False Prophets

Usually, about this point in the quadrennial national election cycle, people begin to lament that we’ve entered into the “silly season” of campaign rhetoric—a phase that seems to lengthen with each go-round.  It’s usually categorized by the radical hyperbole and “gotcha” tactics common to all parties and candidates of every ideology.  It’s meant to appeal to their bases and embolden their most ardent supporters to carry on the fight.  Most good, professional pundits don’t even pay attention to the bulk of it.  In fact, it often seems like politicians making fun of their own playacting, revealing their own inner Senator Claghorn (if anyone remembers that old Fred Allen radio show regular).

Recently, however, the rhetoric has been tuned up.  It’s not just a matter of dire predictions of the end of life as we know it if certain bills are or are not passed and particular action taken or not.  There’s a new presumption entering the political arena that that has far more to do with theology than with public policy.  More specifically, it is the growing tendency to identify natural disasters, misfortune, and disease as signs of God’s disapproval of unrelated policies and programs the candidates oppose.  Hurricanes, earthquakes, AIDS, drought, flooding, the increase in bird deaths, and the cracks in the Washington Monument have all been depicted of late as evidence of God’s wrath brought on by gay marriage, deficits, overspending, under spending, abortion, and a nefarious “pact with the devil” purportedly made two centuries ago.

All of this is, of course, nonsense.  It is also deeply heretical.  The notion that God acts capriciously and arbitrarily against individuals or groups of people because of actions they have nothing to do with violates our central belief in God’s justice and love.  It also stands in contradiction to and denial of the life and ministry of the Christ who came to save rather than condemn, to include rather than cast away, and to heal rather than afflict.  It is a deeply unchristian and morally bankrupt assertion.

It is also the height of arrogance.  At a time when thoughtful religious leaders of most major faiths have become circumspect about assigning motives to God, we now have some politicians claiming to know the mind of the divine.  Living within a democracy that does not believe in the divine appointment of its leaders, I am appalled to hear and read about people whose religious views seem to shift according to the latest poll figures suddenly assuming a prophetic role and presuming to proclaim God’s judgment on the world—especially when that assessment mainly justifies and supports their own positions and careers.  We are in danger of giving in to a new and different world in all of this.  It is a world of absolutes and hardened positions, a world in which people judge and condemn the faith of others with triumphalistic bullying and dire warnings of God’s graceless damnation.

Sorry if this seems more like a rant today, but I believe it is something that we who have been called to represent God’s Church need to say in the midst of all the media attention these kinds of political faux religious outbursts have been receiving.  It is important that the Church raise its voice so that the world knows that human wrath and false judgments do not reflect the love, compassion, and justice of our God.  We can and should expect much more from those who would lead us.

This entry was posted in The Rev. Canon John E. Lawrence and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to False Prophets

  1. Joe McLean says:

    Rant on Brother!

    But if you’re going to ran, never apologize, or take your foot off the gas.

  2. Marty Kerns says:


    Thank you for a thought proviking daily cup piece. It is interesting how some claim to know God’s will – although most human beings just search for understanding and guideance. Your piece is not a rant rather a wake call to all that are willing to listen.

    Thank you for your stewardship.

    God’s blessings,

    Marty Kerns

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