The Return Of The “Whited Sepulchers”

When it comes to plumbing the depths of wingnuttery, I have to hand it to the Murdoch Street Journal; they never disappoint.

As noted in this story (they’ve actually added some nice “bells and whistles” to their site, I have to admit)…

About 30 ministers across the U.S. plan to protest federal tax laws Sunday by endorsing a presidential candidate from their pulpits, in a move orchestrated by a conservative legal-advocacy group.

The Alliance Defense Fund, of Scottsdale, Ariz., hopes that at least one sermon will prod the Internal Revenue Service to take action, sparking a court fight over a law that bars nonprofits from partisan political activity. Alliance and several ministers taking part in the protest insist that the law is unconstitutional and believe they would prevail in a court battle.

“As a pastor, I have the right to speak biblical truth without being punished for it,” said the Rev. Jody Hice, pastor of Bethlehem First Baptist Church in Bethlehem, Ga., who says he will tell his congregation he backs Sen. John McCain for president. “The IRS does not have the role of censoring speech from the pulpit.”

There are a few different levels upon which these people disgust me, and I’ll try to outline them here.

To begin, there is nothing – nothing! – than can legally hinder or impair the right of a spiritual leader of one type or another to express whatever opinion they want from their pulpit, no matter how ludicrous it may be. For Reverend Hice to complain otherwise is breathtaking stupidity, rank hypocrisy, or quite possibly both.

If Hice is so inartful that he cannot come up with the proper code words or phrases to stimulate his followers into supposed convulsions of joy leading to the unquestioning support of a ReThuglican Party politician, then that is no one’s fault but his own (trust me, I get a weekly diet of that from my place of worship also, but God gave me a brain to make decisions on my own, thank you very much).

Also, does anyone imagine for a nanosecond that these people will actually support Barack Obama? Would they even rate a mention in the Journal if they did? And do they really think that John W. McBush has truly bought what they’re selling (I would say that the very existence of “Governor Hottie” on the Repug ticket answers that question).

Characters such as Reverend Hice (dutifully towing the line of Dobson, Bauer, Robertson, Falwell and the other characters you know as well as I do) were the “shock troops” who paved the way for the ruinous conservative ascendancy, the shattered shards of which we continue to pick up and dispose of each day in the hope of “a new birth of freedom,” if you will, wholly apart from right-wing intolerance of diversity, negotiation, achieving a common understanding among nations and practicing a respect for and honoring the legacy of constitutional government and the rule of law.

And as the story also tells us…

Church electioneering in 2006 drew IRS scrutiny. The agency said in the summer of 2007 that it was reviewing complaints against 44 churches in elections that year. Earlier this year, the IRS opened an investigation of the United Church of Christ after Sen. Barack Obama discussed aspects of his platform at a church convention. The probe was dropped when the IRS found the church didn’t step over the line.

It disgusts me almost beyond words that Hice and his brood pretend they don’t have the free speech that they’re entitled to while also claiming that they’re oppressed by a governmental agency that honors their tax exemption to the point where they’re rich enough to cry “woe is me” so loud that anyone else would actually care.

And to get a real look into the coal-black hearts of many of these charlatans, please consider this item in the story (the fact that “pastor” Booth can lobby for McBush is, as far as I’m concerned, an unconscionable fraud)…

The Rev. Gus Booth, pastor of Warroad Community Church in Warroad, Minn., is considering making “just a straight endorsement of John McCain” on Sunday. A Minnesota delegate to the Republican National Convention, Mr. Booth told his congregation in a sermon in May not to vote for Sen. Obama or Sen. Hillary Clinton because of their stand on abortion. He then challenged a secularist group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, to complain to the IRS about his partisan activity, which it did. Mr. Booth wouldn’t comment on whether he has been contacted by the IRS in that matter.

“Every election I say…’This is who I’m voting for. This is who I think you should vote for,’ ” said Mr. Booth, who preaches to about 150 people each Sunday. “As pastors, we tell people who you can have sex with — only your spouse. If we can tell people what to do in the bedroom, we can certainly tell them what to do in the voting booth.”

As Sinclair Lewis famously said, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

I’m not sure that truer words were ever spoken.

Update 10/2/08: I thought this was a nice counterpoint.

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