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  • LIFE IN FAYETTEVILLE

    Filed at 6:22 am under by dcobranchi

    No, it’s not another LttE. And it’s really not about Fayetteville. But it really is.

    MAPLEWOOD, Minn. — Like most pastors who lead thriving evangelical megachurches, the Rev. Gregory A. Boyd was asked frequently to give his blessing — and the church’s — to conservative political candidates and causes.

    The requests came from church members and visitors alike: Would he please announce a rally against gay marriage during services? Would he introduce a politician from the pulpit? Could members set up a table in the lobby promoting their anti-abortion work? Would the church distribute “voters’ guides” that all but endorsed Republican candidates? And with the country at war, please couldn’t the church hang an American flag in the sanctuary?

    The church we attended for a while here had one Christian flag and nine American flags in the sanctuary. Yeah, I’d say the message was a little confussed.

    “There is a lot of discontent brewing,” said Brian D. McLaren, the founding pastor at Cedar Ridge Community Church in Gaithersburg, Md., and a leader in the evangelical movement known as the “emerging church,” which is at the forefront of challenging the more politicized evangelical establishment.

    “More and more people are saying this has gone too far — the dominance of the evangelical identity by the religious right,” Mr. McLaren said. “You cannot say the word ‘Jesus’ in 2006 without having an awful lot of baggage going along with it. You can’t say the word ‘Christian,’ and you certainly can’t say the word ‘evangelical’ without it now raising connotations and a certain cringe factor in people.

    “Because people think, ‘Oh no, what is going to come next is homosexual bashing, or pro-war rhetoric, or complaining about ‘activist judges.’ ”

    And I’d add science bashing.

    In his six sermons, Mr. Boyd laid out a broad argument that the role of Christians was not to seek “power over” others — by controlling governments, passing legislation or fighting wars. Christians should instead seek to have “power under” others — “winning people’s hearts” by sacrificing for those in need, as Jesus did, Mr. Boyd said.

    “America wasn’t founded as a theocracy,” he said. “America was founded by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn’t bloody and barbaric. That’s why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state.

    Mike Farris– please take notes.

    8 Responses to “LIFE IN FAYETTEVILLE”


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    July 30th, 2006
    at 10:29 am

    steve4...ts.htm


    Comment by
    Jodi
    July 30th, 2006
    at 12:00 pm

    SNIP: That’s why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state.

    “separation of church and state” is NOT in the Constitution.


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    July 30th, 2006
    at 12:03 pm

    I beg to differ.

    Amendment I

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.


    Comment by
    sam
    July 30th, 2006
    at 12:14 pm

    SNIP
    “separation of church and state” is NOT in the Constitution.

    The Bible does not ever suggest that it’s teachings should be mandated by the state. So perhaps the Bible does suggest separation of church and state. Besides, historically, all theocracies have been bloody, deadly and evil. Maybe more christians should read the Bible and the Constitution instead of allowing others to tell them what these documents say. And just because the actual words “separation of church and state” don’t actually appear does not mean the concept doesn’t. The idea of separtion of church and state is certainly in the Constitution, but you have to read it to find it.

    Churches need to stay out of politics or lose their tax exempt status.


    Comment by
    JJ Ross
    July 30th, 2006
    at 1:32 pm

    To the issue of tax exemption for churches – I never saw justification for this, even if the church DOES somehow stay out of politics (which is nearly impossible these days anyway.)
    My therapist, friends, block parties and financial advisors are not tax-exempt, and neither are my kid’s private arts academy study and travel, nor their books, Internet service and most other education-information expenses.

    So if you take away all the politics, power-jockeying, influence peddling, education-indoctrination and even the beautiful art of a church — none of which is tax exempt in any other modern context — then what’s left? Direct charity – which is the only part that ought to be tax-emempt in the first place and doesn’t need any special “religious” exemption to do its good works.


    Comment by
    JJ Ross
    July 30th, 2006
    at 2:18 pm

    We have one of those out-of-control megachurches one reads about, taking over our residential neighborhood. It’s a conservative Methodist congregation competing for the “malignant exponential growth award” with a conservative Baptist church even closer to my house. Our personal property taxes in this neighborhood with only two children (who we don’t send to school anyway!) are nearly $5,000 per year and rising. Many families are struggling to stay in their own longterm homes, more each year, because of taxes. Meanwhile, these two megachurches have steadily built out FAR beyond their original zoning approval, blithely converted the rest of their grass and fields to unpaved parking for a thousand cars at a time several times per week (they can’t get the parking officially incrreased because it’s too much for a quiet neighboorhood church – so they just do it anyway) and now are buying up houses adjacent to their property and converting them for offices, schoolrooms and day care programs, a huge afterschool program and all day every day in summer etc.

    This church has plenty of money to appeal court decisions forever, if law-abiding, taxpaying families had the money to sue them in the first place, and its congregation intends to do just that if need be, to keep growing whether we want it here or not. Without having to pay taxes on the money coming in OR the money being invested, it uses its tight hierarchy to feeds like labor unions once did on do-good image, enthusiastic new recruits and momentum, exploiting a small and once-justifiable policy advantage into a rapidly snowballing form of greedy gobbling excess and social irresponsibility (and whatever happened to love thy neighbor??)

    There’s also an evangelical church in town (Heritage something or other) that recently bought an entire shopping center for cash – movie theatres, pool hall, photography studio, Chuckie Cheese, hair salons, you name it – and after the department store was converted as their giant church center including a state-of-the-art TV studio, sound system and performing theatre, now it’s the landlord for all those businesses, leasing the rest of the properties back as its investment portfolio to buy more properties, and do more good for me and my community I suppose.

    Like public schools and politicians, tax-exempt churches have through our own best intentions and childlike policy fictions, become overfavored institutions to the detriment of the same neighborhoods, nation and people they purport to love, serve and represent.

    Sorry Daryl, I guess it was a rant I had in me —


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    July 30th, 2006
    at 3:55 pm

    JJ,

    Tax exempt status doesn’t mean for everything. That church with the TV station will have to pay property tax and (business) income tax for the the portion of its portfolio not directly associated with its charitable mission. So, a church can provide space for an AA meeting (and maybe even receive a stipend to cover “expenses”) and the whole thing would be tax exempt. They can’t rent out the church kitchen for a profit-seeking pizza parlor.


    Comment by
    JJ Ross
    July 30th, 2006
    at 4:50 pm

    Well, yeah, a church’s favored tax status isn’t absolute. Nor is it insignificant.