Bullies in the pulpit: a problem in the church

Shane Wade

Columnist

There’s a cancer within the Christian church in the form of hypocrisy. This truth is undeniable and we see and hear it everyday. Hypocrisy in the form of a preacher shouting hate and damnation at homosexuals, a bishop drowning in his sex scandal, or the everyday Christian misquoting or misinterpreting the Bible. And while humans are, by our own nature, hypocrites, the hypocrisy that pervades the Christian church seems particularly offensive to the human conscience.

To their credit, Christians do practice what they preach, or at least whatever their pastor tells them. But what if their practices are not sanctioned by Biblical teachings? Oddly enough, a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life recently found that atheists and agnostics had a better understanding of religion than followers of most faiths. We live in a world where Christians don’t know the tenants of their own holy book, yet insist on preaching the word of God as they see it. What happens when you’re ignorant to your own beliefs? Unnecessary conflicts and meaningless debates occur, as we’ve seen this week.

What are the justifications behind the Family Research Council’s efforts against repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and denying gays the equal right to serve their country openly? I’d hope it’s part of a larger effort to demilitarize the world and “love thy enemy,” but Rev. Harry Jackson, with his vast experience on military matters, suggested that the repeal would “destroy the necessary readiness and cohesion of our service men and women to perform their duties successfully,” adding that “Introducing sexual tension and conduct into our barracks will be a distraction from the very business of the military.” Jackson’s rambling equates homosexuality to a disease, when he should instead be railing against the bullies that bash young homosexuals like Tyler Clementi and encourage them to commit suicide.

The sex scandal surrounding Bishop Eddie Long should come to no surprise to anyone that reads a newspaper or watches cable news. Over the past decade, the very words “sex scandal” have become synonymous with Catholic priest, but the truth of the tragedy is that sex abuse isn’t a uniquely Catholic problem. Most troubling is the fact that figures released to the Associated Press by three insurance companies in 2007 revealed that there were more cases of sexual abuse in the Protestant church than in the Catholic church. Yet how often does the national media report on Protestant leaders speaking out against sex abuse? Instead they miscount their abuses and let the media focus solely on the Catholic Church.

The Christian church has become its own worst enemy as a result of their growing hypocrisies and inability to remain true to its own teachings. While Christians as individuals may be true followers of Christ, the Church, as an institution, has lost any moral credibility it may have held in the secular world because of its exclusionist and wayward teachings. The failure of the Church may not directly affect the churches devotees, but if a majority of people begin to cast aspersions upon the followers, many potential converts will be shied away. If the Christian Church is sincere in its belief of spread the word of God and saving people, perhaps they should be more inclusive and preach more about love and less about hate, especially during the uneasy times in which we live.

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