God as first responder, then prop
When I heard about the interfaith prayer service scheduled for today, I paused.
And grimaced. And I am still uneasy.
In this country, it seems we have God secured behind a piece of glass in the hallway that reads “Use only in emergency”. When someone mentions God in daily life, they are accused of intolerance. If they do so in public life, the condemnation is almost universal. Even among those who seem to be on our side, “Bible-Thumper” is the derogatory term of the times, one of the epithets that get you in with the cool crowd. Intelligent design is deemed to be so anti-science that it cannot be taught as an alternate theory of creation in schools. Christ is a really cool guy, a great teacher, but God in the flesh? Sorry pal, can’t go with you there.
But let a murderous rampage take place, or a cowardly bombing that kills innocent people, and everyone runs to church. Now mind you, I am not opposed to that. Church attendance went up after the 9/11 attacks, and those of us who labored to keep the doors open welcomed those who came. However, to see people that twist the First Amendment and limit the role of God in our lives by promoting “freedom of worship” instead of “freedom of religion” busily giving speeches at a pulpit makes me uneasy. And to be frank, a little angry. It seems as though it is just one more box to check, one more thing on the schedule, one more gathering to placate the feeble-minded.
When crosses are covered at a Jesuit university prior to a political speech, but scripture is invoked during times of crisis, I wonder. When Christians are slaughtered in Egypt and Nigeria with not a peep from anyone, I pause. When a Christian is held in Iran, beaten and tortured because he will not renounce his faith, and we do nothing, I can’t help but think we don’t care.
And when people in this country are branded as intolerant extremists and radicals because they quietly refuse to violate their conscience and religious beliefs to comply with government orders, I wonder if the virtue the founders depended on is going to legislated out of existence by the same people who break the glass, ask God for help and give the speeches.
God is OK when the athlete kneels after a touchdown, then goes home to smoke crack and have sex with his daughter’s teacher while his wife is out of town. Let another athlete emerge with the courage to walk his talk, and he will be hounded by the leftists who follow his every move and petition him not to speak at universities that actually share his beliefs.
God as first responder? Just fine. God as a prop for speeches in a church? No problem. God on Sunday mornings? Well, if you must, but only then and only there. God as a serious way of life, with that belief informing the way we live? Not a chance.
The irony is that those who call upon God at times like these have no clue that the very act of doing so validates the beliefs of those they oppose. If there is a God, and we believe it, then we have no choice but to teach Intelligent Design. We have no choice but to seek the Absolute Truth that God represents and discard all others. And we have no other choice but to worship Him, and order our lives around that belief.
But if we choose to keep God behind the glass, one day we will rush over and find that He is no longer there. And if we are truthful with ourselves, we will realize that it the one that moved wasn’t Him.