Please Don’t Use the ‘C’ Word, Reverend!

Sometimes I wonder why a lightning bolt doesn’t just vaporize all of them, but God’s mercy is infinite. Talk about taking His name in vain…

Dr. Robert Jeffress, the influential pastor of a Dallas-based megachurch, offered his formal endorsement of Texas Gov. Rick Perry Friday at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. Friday, shortly before he explained why Perry’s opponent atop the GOP field, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, is a cultist.

Jeffress introduced Perry before he addressed the annual gathering for social conservatives, making a special point to emphasize Perry’s Christian faith–as opposed to Romney’s, who a Mormon, which Jeffress said was a “cult.”

“We understand Mormonism is not Christianity and thus the difference between somebody who’s moral and good like Mitt Romney and a true born-again follower of Christ,” Jeffress said after Perry’s speech, adding that Perry had welcomed his endorsement. “I really think the decision for conservative evangelical Christians right now is going to be, do we prefer somebody who is truly a believer in Jesus Christ, or somebody who is a good moral person but he’s a part of a cult.”

We all know that cults are bad scary things. They make people believe in the supernatural, do rituals and hand over their money. Not like religions. Here’s a definition of ‘cult’ from Merriam Webster Dictionary…

Definition of CULT
1
: formal religious veneration : worship
2
: a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents
3
: a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents
4
: a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator
5
a : great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad b : the object of such devotion c : a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion

Maybe it’s in the pronunciation. You have to say ‘cult’ in a hissing manner from between clenched teeth while sneering.

This is something that our great Democracy protects–the freedom to practice your own religion and the freedom to call other religions ‘cults’. I don’t think it is seemly or dignified for a minister to do this, but I can ignore them. It’s harder to ignore this kind of talk in a presidential race. Religion should not be used to attract voters or scare them away from opponents. I think most Americans are too sensible to be swayed by these tactics, but if they don’t vote their future will be decided by church vans full of the faithful.

Mitt Romney has the disadvantage of belonging to a minority religion. Smaller religions are more vulnerable to the label ‘cult’. It might be a weapon in the political fray, but it’s bad for the country. I’m glad that Obama adviser David Axelrod banned the word, ‘weird’ from being used to describe Romney, because it’s too easily seen as a covert attack on his religion.
The words ‘weird’ and ‘cult’ kind of go together, ‘weird’ being less open but plausibly a ‘dog whistle’– covert reference to how Mormonism is seen by the majority.

I think I am more likely to run into Elvis at the Mall than to see a Mormon presidential candidate whose politics I like, but if I did I would vote for him or her. A Mormon progressive who made it to the presidential race would be a real maverick. Religion or lack of should not be a factor. The only thing that should matter is the candidate’s platform and record. What they have done, and what they say they’ll do. Knowing their religion does not give us a window into the deep recesses of their character. It’s even happened that dishonest people have pretended to be religious to advance their personal interests. Really. It’s in the New Testament.

I wish Robert Jeffress and everyone else would stop using the ‘c’ word to attack candidate’s religion. The collateral damage is our democracy, where we cherish the ideal that every citizen is equal under law and respected for the merits of our actions and our contribution to society.

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17 thoughts on “Please Don’t Use the ‘C’ Word, Reverend!

  1. I’d as soon see religion stay a private matter when people run for office.
    Lieberman ran the Jewish thing into the ground if you ask me.
    I was raised Jewish,but don’t follow it,so I’m not being an anti-semite here.
    I got turned off by Perry’s revival meting attitude.
    Romney stays on point about what really matters-the economy,health care,immigration,foreign affairs,etc.
    I have to credit Obama for not bringing religion into the debate.

  2. Mr. Obama cannot dicuss “religion” because he risks the resurfacing of the good reverend Wright’s nonsense theology. Mr. Lieberman has never used his religion beyond making known that he observed his holy days, much as did Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax, the famous Jewish baseball players. Mr. Romney and any other candidate or American is free to practice whatever beliief he wishes. It seems to me that the “Golden Tablets” and having Jesus preach to American Indians (who are actually the lost tribes of Israel) is perhaps a bit more delusional then Mohammad’s taking a trip to heaven on the back of a white horse, or Moses hearing God speak from a burning bush or Jesus managing to get alive againafter being killed by the Romans. Perhaps the Mormon belief set seems more delusional only because of the nearness to our own time. It is not an historical religion, and no one really belives Native Americans are what is left of the lost tribes of Israel, or that somehow Jesus managed to reach them in America. But of couse, Mr. Romney is free to believe anything he wishes, and he certainly seems to be a man of integrity, and humility.

