Gordon Robinson, Contributor
I continue to have a deep, abiding faith in God and personal reliance on Christ's Word.However, I've lost all respect for, and trust in, the Church, a man-made organisation whose sole purpose is mind control using fear based on centuries-old random collections of articles by a motley crew of authors, some anonymous, in a book called The Old Testament.
It reminds me of an old joke about the arrival of three new souls at Heaven's gate just in time to attend the real Church of God's daily ecumenical Mass.
Old faithful, St Peter, is the usher. First up is the Queen of England. She's greeted deferentially and ushered to a third-row seat. Next, the Pope. He, too, is greeted with deference and ushered to a second-row seat. Finally, a scruffy black man of no apparent distinction is met by St Peter with, "My Goodness, Fred. Wonderful to meet you at last. Please come with me." Fred is ushered to a front-row seat.
The Pope whispers to St Peter, "I don't mean to sound pushy; I'm just curious. How come you put me in the second row and that chap up front?" St Peter smiles comfortingly, "Your Grace, that's Fred. He's a drunken Jamaican taxi driver. He drove the fear of God into more people in one day than you did in your entire career."
The Lord above made liquor for temptation
to see if man could turn away from sin.
The Lord above made liquor for temptation - but,
with a little bit of luck; with a little bit of luck,
when temptation comes you'll give right in!
Take, for example, the Church's stand against individual wealth. Matthew 19:24: "... It's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." This was Jesus' way of teaching the downside of wealth which, like any addiction, tends to cloud focus and restrict thought to nothing but protection of one's wealth. Jesus didn't condemn wealth, but churches insist priests must take an oath of personal poverty. Other churches force members to donate fixed percentages of their earnings.
Yet, the Church doesn't believe it should reject wealth. The Vatican's vulgar display of wealth, if liquidated, could feed the world's poor for decades. Other religions acquire wealth to build fancy concrete structures.
Churches go to extremes to transfer members' wealth to themselves. Take Kevin Hartshorn, self-appointed founder and senior minister of the 'Church of Compassionate Service' Utah. The Church's Book of Church Order and Minister's Handbook asks ministers to make vows of poverty, obedience and agency assignment. To better secure these vows from his ministers, Hartshorn assured them they no longer had to pay taxes.
One such minister was Bruce Calkins. Prior to entering the 'ministry', he worked as a histotechnologist for Kaiser Permanente, earning approximately US$60,000 per year, which he assigned to Hartshorn's Church. The US Tax Authorities moved against the church and, in March 2012, obtained an injunction against Hartshorn. The Utah District Court held:
"Despite the 'skilfully devised' arrangement, the church was not in any meaningful way involved in Mr Calkins' employment ... The church did not participate in Mr Calkins' obtaining his employment ... . The church's only connection to Mr Calkins' employment was its acceptance of his pay cheque, an arrangement Mr Calkins could change at any time. The court, therefore, holds that ... services rendered to Kaiser Permanente by Mr Calkins resulted in taxable income to Mr Calkins. Thus, Hartshorn's statements that Mr Calkins was exempt from certain tax obligations due to his relationship with the Church were false or fraudulent."
That's Utah law, not necessarily Jamaican law. But it exposes the Church's hypocrisy on wealth for itself and poverty for its members, while seeking to deprive the wider community of the social benefits of taxes. Jamaicans commanded to 'tithe', watch out!
In Jamaica, we have Reverend Al, chauffeur to the most wanted and plum-picking gun dispenser. When caught by police driving Miss Daisy (who turned out to be a disguised fugitive), his excuse was so lame it required orthopaedic surgery. He neither claimed he captured the fugitive nor intended surrendering him to police. He hadn't the strength of character to decline the fugitive's bidding. Al elected to be Prezi's pal instead of his leader.
Oh, you can walk the straight and narrow;
but, with a little bit of luck, you'll run amuck!
Despite his criminal and moral transgressions, there's no church discipline for Reverend Al. Instead, he returns to church to loud and enthusiastic cheers from lobotomised members. No doubt, Reverend Al continues to preach venomous religious dogma against sinners and criminals. No doubt, Reverend Al, caught chauffeuring a man dressed like a woman, preaches the creed of Deuteronomy 22:5: "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD ... ." Except, of course, those approved by Reverend Al.
We all fall short of the glory. But we don't set ourselves up as exclusive readers of Jesus' mind and moral arbiters entitled to absolute trust. Church leaders do.
SEX AND SIN
Nowhere does Church hypocrisy rear its ugly head more often and intrusively than the complex area of sex.
