26 JUN 10: Guilty As Charged?
(BLOGGER'S NOTE: You may find the following item humorous, serious, or a little of both - but we offer these thoughts from time to time, as we keep a seventh-day Sabbath.)
It may shock some people, but a sad truth is becoming clear in Columbus. No one in city government is perfect. The problem is that people are accusing each other of the imperfections. No one holding public office is daring to admit to errors themselves -- or at least their attorneys haven't recommended it yet.
It's one thing when public servants or attorneys point fingers of blame. But it's unusual when religious leaders do it - especially when they do it directly toward each other. Some pastors are satisfied simply to point at a TV camera during a sermon, and assume all the bad pastors TiVo the good ones.
A curious example of religious finger-pointing came to my attention this week. The leader of a small Christian ministry with an office in Alabama e-mailed the four finalists for President of another church association - basically telling them they need to repent. If this man also has e-mailed the Pope and Iranian ayatollahs, he has yet to announce it.
The two groups came out of the same religious movement, which gained fame on TV and radio for the "World Tomorrow" program years ago. Bill Glover of Living God Ministries claims leaders of the United Church of God are off-base, because they organized a spin-off group through a "rebellion." It's apparently better to wait for a bad boss to fire you, so you can take the unemployment checks....
A series of e-mails from Bill Glover is filled with juicy nuggets of gossip. One religious blog highlighted his claims of sexual seduction among church leaders long deceased, and attempts to buy the silence of someone who knew the truth. If you didn't know better, you might think you're reading the National Enquirer's coverage of Al Gore.
But what struck me more about the e-mails is how Bill Glover challenges the potential church presidents, with nothing short of name-calling. He describes them as "paranoid," and says association ministers use church deacons as "goon squads." When the usher passes the offering basket down your row, he might be paying more attention than you realize.
Bill Glover's e-mails include an amazing dare. He wants United Church of God leaders to meet him personally, for a prayer for God "to powerfully show who is representing Him and His way of doing things." The next time a sinkhole opens in downtown Columbus, it might not be due to old sewer lines after all.
Bill Glover admits he's trying to be like the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, to show the leaders of this other church association their sins. But this approach admittedly appalls me - because in the New Testament, Jesus talks about removing a plank from your own eye before pointing out specks in other people's eyes. Glover seems more ready to use his plank like a two-by-four.
If Bill Glover was accusing church ministers of egregious sins along the lines of Jimmy Swaggart in the 1980s, I might understand it. But he's accusing these leaders of preaching a false gospel or having a wrong form of government. Baptists and United Methodists might exchange trash talk about that on the softball diamond, but otherwise....
I see a lesson from this e-mail assault for everyone involved in the "Rec-Gate" controversy. Are local public officials and attorneys too quick to find fault with each other? Shouldn't we know better than to jump to conclusions? After all, impulsive foul calls almost eliminated the U.S. soccer team from the World Cup.
SCHEDULED SUNDAY: Why did something powerful in Columbus suddenly go out of business? We're trying to get some answers....
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