Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"I Hate Barack Obama" - Maybe Not the Best Message from a Pulpit

The pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church in the Phoenix area seems to have a very interesting set of beliefs.
"A Phoenix-area pastor has started to draw protesters to his congregation after he delivered a sermon titled, 'Why I Hate Barack Obama,' and told his parishioners that he prays for President Obama's death.

"Pastor Steven Anderson stood by his sermon ... [and] ... continues to encourage his parishioners to join him in praying for the president's death.

" 'I hope that God strikes Barack Obama with brain cancer so he can die like Ted Kennedy and I hope it happens today,' he told MyFOXPhoenix on Sunday. He called his message 'spiritual warfare' and said he does not condone killing...."

"...'I'm gonna pray that he dies and goes to hell when I go to bed tonight. That's what I'm gonna pray,' he told his congregation...."
(FOXNews) [emphasis mine]
Looks like Pastor Anderson doesn't approve of some of President Obama's policies, like promoting abortions.

Is Asking for a Divine Assassination Really Smart?

Can't say I'm too thrilled about the president's stand on life issues, myself. But pray for his lingering death? No.

I'll pray that America realizes that killing babies isn't nice, and that we shouldn't do it.

I'll pray that doctors who make money by killing their youngest patients realize that they're doing something wrong and find another line of work.

But I'll pray for America's leaders.

You might consider praying for them, yourself. I put together a couple of lists last month, if you're interested in individual names: "Praying for America's Leaders" (July 2, 2009). Of course, you don't have to do anything. It's strictly your decision.

There is a huge difference between asking God to kill someone for you, and thinking that the person is not acting in an optimum way.

Besides, I take that "...For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you..."1 stuff seriously: and I'm nowhere near perfect enough to knowingly risk a 'zero-tolerance' audit of my life.

How Can I Possibly be For Barack Obama?!

I'm not. I'm not against him, either.

In another blog, I discuss the war on terror and related topics. I think I may confuse some readers.

I'm 'obviously' conservative in my views - but I don't say that everything President Obama does is wrong.

For example, when he "reached out" to the Taliban in Afghanistan, I wrote that it was - in my opinion - a prudent move. Before making up my mind, I did a little checking. Turns out, the situation was a little more complicated than what the headlines said. And, President Obama was pursuing a strategy which had worked before.

Approving of this somewhat-controversial strategy might be taken as showing that I'm 'for' President Obama. As I wrote then:
"...I Must Support Barack Obama, Right?

"Wrong. I'm not 'against' the American president, either.

"On examination, some of President Obama's policies appear to be prudent. I support these. Other policies of the current administration are unacceptable to me. I do not support those.

"As for President Barack Obama, I pray for him - and suggest that others do, too. (May 24, 2009, in A Catholic Citizen in America)..."
("June 21, 2009 Another War-on-Terror Blog)

Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner

That 'hate the sin, not the sinner' stuff probably sounds corny - but it's solid Catholic teaching. And, I think, good sense.

It's like those 'friends don't let friends drive drunk' public service announcements. Sure, it's awkward to keep your buddy from driving when he or she is sozzled. At the time, your friend may not feel that you're very 'loving.' But how loving is it to let that person drive drunk? People can get killed that way.

Back to Pastor 'I hate Barack Obama' Anderson.

The Bible's All About God Killing People and Stuff, Right?

Um. Not exactly.

I'll grant that there's a lot of violence in the Bible. A movie, "The Passion of the Christ" (2004), made an effort to show what really happened on the way to Golgotha - and got rated R for graphic violence.

No question about it: God is quite capable of decisive action. Like the air strike that obliterated the Cities of the Plain. (Genesis 19: 25)

But there's more to God than that. He doesn't always use violence - and his followers don't, either.

Over two dozen centuries ago, King Saul resented the publicity David was getting. "...'They give David ten thousands, but only thousands to me. All that remains for him is the kingship.'..." Later, Saul tried to nail David to the wall with a spear. Twice. (1 Sam 18 7, 8)

David, having a good head on his shoulders and wanting to keep it that way, skedaddled. Good thing, too, because Saul went looking for him. With 3,000 men.

David had men, too: although apparently not quite so many. At one point, David and his men were holed up in the back part of a cave. Saul and his troops were searching the area. Then Saul went into the cave "to ease nature". David's men noted that their leader had the drop on Saul, and urged him to take advantage of the situation.
"...So David moved up and stealthily cut off an end of Saul's mantle.

"Afterward, however, David regretted that he had cut off an end of Saul's mantle.

"He said to his men, 'The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD'S anointed, as to lay a hand on him, for he is the Lord's anointed.'

"With these words David restrained his men and would not permit them to attack Saul. Saul then left the cave and went on his way...."
(From 1 Sam 24:5-8)
I'll admit to enjoying the 'Robin Hood' quality of David's cutting off part of Saul's clothing. But I also see David's point. Violence isn't always the way to go.

Hate, Anger, and Good Sense

Pastor 'I Hate Barack Obama' Anderson deserves considerable credit for saying that he doesn't condone killing.

Great. But "I hate Barack Obama"? It's possible that one of Pastor Anderson's flock may decide to do something about what he's heard in church. That wouldn't be good.

Even if nobody gets the idea that he or she is the hand of God, anointed to smite the enemy: Harboring that sort of anger isn't good for a person.

Never mind the psychobabble:
"...Anger is a desire for revenge. 'To desire vengeance in order to do evil to someone who should be punished is illicit,' but it is praiseworthy to impose restitution 'to correct vices and maintain justice.'95 If anger reaches the point of a deliberate desire to kill or seriously wound a neighbor, it is gravely against charity; it is a mortal sin. The Lord says, 'Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.'96..."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2302)
Again: I have no idea what's going inside Pastor Anderson, and even if I did, I've got clear instructions to not judge him. On the other hand, what we're seeing in that Phoenix-area church is about as good - or bad - an example of malignant virtue as I've encountered in years.

And whether you take what psychologists have found out about the effects of harboring resentments, or look at the teachings of the Church: Cherishing hatred of someone else may or may not harm the other person - but it's just about guaranteed to hurt you.

It's not easy to "...love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you..." ? (Matthew 5:44) Of course not. But it's important.

Related posts: News and views: Background:
1 From Matthew 7:1-5.

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.