Southern Politics

This little rant is in response to the Graham heir entering the lists on the side of the “birthers” and Muslim bashers. Though I personally think the latter springs from a lingering sense of resentment towards matriarchal muslin frocks.

Evangelist Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham / Photo by Paul M. Walsh

It used to be said that “those who can, do and those who can’t, teach” — a slur undoubtedly perpetrated by people whose ability to master the practical skills of reading, writing, measuring and calculating time and distance was deficient for the tasks at hand. A more accurate and up-to-date version of the observation would be “those who can, do and those who can’t, preach.” Not only is our society inundated with people making a living out of telling us how to get to heaven, but warnings about hellfire, both in the after-life and here on earth turn out to be reliable income-producing occupations.

Which explains, to a large extent, I would wager, the growing antagonism on the part of the ministers of EuroAmerican religions towards preachers from the Middle and Far East. They perceive them as competitors moving in on their turf, raking in dollars to build mosques instead of churches (tents are for revivals not permanence) and ashrams instead of bible camps. And then there’s new definition of competition as a struggle to the death, which has provided additional motivation for entering the lists.

Meanwhile, perhaps because of the example set by establishments of religion reaping such rich rewards from compliant congregations, politicians have increasingly adopted the manners and methods of religious preachers and subtly converted winning the hearts and minds of the electorate with a secular version of the old time religion. By substituting the sovereign nation for the supreme being, the almighty dollar for the material presence and the rule of law for spiritual guidance, the preachers of politics have stolen the playbook from the churches. It’s no wonder the Graham heir is jealous of the upstart Obama, especially when the latter deviates from delivering the threats of austerity and increasing deprivation the religious folk have been prognosticating to a sinful nation.

There was a good reason the Founding Fathers sought to set up a wall between church and state. It wouldn’t do for the promoters of punishment in the after-life to have the instruments of physical punishment at their disposal in the here and now. What was not anticipated was that the people could be convinced to elect punitive petty potentates to public office and let them squander the country’s resources and treasures in the name of a secular deity. Who could have known that our legislative bodies would become infested with the acolytes of hellfire missiles and the proponents of planned destruction here on earth?

The preachers of hellfire in the after-life can hardly compete. And, if they can’t compete, their income stream will likely dry up. An occasional prayer breakfast won’t make up for the loss of influence.

Not only are there too many middlemen. There’s way too many secular and religious preachermen.

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Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."