Nov 22, 2005

American White Supremacy:They Let Me In (Part I)

I can recall an incident when I attended elementary school in the early 50's, that changed my life forever. That singular incident introduced me to the politics of group inclusion and exclusion. Robinson Elementary School located in Akron Ohio, where I attended school, was a mixed but predominately black school at that time. Robinson was located on the east side of this blue-collar working class city of about 200,000 citizens.

I suppose that I had enemies before that encounter, however, up until that experience I pretty much got along fine with everyone. We had begun a new school term and I was now in the 5th grade. I immediately noticed that there were a lot of new faces in this class that I had never noticed before at Robinson, and Robinson was the only elementary school that I ever attended. On this day I was shocked to learn that I had apparently passed the smell-taste and had been accepted into a group (that I had neither petitioned membership nor knew nothing about). How did I find out? I overheard one of my female classmates, Kathryn, tell other members of this phantom group that I, "was okay and that we could let him in". From that day on, everyone in that group apparently accepted me into the group. Odd?

Consciousness Of Kind
Kathryn's words were to stick with me for a long time however, even until this day. For on that day I was introduced to a process that takes place between humans and animals, that consciously, I never knew existed prior to this incident. I came to understand that what I had accepted before, i.e., that we were all human and a part of the human group and thereby were all accepted, was wrong if not naive. At that time I did not have a conscious awareness of the sub-groups, dyads and triads that existed all around me, even though I was certainly a part of some of these groups myself.

You mean, I thought, one person could say to a group of his peers that someone is okay, and all of the sudden you are in. Wow, what power? But it also made me think on the other hand, you mean up until now you knowingly and willfully held me out of the group. Further, I didn't even know that I had issues or differences with your group or that members of your group had issues with me. I did not know that you were watching me. Then I concluded, how dare you? Who do you think you are to decide first of all to keep me out, and who do you think you are to decide for me that I either want to be in or should be admitted? How dare you make those kind of assumptions?

In fact, I was rather satisfied, thank you very much, with my own set of friends, although I never considered myself to belong to a closed group, and besides I have never had any trouble making any new friends. As far as I was concerned, we were all a part of the human group, I simply had not met everyone one yet.

I then learned something about what theologian, Dr. C. Eric Lincoln in his book on the nation of Islam described as, 'a consciousness of kind'. In his book, 'The Nation', Dr. C. Eric Lincoln explained that a consciousness of kind was an awareness that we all apparently have with regard to things or people that we have something in common. We are often more comfortable with those who are like us. Conversely, he said, we experience discomfort when we experience people or people or things that are different, particularly people who do not see things the way that we do.

Similar to the bestseller, I'm Okay You're Okay, that was a must read in the 80's, the author concluded that a subconscious and sometimes conscious level we analyze everyone that we come in contact with. There is a verbal and non-verbal transaction and at the same time assessment of the other party or parties taking place. At the conclusion of the transactions between both sides, a conclusion is drawn about the other. Both entities decide whether the other is essentially okay or not okay and whether to prolong the relation or what type of relationship they will probably have if any. Most people usually take for granted that he or she is okay, its the other person who needs to be checked out. It is the other party who needs to prove their self-worth.

Being as naive as I was at the time, I neither understood group dynamics, consciousness of kind nor transactional analysis. This was important not only because of the former experience with Kathryn and my dismay which followed, but because of what I was to experience with my own group of classmates that I walked together with to school each day.

My house was approximately a half of a mile from the school. And when I attended elementary school there weren't any buses to take you there. So no matter how small you were, you walked. As other kids would pass by your house, you simply joined in and walked along with the group. By the time you reached the school, there could be a dozen or more kids walking to school together. One day I was asked, after months if not years of walking to school together, why I continued to allow Leonard O'Farrell to walk with our group? What group? When did I join a group? What was the problem? When was I empowered to decide who could or could not walk with us to Robinson? What was the nature of this group, other than we all walked to elementary school together? What was the problem?

Well you guessed it, Leonard was white and the rest of us were black. I was shocked again. For I understood now that people that I walked with (a group), included racist kids. For, of course I knew that Leonard was white, but what difference did that make to me? And why should it make any difference to them? Leonard was a kid like the rest of us, kind, smart, going to the same place that I was going and most of all a human, just like the rest of us. How dare these friends and acquaintances discriminate against someone just because they happened to be of another race? I was not a racist and based on my experience with Leonard, he was okay.

As we were growing up, my parents encouraged and taught us to stay away from bad people, but otherwise they never talked about racism, hate, inclusion or exclusion. Our neighbors were white and black, so nothing there would have taught me to stay away from white people, although in a few years I would be introduced to the problem of racism in America.

