Thursday, September 28, 2006

suffer the children

*Warning this post will make some people angry. If it does, good, that is what I am aiming for. Maybe if you get angry enough you will do something besides sit on your butt.

“What God the Father considers to be pure and genuine religion is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their suffering…”
-James 1:27

Have you ever seen the remains of a suicide bomber in the aftermath? If not, I suggest you look.

Why? Because they have a commitment beyond any church in the United States. And no, they are not all insane, not by a long shot. They believe wholeheartedly that they are doing God’s will and live it until death. If only religious groups in the United States had such faith.

Faith to reach out to hurting men, women, and children. NO, I am not talking about promises to “pray” for them and then doing nothing. I know this firsthand. I was homeless a long time ago. Yet I attended a church. I asked the pastor if he knew anyone that could help me find a job. His response? “We’ll keep you in prayer.”

There is enough of doing nothing already. Too often they insist on attending church or whatever they call their building far beyond insisting that they reach out to the children dying in the streets. One has to wonder how much attending might have to do with keeping money flowing.

Does my criticism make you angry? Too bad you aren’t that angry about child abuse.

I remember a pastor I knew once. He was a nice and well educated man. But in 1987 he was making over 30 thousand dollars a year as a pastor to the church. That is probably close to 40 thousand now in today’s terms. Yet firemen, police officers, and youth workers make far less and they are the ones who work to save the dying.

The Apostle Paul is said to have walked 20,000 miles throughout the Roman Empire telling people about his beliefs. There is no documentation stating that he ever asked for “donations”. Ever. What commitment. What real commitment. I doubt there would be too many these days that would be willing to sacrifice so much for their beliefs.

Except suicide bombers.

I live in a town that has a population of less than 30,000 people. There are numerous churches costing well over $100,000 to build. Some are close the million dollar range.

Yet there is not a single women’s shelter.

I worked with a woman who was being beaten by her live in boyfriend. Who also happened to be a minister. She wanted out but had no where to go. I contacted an organization in town that is supposed to help abused women. They would not help her. You know why? Because at the moment she called she was not being beaten. A few days had passed.

That pisses me off.

This woman had no place to go because of the pathetic excuse for a boyfriend / minister had long ago separated her from her friends and family. I wonder how much money he collected on Sunday mornings in the donation box. Probably enough to pay for bandages for that lady.

Religious groups talk about commitment. But most of the time that is all it is. They spend millions of dollars sending missionaries overseas while children are being tortured right in our streets.

Few of you have any idea the kind of torture some of these kids have endured. Most of you would not be able to sleep at night if you knew. But our commitment is to the collection plate and the building fund. Not to the very purpose that religious groups are supposed to address.

Let me enlighten you. Read this and remember it the next time you think you are doing “enough” by sitting in an air conditioned million dollar auditorium.

A father describes how he abused his son:

“I was putting a large Ziploc bag over his head and taping it around his neck with black duct tape and raping him to the point that he would turn blue, pass out. At that point I would rip the bag off his head, not for fear of hurting him, but for the excitement.
After seeing him pass out and ripping the bag off his head…I’d jump up on his chest and masturbate in his face and make him suck my penis…as he started to come back awake. While he was coughing and choking I would rape him in the mouth.”

• A man shot off a teenage girl’s arm for the sexual thrill it gave him.
• A rapist of 13 year old girls preferred to anally rape them on cement floors so it would hurt more.
• A father would use lit candles to cauterize the cuts he would inflict to his daughter’s vagina and around her nipples.
• A father who knew his 9 year old daughter was afraid of the dark would tie her to a tree in the woods and allow different rapists to come into the woods and rape her in the night.
Excerpted from Anna Salter’s book, Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists and Other Sex Offenders.

That is the tip of the iceberg. And what are we doing? Spending literally tens of thousands of dollars on carpeting in the church.

I know atheists who are more committed to saving these kids than any so called holy person. We are more interested in filling seats than filling the bellies of kids. More interested in fancy decorations than in building shelters for abused women.

I remember watching some charlatan on TV going on about people needed to send him money so that he could do God’s work. On his hand, a diamond ring that had to cost in excess of $100,000.

Another TV minister with millions of dollars worth of equipment to spread his message who spent some of the donation money on hookers.

Another TV minister who actually said that if he didn’t get a million dollars in donations, God would kill him. He got that million dollars too.

There is a religious channel that anyone with cable can tune into. In the background of that show, are gold seats, fancy backdrop images, and people sitting around in fine tailored suits. All of that costing thousands of dollars. While they ask for more money from people who can’t afford it and who are easily manipulated.

I remember attending a church on the last day the old pastor was going to be there. His sermon? Admonishing people for not tithing enough. For not contributing enough money to the “church.” Translation: he was leaving because he wasn’t making enough money.

An old school friend of mine is a revival preacher. His most recent sermon talked about people’s lack of commitment to come to church 2 hours a week and sit their backsides in a pew. It is a crying shame that more emphasis, or any emphasis, was placed on people getting out of those seats and reaching the children in our communities.

Some gangs actually have their members recite prayers. Sometimes there is god-like admiration of the gang leaders. Those gang leaders are certainly willing to go out into the communities and reap their own harvest. I also did a gang seminar at a church a few years back. Not 100 feet from the church was gang graffiti. Someone isn’t doing their job there. But the gangs certainly are.

Those in the religious community are often more appalled at sex on TV than the RAPE OF CHILDREN. They are certainly more willing to do something about the TV sex than rescue children.

"The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal and hasten the resurrection of the dead."
-William Lloyd Garrison

Apathy is often disguised as feel good religion. When the point of many of these religious beliefs is supposed to be just the opposite. Yet if I were to go into a religious institution with this message, I would be the one being crucified. That already happened to someone over 2,000 years ago. He went against the money making, power hungry, religious icons of the time. He showed rage only once, when he turned tables over outside a temple protesting the use of the temple as a means to make money. And he was crucified for that.

Now the churches that arose from those lessons, have forgotten them. They have become the very things that they were supposed to be against.

Sure there are some who are fully committed to doing what they are supposed to do. And to them I say, “thank-you”. But they are far fewer in number than those who are not.

We are more concerned about the feel good music in church, the so called correct translation of a bible, the numbers of attendees than we are about the widows and orphans in need of care. We should not only be ashamed…But sickened. Those who are so concerned about "the message", the feeling they get from "feeling" righteous, yet do nothing but go to pot luck suppers and run their mouths gossiping about people with no intention of getting dirty to help others...should just shut their mouths.

Murderous groups like al-Qaeda draw in millions of dollars a year to fund a war that is trying to kill you. But they are not buying carpeting, building fancy churches, or paying ministers ridiculous amounts of money to do what they are supposed to do. Jihadist groups blow themselves up to prove their commitment to their beliefs. Our religious groups blow up their wallets to prove their commitment to apathy.

And kids are the ones suffering for it.

"But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto Me: for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven."
(Matthew 19:14)