A Religion Double Hit

Not one, but two, front page articles from today’s local paper highlight the personal failings of those ruled by their religion. And those two stories seem to predominate the online discussion on the paper’s website.

First, a local minister, taking advantage of all the good will flowing towards Navy SEALs in the aftermath of the bin Laden execution, gave an interview in Saturday’s paper about his service in the SEALS program. Turns out he made it all up. After the interview hit the paper, a real SEAL called him on it, and he ‘fessed up.

“We deal with these guys all the time, especially the clergy. It’s amazing how many of the clergy are involved in those lies to build that flock up,” [retired SEAL Don] Shipley said.

I’ve seen lots of people over the years who feel compelled to pad their resumes. This kind of story appears often in the news. But I had no idea that Christian ministers did this on a recurring basis to “build up the flock”. Though I’m not surprised. Lying for Jesus is deemed OK in some circles of Christianity, so I suppose those at the top might feel the added need to give themselves a push in the eyes of their congregation while doing the same for Jesus.

Right below this story was one about the gay student at Messiah College, a local Christian school just south of Harrisburg. Apparently he thought,  being gay and out of the closet, that a so called Christian college would treat him with the love of Jesus, openly embracing him. Apparently, he thought wrong.

In October, his wallet, student ID and room key were stolen.

Then, he said, he received a death threat on Facebook.

A few weeks ago, he found his replacement ID cut into pieces and covered in urine.

Isaiah Thomas, an openly gay student at Messiah College, said he plans to transfer at the end of this term.

“Messiah College has not been the most warming place at all. At all. It’s been very hard,” said Thomas, a 2010 graduate of Harrisburg’s SciTech High on a full scholarship.

Thomas said most students have welcomed him. Others have made him feel unwelcome, singled out and worse.

“I’ve had a professor who actually called me an abomination in class,” Thomas said.

Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, that an institution of higher learning dedicated to Christian love could be so bigoted. Again, I don’t find it surprising.

There is nothing about institutionalized Christianity that would give any gay man or women a sense of security. Messiah seems to be no different.

[College Provost Randy] Bassinger said Messiah had gone out of its way to reach out to Thomas.

That’s probably true. I’m sure it’s not normal Messiah College procedure for student’s ID cards to be torn up and pissed on. So someone went out of their way to reach out to him.

So. What is there about religion that brings out the worst, the hypocrisy, the bigotry in those that spout religion so fervently?

11 thoughts on “A Religion Double Hit

  1. You should make it a triple hit. A Hasidic Jewish newpaper here in NYC airbrushed Hillary Clinton and another woman out of the White House photo of the president et al. in the situation room during the bin Laden raid. Can’t show any women in positions of importance, now can we?

    Regarding the faking of military service thing, I don’t know if it is common among Christian pastors. I know a historian (Ellis, the one who wrote Founding Brothers) a few years ago lied about Vietnam service and I believe the actor Brian Dennehy had claimed to have served in Vietnam. And whilst in the midst of typing this, I Googled Brian Dennehy Vietnam and found this article on the subject of people who fake having served in various wars.


    • I think there were some recent politicians who claimed service when they didn’t have it, eh?

  2. Why do I have a feeling this ‘reaching out’ involved trying to convince him that his sexual orientation is wrong and he needs to change his ways and find the forgiveness of their god? Maybe I’m just being overly cynical (I have been doing that a lot as of late), but it seems to fit with these types of people.

  3. I was accepted at Messiah College – many years ago. I attended a Christian college in Kentucky instead, where I met the deacon. So, something good came out of my rejection of Messiah.

  4. I wonder if I could get away with calling a student an abomination in class. Maybe I’ll wait until I get tenure.

    The Messiah College story doesn’t surprise me, but the other one does. I know their job is to bullshit, but that’s REALLY bold.

  5. I do wonder what sort of person would think it wise to attend an institution full of bible nuts as an OUT homosexual. Isn’t that like attending a Klan rally whilst swarthy?

  6. The whole notion of ‘believing on faith’ implies one has no respect for what is actually true. The surprising thing is that there aren’t more people ‘Lying for Jesus’.

  7. @ Jim: Probably, luckily for the world, most people in any organisation are simply “strap hangers”. Think of the mess we’d have if they actually did do the “witness” thing every day. And other demonstrations of “faith”.

    • I think that’s one of the major keys to getting through to people, pointing out how little they actually rely on faith. Even for mundane tasks they won’t use it. My favorite is to challenge them to cross the street using nothing but faith; closed eyes, covered ears, and all. Luckily I’ve yet to get any takers.

      Faith has to be recharacterized in society from virtue to indulgence.

  8. My favorite is to challenge them to cross the street using nothing but faith; closed eyes, covered ears, and all. Luckily I’ve yet to get any takers.

    Like when you see bumperstickers on the backs of cars that read “LET GO. LET GOD.” But the drivers of those cars have their hands on the steering wheels.

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