Michelle Obama Invaded My Church
First Lady Michelle Obama is invading my church (North Point Community Church) today. Okay, that was a bit of an overstatement (and it sounds like I am trying to stir up controversy). Today is the 1-year anniversary of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative and she asked if she could come talk about it and celebrate the program at our church. From their own website it is: America’s Move To Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids. Of course, our church said yes. I probably shouldn’t comment on this, but, well, you know me…
Am I going? No.
And it’s not because I have to work today. I am home doing stuff getting ready to welcome our new son (#4) on Friday. And it’s not because I am a fatty or that I feel guilty about raising fat kids (I’m not, by the way. Raising fat kids, that is. But I am a bit of a fatty myself). I could go. So that no is an emphatic one.
I’m not going because I am very uncomfortable with the decision. Now, I love my church. My family has been serving and giving there for 6 years. And we are not going anywhere (ie. not leaving because of this). So this is not a detrimental decision. I am not going to talk trash. I support my church in all their decisions and trust them. It’s probably the right decision, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have some cautionary thoughts or opinions of my own. In fact, this is the first time I’ve ever said anything like this because I love “all things North Point”.
I just don’t like the idea of government officials or representatives coming into churches, especially those with a philosophy of big, centralized government. It creates too many contradictions, too much hypocrisy, breeds corruption (since power attracts the corrupt and the corrupt seek more power), leads to blatant opportunism (since it seeks to sustain it’s control/power) and often not principled (which is built on core values, and if opportunism and control is your desire there is no room for core values).
For example, you know what’s really unhealthy for children? Abortion. That kills kids 100% of the time. In fact, it kills about 1.4 million children every year and has killed about 43 million since it became legal in 1973. I’m just sayin’. [source: whitehouse.gov]
I also don’t like government officials or representatives coming into churches who come from a philosophy that is constantly trying to secularize and sanitize religion from the public square or sector (unless it is politically beneficial, of course).
For example, I wrote about a person in my small group (community group, Bible study, discussion group, or whatever you want to call it) that teaches at a public school up the street. During the holidays the school had to take the decorations off of the Christmas tree because a parent complained. I don’t really get that one (being that Christmas trees are actually pagan and not Christian, or leaving it up bare being an amicable solution). And then there are the anecdotal stories of public school teachers warned not to hand out Christmas cards or say “Merry Christmas”.
So let me get this right, we can’t say Merry Christmas in the public sector more and more, but Michelle can come into churches and say Merry Government? Woo-hoo!
Beyond that, there is often criticism of religious groups trying to affect public policy (like with abortion)–you know, allegedly trying to create a ‘theocracy’. For some reason, faith is an illegitimate source for values. But there is no problem with government coming into churches to influence public policy? Let’s be honest, that’s what this is. I guess government is a legitimate source for values?
You might be thinking, “Jason, you’re so judgmental and jaded. Isn’t this neutral ground? You’re making a big deal out of nothing. We can all agree on making our kids healthier, can’t we?”
Sure, then let’s meet on truly neutral ground–like an event center or something (there are plenty in Atlanta). Then Washington could ask local churches to partner and support the agenda. That way we have a real choice. I mean, how much of a choice do you have when the President’s wife asks to speak at your church? You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
There’s really nothing neutral when it comes to politics. And that’s the point: Politicians use political power to promise policies that will benefit certain people in order to harvest votes. Make no mistake, this initiative is about increasing government regulations and spending. As it is, speculations are that there will be more sin taxes on certain foods, salt limits in food production, and portion control for restaruants. Either way, the government is set to spend over half a BILLION dollars EVERY year on this initiative (and related ones). Read that again…$$$HALF A BILLION DOLLARS EVERY YEAR$$$
In general, this is not a legitimate use of tax-payer dollars (which is in reality being borrowed from China, by the way, so it is not even payed for), especially when we are all broke. It’s not the government’s job to tell us what to eat or what to do. I’m sorry there are so many fat kids sitting around and eating Doritos while playing X-Box. If we’re going to spend money on kids, let’s spend it something useful–like literacy, English, science, math, technical programs, marriage and family classes, etc.
I can’t help but also think that Michelle is trying to indirectly muster support for her husband with one base that is not supporting him all that much right now. Who’s that? White evangelicals. I’m just being honest, because that’s the main demographic at my church. It seems manipulative. Make no mistake, the election cycle has begun.
Our church is now officially on the radar of the government. That makes me uncomfortable. It should make everyone uncomfortable, both the religious and irreligious. This all begs the question, what will my church say when President Barack Obama calls and asks to speak when he is campaigning for president again? It probably won’t happen. But if it does, what do you say? Again, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Plus, I can’t help but worry if this is a jump-the-shark moment for my church with regard to political influences. It’s hard to resist the exposure, for sure.
And this tension is really what the First Amendment was all about:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
It was meant to protect the religious citizens from government, not to sanitize the government of religion or religious citizens.
Just some thoughts from a ‘religious’ fatty.