Pat Robertson suggested this past Monday that the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, be assassinated by operatives of the United States government. Though his comments are newsworthy because of his following in the 700 Club and his political stature and role in the political religious right, his comments however are out of synch with everything that has been handed down to us from the teachings of Jesus Christ. What I am suggesting here is that Pat Robertson and individuals of his ilk are not practicing or preaching Christ but have become adherents of a political movement in this nation that attempts to use Christianity towards their own narrow political ends. I believe that there is a role for Christianity in the events of the world, but the teachings of Christ leads us to love one another, strain and stretch to understand each other, and dare to know each other enough that we come to an understanding of one another and from that create a world that is not built on might and winning but on understanding and unity. Clearly the comments of Robertson defy the framework we find in the gospels of Jesus Christ.
Some may argue that Christ existed in another time and did not have an understanding of the kind of world we exist in today. But any follower of Jesus knows that as he was human and he was also fully God, and therefore his understanding of the world, humankind and our needs were not captive to a time but applies to all time! Knowing this I do not see anywhere in the gospels of Christ that he condones, suggests or advocates murder or political assassination! Instead Jesus reminds us to beware of Pharisees, and Robertson, Dobson and others have become the Pharisees of our contemporary world!
What do we find in the Good News of Christ? We find love is expressed continually and unceasingly. The gospels admonish us to do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. We finds words in the gospels that define the mission of Christians as the elevation of the poor, freedom for those who are oppressed, salvation for the lost, and hope for the hopeless. Jesus says come unto me all of you who are weak and heavy laden and I will give you rest. He does not say come to me those who are looking for political expediency and I will show you who to and how to assassinate!
Sure there has been trouble in Venezuela, and some will suggest that it is communism struggling to raise it head. Others will suggest that the poor of Venezuela have been poor too long in a nation that is the 5th largest oil producer in the world. Some will suggest that too much of the resources have been in the hands of too few, and that the poor of the land have found hope in a political leader, Hugo Chavez. I would not suggest that Chavez is a saint, for no person is perfect, but I do know that Chavez was elected even while the greatest power in the world, the United States government, did everything possible to thwart his election. This is hardly the neighborliness that Jesus Christ calls us to emulate.
I am continually amazed at how so many preachers have ceased to preach Christ, or to proclaim him out of the rich simplicity of his teachings and have resorted to a kind of theology that is not gospel based but is based on a narrow point of view that keeps the powerful powerful and the poor poor!
Therefore, it is impossible to justify the comments of Pat Robertson. His comments are not of the gospel he claims to preach, nor of the teachings of Christ that any Christian claims to love. Instead what Robertson has to say is based on a paradigm from the most conservative voices in this country, and those voices have no God except themselves and no soul except their selfish point of view!
Reverend Graylan Scott Hagler is National President, Ministers for Racial, Social and Economic Justice and Senior Minister, Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ Washington, D.C.