When Preachers Sell Their Souls to Caesar
Browsing the Internet last week, I saw close to a hundred articles written by preachers, pastors, and churchian celebrities, condemning the Ferguson protests. Who knows how many more preachers used their Sunday morning hour to do the same. That’s what any preacher in America just loves to do: Verbally crack down on impersonal, private, powerless targets who have shown some kind of external behavior unacceptable by the legal norms of the day. It makes the preacher look formidable in the eyes of his listeners, it creates the impression that he indeed has something to say about culture, it makes him present himself as a militant opponent of destruction, chaos, and injustice . . . and of course, it keeps him safe, because there is no real threat that can come from the targets of his courageous denunciations.
This week, I can safely predict, not a single one of these preachers will cover the decision of a Staten Island Grand Jury to exonerate the murderous uniformed thug who ended the life of Eric Garner, a law-abiding father of six children. They just can’t; because in their position on the Ferguson events, they have already sold their souls to Caesar.
It could have been easy, of course, and Garner’s death could have been just another “Michael Brown incident” of a heroic policeman defending himself against a big black man, and therefore forced to kill him in broad daylight. But unfortunately, God’s providence intervened against the heroic policeman and sent to the scene a pesky private citizen, Ramsey Orta, who filmed the whole incident. Well, Orta will pay dearly for his insolence now, being framed by the same cops whom he filmed, and indicted on false charges by another Grand Jury.
But the cat is out of the bag, and Orta’s video shows very clearly that Garner was murdered in cold blood, with 5 or 6 more cops standing around him and just watching. And yet, the Grand Jury exonerated Pantaleo, the cops who murdered Garner. There is no way to call to call it “self-defence.” There’s no place for fairy tale infantile descriptions of “I was grabbed by Hulk Hogan, he was like a demon.”
And, worst of all, there’s no way to justify the decision of the Grand Jury in Staten Island. So the same preachers who courageously denounced the Ferguson riots, will now have to remain silent in the face of this flagrant injustice. What else can they do?
These preachers can’t criticize the Grand Jury decision. They already said about Ferguson that “the Grand Jury is a legitimate authority and every person should submit to authorities and honor their decision.” The problem is, how do you “honor” obvious injustice? And how do you preach it from the pulpit?
If they went into criticizing the Staten Island Grand Jury decision for its injustice, they would be caught in an uncomfortable situation, because none of them actually made the effort to examine the real proceedings around the Missouri Grand Jury decision. They may discover that the whole thing was a farce, with the Prosecutor deliberately doing everything to lose the case. They may also discover that the Democrat political machine in Missouri came to the cop’s defense. Too late for such discoveries, is it?
They can’t comment on the video itself. They have already said that “not all cops are bad,” and yet in the video, there are 6 or 7 cops surrounding Garner’s limp body – still handcuffed long time after he passed away – and not a single one of these cops seems to be concerned in any way, nor do we see them trying to save Garner from his murderer, nor apply any kind of life-saving techniques to try to revive him. Not a single good cop out of 7? And not a single good cop in the department to speak out against the use of chokehold, banned 20 years ago?
They can’t speak against government injustice in general, because they have no solution to it to give to their flocks. They have already built their doctrine of civil government on Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2, that, on the idea of complete, unquestionable obedience to the government as “God’s minister.” They can’t explain how in Garner’s case the government is “God’s minister” while brutally murdering a law-abiding man and then letting the murderer off the hook. Is that the kind of government God wants us to suffer passively, some of their listeners may ask, and is this how America was started?
An additional problem, if they speak, is that the promise of equipping the cops with body cameras won’t solve the problem until they actually get the body camera amazon. If so well documented murder was exonerated, why expect any other murder or police brutality be punished? And what solution do the pastors have to offer, except religious slogans like “We all need Jesus”?
And of course, very important, speaking against government injustice, especially when specific government agents and specific government crimes are concerned, is not as safe for a pastor as is speaking against a few nameless looters in a poor black neighborhood. I mean, the government can get you anywhere, right? The potential costs are too high, and not worth the trouble.
So they will have to remain silent. Because by their position on Ferguson, they sold their souls to Caesar. And once a preacher sells his soul to Caesar, it’s not easy to redeem it back.
Yes, yes, some of them may try to wiggle out of the situation by saying that God will bring judgment on a tyrannical, unjust government. Their problem is, God doesn’t judge a tyrannical government before He judges the religious leaders who have sold their souls to that government. Remember that Israel’s religious system was destroyed way before Rome’s tyrannical government was destroyed.
Which seems to be the only solution in our day. Unlike the colonists in the 1700s, Ferguson showed, as Staten Island will show this week, that we don’t have a black-robed regiment today; our preachers automatically side with the government, or remain silent in the face of obvious government injustice, preaching complete obedience or empty religious slogans instead. Because they have sold their souls to Caesar.
God have mercy on us.