Friday, January 06, 2006

On why this country should absolutely not rely on religious leaders for governance

Okay, so following Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's second stroke, which has left him precariously near death, Pat Robertson took the compassionate Christian high road Thursday and said something characteristically stupid.
"He was dividing God's land, and I would say, 'Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the [European Union], the United Nations or the United States of America,'" Robertson told viewers of his long-running television show, "The 700 Club."

"God says, 'This land belongs to me, and you'd better leave it alone,'" he said.

I'm sure I'm not the first person to say it, but I'm the first person on this blog - Pat Robertson is going senile. That's all I can figure. Between this comment, the condemnation of the town of Dover and his calls for the assassination of Hugo Chavez, he is revealing himself as a full-on, certifiable, acid-flashback, shithout rat loony, which, when you take his age into account, leads me to suspect senility. God help any evangelical Christian who watches the 700 Club and actually takes him seriously, because he is more than one beer short of a sixer.

I suspect, though (or maybe I just hope), that his following isn't what it used to be. I've noticed that my personal interactions with regular, workaday evangelicals don't usually result in the eye-rubbing "Whaaa?" reactions that people like Robertson elicit from me. That having been said, The 700 Club claims a million viewers a day, which means that someone out there buys it enough to tune in.

Whenever a Muslim cleric, or even just a regular, workaday Muslim, says or does something outrageous, calls for someone's death or blows something up in the name of Allah, American Christians demand to hear the actions denounced by other Muslim leaders. They aren't willing to just assume that, since they think that blowing up a hotel is horrible, most of the world does,too; they need to hear an imam stand up and say, "We think that blowing up a hotel is horrible," and until they do, Islam is a religion of hotel-blowing-up, and that's that.

No one ever says, "Did you hear what Pat Robertson just said? I guess Christians support political assassination," or "Did you watch The 700 Club? Looks like God really had it in for Ariel Sharon." No one calls for every priest, minister and deacon to stand up and say, "We don't actually think that Dover, Pennsylvania has lost the protection of God," because it's assumed. Pat Robertson is an increasingly crackpotty guy with a television show who can be counted on to say outrageous things; while he's sometimes presented as a leader within the Christian right, those who follow him devotedly are more the loony fringe minority than anything else.

It's time for everyone to stop ascribing the actions and words of a few crazy fundamentalists to their respective groups as a whole. The reason they're so visible in the first place is that their actions are so outrageous as to be notable. Most Christians don't believe that New Orleans flooded because of God's wrath. Most Muslims don't think that blowing up a grocery store is the best way to send a political message. For that matter, most women don't hate men and most gay guys don't wear vinyl ass shorts and roller skates. It's easy to base your opinion of an entire group on the behavior of a very visible few, but that results in a very skewed and uninformed opinion. If we want to call ourselved worldly and knowledgable, we have the responsibility to look beyond headlines and soundbites for our information. If something is easy or obvious, it's also usually incomplete and oversimplified.

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