    • Donald-nice to hear from you again-I worked with a lot of Mormons in the INS.Many of them were fluent Spanish speakers as a result of being missionaries in Latin America and gravitated to the agency for that reason.
      I never noticed anything unusual about them except they didn’t use alcohol,tobacco,or caffeine.
      I didn’t discuss religion with anyone on the job anyway.
      Obama’s church(really his wife’s)was a sewer of hatred and I’m not surprised he avoided it.
      A lifetime achievement award to Louis Farrakhan says it all.
      The “prgressives”dance around it,but the truth is what it is.

      • Obama’s former church is part of United Church of Christ and is in no way a sewer or promoter of hatred. But if you like your news secondhand, then you can take that on faith.
        I’ve heard Pentecostal preachers issue Jeremiads against the US for her sins and know that it’s a tradition going back to the Old Testament.
        And all those ‘Left Behind’ fans are enjoying a fantasy of the US being smote by the Lord and all the Americans they don’t like getting quick fried. Somehow this is piety and patriotism.

  3. Nancy-I watched Jeremiah Wright and listened to him and I don’t need an interpreter to tell me what he said.
    You won’t go near the Farrakhan award,will you?
    Or just come out and tell me you are OK with Farrakhan,except for…-or maybe you just think he’s good.Your right to believe as you will-but be honest.
    I had a Black agent from another agency once ask me what I thought of Farrakhan aside from the anti Semitic garbage,which the other agent said was unacceptable.
    I just looked at him and asked that after someone called him a “N——“did he care what else the person had to say?He got the point and dropped the subject.
    I stand by my opinion of Wright and his church.
    Ranting about Pentecostals at me,who could give a damn less for them and their church is silly.

    • Reverend Wright is no longer pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, and I’m not okay with calling our sister congregation a sewer. Barack Obama left that church, and made a speech refuting Rev. Wright’s anti-semitic remarks that are indefensible. It’s possible to say that Israel needs to make concessions and that 9/11 came after decades of bad US policy without using the inflammatory language Rev. Wright used. And I saw the Bill Moyers interview where he had a chance to make amends, and seemed unable to get past his pride.
      So let’s see Rick Perry make a speech repudiating the inflammatory language of his supporters on the religious right. Let’s see him make a strong defense of freedom of religion. I remember when John McCain stood up to Jerry Fallwell he spent the rest of his career apologizing.
      Barack Obama is not the only president who had association with Rev. Wright. Here is from his Wikipedia bio–
      In 1961 Wright left college and joined the United States Marine Corps and became part of the 2nd Marine Division attaining the rank of private first class. In 1963, after two years of service, Wright joined the United States Navy and entered the Corpsman School at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center.[12][13] Wright was then trained as a cardiopulmonary technician at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Wright was assigned as part of the medical team charged with care of President Lyndon B. Johnson (see photo of Wright caring for Johnson after his 1966 surgery). Before leaving the position in 1967, the White House Physician, Vice Admiral Burkley, personally wrote Wright a letter of thanks on behalf of the United States President.[14][15][16]

