Doug Seaton - The Ohio Star
by Steve Timmer
May 19, 2020, 4:00 PM

Turning Christianity on its head

Comes now to the court, Doug Seaton,
About something, he’s always a’bleatin’.
    Here it’s about a big church,
    He says, “Left in the lurch,”
But it’s cash in the pews, not freedom.

“The First Amendment’s at stake! Doug bellows,”
But it’s curiously true of such fellows,
    That beneath the malarkey,
    The goal’s just anarchy,
Let churches be festering hellholes.

According to right-wing attorney Doug Seaton, the faithful ought to be able to gather in large numbers and breathe on each other in a pandemic. It’s a charming conceit, I suppose, and perhaps personal martyrdom ought always be permitted.

So let the adherents at Living Word Christian Center congregate for corona kool-aid communion. But then, don’t let them go home, or to work, or go shopping, or hang around an unsuspecting public.

In a sign of truly Christian compassion for the rest of us, perhaps attendees of Living Word meetings would agree to wear a sign advertising their increased likelihood of infection and cry out, “Unclean!” when they approach anybody.

Seems fair.

We have some evidence that getting together in a church group setting in the current environment is not such a good idea. In fact, clergy members in Albany, Georgia, a community hard hit by the virus that spread through churches, have united to tell people to stay home and aren’t resuming services. Albany’s a cautionary tale.

In an article entitled Churches obsessed with their right to reopen are missing the point, pastor Peter Marty writes:

Polls indicate significant respect among believers for the coronavirus’s ability to quickly undo personal and communal health.

Among some conservative Christians, however, the move to reopen churches has taken on the shape of an aggressive campaign. It’s a campaign involving more politics than religion, more culture-war-wedge issue than substantive faith. It’s directed specifically at state government officials hesitant to hastily relax social distancing guidelines. Numerous churches have filed lawsuits claiming that a ban on religious gatherings is a violation of the free exercise clause in the First Amendment. The act of filing a lawsuit for the sake of claiming governmental hostility to religion happens to play well among those who like to promote the idea that Christians are a persecuted and victimized people.

Amen to that, Pastor. He continues:

What’s motivating this willingness to put the lives of church members at risk in order to assert First Amendment rights? I don’t think it has anything to do with an honest conviction that various governors can’t stand religion. It has everything to do with an obsession over rights.

He asks a question:

If I’m just receiving what’s my rightful due, why would I ever need to express gratitude? What’s the point of looking outward toward others if I’m chiefly responsible for looking inward and securing the personal rights that are mine?

Doug Seaton and the Living Word Christian Center turn Christianity on its head.

Update 7/9/20: It turns out the “get together and hug each other at church” approach is not working so well, according to a story in the New York Times.


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