Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Preachers Shouldn't Think Things Like That... even though the rest of us do.

One of the big news items yesterday was that Pat Robertson endorsed assassinating Hugo Chavez. What seemed strangest to me about the whole controversy was that a lot of people said things like “that is a terrible thing for a reverend to think,” or “a preacher shouldn’t say things like that.”

Even though I think that sometimes the American government should engage in assassinations of especially bad foreigners, I can certainly understand why people might argue that endorsing assassination in general is bad. I can also understand some people arguing that specifically endorsing Chavez’s assassination is bad even if the practice is excusable for some other targets. What puzzles me is why it makes a difference what Pat Robertson’s occupation is? If it is wrong to endorse assassinations, then it is wrong for everyone regardless of their job. Morality should be the same regardless of whether someone is a preacher, or a blogger, or a computer programmer, or a carpenter.

Do these people who suggest that it is bad for a preacher to promote hard-nosed realpolitik solutions to our national security problems, like assassination, really think that religious leaders will be judged by a stricter standard than, say, national security advisors or technothriller writers? I suspect that they haven’t thought their statements through. When they suggest that a preacher should have a higher standard of goodness, I have to wonder if they really just want there to be a lower standard of evil for “normal people” like themselves so that they won’t have to work so hard at deciding between right and wrong. It would be nice if we could hire specialized religious leaders to be good for our whole society, and the rest of us could just relax and spend our weekends “raising hell” secure in the knowledge that our religious specialists are making up for it with their good thoughts and good deeds. Unfortunately, I don’t think life works that way.

Preachers. What can we say 'bout preachers. Maybe this?
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