Saturday, October 28, 2006

Dobson + Coulter: Focus on the Fundamentalists

In September of 2003, the then president of Mercer University, Kirby Godsey, delivered a paper at a preaching consultation in St. Simon’s Island, Ga. At the beginning of this paper he had this to say about fundamentalism:

I believe that over the next few decades, fundamentalism will be unmasked and exposed as a fraudulent form of faith. Fundamentalism in all of its expressions worldwide is barbaric and uncivilized, replacing creativity with control and manipulation. It churns out passions that breed religious hatred and bigotry and the twisted wreckage of misplaced devotion. The ascendance of fundamentalist passion and the rhetoric of holy destruction (an oxymoron if I ever heard one) is contributing to the demise of humankind, diminishing our higher calling to love mercy and to do justice and places the progress of human creation in peril. There is not a dime’s worth of difference in Christian, Baptist, Jewish, or Islamic fundamentalism. They are all dangerous, evil forms of religious commitment. People who maim and kill and destroy and put other people down in the name of God are children of evil and the appeal to God’s name does not bring sanctity to their work. Holy meanness is still meanness!
If anyone has any doubts of the wisdom of Godsey's observations, they need only look at this article from EthicsDaily.com. I will be quoting liberally from this article for the rest of this post. Please look at the original article for links that back up much of what the author is writing.

At issue is the recent guest appearance of the ultra-conservative political pundit Ann Coulter on Dobson's Focus on the Family radio program last week. For those of you unfamiliar with Coulter, here are a few quotes I found while surfing the net:

(Concerning Muslim Countries)We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war.
(Concerning the environment) "The ethic of conservation is the explicit abnegation of man's dominion over the Earth. The lower species are here for our use. God said so: Go forth, be fruitful, multiply, and rape the planet--it's yours. That's our job: drilling, mining and stripping. Sweaters are the anti-Biblical view. Big gas-guzzling cars with phones and CD players and wet bars -- that's the Biblical view."
(This quote is from her latest book Godless: The Church of Liberalism and concerns the widows of 9/11)These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. These self-obsessed women seemed genuinely unaware that 9/11 was an attack on our nation and acted as if the terrorist attacks happened only to them. ... I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much ... the Democrat ratpack gals endorsed John Kerry for president ... cutting campaign commercials... how do we know their husbands weren't planning to divorce these harpies? Now that their shelf life is dwindling, they'd better hurry up and appear in Playboy."
Does that sound like a Christian to you? Is this the kind of message you would like to teach your children? Obviously, James Dobson thinks so. What follows is the summary of the interviews as it appeared in the EthicsDaily.com article. I will highlight in red the statements I find to be particularly offensive:

When Dobson asked her about the title of the book and its attack on liberals, Coulter responded, "They are the opposition party to God." However, Coulter does not appear to be a member or regular attender of any church.


Coulter also reportedly swears, drinks and smokes. Additionally, Coulter's over-the-top rhetoric and ad hominem attacks—such as those on women who lost their husbands in the tragic attacks of Sept. 11, 2001—bear little resemblance to the biblical model of being loving or careful in what one says.


Despite these problems, Dobson not only gave Coulter two days of his show but also lavished her with praise throughout the interview. He encouraged her to come on the show again and expressed his "hope" that she would be a guest on the show many times "through the years."


"It is obvious why you drive the liberals absolutely crazy, and it's fun watching you do it," he told her. "You are a good lady. … And I appreciate what you're trying to do."


During the interview, Coulter and Dobson mocked Senator John Kerry's faith and military service. Dobson complained that during the 2004 election, Kerry's five votes against a partial-birth abortion ban were not very widely reported.


Coulter responded with the sarcastic response, "No, what we heard was that he was an altar boy." As she laughed, Dobson added with a chuckle, "Yeah, repeatedly." Coulter would later again state sarcastically, "He was an altar boy" as Dobson chuckled at her response.


Yet, how can they know his sincerity since they cannot know his heart? After all, "James Dobson is no Jesus."


In the midst of this segment making light of Kerry's religious dedication, Dobson also mocked Kerry's military service in Vietnam. He injected with a light-hearted tone, "And by the way, did you know he fought in Vietnam?"


Both Dobson and Coulter laughed at the remark. Yet, even if one accepts the Swift Boat version that Kerry's record was not as heroic as he claimed, he should be praised for actually going and serving his nation in harm's way.


During the interview, the two attacked Hollywood, the media, the courts, affirmative action, stem-cell research, public schools, concerns about torture, environmentalism, feminists and evolution.

