Seven Churchs of the Orange
“It’s ironic that after a political season awash in commercials based on fear and deception by both parties seen on all the major networks, an ad with a message of welcome and inclusion would be deemed too controversial,” the Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC’s general minister and president, has said. “What’s going on here?”
Press Release from the United Church of Christ, 2 December 2004
With the Crystal Cathedral and the white Roman-temple-style hatbox of the Trinity Broadcasting Network dominating our skyline and our airwaves, it is easy to suppose that every last person in Orange County is a Fundamentalist Christian. Those passing TBN’s headquarters on the 405 are greeted by stilettos of light from its holiday display. With all its protests for Peace on Earth and Goodwill Towards Men (but not women?), TBN supports the war in Iraq and the exclusion of “others” from congregations.
Many in the mainstream media have come to see such outlets as the genuine voice of Christianity. Few see the mockery made of the Gospels in the lavish displays of conspicuous consumption made possible by our addiction to oil. Anything other than blind support for our nation’s leaders, some in the major networks have concluded, is not Christianity. CBS so much as said it when it refused a recent ad by the United Church of Christ:
Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations,” reads an explanation from CBS, “and the fact the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the [CBS and UPN] networks.
It would not surprise me to hear that TBN and other major “Christian” networks support the ban. It is against their interests for any denomination to preach the Gospel as it came from the lips and limbs of Christ. They have become a state religion which manipulates the symbols of Christianity for nonChristian ends. Where the Roman polytheism failed to incorporate the monotheism of the Jews and the Christians, these materialist networks and churches have uncovered a formula for turning believers into willing thralls of the superstate. To corporate executives of the so-called liberal media who only watch television and listen to the radio, it would seem that the voice of Orange County is uniformly reactionary and hostile to gays, lesbians, liberals, and nonEuropean peoples.
But when you switch off the perpetual rush of faux information and baseless commentary that characterizes the media today, when you go out and talk to people, you uncover diversity. But not enough of us speak up to change that vision. A commentator on this blog complained that we here in the Orange are seen as the source of all bigotry here in California. When I see the loudness of our strip-mall-parking-lot-reared Right go uncountered, I can only say that we have brought this plague upon ourselves.
Nevertheless, within the Orange and within Christianity there are those who reject the attempt to invent a hateful-“loving” Christ. The United Church of Christ has gone ahead with its campaign to make it clear that everyone is welcome at services. “Jesus didn’t turn people away,” says a new ad airing across the nation since yesterday. “Neither do we.”
This should not be controversial among Christians nor the subject for censorship. But it is. That CBS should invoke a state religion against Christianity is shocking. We have been told time and time again that the Press is our guardian against the government exceeding its bounds. And when the Government begins the implementation of a state religion — either legislated or de facto — it has turned the Constitution into ferret cage bedding.
Contrary to our image, we here in the Orange have not uniformly capitulated to the state religion wearing a physical likeness of Christ while showing by its works that it is something quite different. Seven Orange County United Church of Christ congregations have joined in supporting the UCC’s God is Speaking campaign. This is important because unlike the Catholic Church, each congregation chooses for itself whether or not it will participate. The church’s general office describes itself as “speak[ing] to, but not for, its nearly 6,000 congregations and 1.3 million members”.
So no order came down from on high demanding that these seven churches obey a directive. Beginning in the hearts of the membership and their appointed clergy, the decision to join this movement was prayerfully considered and then made. For this reason, the seven churches deserve our respect and applause for a courageous decision:
- Buena Park First Congregational UCC
- Fullerton Congregational UCC
- Irvine United Church of Christ
- Laguna Beach Neighborhood UCC
- Laguna Niguel Shepherd of the Hills
- Los Alamitos Community Congregational UCC
- Santa Ana Church of the Foothills
It’s good to see someone trying to bring Christ back into Christianity here in the Orange.