My post about Pulpit Freedom Sunday may have given the impression that I was against all civil disobedience and, for instance, did not support the civil rights movement. Of course this is not true. Jordan and I brainstormed a few reasons why the leaders of the civil rights movement are rightly regarded as heroes while the participants in Pulpit Freedom Sunday (hereafter abbreviated PFS, because I’m tired of writing it) should be rightly regarded as whiners.
First, the civil rights movement was about the rights of a large group of people (indeed, all people) while PFS is only about the rights of the participants. There is little to laud about aggressively defending your own rights.
Second, minorities in the ’60s were actually suffering because of their second-class status, whereas American Evangelical pastors are about as privileged as they come. PFS making a beeline for the one thing that they are (sort of) not allowed to do, even though they have no good reason to even want to do it, is vaguely reminiscent of “You may eat of any tree of the garden…”
Third, the civil rights movement had consequences, sometimes severe ones, for the participants, and they were willing to accept them. Martin Luther King Jr. famously spent time in the Birmingham Jail. Jordan notes that there’s an element of obedience in that he and his followers did not resist arrest, but willingly went to jail (Rancid knows how it goes, too). The PFS pastors know perfectly well that they, personally, aren’t going to suffer any consequences for their actions: In all likelihood, they won’t attract any attention at all, and if they do, the worst thing that could possibly happen is the loss of their church’s tax-deductible status, which is not that dire of a consequence.