Sacred Ground

A major religious controversy has erupted this week. One of the most highly rated women’s talk shows apparently veered off onto what some consider “sacred ground.” And what’s not sacred ground these days? No matter how off the chart someone’s “convictions” are these days, they can call it their “faith,” and that magically migrates the subject matter off limits. To discuss the substance of an issue someone considers “their faith” is an insult, and consequently “religious bigotry.”

In the case alluded to above, the subject of religious statuary came up in a discussion on the ladies’ daytime talk show. One of the panel members was so brash as to quote loosely from the Ten Commandments, pointing out that the Bible warns against erecting or praying to idols. The direct quote, from the King James Bible is as follows. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me: And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.” It’s the second Commandment, right after “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”

Given the longstanding practice of the Roman “Christian” church with its compunction for statuary, bestowing “sainthood” on various individuals and their declaration of divinity on Jesus’ mother, it would seem a fair subject for discussion. But it’s not! The very fact that the issue came up for discussion on daytime TV has unleashed an avalanche of anger. It has been compared, on one of the most widely viewed cable news/analysis programs, to believing you’ll lose your soul if someone takes your picture! I’m not getting that one, but there it is. It has also been suggested that you have no respect for your own religion if you dare criticize someone else’s. If someone else believes it, and calls it “their faith,” that’s it! You can’t discuss it! If you compare religious practices to God’s clear, unambiguous commands, you’re a religious bigot!

Didn’t Jesus condemn the practices of the religious hierarchy of his time? Yes, he did. And it got Him killed.

Being labeled a bigot is the worst thing that can happen to you, in social terms. Webster’s defines it as connoting hypocrisy, as well as “one who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his own church, party, belief, or opinion.” Wow! This word is getting thrown around a lot these days. In our time it has come, predominantly to describe a racist. More recently, the homosexual crowd has adopted the word to include anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their agenda. But if you read that definition carefully, it looks as if the word could be applied even much more widely than it already is. There is after all the mention of “party,” which if stretched could even apply to politics. But that’s a can of worms.

The catch seems to hinge on the theme of intolerance. But intolerance for what and for whom? Are you intolerant if you avoid immersion in things you believe to be wrong? If you express an attitude or opinion, or let’s say a Commandment, that goes against the grain of a widely accepted religious or social practice, does that make you intolerant? And to what degree are you intolerant?

The biggest “Christian” church in the world has an indisputable historical record of being particularly intolerant. Used to be, if they branded you a heretic, because you for instance, believed in the Passover rather than Easter, or worse, questioned the authenticity of the doctrine of the Trinity they could be rather intolerant. History shows burnings at the stake and boiling in oil as Rome’s record of “Christian tolerance.” Today, they’ll call you a bigot, which is the social equivalent!

So, just who is intolerant?

So much sacred ground has been created, hardly any discussion is safe. Any discussion of any issue or practice as it relates to theology is bound to step on someone’s religious toes, and that makes you a … oh never mind.

Can we “cry aloud, spare not and show My people their sin?” Not, apparently without being burned at the stake, at least verbally. This week’s ranting on the news/analysis proves it. If you think political correctness is ruinous, just wait ‘till this religiously correct movement gets a full head of steam. It’s building steadily, and with only one very notable exception, it dominates the conservative media. This has to be one of the great ironies of our time. People we tend to agree with most of the time; make their living getting to the bottom of things; the truth if you will; are anxious to label you with a modern epithet if you dare discuss the Biblical logic of any issue or practice that might impinge upon their “faith.”

Mark Armstrong