Response to a Columnist's Diatribe on Ministers' Comments About Terrorists' Attacks

Response to a Columnist's Diatribe on Ministers' Comments About Terrorists' Attacks!

Ms. Maryln Schwartz was more than slightly upset over remarks made by some well known persons of the cloth in reference to the terrorist attacks of September 11, and she devoted a column to venting her rage concluding that maybe these ministers aren't going to heaven! Her article appeared in the September 28th edition of The Derrick which is published in Oil City PA.

CR's response follows Ms. Schwartz' verbal nuke

Ministers Apologized, But They Didn't Seem Sorry

I have been hearing God quoted a lot these days. Sometimes it's confusing.

According to some of the things I heard on television last week, God is an ultraconservative who loves the New York Yankees and wants all good people to see "The Producers" on Broadway - but not feminists, gays, lesbians, people who are pro-choice, the ACLU and women who give their families take-out instead of home-made dinners. Because these aren't good people. In fact, they will never get to heaven.

I'm not trying to be flip or smart-alecky; what I am is angry. No, I'm furious.

Of all people, prominent ministers such as the Rev. Jerry Falwell, the Rev. Pat Robertson and the Rev. Franklin Graham are claiming God says some pretty awful, hurtful things.

Falwell, in the midst of the first terrible days of the terrorist attacks, said this was all because God took his shield away from America. Robertson was shown nodding his head in agreement. Well, where do you think God was putting his shield, fellows? With the terrorists and with Osama bin Laden? They seem to have been well-protected.

The ministers have since apologized for their statements. They said they were insensitive.

But they didn't seem to be sorry at all, just upset that they got caught making such hateful statements. Hundreds of thousands of people complained, and a presidential aide called Falwell to say that the president, too, thought the remarks were inappropriate.

Messages of hate are just that -- hate, The men didn't say they felt any differently about the people and things they blasted. Falwell said he would always fight "deviant" lifestyles. I don't like the man; I think he is a bigoted jerk who hides behind religion for his own political agenda. But this is America, and he has the right to think it. Just don't claim it is a message from God.

At a time when most Americans are standing together and being amazingly heroic and united -- blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, Muslims, Jews, Christians, homosexuals and heterosexuals -- attributing such statements to God is a slap in the face.

I heard one minister say on television that "we will go out and love sports again and God will take special care of the New York Yankees." He also said God would like it if people went to movies and to the theater so New York City can get its economy back together.

Get a grip. I want people to go on with their lives, too, but I would think that in these terrible times God has better things to do than public relations for sporting events.

Graham, son of Dr. Billy Graham, made a pretty awful statement, too. He said he felt terrible for all those people who died in the terrorist attacks who won't go to heaven because they haven't accepted Jesus as their personal savior.

What a thing for grieving friends and families to hear!

Mr. Graham, I'm sure you are a good Christian and believe this. But everyone does not think as you do.

A lot of people of other faiths probably think they have a fast track to heaven, a belief totally foreign to what you believe. But they would never be so ignorant and rude as to say so.

I talked to a lot of fairly religious people to see what they thought about these kinds of remarks.

"I am a devout Christian," says Ceila Dante, 35, "but I am horrified to hear these awful men. God can speak for himself. He doesn't need these idiots to misquote him."

But Paul Landry, 43, says he thinks organizations such as the ACLU are the devil's spawn. He says the Bible states such things clearly.

Forgive me. Maybe I skipped that part, but I don't remember the psalm about the ACLU.

And as for the Revs. Falwell, Robertson and Graham, they all say they believe in the Ten Commandments. Well, what about the one that says, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor"?

If I were these gentlemen, I'd worry. Maybe they are the ones who aren't going to heaven.

If you would like to respond to Ms. Schwartz you can write to her at:
Ms. Maryln Schwartz
c/o Dallas Morning News
Communications Center
Dallas TX 72265

And here is CR's reply:

Wednesday, October 03, 2001

Ms. Maryln Schwartz
Dallas Morning News

Dear Ms. Schwartz:

I am responding to your comments relative to Falwell, Robertson, and F. Graham as published in The Derrick in Oil City PA on September 28.

Among other things you note that the preachers claimed that "God says some pretty awful, hurtful things." After your initial outrage has diminished a bit, you then quote Ceila Dante who says, "…God can speak for himself. He doesn't need these idiots to misquote him."

So how about it? Why don't you follow that suggestion and devote a column or so to letting God speak for Himself? However, in order for this to be done, it will require much more than a cursory reading of His special revelation, the Holy Bible. Be reminded that it cannot be done in a few minutes, hours, or even days!

