Catholics-Mormons Unwelcome in Sullivan County Tennessee
The exchanges below illustrate how Christianity has lost the culture war to secular Leftism. The question of heresy has torn Christianity apart since it's inception by The Apostle Paul around 50 AD when he split from Judaism over the issue of circumcision. (Carefully read Galatians.)
Coming from a Catholic-Protestant background myself I liked Pope John Paul as man of tradition even if I disagree with facets of Catholicism.
I was dismayed at this new round of Catholic bashing in Kingsport. The series of letters below were printed in the Kingsport Times-News in February 2001.
By 2001 it was obvious the so-called Christian Right never was the force its opponents made it out to be. When Evangelicals focused on politics as a solution to their decline and defeats in the culture wars, failure sent them back to their usual heresy hunting.
Instead of dealing with secularism they went back demanding theological correctness and attacking other believers in God.
Perhaps the editor realized he opened a can of worms and perhaps wisely wanted to end the growing anger.
Yet bigots like Bob Jones III comes to Sullivan County proclaiming "the Bible is intolerant...Christians should be too" and nobody in the press or local government will say anything critical of this at the time.
Jerry Falwell declares Satan a "male Jew" in a Sullivan County Baptist church and the only people to question this nonsense locally were myself, and Bishop Walter Sullivan of Richmond, Virginia. See Bishop Condemns "male Jew" remarks.
In particular TV preacher did enormous damage to the faith with Jim Bakker going to prison and endless failed "end-times" prophecies built around Y2K, the Oklahoma City bombing (Christians were not connected to it), the discredited militia movement, etc.
In 2014 fundamentalist' secular-Leftism has replaced the Religious Right as a threat to individual liberty. Where I once fought the Religious Right as a threat to liberty today I find myself fighting the secular Left.
None the less the damage was done and today fewer people identify with Christianity in particular liberal branches of the respective faiths. Because they no longer are Christian (or Jewish) in any sense of the word substituting social work and politics for faith, their numbers have drifted away to more conservative churches or dropped the faith altogether.
The following stands as an example of where Christians and the Religious Right went wrong.
We're Christians too
Kingsport Times-News October 13, 2002:
As the leader of over 3,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Tri-Cities area and Southwest Virginia, I am responding to Mr. Paquette's recent letter, which claims our members are not Christians.
Contrary to what his letter states, ours is not a polytheistic church. We believe that God is omnipotent and the only source of knowledge and power in the universe. Any reference in our church to other gods is perhaps best understood in the Christian sense of "deification."
One description, which cites both Old and New Testament passages, is found in The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology - not a publication of our church: "Deification (Greek theosis) is for Orthodoxy the goal of every Christian. Man, according to the Bible, is 'made in the image and likeness of God'... It is possible for man to become like God, to become deified, to become god by grace."
Similar statements regarding the potential of man were made by Saint Irenaeus, Saint Clement of Alexandria, Saint Justin Martyr, Saint Athanasius, Saint Augustine, and C.S. Lewis.
Our church believes that regardless of man's potential through grace, there is only one God and we will always be subject and subordinate to Him. Additionally, contrary to what Mr. Paquette's letter claims, our church clearly believes that Christ was born of the Virgin Mary. Any contrary assertion is a misstatement of our beliefs.
God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, who atoned for the sins of mankind and died on the cross, are the center of our church's theology and worship. We appreciate Mr. Paquette's view of our members' ideals. However, we respectfully disagree with his characterization that we are not Christians.
David A. Golden Kingsport
To: Editor, Times-News Kingsport, TN
I'm writing in regard to letters surrounding "Catholics Attacked" published in February. To Brenda Fischer, Rev. Charles Burton, and Chester Christian I share their indignation over the attacks on his Holiness Pope John Paul II. He is a symbol of what Christianity should be about not Bob Jones III who claims Christians should be "intolerant" based on the fantasies of cults.
One notable example is the Adventist churches. Descended from a cult known as the Millerites who predicted the second coming in 1844, they have been blaming their failed predictions on popes ever since. Their most famous offspring is David Koresh and the Branch Divideans.
Dispensationalism (pre-Tribulation Rapture) was invented by mystic John Nelson Darby (1832 and the later Scofield Bible) which ultimately led to the recent Y2K fiasco that had some Sullivan County residents hiding in their basements awaiting the second coming. No wonder Mayor Spangler of Bristol, VA called it "hype."
