Saturday, July 08, 2006


The crooked preacher and his flock

Garrison Keillor tells it best: If a preacher secretly accepts a bucket of money from a saloonkeeper to organize a temperance rally at a rival saloon and maybe send in a gang of church ladies to chop up the bar with their little hatchets, this would strike you and me as sleazy, but others are willing to make allowances, and so Ralph Reed's political career is still alive and breathing in Georgia. He has bathed himself in tomato juice and hopes to smile his way through the storm. The facts are fairly simple. Mr. Reed left the Christian Coalition in 1997 as it was sinking, and he was paid by Jack Abramoff to organize opposition to a gambling bill in the Texas legislature, which would have opened the door to competition for Mr. Abramoff's client casinos in Louisiana. So Mr. Reed got the good Christians of Texas to bombard the legislature with phone calls and letters denouncing gambling, for which Mr. Reed was paid millions of dollars in gambling money, by way of Mr. Abramoff's bagman, Grover Norquist. There are many other examples, but this simple story says it best: Ralph Reed pretends to be a Christian, but he's pretty obviously a conman and an extortion artist. What does that make all the people who have seen him up close and continue to think he's a Christian, doing God's work? The question especially appertains to those many good friends he has in the Republican Party.
This is certainly no secret in Georgia, or at least it shouldn't be. Those fundamentalists who are soooo eager to find the speck in anyone elses eyes should be in a towering rage about this and it should be topic number one in that race. If they elect him then it is a judgement on them all, the "christians" of Georgia practice a religion that believes this kind of behavor should be rewarded with public office. High public office. It's clear that the Republicans of Georgia do already.
This goes way beyond Ralph Reed, olvlzl.

My nose told me that Reed was a conman looooong ago, independent of any political disagreement. Certainly his dicey comments about how he did politics, as a sneak attack, should have raised eyebrows.

I think people who call themselves Christians need to re-examine whether their faith is leading them in the right direction. Jesus's faith in God led Him to the cross. Peter and Paul also faced death for their beliefs. What are today's American Christians enduring as a cost of their faith? A couple of jokes on Leno?

A fair assessment would lead one to believe that most American Christians are following a false gospel.
Why is it rather not difficult for so many of us to recognize the devil in his thin disguise?

Why are so many people fooled when a simple review of publicly-held facts strips the story bare, showing Reed's true colors?
You know, shrimplate, I know the answer to that question. The answer is that very few people have any experience with God.

Most of us human beings do not experience God as a being. Rather, we experience the divine through Truth, Justice, Mercy, Natural Beauty.... concepts that inherently involve something eternal and transcendent.

Look at the right. The movement is shot through with lies, injustice, cruelty, and the artificial beauty bestowed by money. Until people experience powerlessness, either personally or vicariously, they don't know how wonderful Mercy is. Until they have been wronged beyond measure, they cannot appreciate Justice. Unless they have been despised by many, but loved by one, they don't really understand Beauty. For them it is impossible that someone old and ill and fetid and poor can be beautiful.

That's the true message of the Cross, by the way. Most of the rest of Christianity is dogma. It's a message inherent in the history of the Jewish people. Islam understands it through a dedication to justice and compassion. For Buddhists, the wheel, maybe.

People can't see through the disguise of the devil because they have never seen anything that lasts. The right literally lacks the eyes to see God with.
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