Saturday, December 10, 2005


After imbibing chili with church members we gathered in the den to chat. As one of the fellow guests got up to leave I saw black letters from his orange t-shirt glaring “Club Gitmo.”

I asked him where he got his shirt. Smiling, assuming I was admiring it, he said, “Rush Limbaugh’s website.”

It was one of those moments.

It’s been said if someone is saying or doing something evil, and you don’t respond you are implying agreement.

I pondered.
Can Christians really make light of Gitmo?
Can Christians really advertise for Rush?
Should I disrupt the Christian chili-klatsch with what might be considered “liberal hand-wringing”?
Am I exchanging social grace for complicity?

Ryan Bieler, a web editor for Sojourners, links readers to Rush Limbaugh's recent remarks in response to the capture of four members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams:

“…part of me that likes this. And some of you might say, "Rush, that's horrible. Peace activists taken hostage." Well, here's why I like it. I like any time a bunch of leftist feel-good hand-wringers are shown reality. So here we have these peace activists over there. I don't care if they're Christian or not. They're over there, and as peace activists, they've got one purpose. They're over there trying to stop the violence.”

Bieler comments, “His (Limbaugh’s) reference to reality is intriguing, coming in support of an administration now widely regarded as out of touch with the reality in Iraq. Promises that we would be greeted as liberators, that Iraq would pay for its own invasion with oil revenue, that we knew where the weapons of mass destruction were, that only a few troops would be needed - all evaporated in the face of a reality that the likes of Limbaugh can only imagine, while the men and women of the armed forces, CPT members, and the people of Iraq experience its horror on a daily basis.”

Frequently conservatives decry an appalling lack of outrage on the part of Muslims throughout the world to attacks on civilians. Beiler’s essay emphasizes that Muslim politicians and clerics have called for the release of these hostages.

As the Bush administration sends Bush confidante Karen Hughes to listen to the Muslim world to help the US mission to win hearts and minds, they recognize that military force and buying the Iraqi press isn’t going to be enough to make things right.

Is it possible that courageous Christians actively pursuing peace through non-violence might speak to the Muslim world?

Undoubtedly, lovers of Jesus concerned about genuine threats to America’s security from Muslim extremists have opposing views of how to deal with these vital concerns.

Yet regardless of how you think about policy, how can Christians embrace the commentator Rush Limbaugh who says he “likes it just a little when he sees them blindfolded with guns pointed to their heads”?

I have to wonder what it will take for Christians to distance themselves from this man and his form of entertainment. How can some Christians have the energy to fuss and fume over the president’s greeting cards saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” and yet not be screaming that Rush Limbaugh is a little gleeful over this kidnapping?

Several gatherings remain on the holiday horizon. Otherwise sweet church-going folks sporting or spewing Rush-isms may abound.

Is silence at a party complicity?

"It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it."
Martin Luther King, Jr.


Anonymous said...

You weren't silent. You asked. And I expect that your non-reply spoke volumes.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Bev. First off, Rush does not speak for all professing Christians, least of all me. To make him the focal point for rebuke is to assume that the caricature of faith associated with him is real and widespread. It is not. Further, I take exception to this comment by Bieler: " administration now widely regarded as out of touch with the reality in Iraq...". That statement is assumed to be true only if you rely on mainstream media for your information. I do not agree with it, and the evidence does not support it. Here is a sampling of good websites that provide useful information on the war in Iraq: (boots on the ground in Iraq) (now inactive, carried on by others)
What slogans people choose to wear on their t-shirts is of little consequence. How people behave does matter.

Matt Elliott said...

Wearing a slogan on a t-shirt IS a behavior, isn't it?

Beverly Choate Dowdy said...

Thanks for your comments, Terry.

I certainly do not think Rush speaks for all Christians. I should have qualified my statement with many Christians in conservative churches. It's been my experience that fairly often folks come to church with Rushisms and assume everyone is on board.

In regard to the perceptions of reality about the war, it is a matter of debate. I do read pretty widely, in fact I subscribe to the National Review.

What concerns me about the Rush at church issue is there is little room for a respectful discussion among intellectual and moral equals in the world of Rush's rhetoric.

I agree that behavior is of the greatest importance. I think that how and what we communicate is part of that conduct.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Bev, for your even-handed response. Perceptions about the war is truly a matter of debate, and it should be. The 'widely regarded' descriptor I highlighted earlier seemed to be an unqualified and misleading generalization, not healthy debate. Such rhetoric from either side only hinders progress, and getting caught up in refuting Rush rhetoric is only a distraction, in my view. Your call to respectful discussion and to regarding others as equals is right on target. My point on behavior needs clarification. I once knew a couple in a small Texas town who were card-carrying ultra-converatives in the world of faith. Despite what behavioral baggage might have come along with that, they were tireless caregivers to the widows in their town. Fish from the nearby lake, vegetables from their garden, or prescriptions from the drug store were routinely delivered. Wear whatever t-shirt you want, listen to whatever talk show on the radio. Taking care of the widows speaks louder.

Beverly Choate Dowdy said...

No argument that taking care of the widows and orphans trumps in the true religion category.

The other part...the unspotted from the world part may mean we could a take a Lipcombesque rejection of worldly political dealings. Just a thought.

In that light, did anyone read Philip Yancey's editorial in Christianity Today's recent issue? He discusses the impact of some of today' s political rhetoric on some of those Jesus came to seek and to save.

Lionel Shock said...

Hello Ms. Dowdy-
I read Yancey's article a while back, and lately, one question has been stuck in my mind. What good does it do to make our society a safe place for Christianity if, in the process, we make it so that Christianity is no longer a safe place for members of our society?

Bruce Castleberry said...

Hey Bev, it's Bruce Castleberry, aunt Bec told me you have a blog. Long time!

This topic is an example of "one size does not fit all." Rush may call himself a Christian, may actually be one, but his view of Christianity is surely way different from, say, Cindy Sheehan's or Bill Clinton's.

I'm hardly a "practicing Christian" if that means I don't go to church or always do the right thing. I think Christian behavior has gotten lost in the shuffle me, "Thou Shalt Not Kill" precludes the U.S. launching an offensive war against Iraq and killing countless innocent civilians. To some on the far right, Rush probably included, that makes me less of a Christian in their eyes, I'd guess. But to me, that would make me more of one.

Your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

I'm so thankful I've stumbled across your blog! In North Alabama, liberal and conservative churches of Christ applaud GWB and Rush. We've changed congregations several times, trying to find a home where GWB is not equal to God. There are churches on every corner, but almost impossible to find one that stays out of politics. They preach against abortion but are all for killing as long as it's Bush endorsed. It's taught in the pulpits that GWB is a man of God. Turns my stomach!