About a month or so ago I came home from some church related activity one evening to find my wife had started a movie on Netflix; this is not an altogether uncommon activity in our house. However, her choice had me cringing a bit. She, not knowing who Bill Maher was at the time, had chosen to watch the movie Religulous. For those of you unfamiliar with Bill Maher or this work, it is basically ninety minutes of Mr. Maher attempting to make fun of the world’s three largest religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. However, he does so by picking out the crazy fundamentalists in each of the three. In the South we call this “shootin’ fish in a barrel”. Of course you can make fun of all the crazies that belong to a certain group…it’s easy. It actually makes Maher look a little less effective because he goes toe to toe with people my seven year old could out-wit. And we all know that these people are rarely the norm and have never represented the majority even if Bill Maher doesn’t.
I guess the real problem is the fact that the people who scream the loudest and sound the most ignorant get the most attention. I mean let’s face it, everyone loves to watch a train wreck. I guess the hard part for me is that in the Church we allow these people to become the dominant voices. I think about Westboro Baptist Church or the “pastor” from North Carolina* who recently proposed concentration camps for the Gay and Lesbian community and my stomach turns. Do these people not read the same Bible I do? Think about this passage from 1 Peter 4:8-11, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.” Love deeply…I don’t think either of these representations of our crazies could be accused of love. And what about that last phrase? Speak as if your words are “the very words of God”? Shouldn’t there be great care and thought put into every word we say as the church if our words are construed as the very words of God?
So here is my heartfelt plea; PLEASE STEP AWAY FROM THE MIC! (I may have been type shouting). You are making yourself look like fools. You are making the Church look ignorant and hateful. And most importantly…you are misrepresenting Christ! When members of a certain group go out and speak with hatred and ignorance that entire group becomes characterized by those extremes. So I beg of you…please step away from the mic. It would do us all a great deal of good and who knows…maybe Bill Maher will go broke because he won’t have anything to talk about.
* If you haven’t seen this, here is the link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2839yEazcs It may be the saddest thing you watch today.