When God speaks and we are willing to listen, we are quickly confronted with His statements indicating that He intentionally acts and does certain things which can always be measured in terms of two types of results. These are blessings and calamities, the most notable example of the latter being the judgment of the flood at the time of Noah. God also indicates by what He says that He deals with us humans on a personal and individual level as well as on a collective level such as dealing with families, churches, religious and political leadership, communities, and nations.

It is also very clear that God at times permits some things to happen when human or Satanic powers choose to act in a destructive manner. This is due to the fact that we are created beings endowed with the awesome power to exercise our will and act in doing either good or evil.

However, most critical in human choices is how we respond to what God has said after He made His deliberate choice to become human 2,000 years ago in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Contrary to what many assume, and as you suggested to Franklin Graham that not all people "think as you do," spiritual experience is not a buffet affair where one can legitimately select some "ism" as though you are casually making a choice between beef, chicken, ham, potatoes, peas, or carrots with the options not mattering a bit as to what is selected or what is rejected. This is nothing more than the old "many paths to God" heresy which has been extremely popular with masses of people for some time.

Jesus Christ, God incarnate, made exclusive and radical claims regarding Himself, each of which begins with "I am…" Most of these are found in the Gospel of John. He also made four absolute demands upon us humans. These we must completely meet if we expect to find favorable acceptance with God and eventually enter His heaven. This is not my personal opinion or even that of Franklin Graham -- it is what Jesus Christ Himself said we must do or else we have no hope whatsoever in time or eternity! These statements begin with the word, "Except…" (or "Unless," depending on translation), and are found in the Gospels of John, Matthew, and Luke.

And it was Jesus Who commanded His followers to take the message about Him and His offer of salvation into all the world thus nullifying any other religious expression which fails or refuses to make Him the cornerstone, heart, and hope of its faith!

The remarks of Franklin Graham which you singled out for your own particular brand of judgment are really based on what Jesus Christ has spoken. It was Jesus Who explicitly taught that in Him alone is the source of forgiveness, peace, and the hope of a future paradise which defies human comprehension. He revealed and taught the reality of what lies in store for each human after death. There are two possible realms of eternal existence. These are Heaven and Hell. Which of these a person will experience is determined by whether that person has chosen to positively relate to Jesus Christ or has refused to have anything whatsoever to do with Him.

Reaction of the type you have expressed is not surprising in a culture such as ours in which the majority has chosen to reject what God clearly has to say about everything which has to do with our existence, responsibilities, and ultimate accountability to Jesus Christ as our Judge! This applies individually and collectively since God deals with us on an individual as well as a collective basis. The book of Revelation provides some rather shocking facts on this as human history races toward a climax.

It was the late C. S. Lewis who noted that either Jesus Christ was and is all that He claimed to be, or if He is not, then He should be considered equal to a lunatic who claims he's a poached egg!

Unfortunately the ranks of Christianity have been infiltrated by rogue theologians, pastors, teachers, and laity who consider themselves more authoritative than God Himself. This gang has among other things denied the deity of Christ, His miraculous works, His atonement for the sins of every member of the human race (including Osama bin Laden), His resurrection, and His promised return to earth as King of kings and Lord of lords. In addition, these apostates attempt to demote Jesus to a level comparable to the likes of Mohammed, Buddha, and other high profile religious personalities so that Christianity is merely one of many "religions" offered in much the same manner as a pancake house offering a variety of pancakes which appeals to every possible kind of appetite!

So will you do it? Do a reality check on what God has actually said -- both the positive (conditions for experiencing His love and blessings) and the negative (conditions for experiencing His chastisments, wrath, and judgments) and publish some of these in your column. They will prove to be far more controversial than your comments about F., R., and G. and your own speculations as to the voice of the Creator of the heavens and the earth!

I apologize for taking a rather large amount of space in this response. I also thank you for whatever bit of time you may be willing to give to its consideration before you pitch it into the waste can.

Oh, as detective Columbo would say, "There's just one more thing!" Does your judgment call come from the viewpoint of one who has NEVER at any time made any "ill timed" and/or "insensitive" statements, or from one who would concede in the presence of Falwell, Robertson, and F. Graham, "Gentlemen, I know what you are going through -- I too in the past have made some ill timed and insensitive comments publicly myself!"

Still contending (Jude 3 & 4)

Clayton D. Harriger, Pastor

CC: The Derrick, Oil City PA
Encl: Is the USA Going Down the Same Path as Samson?

For further reference:
Popular Deities of American Culture at
September 11, 2001 - Shades of Pearl Harbor! at
A National Rage Against Violence, BUT Not Always! at
United States Holocaust Gallery at

NOTE: For those who want to follow up on the issue of Jesus' unique claims and demands in His own words, go to The Way, The Truth, and The Life! - use reverse feature on browser to return here.

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