Sunday, November 11, 2007

robertson’s hypocrisy

In 1979 a guy by the name of Tim LaHaye (yes, that Tim LaHaye) and another by the name of Jerry Fallwell established what they called The Moral Majority, a network of fundamentalist churches and Christians who were the beginning of what we now know as the Political Right, or the Right Wing, a much farther reaching network of evangelical Christians across America. Shortly after this, they recruited guys like Pat Robertson to join their ranks and spread their message on topics such as homosexuality, abortion, drugs, pornography, gun control, judicial appointments, and the Middle East (specifically concerning the nation of Israel). Today the Right Wing continues to be led by guys like Pat Robertson and James Dobson while LaHaye remains in the background. Fallwell passed away earlier this year.

Though the nation of Israel, pornography, and the love of guns have certainly been popular topics among Right Wing speakers, it would be fair to say that no topics have dominated the movement like homosexuality and abortion. Over the past twenty-five years we have been led to believe, among other things, that it is these two topics which have affectively escorted God out of America and made it clear that He is not welcome. I grew up in the epicentre of the Right Wing Movement. Before moving to Oklahoma at the age of ten, I lived in West Virginia, attended a fundamentalist church, and made annual trips to Lynchburg, Virginia to hear the Reverend Jerry Fallwell speak. To us he was Moses. I even had him autograph my Bible.

Homosexuality and abortion have been the glue that has held the Right Wing movement together. When its leaders decided to get together and oust Jimmy Carter (possibly the last Christian President the U.S. will ever know) out of office, and push Ronald Reagan into office, they did it under the heading of “family values”. Family values, of course, did not include homosexuality. Like the Pharisees themselves, guys like Pat Robertson and Jerry Fallwell preached fear. I can remember praying that Ronald Reagan would win the election against Jimmy Carter, afraid that the apocalypse would take place if Carter were in office another four years. Imagine that, fearing that if a peace loving Christian, who had helped to start an integrated Baptist church in Georgia, were to remain in charge for another four years, that God would actually unleash Satan upon the United States. To be honest with you, when I think about that time, all I can do is scratch my head and then applaud the genius of the men who were somehow able to convince us of that. While preaching fear isn’t a completely original move (it’s a tactic still very much in use today), convincing Christians to vote another Christian out of office lest Satan gain control may be the greatest game of switcharoo ever played. The math simply does not add up. After all, Ronald Reagan was about as Christian as the prophet Muhammad.

So why the history lesson? Well because this week Pat Robertson gave his official endorsement of Rudy Giuliani for President and, in case you haven’t been paying attention, Giuliani is unapologetically in favour of gay rights and a woman’s right to choose abortion. In his endorsement speech Robertson said that, although he and Giuliani “disagree on social issues, those disagreements pale into insignificance when measured against the import of the fight against global terrorism and radical Islam”. Robertson went on to say that "We need a man who sees clearly how to deal with that issue". Giuliani pointed out the common ground he had with Christians by emphasizing his “work to rid Times Square of pornography”.

I don’t quite know how to respond to that.

For twenty five years Robertson has been assuring us that there were no greater issues nearer to God’s heart than homosexuality and abortion, and that if we got a man in the oval office who would rid our country of these two sins, our country would once again find favor in God’s eyes. Now he’s telling us that they’re really not that big a deal? Wow. Is it ok if I feel a bit jaded now? Can we agree that the word “cynical” is no longer an accurate description for my feelings concerning the right wing? This reeks of somebody who is trying desperately to align themselves with the winning candidate. I can’t see any other way of seeing it, after all, Robertson aligning himself with Giuliani is like PETA aligning themselves with Michael Vick. As far as issues go, John McCain and Mitt Romney are clearly more sensible candidates...unless you want to win.

And so, with the burden of right wing guilt now lifted from my shoulders, I’m finally free to vote the issues, rather than the candidates. With that in mind, I stumbled across a really great website called It has a twenty question quiz that allows you to electronically find out which candidate most represents the things you feel are important. According to this quiz, the following are my top five candidates.

John Edwards
Hillary Clinton
John McCain
Tommy Tompson
Barack Obama

Jesus never talked about homosexuality, but constantly talked about the poor. Could it be that this vote will draw me closer to the heart of Jesus than ever before?

