Thursday, May 17, 2007

Apparently I Am a Bigot…and You Might Be Too

I don’t listen to too much of the political talk anymore, but sometimes flashes of it make it into my listening regiment because of a Christian or moral component that surges to the forefront. One such issue slammed me harder than, I think, many Christians seem to be taking it. To set this issue up, here is a snippet of an article that, I believe, has some very ominous overtones.

During a debate on religion and politics at the New York Public Library with atheist author Christopher Hitchens, Sharpton said, "As for the one Mormon running for office, those that really believe in God will defeat him anyway, so don't worry about that. That's a temporary situation."

On the campaign trail in Iowa Wednesday, Romney fired back, calling Sharpton's comment "terribly misguided."

"It shows that bigotry still exists in some corners," Romney said. "I thought it was a most unfortunate comment to make."

Asked if he thought Sharpton is a bigot, the former Massachusetts governor said, "I don't know Rev. Sharpton. I doubt he is personally such a thing. But the comment was a comment which could be described as a bigoted comment.

"Perhaps he didn't mean it that way, but the way it came out was inappropriate and wrong."1

Why is this so frightening and ominous? If Al Sharpton is called a bigot because he made a statement that categorized Mormons as people who do not “really believe in God”, what does that signal for the rest of us? Now, I am not a fan of Rev. Sharpton in most cases, but this is the second time that I have agreed with what he said (or inferred). The first time that I agreed with Rev. Sharpton was when he was critical of the prosperity preaching and theology of Creflo Dollar.

“To try and distort Jesus to try and justify your new jet plane or your new Rolls Royce is, to me, an abomination.”2

But regarding his recent comment pertaining to Mormons and Mitt Romney, he may have been intending to make a poke specifically at Republicans and used the only Mormon as his target. So I am not totally sure of what exactly he intended, but the way in which it was said and subsequently received by Mr. Romney was one of bigotry.

Furthermore, even though the Rev. Sharpton has backpedaled in his attempts to “spin” what he said or meant to say in the context of that debate and he seems to no longer agree with what he stated, that doesn’t change the fact that it is true. Even if he might have intended it to be more of a shot at Christians who are also republicans, it came across as a shot at Mormons, and the fact of the matter is that Mormons don’t believe in the true God of the bible at all.

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines a bigot as “a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices” and one who especially “regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance. “3 Now, you can disagree with what I, or the Rev. Sharpton, believe about who does and who does not really believe in the true God. However unless you can prove that myself or Rev. Sharpton display hatred or are involved with an agenda to deny “equal freedom of expression” or we are “unwilling to grant or share social, political, or professional rights” 4 to Mormons, the accusation of bigotry is a giant leap in its application.

Do I believe that Mormons worship God? No, I don’t. I would say the same if you asked me if Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Oneness-Pentecostals (“Christians”), Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Scientologists (Christian Science). I would ardently defend my statements because the Word of God basically says that if you don’t believe in Christ and worship Christ, you are not worshipping God. This is not something that Christians have made up in order to be mean; it is something that God has shown to us through His Word.

“Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.” (1 John 2:23)

"All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” (Matthew 11:27)

“Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 1:9)

Lest you think that I am overreacting in my concern over the “bigot” comment made by Mitt Romney, I came across another use of this term by a different religion. The following dialogue was taken from a BBC Panorama documentary called “Scientology and Me”. In watching it, the primary goal was to ascertain if the Church of Scientology is, as it is referred to in British law, a cult. Here is a summary of what both U.S. and British courts have stated about Scientology,

In 1984, Scientology was described by [British Judge] Mr. Justice Latey as: "both immoral and socially is corrupt, sinister and dangerous. It is corrupt because it is based on lies and deceit and has as its real objective money and power for Mr. Hubbard, his wife and those close to him at the top". The same year, in Los Angeles, Superior Court Judge Paul G. Breckenridge, Jr., called Scientology: "a vast enterprise to extract the maximum amount of money from its adepts by pseudo-scientific theories ... The organization clearly is schizophrenic and paranoid, and this bizarre combination seems to be a reflection of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard".5

That British decision is one of the reasons why Scientology is not considered a religion in Great Britain, and therefore does not receive the various tax (and other) perks of a religion. When John Sweeney, the BBC reporter, asked this question to a very high ranking member of the Church of Scientology, Tommy Davis, the following exchange occurred.

“Some people say [Scientology] is a sinister cult.”

“You have no right whatsoever to say what is and what isn’t a religion. The constitution of the United States of America guarantees one’s right to practice and believe freely in this country, and the definition of religion is very clear, and it’s not defined by John Sweeny. And for you to repeatedly refer to my faith [as a cult] is so derogatory, so offensive, and so bigoted. And the reason you keep repeating it is because you wanted to get a reaction like you are getting right now. Well buddy, you got it. Right here, right now, I’m angry. Real angry.” 6

So what is all of the fuss about? In our society, calling someone a bigot is a serious charge that carries with it a detestable (and rightly so) stigma. It has been used to refer to those persons who view people of other racial ancestry or religions affiliation (i.e. Africans, Mexicans, Jews, Gypsies, etc.) as less human or as people deserving a lower class status in the culture. Being a classified as a bigot seems to be one of the quickest ways to be marginalized and demonized. However, if our culture (and subsequently, our legal system) moves the classification of a bigot from one whose views are shown to call for a lower or a sub-human class of people and subsequently to socially discriminate against them over to a definition that includes theological statements about who God is, we are in grave danger in America.

Hate speech laws are already knocking at the door when it comes to preaching the Biblical doctrines of sexuality. Even though no Christian church is calling for the persecution of homosexuals, we have had terms of bigotry and homophobia thrown at us. In no way do we want to make those who practice homosexuality second class citizens with voting, employment, or other citizenship infringements, we are proclaiming God’s Word.

But, if the sentiments of Mitt Romney are heard, receive, and amplified by our anti-Christian (I could say “anti-God” because it would be the same thing) culture, we are not only in danger of legal ramifications for proclaiming and preaching portions of Genesis Leviticus 18, Romans 1, and 1 Corinthians 6 because they refer to the abomination and condemnation of homosexuality, but we would now be in store for the same type of restrictions when preaching passages about the exclusivity of Christ like John 14:6 or 1 John 2:23.

Honestly, I don’t believe that we can stop this trend, but that does not mean that we should give up the fight. It is inevitable that our land will see preaching the gospel of Christ and the preaching for holiness and purity in doctrine as well as holiness and purity in living as intolerant, bigoted, and illegal. That will not stop us from our preaching, but it will make the cost of preaching that much higher. Preaching the gospel in America today may bring ridicule, scorn, and bad looks from those around us. Preaching the gospel in America when hate speech and bigotry legally includes the subjects above will bring legal persecution in the form of taxing our churches, infringements on the publishing of bibles, and jail time for preaching the Word of God.

Now is the time to preach the Word with the freedom that we have. We need to take full advantage of the time and freedoms that we have before they are taken away, and this country becomes even darker and more hostile to the gospel.

May God – the one and only True God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is eternally existent in three Divine Persons and who demands our repentance of our sins and belief in Jesus Christ alone for salvation – give His true children strength, courage, and diligence now, and may He carry those same attributes into and through increased persecution.

May God convict His children of our sinful and lethargic wasting of time and of legally protected opportunities to proclaim the gospel so that we will waste no more time. God, give us mercy and grace to be bold and unashamed.

1 (emphasis mine)



4 From Merriam-Webster’s definition of intolerant



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