The most dangerous cult is Christian Reconstructionism. This cult claims America is the "New Israel" and white/protestant Americans the new "chosen people of God" while referring to the God of Jesus/Judaism as Satan. They advocate a complete return to Old Testament Law including the death penalty for abortion, adultery, homosexuality, heresy, blasphemy, etc.
All non-Christians (they include Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses) would be stripped of citizenship/killed, public education abolished, all civil government turned over to selected Christian authorities. They call democracy a "heresy" and want to reintroduce slavery for non-payment of debt.
Even many mainline Protestant churches such as the Lutherans, Episcopalians, United Methodists, (the "Protestant daughters" Charlotte Rhotan referred to) etc, would be forced to close their doors. Their founder R.J. Rushdoony has his books endorsed by Jerry Falwell and has been Pat Robertson's guest on the 700 Club. This is likely where Falwell got his Satan is a "male Jew" revelation.
Most Christians don't buy into any of this garbage but it's the "bread and butter" of fundamentalist churches. Jesus is about love not whatever these frauds can invent from Scripture.
I challenge those who claim to be Christians to take a close look at these cults and read the Bible for themselves. If a heathen such as myself can read the Gospel, surely they can turn off the TV preachers and do the same.
Finally to Trevor Morelock and his remarks on past Catholic atrocities: Pope John Paul has acknowledged these crimes and placed a note in the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem asking for forgiveness for past crimes against Jews/others. God has forgiven the Catholics, but He won't forgive anyone with the attitudes of Jones, Falwell, or Rushdoony. Protestants have plenty of blood on their hands so let's pray there is no more of it.
Reverend Lou Bristol, VA
Letters from February 12
I wish to express my disappointment in the residents of Kingsport. I recently received an unsolicited mailing to my home inviting me to a seminar concerning the Antichrist. I was offended and dismayed to find a picture in the mailing of Pope John Paul II, the leader of my chosen church.
My disappointment comes with the realization that evidently no person in this lovely city of churches and tolerance found it outrageous that anti-Catholic messages were flooding the homes of Kingsport. Are racist and anti-Semitic attacks the only bigoted activities rightly decried?
Letters from February 4
In 1978, I purposely chose to remain and to live in East Tennessee after having worked for a year in the Chattanooga area and after having met some very wonderful people there. Since that time I have lived and worked in Oak Ridge, Knoxville, Seymour, Greeneville and now Kingsport (my second time). When I returned here in 1995, I was deeply pleased. My memories of Kingsport were wonderful. And I still feel that way today.
However, there is an ugliness in religious intolerance that raises its head from time to time and it does not speak well for this city and county. As part of a bulk mailing, coming out of Greensboro, N.C., there was a flier advertising a lecture series that would take place, beginning on Feb. 2, at the Adventist Auditorium on Fort Henry Drive.
The lecture series is called "Daniel and Revelation Prophecy Seminar." Within the flier was a picture of Pope John Paul II and the inference that he and the Catholic Church bear "the mark of the beast."
I realize that churches sometimes come in conflict with one another over theological and social justice issues and have some very basic differences in approach and I realize that churches, in the name of God, have made some horrendous mistakes, but to market a lecture series with the implication that another Christian community bears "the mark of the beast" is unconscionable.
I hope that the citizens of this city and county are outraged. The Catholic Church in Kingsport has tried over the years to be good Christians and good citizens. It has tried to participate positively and make worthy contributions to our society.
We have an elementary school that serves Catholic and non Catholic children from the community. We try to help the needy of the area through the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
We are active in many service projects as individuals and as a community. We are active in the Ulster Project. We contribute time and resources to Meals on Wheels and the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Kingsport. We participate in the Special Olympics and help with the needs of "challenged" children and adults.
Please help us dispel the kind of ugliness that comes with religious intolerance. Treat all your neighbors with the respect and dignity that they deserve as fellow citizens and children of God.
Rev. Charles Burton, pastor
St. Dominic Catholic Church Kingsport
Faith and power
The "Your View'' article "Be tolerant'' (2-4-02) by Rev. Charles Burton was read with interest. It was written with a strong appeal, and rightfully so, for tolerance within the Christian community.
In retrospect it has been seen that where the Catholic Church is in a majority, there is a rather low tolerance level of other religious groups. History also does not paint a very positive picture of tolerance. Their voice and vote is very strong here in the United States, and it would be hoped that there is a continuing desire to be tolerant and coexist with other religious bodies.
