Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Messing with God

Commentary by Pat Murphy


Pat Murphy

Genuine believers who abhor God's name being commandeered as a shill for con men and political schemers should be overjoyed with catastrophes of charlatans who've had it coming.

Were these fallen worthies targets of divine retribution? It sure seems like God smote folks who broke the 7th Commandment, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain."

Although it has received scant national attention, two crooks running the Baptist Foundation of Arizona were convicted by a Phoenix jury in July of fleecing 11,000 gullible religious investors out of $585 million. They each face 46 years in prison.

Then there's the darling of the religious right, baby-faced Ralph Reed, the oily architect of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition. Reed was thoroughly drubbed in the July primary for Georgia lieutenant governor.

Why didn't Reed's sham as a man of faith work with voters? Because like most gluttonous opportunists posing as godly, Reed was outed as a liar and imposter.

Even as he piously claimed special virtues, Republican Reed secretly was demanding several millions of dollars from convicted Washington Republican racketeer-lobbyist Jack Abramoff as payment for recruiting Christians to oppose Texas legislation that would've damaged an Abramoff gambling client.

Presbyterian Reed might've saved himself if he'd honored Chapter 15, Verse 6 of the Presbyterian Westminster Confession of Faith: "He that scandalizeth his brother, or the Church of Christ, ought to be willing, by a private or public confession and sorrow for his sin, to declare his repentance to those that are offended, who are thereupon to be reconciled to him, and in love to receive him."

Finally, the Florida Republican who handed George W. Bush the presidency in the disputed 2000 vote count, former secretary of state and now U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, faces calamity in her quest to be a U.S. Senator. Christians outraged by her cheap exploitation of religion may help march her trip into oblivion.

Harris steamed some Christians by declaring, "If you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin."

Republican activist and Christian Ruby Brooks, of Tampa Bay, bristled, saying Harris' comments "were offensive to me as a Christian and as a Republican."

Scraping bottom in the polls at 30 percent, her staff resigning and the national GOP pleading for her to drop out to avoid humiliating the party, Congresswoman Harris now sours people she's trying to impress with 11th hour holier-than-thou religious tripe.

Messing with God's name can be dangerous.

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