  4. Very enlightening,but I already knew Wright’s history.
    If all Wright had done was criticize Israeli policy,no big deal,since I personally would like to see the Israelis end the occupation of territories seized in 1967 except for the Golan Heights where very few people lived(it was a military zone)since giving up the high ground would be tactical suicide.
    You are still ranting at me about perry and his associates and I am not a Perry supporter so please find one to shout at.
    BTW a lot of abominable people served in the military,what does that prove?
    They did their job while they were there and then went on with their lives for better or worse.
    You are about as easy to have an honest discussion with as it is to rake water-you won’t go near the Farrakhan issue-and Obama was there for that and didn’t leave then,so screw him.
    Obama left when the heat got too intense,otherwise he was content to sit and at least passively tolerate hate speech from the pulpit.
    The phrase “God damn America” from Wright comes to mind-maybe you aren’t offended by that,but I am and so are most Americans.
    I also find your insinuation that somehow we caused 9/11 because of bad policy bizarre.I hope I am misreading that.
    There sure was a lot of bad policy-equally distributed between Democrats and Republicans,but how that translates into firemen,policemen,janitors,busboys,office workers,and newspaper vendors being incinerated in the name of Islam being even indirectly justified totally escapes me.The people in the planes were part of a movement that predates the existence of
    the US.Obviously not “Al Qaeda”,which is a modern manifestation,but the aggressive,militant Islam that arose in medieval times.
    Islam isn’t the same all over the world,but the Wahabbist movement is the most militant of all.
    I studied these things before they were widely known here.Matter of fact,in one case with an Iranian professor,so I don’t get my ideas from Fox or any other media source as you sometimes imply.
    FWIW I’ve heard some really nasty “anti-Zionist”stuff from the Church of Christ(modern version)that bleeds over into good old Jew hatred.The “anti racism”conference in Durban used cartoons from Julius Streicher,the Nazi propagandist hanged at Nuremberg to make their points about “Zionists”.the Church of Christ has representatives there.
    If you want to play the guilt by association game let’s do that,ok?

  5. Have you ever attended a conference that included people you disagreed with, even people whose views offended you? Have you ever supported a cause and found that some of the people who signed on were people you did not want to be associated with? Is there any place that’s pure? Not in the evangelical clergy that conservative politicians cultivate– there’s plenty of anti-semitism there.
    What the Republican Party needs is not a purge, but one front-runner brave enough to say that religious bigotry has no place in the party and then make it stick.
    And it’s possible to respect Judaism without agreeing with everything the Israeli government does, it’s possible to feel deeply outraged by the murderous attacks on 9/11 and know that the reasons go deeper than ‘they hate us for our freedom’. The cold war and oil interests left us with enemies Americans had never heard of, Osama bin Laden being one of them.
    It’s sad that after 9/11 George Bush made a point of saying that we were not at war with Islam or the Muslim world, and then see that very practical stand being undone by demogogues and Koran-burning publicity seekers.
    Like anti-semitism, religious bigotry gets people killed.

  6. I actually don’t sign onto things where I find people pushing things that disgust me,or at least I walk away when they show themselves.
    I don’t give a damn about “respecting Judaism”-I sure don’t in a religious sense-as I don’t care about any religion in particular.
    Jew hatred isn’t about religion-it’s a hatred of people for being born into a definable group.You know what-you can’t unserstand it because you ahve never experienced it and never can-just like I can’t experience being Black,even though my grandaughter probably will.Hopefully in a positive way,but that’s probably a false hope.
    WHY do you always go on about Christian funadamentalists with me?I don’t have to do with them,period.
    We actually MADE Osama bin Laden when the idiot Jimmy Carter stuck our collective nose into the Russian invasion of Afghanistan with no justification.
    You won’t address Farrakhan.I am sorry you lack the intellectual honesty to go there.
    I often watched public access tv speeches by Warith Deen Muhammed,who was the spiritual leader of the majority of American Black Muslims.he was a very intelligent,unbiased,life-experienced,and ecumenical man who had some fascinating observations on the human condition.I wasn’t about to sign on to his set,but he had something worthwhile to say.
    As I said,I don’t have any use for organized religion,but I believe in the Creator.
    Here’s the way America is-when I got lymphoma in 1981,my oncologist and surgeon were Jewish-I was treated by two radiation oncologists who were an Indian Hindu and a Pakistani Moslem and were partners who the Jewish doctors referred me to.
    This is the country I want.I don’t want to fight with anyone over their birth “identity”,just what they think is the best way to go now.
    What I said about the Wahabbists isn’t some anti-Moslem prejudice-probably 90% of Moslems have the same concerns you and I do-how to get through the month(or the day in some cases).

  7. I had to look up Louis Farrakhan on Wikipedia, because he’s very far off my radar. Here’s what wiki said about Barack Obama and Farrakhan-

    In 2008, Farrakhan publicly supported then-Senator Barack Obama who was campaigning at the time to become the president of the United States of America, at the same time criticizing the United States’ problems.[17][18][19]

    The Obama campaign quickly responded to convey his distance from the minister. “Senator Obama has been clear in his objections to Farrakhan’s past pronouncements and has not solicited the minister’s support,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.[17] Obama “rejected and denounced” Farrakhan’s support during an NBC presidential candidate debate.

