Commentator Bob Beckel was saber-rattling several days ago when he made anti-Muslim comments on Fox’s “The Five.” The panel discussed the attack by Islamic militants who killed dozens in Kenya’s Westgate Mall. During the show, Beckel declared Islam is “not the religion of peace” and Muslims need to “stand up and say something.” Further quoting:
“I will repeat what I said before: No Muslim students coming here with visas. No more mosques being built here until you stand up and denounce what’s happened in the name of your prophet … The point is, that the time has come for Muslims in this country and other people in the world to stand up and be counted, and if you can’t, you’re cowards.”
After reflecting for several days, let’s expand upon Beckel’s statements. Contextually, I believe all religions should “… stand and denounce what’s happened in the name of your religion.” Here are my thoughts:
- The disgraced mega pastor Jack Schaap, from the First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, had kissed a minor during counseling, claimed Christ wanted the two to be together and had sex with the teen in his office.
- Pastor Eddie Long settled various sexual impropriety lawsuits out-of-court. Of course terms were not disclosed.
- Richmond Outreach Center founding pastor Geronimo “Pastor G” Aguilar resigned with three other pastors from the church amid an explosive sex scandal on June 5th. All resignations stemmed from Pastor G’s extradition to Texas in late May to face seven felony charges, including aggravated sexual assault of two sisters under the age of 14.
- Prosecutors dropped a simple battery charge against Creflo Dollar, pastor of mega church in Atlanta, Georgia, after completing an anger-management program for being accused of choking and hitting his teenage daughter.
- Robert Schuler and family basically financially crashed the Crystal Cathedral. Allegations of the founding family’s misappropriation of funds exacerbated in $50 million debt, causing the church’s bankruptcy.
- Marcus Lamb, a televangelist and founder of the Daystar television network, the Rev. Marcus Lamb, confessed he cheated on his wife Joni Lamb, who also led the network, in front of his television audience in 2010, saying he was coming clean in the face of a $7.5 million extortion attempt.
- In 1951, Dr. Hobart Freeman survived a heart attack at age 31. Freeman claimed, “… when genuine faith is present, it alone will be sufficient [to] take the place of medicines and other aids.” In his congregation, diabetics stopped taking insulin and mothers eschewed pre-and post-natal care. Prayer was used to try to bring loved ones back from the dead. Dead babies were laid next to live ones, in hopes the live babies would transmit life to the dead children. Eventually, Freeman was arrested.
- Catholic sex scandals – Sexual abuse by Catholic Priests were widespread, occurring in cities across the country, including Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Orange County, Palm Beach, Philadelphia and Portland, as well as in dioceses across Europe.
- The three companies that insure a majority of Protestant churches in America say they typically receive upward of 260 reports each year of young people under 18 being sexually abused by clergy, church staff, volunteers or congregation members. The figures offer a glimpse into what has long been an extremely difficult phenomenon to pin down — the frequency of sex abuse in Protestant congregations.
In reviewing the above stories, one can easily find several problems with Beckel’s approach. First, if we require denunciation of one’s religion, then we must denounce our faith as well. Christians are no more likely to stand up against their own as Buddhists, Muslims, Protestants, and Catholics or any other religion. In the case of Catholic Priests, it took years. Americans pretty much suck at that. However, we must not neglect to state American Muslims did denounce this Westgate Mall tragedy, as did Muslim leaders in Kenya. Secondly, commentators like Beckel tend to attribute the actions of one person(s) to an entire faith. Can an entire faith of Catholics be deemed bad because of some Priests? Aren’t we morally indignant if we judge all Muslims similarly? Third, Kenya’s Westgate Mall terrorists were clear the attack was revenge for the Kenyan government sending troops to fight them in Somalia.
All religions have their dark secrets. And in that sense, all religions are intertwined. When God entrusts his Church to men and women, that trust can be either be a blessing or curse. The vessels of God’s grace can misfire, become flawed, and fall short of the grace He intended. Truth told, for every scandal in a megachurch and for every Jihadist nutcase who commits a terrorist act, I know of countless others who operate in integrity and hold themselves accountable. That’s the virtue of seeing someone from a position of love versus stereotypes.
Don’t let the few cause you to place all in the same category.