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Friday, May 06, 2005

So God IS a Republican After All...

The liberal blog DailyKos reports that a Baptist church in North Carolina has effectively expelled its Democratic members. Nine members who had supported John Kerry in the last election were "excommunicated." In protest of the church's action, 40 of the 405 church members resigned. Local ABC affiliate WLOS-TV, which initially reported the story, has the following summary on its website:

East Waynesville Baptist asked nine members to leave. Now 40 more have left the church in protest. Former members say Pastor Chan Chandler gave them the ultimatum, saying if they didn't support George Bush, they should resign or repent. The minister declined an interview with News 13. But he did say "the actions were not politically motivated." There are questions about whether the bi-laws were followed when the members were thrown out.

Additionally, discussion on the DailyKos post speculates as to whether the action violates the church's tax-exempt status.

Hopefully this will prove to be an isolated incident. But it merely underscores the growing cultural divide in the US, along with an attitude of intolerance that has no upside in a nation built on tolerance and diversity. Liberals and conservatives are both guilty of these kinds of excesses. In public discourse, we've descended from "I don't agree with you, but I'm willing to respect your point of view" to "I'm right and you're wrong" to "I'm right and you're evil." It's getting so bad that even the Bushes are catching flak from the religious right, and that old-school conservatives like George Will are saying "enough already!"

Ultimately, such attitudes have the effect of shutting down productive discussion on nearly all issues. At a time when we have so many serious matters to talk about, this is the last thing we need. No wonder that all the news services obsess over the runaway bride story, and that those who care about real news are turning to the blogs (though Jeffrey Dvorkin of NPR would take umbrage to that).

UPDATE: The Rev. Chan Chandler, the pastor at the center of the church expulsion dispute, aburptly resigned Tuesday (5/10). He attributed the controversy to a "great misunderstanding" and said that staying would "cause more hurt for me and my family." Chandler has not apologized for his actions, and his supporters maintain that the dispute has nothing to do with politics.