Normally the major media outlets pay not attention to what is said from pulpits on Sunday mornings. But last Sunday a North Carolina pastor made some absurd comments about locking up lesbians inside an electrified fenced area until they die out. This sort of excessive, and mean, rhetoric is not at all typical of Christian preaching. The media knows this, but nevertheless they have broadcast this far and wide as if to humiliate not just this one pastor, but conservative Christians everywhere. If a thoughtful preacher gets up on Sunday morning and delivers a persuasive case for some biblical idea no media outlet will give it a second glance. So what does this tell us?
It is not hard to find claims that biblical religion is under attack in America today. Whether one believes this or not depends upon how this attack is defined. If we think of it as an overt and obvious frontal assault, then most of the time we do not see it. God and Bible are frequently mentioned in public discourse and many times these references seem positive. But a deeper look suggests a serious tension. Biblical religion today, like ethics and morality in general, is acceptable so long as it is not treated as factual. Facts are for science, not religion and ethics. So goes the mantra. Religion is tolerated so long as it does not rise to a commitment higher than a hobby. So is that attitude an attack on religion? It certainly serves to undermine the influence of biblical religion in today’s society. The Bible sets forth its message as factual, not just opinion. It calls for a level of commitment that is higher than a hobby. The prophetic call was “Thus says the Lord.” Fence-sitting is not an option in the face of such a message.