Sunday, June 27, 2004

Politics Comes to Church

I visited the Victory Christian Church in Tulsa today for their Fourth of July "One Nation Under God" celebration. Victory is a fundamentalist Christian mega-church that is closely associated with Oral Roberts University and is led by Pastor Billy Joe Daugherty and his wife, Pastor Sharon. Today's church extravaganza included parades of flags, veterans, multimedia presentations, patriotic songs and a beautiful, multiracial children's choir. The first 20 minutes of the patriotic celebration was moving - a bit over the top - but moving and appropriate. Then it got ugly.

At the midpoint in the 90-minute festivity the program turned into a twisted remake of American history and an outrageously partisan political monologue by the pastor. There was a series of vignettes of moments in American history that "proved" that the United States was a Christian nation. The point was repeatedly made that our Constitution protects "the church" from interference from the Government but DOES NOT protect the Government from religion, or God (as defined by them). De-frocked One of the most blatant misrepresentations on history was a point made a couple of times - that the "discoverers of America" were Christians who "founded America for Jesus". You'd think, that right here in the state with the largest Native American population, that we'd remember who was here first. The answer by the way is not "Christian missionaries".

Judge Roy Moore of Alabama
was held up as a shining example. The event was capped of with instructions from the pastor regarding upcoming votes on traditional marriage, abortion, the pledge of allegiance, and the presidential election this November. Without saying the exact words "vote for Republicans, vote for George W. Bush" the pastor nonetheless made it very clear that we should do so. It was the most disgusting show of partisanship and twisted history making I've ever seen in a church. I would feel the same way even if I agreed with all of the pastor's beliefs on these matters.

What all of this reminds me of however, is how unbelievably lucky we are to be Americans. To be citizens of a country founded by geniuses who, while predominantly of the Christian faith, realized the importance of religious tolerance and designed a country where religious freedom FOR ALL could be realized. They did not try to force their particular faith down anyone's throat. Granted, we get off track sometimes, but those genius founding fathers made it difficult for us to screw it up too bad. God Bless them.

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