One of the sad realities of life for Christians in the U.S. over the past several decades is that Jerry Falwell (both father and son of the same name), James Dobson and Pat Robertson (pictured here) have come to represent the faith in the public square.
Each of them has said and done things that have simply appalled other Christians, who sometimes join the discussion to offer a different perspective but who are much more likely to be silent or be ignored.
One of the results is that many Americans imagine that all Christians think like the Falwells or Dobson or Robertson.
Jonathan Merritt, who writes about religion in several venues, is tired of all this, and so am I.
In this piece, Merritt suggests that the public would do well to see Robertson as "Christianity's crazy uncle" and that Robertson should quit and just be quiet: "He was once an influential televangelist and powerful leader of the religious right," Merritt writes, "but in recent years, he's used his 700 Club television show to spout extreme rhetoric, peddle bizarre prophecies, and fling insensitive comments. He has tarnished his reputation, diminished his influence, and embarrassed his fellow Christians. He needs to step down."
I've said this before, but it bears repeating. Part of the problem is that the state of religious journalism isn't good. General assignment reporters with little knowledge about matters of faith sometimes get assigned to cover some religious matter or other, and the result often is a shallow story that quotes some of the usual suspects, including Robertson, saying something daft.
Speaking of crazy uncles (and aunts), you can find some of those in politics, too. Sometimes they even run for president.
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A BETTER IDEA FOR HITLER'S BIRTHPLACE
Austria is considering what to do with the house in which Adolf Hitler was born. One option is to tear it down. Oh, no, no. Don't tear it down and begin to obliterate the memory of his evil man's origin. Rather, turn the house into something like a Holocaust museum or, better yet, the headquarters of a Jewish non-profit agency that works to, as the Jews say, repair the world. It needs lots of reparation at the moment.