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A Tale of Two Pastors on Inauguration Day

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I was very disappointed on Inauguration Day by — of all people — a pair of pastors. I’m not mentioning their names because, frankly, I don’t want their names on my site. I think the last thing either one deserves at this point is more attention.

The first one is a fairly prominent (I’d call him fairly prominent, at least) Pacific Northwest pastor. He got the ball rolling with this delightful little tweet:

“Praying for our president, who today will place his hand on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know.”

I responded, stating that as a Christian, I find that utterly disgraceful.

I still do.

For one thing, it makes me wonder exactly how genuine his prayer for Obama could possibly be. But more importantly, I realize the basic truth that no one can see into another person’s heart. That’s between that person and God.

If the pastor was trying to suggest that one’s words and deeds are a good indication of what’s in one’s heart, through his own words, he called himself into question by posting a tweet that is so unloving and unkind.

We Christians, even those of us who are not pastors, are called to be ambassadors of Christ. What kind of message do we send to the world when we post something like that? It depends on the recipient, of course, but I can make a good guess at how it looks to some who don’t yet have a personal relationship with Christ: it looks as if there’s nothing worthwhile to see in Christianity; it’s just more of the same bickering and political snideness that exists outside of Christianity.

Is that what anyone in his right mind wants to do? Is that the message anyone should send?

It’s sad that a lot of pastors seem unable — or more likely, unwilling — to see past a political party. But that’s no excuse for that kind of statement.

If he really wanted to send a positive message, he could have said something like, “Praying for our president that God will give him the wisdom to make all of the right decisions for the next few years.” It sounds like a much more genuine message that’s consistent with loving one’s neighbor as Himself, which Christ Himself said was among the most important commandments.

If he was really genuine about praying for “our president,” he’d have spent his time praying, not tweeting. I pray for people all the time that I don’t then make a public announcement about. That screams to me about seeking some sort of “spiritual credit” rather than expressing personal concern. It’s a bit different, naturally, when someone posts on Facebook or Twitter that they’ve suffered a loss or are having a rough time: telling them that you’re praying for them is a way of expressing concern.

But using prayer as a political weapon? I somehow don’t think that’s what it was meant to be.

Not to be outdone, a pastor in the Southeast immediately responded with an unfortunate, over-the-top harshness of his own, through a string of profanity-laden tweets that included the suggestion that the first pastor should kiss the second pastor’s “Christian ass.” 

Well isn’t that special?

This pastor who set out to so vehemently criticize his colleague merely proved that he’s no better than the first one, and is actually even worse.

Nice job, guys.

The world is watching, and when Christians attack each other in this inexcusable manner, the world gets the idea that Christianity is part of the problem, not in any way a solution. I’d be willing to bet that God isn’t happy about that.

I unfollowed both men. Their brand of loveless faith is not welcome in my Twitter feed. I hope more people did the same.

13 Comments

  • Good points Patrick.
    Yes, we are ambassadors of Christ, but more importantly we are ambassador’s of the message, which is LOVE.
    Sadly, we show little love for our own “kind,” and even less for those we deem to be different. If we cannot project this to each other, more especially with the world watching, why should anyone follow us, not just on Twitter or Facebook, but anywhere else?

    • Martina McGowan Thanks, Martina. You raise an equally important point: it’s not only about following in social media; it’s about following the example “in real life,” too. Thank you for that.

  • BruceSallan says:

    Let’s face it Patrick, this administration and much of the liberal media and Democrats want religion OUT of public life completely! If they could eliminate “In God We Trust” from our coins, they would. I believe the ONLY reason Obama even had those two bibles was to assuage the religious MAJORITY of our country. He is a politician after all. If he, Nancy, and Harry had their way…oy vey is all I can say!

    • BruceSallan Really, Bruce, the problem with sweeping generalizations is that they are GENERALIZATIONS.
      I work in the “liberal media” and the majority of people I work with are religious people, either Protestant, Catholic or Jewish. The number of atheists I work with — at least those who’ve let me know they are atheists — can be counted on ONE HAND.
      Democrats want religion out of public life? Tell that to Jimmy Carter, who, despite not being a Republican, was certainly one of the finest men to grace the White House, even if his won’t necessarily go down in history as the greatest of presidencies. Tell that to any of today’s churches — the more contemporary type that resists the absurd notion that one’s religion has to do, more than anything else, with the level of dedication they feel to the GOP and its talking points. Tell that to friends of mine who happen to be liberal and who embrace things like showing love to their fellow man and helping those in need rather than supporting big corporations.
      I don’t agree with much of the “liberal agenda,” and I don’t agree with much of the “conservative agenda.”
      But I am in greater disagreement with points of view that attempt to paint one side as completely evil. The truth in most things falls in that gray area in the center rather than being black and white.

    • ChichoBlanco says:

      BruceSallan Your post and the line of thinking it represents is the reason I stopped going to church nearly 20 years ago.  I’m only 35.  That should tell you something.

  • MattLBrennan says:

    I think you hit it with “No one can see into another person’s heart.” Good post. I saw that first tweet too, and was pretty disappointed.

  • HaveSippy says:

    it’s just unkind to speak about people in terms like that- and certainly doesn’t benefit God

  • jas_bruce says:

    Good post. I won’t bother find out who you’re talking about. I agree with what you said, “the world gets the idea that Christianity is part of
    the problem, not in any way a solution.” Sadly, many already think that way. There was a large bright banner sign posted right outside a residential building in DC yesterday that hundreds of people saw on their way to the inauguration. It reflect what all of us should be doing and saying, “We don’t always agree with the President, but we always pray for him. (1 Tim. 2:1-4)” You can see the snapshot and my blog post on the president here: http://thelivingrice.blogspot.com/2013/01/my-political-illusion-is-officially.html

    • jas_bruce That is a great message to send: that’s what Christianity is supposed to be doing: encouraging people in a loving way and being a light for others in a mostly dark world! Thanks for sharing the post and the photo!

  • dadblunders says:

    Patrick,
    The world is definitely watching! We live in age where information is shared quickly. I am going to be totally honest about the scenario, it is things like that which shows me the hypocrisy of Christianity. I am a stay-at-home dad and I have been told that I am “messing with God’s plan” by being home. I grew up in a Southern Baptist church and it was when I disagreed with some of the “beliefs” that we had a parting of the way. I still believe in God and have been baptized but the things that have been shown and told  to me have made me question Christianity as a whole (not God himself just the organized religion part).
    Aaron

    • dadblunders I grew up in a Southern Baptist church as well, Aaron, and the best advice I can give you is to look around your community for a non-denominational church that focuses on God rather than everything else. I found one where I am and it has made a world of difference to me.

      • psalm23 says:

        patricksplace dadblunders  …or ANY other church. I’m a Presby, and my church/pastor would never countenance this! Seriously, any kind of public comment of this sort would actually be cause to do a mental health check on our pastors–totally not like either of them at all. 
        In any case, it pays to shop around before committing to a congregation. Ask the hard questions; if nothing else, it’s entertaining to watch people squirm. ;-)

  • psalm23 says:

    Wow. Never heard of either of these guys, and now I’m glad. If that’s Christianity I’d rather dance naked around a solstice pole. smh

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