So what did I do about Leonard? Frankly, I did not fight or argue hard to keep Leonard in the group for I had already decided that if Leonard could not be a part of 'the group', I did not want to be in the group myself. Excluding people based on race was simply not in agreement with my 10 year old values.

And that brings me to the subject of my commentary that I have chosen to discuss in Part II of American White Supremacy: They Let Me In.

Nov 21, 2005

America: Do The Right Thing In Iraq

America is trying to decide what to do about Iraq. Its citizens are finally waking up, albeit with many of them for the wrong reasons. Some say, well lets cut and run. Some say, President Bush and Vice President Cheney, stay the course. Others are undecided. And some say lets construct a leveraged departure, Representative Murtha and others.

America cannot run, as far I am concerned. For what America can not do is walk away from the plunder and damage that it caused and initiated in Iraq. Lives were lost, lives were disrupted, people were maimed, a sovereign government in deference to the United Nations was toppled and the country is reportedly in disarray and apparently on the brink of civil war.

America can neither walk away nor pretend that its mission is anything other than what it has always been, hegemony and self-interest, not self-defense. And whether America stays or leaves, it must make restitution for the deleterious conditions that it caused in Iraq. America needs to do all that it can do to make this sovereign country whole. It will require resources that far exceed the Katrina Hurricane fund(s) and expenditures the direct input of the United Nations and other nations of the world.

Besides atoning to God, America needs to do the RIGHT THING now! I prefer what is best for this country. Several years ago I spoke with an associate. He justified America's incursion into Iraq by saying that Iraq had disobeyed the United Nations with its creation of weapons of mass destruction. Well I said, even if Iraq ignored the United Nations, did not the United States ignore the United Nations and other members of the United Nations Security Council [except those whose arms it had twisted] when America marched into Iraq? I said, isn't this the same thing, i.e., the moral equivalent of saying that Iraq disobeyed the United Nations Resolutions(s)? He was quiet.

Who gave the USA carte blanche to ignore all of the rules that it helped to create and impose them on other nations, as it makes forays itself into other sovereign nations?

Even if Iraq had weapons of so-called mass destruction, what gives the United States the right to possess one of the largest nuclear arsenals in the world, and at the same time tell other sovereign nations that they cannot have any WMDs, and, if you get any we will come in and invade? Does that not make the United States of America, as I have explained to some, the number one terrorist nation in the world? Does anyone else believe that there is something wrong with this policy or position? Truthfully, my country for too long has acted like a rogue nation itself. And many Americans do not care as long as they have jobs, cars and money in the bank. Americans will look the other way. Proud to be an American? I am ashamed of America and you should be as well. Compare America's behavior with scripture and what do you get? Is America acting any different from the nations that Daniel referred to in his tome? And weren't those nations eventually neutralized or destroyed by God?

Folks we are living in the number one terrorist nation in the world. Consider its weaponry {the most WMDs of any other nation}, military [not defense spending], spying agencies (including the spy agency in its 51st state, Israel), its periodic circumvention and manipulation, at times. of the U.N.; how about the forays of the United States into sovereign nations, and historical removal of different heads of states in other sovereign nations like Haiti for example, not to mention its constant labeling, meddling and open threats to other nations like N. Korea and Iran, and lately China. Can anyone else see through this classic strategy of keeping its perceived enemies disarmed.

I have been visiting the Washington DC area for about 4 years now. One of the first things that I was told here about our government, particularly, Congress, is that it exempts itself from the laws that it imposes upon the rest of the nation. I soon found that to be true. What I am seeing with the USA and its foreign policy, is that it will exempt itself from rules and laws that it will force or help to force upon other nations or, cry when it does not get it way (for example in the UN). You cannot take an American Administration to the World Court can you? No, we have exempted ourselves, however, he will deliver other heads of state to the courts for prosecution, won't we? We will even topple those who we consider to be an unjust leader(s), however, will we subject our leaders to the same or answer for our crimes. The so-called war in Iraq in itself is a war crime and someone needs to be punished, for as one American once said, God's justice won't sleep forever!

Truthfully, my nation that I am a member of has had WMDs for years and every one knows it; not only that, America used those weapons. Depending on who you listen to the USA may have or have had anywhere from 14000 to 40000 WMDs in its arsenals. It has been reported that 6000 of these WMDs are active in submarines and in silos scattered around the planet today. The same WMDs can be deployed within in a minute's notice. Lets just say for the sake of argument that the USA has only one WMD. What right does the USA have to tell anyone else that you cannot have one WMD, as long as America has a WMD itself. Schizophrenic? No not from an Americans point of view. And I am sure that my comments will be considered unpatriotic. But the truth is America is spoiled and has pretty much always done whatever it wanted to do around the world, and domestically. And I don't see any signs of that changing in the foreseeable future .