The United States is unique in the annals of history. From its inception it was the determined commitment of its founders to set up a government system that would assure religious and political freedom.
To do this there was a "wall of separation'' put in place where religion and politics would remain at arms length. When this "great experiment' was finally in place, after some problems even on this side of the Atlantic, it was found that both could coexist quite well.
There is surely nothing wrong with a politician being religious. It would even seem like a very good idea, and for a religious person to have political views. The problem comes into play when the politician preaches his religious views from a political pulpit and the religious person preaches his political views from a religious pulpit.
If history has taught us anything it should be this: that in a world of sin there is something worse than having many religious bodies, and that is have one religious body. In spite of the best of intentions, and as good as it seems to have only one religious body, intolerance rears up its ugly head.
I agree with the good pastor when he appeals to "please help us dispel the kind of ugliness that comes with religious intolerance," and I add "keep it dispelled."
Bob East Rogersville TN
Letters from February 14
In regard to Mr. Burton's letter on Feb. 4, claiming religious intolerance from an invitation to an Adventist seminar, many churches other than Adventists have similar beliefs about the Roman Catholic Church, the pope and even the Protestant daughters. To disagree about religious beliefs is not intolerant. To tell someone they can't disagree is!
Do we live in America? If we still have a constitution which gives us freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom to assemble; then "we the people'' have the freedom to disagree with Catholic doctrine and believe whatever we are led to by the Holy Spirit and Holy Bible.
This is what the Reformation was all about. The reformers also held similar beliefs about the Catholic Church and the mark of the beast. Today, the Catholic-Protestant Ecumenical movement thinks everyone must accept their beliefs for the sake of unity and peace.
However, the Bible said that there would always be war and rumors of war until Jesus returns. Jesus also said to come out of the world's belief system and in Matt. 23:8-10, to call no man "master" or "father" for Jesus is our only master and only God, the heavenly Father is our Father. We are not to join together and let men tell us how to think or believe.
Only America has enjoyed so much peace in its boundaries. This peace was not accomplished by forcing everyone to believe the same way. To be able to respect someone's freedom of speech and religion, even when they may say something totally against your own beliefs, is true tolerance.
To be big enough to allow someone else to be different from you without being angry at them, is tolerant. With all the nonsense about religious hate crimes, are we going to have another inquisition?
Charlotte F. Rhoton Blountville TN
Letters from February 21
As a Christian, I understand Ms. Fischer's concern of religious hate, but
there is one very important point she leaves out.
For centuries the Catholic Church has wished to impose its rules and laws upon the world with blasphemous disregard of the true meaning of the separation of church and state.
Only in America can we decry religious authority without fear. Look what happened to the Petro-Brussians, Arnoldists, Donatists, Cathari, Ana Baptists and countless others.
Anti-semitism and racism must cease, but why was Ms. Fischer's church
silent as millions where sent to the ghastly Nazi gas chambers?
As far as our area's lack of tolerance, pardon me, but history shows beginning with A.D. 426 about 50 million Christians where martyred by the hand of the Catholic Church.
Now really who is intolerant? Lest we forget...
Trevor K. Morelock Rogersville TN
Letters from February 22
Don't attack church
Regarding Ms. Rhoton's letter Feb. 14, I protest her attacks on the Roman Catholic Church. While professing tolerance, she proceeds to speak of the church while mentioning "the mark of the beast," misusing scripture to denounce our practice of the faith, and speaking of "another inquisition."
She attacks the church through innuendo, rather than directly as the Adventist flyer did. And her non sequitur reference to "Protestant daughters'' completely went by me.
Tolerance does not mean passive acceptance of wrong behavior. The attack on the Catholic Church was wrong and intolerant. Father Burton's defense of the church was not. As for his call to others to denounce intolerance, it was neither intolerant nor necessarily a call to ecumenism.
It was simply asking other professed Christians to join together, in apostolic fellowship, to defend each other from intolerant attacks of our faith. I may add that ecumenism has a scriptural basis.
As an American, I accept, defend and tolerate Ms. Rhoton's right to worship in whatever way she sees fit. But as a Christian and a Catholic, following Father Burton's brave lead, I denounce any attacks on my faith and church by Ms. Rhoton or anyone else as intolerant.
Chester Christian Church Hill TN
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