Most of the attacks centered on "liberals," their influence on society and their supposed attempts to suppress Christianity and the family.


Dobson repeated and affirmed Coulter's claim in her book that "Liberals are anti-science." Coulter also attacked claims that liberals care about the poor and argued that they instead try to keep people poor and kill the poor.


"Liberals don't care about the poor," she retorted. "That is part of the point of the book to wake people up who are decent people who call themselves 'liberals.' I don't think there are that many of them left, though."


At one point, Dobson asked which institution Coulter would most want to take control of because of its importance.


"The public schools," Coulter responded. "What is being taught in the public schools, I think would make most parents to go out and boil the teachers unions' officials in oil."


Dobson, who has attacked public schools before, chimed in by claiming, "There is no redeeming social value, I think, in the National Education Association." Coulter expressed her agreement with this statement.


Near the end of the interview, Coulter dismissed concerns about how prisoners are treated at Guantanamo Bay. She argued that the idea that one should "shower [your enemies] with kindness" is merely "a liberal idea that will not die." So much for turning the other cheek or praying for your enemies.


Following the interview, Dobson exclaimed on the air, "I really enjoyed this interview." Yet, after the two episodes, one question arises: is this picture of conservative Christianity and family values?
Are these statements consistent with the New Testament you have read? Is Coulter a good example of a Christian following Jesus' instruction to "love your neighbor?"

It is my observation that, historically, moderate Christians have not been willing to speak out against fundamentalists, because we don't want to set the wrong example for what Christians should be. However, I would propose that Coulter and, because he did not correct her, Dr. Dobson are false prophets. Their teachings are not based on scripture, rather they are contrary to them. Paul writes in II Timothy: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." So, as Christians, it is time for us to speak up and gently use scripture to teach, rebuke, and correct Dobson and other fundamentalists like him.

As a country, we are facing serious issues that will require serious contemplation and discussion from both sides of the aisle. By the way, it has always been my belief that there are and need to be Christians in both parties. If you believe that one party has all the right answers, then you are fooling yourself. These kinds of remarks serve no useful purpose, and are, in fact, counterproductive. Since I identify myself as a Democrat, I will look to a democrat for a better option:
"We believe in a politics...dominated by evidence and argument. There is a big difference between a philosophy and an ideology on the right or the left. If you have a philosophy, it generally pushes you in a certain direction or another. But like all philosophers, you want to engage in discussion and argument. You are open to evidence, to new learning. And you are certainly open to debate the practical applications of your philosophy."

"The problem with ideology is if you got an ideology, you already got your mind made up, you know all the answers, and that makes evidence irrelevant and argument a waste of time, so you tend to govern by assertion and attack. The problem with that is that discourages thinking and gives you bad results."

"I long for the day when Republicans and Democrats will sit around and have these raucous, exciting arguments and actually love learning from one another, and when we create the common good out of a dynamic center."

— Bill Clinton, October 18, 2006 (excerpts speech given at Georgetown University)

We should also encourage Dr. Dobson to change the name of his radio program to "Focus on Fundamentalism" because he has lost his emphasis on the health of the Christian family and seems to be much more obsessed with protecting and increasing his political power.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Olbermann Commentary on Republican Terrorism Ad

With an election coming up soon, you may see a few more political posts from me.

I continue to be impressed with Keith Olbermann's writing skill and eloquence in delivering commentary. Whether you are on the right or on the left, please take a minute to watch this commentary and let me know what you think.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Fred Craddock Sermon


Fred Craddock preached in one of our chapel services earlier this year. It is one of the most amazing sermons I have heard. It is now available on the Wake Forest Divinity School Website, or you can listen to it by clicking here. Do yourself a favor and listen to this sermon.

In addition, you can listen to some of the other special speakers we have by clicking here.

It looks as if I will be able to take a course with Dr. Craddock next semester, and I am very much looking forward to that.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Earthquakes!

The above image is from the United States Geological Survey, and it shows the THREE earthquakes that have occurred in Winston-Salem today. The first, and largest, was this morning about 5am, and it woke Gay up. The latest was at about 9:11, and Gay and I knew what it was as soon as it happened. The largest only measured a 2.6, so they are not major quakes, but it is still a little bit weird to feel the condo rattle.

Friday, October 06, 2006

A Slightly New Look

I upgraded the blog to the new version of Blogger, so you may notice a few changes to the look of the site. Much of the functionality is the same, but I think it looks nicer, and it is much easier to change.

Let me know if you notice anything that is not working correctly or looks weird.

I am in the midst of mid-terms, but I will try to post something in the next few days.