They said what !!???

What?

The coronavirus seems to have some unexpected side effects in those who are not infected. Here are some things christian and political leaders in America have said that cause me considerable disquiet.

Jerry Falwll Jr

Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, talking on Fox news, threw doubt on the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic and suggested it all might just be a plot, instigated by North Korea, to “get Trump”. He said:

“The owner of a restaurant asked me last night, he said, ‘Do you remember the North Korean leader promised a Christmas present for America back in December?’ Could it be they got together with China and this is that present? I don’t know. But there really is something strange going on.”

President Donald Trump initially was unconcerned about the virus, saying in January: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.” Even just a few weeks ago he was tweeting about “fake news …. to inflame the CoronaVirus situation”.

However, more recently he has agreed “This is a pandemic” and put out guidelines for “15 days to slow the spread”. But it seems he sees the main problem as economic rather than human health, tweeting: “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself” because “more people are going to die” from the economic losses than from the pandemic. And so: “I would love to have the country opened up and raring to go by Easter”.

Dan Patrick

Dan Patrick, Lieutenant Governor of Texas, also felt the economic hit from social isolation was a danger, suggesting that grandparents might need to be sacrificial about their own lives to allow the American economy to continue.

“No one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’” But if they had? “If that is the exchange, I’m all in ….. So my message is let’s get back to work, let’s get back to living. Let’s be smart about it and those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country, don’t do that, don’t ruin this great America.” 

Guillermo Maldonado

South Florida pastor Guillermo Maldonado talked about a different type of sacrifice, not for the sake of the economy, but for Jesus’ sake. Saying fear of gathering in a crowded church was caused by a “demonic spirit”, he asked: “Do you believe God would bring his people to his house to be contagious with the virus? Of course not,”

Urging his congregation not to stay away from church, he said: “If we die, we die for Christ. If we live, we live for Christ, so what do you lose?”

Dionny Baez

American pastor Dionny Baez, speaking at the Norwegian Christian TV channel Vision Norway, wasn’t thinking of anyone dying. Rather, he felt money could be the solution:

“As a prophet of God, I challenge you to call the number on the screen… Say: ‘as a seed for 2020, I’m going to give 2020 [kroner = about $US200], and I’m gonna believe God. Like Jacob, I’m going to cover my children with a sacrifice, and no evil shall touch them.’”

Kenneth Copeland

Televangelist Kenneth Copeland is sure that whatever the truth about coronavirus, God not only can, but will heal anyone afflicted with the virus. On his Victory News TV channel, Copeland asked viewers to “put your hand on that television set” and then said:

“Now say it: I take it. I have it. It’s mine. I thank you and praise you for it. ….. According to the word of God, I’m healed. And I consider not my own body. I consider not symptoms in my body. But only that which God has promised.”

This is serious, folks!

Is it just me, or have some of these leaders lost contact with reality?

From my reading of the statistics of this pandemic, the US is currently the country with the fastest-growing rate of infections. On a per capita basis, its trajectory is worse than Italy’s was.

Experience shows that those countries that acted quickly and strongly have contained the virus far better than those that didn’t react positively. I don’t think any of the above statements will assist in slowing down the infection rate and reducing deaths in the US. Nor are they likely to assist the economy much because the economy will get worse while ever the infection and mortality rates are increasing exponentially.

Many of these leaders are playing with lives, potentially thousands of lives.

I fear they have become so comfortable in the bubble of their own self belief and importance that they have learnt to forget truth and invent their own reality.

Reality, faith and truth

I feel deeply concerned that some parts of US christianity have not only lost contact with reality, but have lost contact with Jesus.

I believe we should pray for divine healing, and I believe God sometimes heals quite miraculously. But I don’t believe he does it for money nor that he performs when we “command” him.

And I don’t believe God is more concerned about the economy than he is about the poor. Jesus (and his brother James) spoke out strongly about the dangers of wealth (“You cannot serve both God and money.” Luke 16:13, see also James 5:1-6). They both urged us to care for the poor and powerless (Luke 4:18, 11:41, James 1:27).

I don’t see those values in the leaders’ statements. I don’t see a concern for truth. I don’t see a concern for the poor. I do see a concern for wealth and prosperity for those already prosperous.

They seem to be insulated from reality. And reality may soon bite them (and many others!). Time will tell.

Discerning the signs of the times

Has conservative christianity become too allied to conservative politics and wealth?

Photos: Main photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels. Other photos taken from the news source for each story, as referenced in each case.

Thanks to Micael Grenholm for several of these links.

How did we get here from there?

Last post I talked about how we seem to be living in a toxic world these days. Events in the two or three weeks since then have underlined this conclusion.

Continue reading “How did we get here from there?”

Living in a toxic world

Do you ever think that life used to feel so simple, but not now? That somehow things are more complex, insane and toxic than they used to be?

Do you ever feel a little overwhelmed by it all?

Perhaps it’s a product of getting older, but I don’t think that’s all it is.

Continue reading “Living in a toxic world”

Brad Jersak on God, love, atonement and life

North American writer, teacher and theologian, Brad Jersak, was in Australia recently, and we were able to spend a day hearing him sharing his convictions about God and his love, Jesus and the atonement, and life.

There was a lot to like and learn from, and some challenging ideas – all worth sharing with you.

Continue reading “Brad Jersak on God, love, atonement and life”

Amid the gloom, much good news

Monthly challenge

In 2015 all countries in the United Nations agreed to the Sustainable Development Goals, 17 goals which, if diligently pursued by all nations, would greatly improve peace and prosperity around the world.

We are almost a third of the way through that time period. So how is the world going?

Well, we all know that in many ways the world isn’t going so well, but amid the gloom there really is some good news. Here I will focus on six of the goals where I have been readily able to obtain data.

Continue reading “Amid the gloom, much good news”

Weep with those who weep

Today is 26 January, Australia Day.

Australia Day is a national public holiday, commemorating the beginning of the nation of Australia when Captain Arthur Phillip began a British penal colony on the shores of Sydney Harbour on January 26, 1788.

Australia Day has become for most Australians the end of a summer holiday season that began at Christmas – a day of eating and drinking, celebrating, activities, flags and an Aussie brand of patriotism.

Continue reading “Weep with those who weep”

Fake news and tribalism are the new black?

Monthly challenge

I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about people’s attitudes to climate change recently, and I am reinforced in the view that we (all people, but especially christians) have entered a new era.

Continue reading “Fake news and tribalism are the new black?”

All is quiet on New Year’s Eve …. not!

Some of the happiest memories of my life are family holidays down the south coast of NSW when I was a boy. We’d go to bed early and at about 1 a.m. mum and dad would wake us up, we’d pack the car and set off. Down Mt Ousley in the night fog while us three younger boys in the back seat dozed. If I was awake enough, I’d check progress on the map …., Kiama, Nowra, then as the sun rose over the sea, Milton and Ulladulla.

Then the real adventure began.

Continue reading “All is quiet on New Year’s Eve …. not!”

Opposing Jesus …. in the name of Jesus

Three warnings to start with.

  1. This isn’t a Christmas post.
  2. This isn’t a political post. Although Donald Trump’s picture appears, it’s not really about him at all, though he is relevant.
  3. I am not an American, so I write as an outsider.

This post is a response to a Christianity Today editorial and the public reaction to it.

Continue reading “Opposing Jesus …. in the name of Jesus”
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