on recent shows? He had quoted,
A lie will easily get you out of a scrape, and yet, strangely and beautifully, rapture possesses you when you have taken the scrape and left out the lie.
|C. E. MONTAGUE|
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)
According to God (according to Falwell), "all liars" fall into the same category as "the fearful, and unbelieving, the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters." All are abominable.
The reason we should all join God in hating homosexuals, Falwell claims, is because God condemns it. He cites (over and over) this passage:
Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. (Leviticus 18:22)
So, lying is in the same biblical category as to "lie with mankind, as with womankind" (both are abominable). And what does Reverend Falwell say about ministers who are not morally up to snuff? This from his Easter Sunday sermon, April 11, 1993:
But I do not believe that when a preacher's ever guilty of moral default, he should ever be allowed in the pulpit again. Period.
His studie was but litel on the Bible.
The Canterbury Tales
- By his own standards, by his own Bible verse, and by his own admission, Falwell was no longer fit to preach. I wrote and asked him for his resignation. Do you think he resigned? Do you think he even wrote back? Do you think Falwell would say no to a Hostess Twinkie?[*FN]
[*FN] Falwell is amazingly cooperative: I was watching The Old Time Gospel Hour one day, and wondered, "How overweight is he, anyway?" Within five minutes he told me. (He said he was 59 years old, 6'1'' and 282 pounds. That makes him 89 pounds overweight.) Interactive television!
- I purchased the "Expos of the Clinton Inaugural Gala" and "The March on Washington" videos, and guess what I got in the mail? A letter from Jerry, begging for more money to help save America from the homosexuals. If I sent $49, he'd send me even more "uncensored" videos! How many hours of gay video can one Christian take?
- Jerry knows he's got to mine this prejudice as quickly as he can. Science has fairly well proven that most homosexuality is not a choice, but something people are born with. This being the case, homosexuality must then be God's will, and if it's God's will, good Christians must accept itno matter how much it may hurt.
- On March 21, 1993, Falwell said,
We must evangelize America beyond any past efforts . . .
With more than 200 television stations now carrying The Old Time Gospel Hour worldwide, I am recommitted to giving the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost world.
You must believe in God, in spite of what the clergy say.
- In the twenty or so shows broadcast since then, I have not seen Falwell spend more than one minute per hour "giving the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ" to anyone. It's politics, politics, politics, hate, hate, hate, fear, fear, fear. It's the same anti-gay, anti-women (one of the tapes he sells is "Why True Christian Women Do Not Participate in the Feminist Movement"[*FN]), anti-Clinton (to the sins of communism and onanism, Falwell apparently wants to add Clintonism), anti-choice, and anti-ACLU (which he calls the "American Communist Lawyers Union").
[*FN] A typical quote: "Calling a woman a 'Christian feminist' is a contradiction in terms. It is much like saying, 'Christian prositute.' If a woman takes the Bible seriously, she cannot be a committed Christian and a feminist at the same time." Or, "In the event, young lady, you are being persuaded by some feminist to join the movement, you have to make a major choice in your life. You must reject the Bible to do it." Or, "I have difficulty understanding why Norman Lear [founder of People for the American Way] so aggressively promotes feminism since his last divorce settlement cost him $125 million. One would think he would be angry with women."
- At first, I thought that by this lack of focus on Jesus, Falwell was just breaking yet another promise. Then it dawned on me: This is what he considers "giving the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost world." He has so thoroughly left behind the separation of church and state that he actually believes his 99% political Old Time Intolerance Hour is The Old Time Gospel Hour. "We must again learn to view governmental action from God's viewpoint," he explains. He then goes on to say,
A great American, Pat Robertson, recently said: "Man's law is important, but it must reflect God's law to be truly valid. . . .
What a gift our forefathers have given us. By their example we learn that it is our right and duty as citizens to judge the laws and the lawmakers of this nation by the laws of God in the created order and in God's Word, and then to act."
