I just finished a biography of J.Frank Norris called ‘The Shooting Salvationist’ by David R. Stokes. Norris was America’s first megachurch media star in the 1920’s, but his reputation dimmed somewhat when he succumbed to compassion fatigue. Instead of counseling a troubled soul who came to his office he shot the man dead.
Texas in the 1920’s was Klan Kountry. Like many other politically connected men of ambition; Norris enjoyed a friendly relationship with the
fraternal terrorist organization. They shared common enemies– Catholics and saloon owners, and the Klan never bothered anyone who mattered.
So, speaking of people who matter, why in the 21st Century am I ragging on Pat Robertson? He’s so old he’s almost cute, in an evil gnome kind of way.
Well, like the elderly Rupert Murdoch, he sits on top of a media empire. Pat Robertson’s 700 Club broadcasts it’s own version of the news across America and the world. If my informal survey of what’s on TV when I make nurse visits is any indicator, Christian Broadcasting Network has a large following, and they vote. That’s why politicians take Robertson seriously.
For the Left, he’s always good for an outrageous sound byte, like this explanation for the murderous attack on the Sikh Temple…
“What is it?” the TV preacher wondered. “Is it satanic? Is it some spiritual thing, people who are atheists, they hate God, they hate the expression of God? And they are angry with the world, angry with themselves, angry with society and they take it out on innocent people who are worshiping God.”
“And whether it’s a Sikh temple or a Baptist church or a Catholic church or a Muslim mosque, whatever it is, I just abhor this kind of violence, and it’s the the kind of thing that we should do something about,” he added. “But what do you do? Well, you talk about the love of God and hope it has some impact.”
Yes, we abhor this kind of thing…
Whether they burn crosses on your lawn or a pile of leaves it’s untidy and ruins the grass.
Whether they spray a swastika on a synagogue or a tagger’s initials it’s graffiti vandalism, how deplorable.
Whether it’s a terrorist symbol or a gauche fashion statement, a white hood is not something a minister should wear in church.
“But what do you do?” Robertson asks after blurring distinctions and making a false equivalence.
Any gathering, for worship, music or politics, could suffer a mass shooting, especially with guns so cheap and available. But this attack on the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin was carried out by a man who was active in hate groups and had his intentions tatooed all over his body. He was a crime waiting to happen.
It doesn’t let you off the hook if you wear you hood backwards and claim you don’t see.
Robertson is giving talking points to an audience of millions. Stuff happens. Atheists are terrible people so all crimes must be the fault of atheists. Or the devil. And what do you do anyway? Talk about the love of God. Don’t call out sin when some of your best friends might take offense. There’s nothing we can do about this poor old world. Let’s move on and unite against our real enemies, the
feminists, gays, atheists.
Hey, a revolving enemies list is nothing new. J. Frank Norris got quite chummy with the Catholic Church in his later years when they found a common enemy in the Red Menace (that’s Communism, not the Republican Party.)
Are any of the megavangelists going to come out powerfully against hate, against prejudice, against the hostility to immigrants, to those who are different from the majority. Will Evangelicals confront the sad history of the Klan, enabled by too many Christian Churches? It wasn’t a question mark they burned, after all.
Fortunately, the secular law of the United States does recognize organized crime and will pursue this vicious murder of innocent people in their place of worship– will investigate the collaborators in the crime. Church members, and everyone who wants to exercise the right to peaceably assemble should be grateful that there is something we can do.