Comments on "robertson’s hypocrisy"


Blogger blogblogblog said ... (8:09 PM) : 

Deep and well-written post. Thank you. I share your regret about Jimmy Carter. He's kind of like the guy you would have liked in high school if you'd been paying attention to the right things.

I prefer to be apolitical because I think they're all lying to varying degrees, but I realize that's not too possible and certainly not responsible. Took the quiz just out of curiosity. Here's my top 5:
Chris Dodd, Hilary, Obama, McCain and Joe Biden.

I never would have guessed it would come out that way.


Blogger Larry said ... (10:23 PM) : 

FOr some interesting reading...go to the most recent post from sojourners/call to renewal. the link is

jim wallis has some interesting things to say about pat robertson's endorsement.

i will take the quiz later.


Blogger Dr. Keaton said ... (9:33 PM) : 

OK, so I took the quiz and I am officially a liberal. I think I may have to turn in my evangelical membership card and decoder Bible.


Blogger jsi said ... (2:38 AM) : 

I have written and re-written a comment to you several times these past few days...and needed to delete it everytime. I don't like to comment to people on someone's else's site, indirect and unnecessary. You don't read my blog or comment, but you do read and comment on a site I follow. Your most recent rant in the comment section for Questions for the Journey I found to be amazingly offensive and hurtful when stating the pathetic quality of people who are officers. And intentional in its offensiveness and hurtfulness. I consistently defend you and your expressed thoughts, within this medium, because you are someone I knew and trusted. I appreciate your point of view and comment on your site when I can. I pray for you and your family and the ministry you nurture and uphold. I never recognized that you were so completely offended by my husband and I when we were leaders with you in Western PA:you judging our inadequacy and ineptitude regularly. But obviously you were. And are. And are that way with the people near you.
You have a very wide based blanket of negative criticism and blast it in your opportunity of freely protected speech.
My words may be useless to you, but your destructive criticism is unavoidable, blatant and palpable that you are hurting and angry.
There are people around you who need your help to be the best they can be, not to be daily reminded of unworthy of your input they are. You have an amazing opportunity to be a channel of change, blessing, health and love all in the name of Christ Jesus. Drop the pot shots and embrace the ministry of Jesus which is inclusive, forgiving, active in the important reality check but also undergirded with hope and grace.


Blogger Sean said ... (5:34 AM) : 

wow,. . .That . . . was . . . Awesome!

Not to trivialize that response, and despite my misgivings of possibly adding to a fire that crosses several blogs ( I have heard of a lot of people getting upset about opinions on blogs (specifically Tim's) I understand that Tim is an influencer to lots of folks and therefore carries a burden of responsibility to build up and support his leaders. There is a point though, where that influence must point towards where God may be leading. (and several people that I talk to in the Army who have a problem with these sort of critiques tend to say, 'If you don't like it, get out.' This is exactly the problem with trying to control people. There is no more obvious a case for the need true self evaluation than that)

There is pretty obvious defensiveness and some hurt feelings there. From what I gather, and I do not know the whole deal, the idea that there is a shortage of strong, visionary leadership in the Salvation Army pushes some buttons, (hopefully so). One thing that I notice is that there is a distinct feeling of being personally attacked by that statement. Is this because there is truth to the statement, or is it simply a 'don't ever go against the family' sort of thing?

Because I am not, and most likely will never will be an officer, I cannot truly relate to feeling hurt by a general statement that most of the officers today are of a lower caliber than they once were. That being said, For real? If that is all you got out of that 'rant' based on the problem of the power struggle in the Army, than you missed the point!

Though, it may have been an intentional, indirect way of undercutting all that you are personally as a leader, I feel like in actuality the point was that strong leaders are leaving the army, great people, young and old, are being lost because they are not being led (they are being told to submit) and this mostly because in reality, there is a mass shortage of strong visionary leaders in the Army.

By the way, it is OK to be an officer and not be a strong visionary leader, and to need to grow in leadership, just call a stone a stone.

