Thursday, May 31, 2012

Where the hell did "Jesus Loves Me" go?

Well, there have been several more gotcha moments this week in the latest-in-Christian-love series. The series involves damnfool self-proclaimed Christians who get up in front of a bunch of folks and say or do damnfool things which are duly recorded, sent forth on the Internet and take on lives of their own.

First up was the Rev. Curtis Knapp, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca, Kansas, who sent out an audio clip of his Sunday sermon calling for the government to kill LGBT people.

They, Knapp preached, "should be put to death; that's what happened in Israel, that's why homosexuality wouldn't have grown in Israel. It tends to limit conversions, it tends to limit people coming out of the closet. Oh, so you're saying we should go out and start killing them? No, I'm saying the government should. They won't, but they should." And so on.

So much for the concept of limited government. I'm assuming this is what bringing America back to God entails in the mind of the Rev. Mr. Knapp.  If interested, you can find the audio clip or a transcript thereof online yourself.

Another favorite of the week --- the cell phone video of two little boys (age 4 at the most) standing at the front of Apostolic Truth Tabernacle at Greensburg, Indiana, as the Rev. Jeff Stangl looks on, singing what apparently is a new Sunday school ditty, "Ain't No Homo Gonna Make it to Heaven." Here are the lyrics:

I know the Bible's right, somebody's wrong.
I know the Bible's right, somebody's wrong.
Romans one and twenty-seven.
Ain't no homo gonna make it to heaven.

The kids got a standing ovation and a high five or two upon leaving the stage. Again, video clips remain online.

Now in the first place, this is just plain bad theology. No homos in heaven? Seriously? Who the heck do you think is going to be doing the hair of all those Baptist ladies after they've been raptured up? And what about that residual shag carpeting in Glory's Methodist wing? The decorators are coming in any day and you don't seriously think they're straight do you? I know, I know, that's stereotyping --- sorry.

But as you get older, some of the elements of the past seem better --- and I've been waxing sentimental after hearing "No Homos" about the Sunday school songs popular back in the day, little melodies that still chase themselves around in my head some days. Like:

Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong.
They are weak, but He is strong.

Or how about this one --- a retelling of the Luke 19 story about Jesus's interest in sharing lunch with a dimunitive sinner:

Zacchaeus was a wee little man,
And a wee little man was he.
He climbed up in a sycamore tree,
For the Lord he wanted to see.
And as the Savior passed that way,
He looked up in that tree,
and he said, "Zacchaeus, you come down!"
For I'm going to your house today.
For I'm going to your house today.

Or, finally, a personal favorite:

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
All are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

OK, so I'm living in the past. Sunday school now isn't like what Sunday school was then. It's just that when compared to these old-time favorites, I'm going to have trouble whistling "No Homos in Heaven."

Addendum: Light-heartedness aside, Greensburg, Indiana, where "No Homos in Heaven" premiered, also was where Billy Lucas, perceived to be gay, was bullied, then killed himself during September 2010 --- inspiring Dan Savage to begin the "It Gets Better" project. Here is Savage's response to the latest: "The Apostolic Truth Tabernacle is in Greensburg, Indiana. That's the town where Billy Lucas was bullied to death for being perceived to be gay by his classmates. I wonder if they stood up and cheered at Apostolic Truth Tabernacle when Lucas died — hey, another homo in hell. I wonder if any of Lucas's tormenters attend services at Apostolic Truth Tabernacle. And remember: I'm an anti-Christian bully for pointing out the connection between what straight kids are taught about 'homos' in the shithole mega-churches they're dragged to by their parents and what they turn around and do to 'homos' they encounter in classrooms. And what if that precocious little four-year-old singer is gay? Praise the Lord and pass the barf bags."

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