It was Richard Jeni who said that wars over religion was like two groups of people fighting over the best imaginary friend. There have been so many events that have happened throughout history and were spurred on by religion that have caused immense amounts of pain and suffering. By claiming to do anything due to your religion can lead to all manner of reactions and could just seem silly all the way around.
I was scanning through the news this evening and I found a headline that I knew I just had to check out - "Roberts Says God Forced His Resignation". For those of you that haven't heard any of the previous reports, Richard Roberts, the son of Orel Roberts, had been sued over excessive spending from what wound up being school funds for things like shopping sprees, buying a stable of horses and paying for a daughter to travel to the Bahamas aboard the university jet. Since the school is currently running at a $50 million debt, it would really be bad for this suit to show that there was something going on of an illegal nature.
Richard Roberts had spent all of the time since the original filing of charges claiming innocence and saying that God told his to fight the charges and not resign. There were a bunch of press releases, interviews, and even a stopover on the Larry King show for him to work this side of the discussion. Most of the interviewing was of the easy kind for Roberts and it seemed like he had slid along pretty easily. I'm not sure if there was something coming that he couldn't wiggle out of or he just decided to give but he made a statement that he is going to resign after all.
The reason that he gave for this decision? God told him to do it. I'll give you a moment or two to let that sink in.
At first, I was kind of amazed that he would say something like that. You are asking the public to believe that God felt the need to listen just to you to advise you on your legal situation. There aren't any more important things going on in the world that God should be dealing with. It's all about that legal problem and that's it. It seems that it would be the only way to really get out of it since he said that God was the one that originally told him to fight the charges. At least that way he wouldn't be irritating any possible higher power by tendering his resignation.
All humor aside, this event kind of goes into one of the problems that I have with most organized religious groups like the one that the Roberts managed. By saying that God tells you to do certain things, it takes away a chunk of the possible guilt that you might have in some people's eyes. It's almost like some kind of universal naughty deoderant that has "Rub on to remove all possible guilt over what you have done" as part of the directions for use. It's not right to do something that you know is wrong and then turn around and claim that God is advising you on how to deal with your actions. If you did the deed, then you should be ready to accept the consequences when caught and tried.
My mind wandered back for a moment to another religious figure who had to explain his misdeeds to his congregation. Unlike Roberts, Jimmy Swaggert got up on stage and actually admitted to doing wrong. He did not blame anyone other than himself and stated that he had failed and sinned before his God. While I don't really trust much of anything that Mr. Swaggert says to be the gospel truth, it was nice then and would be great now to hear some of these televangelists taking responsibility for themselves and not passing the buck off to what their inner voice told them was right.