by Elizabeth T. Andrews
American Reporter Correspondent
November 18, 2007
TWO OF A KIND
CARTERSVILLE, Ga. -- My grandmother would have said "The pot is calling the kettle black." My mother would have sighed and said "There's something rotten in Denmark."
And today I am left to say that the current investigation by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), into the finances of six tv evangelists is like the vulture calling the hawk a vicious predator, and there definitely is much that is rotten in Washington, D.C. and in the huge god-buildings that worship the Almighty Buck.
Let the record show that although I know a few Donna Quixote columnists who love writing lines like "Off with their f--king heads!" I am not one of them. I truly do not know how to present very unpleasant truths pleasantly. And, no, my name is not Polly Anna. My sometimes painful position as a columnist is frequently haunted by the poet who continually cries, "Let's just all go down to the corner and get an ice-cream cone."
In my research on Sen. Grassley, I was bombarded with his lengthy investigations of everything from the slime trail a snail leaves to the Smithsonian Institution.
My coffee grew cold and my eyes crossed from reading all the grand things Sen. Grassley has done for the folks back in Iowa. It would take a Boy Scout's little red wagon to carry around all the Grassley awards. Strange, isn't it, how raping working Americans results in awards.
Grassley's allegation against the six evangelists unlucky enough to fall under his for-ferreting-out-vermin microscope reads like this: A concern that the churches' governing boards aren't independent, and that they allow generous salaries and amenities such as housing allowance, private jets and a Rolls-Royce.
If that last part sounds very familiar to you it's from the political primer, Washington Politics 101: I am God and I get to investigate whom I please in order to justify my existence, my own ridiculous, huge salary, and all the other taxpayer-paid goodies that make my life so delicious.
Find me a senator in Washington who takes a bus to work, lives in a $30,000 house or rides in the coach section of a commercial airplane, and I will stop claiming to be the Virgin Mary.
I hope I haven't implied that the above "bus to work" statement applies to any of the tv evangelists on Grassely's hit list. It doesn't. None of them are as poor as their church mice, and as far as I know none have adopted unwanted children, built shelters for the homeless, nor have they taken a private jet full of medicine, warm blankets and food to a village in Africa.
The difference between these two bunches of self-serving, fast-talking, rich "public servants" and "servants of God" is that Grassley is part of a bunch that forces us to be our brother's keeper, and the evangelists keep bringing in the sheaves by shouting "God speaks to you through me! He expects you to keep me in a small mansion and God will reserve one for you later."
The first is forced taxation; the second, the rape of the true believers.
In my neighborhood there are several church buildings that cost in excess of a million dollars. I'm often tempted to do a solitary protest in front of one of those building on a Sunday morning with a sign that would read: Many mansions are supposed to come later ... after the feeding of the hungry, the hugging of the sick, and the shelter for the homeless who roam the streets at night in downtown Atlanta ... and every other large city in America.
Christianity, if practiced by the admonitions of the Gentle Jew, is a kissing cousin of socialism, a form of government that forces working people to provide unearned salaries for the vultures at the top. These vultures give back to the states just enough alms to ensure the votes necessary to keep them in the hot tub to which they have become accustomed.
The difference between Christianity as filtered through tv evangelism and big government lies in free-will versus force. Government forces. Rich evangelists manipulate the will of their parishioners. They do it by guilt, or by charming the gullible into "Prosperity is God's stamp of success! I'll be first! Never mind about that stupid camel going through the eye of that stupid needle! Ten dollars out of your Social Security check is not gonna kill you! Heal! ... and open your checkbooks. My teen-age daughter needs a new car."
Do I think "rich" is a sin?
In the first place, I don't run around defining sin for other people and, secondly, I am a Libertarian ... an avid defender of free enterprise and a dedicated despiser of big government.
If you choose to call "rich" a sin I would throw in: It depends on how you get rich. If you pick the pockets of the trusting, or cut a bigger slice of working people's pie, may the hounds of hell haunt you. If you've worked hard, built your own business, paid off your little mansion and bought a bigger one, more power to you.
I personally don't do the money waltz anymore, but that is my choice. Money itself is not evil and it is truly what makes the world go 'round. It also brings out the ordained wolves in mink clothing, and the vultures who circle over the heads of working people, looking for a crust of bread that hasn't been taxed yet.
Big government and big religion are both exploiters of the very people who make their self-serving schemes possible. The proof of their plum pudding lies in the fact that gullible good people keep coming back to the altars of godless evangelists, and most overworked taxpayers still hope big government is a compassionate Big Daddy who will be bringing a lollipop truck to town any day now.
I am, however, comforted by something a wise person once said: "You can fool some of the people some of the time and all of the people part of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time." To which I would add: Exploiters can't exploit without subjects who allow the exploiting. Until we examine the "why" of the allowing, big government will get bigger and velvet-robed evangelists will grow fatter on the fruits from the labor of the good people who want so badly to believe the exploiters are all god-blessed and divinely sanctioned.
AR Correspondent Elizabeth T. Andrews is based in Cartersville, Ga. Her Website features her columns and poetry. Write her at email@example.com, or at P.O. Box 816, Cartersville, GA 30120.