We’d expect Sean Hannity to attempt bogus hatchet jobs. But ABC picking up the incitement with a straight face?
Now, Barack Obama’s comments remind me that every one of you church-goers blessed to have an interesting pastor will hear things, from time to time, that you yourself might not endorse. This is especially the case when your pastor’s calling is to be the prophet confronting society, and your life’s calling is to try to fix things in society.
So to repeat, the sound-bite-Wright is this:
“The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, God damn America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme.”
Ouch. Harsh. What kind of person says things like this? Well, if you check out your Bibles, folks, there’s this:
Ah, you who are heroes in drinking wine and valiant at mixing drink, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of their rights! Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will become rotten, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the instruction of the Lord of hosts, and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people, and he stretched out his hand against them and struck them; the mountains quaked, and their corpses were like refuse in the streets. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still. He will raise a signal for a nation far away, and whistle for a people at the ends of the earth; Here they come, swiftly, speedily! None of them is weary, none stumbles, none slumbers or sleeps, not a loincloth is loose, not a sandal-thong broken; their arrows are sharp, all their bows bent, their horses’ hoofs seem like flint, and their wheels like the whirlwind. Their roaring is like a lion, like young lions they roar; they growl and seize their prey, they carry it off, and no one can rescue. They will roar over it on that day, like the roaring of the sea. And if one look to the land— only darkness and distress; and the light grows dark with clouds. (Isaiah 5:22-29)
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors. You snakes, you brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to hell? (Jesus, in Matthew 23.29-33)
These are classic Biblical prophetic words. Isaiah tells the people they’ve brought ruin on themselves. Jesus tells the elites, to put it in a modern context: “I don’t care how pious you appear on Martin Luther King Day, God damn you! God damn you for sitting by while ‘the government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law.'”
Media types, however, are not known to be Biblically literate. So their meta-narrative goes something like this:
This preacher Wright, he sounds like he’s trashing America, just like those angry Black Panther guys from the 1960’s we saw in Forrest Gump. And that Obama fellow, uh… should we worry that he is one of them underneath that nice (articulate) exterior?
Going along with such an ugly, race-baiting narrative is especially repulsive when just across the aisle, so to speak, Senator John McCain, well…
McCain campaigned yesterday [February 26th] in Cincinnati, where he appeared with the Rev. Rod Parsley of World Harvest Church of Columbus. McCain called Parsley a “spiritual guide,” while Parsley later labeled McCain a “strong, true, consistent conservative.”
Rod who? That’s my point. Anastasia Pantsios of the Cleveland Free Times gives us the flavor of his mind.
In spring, 2005, Parsley published a book called “Silent No More.” Chapter 5 of that book contains some assertions you’d think any presidential candidate would want to “denounce” and “reject”. In that chapter, titled “Islam: The Deception of Allah” (and in a sermon of the same name delivered at World Harvest that May), Parsley claimed that “Muhammad received revelations from demons and not from the true god,” “Islam is an anti-Christian religion that intends, through violence, to conquer the world” and “Islam is responsible for more pain, more bloodshed and more devastation than nearly any other force on earth at this moment.” He talks about the “persecution” of Christians by Muslims whom he dismisses as deluded illiterates.
Just rantings? No, not quite. What we have here is a “prophet” with a mission:
Those of you with moderately keen memories will remember the Rev. Parsley, even though he has been off the political radar recently. In 2004, Parsley actively campaigned throughout Ohio with then Secretary of State Ken Blackwell on behalf of Ohio’s “Defense of Marriage” amendment. Parsley was at Blackwell’s side when Blackwell made his remark comparing gay people to “barnyard animals.” When Blackwell ramped up his gubernatorial campaign the following year, Parsley and fellow Columbus-area pastor the Rev. Russell Johnson were two of his most vocal supporters, promising to activate thousands of “patriot pastors” to turn out hundreds of thousands of new “values voters” for Blackwell.
Parsley’s mission is what we in the theology biz call “temporal power.” Compared to Parsley, John McCain’s other spiritual guide, The Rev. John Hagee, is a circus clown. But both illustrate what goes into being a false prophet, in the Biblical sense.
Briefly, a true prophet makes you squirm and, it is to be hoped, persuades you to contemplate the consequences of continuing to fall short. A false prophet encourages you to feel smugly superior to others… with all the awful consequences that implies.
Parsley’s temporal ambitions are part of his tempermental core. He is a truly frightening man, made more so by a presidential candidate from a major political party proclaiming him a “spiritual guide.”