Totalitarianism and hegemony by any nation, as far as I am concerned, is wrong. The USA has clearly tried to and imposed its will upon Iraq and the world, for that matter, for years, in deference the United Nations and other right-thinking individuals, it seems to me, around the world.

Now America must clean up its mess. And it will cost plenty. The USA must invite the United Nations and others in while it stands down. Its only role as I see it then is to support the peace as the people of Iraq determine their future, particularly a choice of government with the help of the real rest of the world. With respect to Saddam? He must eventually be released to the Iraqi people, once the United States is no longer forcing its will upon the people of Iraq. And the United Nations must punish and sanction the USA for its illegal and unwarranted foray into Iraq and inform the USA that there will be repercussions if it ever takes such an action again against another nation.

As I sat back by and watched American [terror-vision] for the past few years, I was appalled at the mitigated gall of the American administration, and the silence and support of the American people. It is incredible to me that a Christian nation can go around the world and force itself upon other people of the world, killing and murdering as it goes, and only a few protest against it.

You cannot force democracy on other nations and call it a true democracy or a representative government. Anyone who thinks so is [demo-crazy].

What is sad about many American who want to cut and run now, is that the reason many Americans want out of Iraq now, has nothing to do with doing the right thing. Their choices have nothing to with conscience, morality or a sense of right, rather it is because the war is simply costing them something in terms of capital, even American human capital. Other Americans are simply tired or bored with the whole thing. No lessons have been learned, and that is what scares me about this. That means that the same behavior will be repeated, by our Government and its people, in the future. For these same people will consent to the same in the future, for they have never learned that the right thing is other than what Americans decide is right for America or any other nation to do!

Seal Of Abraham

Is The Right Wrong?

I was speaking to a nemesis of mine in Texas, just about a year ago, about the war in Iraq. She went on to say, what I have heard too many Americans say, that we should go in there and kill all of those [censored]. I asked, why do you feel so strongly about this? She replied, because they came in here and killed our people.

I said, well, as I understand it individuals mostly from Saudi Arabia, and not Iraq were responsible for the attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. She replied, "I don't care just kill those...". At about the same time I was speaking with a conservative friend of mine who felt and expressed pretty much the same. I said, well you know that it was not the people of Iraq who attacked America. He said, I know, but we have to show them that you don't attack America. I asked, them who?

He replied, the Muslim world. That reminded me of what many blacks experienced in the slave, post and ante-bellum south, i.e., that if 'one of them' got out of line, whites openly whipped or hung 'one or more of them' in order to instill fear and keep the others in line. Not much changed then, in terms of America's strategic and tactical policy against its enemies, much the same as it used and uses against its citizens.

I pointed out the obvious to both my nemesis and my associate. Why was it wrong when individuals from a foreign country entered into the sovereign United States, attacked, maimed, destroyed and killed Americans, however, it was okay for the United States of America to pre-emptively attack another sovereign nation, in deference to the United Nations, also with shock and awe? The United States replicated the exact behavior, of the mostly Saudi's, and proceeded to murder, destroy and maim innocent Iraqi citizens? As many as 200,000 Iraqis are believed to have either been murdered, maimed or injured by the American Killing Machine, and with the full public support of The American Right. Neither my nemesis nor by friend, both a part of the so-called Right, saw any contradiction at all in this. God help us, I thought!

There are five things, primarily, that concern me, they are as follows: (1) The fascist right and its influence on our churches, government and politics. (2) The American church and church leaders in bed with salacious and venal politicians. (3) The hypocrisy of Americans, particularly those who say that they follow Christ, the same who are advocates and supporters of this kind of nefarious and reprehensible behavior. (4) American's disregard for innocent human life. (5) The spirit of America, in conflict with the word and the spirit of Christ.

I. The Fascist Right and its influence on our church, government and politics.
It seems to me that the most dangerous group of people on the planet right now are those in America who call themselves 'The Right'. The term Right, in America, is used to identify Americans who are for morality, conservative values and justice; or so they say.

Despite the righteousness that the term suggests, are these people really wrong? The so-called self described Right, has seemingly taken control of our Federal government and the Federal Court system. This faction of Americans actually wields its influence on all 3-branches of government, not to mention our churches and media, i.e., the Pat Robertson's, Jerry Falwell's and Dobson's of the world. Many in this faction include well-known religious leaders like Dr. Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and others. Others like William F. Buckley, Pat Buchanan, George Will fuel their revolution through the books and the media.