Remember Theodore Arthur 'Pastor Ted' Haggard? He alleged feeling "the call of God on his life" as a college sophomore. Subsequently, Haggard studied at Oral Roberts University, graduating in 1978 as a full-fledged theologian. Thereafter, as church poster boy for decades, he preached fire and brimstone on sexual 'deviants'.
In November 2006, we learned Haggard paid homosexual masseur Mike Jones for sex for three years. As appetiser, he'd regularly purchased and used crystal methamphetamine. Haggard's immediate response was denial: "I didn't have a homosexual relationship ... . I'm faithful to my wife. I've never done drugs ... . I don't smoke cigarettes ... . We don't socially drink ... . We don't do that kind of thing."
The Church has converted the sex act from the natural, pleasurable experience created by God into a dirty, nasty, sinful perversion. Unless, of course, the Church approves. The Church approves of sex only in marriage (itself restricted to 'between one man and one woman' in a church 'before God').
The gentle sex was made for man to marry;
to share his nest and see his food is cooked.
The gentle sex was made for man to marry-but
with a little bit of luck; with a little bit of luck,
you can have it all and not get hooked.
There's more. To protect its commercial future as morality's sole arbiter, it's not enough to define virtuous sex. It must demonise all alternatives. So a man and a woman married in a civil registry live in sin. Contraception is murder. Life begins at conception; is precious; and mustn't be aborted. Until it's time to inflict capital punishment. So women who abort a foetus, as well as their doctors, are murderers. Lawmakers, judges, juries and executioners participating in the capital-punishment process are dispensers of justice. Pretzels are straighter than that reasoning.
ATTACK ON GAYS
But the most depraved demonisation is saved for homosexuals, against whom its most violent language is used.
As a direct result of churches preaching hatred towards homosexuals, incidents like the recent UTech atrocity regularly occur. Educated elite, brainwashed by the Church's violent rhetoric, chased a suspected homosexual with malevolent intent. Imagine the poor fox, hounds baying at his heels, finally spotting sanctuary in a security guard post. But there was no sanctuary. Instead, he was viciously beaten while the degenerate mob shrieked for blood and begged to participate in the 'fun'.
Even more revealing than the attack was the subsequently ambivalent condemnation by some. A cautious response by shadowy group Jamaica Civil Society Coalition (JCSC) couldn't muster an unconditional denunciation. It began: "All persons, whether heterosexual or otherwise, should be circumspect in their sexual conduct." What's that about? If, as mealy-mouthed JCSC follows up, "Indiscretion cannot, however, be justification for the violence which was captured on video," why the gratuitous lecture on discretion?
Who among us always has control of sexual urges? Those among you always discreet with your sexual attentions may deliver the first lecture on 'discretion'. We're assailed daily, on movie/TV screens; in music videos; on the beaches, streets and parks with explicit images and actions heterosexual from the innocent holding of hands or kiss, to simulation of the sex act itself. What's JCSC warbling on about? If a female rape victim wore a miniskirt, was she complicit? Should she 'be more circumspect'? If two boys kiss (or whatever) in a bathroom and are violently beaten, are they to blame?
We're insensitive, hypocritical and narcissistic when it comes to sex. If a boy and girl are caught having sex on a car back seat, apart from a firm 'tsk tsk', no harm will befall them. But, let it be two boys!
Churches will say they don't preach hate, only disagreement with homosexual practice. Churches complain gays interfere with their freedom of speech by protesting church condemnation of homosexuality.
Seriously? Does freedom of speech include preaching violence against others? If not, let's dissect exactly what churches preach. No pastor in a pulpit simply says, "I disagree with homosexuality." No siree. It's "an abomination unto the Lord". Without more, what'd you expect a largely uneducated, homophobic congregation to consider doing with 'abominations'?
But, if they're uncertain, the Church regularly reminds them God killed the 'abominable' in Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:4-5; 24-25). Then, there's Leviticus 20:13? "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death."
Don't obfuscate. It's plain, unadulterated hatred, which indoctrinates mindless sheep (churchgoers) to violence. Is the UTech incident really a surprise or aberration? Beware any man who asserts he's God's messenger. He's more likely to be God's mess.
They're always throwin' goodness at you.
But, with a little bit of luck, a man can duck!"
Lyrics quoted are from songwriters Alan Jay Lerner (lyrics) and Frederick Loewe (music) as performed in 'My Fair Lady' by legendary British comic Stanley Holloway.
Peace and love.
Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to