The discussion with Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jim Wallis, Dr Land and Dr Falwell aired on Meet the Press Sunday morning. What I learned is that Southern Baptists and fundamentalist Christians have a very narrow understanding of the bible and an incomplete understanding of family values and life issues. Simply quoting bible passages out of context and not once using Jesus as a reference in their "christian" arguments should be highly suspicious to anyone with a critical mind. To someone with an advanced degree in theology, it's an affront to modern biblical scholarship and a denial of God's continuing revelation to humankind.
It was no problem for Dr's Land and Falwell to agree with the war in Iraq while going on and about about abortion being murder. They cut off Rev Wallis when he tried to speak about what Jesus really taught. They would change the subject, accuse the other in a backhanded way of being anti-American or unchristian.
REV. WALLIS: But, Jerry, when you say things like what you just quoted, and you say God is pro-war, and so many things that you sometimes say...Falwell can't argue rationally. No wonder Falwell has this idea that he is right. He comes out with the most inane rationale that usually leaves people dumbfounded and speechless.
DR. FALWELL: I said there is a just war in a theological position.
REV. WALLIS: You said God is pro-war.
DR. FALWELL: I don't believe God loves war. Everybody hates war.
REV. SHARPTON: But you said it was pro-Christian.
REV. WALLIS: Jerry, there are millions and millions of Christians who want the nation to know that you don't speak for them...
REV. SHARPTON: That's right.
REV. WALLIS: ...that Jesus, our Jesus isn't pro-rich, pro-war and only pro-American. We don't find that Jesus anywhere in the Bible.
DR. FALWELL: I don't believe that either. But I was also against Adolf Hitler, and if you had been...
REV. WALLIS: Well, most of us were.
DR. FALWELL: If you had been the president in World War II, we'd all be speaking German now.
REV. WALLIS: You know, we're not--no one's pro-abortion. How do you prevent unwanted pregnancies? I'd like to find some common ground to work together to dramatically reduce the abortion rate. On so many of these issues, we get in the polarized, ideological debates and then we don't talk about to solve the problem.Once again, Falwell goes to the OT to find a passage to support his faux "pro-life" position. Of course all life is sacred. Progressives believe that. Being pro-life means you actually are pro-life across the board. Our country is in the active violation of many Christian and human ethics in pursuing the war on Iraq which Falwell's supposed family values organization refuses to address. What is he going to say? If we didn't attack Iraq, we'd all be speaking Iraqi?
DR. FALWELL: You're a preacher, aren't you?
REV. WALLIS: "How do we make abortion"--Democrats--"safe, legal and rare?" Well, they're keeping it legal, but let's try to make abortion truly rare in the society. That is a common ground around which I think a lot of people, pro-life and pro-choice could and should support.
DR. FALWELL: Jim, let me ask you a question. Did you vote for John Kerry?
REV. WALLIS: I did vote for John Kerry.
DR. FALWELL: Now, he is pro-choice. How can you as an ordained minister--you are an ordained minister, right?
REV. WALLIS: Jerry--Jerry...
DR. FALWELL: How could you vote for some--I wouldn't vote for my mother if she were pro-choice.
REV. WALLIS: Yeah. You endorsing George Bush. That's fine. But you also called--you ordained him. You said all Christians could only vote for him. That's ridiculous. There are Christians who voted for deep reasons of faith for both candidates.
DR. FALWELL: Well, I don't think--I can't command anybody. I can only take the Bible seriously. You're certainly going to have to--Psalm 139:13-16--believe that life is sacred from conception on...
REV. WALLIS: And Jerry, there are 3,000 verses in the Bible about the poor--about the poor.
DR. FALWELL: And I'm for all of those, too. But George Bush has taken the initiative because of the Democrats
REV. WALLIS: The Republican agenda--the Republican agenda was not satisfactory to many who support him.
REV. SHARPTON: Well, 1.8 million people added to the poverty lines in the last four years under George Bush. But, Reverend, I think you have the right to vote for George Bush. I defend your right to do that even though I disagree with you. We're talking about you not having the right to therefore bar others from exercising their personal decisions.
Jim Wallis was trying to say that there are over 3,000 references to the poor in the bible. Taking care of the poor is the most important issue in the bible. Why? Because humanity and ethics centers on how we take care of each other on earth overall. Modern theologians have concluded that the way God works in the world is by our treatment of the poor and those on the margins of society. Abortion is only one life issue. There is genocide happening in other parts of the world. Our country is killing tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis. We have more and more poor people in America every day. Many of them work fulltime jobs and they are living below the poverty level. These are all life issues. Family values and christian values. There are no exceptions. either you are pro-life all the way or you are not pro-life. You may be anti-abortion, but you are not pro life unless you are against capital punishment, poverty and war as well.
REV. SHARPTON: It's strange to me, Reverend, how the right wing wants to privatize public policy and make public private lives. I mean, people have the right to their private decisions.
DR. FALWELL: No, I'm just trying--I'm trying to do what Martin Luther King did. I'm trying to...
REV. SHARPTON: Jesus--Jesus met the woman at the well. She was guilty of adultery. The state said she could be stoned. He stopped the stoning. You would condemn her for that.
DR. FALWELL: We have a home for unwed mothers.
REV. SHARPTON: He wasn't condoning adultery. He was not condoning adultery. He was saying that the state does not have that right to not say...
DR. FALWELL: You guys talk about that. We have a home for unwed mothers. We have a national adoption agency.
REV. SHARPTON: That was not just a mark. That was law on that day. That was law.
DR. FALWELL: You guys are great at spending somebody else's money.
Falwell does not listen to anyone. Look at how he ends the above portion of the conversation. He must have ADD. He has his pro-war, anti-abortion, anti-gay agenda and that's about all he cares about although he claims that he lives by the bible. Ironically, these bible christians are very selective in what parts of the bible they pay attention to.
REV. AL SHARPTON: ...And I think that where a lot of the misinformation and a lot of the debate went awry--and we're not talking about whether or not we don't share values. We're talking about whether we have the right to impose what we believe on people that may disagree with us. Even God gives you a choice of heaven and hell. We don't have a right to tell people we're going to force them to live in a way that we want them to live and, therefore, they're going to heaven. That's where I disagree.Sharpton made an excellent point and Falwell did not answer it. As usual. Sharpton's point is that religious views should not be imposed on a secular society. America is secular whether anyone likes it or not. I believe that if anyone is even going to attempt to try to impose their religious beliefs on me, especially if they are Christian which I know all about, then they had better make perfect sense, be consistant and be sensitive to the rights of all the living with no exceptions.
DR. FALWELL: You still owe me a steak dinner.
REV. SHARPTON: I will give you a steak dinner. We bet on the election. But you will get a steak dinner, but you will also get a lecture on civil liberties while we eat it.More later...
DR. FALWELL: But I've waited three weeks.