    I have never heard any Republican candidate speak up so clearly about some of their fellow-travelers, such as Pat Robertson or John Hagee, who are no slouches when it comes to hate speech.

    Do you think Louis Farrakhan is that influential or important? Does he control a voting bloc and bless candidates that win? Or is he a self-promoter who latched on to a good cause–racial justice, and knows how to play the press?

  8. The big difference between left and right on religion?

    On the left, extremist views are just that: extremist. Yes, they exist. But you cannot suggest that Farrakhan, Rev Wright, Sharpton, or the rest are at all part of main-stream Democratic policy.

    On the right, however, religious zealots like Pat Robertson (America deserved 9/11; Katrina was just punishment, etc), Jerry Falwell (now deceased, I realize), or Dobson are the mainstream of the Republican party. During the Bush years, these folks got invited to the White House; Republicans rarely contravene the views these religious leaders espouse. In fact, they fall all over themselves to demonstrate that they are the most extreme supporters of the most extreme views.

    Years ago, the John Birch Society was considered too far gone for respectable politicians of any stripe. Now, the Koch brothers bankroll stuff that’s even more extreme, and all the mainstream GOP candidates salute and say “Yessir” to their corporate owners.

    • klaus-have you noticed Al Sharpton recently?He has a show on MSNBC,which is Democratic Party Central.
      I have a lot of contact with other conservatives and honestly i can’t remember the last time Dobson(I really had to think who he was),Robertson,or the late Jerry Falwell came up.
      I recall Goldwater saying Falwell needed to be kicked in his ass.
      Al Sharpton and I are from the same neighborhood in Brooklyn-he was known as the “child preacher”-a fraud from Day One.
      Lowlife mouthpiece Chris Matthews is now giving this Jeffress character free erign on his show to use him against Romney.
      Koch Brothers/George Soros-please explain the difference.

  9. The world loves an enrgetic discussion. Mr. Obama listend to the strange reverend Wright for a decade as I recall. But Mr. Obama apparently did not take Reverend Wright’s words seriously. Most belief systems are interesting and most have a unique character. The odd part, at least for me, is the extent that rationality is left behind necessarily to accept the belief system. Thus, the unreality of someone ascending to heaven on the back of a white horse; someone believing Jesus preached to the Indian folks, who are actually the lost tribes of Israel; or any other phantoms of the night. The invention f writing has preserved the historic belief systems, and despite the words (or perhaps because of how they are read) people are killed and nations conquered. Because they did not leave a writing system, we do not know to whom the Neandertal folks chanted, or why they buried their dead with flowers, and we really do not know what the cave art in France meant to the folks making that art. One suspects their belief systems were as irrational as those of our time. It is a strange and interesting world.

  10. Nancy-good question,I don’t know,but I have previously criticized Perry for combining a political campaign with a revival meeting atmosphere.
    I haven’t heard word one about religion from Romney.
    I also disagree with Perry on immigration and even on his attitude about the death penalty.
    I support the death penalty in appropriate cases such as the one in Connecticut where there is no doubt whatsoever about guilt and aggravating circumstances.
    I do,however have reservations about using the death penalty in most circumstantial cases and Perry seems unconcerned with the possibility of error in the process.
    When I lived in Dupage County,Illinois,we had three men sentenced to death for a horrible crime,except they didn’t commit it.They were eventually freed.The county prosecutor and police acted with totally depraved indifference to the facts that cleared the men.
    I have no problem with a Ted Bundy being executed,but some cases are less crystal clear.

  11. If it were only in cases like the Connecticut home invasion, and after a fair trial, I would not oppose the death penalty. But those kinds of crimes are shocking and rare.
    My argument against the death penalty is that sometimes they execute the wrong person, and there’s no remedy then.

    • I am sure that has happened,which is why I don’t support its use without proof positive,even more than beyond a reasonable doubt.
      I know the Illinois justice system was rife with people wrongly condemend,but some very deserving individuals escaped the death penalty when Gov.Ryan commuted eveyone’s sentence.
      BYW Ryan was a Republican who is now in prison.
      I don’t think we are that far apart.
      I am against the death penalty where the victim is another criminal,because it’s waste of effort-it really doesn’t shock the conscience,
      Serial killers,mass murderers(who usually wind up dead anyway),and those who murder children,as well as insurance scheme killers are good subjects for the death penalty.

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