Thursday, June 29, 2017

Scandal! What Scandal?

When I started this blog, my intention was to offer an alternative perspective to the usual religion/politics media-driven dichotomy that I think we get too wrapped up in.  I'm a political junkie in my heart- following political news closer than any other category -but as my faith has evolved over time I've come to look at my personal politics differently.

A great example of this is my support to the American Center for Law and Justice.  When I first started blogging I included a link to the ACLJ in my sidebar.  I'd listen to their program on my commute from work.  And I was so intrigued by religious liberty debates that I actually picked up and read David Limbaugh's book, Persecution.

But like I said, as my faith matured my politics evolved.  I have to confess that I didn't vote for Barak Obama but I didn't think he was the antichrist either.  He was the President and it was what it was.  But I noticed the tone on the ACLJ radio program began to turn hostile.  They covered religious liberty issues less, and political policy more.  The straw that broke my back was during the early debates over the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.  The ACLJ was vehemently opposed to it, but on what Christian grounds I could not fathom.  They made the case opposed to abortion funding, but federal law already prohibits it.  They made the case that it was socialist, but we read in Acts that "all the believers were together and had everything in common.  They sold their property and possessions and gave to everyone as they had need." (Acts 2:44-45)  And they used fear-mongering to manipulate people into giving.  The scales fell from my eyes; the ACLJ wasn't a Christian organization, it was unapologetically right-wing.

I'd check in on the radio every now and then, especially to get updates when Paster Saeed Abedini was imprisoned in Iran.  But it was clear religious liberty issues took a back-seat to political activism.

Shortly after President Trump's travel ban was blocked by the courts, Jordan Sekulow, son of ACLJ founder Jay, was on KNX news radio in Los Angeles to discuss the legal arguments for the ban.  He bluntly stated that we need better vetting ("extreme vetting" in the President's words) using refugees as an example of those who weren't vetted.  The radio host pointed out the painstakingly long process, including vetting through the United Nations, Interpol, was well as the FBI and Homeland Security, before refugees are settled in the United States.  Jordan didn't flinch and stood by his argument.  When called out explicitly that he lied, he still didn't yield.  The host concluded the interview by pointing out that the ACLJ is a Christian organization.  Thank you for the black eye, Jordan.

Then a week ago, it was announced Jay Sekulow was hired on to the President's legal team.  My eyebrow raised.  It didn't surprise me that he went around the news just regurgitating the administration's talking points.  And it didn't surprise me that many Christians bought his story hook, line, and sinker.

But my blood boiled when I read the news that Jay had funneled millions of charitable donations towards he and his family's salaries and perks.  And of course, investigations follow, but I'm sure 'faithful Christians' will declare this a witch hunt.

I'm not trying to look down on those who still support the ACLJ or rub it in.  I share all this because I believe people can change, politics can change.  Mine did.  But I wonder what level of scandal will cause others to look at their religion and politics more critically?  The scandals of Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart didn't lead to the end of the Religious Right in the 80's.  Pat Robertson is still on the air despite the ridiculous things he says.  Jerry Falwell Jr has taken up his father's mantle and then some.  James Dobson resigned from Focus on the Family but is still influential.  So I wonder if the latest controversy surrounding Jay Sekulow will make any difference, or if Christians will see this as just another example of the devil opposing God's chosen president.

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