Monday, April 13, 2009

The road paved with good intentions

What do Bill O’Reilly and the Rev. Rick Warren have in common? A feeling of frustration that they cannot deny saying something when the evidence is on video.

Alright, I won’t be so harsh. O’Reilly and Warren truly have very little in common. But it remains true that in this age of video taping, the Internet and Google, you can’t count on people being unaware of what you might have said in the past.

Politico ran something Sunday on Warren’s failing to appear as scheduled on ABC’s “This Week.” It was believed that Warren was going to clarify a recent denial that he had endorsed Prop 8. Tough to deny endorsing Prop 8 when you did so willingly while being video taped. But it isn’t just that embarrassment that could have Warren in trouble. The IRS doesn’t take very kindly to tax-exempt institutions – like churches for example – commenting on matters before a public vote. That’s campaigning, and to do so legally, you must register as a campaign organization and reveal who is giving you money to take whatever position you are regarding a ballot proposal.

But Warren pulled a George Jones and was a no show. I think we can give him the benefit of the doubt, what with all those sermons, etc, fatigue likely played a role in his failing to appear. Yet the explanation by a staffer sent to Politico is so delicious because it again proves that, particularly with e-mail, the longer the message, the more likely you will say something you will regret later on. Consider, my friends, this line in the missive:

“Throughout his pastoral ministry spanning nearly 30 years, Pastor Warren has remained committed to the biblical definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, for life -- a position held by most fellow Evangelical pastors. He has further stressed that for 5,000 years, EVERY culture and EVERY religion has maintained this worldview.”

For 5,000 years, eh? One man, one woman, eh? Does this wonk even know his Bible? Abraham must be rolling in his grave. And good King Solomon as well. Gee, and I wonder what Islam has to say about this. Being a practicing Buddhist, I am aware that the Buddha gave no specific teaching about marriage, defining it clearly as one man, one woman, given the fact that, ummm, less than 5,000 years ago it was not uncommon for South Asian men of wealth to have more than one wife. And oh yes, the Chinese have had a long tradition of multiple wives. I bet that goes back further than 5,000 years.

I’m sorry, but these guys simply do not know what they are talking about. They don’t even know their own religious heritage, let alone anything else about any other culture.

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