It is almost 12.30 in the morning and I have to get up for work in a few hours. But this post has been brewing in my heart all day and so I am forsaking sleep for writing (at least it is not for t.v.)
On the fourth of July, while everyone else was barbequing and watching the fireworks, my family and I planned to return to the Twin Cities after spending the entire weekend in Milwaukee. And my mother, the Joyce Meyer fan that she is turned on the television as we packed our bags and other things, wanting to watch the latest broadcast. I must confess I am not the avid fan of Joyce Meyer that she is. I think she is doing a wonderful job ministering to the needs of other people who really need to hear the Word, but she is not really my favorite cup of tea.
Acquiescing to my mother’s desires, we watched the broadcast. And as soon as she left to run a quick errand, I turned it off absolutely disgusted with what I was hearing. The guest speaker for the day was none other than Joyce Meyer’s husband Dave. I had never heard him speak before so was initially intrigued but as he started to unpack his message I felt like he was trying to sell me a gospel based on American ideals and principles rather than the Word of God.
He started by sharing this ideal for us as Christians to regain this godly heritage of our nation that we have somehow forsaken. In the first few minutes, the speaker (and Joyce Meyer) makes clear that they are not talking about politics but ‘our godly heritage and how to preserve that.’ I must ask what heritage do they want to preserve? The heritage that landed tons of African slaves on plantains toiling generation after generation with nothing to show for but broken families and cultural dynamics? Or how about the heritage that pits the poor (regardless of color) against each other so that the rich can grow richer and exploit resources from those who are already disenfranchised including Native Americans, Mexicans, and Africans just to name a few. I get this whole piece that America was founded upon biblical ideals and maybe this was supposed to be the goal. But in my estimation we have always fallen short of it based on our ill treatment of one another. So again, I must ask, what heritage are we trying to restore?
A few minutes later he moves on to talking about how our country has become very materialistic, which I whole heartily agree. We are a consumer-driven culture and have structured our economy in such a way that the only way it prospers is if we spend, spend, spend. However, I ask, albeit cautiously, is this something that he can really speak to? I am not trying to step on anybody’s toes here, but I just want to throw it out there, is there an element of hypocrisy here as you talk about our need to trim back when perhaps you and your family has not? I am not trying to attack, believe me, but as a minister of the Word of God, you must be held accountable for your words that you deliver to the people.
I bring this point up only because I believe that it feeds into another comment that Dave Meyer’s makes about this entitlement mentality that has arisen since the Great Depression era where the government takes care of the people. He contrasts this to how it was prior to this when the church stepped in to provide for the needs of the people, and suggests that we need to get back to this place. For him, the government’s provision has made people lazy, refusing to work when they could still get something for free. I acknowledge the fact that there are definitely people who exploit the system but there are also people who need it, depend on it as a result of death in the family, illness, unemployment, and the like. I understand that the church should step up and provide, and I actually admonish us to do so, but I must also declare that it is the government’s responsibility to consider and respond to the needs of its citizens instead of giving preferential treatment to those who make the most money and have the most resources.
With this, I ask why does he only attack the poor here or at least those who are relying on government resources to get by? Why does not he address those who are getting richer by taking from the already poor and downtrodden? Why does not he go after the CEO who bankrupted their company and still walked away with millions of dollars in bonuses? Why does not he go after corporations and businesses who get by without paying their taxes year after year, who pay their workers meagerly wages, who refuse to hire more workers so they do not have to pay health insurance? Why does not he go after these? Why does not he go after the top 2% of American income earners who are not paying the same tax rate as everyone else because they feel ‘entitled’ to keep it all to themselves?
I believe the reason that he does not go after these, and the reason to attack those who barely make enough to get by, is because it is politically motivated. Why would he attack the government in this particular moment if it was anything but that? But so as to prove that I am not being harsh here, he goes on to equate the idea of our country being a republic with godliness, and the idea of our country being a democracy to anything but, and follows this up with telling people how they should vote, saying that this nation, and especially the church, needs to make sure that we are not voting people in who are promising to bless us, but those who are operating under godly principles. I have so many problems with these few ideas here. For starters, I have yet to see a political candidate in either party who operates on godly principles. Each of them have their vested interests, and ideas, and though they may profess to be Christian in name, many are so far away from the heart of God. Secondly, every candidate has promised to bless in someone way-some with jobs, some with restoring the economy, some with protecting our country. There is nothing evil about blessing in and of itself- it is how we use that blessing that becomes the problem. Thirdly, it is absolutely immoral to stand up in the pulpit and persuade thousands if not millions of people on how they should vote. So many people listen to Joyce Meyer’s broadcast in this nation and around the world, and to use that platform to influence so many people is just plain out wrong.
At this point, I could no longer stand what he was saying and had to turn off the television. Perhaps Dave Meyer redeemed himself by the end of the message, but I did not stick around to find out. I spent the better part of the next 20 or so minutes venting to my husband about everything that was absolutely wrong with his message, a message that seemed to lack biblical roots but was instead rooted in American ideals of prosperity, nationalism, and greed. The reason I am so upset is because at the heart of his message was the desire to eradicate or at least reduce, programs that help out the poor in our country. For so long throughout our American history, these people have been ignored and neglected. Church handouts, if they hand out, are often insufficient and are based on the goodwill of the people, and what is going on in their bank account. There are so many hungry children, and people in general, in our nation who cannot depend on the goodwill of the people, they need justice, and they need it now, and it does not matter to God where it comes from, so long as it comes!