02/07/00- Updated 12:35 PM ET

Thieves, Adulterers, Liars and Other Believers

If you're Christian, Jewish or Muslim, you can probably remember a time when it was hard to reconcile the immoral deeds of a community leader against the principles your faith embodies. Even if you profess no religion, Americans live in a society governed by laws based upon Christian-Judaic principles. Too often, public figures who profess a strong faith have failed to live up to these principles. In other words, we have all witnessed hypocrisy. Yet, we must try to maintain our own moral and spiritual identity in spite of these acts of iniquity. Why let a few bad apples spoil the bunch?

Think back to about a year ago when cameras covered President Clinton exiting from a church service during the Monica Lewinsky fiasco. Many probably sat in bewilderment as the President of the United States, who is a professed member of a Baptist church in Arkansas and a regular visitor to his wife's Methodist church in D.C., stood accused of immoral acts.

Another president caught being unfaithful was Reverend Henry J. Lyons of the National Baptist Convention. The once highly esteemed "man of God" not only admitted to having an inappropriate relationship with a church worker, but has been sentenced to five and a half years in prison for racketeering and grand theft. Lyons has to account for at least $4 million dollars. This includes stealing about $250,000 donated by a Jewish organization to rebuild the southern black churches destroyed by arson, and a long list of other Federal charges of money laundering, tax evasion, extortion, bank and mail fraud, conspiracy and other crimes.

Robert Folkenberg, the president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, resigned after a lawsuit was filed by Sacramento businessman James E. Moore. Moore alleged that Folkenberg and other Adventist officials cheated him and a charitable foundation out of $8 million in a land deal. Taped conversations reveal that Folkenberg contemplated paying Moore the money he owed him from a telecommunications program set up by the church's international relief agency or in other ways that he acknowledged posed a conflict of interest with his church duties. During these taped conversations Folkenberg also expressed concern about losing his job or possibly facing legal trouble if his business dealings were exposed. Even before the lawsuit, Folkenberg had to apologize for having accepted tens of thousands of dollars in salaries from anonymous donors, for the questionable jobs filled by his wife and the wife of a top aide.

Then there's Jim Baker. Jimmy Swaggart. And the list goes on.

It's not only these men of stature and position that give religion a bad name. When it comes to the role hypocrisy plays in the lives of some who profess a belief in God, there is simply no debate; the congregations of America are oozing with hypocrites. It may be your neighbor, bible in hand on Sunday, abusing his wife Monday through Saturday. Or a self-righteous coworker whose claim to religion doesn't stop her from saying anything about her colleagues to claw her way up the corporate ladder. Maybe it's the man or woman in the mirror.

But it's important not to generalize. All professed believers are not alike. There are those who are sincerely trying. There are those who think they've reached the point of sainthood, and there are those who just don't get it.

If you were expecting Christians to be perfect, for example, just remember there are no stories of perfect men in the Bible, except for Jesus Christ himself. In fact, while many cite David as a man after God's own heart, they fail to mention that this honorable position ceased to be true until David repented.

Many religions teach followers to set an example. But I learned a long time ago that human beings will disappoint you. Those who profess a belief in God are human, and thus incapable of perfection. After all, it's not as though any human has earned their angelic wings. If you are searching for the true meaning of your faith, focus on the ideals laid out for you in the scriptures; don't wait for mere humans to embody them.

Lee Anna A. Jackson is a media consultant and freelance journalist. Her columns also appear in Jubilee, a Baltimore Sun publication.

Fonte: http://www.usatoday.com/news/comment/columnists/jackson/jack04.htm

Para entrar em contato conosco, utilize este e-mail: adventistas@adventistas.com