- Although Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson think of themselves as the prima donnas of rival opera companies (they kiss in public but bitch about each other in private), they will quote even each other when desperate to prove a point.
|Police arrested Emmet Wheat, of Hay- ward, California, for hitting eighteen vehicles with his flatbed truck, injuring twelve people. He crashed into the highway center divider after littering three miles of the Nimitz Freeway with dented vehicles. "He said the Lord had spoken to him," Karen Wheat recounted, "and that the Lord told him he could drive through cars."|
- Pat Robertson hosts the daily 700 Club (named after his first 700 devoted donors), is the founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), writes bestselling books on what God would do if He only had control of Washington, is the ringleader of the Christian Coalition, and runs for president whenever he is "forced" to. Between Falwell and Robertson, from the standpoint of consensual crimes, Robertson is far more dangerous.
- In 1989, Robertson formed the Christian Coalition, a tax-exempt "social welfare organization" which gathers money from Christians and puts it into political campaigns. Not directly, mind you, but in the form of "voter information pamphlets" which supposedly tell where candidates stand on particular issues in a supposedly fair and balanced way. Of course, the pamphlets are neither fair nor balanced. The conservative candidate (almost always a Republican) is the knight in shining armor for God's righteous forces while his or her opponent is, at best, anti-Christian and, most likely, in league with the devil. The Christian Coalition sent out 40 million such "voter information pamphlets" in support of George Bush during the 1992 presidential campaign. That didn't bring a victory, but sometimes it does. In 1990, the Christian Coalition sent out 350,000 pieces of literature at the last minute to help Jesse Helms win what many thought was a lost senatorial campaign.
KING: God told you to be for George Bush. Is that true? Did you say that? ROBERTSON: I'm not sure if I did . . . KING: PatDid you, Pat? ROBERTSON: I may have, to some of my close friends . . . KING: Pat! ROBERTSON: Yes! I think he's going to win.
August 17, 1992
- The Christian Coalition campaigned heavily in the 1993 Los Angeles mayoral race, sending out 450,000 pamphlets, and its candidate, Richard Riordan, won. The next morning on the 700 Club, Pat Robertson gloated that "Christian-bashing politics and anti-Christian campaign tactics" were no longer going to work. He showed the "Christian-bashing," "anti-Christian" commercial prepared by Riordan's opponent. The commercial was only antiPat Robertson. Christ and Christianity were never mentioned. If one criticizes Pat Robertson's role in the political process, then, one is of course bashing Christianity and is anti-Christian. Or so Pat Robertson wants his followers to believe.
- That same morning on the 700 Club, Robertson interviewed, via satellite, the gushingly grateful new senator from Texas, also backed by the Christian Coalition. One by one, election by election, Robertson is pocketing elected officials at all levels of government, right up to and including the United States Senate. They owe Robertson political favors, and the political favor Robertson wants is for God's law to become man's law. More accurately, it is for Pat Robertson's interpretation of God's law to become man's law.
- The goose laying all these political golden eggs is the 700 Club. It's an hour-long Monday-through-Friday right-wing Christian infomercial modeled after Good Morning, America (Good Morning, Religious Right). Other 700 Club golden eggs include Regent University, of which Robertson is chancellor; the Christian Broadcasting Network, run by Robertson's son; the Family Channel (which purchased with God's money all the old Mary Tyler Moore Show episodescouldn't ya' die?); and "a lavish faux-eighteenth-century motel called the Founders Inn, whose walls are adorned with gigantic oil portraits of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and . . . Pat Robertson,"[*FN] as Joe Conason described it in the April 27, 1992, issue of The Nation.
Can you spot the one "Christian" in this trio?
It is a curious thing that every creed promises a paradise which will be absolutely uninhabitable for anyone of civilized taste.
- The 700 Club has a set format. Robertson chats amiably with Ben, Robertson's obsequious sidekick, who is as devoted to Robertson as he supposedly is to Jesus. Then we go to "CBN News" which, in network-reporting style (on-air reporter, stock footage, interviews, sound bites, and lots of graphics), a news story is told from an unabashedly politically conservative point of view. We then go back to Pat and Ben, who chat about it. In case anyone missed the point (liberals are Godless heathens and conservatives are America's only hope), Robertson calmly lets us know God's point of view on every political and social issue, while Ben leads him on with question after question, as though Robertson were somehow shyeven reluctantto share his personal point of view. "Ah, shucks, Ben, I don't know. But if I had to take a guess . . ." and then he moves in with an obviously well-prepared kill. After a report on Hurricane Andrew, for example, Robertson revealed its true cause: the fact that God had removed "his blessing" from America. "If we're not a Christian nation," Robertson said, "why should God give us his blessing?" Why indeed? Next news item.
- Then it's time for guests. These are either celebrities paying homage, authors of Christian books, experts pontificating on current events, politicians looking for votes, or entertainers looking for a little PRtypical morning talk-show fare. The only difference is everyone must acknowledge Pat Robertson's form of Christianity at least once during the interview.
How could the Pat Robertsons and the Pat Buchanans, presuming to be the spokespeople for God, spew such doctrines of divisiveness, intolerance and inhumanity? Who is that God?
- And then there are the Geraldo-like guests designed to keep viewers glued to their sets with personal stories involving tantalizing, even scandalous, twists of fate. An example: "This Christian mother and father of three children have AIDS. Their story later in our show. But now. . . ." It makes for good sound bites. The husband and wife, as it turns out, don't have AIDS, but are infected with "the AIDS virus." They got it through "heterosexual promiscuity" prior to their conversion to Christ. Two and a half years after being "rooted in the Lord" they discovered their condition, but, "praise the Lord," none of their children is HIV-positive. That the 700 Club is telling its viewers AIDS is also transmitted by heterosexuals is good news. The bad news? On the 700 Club Christians are not encouraged to use condoms; children should not be instructed in condom use; and condoms should not be passed out in public schools. The only answer to stop the spread of AIDS is complete and total abstinence until marriage. Period.
- This facade of journalistic integrity is reminiscent (and why shouldn't it be?) of Robertson's 1990 book, The New Millennium. In his book, Robertson rattles along just fine outlining, with proper statistical background, some real problems in America (the national debt, violent crime, and so on) and then, suddenly, he makes a sharp turn to the right, another sharp turn to the right, another sharp turn to the right, another sharp turn to the right, and then retraces his ground. Like most commentators who only turn right or only turn left, he winds up going in circles. Violent crime, he claims, is caused by feminists (by destroying the American family, which erodes society, which raises immoral children, who go out and commit violence). The national debt was caused by homosexuals. (I won't torture you with the logic of that one.) The rhetoric harkens back to Hitler, who blamed everything on (a) the International Jewish Conspiracy, (b) communism, (c) the impurity of the Aryan race, (d) homosexuality, or, (e) all of the above.
Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming,"I am he," and, "The time is near." Do not follow them.
|JESUS OF NAZARETH
- The 700 Club spends at least two minutes of each hour praying. Good. One can only take so much politics. And then there's fund-raising. That gets a lot more than two minutes each hour, but not as much as politicsexcept during fund-raising periods. Yes, Robertson loves saving souls. He also loves getting conservative Christian voters on his mailing lists. In 1992, Robertson declared his Christian Coalition's goal:
We want to see a working majority of the Republican Party in the hands of pro-family Christians by 1996 or sooner.
- If that comes to passand there's not much reason why it should notby the new millennium, I'll be able to publish a book the size of this one just listing the consensual crimes. But, of course, that book would be banned.
- I'm not against Falwell and Robertson because they are politically conservative; I'm against them because they are against fundamental freedoms. They don't believe we, as adults, have the right to do with our person and property as we see fit, as long as we do not physically harm the person or property of another. Why? "Because it's against God's law." Who says? "God does!" Where? "Just read the Bible!" I did, and as this chapter has gone to great lengths to show, "It's not there." Alan Watts offers his perspective:
Fundamentalists veer to the extreme right wing in politics, being of the personality type that demands strong external and paternalistic authority. Their "rugged individualism" and their racism are founded on the conviction that they are the elect of God the Father, and their forebears took possession of America as the armies of Joshua took possession of Canaan, treating the Indians as Joshua and Gideon treated the Bedouin of Palestine. In the same spirit the Protestant British, Dutch and Germans took possession of Africa, India and Indonesia, and the rigid Catholics of Spain and Portugal colonized Latin America. Such territorial expansion may or may not be practical politics, but to do it in the name of Jesus of Nazareth is an outrage.
Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right?
|JESUS OF NAZARETH
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