Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Toxic Faith doesn't save you.

Recently it has become obvious that the self-righteous right wingers aren't practicing what they preach. Mr. Traditional Values Man Mark Foley resigned after it was disclosed he was pursuing young men less than a half his age, and that this behavior had been going on for many years. Then comes the news that country "superstar" Sarah Evans was divorcing her husband of over a decade. Turns out her and her husband are staunch Republicans, and her husband ran for Congress in 2002, and runs a PAC raising money for Republican candidates. Her husband, Craig Schelske, was also a student at Pat Robertson's Regent University, and lists on his web page that he belongs to a non-denominational Christian Church.
And in his spare time, it seems his well made up and lookable wife isn't enough. At least according to his wife. Her husband, Craig Schelske of course denies all the allegations. What I thought was interesting is the placement of Craig Schelske as a "team member" of American Destiny, an organization whose goal is to "... is not just information. It is change. By remembering who we were intended to be. The result: social justice, economic strength, racial reconciliation, political righteousness, and a faith that draws the favor of God.

Our dream, and our passion, is to see America shake off her lesser self and become the nation of God’s intent and our Founders’ hopes. Help us, then, to Remember what has been forgotten, Restore what has been lost, and Rebuild what America may again become."

So how is it that this Craig Schelske, and Ted Haggard, and Paul Barnes, all these trumpeters of traditional family values, these paragons of Godly virtue, are all sex addicts? How is it that they cannot shake off their "lesser" selves and live real lives?
Part of it has to do with looking at life as having a "lesser" self to begin with. A segregated self, neatly or not, compartmentalized into little cubby holes is not how life is. That approach to life is dogmatic, and as these three men demonstrate, doomed to failure. The Christianity they are following is what some even in their own midst would call toxic faith.
I walked with this crowd for 13 years, which went through the Reagan era. And I saw two things happen there. One, the Church decided that it was easier to legislate than actually live their own morals. As we've seen since the 80's, it has been the choice to legislate and live immoral. The Bakers, Swaggerts, Tiltons, as well as those mentioned above, have been a long enduring train as to the validity of my statement. And what the Church doesn't seem to understand is that what's in the shepherd, is in the sheep. The second thing I saw is that Christianity, in legislating rather than living, was bringing into the fold addicts that simply exchanged their drugs, alcohol, learning, relationship, food and sex addictions for a cleaner version of Bible study, prayer, worship, and leadership addictions. I recall going to a conference that Pastor Cho of South Korea had in Minnesota. Pastor Cho at that time had the only megachurch, and he was teaching how to do to make your own megachurch. The Assemblies of God were all over this. It seemed an outright race to be the first American church to have 10,000 attendants. As a sidebar here, can you see what happened? The emphasis became about numbers, not souls. Christianity morphed into Evangelicalism, and lost sight of it's own mission. Back to the trunk now. At this conference, an up-and-coming pastor openly admitted that if he were to die, his large church would likely flounder and split apart. And it occurred to me that what he had established really wasn't a church, an expression of their living God, but a personality cult. And this was the new direction that the church of America has embraced over the last 20 years. Add to that a patriarchal, hierarchical, dualistic dogma, and you have the recipe for what the church has a become: a staunchly neoconservative, intolerant and belligerent wing of the neoconservative political machine in America.And that is precisely why the founders of our country wanted a separation of church and state.

Not that I care an iota about Christianity. As their dogma is what it is, I see nothing but trouble that can come of it. But if they want to venture into the political arena, and still maintain their tax free status, than the rest of us are being poisoned by their toxic nature, and that gives us the right to stand up and speak against it. And we can hold them accountable to their own standards, which they don't do themselves. They are correct in that the rest of us need to be saved. What they don't see is that we need to be saved from them.


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