Saturday, November 24, 2012

You don't touch the Lord's Annointed, the Lord's Annointed touches you!

Don't you just love it when people accidentally make your point for you?  For a while now I've been trying to make the case that calling out religious leaders when they make statements that are wrong/evil/lying/bullshit is nothing short of a sacred duty.  So then I find this video of Creflo Dollar over on Scotteriology (go read his take on it, it's brilliant) which totally makes my case for me:

Question:  Did you see anything wrong with what he just said?  If you said to yourself "Wow, that seems incredibly wrong and dangerous because it clearly sets up religious leaders to abuse their followers without fear of repercussions" then congratulations, you just had the sane, healthy reaction to a terribly abusive bit of preaching.  If on the other hand you watched it and saw nothing wrong with any part of it then you are the reason I feel the need to keep writing these posts because believe me, your response is neither sane nor healthy.

I know this because I used to be there.  A couple of years ago I would have listened to a sermon like that and gone "Mmm-hmm, preach it brother Dollar!"  See, the Christian worldview is driven by authority so for it to work this authority must be obeyed absolutely.  Now in theory of course that authority flows directly from God and His Word.  In practice however that authority is wielded by the men of God - Pastors, Priests, Bishops, Rabbis etc.  They're the ones who dispense the Word and Will of God to the people so therefore they are the ones with all the authority.  When you get socialized into this authoritarian view of Christianity, it's very hard to see the problems with it.  I know that 10 years ago I certainly would not have seen anything wrong with a teaching like this one.  If anything, I would have perpetuated it by teaching it to others (and I probably did).  But that doesn't change the fact that it is utterly and completely wrong.  It is wrong to the point of being evil and the only just course of action is to reject every word of it.  If you can't see why, hear me out and I will demonstrate why.

Firstly, try a simple thought experiment.  Take everything Pastor Dollar just said and pretend he said it about kindergarten teachers.  All that stuff about overlooking and covering up the wrong things they do no matter how bad.  Everything he said about not telling others about bad things you learned.  Still sound OK to you?  What if he said it about doctors or coaches or camp counselors or babysitters or psychiatrists?  No, of course not, it doesn't sound like a good plan at all, it sounds like a recipe for abuse.  Because it is!  So then why is it OK to make a special exception for clergy?  Just to be clear, he isn't talking about malicious rumors or hearsay here, he explicitly references true facts about actual wrongdoing.  If you wouldn't keep quiet and cover up for other professions, why is it different for preachers?  And just in case you think that surely he couldn't possibly be including sexual predators under that umbrella, think again.  When Bishop Eddie Long was accused of sexual misconduct with young men in his congregation, Creflo Dollar was right there to "cover him" and "restore him".  Honestly now, if you don't even draw the line at sexual abuse then what can't you excuse?  Because of teachings like this we find countless cases across denominational lines of people protecting the abuser while attacking the victims.  This is inexcusably evil!

For another thing, why do clergy even need to be put above the simple societal rules that the rest of us abide by?  No, really?  Again, we aren't talking about malicious lies here we are talking about people you absolutely 100% know are doing something bad.  Why protect them instead of exposing them and protecting everyone else?  Seems to me that only frauds and abusers would fear the truth becoming known.  You don't swear people to secrecy unless you have something to hide.  Abusers thrive on secrecy.  Frauds fear the light.  Honest people do not and therefore they tend not to preemptively insist that you cover their misdeeds.  A good person wouldn't ask you to become an accomplice to wickedness, would they?

That just leaves one more question - isn't it all Biblical though?  That is certainly what Creflo Dollar is claiming here.  He isn't the one telling you to hide your pastor's misdeeds, GOD is the one telling you.  Except God is not telling you that and his claims here are not supported by the Bible.  But what about David then?  Yes, what about him? Everything Pastor Dollar said about David and Saul was technically correct except for one teensy but very important detail - Saul was not David's pastor, he was David's king.  That's a difference that changes everything.  Complete allegiance and obedience to government authority is a running theme throughout the Scriptures.  Regardless of whether they are good or bad you are supposed to obey them.  Even if they are heathens who are brutally persecuting you, the Bible commands that you follow their orders and pray for them.  Funny then how most Christians today (especially in the American Right wing, looking at you Tea Party) are happy to be flagrantly disobedient to this clear teaching of Scripture while still claiming to "Bible Believing Christians".  But I digress, my point is that while the Bible does teach that you should always humbly obey government office (and not for instance slander, rebel, secede or wish them dead - still looking at you Tea Party) that doesn't hold for those in spiritual office.  Why yes, I can back that up with an example from the Bible!

"When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.  When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?"  (Galatians 2:11-21)

Here you have the Apostle Paul publicly reprimanding the Apostle Peter - yes THAT Apostle Peter - for being a hypocrite.  Does that sound anything like the model Creflo Dollar proposed?  No.  Yet, this too is in the Bible and it is far more applicable than the story of David and Saul.  In fact, why not take the time to read through the Epistles (seeing as how they are the books dealing with church and Christianity as opposed to ancient Israeli monarchy) and see what they have to say about the matter?  I think you'll find that far from telling you to hush up crimes in the church it commands that the immoral and wicked be exposed and expelled from the congregation.

Besides, do you think someone with real authority has to resort to vague threats like a non specific "facebook curse"?  Please!  People with actual authority don't try to scare you into cooperating with empty threats.  Even the curses in the Bible were incredibly specific.  Pastor Dollar is being vague because he has nothing.  No power, no authority, spiritual or otherwise.  He stays vague so the credulous can create their own curses.  This way the supposed "curse" can be whatever you want it to be.  Yes I said what YOU want it to be - washing machine breaks, must be the curse!  Flat tire?  Facebook curse!  Stuck in traffic?  Twitter Curse!  Come on, that's just stupid!  Don't fall for it.

So if you see something, say something.  It doesn't matter if the perpetrator is an esteemed clergyman, abuse* is always wrong.  If it isn't OK when your postman does it, it's not OK when your pastor does it either.  When you cover up wrongdoing, and when you side with the abuser over the victim, you debase yourself and everything you stand for.  So just don't do it.
*Remember, sexual abuse is not just a sin, it's also a felony!


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