The Democrats Find God - Kinda

In a story titled "Kerry Speech at Church Highlights Double Standard," the Family Research Council (FRC) jumps on a Washington Post story about a black church throwing it's support behind Kerry.

It noted that a "pastor of the Miami church endorsed Kerry from the pulpit in almost messianic terms, telling his congregation, "For every Goliath, God has a David. For every Calvary's cross, God has a Christ Jesus. To bring our country out of despair, discouragement, despondency, and disgust, God has a John Kerry."

Hyperbole? Sure. But being so close to an election, one expects this sort of cheerleading on both sides. However, the FRC saw it as pure hypocrisy on behalf of the dirty liberals: "Recall the outcry from Barry Lynn and the left when Pastor Ronnie Floyd instructed his congregation to 'vote God'? Can you imagine the outcry that would arise from the Democrats and the liberal media if President Bush made an appearance like Senator Kerry's, and similar things were said about him? They would be pressing to have the church's tax exemption lifted the next day."

In reality, however, this is only hypocrisy if Kerry was among those who joined in the fight against Pastor Ronnie Floyd. As far as I know, he wasn't. It's a group called "Americans United for Separation of Church and State" that's causing the double standard. What was done with Floyd was just more dirty politics executed by organizations with (supposedly) no direct connection to the candidates -- something we've been seeing more and more of lately.

What the Bush guys did to McCain in the 2000 primaries (the confirmed spreading of rumors involving his wife's unconfirmed drug problems, the use of "push polling" to coerce votes, third-party groups distributing slanderous flyers) was just as bad as the Pastor Ronnie Floyd IRS switcheroo some left-wingers tried to pull off on Bush. The same could be said for this "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" debacle that Bush supporters have pulled on Kerry. Bush keeps his hands (mostly) clean of all this stuff, just as Kerry kept his hands (mostly) clean of Pastor Ronnie Floyd. But it happens nonetheless.

It's an endemic of the current system, and the system needs to be cleaned up. But these little games cannot be pinned on Kerry or the liberals in general as a double standard any more so than they can be pinned on Bush or the right-wingers. It's a larger problem -- it's a problem about political parties trying to win by any means necessary, instead of truly playing by moral standards or in defense of principals.

John F. Kerry is supported by some church groups and Bush is supported by others. However, it's interesting that the African-American churches are rallying behind JFK II while the hard-line Catholics have tagged GB II as their man. There was a time when both these groups would have been sure-thing Democrats, and logically they still should be....

Other than the abortion issue (which Kerry dances around like a prickly pear), boring old JFK II is probably the safer bet for Catholics, in my paranoid mind, because the Evangelicals (the most fervent George Bush supporters) historically have had a seething hatred of Catholics.

Oh, the Evangelicals and Catholics are cozy enough at the moment, but Protestant vs. Catholic animosity has merely sunk beneath the surface, I suspect. I've met quite a few people who only rank Catholics a few circles up in Dante’s inferno -- just above the Jews and Muslims. Spend a couple of years in the Deep South, Florida included, and once people get to feel comfortable around you they might tell you about how the Catholics are all idol worshippers that are surely burn -- I was told this many a time, first hand, in a kindly and genteel manner, of course.

When it comes down to it, the extreme-right wings of the Catholic and Protestant churches make for good political bedfellows -- they both certainly have little use for these crazy agnostics and atheists. And Buddhists and Hindus aren't even worth mentioning. And due to Middle East policies, the Jews are even finding support in the Christian community.

But make no mistake: the Christians think the Jews are going to Hell and the Evangelicals, in particular, know the Catholics are going to Hell, and the Catholics reckon all non-Catholics (and most Catholics, for that matter) are getting sent to Purgatory at least for a little while. While attending high school in Florida, I was shocked to learn that there were even a few kids that didn't realize Catholics were Christians (I wish I was kidding).

They thought Catholics were like Jews -- shared some of the same bible stories and prayers and maybe the same God, but otherwise were worshipping up an entirely different theological burning bush. (Listening to a Baptist history teacher trying to explain to these kids that Protestants actually came after Catholics -- thus the word Protest in Protestant -- was worth the price of admission, 'cause these stalwarts did not like the idea that they were a spin-off of the Mary-Statue-Worshipping wackos. Of course, it was a public school, as may have guessed, so admission was free).

But back to the real topic at hand: This is simply not the fiscally responsible Republican party that once was -- it's a mix of the most paranoid Nixonites with the most fervent Televangelists. Wait, was that the topic at hand, or is it just wishful thinking on my part?

Ah, yes, here we go: The double standard and hypocrisy found in the political system must be scrubbed clean to the best of our ability. Both on the left and the right. And I even agree with the Family Research Council on at least one aspect of their article: "We should favor a single standard that defends religious liberty and freedom of speech for all -- including ... pastors who want to address the moral dimension of political decisions from the pulpit, regardless of their views."

Let the churches say what they want -- and then let the people make up their own minds. It can be a tricky issue, because of the tax-dodge questions rasied, but it's just not a good idea to force churches -- or anyone -- to not support a candidate or issue publicly, because the exclusion of a truth is in fact a lie. Besides, we could always just reclassify churches as tax-exempt 527 Advocacy Groups instead of places of worship (it's all one and the same, isn't it?)

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