I grew up in Central Africa Republic and also in The Central African Empire. Same place. While many countries cope with governments that are too strong, this impoverished land has struggled to survive with governments that are too weak. Here is a fun, quick read on the land you probably do not know much about. 9 Questions about the Central African Republic you were probably too embarrassed to ask.
This is heart wrenching. Usually cult followers have more courage than their corrupt leaders. This man gave up his life savings and stood in front of the mocking crowds in anticipation of a vindication that never came. My heart breaks for him. Read about his long return home from Times Square:
I was told there’d be quake…
Fitzgerald stayed an hour or so in Times Sq. and then made the long slog back to Staten Island – with the media in tow.
“I’m very tired. I’ll be alright once I get home and have something to eat,” he told reporters on the southbound R train.
Asked if he had left anything in the fridge to eat, he smiled. “I did, I’ve got something.”
The 60-year-old spent the subway journey staring out the window at the darkness of the tunnel – perhaps wondering how he got it so wrong.
“I just don’t understand it,” he repeated. “I still believe in the word of the bible.”
At the Staten Island ferry terminal, the News bid farewell to Robert Fitzpatrick.
“I have all kinds of emotions… I’m just so surprised,” he said, tailing off.
Then he got into his Honda Accord and his “Judgement Day” bumper sticker faded into the Staten Island twilight. (source)
I think Christians ought to make Family Radio accountable. Refuse to listen to it.
I wrote a lengthy post about this after the Bin Laden assassination. My concern is more pastoral/theological and my ideology would be more conservative than this writer, but I think his criticism ought to be carefully acknowledged by American evangelicals. (Thanks to commenter Gerry Carlson for pointing this out).
Here’s a salient quote (among many).
What a Brookings Institution report termed “the happiness factor” occurs pretty much across the board. Brookings should have called the phenomenon the “ignorance-is-bliss” factor, which now may be the true meaning of American exceptionalism. Its current iteration comes in the form of self-esteem, which holds, as best as I can figure out, that how you feel is more important than how you perform. A consequence of this is that students in Singapore or Shanghai have almost no self-esteem. But they do, however, know their math. (Read the whole article).
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Some with a narrow agenda against IFB would have you think that the only people in the world that promote spanking with words like “whipping” and “beating” are the Independent Fundamental Baptists that were the focus of Elizabeth Vargas’ 20/20 last week. This is a stereotype that is unfair. I’ve made myself clear about spanking. I do not endorse the “whip you kid” rhetoric whether it comes from the right or the left. It’s naive, however, to think it’s only a white evangelical problem. Interestingly, I preached a message on the topic the Sunday prior to the ABC 20/20, having no idea that spanking was going to be discussed nationally a few days later as if IFB are the only champions of spanking. (more…)
I’m in a Starbucks waiting out a surgery for a dear church member so this is not going to be long or deep, but I’m reading off my iPhone all kinds of emphasis by people trying to defend the way Tina Anderson’s situation was handled by saying that it was “consensual”. This floors me. (more…)
Tonight Elizabeth Vargas from 20/20 will air an exposé of Independent Fundamental Baptist churches . From what little I’ve read, it doesn’t seem like she understands the word “independent,” but nonetheless I’m inclined to think that there is a systemic inclination to abuse and cover-up in these circles because of the unbiblical views of authority and autonomy in what is clearly a movement (or, in sociological terms, a “collective”) called Independent Fundamentalists. I am not exactly sure what to expect from Vargas, but having cut my teeth in the exact circles some of the exposed churches are from (and actually having been in and knowing people quite well who were in them), I can expect a circling of the wagons, we v. them isolation, and victim rhetoric as if they are being targeted by the bad, liberal media. Chuck Phelps will be deemed by some as a martyr and many will be more irate at the victims than at the atrocious malady of abuse that finds fertile ground in the sub-culture of fundamentalism.
But this exposure is not about being a Christ-follower. It is about — in the most charitable of analyses — a mishandled situation involving a child who was raped and publicly humiliated. At the very least, Phelps’ et. al. clumsy leadership is on display. And that by itself is fair, particularly because when leaders are that clumsy, people get hurt. Badly. And teachers, the Bible says, get the stricter judgment (James 3:1).
But, supposing Vargas is unfair? What if she drops the word “alleged” and flatly accuses all IFB across the board of abuse? What if she presents IFB pastors across the board as if they are all alike rapists? Some will say it’s a form of suffering.
Fine. It will be suffering. And so it should be. But it’s not suffering for what is right.
Peter said it plainly: “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler” (1 Peter 4:14-15). The word “meddler” (ἀλλοτριεπίσκοπος) can be translated in various ways, but one correct understanding of it is “infringing on the rights of others.” Bumbling something this serious is, at best, meddling. Everybody watching should start considering the lives of children and victims of abuse, their rights, with extreme caution and reverence. The “suffering” happening tonight is because leaders bumbled. And consequently meddled.
Make no mistake about it. Humans are rarely just. Something may be unjust and unfair. In fact, the men and churches involved may have to deal with some suffering. But it won’t be because they did good. It will be because they screwed up and promoted a system that makes victims, not offering meaningful and lasting healing to helpless children abused by sexual predators. They are not making news because they lived a quiet and peaceable life in Christ Jesus. They’re making news because they hurt children. Whether they were sincere or not is irrelevant. Whether they were conniving politicians conspiring to cover-up sin or bumbling klutzes who do not know how to think outside of the framework of their myopic groupthink, it does not matter. The suffering of public exposure does not make them martyrs. It makes them chastised saints.
And if they are chastised saints, it means that no saint ultimately escapes the pain of it. There are some graceless victims, I’m sure, who may feel that points are being scored against the “IFB cult.” True enough. But, ironically, they themselves become sectarian if they think that licks can be made on IFB people of God and not affect them. We’re all one body. In some sense, we’re all being chastised. Chastised saints, indeed. But there will be no martyrs tonight unless its the victims themselves who never signed up to be sexually assaulted in the first place.
Know the difference. And pray for all involved.