There is a precursor to what the Right in America is doing. In England, its 195h century Fascist Right, as it was referred to then, took control of Parliament and pushed through its conservative form of legislation in Parliament, upon the general public. Exactly how dangerous were and are these religious zealots, politicians, members of the press and others who have joined together to purportedly stand up for right principles and to force civility back upon their nations, very dangerous? What makes them so dangerous is their duplicity and self-righteous methods and their motives.

Members of the Right define justice and morality through a very narrow spectre, their own. Although they often refer to the Bible, many of them do not adhere to the words of the Bible themselves. What is right to them, is what is right to those who are on the Right. They write the script, as they go along with their own delusions, often pretending that their shaping comes from the Bible. They then go to work to inveighle and force their vision, of what the United States, if not the world should be, on the the American populace. Their use of of religion, cunningness, the Press and venal sophist politicking is without peer, I believe.

During the he history of the world, only Satan himself appears to have been more subtle. Using wedge and other important issues, they like the Jihadist of the middle-East, will always invoke God into what they do; consider President Bush using his purported relationship with Jesus Christ when he ran for the Office Of President of the United States. When you match his policies and positions with scriptures, President Bush, like others on the Right, comes up short. Consider, social justice issues or the preservation of life, abroad, neither his attitude nor his behavior matches up with scripture.

There is a great story in the Bible that I love to refer to. It is in John chapter 8, this story reminds me so much of the duplicity of the Right. A woman is brought to Jesus who had been taken in the act of adultery. Jesus listens to the accusation that was brought by the accusers, and bends down to the earth seeingly to ignore them and give them time to escape. For these men who cited the Law of Moses, which held adultery as a Capitol crime, which was punishable by death through stoning under thee Mosaic system of Law and Jurisprudence. We all know the ending, Jesus, says, well, he that is without sin should cast the first stone, and they all went ahead because each of them apparently had sin in their lives as well. Like our conservatives friends of today on The Right, these men vouchsafed the Law; Law, Justice and meteing out sentences to those who deserve to be punished is their battlecry today. Right?

There is something else that is truly remarkable about the story. The same accusers did not bring along the, apparent, male, who participated in the adultery with this woman. Why not? I suspect that it was because it was a friend of theirs, perhaps a Pharisee himself. You know, one of their boyz! in other words. In America, many on the Right openly campaign and campaigned against homosexuals and legislation that favors benefits for homosexuals or homosexual unions. However, while they condemn the practice of homosexuality and the legislation that goes supports homosexual benefits and union, those on the Right, failed to mention or bring the friend, in this case, who supports homosexuals, Mr. John Cheney, VP of the United States of America.

And even worse than the men in our story of John chapter 8, those on the Right went out and campaigned for a ticket in the last two general elections, that included a man, who is heartbeat away from being the Presidenc himself. Once again we witness duplicity in terms of what they say is right, and their own behaviors.

This kind of duplicity plagues those on the Right on so many issues, such as race, the poor, women's rights and so on. They say one thing, but they do another. As the scripture says, with their mouths they worship God, but their hearts are from him. Clearly, the Right, as Mr. Bush once indicated when speaking about his political, is inured to and concerned about only one class of American. With regard to other Americans, I like the definition that syndicated columnist Bob Novak once gave for a compassionate conservative. According to Bob, a compassionate conservative, is one who would see a man drowning 40 feet off shore, and he would throw him a 15 foot rope. Bob repeated this definition in jest, given that he is a conservative himself, and I am certain that he considers himself a compassionate one.

(2) The American church in bed with politicians.
A new group has emerged in the church and this group has closely aligned itself with politicians. Some in the church, like Pat Robertson, have not only aligned themselves, but have run for office themselves. Despite scripture, "He that warreth, does not entangle himself with the affairs of this life...", Pat Robertson even advocates the murder of other Heads of State. I wonder if he prayed before making that statement. Pat even contradicted himself before, for in his book he once wrote that God told him to stay out of politics; he ran for office anyway. And look what a fool he is making of himself now!

President Bush threw religous groups a bone and garnered their support by introducing the Faith-Based Initiative. As altruistic as it was presented, i.e., for the benefit of the peple, the President was the one who truly benefited. Members of the clergy like Pat Robertson and Dr. Dobsen, TD Jakes and others actually consulted with the President about the war in Iraq (and many religious clerics encouraged the war). Wow, faith-based Christian ministers standing with a so-called Christian President. Whatever happened to prophets like Micaiah in scripture, who the King hated, because he would never tell the king what he wanted to hear, II Chronicles 18:7. In fact King Jehosophat hated Micaiah. I wonder why President Bush adores these ministers so much?

