Friday, February 01, 2008

Religion and Politics

I've always heard that you should never get into a discussion about religion or politics, and here I am, about to talk about both at the same time.

Pictured is the First Methodist Church of Little Rock. It is the church in which I was married in 1962. At that time, the church boasted over 3,000 members. I don't know what the membership is today.

My church attendance, growing up, was spotty, at best. I "attended" several different denominations, but I "belonged" to the Methodist Church. It wasn't until after I married that I became much more involved in church activities, and that was in Yellville, Arkansas. The Yellville Methodist church was very small, and the minister served two other, smaller churches as well. In earlier days, he might have been called a "Circuit Rider". Once a month, he would go to either Cedar Grove Methodist Church or Pleasant Ridge Methodist Church. When he was away, my hubby, D.J. often served as "Lay Minister" at the Yellville church.

D.J. was a popular lay minister in the area, invited to take his message to churches in Flippin, and Cotter, as well as the churches at Cedar Grove and Pleasant Ridge. All these churches were housed in very modest buildings and the members all knew each other well.

I always enjoyed going to church in Yellville and Cedar Grove, but the Pleasant Ridge church was my favorite. I don't think they had more than 30 members, but they all attended, every Sunday, whether they had a minister or not. On the days that D.J. and I went to Pleasant Ridge, they really put on a show. They only had a piano, a song leader and the congregation - no choir. But, my did they sing. That song leader got them all wound up with one uplifting hymn after another (all from a very old hymnal - I hadn't heard many of the hymns), and the more enthusiastic he got, the more he danced around, clapping his hands, high kicking and stomping his feet. It was in that tiny backwoods church, out in the middle of nowhere, that I felt most strongly the presence of God.

Since then, I have attended larger churches, not all Methodist, where I hardly knew anyone, and where their main goals seemed to be to build even larger buildings. And, as they grew larger, they grew colder. And, their priorities changed. They "needed" more and more money. They had to have more Sunday School rooms, padding on the pews, a new organ, more ornate choir robes, larger homes for the ministers - and the ministers had to have assistant ministers. And, church secretaries, and all kinds of committees. I could go on and on, but you get my drift.

Then, the ministers started getting into politics. They hid behind their bibles and their churches in order to satisfy their need to control every corner of everyone's life. Some of them couldn't be satisfied to see to the spiritual needs of their congregations. They saw a way to bring in more money than they had ever dreamed of, through television. They became the Jerry Fallwells, Pat Robertsons, Robert Schullers, etc., etc., starting with Billy Graham.

Now, we have a Baptist minister running for president, pushing his brand of religion and attempting to finish building the Theocracy that George W. Bush envisioned. If Mike Huckabee has his way, we will have a new Constitution, based on Bible teachings. HIS interpretation of the Bible, of course.

His campaign speeches are becoming more strident, and his real agenda is emerging. Keep watching. Keep listening. At some point, you'll realize that he isn't the one we want as our president.

You will, won't you?

14 comments:

DirkStar said...

I don't want the Huckster or Obama...

Eight years of religion ruling politics is enough!

I'm ready for some secular humanism...

patsy said...

the huskster belongs to that other party. nuff said!

Sister--Three said...

My namesake Granny Betty saw the preacher coming down the road. He asked her for a 'chicken for the Lord'. She said come back the next day and she would have it dressed and ready. When he returned...she said 'I have already given it to the Lord by way of that poor widow down the road and her house full of kids. I took them the chicken and dumplins
last eve'. I am cut from the same bolt as Granny. Watch out for the preacher. My husband's Great Uncle said when he heard one of his nephews was preaching...'I never wanted a thief in my family'.
teehee

Karen said...

I realize that I don't really want any of the available options.

Peggy said...

I loved this post! It is so evocative of how some things were better when they were smaller and poorer. I really like sister-three's comment too.

gawilli said...

Ah Betty, you are cut from the same cloth as me.

Nancy said...

Hi Betty,

I loved your description of the Pleasant Ridge church and the hymn singing that they did there.

I remember Tennessee Ernie Ford who told the story of how he wanted to make a recording of all the hymns.

He said he hired a group of professional singers to sing the hymns along with him but that the recording did not have the "sound" he wanted. So, he went to a little country church in Tennessee and sang with the regular choir there.

That recording of the hymns he had known in his childhood, sung with a country church choir had exactly the sound he was striving for and that record was very successful...

I still have a copy of that recording and play it all the time.

Annie said...

These days the mega churches are everywhere. I think of them as trying to be "community centers" where families and people can go and do their socializing with others they think have been pre-screened to be all right.

Do you think Huckabee wants the whole country to become one of these?

Chancy said...

Interesting post Betty. We here in Georgia vote tomorrow. I am not wild about any of the candidates but I will be voting for one of the Democrats.

Judith Shapiro said...

Super Tuesday is tomorrow. I hope you'll post again about the touchy subject of politics.

susan said...

I saw my first campaign sign today...I was shocked that in our blue state it was him. About half a mile later there was an Obama. And that's it.

I don't want him...Bush was bad enough...

oldmanlincoln said...

I am not sure bible thumping is a strong suit of George W. Bush. He has told over 900 lies so far and that puts him in a totally different category.

oldmanlincoln said...

Well, you were at the newer blog. The main one is brookvilledailyphoto blog. Then mybirdsblog.

But you can stop anywhere.

Nancy said...

Betty,

Hillary Clinton interrupted her speech tonight to extend sympathy to the people who were affected by the tornado in Arkansas today.

Hope it was not near you.

Let us know. We are thinking of you and hoping you are all right.