The following is a commentary in an ongoing series of “Reflections” by John Mill. John Mill is the radio persona of Ronald Bruce Meyer and can be heard on “American Heathen.” “The American Heathen” Internet radio broadcast is aired, live, on Friday nights from 7:00pm-10:00pm Central time on ShockNetRadio.com
Where Are the Churches?
A Reflection by Ronald Bruce Meyer
My wife keeps urging me to be more gentle in my criticism of the churches and religion. She says she sees the good the churches do: the charity, the sense of community, the sense of having and belonging for those who have not and might otherwise feel alone. You may not believe it, but I do try to do what she says – and not just because, like most men in a committed relationship, I’d rather be happy than right.
I’ve been standing here a long time with a bouquet for religion, like a teenager waiting for his blind date to show up. But the flowers are beginning to wilt under the lowering clouds.
Where are the churches?
Politicians, especially but not solely of the Republican or “Christian Nationalist” persuasion, vie for piety in the public eye. We saw this in the debate among seven Republican presidential hopefuls on Tuesday. Every one of them speaks for God and thinks God is good for everyone else.
Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota thinks “we're a nation that's founded under God” and cleverly points out that our blessings come from a creator, not a county commissioner.
Former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania thinks people of no faith should “tolerate” people of faith like him.
Congressman Ron Paul of Texas also thinks Christians need everyone else to tolerate the free “expression of your Christian faith in a public place.”
Godfather's Pizza mogul Herman Cain of Georgia isn’t able keep his mind off the Muslims “that are trying to kill us.”
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney said, even though “Our nation was founded on a principal of religious tolerance,” he’s not going to allow any Muslim law.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia thinks loyalty oaths are OK, just in case people lie about their loyalty.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota defended her abrogation of reproductive rights for women by saying “Only God can give, and only God can take” life, which I guess would make her an opponent of capital punishment.
Another politician, who at this point is only a potential candidate, Texas Governor Rick Perry thinks he has a direct, digital connection with God. He has allied himself with the American Family Association, which is famously anti-gay and anti-Muslim, and he is publicly urging everybody – as Governor of Texas – to convert to Christianity.
Where are the churches? I’m waiting with my bouquet like an eager groom.
Joblessness in the US is at a staggering 9.1 percent – not counting the 2.2 million people who have dropped out of the workforce. The US is involved in three foreign wars without any definable security interest to justify. The wealthiest people in the country get favors from the public purse – tax breaks and “free speech” rights that let them acquire and keep an ever-greater share of our wealth – without any noticeable payback to citizens.
Where are the churches when deficits are an excuse for cutting public jobs and public services that help the middle class – when even one less war could pay for them all?
Where are the churches when murder is being done in our name just to keep government contractors wealthy with the blood and treasure of the people least able to afford them?
Where are the churches when Wall Street fiddles while American homeowners burn, when our environment is degraded by wasteful use, when our infrastructure crumbles through neglect?
Singing “Jesus Loves Me” in church never lifted one American out of poverty. Posting a copy of the 10 Commandments in a school never got anybody into college. Passing laws to make abortion difficult never helped one mother feed her child. Making gay marriage illegal never stopped one divorce. Failing to teach about contraception never prevented one teenage girl from getting pregnant. Evangelizing for Jesus never repaired a rotting road or beefed up a broken bridge.
And none of these things got anybody a job, or a home, or helped to support a family.
Where are the churches? I don’t believe God has seen the inside of a church for a long time. I think I’ve been stood up again. And my bouquet just died.
Copyright © 2010-11 Ronald Bruce Meyer. To hear an audio version of this Reflection, click on this link: Where Are The Churches
Mill said he believed in a "probable God," or a "limited liability God," but disbelieved in miracles and immortality.