Ari Fleischer, in a Press Conference explained, that President Bush reads his Bible and prays. However, when asked does he listen to God when deciding what to do about American foreign policy. Ari, said, no, he doesn't listen to God but rather to his earthly advisors. Interesting? Perhaps that is how America got itself in that mess in the first place and why there are so many dead Iraqis not to mention innocent American soldiers who were obeying their Commander-In-Chief.

The teachers on the Right, in order to make their belief systems coincide with American foreign policy reached back to early Christian writers in order to explain 'just wars' to their parishioners, like St. Thomas Aquinas. They convinced their followers that in fact it was right for a nation to defend itself against an outside aggressor. Of course he was not talking about Iraq or other middle-easterner countires. He was referring only to the United States,Israel and those nations who are friendly to the United States, apparently. The problem with this explanation however, is that it has become more and more apparent that Iraq had done nothing to the United States or its people to warrant the invasion or the occupation.

In fact the United States government had been in bed with Saddam for years, and during the same time that it was in bed with American ministers (when Sadam reportedly carried on many atrocities against his own people). And still many American ministers, particulary those on the Right, stood with the politicians and encouraged the wholesale murder, maiming and destruction that took place and continues to take place in Iraq today. Some estimate that well over 100,000 human beings have been killed in Iraq, and four to five times as many have been wounded, maimed and displaced.

3) The hypocrisy of Americans, particularly those on the Right who say that they follow Christ. Christ did not advocate murder. Christ, the Prince of Peace, advocated peace and required that his followers pursue those things that make for peace. This is a principle that seems to have long been forgotten by those in America, particularly those who construct our foreign policy, or those who head up Christian media and pastor our churches. What happened to seeking a peaceful solution? Those in America and the rest of the world who preferred a peaceful rather than a military solution were either silenced or ignored. What happened to the teachings of Christ? Where do wars comes from? According to Apostle of the Jerusalem Church, wars come about as a result of lust. You want, you don't have, so you take it.

There are not many peaceful voices on the Right, who will even consider a peaceful solution, in fact they resist those who want to do the things that make for peace. As my associate said, we will show them that you don't mess with us. Christians? Americans love the swagger that goes along with carrying the biggest stick. A nation that war born in rebellion, continues to rebel against the things of God, while attempting to show itself as a servant of God. The Spirit of those who helped form this nation, invaders, killers, child-molesters, satan worshippers, rapists, tax-evaders, mutilators, white supremacists, trucebreakers and warmongers lives on in the spirit of American today. And Americans would prefer to fight than swtich, i.e., give up their freedoms.

Consider the revised teachings by the church today, i.e, instead of thou shall not kill, thou shall not commit murder. By any definition what is going on in Iraq today, is not the defense of a nation i.e, the United State, but the wholesale killing and murderering of sovereign God-fearing people who have not done anything to America. And why is it that God-fearing Americans do not feel any kinship to these descendants of Abraham, who are also the people of God?

I have referred several Christian friends of mine to the book of Genesis (chapters 16 and 21 in particular) where the angel of the Lord appeared and spoke to Hagar, Abraham's concubine, just as he appeared and spoke to the virgin Mary. God promised greatness for both nations, God was intimate with both nations. Then why do those on the Right today, particularly, Christians totally dismiss God's people who happen to be Muslim? Because they get their misinformation from the Organization of Facist Media Polls, my name for the Right's propaganda arm. Those on the Right excuse the terrorism of Israel just as they excuse it in the United States.

To criticize Israel's missetps is to be labeled anti-Semitic, Reverend Jackson, Minister Farrakhan and others have found that out. I suppose that the Apostle Paul was anti-Semitic as well, when he said that his desire for Israel, even during his time, was that Israel might be saved. For he bore them witness that they had a zeal that was not according to God.

I attended two meetings in Washington DC with two seperate groups of ministers who visited the middle East. The consensus of both groups was that the Palestinians were more in favor of seeking a peaceful solution than was the hawkish Israeli government. In fact, one group of ministers pointed out that the Israeli government was nothing more than an extension of the Conservative wing of America's Republic Right, eekkk!

There are capable ministers, and heads of states of other nations who would gladly assist in solving the problem in the middle-east between the United States and Israel, and the other Palestinian countries. Neither the Israeli Government or the United States Right-Winged controll government wants that. Unlike most Christian, I do not believe that the current Israeli government, is the apocalyptic Israel that the scripture refers to. However, our government will play upon the sympathy and romanticism of the church with respect to the current Israel in order to use Israel to maintain its presence in the middle East.

