Joke of the Day, and Pat Robertson: One and the Same?

When I was working years ago in the communications structure of a denomination that shall remain nameless, a colleague and I had the custom of the “joke of the day” — something to help us handle the stress of having to be a professional Christian. I was reminded of that custom when another friend sent this along:

HEAVENLY DIALOG

Pope John Paul II gets to heaven.

St. Peter says, “Frankly, you’re lucky to be here.”

Pope John Paul II says, “Why? What did I do wrong on earth?”

St. Peter says, “God was very angry with your stance on women becoming priests.”

Pope John Paul says, “He’s mad about THAT?”

St. Peter says, “SHE’S furious.”

That same friend, my former colleague now works at the National Council of Churches. Earlier today she sent me the NCC’s rapid and articulate response to the breathtaking remarks of Pat Robertson (as reported by my co-blogger below):

Subject: NCC appalled by Robertson call to kill Chavez

Edgar: Robertson’s call for the murder of Chavezis ‘appalling to the point of disbelief.’

New York, August 23, 2005 — Pat Robertson’s televised call for the U.S. government to murder Venezuela President Hugo Chavez “is appalling to the point of disbelief,” National Council of Churches USA General Secretary Bob Edgar said today. Robertson said Monday on his 700 Club broadcast, “We have the ability to take (Chavez) out, and I think the time has come to exercise that ability.”

Edgar said most of the 45-million persons in the NCC’s member communions will “resolutely condemn” Robertson’s statement. “It defies logic that a clergyman could so casually dismiss thousands of years of Judaeo-Christian law, including the commandment that we are not to kill,” Edgar said. “It defies logic that this so-called evangelist is using his media power not to win people to faith but to encourage them to support the murder of a foreign leader.”

Edgar, who was one of 12 members of the House Select Committee on Assassinations from 1976 to 1979, said, “I am convinced of the immorality of political violence and know its unpredictable and devastating effects on millions of people.” Chavez has accused the U.S. government of seeking to overthrow him — a charge the Bush administration denies — and has threatened to cut off supplies of oil to the United States. Killing Chavez, Robertson said, would be cheaper than war and would prevent Venezuela from becoming “a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism.”

The full text of Edgar’s response:

Pat Robertson’s call for the assassination of Venezuela President Hugo Chavez is appalling to the point of disbelief. As a former member of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, I am convinced of the immorality of political violence and know its unpredictable and devastating effects on millions of people. One wonders if Robertson’s premise would one day be applied to opposition candidates in this country who might be a threat to an incumbent’s re-election.

It defies logic that a clergyman could so casually dismiss thousands of years of Judaeo-Christian law, including the commandment that we are not to kill. It defies logic that this self-proclaimed Christian leader could so blithely abandon the teachings of Jesus to love our enemies and turn our cheeks against violence. It defies logic that a former candidate for the presidency could skirt the brink of international law to call for the assassination of a foreign leader on the grounds that he might some day be a danger to us. It defies logic that this so-called evangelist is using his media power not to win people to faith but to encourage them to support the murder of a foreign leader.

I have no doubt that most of Pat Robertson’s viewers have already rejected this idea, and that the 45-million people represented by the member communions of the National Council of Churches resolutely condemn it.

Personally, I found Robertson’s comments so off the wall that I wonder if he is suffering from some kind of brain disorder.

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