Oral Roberts died a couple of days ago and just as with the passing of Jerry Falwell, I say goodbye and good riddance. For some reason America has turned to these so called "men of faith" for moral guidance over the past century. From Father Coughlin spewing his anti-Semitic message over the radio in the twenties to today's kinder, gentler anti-gay speech from the likes of Rick Warren, Americans have looked to these people to reinforce their own bigoted views.
America is currently faced with a choice of being a nation that cares for its own or abandons those that it deems unacceptable to the proverbial wolves. Health care reform has been debated on this site and on many other sites ad infinitum, and yet we have yet to hear from those who are supposedly our moral compass. Where are the religious leaders standing up for the weak, the sick, the poor? Isn't that supposed to be at the point of the teachings of Jesus? Aren't those who benefit so handsomely from teaching the supposed word of God responsible for standing up for those among us who are unable to do it themselves. The 50 million uninsured in this country are probably among the least likely to vote. The poor and the sick don't spend their time trying to lobby Congress. They don't drop off checks for their representatives. They don't get invited to the White House to share their views on how to get the economy going. They are too busy trying to survive until tomorrow. They don't have the luxury of time.
Our so called religious leaders in this country should be spending their time looking after the concerns of the least among us. Instead they spend their time railing against gay marriage and comparing gay sex to bestiality. I guess they ask themselves, what would Jesus do, and decide that he would try to make as much money as he could while advancing a political agenda that excludes and stigmatizes millions of people. The tens of thousands of people who will die this year and the millions that have died since the health care reform debate was introduced over 50 years ago, all are screaming from the grave. Where are the religious leaders who are fighting for our cause? Where are the funding drives to help pressure Congress into passing some meaningful legislation? Why are the Mormons spending untold millions around the country to prevent consenting adults from showing their love for each other by having their union sanctioned by the state? Wouldn't that money be better spent on trying to help people get decent health care? Wouldn't that money be better spent trying to save a few of those tens of thousands that will die this year because they couldn't afford simple preventative care?
Televangelists tell their flock that they are preaching the word of God. They are put on earth just to do God's will. I can only hope that they are talking about the God of the Old Testament. You know the one, the mean, angry and vindictive God. The God who would make his most faithful followers sacrifice a son or suffer years of devastation to prove their loyalty. A God who would keep Moses from seeing the holy land because of a small transgression. I am fairly sure that God would come up with some new level of suffering for those who are now profiting in his name. When money becomes the goal of your supposed religious endeavor, then the only thing that you are worshiping is the almighty dollar.
I believe that there is nothing that can be preyed upon more by the unscrupulous among us than a persons faith. The promise of everlasting life is a powerful tool in the hands of those who would twist that belief for their own benefit. It's very clear why the most visible religious leaders have remained silent on this issue. They are protecting their money source. Taking a stand would cause some of those dollars to stop flowing and that is clearly unacceptable. However, by not taking a stand, they have thrown their hat in with those who prefer the status quo. They have taken a stand with those who would tell those uninsured who will die this year that they should have been born rich. They take a stand with those who tell the uninsured and under insured that they don't care if they have to chose between medicine and food. They take a stand with those who tell parents who cannot afford to take their children to the dentist that their children simply aren't worth the effort.
I suppose I've been hard on those who preach for profit. As a group they have done good things. They have helped many, but I am sure that the number of people killed or who have died in the name of religion outnumbers the number of people who have been helped. So as our "religious leaders" sit this one out, I personally long for the day that faith is no longer has a dollar sign on it. I long for the day when people can observe whatever religious practices they would like without having to pay for the privilege. I long for the day when faith is a personal and private choice. Perhaps then we could do away with these supposed moral leaders whose priority is to live as comfortable a life as possible. Perhaps then our country will live up to the words of the Declaration of Independence. I believe that we are a compassionate and caring people, and left to our own devices, we as a people would do the right thing. We don't need to be led down a path by someone whose morals we use as a substitute for our own.