(4) American Disregard for Innocent Human Life.

American's have long since been desensitized to killing. Europeans came to this Hemisphere murdering and maiming as they went in search of trade routes and wealth. Europeans and later Americans murdered the natives, and many of the blacks that they later were to enslave the same that they brought to this hemisphere. The murder rate in this country, the abortion rate, the number of individuals who die in our penal systems, the murder of human beings around the planet by Americans, and the legacy of Americans murdering each other attest to that fact. The value of life in America is diminished. The way to solve problems, ask Pat Robertson, is simply to take people out? And I don't think that he meant out to dinner.

Americans are armed to the teeth and ready to murder or kill, at the drop of a bucket. I have never owned a weapon, however, I am surprised at the number of people that I know, who do own weapons, especially those on the Right, and especially those who are in the church. For too many it is not only a constitutional right, but a God-given right.

Many will quickly justify their ownership or use of a weapon (s), not to mention their willingness to use it if they have to. In other words they will have no qualms about acting as executioner, some have even bragged about shooting other people. It is interesting that along with its Uniform Crime Statistics that the Federal Bureau of Investigation tracks, the number of times that Americans discharge a gun when killing other Americans continues to increase. Years ago when Americans shot another American, according to the FBI, he discharged the gun one time. Today an American is likely to discharge his weapon four to five times and in some instances, they will empty the weapon.

(5) The Spirit of America Is Not The Spirit of Christ
Where the right is wrong, is that many in the so-called Right are neither adherents of the principles or words of Jesus Christ, except the ones that agree with their synkretic thinking. Many on the Right are not Christian in their thinking, like Jesus explained to Peter, they have never been converted. Many are simply members of Christian churches. Many have never known Christ, although they profess him with their mouths. Many have never been born again and much like Nicodemus and Apollos the Alexandrian teacher in the bible, many of these have neither had the experience of being born again nor do they understand what it means to be born again. I dare say that our President is misguided on the subject, for he claims to be a born-again Christian. The scripture teaches us that you can discern a tree by its fruit, and judging from the fruit that is on the treesit is evident that he has never been converted. With their mouths only do they worship him.

Conversely, the principles and teachings of Christ have been replaced with own secular conclusions, solutions and propositions. I once spent time with a very prominent minister of a very large church in Northern Virginia church who will remain unnamed. As we sat and chatted outside of a church in Washington DC, he explained that I do not believe in a 'second grace' in order to be saved. That reminded me of another pastor friend of mine on the west coast of America who once told me that the only thing that the Holy Spirit does is empower one to be a witness. Eekk!

On another occasion I was talking to a Catholic public TV host and associate of mine in the McLean Virginia area. We were discussing the upcoming election when he explained that he does not allow the teachings of the church to influence his thinking when exercising the franchise.

Another Christian friend explained that all she knows about her religion was, "we don't each fish on Friday". So no wonder it is so easy then, like Jesus's disciples, to call fire down from heaven and burn up people who are not like you and who do not see things your way. These people are all religious people, however, one can only wonder if any of them have ever been converted. The conversion that Jesus told Peter about, the same Peter who had walked with Jesus for several years, is a work of the Holy Spirit! According to Romans 8, many religious people do not have the Spirit of Christ, and if you don't have the Spirit then you are none of his. And as Jesus taught Nicodemus, and as Aquila and Priscilla taught Apollos, one can even be a teacher and not know these things.

The American Military Killing machine has always been celebrated by the general American public, but now it is being embraced and celebrated as much in our churches, 'My Eyes Have Seen The Glory Of The Coming Of the Lord...". I visited a church service around the Fourth of July in McLean Virginia, one of the largest churches if the not the largest in the area. What struck me at first about the sanctuary of the church was that there weren't any symbols of Jesus Christ in the church. There weren't any crosses, pictures or any other religious symbols (I am not referring to graven images) that I could see throughout the whole church. Rather, in this modern and steel and concrete structure were American flags and other American memorabilia.

I wondered, is this church of Christ, or should it be called the Church of The America Idol, and the idol was clearly America? As the service continued, there were songs of patriotism and the waving of the flag as the parishioners stood and joined in to the singing. What happened to the words of Christ, i.e., render unto Caesar (the Republic) that belongs to Caesar and to Christ that which belongs to Chris?. I suspected that many at this celebration would die for America before they would die for Christ or adhere to the principles of Christ. And I suspected that the true books or their bible was the American Constitution, The Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, not the words of Jesus Christ. For me, this was American idolatry being celebrated in a church setting.

