Every human institution consisting of people with common interests inevitably has fringe elements that left unchecked will corrupt and undermine the original purpose of the group. There comes a point when thinking people in the group take a lesson from Popeye: "That's all I can stands, I can't stands no more!"
I have reached that point with the extremists in the Christian faith. The straw that broke the camel's back was the statement from Mike Huckabee on the tragedy of the Newtown slaughter of the innocents: "And since we've ordered God out of our schools, and communities, the military and public conversations, you know we really shouldn't act so surprised ... when all hell breaks loose."
Now let me get this straight. The implication of his statement is that the God he worships throws a hissy fit because we don't talk about him in schools and allows the murder of 20 innocent babes. Who in their right mind would even consider worshipping a deity with such a heinous value system?
But Huckabee, an ordained minister in the Southern Baptist Convention, is far from alone in his warped views.
Mike O'Neal, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives in Kansas, offered the following imprecatory prayer about President Barack Obama: "May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow."
Steven Anderson, a minister of the Faithful Word Baptist Church, prayed that Obama "dies and goes to hell." He continued to say: "If you want to know how I'd like to see Obama die, I'd like to see him die from natural causes. I don't want him to be a martyr, we don't need another holiday. I'd like to see him die like Ted Kennedy, of brain cancer."
The vitriol spewed by these fanatics is not new. Pat Robertson once prayed that God send a hurricane to punish Disney World because they had a "Gay Day" for same-sex couples. Jerry Falwell said that the United States deserved the terrorists attacks on the nation on Sept. 11, 2001, because we have embraced immorality by giving equal rights to gays.
Likewise Mike Russell, another minister, proclaimed Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for "debauchery and ribald behavior."
The fact that so-called Christians have embraced these dangerous and hateful attitudes has pushed me over the edge so that I will now do something that I do not often do. Contrary to the opinions of my critics in the op-ed columns, I am a devout Christian who is an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church.
I have served on session twice, taught Sunday school and written the Advent bulletin for 18 years. Unlike many denominations that rely on bombast and absolutism tempered with dollops of hellfire and damnation, the Presbyterian Church aligns its view of God as stated in Isaiah 1:18: "Come now, and let us reason together, said the Lord."
I do not wear my religion on my sleeve because I believe a person's religious beliefs are private matters. But I have had enough. It is time for true Christians to reclaim their faith from the fear mongers that have hijacked it to support their misguided angry hatred.
Roger Guffey of Lexington is a retired teacher.