Control in organized religion comes from self-appointed leaders who tell others how to behave and what to believe. A prime example is Mike Huckabee, who went from Baptist pastor to governor to presidential candidate and most recently to media star. In the past, In the past, Huckabee stuck to criticizing his own country, claiming that President Obama “grew up in Kenya,” falsely complaining about the “death panels” of Obamacare, going so far as to argue that the health care reform plan forced Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) to commit suicide, and equating the national debt with the Nazi Holocaust. He’s also over the edge with his defamatory comments about LGBT community and relating the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre to the lack of government-sponsored religion.
Last week, however, Huckabee attacked the Muslims, suggesting that Islamic teachings caused recent threats putting U.S. embassies on high alert during the religion’s holy month of Ramadan. “Can someone explain to me why it is that we tiptoe around a religion that promotes the most murderous mayhem on the planet in their so-called ‘holiest days,'” Huckabee said. “You know, if you’ve kept up with the Middle East, you know that the most likely time to have an uprising of rock throwing and rioting comes on the day of prayer on Friday.” Later he did justify his statements by saying he wasn’t referring to all 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide when he called Muslims coming from the mosques as “uncorked animals.”
Imagine a nation that has a murder every 17 minutes, cities with higher murder rates than war-torn Iraq, a violent crime very 26.2 seconds and a property crime every 3.5 seconds, and a rape every every six minutes. Also a country where one in four women will be raped before graduating from college, and 97 percent of the rapists never spend one day in jail although 25 percent of the population is in prison. This country is the predominantly Christian United States.
The Huffington Post’s report noted “numerous factors that have made Friday the most popular day for protests, including the fact that most of the Muslim world gets the day off and frequently congregates in large communal areas to observe the day of prayer.”
Cathie Adams is another religious leader, who served as chair of the Texas Republican Party for the larger part of a year between 2009 and 2010. Before President Obama was elected for the second time, she called him a Marxist who “fried his brain on drugs” and said that watching him in the last debate made her “want to go up and just smack his face!” Her current rants are directed toward immigration reform, accusing it of causing the End Times. A Senate proposal, now withdrawn, would require fingerprinting of people leaving the United States, a “biometric scanning” that Adams calls “the Mark of the Beast.”
The Catholics are known for having male religious leaders with “feet of clay.” The most recent addition is Monsignor Arthur Coyle, a top official in the Merrimack Valley area for the Archdiocese of Boston, who was arrested Sunday last Sunday, charged with soliciting a prostitute. Police report that he paid her $40 for oral sex. A month after Coyle was first stopped for suspected solicitation in Lowell, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley and Pope Benedict XVI honored him by giving him the title of Prelate of Honor, a rank within the title of monsignor. O’Malley credited Coyle for “exemplary service” throughout his priesthood and said Coyle’s leadership as episcopal vicar would be “of great assistance” as the archdiocese moved ahead with plans to reorganize some parishes.
Catholics don’t believe in divorce, as Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, could know. Catholics see marriage as a duty and institution, not as an expression of love, which is why the church leadership denounces same-sex marriage. As Donohue said, “The whole purpose of marriage is to have a family. It’s not about making people happy. It’s not about love.” Donohue is a divorced father of two.
Bill O’Reilly is not a church leader, per se, but his position on the Fox network allows him to preach to millions of people. Anti-contraception and pro-abstinence, O’Reilly tried to get his ex-wife ex-communicated from the Catholic Church for remarrying, considered “adultery” by church teachings. Yet his sexual pursuit of coworker Andrea Mackis in 2004 was so severe that she sued him for sexual harassment. O’Reilly settled out of court.
After his relationships with men and use of meth, married evangelical minister Ted Haggard went to claiming he was bi-sexual and then back to heterosexual. While in “recovery,” he lived off donations. Now absorbed into the evangelical fold as a pastor, he thinks that biblical teachers are against marriage equality but believes that the state should allow it.
Many of us watched Newt Gingrich run for president last year after the evangelicals accepted his apology for his transgressions. He secretly dated his high school geometry teacher and then married her. When she was in the hospital with uterine cancer surgery, Gingrich said he wanted to be free to marry his girlfriend. On Mothers Day in 1999, he told his second wife he was divorcing her after discovering that she had MS. He had asked her for an “open marriage” to continue a relationship with his mistress who later became his third wife. Six months before his second divorce request, Gingrich was a leading advocate for President Clinton’s impeachment because of a sexual liaison.
Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) has just kicked off a campaign for his third term. Court transcripts show that he admitted under oath to eight affairs, pressured a lover to get an abortion, and used a gun to intimidate his first wife during an argument. According to testimony, the medical doctor and his ex-wife agreed for her to seek two abortions, one of them because the pregnancy didn’t happen at the right time and the other because they weren’t getting along. DesJarlais was also reprimanded and fined by the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners in May for having sex with patients. He’s running as a “family values” candidate highly opposed to abortion. He could get re-elected: Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) have.
Religion has used the ex-gay groups to convert LGBT people into the straight mode. A major force in the 1990s for the “cure” through prayer and therapy, John Paulk finally gave up after he shown to be in a gay bar in 2000. Fading from public notice, he has reappeared in Portland (OR), trying to publicize his catering business with the LGBT community. They are less than impressed with their new entrepreneur. Wayne Besen, founder of Truth Wins Out, thinks an apology is not enough for redemption from Love Won Out’s former spokesman. Another gay man, Terry Bean, talked about the damage that Paulk did in his ministry and the number of teenagers who killed themselves because of Paulk’s former leadership.
My nomination for the worst Christian “leader,” however, is Ronald William Brown of Largo (FL) who had a successful Christian children’s show, Joy Junction, to warn kids about the horrors of pornography until he was arrested for possessing child pornogrphy. His puppet show that presents his anti-porno message is truly creepy. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, followed by lifetime probation. Brown was also allegedly involved with Michael Arnett, whom he met through the Gulf Coast Church, to kidnap, cook, and eat a child. They had even picked out the child.
Brown says that he hadn’t intended to carry through his sick fantasies. On an Internet chat, however, he wrote, “I imagine him wiggling and then going still.” He also used the Internet to solicit images of dead children from people with similar fantasies. The website for Gulf Coast Church states, “Get out of the ordinary and try something new.”
Polls show that younger people are becoming more and more religiously progressive than the seniors. Conservatives have high hopes that youth will switch to conservative policies as they age. With hypocritical leaders like these, that may not happen.