A rip, not a fray

And the rip is right down the middle of our social fabric

Issue: "The fall(en) TV season," Sept. 18, 1999

The squabble goes on-as noisily as might be expected. Ever since last spring when columnist Cal Thomas and pastor Ed Dobson launched their critique of the religious right in their book Blinded by Might, major players from several perspectives have jumped into the fray. WORLD itself published a symposium of experts on the book's main thesis (May 15), and included two columns in this space (May 29 and July 17) modestly agreeing with the Thomas-Dobson warning against letting the institutional church get overly involved with electoral politics. I still think that warning is needed by many. The institutional church (and it's important here to distinguish between that church and the people who are its members) needs to watch its step when it's tempted to cozy up to any political structure or to act as if salvation rests ultimately with political power. But an outrageous 15-minute program on our local "public" radio station this past weekend also reminded me how dark and conniving are the forces that want to overtake our culture-and therefore how absolutely right and important it is that individual Christians band together in structures just outside the church's door to oppose such evil with all the vigor at their disposal. The program, produced by Public Radio International and carried by hundreds of National Public Radio stations, was a snide account by Dan Savage, a self-proclaimed homosexual activist and "sex counselor." When not advising people about their erotic wanderings, Mr. Savage apparently makes it his specialty to fake his way into Republican Party meetings in different parts of the country with the express purpose of weakening Republican candidates so that they are more susceptible to defeat by the Democrats. That's not a suspicion on my part; Mr. Savage said exactly that several times during the program. (You can listen to the program with Real Audio over the Internet: www.thislife.org). At one level, Mr. Savage seems altogether self-consumed. He recounts for his radio listeners, with a smirk, his first Republican precinct meeting. Both the opening prayer and the pledge to the flag were symbols to him of the juvenile nature of the proceedings. But the flag couldn't immediately be found that evening, so Mr. Savage was tempted, he said, to suggest to the group a "pledge to the fag" instead. That, of course, was sophisticated and grown-up humor-worthy of broadcast all across the country. It was also the tone of the whole program. At the recent Republican straw poll in Ames, Iowa, Mr. Savage lacked the identification as an Iowan he needed to vote. So he tells how he went to a student mail facility nearby, stole a letter from the box, and successfully used it as ID to get his credentials. Yes, he succeeds in making the straw vote process look pretty silly. But its silliness is nothing compared to his own sickness. Yet, Mr. Savage's personal sickness is itself nothing compared to that of a radio producer and a national network that not only air such destructive drivel, but brag about doing so. Both before and after the program itself, I heard brief promotional spots on the NPR station, trying to make sure I wouldn't miss the program. And since this pitiful material was coming to me by way of my local NPR station, I was, of course, also footing part of the bill through my federal taxes. So am I making too much of a tiny 15-minute program tucked away in the early afternoon schedule of a small station's Saturday programming? I think not-for these reasons: Symbolized in short order by that little program was the fact that our culture is not any longer just a little frayed at the corners. Its fabric is instead being ripped viciously right down the middle. Here was no honorable debate about legitimate public issues-including those over which conservatives and liberals, or Christians and non-Christians, might understandably disagree. Here instead was a blatant announcement that the homosexual agenda will be imposed on all of society, that rank dishonesty is a legitimate and even funny ploy in trying to shape public opinion, that it's fine to break the law and then brag about it, that co-opting a public facility is an acceptable tactic in achieving all these goals, and that a major corporation (in this case Amazon.com) will consider it's just fine to be a commercial sponsor of such rubbish. I've listened to, and been edified by, Cal Thomas's and Ed Dobson's warnings about being blinded by might. But 15 minutes of public radio doesn't leave me feeling very mighty, or susceptible to the temptations of political power. The walls of the city are collapsing-and the big problem isn't that God's people are blowing their trumpets too loudly.

We see you’ve been enjoying the content on our exclusive member website. Ready to get unlimited access to all of WORLD’s member content?
Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.
(Don’t worry. It only takes a sec—and you don’t have to give us payment information right now.)

Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.
Joel Belz
Joel Belz

Joel, WORLD's founder, writes a regular column for the magazine and contributes commentaries for The World and Everything in It. He is also the author of Consider These Things.


You must be a WORLD member to post comments.

    Keep Reading


    Troubling ties

    Under the Clinton State Department, influence from big money…