Pat Robertson making Jesus look bad is not exactly breaking news.
There is actually a whole Wikipedia page chronicling his ongoing narrative from the fringe of conservative Christianity -- which includes everything from advocating the assassination of Hugo Chavez to blaming the earthquake in Haiti on a pact with the devil, the flooding of New Orleans on Mardi Gras and repeated assertions that gay people cause hurricanes.
But what got folks going this week was his latest outrageously absurd allegation about a gay plot to spread AIDS. The quote -- widely distributed online and captured in this YouTube clip -- was "You know what they do in San Francisco? Some in the gay community there, they want to get people. So if they got the stuff they'll have a ring, you shake hands and the ring's got a little thing where you cut your finger. Really. It's that kind of vicious stuff, which would be the equivalent of murder." No, you couldn't make this up. But Robertson can. And does. And keeps on doing it.
Which inspired Washington Post journalist Jonathan Capehart to issue this challenge: "What I haven't heard is anyone with any religious juice condemning this man for his consistent outrages. Sure, Robertson may be a filterless, kooky, old coot clinging to homophobic, sexist and misogynistic views like a 19th century life preserver but he's still a coot with inexplicable clout in some quarters." Well, I don't know how much "religious juice" I have, but here goes:
Good people of deep faith can and do read the Bible and come to a variety of conclusions on a variety of issues. But when the Pat Robertsons among us step over the line from respectful disagreement to incendiary diatribe -- projecting onto God their own sexism, homophobia and ignorance -- if we don't speak out in rebuttal then shame on us.
With every one of his increasingly crackpot pronouncements he convinces scores of people who already think they know enough about being a Christian not to want to be one that they're right -- and who could blame them?
Like the Riverside pastor who threw Jesus under the bus preaching about "punching out" clergy who preside at same-sex weddings, Robertson has taken the Good News of God's inclusive love proclaimed by the radical rabbi from Nazareth and turned it into a weapon of mass discrimination against anyone who strays from his narrow patriarchal world view.
Jonathan Capehart is right. Robertson may be a filterless, kooky, old coot clinging to homophobic, sexist and misogynistic views like a 19th century life preserver but he's still a coot with inexplicable clout in some quarters. And we abdicate our responsibility as witnesses to God's inclusive love every time we don't stand up, speak up and offer an alternative to the toxic perversion of the core Christian values of love, justice and compassion.
Pat Robertson making Jesus look bad may not be breaking news -- but by working to raise our voices together, perhaps we can make it ancient history.