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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Jim Brock: The Gospels rewritten

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  • Conservative columnist Ann Coulter was less than complimentary in a recent piece when she criticized Dr. Kent Brantly, the American doctor who contracted Ebola in Liberia.
    Apparently, his altruism didn’t measure up to Coulter’s brand of superior morality.
    “Why did Dr. Brantly have to go to Africa? The very first ‘risk factor’ listed by the Mayo Clinic for Ebola – an incurable disease with a 90 percent fatality rate – is: ‘Travel to Africa.’
    “Can’t anyone serve Christ in America anymore?
    “No – because we’re doing just fine. America, the most powerful, influential nation on Earth, is merely in a pitched battle for its soul.”
    I will agree with Coulter on one point – the good doctor knew the risks. But that same argument can be used with anyone who goes overseas to help those who can’t help themselves. Whether you are a soldier, a doctor, a missionary or a teacher, there are risks when you go to a third-world country where war and disease are rampant.
    Do we berate soldiers coming home from war?
    Of course not.
    Why does the Right feel compelled to attack a man who followed the mandate of Christ, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).
    But an indignant Christian such as Coulter who can use the words “serving Christ” and write the following in the same piece should seriously question her theology.
    “Not only that, but it’s our country. Your country is like your family. We’re supposed to take care of our own first.
    “The same Bible that commands us to ‘go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel’ also says: ‘For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, “You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.”’”
    The latter verse, which she conveniently doesn’t cite, is Deuteronomy 15:11 in the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible.
    Here is the next verse: “If your brother, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you” (Deuteronomy 15:12).
    Followed by, “And when you let him go free from you, you shall not let him go empty-handed” (Deuteronomy 15:13).
    Context matters.
    What’s worse, there are so many conservative leaders who use the clever talking point “America is a Christian nation” to garner a base, when in fact, we don’t act like it.
    “You shall not charge interest on loans to your brother, interest on money, interest on food, interest on anything that is lent for interest. You may charge a foreigner interest, but you may not charge your brother interest, that the Lord your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land that you are entering to take possession of it” (Deuteronomy 23:19-20).
    Page 2 of 3 - Are we opening our hands to our brother? Banks earn billions of dollars in interest revenue annually.
    Many of their shareholders are in church every Sunday, but how many of them have ever been to Liberia? And how many are giving of themselves without a tax write-off?
    Let’s look at the so-called Moral Majority.
    Rev. Jerry Falwell, following the Sept. 11 attacks, blamed “the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America.”
    “I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this happen,’” he said on “The 700 Club.”
    The Rev. John Hagee said Hurricane Katrina was sent by God to stop a gay pride event called “Southern Decadence Day.”
    “I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they are — were — recipients of the judgment of God for that.”
    After the devastating 7.0 earthquake in Haiti that caused the death of more than 100,000 people, Pat Robertson said on his show “The 700 Club” that the disaster was the result of a “pact to the devil.”
    “[The Haitians] were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever...
    “And they got together and swore a pact to the devil.
    “They said, ‘We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.’
    “True story. And so, the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal.’
    “You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other.”
    You can’t make this stuff up.
    HBO Talk Show host Bill Maher had a good point when he said, “If you belonged to a political party or a social club that was tied to as much bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, violence and sheer ignorance as religion is, you’d resign in protest.”
    This is not a blanket statement for all believers, but we seem to forget that we are in this together.
    When we picture Uncle Sam in the clouds when we imagine God looking down on us, we are in big trouble. The capricious God we have created in America is not the loving Christ we read about in the gospels. He is not a politician, and I seriously doubt He cares about presidential elections or corporate bottom lines.
    Our so-called religious leaders need to stop rewriting the Gospels for political clout and realize that demonizing Americans is adding to the moral decay of America.
    They have the cart before the horse.
    Who wants to submit to a God who, according to the men in the pulpits, doesn’t want them unless they are flawless?
    Page 3 of 3 - When I was a child, I used to sing a song in church. To this day, this song gives me a chill up my spine, because it reminds me that the Creator of the Universe loves all of us.
    Here are a couple of verses.
    Just as I am - without one plea,
    But that Thy blood was shed for me,
    And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
    -O Lamb of God, I come!
    Just as I am - and waiting not
    To rid my soul of one dark blot,
    To Thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
    -O Lamb of God, I come!
    Regardless of Ms. Coulter’s angry rant, when the New Testament says “go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel,” the message of love in “Just As I Am” is what we are supposed to carry.
    It is hard to argue that America in many ways is “in a pitched battle for its soul” as Coulter says, but criticizing a doctor who risks his life for the sick and dying seems like the act of someone who needs to do some soul-searching.
    Ponder that!
    ——
    Jim Brock is managing editor of the Nebraska City News-Press.

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