Frankly, one half hour into the service I could not take it any more. I politely gathered my stuff and began to leave. To my dismay I found myself walking out with a group of about 10 or 20 other people who may have felt the same way that I did (at least we were all heading to the exits at the same time that I did).

The bias, narrow-mindedness and self-justification by the Right in America reminds me of the group in the bible that Jesus referred to, the Pharisees. These zealots started out as adherents to the Word, but later diverged into something else other than the followers of the Word. Jesus described them as hypocrites, of the kind that would cross sea and land to convert one soul, however, he added that when they were finished with them they would be more children of hell than fit for the Kingdom.

I challenge believers in America to consider where you fit in to all of this? Are you, with the best of intentions, following those who declare that they are right, yet in your gut you know that the spirit that they advocate and the policies and positions that they advocate, run truly afoul of the spirit and the teachings of the scriptures? Are these some of those of the spirit who worship Christ with their mouths, however, their hearts are far from him as they use the church to further their own political agendas Read 2 Peter, Chapter 2 in the Holy Bible? Ask yourself, do their words match up with those of Jesus and scripture? Or has Satan set up in the temple of God showing himself to be an angel of light?

Jesus once warned Peter, who was later to become the Chief apostle and who had spent time and walked with Jesus, that his heart was not right. Jesus informed him that walking with Christ, citing his word and even doing miracles was not enough, Peter was to be converted. I submit to you that many who say that they are of the Right or Religious Right, have never been converted to Christ! And many of these Pastors, Bishops, Prelates and Presiders, over large religious organizations, are holding believers hostage according to 2 Peter the 2nd Chapter. Are you following people who really do not know Christ at all, although they sound like they do given that some of what they teach aligns with scripture, while their actions and other portions of what they advocate simply fails to align with scripture? Then has the so-called Right gone wrong, and are they taking you along with them?

Scripture warns us that, "There is a way that seems Right to a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death". Today we have both a Right and people who are dying. I believe that the Right in America today is wrong! Will the true believers in Christ, those who adhere to the words of Christ, stand up and speak out? For we are being co-opted by people who don't seem to know Christ. They worship him with their mouths but their hearts are from him. Some, even proudly proclaim that they do not believe in a second grace. Jesus made it made it clear that one must be born again to enter his Kingdom. Some are using the church to further their political agenda(s). Believers beware even of the church where you attend. Remember that the Religious Right in the new testament was a group called the Pharisees. Jesus, constantly ran into conflict with the pharisees. And I believe that the Pharisees of our time are those in the Religious Right. For they often teach the traditions of men and not the Word of God!

The Seal of Abraham

Your comments?

Nov 18, 2005

Ghettos In The Church and The Katrina Hurricane

Is there a ghetto in your church that is inhabited by a lower-middle class, or terminally poor group of parishioners? Are there members of your church who have remained poor over the years while giving hard-earned dollars and service to the church, as your church and pastor have continued to prosper financially over the same period? What has your church done about this permanent underclass? What is your church doing about the citizens of the ghetto in your church? Who wants to criticize a church or a minister, but don't we need to look a little closer at what is going on in the back rooms of our churches, if not right in our faces?

We were all recently moved in the aftermath of the Katrina Hurricane, when we watched from the comforts of our living rooms the devastation of the hurricane that had just passed through the Gulf Coast Region? And weren't we all proud to see The President and other government officials and celebrities standing in tow with many clerics, all of them promising that they were going to do something to help those who had suffered loss and displacement.

And weren't we equally shocked to see the living embodiment of the term ghetto, any section of a city in which many members of some minority group live, or to which they are restricted as by economic pressure or social discrimination [New World Dictionary], centered in the midst of the devastation. The President even commented, I am sure for the consumption of the foreign press and to deflect any responsibility away from himself or his administration, on the reason for the conditions of these poor and neglected people that we saw on our television sets. He attributed their condition to the legacy of racial discrimination in that region that had prevented them from rising from the ashes of economic despair. But what had President Bush or his Administration done to change this so called legacy during his tenure? What have his policies done to contribute to or change their conditions?

And not only President Bush and his administration, what have the churches done to lift up similar citizens who have been caught up in this vicious cycle, within their congregations or communities? I do not ask this question facetiously. We have all recently witnessed the growing trend of mega-churches in our countries. Many of these churches are being run by some oligarchy of family members or friends. While these churches continue to prosper financially, along with those who sit at the top of the structure (many of the officials commanding and demanding the compensations of CEO and board members of secular organizations), at the same time those lower-class groups within the church corporation, continue to languish year after year in poverty, if not just above the poverty-line. I call this latter group the ghetto in the church.