In a case like this, especially when responding (not in person)to someone else's response to a specific need in the church, it is easy to jump to being hurt instead of discussing why someone's perspective could cause pain. I have to think that there is truth to being gracious, and positive, but also have to point out that when it comes to leaders, Christ was pretty direct and a lot of times negative in an effort to push them. And I do not think it was too 'palpable' that Jesus was simply hurting and angry . . . except that they weren't doing what was so necessary for the kingdom of course he was angry! (i.e. everything with the Pharisees, with Peter. ) I was particularly blown away by your statement,
"I never recognized that you were so completely offended by my husband and I when we were leaders with you in Western PA:you judging our inadequacy and ineptitude regularly. But obviously you were. And are."
You do not need to be offended by someone to think them not a strong leader, or to be stuck in a system in which leaders are not being developed. And the reality of the Salvation Army (and this is due to years of unintentional shortcomings that is absolutely not limited to the Army) is that there is such an large chasm that an officer needs to fill, that there is no one who is totally adequate and qualified.

This could go on forever, but man, I feel like the hurt feelings from this points back to the problem. You have to be able question leadership without them feeling destroyed.

Here is where I am landing.

Being a leader requires you to be accountable, open to harsh criticism, and directly challenged. If you can't take the heat, this isn't the kitchen for you. Also, the fact that this is so offensive means that there is not a community of leadership around you to support and build you up. Communal leadership is the Biblical model. I know that the life of an officer is a lonely one, and again it comes back to the fact that the Army has failed to uphold an environment for strong, visionary leaders to thrive.

And . . . as far as the moral majority goes, I hate that politics right now are so media driven. Obviously, ever candidate is going to have problems, and Pat Robertson is entitled to his own opinion, but I jive with what you are saying. I wonder how appearance in the media plays a role in all of this. It may be a way to gain a better platform, but I hate the idea of trading one wrong for another in hopes to bring 'right' later, which is what this seems to be as it is pretty obvious that Robertson does not feel a democratic candidate is 'right'. Two wrongs never make a right.


Blogger Tim said ... (5:59 PM) : 

Dear Jsi,

Let me start off with a much needed apology. If I have come off as believing that others are unworthy of my input or in any way beneath me, then I have, at best, overshot my point and, at worst, been a complete jerk. I’m not excited about either of those options and, while I do think that there are many people who should be offended by my thoughts on church leadership, I in no way meant to suggest that we had no quality leaders in the SA. I thought I had been clear about that in the comment I left on Questions For The Journey, but apparently not. I truly regret that. To be clear, if I were starting a religious organization from scratch, there are officers from both my current territory and former territory that I would love to take with me. No question. As for your specific ministry, and for what it’s worth, I was really only ever familiar with your youth ministry in Western, PA, which I found to be exceptional.

Jessi, no doubt there’s a danger in being too critical. And no doubt I’ve overstepped that line on a number of occasions. But I happen to believe that there’s just as much danger in not facing the truth. In my opinion, the Army has been hiding/not facing the truth for far too long and it is this willingness to turn a blind eye, at best, and disguise the truth, at worst that has, in part, brought us to this point in our church’s history. I’m left confused at your point that I “judge our church’s ineptitude and inadequacy on a regular basis”. For one thing, I think you misuse the word “judge” in your point. But whether you mean “notice” or “judge”, I think our ineptitude and inadequacy is there to be judged and is, quite often, by others in our communities. Sometimes by other churches and agencies, and sometimes by our own congregation. If that offends you, I’m not quite sure what to say.

All that said, I’m aware of the verse that challenges us to speak the truth in love. I’m also aware of the difference between constructive criticism and just downright bashing. I’m afraid that my own unchecked frustrations often leak out on the internet because I simply have no other place to vent them. Please know that it is out of a sincere desperation to see the church as a whole, and the Army in particular, truly reflect the love of Christ in our communities and to truly be effective in our mission. For my part I will continue to strive for balance in my posts and in my comments on other’s blogs and again, I do apologize for what appears to be a lack of humility on my part.


p.s. For the record, I do read your blog.


Blogger Dave said ... (10:33 PM) : 

Nice quiz, but why did it tell me to vote for Hugo Chavez?


Blogger Phil said ... (4:16 AM) : 

Voting for Ron Paul. I'm serious.


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