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Dateline: Oct 21, 2001
Rev. / Chaplain Kent L. Svendsen
Confessing Movement Conference Coordinator
Northern Illinois Conference
The United Methodist Church


 In order to be well informed concerning United Methodist concerns I am a subscriber to the United Methodist News Service. One of the latest offerings really caught my interest.

 UMNS #484-Commentary: We must pull back from our excesses

It was a reprint of a commentary that was written by Dean Synder who is the director of communication for the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference conference. The original article appeared in their newspaper called the UMConnection. For the complete article check the UMNS website. ( I have sent to both the UMNS and the UMConnection a somewhat smaller version of the following "Letter To The Editor".  Additional material is in italics.

UMNS #484

Dear Mr. Snyder,

I was very pleased that you commentary pointed out the reasons why Americans are looked on as "infidels" and that "If I were able to look at myself through the eyes of a deeply committed fundamentalist Muslim, I suppose it is true that my life might appear decadent and ungodly."

You made a good point in showing how we have become pampered and self-serving. The lists you made of our nations consumption of alcohol, drugs, and pornography disguised as entertainment spoke clearly of a national plague which we cannot clearly see because is has grown in intensity over the years as we have repeatedly lowered our standards of social morals in small increments. I was drawn more and more into agreement with your commentary by your mention of the "sacrilege in our art galleries and theatres", our high divorce rate, and children going unsupervised.  In fact you go on to mention just about every social ill that I could think of with but a few exceptions. And your right, we aren't praying enough and as a nation we have fallen away from our commitment to our Christian faith in many ways.

But then you went and said this: "Have we as a society gone too far? Is the disgust others are expressing about us totally unwarranted? Are they right to fear what appears to them to be gross American immorality? The irony is that the freedoms I value most also protect behavior that many religious people around the world find degrading and disgusting. The same freedom of religion that allows me to worship as a United Methodist also protects another's right to be irreligious or even sacrilegious. The same freedom of speech that protects the sermons we preach protects those who post sexually explicit materials on the Internet. The same freedom of the press that protects my conference newspaper, UMConnection, from government censorship also protects Hustler magazine.  I would not want it to be different...."

Excuse me!  Sir don't you realize that as Christians we are not isolated from our nation and will be judged by God accordingly.  We cannot use the "freedom excuse" to justify the fact that we have allowed our nation to become a cesspool of decadence and moral filth.  We do not have ultimate freedom to do anything we want to nor should we.  Part of carrying our cross is supposed to be rejecting the ways of this world and following the laws of God even if it brings us persecution and tribulation. As Christians we are called to be a light to the world, but rather than being that light we have chosen to give more and more room to the darkness of worldly sin. We are "tolerating our way to destruction".

So what is your solution to the problem, is it "turning from our wicked ways" (II Chronicles 7:14)?  No, you seem to reject that notion.  You see the answer only in "working for justice" without also taking on the responsibility of returning our nation to one in which we promote good morals and social values.  You finished with these words. "We need to hear anew Christ's call to take up our crosses and follow him."  If indeed we are to do that as a nation we will need to "go and sin no more".  I never knew Christ to run away and hide from social immorality and make excuses for it and we must not do so either.  He confronted it at every turn and was uncompromising in his stand against corruption.  If we continue to allow our nation to slide into deeper corruption and immorality we will indeed reap a bitter harvest.  What we have seen so far in terms of social damage to our society is only a preview of worse things to come. What we need to do is repent of our sins as a nation and take the actions we need to repair the damage that has been done.  You would have us believe that providing walls of protection for the people of our nation from the lusts of the flesh and our propensity towards evil is somehow a bad thing.

But after all, that's the politically correct thing to do isn't it.  We must tolerate anything and everything without taking any actions to oppose it. Have you ever stopped to realize that the very things you say we need to tolerate in the name of freedom are powerful motivating factors for those who wish to remove us from the face of the earth? They are also corrupting agents that are seducing and corrupting our nation, our youth, and even the church. But your attitude is one that has supporters within our denomination. I recently shared some of my concerns at a gathering of colleagues.  One response almost knocked me out of my chair.  "Well, its just going to happen anyway, so I guess there is nothing we can do about it."  I'll be real interested in hearing what Jesus Christ has to say when given that excuse. Just how will you explain it to him that you were "carrying your cross" yet you did nothing and even encouraged the acceptance of an attitude which allows moral decay to continue to spread like an unchecked plague throughout our nation.

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