And many smaller churches are not excluded. For example, years ago I attended a church that claimed a membership of around 200 (100 more than the national average for churches at the time). The Pastor retained 100% of the tithes for himself. Not only that, all offerings raised on the 3rd Sundays were his. In addition to tithes and offerings, there was an annual weekly Appreciation Week set aside for this pastor. During this week, for those of you who are not familiar, a church service was held for 8 days. Each night churches were invited to come in and attend. But not only to attend, but to bring special financial offerings for this Pastor (This pastor and congregation would do the same for these visiting pastors and their congregations whenever their Appreciation Weekly financial fund-raising services were held].

The primary emphasis for this week was to raise money. Each auxiliary in the church would have been working to raise the assessment that they were prescribed, usually by of all people, the Pastor who would receive all of the proceeds. I even attended an appreciation week for a local church in the San Francisco Bay Area where the incumbent pastor contributed $1,000 to his own offering the first day of his appreciation. For each successive night, the offering was to exceed the previous night's offering. So during this week, astronomical amounts of monies were raised for Pastors in churches like this small-sized church. Combine this with the weekly tithes, third Sunday offerings et al, and you can see that a Pastor like this was extracting 6-figures from the church in the early 70's. How much do they take in now? For we have hundreds of millionaire pastors in our country as of this writing. I learned this during a conference for pastor's that I attended in Hunt Valley, near Baltimore Maryland a few years ago.

Back in the 70's, I noticed a pattern; what were these (501)C3 churches really up to? How did these ministers manage to maintain their tax-exemption status. Some were stretching their constitutional freedoms to the max. For while these preachers maintained that their goals were to save souls, they were actually building empires or feifdoms for themselves. How, by maintaining enclaves of members, usually made up of those from the underclass, who provided them with lifestyles of the rich and famous?

In one church I attended, a group of members who were on a fixed income and received government subsidies commented on the pastor, who would whisk by them after church in one of his Mercedes as they beat the path, by feet, to and from his church. They remarked that he was kind and always, "waived when he passed by". Although he always had a few extra seats in the car, he never stopped to offer them a ride. In fact it appeared that he was trying to escape the ghetto section where the church was located, and get back to the hills and his suburban upscale dwelling. How could one get that much wealth from such a small church? And isn't it illegal, those of you in the legal profession for organizations under 501(c3), i.e., for the proceeds to inure to the benefit of those in the church? In other words, you cannot raise tax exempt money for the sole purpose of it ending up in certain member's pockets. Then, how is this still going on in many churches?

The goals of this church and its purpose seemed to be to keep the Pastor and his wife living well and to tear down old barns and build bigger ones. This seems to be the primary and secondary purposes of too many churches today, where you have upper-middle class Pastors and Board members thriving as they continue constructing larger facilities or adding on to existing facilities, year after year I might add, while many in their churches who work together to provide the tax-free wealth of the church, continue their existence in the ghettos of the church.

This phenomenon takes place in every city of America, not only New Orleans. It probably goes on in the church that you attend. When will the church help to lift those in its church out of poverty? Is our only goal to make the fat minister fatter? Why did Evangelist Billy Graham always try, as it has been reported, to keep his income in line with those that he preached to, in deference to what we experience with most ministers today. Many black ministers who once criticized Reverend Ike, are putting Reverend Ike to shame. They have no shame about the income disparities between the pulpit and Board and the rank and file members. They tell the congregants that God wants us to prosper. But who is really prospering?

How many new buildings, luxury cars, exorbitant salaries, retirement plans, airplanes, Armani suits and other accoutrement will today's clergy extract from those in the ghettos of your churches while maintaining their jet-set lifestyles? It is time for a new accounting. The American Capitalist Church is out of control. This is not the spirit of Christ operating, rather much like the economic system that many of these come out of, this is the spirit of greed operating at the expense of others. Wasn't it Hegel who cited the reason for man's inhumanity to man as the result of "...ownership of property and the pursuit of power through class struggle". Why do ghettos continue to exist in the USA, and why do ghettos continue to exist in our American churches, I ask you? Who holds the deeds, and who holds the power in your church? Is there a class in your church that is doing much better than the rest? How do they fare in comparison with the remainder of the congregation? How many luxury cars, airplanes, extravagant homes and other accoutrement have they gone through at the expense of the church, while a class of members remain constantly and chronically poor. The next time you ask for prayer, will you be required to give the minister a seed offering before he will even pray for you?

Peace & Grace