Fall to Your Knees for Bigotry

On Sunday, July 5, the Family Research Council hopes to have 40,000 churches across the country participating in its latest PR scheme the “Call 2 Fall.”

FRC president Tony Perkins says the day is set aside for Christians to “fall on their knees” in prayer for the country:

Observances can take several forms, Perkins said, from a three- to five-minute period during a worship service when people would get on their knees and pray to a full day of praying and expressing dependence on God.

Certainly, on the face of it, there’s nothing wrong with Christians getting down on their knees before God to profess their utter dependence upon the Holy One. I’ll join in on that. But, as with all the religious right campaigns, the “demons” they are fighting are the exact opposite of the “demons” God intends us to fight.

Lou Engle, in a blog post at “Call 2 Fall” sums up the error in a post rife with 9/11 references:

And now something far worse than the twin towers is upon us and we are more than a day late in “Keeping Guard”. The twin pillars of righteousness and justice – the issue of life (abortion) and the definition of marriage, are experiencing an all out collapse far greater than the collapse of those twin towers. There is no alternative to be found. The building is crashing. There is no political help. No economic help. Only one remedy remains. We must hear The Call to Fall.

As I read through my Bible, I fail to find the passages that proclaim that the “twin pillars of righteousness and justice” are abortion and same-gender marriage. I’m not sure what Bible Engle reads, but it’s nowhere in mine. Instead, righteousness, if we are to believe Paul (in Romans 4) – is imputed to us through our faith – through that utter dependence upon God – and not by our actions. I can find nothing that references abortion as a “pillar of righteousness.”

Engle may be closer to the truth in associating same-gender marriage with justice, however, but not for the reasons he may claim. To the religious right, it is unjust to for the institution of marriage to conform to same-gender marriage – to accept it as a legitimate form of marriage. But, if we are to go by the Bible writer’s idea of justice – making room for same-gender marriage is exactly a matter of justice.

Justice, in ancient Hebrew terms, was not about punishing a wrong or taking vengeance, or meting out harsh punishment upon someone who has wronged us or society. Instead, justice is about taking care of those in need – making the outcast equal in society and improving their lot in life.

In a way I agree with Engle – America is not righteous and is unjust, but not in the way Engle believes. When he hits his knees on July 5, he’ll be praying for political victories over those who believe a woman should control her own body and those who believe that two people of the same gender who love each other should be allowed to enter legal contracts with their government.

While Engle and Perkins use the Bible to justify their day of prayer for victory over the evil abortionists and queers, they may want to check out Amos 5:21-24:

“I can’t stand your religious meetings.
I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice – oceans of it.
I want fairness – rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want. (The Message)

Certainly, as people of faith we should all fall down on our knees in prayer for the injustice in the world – but on July 5, I challenge all people of good will to get up off their knees and do what God wants – justice and fairness. Let that justice roll down like water.

America is not in trouble because it has allowed abortion or gays and lesbians to actually get married in some states. America is in trouble because it has neglected justice – it has neglected fairness. It acts unjustly to the poor, the needy, the outcast. Some religious organizations talk about the poor, they talk about hunger, they work with Congress to make policy about poverty and how to end it – but at the end of the day, people are still poor, still hungry, still outcast.

Mother Teresa was once invited to a hunger conference in Bombay. She got lost and arrived late for the meetings. On the steps of the convention facility she found a man dying of hunger. Instead of going to the conference, she took the man and fed him. Inside they continued to talk about the statistics of the dying and formulating their policies – while a man died on their front steps.

If we’re serious about making our world a better place, we’ll get up off our knees – not just on July 5, but every single day and find real and concrete ways to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and comfort the dying. Everything else is merely the clanging music of our noisy egos.