Saturday, January 12, 2013

Government Sanctioned Religion

Yesterday I wrote a bit about the brouhaha over Louie Giglio backing out of his invitation to pray at President Obama's inauguration, mostly based on other articles I read that day.  One article in particular caught my attention, and I've been reflecting on it more and more throughout the day.  In his article Russell Moore implies that this most recent dust up with Louie Giglio is a sign that we are one step closer to a state church - government sanctioned religion.  That is, the government gives and receives final approval on what kinds of religious thoughts, speech, and expressions are allowable, and which kinds are to be done away with as intolerant.  It's a scary prospect, to say the least.

Anyway, today I had to run up to Hinkley, MN to pick up a slaughtered cow (long story) from my cousin.  I made use of the time on the road trip to listen to Wretched Radio, which I do on my iPhone via Wretched's podcast.  I don't really have time to listen to the show on a daily basis, so I'm actually about a month behind in my listening.  That is, the episodes I'm listening to right now were originally aired in early December.  Now, cast your mind back to that time: what happened in the early to middle part of December?  The Newtown school shooting.  Todd Friel has been talking about it for several episodes now, particularly by looking at big "why?" questions, and rightly insisting that we have answer to the "why?" questions, and we need to be speaking up.

Amidst Friel's own analyzation of the event, he played President Obama's speech that he gave from Newtown right after the shooting, which is absolutely laced with references to God, Jesus, and the Bible (you can watch the speech and/or read the transcript here).  I didn't do it, but it would be interesting to count how many times he referenced the Christian faith and Christian ideals.

Now, one does not need to ponder this for too long before one sees a pretty significant double standard here: President Obama gets to invoke the name of God, Jesus, and refer to the Bible as much as he wants in his speech, and you don't hear a peep out of anybody.  Nobody is complaining; nobody is insisting on the separation of church and state; nobody is crying "intolerance!"  But ask Louie Giglio, a minister who denied that homosexuality is a biblical way of doing life in a sermon fifteen years ago, to pray the benediction at Obama's inauguration, and a literal firestorm breaks out on the internet and in the media.  Enough so that the inauguration committee rescinded Giglio's invitation, and was also enough to make Giglio decline the invitation (the rescinding and declining took place at pretty much the same time, but both parties wanted to back out).

Note that Giglio was not uninvited because he was going to explain from scripture why homosexuality is sinful during his prayer, nor was he uninvited for being a Christian minister per say.  He was uninvited because, 15 years ago he delivered a message in which he denied homosexuality as a viable life choice for someone confessing the Christian faith.  In fact, all he was going to do in his benediction was pray to the Christian God and verbally bless the people watching and listening.  Certainly his prayer would have included references to God, Jesus, and the Bible, in much the same way that President Obama referenced the same three topics during his Newtown speech.  Why, then, were Obama's references to the Christian faith permissible during the speech, but Giglio's references would not be tolerable during the benediction?  Answer: because Giglio does not endorse the state-sanctioned religion, which includes tolerance of homosexuality, support of abortion, and relative standards of truth and morality.

It's a sickening double standard, and it is astounding to me that the people of this country don't have the cognitive capacity to realize it.

The state sanctioned church is on its way, and indeed, is here already, which we see through examples like this.  From now on, the government decides what religious expression is acceptable or not.  And if the government doesn't know what should be acceptable or not, then they will listen to those in the public who feign the largest offense at whatever is being expressed.  That's exactly what happened in the Louie Giglio scenario.  Word has it that Obama himself asked for Giglio to do the benediction.  As soon as that was announced, somebody who needs a job went through 15 years of Giglio's sermons in order to find one where he condemned homosexuality.  When they found it, they went through all the channels to get him blacklisted.  I wonder what the response would be if Obama asked a gay, universalist minister to pray the benediction.  Never mind.  That's a dumb question.  It would be a match made in heaven, because a gay, Universalist minister would perfectly fit the mold of the state church.

Part of me thinks that this whole story is much ado about nothing.  Since when did the government ever endorse my religion in truth?  Why would I ever think that the government would adhere to biblical Christianity?  To put it another way: the government has been exposed as being anti-biblical Christianity - why am I surprised?  We feel offended because the government seems to be betraying our religious ideals.  Since when were we on the same side?

Jesus will not be aligned with government policy or political ideals.  He is Lord over the government and politics.  He will not be tamed by them.  And shame on us me (I'll speak for myself here) for ever thinking that he would be.

So bring on the government sanctioned church.  In the grand and eternal scheme of things, nothing has really changed.  God still sits on the throne, and Christ at his right hand.  They have the final say over the affairs of the universe, including the state of religion and politics in this tiny corner of the universe.  I will rest in that.

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