Those of you who have followed this blog for a few years may remember a feature I used to do called Bad Theology. It was something I enjoyed doing until I didn’t anymore, hence why it drifted away. (For examples, click here or here.)
In any case, during this COVID-19 pandemic, Bad Theology has reared its ugly head to an alarming degree. Especially at first when so many seemed eager to pin it all on God, implying it was God’s disfavor that brought us the virus to begin with.
To that I can only reply: Just what sort of god do you people worship anyway?! ‘Cause it ain’t a god of love, that’s for damn sure.
So yes, I could have rebooted this feature several times over. But it wasn’t until recently that I felt compelled to dust off the Bad Theology graphic and raise my outraged fist in the air…
In case you missed it, a Trump rally took place June 23 at Dream City Church – an Assembly of God mega-church* in my old stomping ground in Arizona, with locations in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Glendale, and more! (Seven all together.)
Here’s a picture from the rally:
You’ll note there were few masks worn and no social distancing taking place. Plenty of red caps though.
A similar event occurred at a mega-church in Dallas, Texas. This time it was our Vice-President visiting a Baptist church for a “Celebrate Freedom Rally” during a Sunday service.
Here’s a picture of that:
According to reports, about half the people were wearing masks and little social distancing was happening.
And here we come to the crux of the issue: Despite scientific advice that wearing masks and social distancing helps prevent the spread of the virus, many church-going folk do neither.
But to be clear, it only applies to certain church-going folk. By and large, the more conservative evangelical churches are the ones who not only rushed to reopen, they are the ones not following the recommended guidelines for gathering.
And why is this? If the Bible tells us to love our neighbors and to put others before ourselves, why are they risking spreading the virus at all?
To find the answer, all we have to do is look at their politics. For them, casting their allegiance to Trump has trumped biblical mandates. (And yet they claim to take the Bible literally.)
Here’s a truth: when you bend your faith to fit your political beliefs, your political beliefs will overshadow your faith. This has always been true and always will be true.**
“You cannot serve two masters.”
(Name who said that for 10 points!)
But let’s not stop here. What can we make of their rush to reopen churches?
That has followed a pattern as well. The more conservative the church, the more likely they pushed to reopen or blatantly disregarded stay-at-home orders.
Many of them say it’s about religious freedom. How gathering together as a community is an essential part of their faith. Several even claim “God will protect them.”
But seriously. It’s about money.
If you have doubts, consider this: How many churches were pushing to reopen their homeless ministries or start food pantries? How many longed to renew their care of widows and orphans?
How many proclaimed release to the captives or demanded the oppressed go free? (Name that verse for 20 points!)
None, that’s how many.
The fact is, closures are hurting churches financially and it’s affecting the largest churches most, particularly mega-churches. This is true for most non-profits as well (museums, public radio stations, charitable organizations, etc.). So if you are able and have a favorite charity, consider donating. And if you belong to a congregation, don’t forget to keep up with your offering.
We have now arrived at the part of our Bad Theology post where we see how our selection has scored:
For placing politics and money before compassion and public safety, these churches have earned…
and FOUR Get-Thee-Behind-Me-Satans!
Our worst rating to date!
Stay safe out there, people.
Until next time,
Vaya con Dios
*When I was in high school, my best friend attended this church back when it was known as First Assembly and there was just the one location. There were a handful of times I went with her. For context, my family attended a fairly liberal Lutheran church and this was a charismatic fundamentalist church. (I was what you might call a theologically-curious child.)
**Bending your faith to meet your political agenda happens both ways, not just for conservatives. It’s something we must be mindful of because otherwise we risk letting our ideas matter more than people. (Jesus had some pretty strong opinions on that too – 30 points if you can cite two verses!)
An explanation for my headline: Traditionally, the Bible Belt refers to a geographical area of the U.S., made up of the southern states from Texas over to North Carolina. In reality, the Bible Belt is a state of mind. You can find these conservative evangelical folk most anywhere, and their allegiance to a certain political agenda is deeply troubling.