Disinfecting the lies…
What they say is not the problem..
The problem isnâ€™t what they say, itâ€™s that people listen.Â
Earlier this week, televangelist Pat Robertson was out there again: â€œHow can God heal our land and forgive the sins when abortion and same-sex marriage are laws and many people are anti-Israel. Doesnâ€™t this prevent healing and forgiveness?â€ Yes. It does, Mr. Robertson. No, not the content of which you speak, but it is the fact that people listen to what you say that prevents healing and forgiveness.
When you and others say such ridiculous things and people listen and then – reacting out of fear incited with faith – become complicit in spreading harmful teachings and skewed understandings of Godâ€™s love – thatâ€˜s what prevents healing and spreads violence. You should know this.
Yes, I have to remember (actually never have forgotten) that this is the same televangelist who was out there after 9/11, blaming the attack on America on pretty much the same group of â€œsinners.â€œ You were right if you thought this sounded familiar.Â
Itâ€™s not that Mr. Robertson has a net worth of hundreds of millions of dollars from those who listen to him that troubles me – but that there are enough people listening to make him, by some estimates, a billionaire. Thatâ€™s a lot of people, neighbors and friends of ours, even, who see some of us as these â€œsinnersâ€ because he and others like him dole out Godâ€™s punishment as an expression of Godâ€™s love. Wait. What? I know…
And he is not alone in practicing â€œdistribution of fear-incited faith using Godâ€œ as a business model.Â
Itâ€™s this kind of teaching/thinking/actions that may or may not have been behind the person(s) who dropped a book off in my mailbox on Saturday, â€œCan You Be Christian and Gay.â€ It was left without a note, when no one was around, in my mailbox at my home, next to my door, where I live. â€œWho are you? And, what possibly makes you think it is Godâ€™s love that directs you to drop off a book based on what you think you know about me in the dead of night out of some sense of being faithful and speaking out for God? For Godâ€™s sake, human, knock on the door. Ask if we can talk. Tell me about yourself and I will tell you about me. We can share stories. I will listen. I promise. Will you?â€œÂ
Or the â€œletterâ€ from â€œThe Corona Virusâ€ that is circulating, explaining how it has been trying to get our attention to change our ways and finally had to arrive in the world with a vengeance…not as a punishment, but to help us change our ways.â€ Holy Crap, Batman! Batwoman. Bats, All!â€Â
Câ€™mon! We live in a biolgical, dyanmic, physical world. To say that illness or terrorist attacks are Godâ€™s punishment is to totally miss the point…we are here to help each other, love each other no matter what the conditions are – not chastise, threaten, shame, separate, hold up for vilification or invite physical violence toward others. There is a difference…
How can you say that the sun is a gift and then acknowledge the harmful nature of its radiation? Neither the sun nor itâ€™s attributes have anything to do with Godâ€™s metrics for our interpretation of Godâ€™s blessing or supposed displeasure.Â
If only no one listened to you. You would just go away and maybe we could get back to building a â€œkin-dom on earthâ€ that reflects Godâ€™s love, as God is known, rather than a kingdom that attempts to twist hearts and thinking into separating and shaming us.
Yes, the problem isnâ€™t with televangelists or others who will use anything, including this virus, to try and lift themselves up on the backs off those they call sinners and causal for the events of the day – thatâ€™s not the problem. The problem is that people listen to them.
Like the idea of using disinfectant to clean the virus out of the body. People listen…and before long, someone desperate enough will try such a desperate thing.
And if you think thatâ€™s hyperbole, just look at the disinfectant manufacturers making loud and multiple statements today: â€œDonâ€™t do this!â€Â
We have to stop listening to those who should be quiet in the first place. And then, maybe we can get on with healing, loving and directing ourselves toward the stranger and one another.
Maybe thatâ€™s the core of Psalm 46:10.
April 24, 2020
Presbytery of Genesee Valley
That All May Freely Serve
Currently serving as pastor of Sayville Congregational United Church of Christ Sayville, NY 631-827-8611; firstname.lastname@example.org