November 15, 2007

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Bill McLellan, a columnist for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, wrote a column about Sen. Grassley wanting to investigate six "prosperity Gospel" types. I'll just say that I'm not a huge fan of Mr. McLellan but I think these paragraphs are right on:

But it isn't. According to a story in this newspaper a week ago, Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, has asked Meyer for documents detailing the finances of the Joyce Meyer Ministries, based in Fenton. He wants to know about clothing, cosmetic surgery, a $23,000 marble-topped commode, a $30,000 conference table and five pages of so on and so forth.

I could go item by item, but let's just take the first one — clothing. What business is that of the government? Do we want staffers from the Finance Committee poking around in Billy Graham's closet? Maybe they would find expensive Italian suits. So what? If preachers are required to wear cheap clothes, the Rev. Larry Rice would pass muster, but not many others, and certainly not any of those who espouse the "prosperity gospel." That's what Meyer preaches, that God showers blessings on those he favors.

And if you want to believe that, you can. It's not the role of the government to decide the theological validity of anybody's religious beliefs. Matters of faith are not stuff for a Senate committee to consider. Of course, the senator is arguing that financial matters are a little different. In a written statement, he claimed he has "an obligation to donors" to find out that the money is being spent as intended. No, he doesn't.

Basically what McLellan is arguing is that if you're stupid enough to give to the "prosperity Gospel" types, then that's your business and your loss. It's not up to the government to save you from your own stupidity. And that's absolutely right. There is a real inherent danger in governmental interference in religious matters. Suppose some feel that John Piper is too fundamentalist and that people shouldn't be subjected to that, then what?

You go down a slippery road because what's being investigated depends on who is in power. And while we may agree that those in the "health and wealth" camp are destroying people's souls and perverting the great Gospel of Jesus, we should leave justice and accounting for that perversion in the hands of Jesus and not in the Senate floor of Washington DC. What we end up cheering for today, might very well turn out to be the very thing that sends us underground in the future. Once government feels comfortable dictating religious matters, it is a slippery slope we walk.

The columnist ends with a great closing salvo:

I think not. Freedom of religion means, among other things, that matters of faith are not subject to government approval. A "prosperity gospel" that includes a $23,000 marble-topped commode for the preacher does not appeal to me, but maybe it does to you, and the U.S. Senate has no business saying it shouldn't

If you want the "money lovers" to not be able to live their lavish lifestyles, then the answer is to share the true and real Gospel as much as you can. Not look to the politicians to bring down their empire.

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