Bet you didn’t know that, but that’s what the religious right is saying.
People of faith, take note. These people claim to be your leaders.
For those who are unaware, several Christian leaders held a conference last week all about how Christians are supposedly being oppressed. The gathering was held in the ballroom of the posh Omni Shoreham Hotel (because, to paraphrase Jon Stewart, nothing says that you’re being oppressed more than a two-day conference at an upscale hotel).
Attendees included the usual list of fundamentalist religious leaders, and their indicted or soon-to-be-indicted brethren (i.e., Tom Delay, Ralph Reed, etc.) [RELATED: If you haven’t read the op-ed in the Sunday Washington Post entitled "How the GOP Became God’s Own Party", you really should.]
To give you a taste of what went on…
One speaker was Tom Crouse, pastor of the Holland Congregational Church in Massachusetts and radio show host. Crouse told conference attendees:
to stop worrying about appearing tolerant and start proclaiming the truth, saying that Jesus was the most intolerant person in the world. A similar plea for intolerance was recently issued by Rev. Jerry Falwell, who exhorted his supporters to be “the most intolerant people in the world.”
Well, I guess my Bible must have been mistranslated. I mean, who knew that Jesus actually went on the Mount and said, "Screw the meek. Screw those who hunger and thirst for righteousness."?
Others in the conference echoed that sentiment, including speaker Bill Fancher of American Family Radio – who described himself as proudly “narrow minded”.
Well, I guess they are "proclaiming the truth", but I’m not sure that admitting to be intolerant and narrow-minded is going to win over many converts.
It’s a rather odd message. On the one hand, they claim that Christians are being attacked as intolerant and narrow-minded, and with the other hand, they openly rejoice in the fact that they are intolerant and narrow-minded.
Elsewhere in the conference, you had those who overtly rejected Jesus’s words. Rick Scarborough, the conference organizer, complained that "the Left has been using Christians’ ‘turn the other cheek’ philosophy against them", so it was time for Christians to abandon that forgiving philosophy.
So "what would Jesus do"? He would ignore Jesus, I guess.
The Carpetbaagger took note of the remarks by Rod Parsely, pastor of the Columbus, Ohio, World Harvest megachurch, one of the religious right’s rising stars.
Parsley compared the struggle against the "war on Christians" to the civil rights movement, defiantly shouting that "We [are] not going to the back of the bus … My Father owns the bus line. I will sit where I please!"
That’s oppression for you: owning the bus line and demanding that you sit whereever you want.
But the meta-theme of the conference was the "battle", and most speakers laced their comments with violent war-like metaphors. Parsley, for example, proclaiming "freedom at any cost", shouted:
"If you think 2004 was something, we have not reached critical mass! We are the largest special interest group! … We’re building order from chaos! We’re fighting the sword with the word! We’re fighting savagery with hope!"
"I came to incite a riot! Man your battle stations! Ready your weapons! Lock and load!"
I think these (white) guys are taking the "Onward Christian Soldiers" bit too literally.