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Religion Last Updated: Apr 3rd, 2007 - 02:18:18

Hypocrites, frauds, and George Santayana
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Apr 3, 2007, 01:13

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As George Santayana noted, �Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.� From consummate conmen Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart to exposed hypocrites Paul Crouch, Ted Haggard and Rick Ousley, the pattern is the same: the holier-than-thou preach one thing but do another while deceiving, duping, and emptying the flock�s wallets along the way. When will the sheeple wake up and learn?

And then there are those paragons of theopolitical morality: the GOPhers of the Christian Right, Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay.

At the same time he was cashing in on moral outrage over the Clinton-Lewinsky tryst, Gingrich was having a saucy extramarital affair with Callista Bisek, a former congressional aide more than 20 years his junior. He recently confessed to that �failing� on James Dobson�s radio program.

Dobson lords over the Focus on the Family empire and is one of the major powerbrokers in the evangelical Christian Right, not to mention a primary player in the ultra-conservative star-chamber known as the Council for National Policy. He is a master of using fear and scare tactics to keep the sheeple in line . . . and contributing to his pro-discrimination causes. For example, in his 2004 book, Marriage Under Fire: Why We Must Win This Battle, Dobson claimed that if gay and lesbian Americans were allowed to enter into the state-sanctioned civil union called �marriage,� the world would end. In other words, in order to ward off Armageddon, send your donation now . . .

Gingrich is stroking and sucking up to Dobson, who is responding in kind. According to the Christian Right�s kingmaker, Gingrich is the �brightest guy out there� and �the most articulate politician on the scene today.� Newt is eyeing a presidential run in 2008, and Dobson seems to be helping him make that happen.

Meanwhile, Tom DeLay -- who once said he was on a messianic mission from God to bring the �biblical worldview� into American politics -- is busy crediting Dobson with helping to make him the man he is: a corrupt, arrested, and indicted GOPher for the Christian Right. Funny how an intended compliment can backfire.

Not surprisingly, �no retreat, no surrender� DeLay is now also claiming to be a victim. Those who prey on and victimize others do so love to play victim when they�re caught and exposed. When will the sheeple wake up and learn?

Rev. Donald Armstrong III was the longtime pastor of Colorado�s largest Episcopal congregation, Colorado Springs� Grace Episcopal Church and St. Stephen�s Parish. In late December 2006, Armstrong was placed on a 90-day leave following a nine-month review of the church�s finances. Details of the allegations against him were not released, then.

Miffed about Armstrong�s suspension and the Episcopal church�s acceptance of gays and lesbians, Grace Church�s 11-member vestry voted to reinstate Armstrong and, on 26 March, voted to leave the national church and join the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a �missionary diocese� of the Church of Nigeria led by Archbishop Peter J. Akinola.

The archbishop is an outspoken advocate for and supporter of Nigeria�s new legislative step toward a �final solution� to �the gay problem.� The proposed legislation would strip gays and lesbians of all civil rights.

The bill started out as a ban on same-sex marriage and has been revised to make it a crime for more than two gay people to be in the same venue at the same time. It prohibits LGBT social or civil rights groups from forming. It would be illegal to sell or rent property to same-sex couples, watch a gay film or video, visit an LGBT web site, or express same-sex love in a letter to one�s partner. The legislation goes so far as to make it a criminal offense to impart information of HIV/AIDS to gays or for non-gays to meet with any group of gays for any purpose. The penalty [for all the above] would be five years in prison with hard labor.

And the vestry of Grace Episcopal Church thought joining Akinola�s theofascist �missionary diocese� was the Christian thing to do? How do they define �Christian�?

Apparently the vestry of Grace Episcopal Church -- and Rev. Armstrong -- believe some citizens should be made pariahs, then condemned and jailed simply for being who they are. Does that sound historically familiar?

Immediately after taking power, Adolph Hitler moved against homosexuals in much the same way Nigeria is doing. To be sure, Jews were his ultimate target, but simply substitute �homosexuals� for �Jews� and Akinola�s Nigeria and its new colony in America come immediately to mind. When will the sheeple wake up and learn?

Not surprisingly, Armstrong may be far from the pious, moral, law-abiding man he feigned to be. Two days after the vestry of Grace Episcopal voted to leave the national church and join Akinola�s theofascist regime, diocese officials issued a written statement accusing Rev. Armstrong of serious wrongdoings . . . and criminal offenses:

A letter to parishioners from Colorado bishop Robert O�Neill, obtained by The Gazette of Colorado Springs, accuses Armstrong of theft and mishandling of hundreds of thousands of dollars over about 10 years. It also says Armstrong failed to report about $548,000 in income and benefits on state and federal tax forms. Diocese spokeswoman Beckett Stokes confirmed the letter . . .

Specifically, Bishop O�Neill�s letter accused Armstrong of:

  • �Theft from Grace Church of $392,409.93 in unauthorized payments for educational and personal expenses for Father Armstrong�s family�;

  • �Tax Fraud involving $548,097.27 in non-salary income and benefits not reported to the Internal Revenue Service and the Colorado Department of Revenue�;

  • �The unlawful extension and receipt of loans to Father Armstrong totaling $122,479.16�;

  • �The improper use of Clergy Discretionary Funds in the amount of $136,354.78�;

  • �The unauthorized encumbrance and alienation of the parish�s real property�;

  • �The failure to maintain proper books of accounts by causing Grace Church to record false or fraudulent entries in its books and records.�

Of course Rev. Armstrong immediately began playing victim and accused Bishop O�Neill of slandering him.

Whatever the outcome of the Armstrong investigations and subsequent litigation (ecclesiastic, civil and/or criminal), the basic questions remain:

When will the sheeple wake up and learn that those who promote hate, bigotry and discrimination are not moral, certainly not �Christian,� and definitely not to be trusted?

When will humanity realize that politicized religious fundamentalism leads inevitably to theofascism?

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