17 November, 2008

"Good" Christian People

I didn't mean to spend tonight bashing religion, but I cannot let this pass:

An awful story from the Washington Post:

"Rob Foster was 16 when his family unraveled.

He had told his parents that he wanted to leave Calvary Temple, the Pentecostal church in Sterling the family had attended for decades. But church leaders were blunt with his parents: Throw your son out of the house, or you will be excommunicated. And so that December two years ago, Gary and Marsha Foster told Rob that he had to leave. They would not see him or talk to him.

"I was devastated," he said. (...)

Under the leadership of longtime pastor Star R. Scott, Calvary opened a school, television and radio ministries, and satellite churches around the globe. The local congregation at one point numbered 2,000.

Scott's followers see him as an inspiring interpreter of God's word. Members pack the church most nights, united in their desire to live as the Bible intended and reject what they view as society's moral ambivalence. (...)

In his sermons, Scott teaches that his church is scripturally superior to others and views keeping people in the fold as a matter of their salvation. "Anything that's other than a member in harmony has to be identified and expelled," Scott preached in May 2007.

Don't be afraid of "social services" if you throw rebellious children out of the house, he told the congregation in an earlier sermon, because "you obeyed God." In an interview, he cited scriptures: "Deuteronomy says if your kid doesn't follow your God, kill 'em. That's what we do, but not physically. To us, you're dead if you're not serving our God," he said.

And he's proud of it. Declaring a sixteen year-old dead, ripping families apart, is all part of being "scripturally superior" to other churches.

If this was anything other than Christianity, it would be called a cult. But because these are "good Christian people" with nice buildings and a big congregation following the Bible to a T instead of a few paranoid jackasses holed up in shacks with automatic weapons waiting for Armageddon, they're merely considered devout. How sick does our society have to be for that double-standard to apply?

Hilzoy takes this fucktard apart by quoting Jesus against him, but it doesn't matter. He can fire right back:

"Jesus said, 'I didn't come to bring peace, I came to bring a sword,' " the elder Scott said about the divided families."

To which I might add, "You must not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a son’s wife against her mother-in-law; and a man will find his enemies under his own roof. No man is worthy of me who cares more for father or mother than for me; no man is worthy of me who cares for son or daughter; no man is worthy of me who does not take up his cross and walk in my footsteps." He says much the same thing in Luke.

This is what fundamentalist religion does. This is what it cares about. Ideological purity is more important than people. What kind of morality says it's all right to kick your own son out of your house because he lost his faith, since you can't kill him for his thought crime? How is that a religion of peace, love and compassion?

People get so bogged down in the details that they forget human heartedness. And they have the gall to tell us they're morally superior. They call us evil.

Which of us would declare our children dead to us simply because they're following their conscience?

This is why I cringe when Christian friends tell me they and their churches try to live by the Bible. If they meant it literally, if they truly did try to follow it to the letter, this is what would happen. They'd have no other choice.

We need less "living by the Bible." Not more.


george.w said...

A Quote Of The Day from Of Course, I Could Be Wrong:

"The practice of compassion is central to every one of the major world religions, but sometimes you would never know it. Instead, religion is associated with violence, intolerance and seems more preoccupied by dogmatic or sexual orthodoxy.

Why, then, do we hear so little about compassion from the religious? Because whether they are religious or secular, people often prefer to be right rather than compassionate. Certainly the religious traditions have a deeply intransigent strain. But we have a choice."

"We can either emphasize this intolerance, as extremists and fundamentalists do, or we can make a concerted effort to make the compassionate voice of religion audible in our troubled world."

Karen Armstrong
"The Guardian", 14th. November 2008

John Pieret said...

Wait until you see this.

Nicole said...

Call me interpretational, but I was always told that the "sword" referred to in Christianity was the use of Scripture as a weapon.

Or, yanno, throw out your kids. Whatever.