Conservative Christian leaders are plotting against President Obama, hoping to do to him what they did to President Jimmy Carter: use their moral authority and organizations to remove a fellow Christian from the White House.
James Robison “bathed the gathering in God-talk, instead of speaking forthrightly about the meeting's purpose,” Parham observes. (Obama photo: Pete Souza, White House; inset photo: JamesRobison.org)
They have every constitutional right to oppose his policies. They have every right to continue their three-decade alignment with the Republican Party.
But they ought to do so with moral integrity.
According to Brian Kaylor's exclusive news report, some 40 conservative Christian leaders met in early September near the Dallas-Fort Worth airport to keep Obama from being re-elected.
Their plotting discloses a lack of moral integrity. Rather than being honest, the group met under the pretense of a prayer meeting.
James Robison, a key host of the gathering, claimed God had laid on his heart the need to call Christian leaders together "to pray for a spiritual awakening."
For those with short memories or little familiarity, Christian conservatives have long used the language of a prayer meeting as a euphemism for a political rally. The claim of godliness is employed to cover up plans that are godless, plans that hide the truth.
Robison bathed the gathering in God-talk, instead of speaking forthrightly about the meeting's purpose.
That is nothing more than deception, and deception is never a sign of moral integrity. Deception is always evidence of moral corruption.
Secrecy underscores the meeting's real agenda. It is highly unlikely that 40 conservative Christian leaders would fly to Dallas for an authentic prayer meeting. If they had, they would have issued a press release. They would have proclaimed through their shows, blogs and statements that they were praying for spiritual revival. They would have announced a solemn assembly for repentance and renewal. For like the hypocrites in Jesus' sermon, conservative Christians broadcast their spirituality to be seen by others (Matthew 6:5-6).
Kaylor asked about a dozen participants for statements on the meeting. Some of their administrative assistants promised responses. None was supplied.
That fact illustrates the nature of the meeting. Why would participants be so unwilling to speak on the record, especially given the self-promoting personality of most of the attendees?
Is it because the nature of the meeting was political plotting, not spiritual praying, something about which they don't want the public to know?
And the meeting's deception was joined by the perception at it.
Regrettably, these conservative Christian leaders see the nation's crisis as good versus evil. They don't see good people disagreeing with one another or a disagreement about public policy. They see themselves as righteous ones opposed to evil ones.
One speaker told the group they needed "to take back what the devil has stolen."
Because so many conservative Christian leaders have failed to redress the widespread demonization of President Obama as "the Joker," the Nazi, the Muslim, the illegitimate president allegedly born in a foreign country, one suspects that the reference at the meeting to the devil was a code word for Obama.
And given all the hateful charges that Obama is a socialist and socialism is a thief, to what exactly was the speaker referring as having been stolen?
What is crystal clear is that such language and Robison's comments represent a crusading theology. Those with a crusade ethic believe so self-righteously in their cause that any wrongful means justifies the ends of the righteous.
Instead of meeting to plot against Obama's re-election, these conservative Christian leaders should have taken the biblical witness more seriously.
There one finds models for how prophets addressed publicly the powerful. Moses publicly challenged pharaoh. The prophet Nathan spoke directly in a parable to King David. Elijah spoke to King Ahab. John the Baptist instructed tax collectors and Roman soldiers about rightful public policy. Jesus called Herod a "fox" and told religious leaders to discern the difference between loyalty to God and the just obligation to the state.
Where, pray tell, does the biblical witness advocate for religious leaders to plot against a political leader as a normative moral model?
Besides, conservative Christian leaders always cite Romans 13:1 to justify obedience to the government: "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority expect from God."
About the only way they can rationalize their secret plot against Obama is to argue that he is evil and not a just governing authority.
Their plotting poses a profound challenge to goodwill Christian leaders. Will nonpartisan clergy challenge the spiritual and moral deception of the plotting clergy? Will social justice preachers organize a counter effort? Are we about to witness a blockbuster brawl within Christianity?
Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics.