Quick, Make Your Best Guess. Who’s a Christian?

Do you think Billy Graham is embarrassed by his son Franklin?

I really don’t see how he couldn’t be. I’m embarrassed by Franklin. He’s gone maybe farther around the bend than Santorum.

Billy was all about preaching the gospel. Franklin seems to be only about guessing whether people are Christians or not. He’s strayed so far from his father’s mission that it’s barely recognizable. Billy prayed with presidents. If any were ever silly enough to meet with Franklin he’d have to vet their faith to his satisfaction before he’d pray with them. It seems to be all about Franklin and not much if any about Christ. It’s really just sad. (Lawrence O’Donnell replayed a clip of an interview he did with Franklin a year or so ago. Lawrence quoted Christ saying that you had to give up everything you had and follow Christ. He asked Franklin what he had given up. Franklin answered that he gave his life to Christ when he was 22. Lawrence pointed out that Franklin didn’t actually give up anything in the concrete sense, as he still makes over ¾ of a million dollars a year doing what he does. I add this not to denigrate Franklin per se for having money. Few, if any, modern Christians literally follow Christ’s imperative to give up everything and follow him. It simply puts me in mind of the Chesterton quote: “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.” More on wealth below.)

Franklin Graham and Rick Santorum’s crazy theology talk has again brought out the idea of Christian Dominionism. It is scary. I was thinking, my God, I never thought Bush could win and he did. Maybe Santorum will be president too.

It may be possible, but he has a lot harder road than Bush did. Bush was a president’s kid, won big as governor, had the big money behind him, and didn’t play the religion stuff nearly as hard as Santorum (unlike with Santorum, I have doubts W was a true believer. He just used it to get votes. I.E. he’d campaign against gay marriage, and once in office completely forgot about it.) Rick lost huge in his senate reelection bid, doesn’t have the big money (aside from William Dore and Foster Friess, his Super PAC sugar daddies who some might say are the real candidates), is a true believer (in the end, not a help in a campaign the fervent fundamentalists, who thankfully are a minority), and has way overplayed his hand. And I also remembered Santorum has really gotten very few votes so far; they’ve just been reported on out of proportion. If Romney was half competent, it’d be over. But the best Romney has is to declare that the trees in Michigan are the right height. Huh? The choice is between Romney (non-sensical) and Santorum (“a perfect mind for the 13th century”).

Jim, I agree that mormons aren’t Christians and see that as a bit of a separate issue.

Lawrence O’Donnell last night had on Pastor Robert Jeffress (pastor of the Texas Megachurch that Franklin Graham has attended). He said he loved Franklin but wished he had pulled back a bit, he then went on to basically agree with everything Franklin had said. He said if Romney was the nominee he would hold his nose and vote for him even though he didn’t believe Mormons were Christians. Even so, Mitt somehow for Pastor Jeffress upholds Christian ideals better than President Obama. He couldn’t really say why.

They say they have to take Obama at his word that he is a Christian but don’t really know, but with Santorum they simply believe him, because, of course, it is so clear in his life that he is living by Christian values. Yes, that’s what the pastor said. I was like, really? Cause there is little in Santorum that I recognize as living a Christian lifestyle. Certainly no more than Obama. See this nice article from Mother Jones showing that in policy Obama has been at least if not more a friend of religion, of Christianity, and Catholic Charities, than was George W. Bush. (I understand that for the Dominionists, Fundamentalists, Santorumists, call them what you will, these are facts unable to penetrate the cerebellum, and of course, I was never writing for them anyway. It’s sad, and we kind of have to just let them go as a lost cause. If they come back, all the better, and I know of nothing that can help them on that path.)

I think a lot of it is code. They can’t fully accept Obama, and don’t want to outright say they are scared of the black man in the white house, so they simply and repeatedly lay in doubt…well, sure, he says he is a Christian, and I have to take him at his word, I mean, as far as I know, he is probably telling the truth. It just gets disgusting.

It appears the definitions of Christianity differ as wildly as the definitions of conservative and liberal.

As I reread the gospels I keep looking to see where Jesus tells us he wants us to be rich (what was that thing about the eye of the needle again) and that we can ignore the poor if we simply decide that they just aren’t trying hard enough to find a job and are freeloading on the system. I’m trying to find where Jesus says marriage is a matter for the state to decide on rather than the church. I’m trying to find where Jesus says that being a good steward of the planet means to pillage our resources and strip mine our mountains and pollute our waters, and pump mercury into the air. I’m trying to find where he says that the birth defects caused by that mercury are simply part of God’s will and there is nothing we can or should do about it, and at the same time accept that every pregnancy is sacred, even the 30 to 50% that don’t make it on their own (someone went over the top and asked if that meant God was the biggest abortionist. That’s a bit too far, and I certainly see their point.)

If I wasn’t already a Christian, watching and listening to Santorum and Franklin Graham and Robert Jeffress and the like would make me run kicking and screaming as far away from that religion as I could get. And to me, that is the saddest thing. Politics will always be dirty, but these people have sullied my religion.

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About JP

We're two guys who met in college, in 1980. We've stayed in touch, and like to talk politics, current events, music and religion. JP is nore liberal than Sid, but not in every way. We figure that dialogue stimulates ideas, moderates perspective, and is in general friendly. These are things we need badly in these dangerous times. The blog name is taken from a song by Bruce Cockburn.
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2 Responses to Quick, Make Your Best Guess. Who’s a Christian?

  1. Jim says:

    JP – I do not think the race card fits here, som uch as generic rage against any Democrat President. Did you watch the CLinton documentary on PBS? Ken Starr’s incessant searching for anything they could find – till Monica was delivered like a Christmas present to the sharks. The attack machine is still running.

    Next, I think it’s too quick to accuse conservative Christians that they don’t look to their less fortunate brethren – that simply don’t want it done through government channels.

    I think – as the Shipley book said – a mixed approach to charity is best. The Santorums don’t, I guess.

  2. JP says:

    Yes, Jim, I agree there are good conservative Christians who help the poor and just don’t want the government doing it. And I was talking about the conservative Christianity that currently is manifest in our politics. Bush 41 talked of a thousand points of light. Even 43 gave lip service to compassionate conservatism. Today, conservative Christian politics really seems to be about blaming the poor. And its audience eats it up. Remember all the crazy applause at earlier debates, cheering wide use of the death penalty, cheering letting people die who don’t have health insurance, cheering billionaires paying less taxes, etc. etc.
    Yes, they attacked Clinton relentlessly. They’ll use whatever they can and everything they can. I’m not saying they wouldn’t attack Obama just as hard if he were white; I’m simply saying that given he is black and that is there to use to stir up hatred in certain circles, they are happy to use it. It always seemed pretty clear to me that the whole birther thing was playing on racial fears.
    Thanks for pointing me to the EJ Dionne column. It is similar to my post, though I think he was more eloquent. On the Last Word tonight Lawrence O’Donnell showed a montage of things said about Obama in 2008 by pundits and politicians on the right, including some of those running this time. If they’d had any grip on reality, then today Obama would have taken all our guns away, turned America into a socialist nation (as EJ points out, with the DOW over 13,000, it’s hard for them to make that argument without looking silly…which explains in part why they look silly), and on and on. None of which, of course, has happened. Now they’re just in reruns.

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