God's Warriors ReactionsAugust 26, 2007
Earlier I wrote about the Jerry Falwell segment in CNN's "God's Warriors" (see previous posts here and here). The episode on Christians was quite fascinating and there were three other aspects worth mentioning (you can read the whole transcript here).
I was excited to see the short part about the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant. It was mentioned during the part with an interview with Jimmy Carter. Here is a section from that segment:
CARTER: And it's impossible for a fundamentalist to admit that he is ever wrong because he would be admitting that God was wrong.I hope that the Celebration will be a way to put forth a positive Christian witness that is quite different from that of some of the "warriors" highlighted in CNN's program.
AMANPOUR: Jimmy Carter is working to reclaim his faith.
CARTER: I think the primary crisis that faces the Christian church in its totality is division.
AMANPOUR: Along with former President Bill Clinton, they formed what they call the celebration of a New Baptist Covenant calling on Christians to focus on issues like poverty rather than on divisive issues like abortion and gay marriage.
CARTER: We have adopted as our guidelines a gospel based on peace and justice and humility and service and love that really helps people who are in need.
AMANPOUR: Rather than?
CARTER: Rather than more of a fundamentalist commitment where you define who can be and who cannot be a member of your organization.
Another part of the program that was nice to see was the inclusion of voices that oppose some of the wild rhetoric of some Christian leaders. In addition to Carter, the program also included interviews with Gregory Boyd and Richard Cizik. Boyd, who wrote the excellent book The Myth of a Christian Nation, offered the following statements:
I am very concerned about the extent to which what's called the kingdom of the world, the politics of the world, is being fused with our faith ... And my concern is that that is very damaging for the church and it's also very damaging for society.Amen! We need more Christian voices like his. I hope that the "warriors" highlighted in the episode were listening.
... But the Bible also says that gossip -- in fact, right next to homosexuality, it mentions gossip, and it mentions greed, and it mentions gluttony. In fact, greed and gluttony are -- are two of the most common sins, held up in the ancient world as the supreme sins. And they're frequently mentioned in the Bible, way more than homosexuality.
I never quite understand what sin gradation scale some people go by where they decide that certain sins are worse than other kind of sins, and those are the ones we need to go against.
... To be pro-life is not just to be about -- concerned about the womb. It's to be concerned about life. For example, what's the relationship between poverty and abortion? And studies show that there's a direct correlation there. So, maybe the best way to lessen abortion in society is to go for the candidate that you think is going to do the most for poverty.
And, so, we need to take great care not to naively think that we can translate our particular value into a particular vote. Don't label your way of voting Christian.
... I wondered, how is it possible that we went from being a movement of people who follow the messiah, who taught us to love our enemies, to being a movement that celebrates fighter jets, that fuses Jesus' death on the cross with killing machines?
And that was, I guess, a -- a wakeup call to me about how serious this problem is among evangelicals in America.
... The enemy isn't the liberals. And the enemy is not the conservatives. The enemy is not the abortionists. The enemy is not the gay-rights activists.
Despite those positive segments, much of the episode was disturbing as it highlighted the new generation of "warriors" who are taking Falwell's place. It seems that we will unfortunately have to deal with more damaging and polarizing rhetoric. Particularly troubling were comments by Rick Scarborough, John Hagee, and Ron Luce. I have dealt with problems with the first two in columns for Ethics Daily:
Praying for Stephen Colbert (and Rick Scarborough)
Great Power, Great Responsibility
The John Hagee Filter
The Gospel According to Rick Scarborough
Tom DeLay is Not Jesus
And last year I named Scarborough the "Worst Christian Mouth of the Year."