Column: Religious right wrong again

By Matt Simmons

The religious right is once again up to no good. The most recent anti-Christian act belongs to Pat Robertson, the founder of the Christian Coalition and the American Center for Law and Justice. Last week, Robertson suggested that the U.S. should “take out” Hugo Chavez, the democratically elected president of Venezuela. Robertson seemed open to the idea of assasination and justified his comments by stating that Chavez supports communism, Islamism and oil policies that hurt the U.S.

I am appalled by how Robertson can advocate a man’s murder with a straight face and then talk about spreading the word of God. I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure that the Sixth Commandment says, “Thou shall not kill.” Maybe Robertson should take time to read the Bible instead of pushing his warped ideology onto reasonable Americans.

This disregard for true Christian values should not come as a surprise. The religious right has a history of choosing to interpret small sections of the Bible literally and ignoring others. Last October, the religious conservatives helped engineer a constitutional amendment that would have cemented homosexuals in as second-class citizens. While the conservatives correctly pointed out the passages of the Bible that condemn homosexual activity, they ignored the part about treating others as you want to be treated. Contrary to what religious conservatives would have you believe, the Bible does not once mention gay marriage, abortion, or electing Christians, but distinguishes loving thy neighbor as the golden rule. I guess they feel Jesus was wrong when he concentrated on helping the poor and not attacking those who are perceived as sinners.

I have ignored the religious right for the most part because every intelligent politician knows they are wrong. Even Senate majority leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., a solid conservative, decided to defy the extreme religious conservatives with his decision to support embryonic stem cell research. For now, our country is safe from these extremists. We should be far more concerned with how they affect Christianity. The Religious Right gives Christianity a bad name with their hypocrisy and hatred of gays. As a Christian, I believe it is my duty to let people like Pat Robertson and James Dobson know that they do not represent true Christian values.

The objectives of Christians should be to help save sinners and to treat others with love and respect. The religious right is hurting both of these causes. Blatant hypocrites such as Robertson are causing Christians to question their faith and prohibiting others from accepting the Christian faith. Furthermore, vicious attacks against people who are perceived as sinners are turning people away from the faith. Imagine how a gay person or a person who is good friends with a gay person feels about Christianity today. When you have Christian leaders demonizing homosexuals and blaming the tragedy and destruction of Sept. 11 on them, you cannot expect to get them to give Christianity a chance. Maybe the religious right should take a lesson from – I don’t know, Jesus – and lead with a message of love and acceptance instead of condemnation.

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It is time for Christianity to step away from the closed-minded few that use it to impose their values on the rest of Americans. Christians should move out of the political arena should concentrate on strategies that effectively reach out to those lost in sin with a message of compassion. With war, poverty and natural disasters causing human suffering throughout the world, Christians have far more important things to do than elect Republicans who support treating homosexuals as second-class citizens.

I must stress that I have no quarrel with most Christians who happen to vote Republican. But those who preach discrimination and want to turn America into a theocracy must be stopped – not only for the sake of our country, but also for the sake of Christianity itself.

Matt Simmons is a senior in LAS. His column appears every Thursday. He can be reached at [email protected].