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hypocrisy

What I really meant to say was…

Oops!As I’m sure you are aware, some Christians interpret the bible mostly as a fictional story filled with allegories and examples showing how we should live our lives. Some other Christians seem to not “interpret” the bible at all, instead taking it at its literal word, insisting that everything is true in exactly the way it is written.

I usually don’t have much of a problem with the first group, much like I don’t usually have a problem with those who interpret Aesop’s Fables as fun made-up stories with accompanying moral lessons. If Aesop-readers started speaking as if real talking foxes were actually disgruntled over not being able to eat grapes, there would be a different issue.

The bible literalists are the ones I target in this post. I find that, right at the beginning of the bible, we see that God is either not all-knowing or he is a liar. There are a number of biblical passages that show this, but I’m going to start right in Genesis chapter two.

God tells Adam that he can eat from any tree in the Garden of Eden except… the Tree of Knowledge. So far, so good. Other than setting Adam up for failure (and already knowing that Adam will fail, being all-knowing and whatnot), this is a relatively straightforward rule. Here’s the exact quote from the King James Bible.

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Genesis 2:16-17

That’s pretty simple. Eat from any tree in the garden whenever you want, just don’t eat from the tree of knowledge because on the day you do that, you’ll die.

Wait… you’ll die? That day?

If you continue reading Genesis, you’ll see that Adam and Eve both lived long after they chomped on the forbidden fruit. Strangely enough, that’s what the serpent told them. So did God lie and the serpent tell the truth? …or did God make a mistake when he just thought that Adam and Eve would die that day. It’s got to be one or the other because according to the bible, they most certainly did not die that day.

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Ted Haggard and the Sparkling Gem of Hypocrisy

Ted HaggardI just finished watching the Alexandra Pelosi documentary The Trials Of Ted Haggard. Before watching this documentary, I had always felt that Ted Haggard had gotten what was coming to him. I had an empathetic feeling of sorrow for his wife and five children, but thought that he deserved the public scorn and humiliation that was assailing him. After watching this documentary, my opinion changed a little bit.

Now make no mistake, Ted Haggard did lead a life of double standards to be sure. There is video example after example of his preaching that homosexuals are sinners who need help, and all the while he was using methamphetamines and partaking in the massage skills of Mr. Mike Jones, a known homosexual prostitute.

Believe it or not, this obvious breach of pastoral etiquette is not the hypocrisy to which the title of this story refers.

No. I am, in fact, referring to the hypocritical treatment that the Haggard family et al, received from their New Life Ministry “leaders.” Once again, allow me to be crystal clear that I am not defending Ted Haggard. He got what was coming. I just found it over-the-top crazy that these religious leaders felt the best way to shepherd their lost sheep (Haggard) back into the fold was to publicly humiliate him and force his family into a settlement requiring exile from the state of Colorado.

I am not a Christian but I do believe this is not what Jesus would have done (I also believe that rising from the dead was something that Jesus would not have done…but I digress). These leaders are men who preach forgiveness, loving the sinner but hating the sin, and the power of redemption. The best they could come up with was exile? Now we’re getting biblical.

Did Haggard wander around a desert after his exodus? Yes… although it wasn’t Egypt and it didn’t take 40 years. Haggard explains how he enjoyed going to the desert in Arizona, reading scripture, and praying to God for guidance.

Here is what I believe was the bottom line. Reverend Ted’s actions could undermine the faith of New Life Ministry’s parishioners (customers) and the leaders (religious business men) of New Life Ministries didn’t want their church (business) to be tainted (drop in revenue) because of  Reverend Ted’s behavior.

If I were a parishioner of the New Life Ministry I would be just as ashamed of its leaders as I was of Reverend Ted.

Looking in the Mirror

The now (in)famous London bus ads which read “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” are about to work their way onto the Toronto Transit System in Canada. As with similar ads in other places, the ads are drawing kudos and complaints from interested parties.

One such complaint came to my attention today via an article on globeandmail.com. It seems that Dr. Charles McVety, president of the Canada Family Action Coalition and the Canada Christian College in Toronto, is claiming that the ads are “attack ads.”

This bit from the article is what really caught my attention (emphasis mine)…

“These ads are not saying what the atheists believe, they are attacking what other people believe,” [McVety] said. “And if you look at the dictionary definition for … bigot, that’s exactly what it is, to be intolerant of someone else’s belief system.”

First, I’d like to point out that the ads specifically do say what atheists believe… there’s probably no God. That’s pretty straightforward and unambiguous.

The major point, however, is McVety’s statement about bigotry. This man, who is complaining about an atheist statement by calling it an attack, whose group, the Canada Family Action Coalition, fought against the legalization of same-sex marriage,  and who is a “prominent evangelical leader” according to the article, has the audacity to accuse someone else of bigotry? His statement is a bald-faced example of classic hypocrisy.

Sadly, however, it’s not an uncommon example of hypocrisy. It’s all too common. Fundamentalists who make accusations of bigotry need to first look in the mirror before opening their mouths.