Monday, January 16, 2006

Jerry Sutton, I Almost Feel Bad For You

I didn't watch "The Book of Daniel" because if I get my share of fucked-up mainline Protestant minister family dynamics by virtue of being alive. But I can't watch it now, even if I could, because Reverend Jerry Sutton of Two Rivers Baptist Church right across the street from that mammoth rip-off of a hotel named after a themepark that no longer exists is a bully and an idiot. I wanted to go to the Two Rivers Baptist Church website and have a little look around, but you have to have the most fancy-pants version of Flash and for some reason my computer, though it claims to have the most recent version of Flash, refuses to open the church's website. Luckily, Egalia's got the important documents--letters, blog entries, lists of advertisers, etc. Now, I'm going to say up front that Egalia draws conclusions I don't feel comfortable drawing, since I wasn't at that church* the Sunday before last. But the letters, if real (and I have no reason to doubt their authenticity), are doozies. Shall we take a look?

January 10, 2006

Mr. Elden Hale,

General Manager

WSMV-TV, Channel 4

5700 Knob Road

Nashville, TN 37209

Dear Mr. Hale:

Last Friday night, January 6, 2006, I spent two hours watching your new pilot, "The Book of Daniel." From start to finish, I was offended by the distortion of Christianity. In fact, your program borders on blasphemy. Never in a million years would you have run a program like that on Islam, and yet, for some reason, you felt it perfectly acceptable to air a program which denigrated Christianity. I am writing to express, first of all, my profound concern that you would put on the air such trash, but also to request that you consider running something else in its place.

I have personally talked with several sponsors, one manager of a Chevrolet dealership and a manager of one of the local Kroger's, and both assured me that their companies had no intention of being sponsors of such trash and will make sure that their names will not be identified as sponsors again.

With all the moral and social concerns in our society, I am absolutely amazed that your network would even consider producing and promoting a series like "The Book of Daniel." I don't think you want a war with the Church, but if you continue, I can promise you that we will be much more vocal and much more intentional in our attempts to remove the advertising dollars from your station and your network.

Sincerely,

Jerry Sutton

Senior Pastor

and then

January 12, 2006

Mr. Elden Hale,

General Manager

WSMV-TV, Channel 4

5700 Knob Road

Nashville, TN 37209

Dear Mr. Hale:

I just saw where you made the decision to cancel "The Book of Daniel." I want to thank you for being responsive to your constituents. Although the newspaper noted that the show finished first in its time slot, a lot of us watched it because of the pre-publicity information that it would be critical of Christianity. The pre-airing publicity didn't tell half of the story.

Again, I want to thank you for being responsive to the large Christian constituency here in Nashville.

Sincerely,

Jerry Sutton

Senior Pastor

Whew. It almost makes you wonder if he's got a notch on his Bible for every "war with the Church" he instigates and wins. Every once in a while my dad will run around waving his hands and yelling "The Pharisees have won! The Pharisees have won!" I have a feeling Sutton's letters would send him into fits. Anyway, Sutton, if you're reading, you're a bully. If you don't like something, turn the damn TV off. Encourage your friends and parishioners to turn the damn TV off. But don't force the station to pull the show, thus imposing your will on me. Aren't you supposed to be meek? But you've got bigger problems, my friend. And your bigger problems include, I suspect willfully, misinterpreting the Bible and passing on those misinterpretations to your congregation, who rely on you to teach them about the love of Jesus. That's pretty unconscionable. You say "I was offended by the distortion of Christianity. In fact, your program borders on blasphemy." But, as Katherine Coble points out, "The beautiful thing about Christianity is that it is for everyone. That's precisely who Christ died for. So let's get rid of this idea that there's a right type of person to be a Christian." But what you're doing is even worse than just assuming that, if people aren't Christian exactly the way you're Christian, they aren't Christian. In these sentences, you're suggesting that a distortion of Christianity borders on blasphemy. Excuse me? Are you really suggesting that if Christians aren't portrayed to your liking, the portrayers are committing blasphemy? Are you really suggesting that Christians are gods that can be blasphemed against? I'm really stunned by this level of heresy coming out of the Senior Pastor at such an influential church. How did it come to this? I think we both know. Jesus says: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." Paul says: "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." And you say: "I don't think you want a war with the Church, but if you continue..." Well, I think it's clear whose example you'd rather follow. And who can blame you? Jesus says hard things like "Blessed are those who mourn" and "Blessed are the meek" and who wants to sit around being mournful and meek and merciful and peace-making when you can kick some ass for Jesus? Paul is a first-rate ass-kicker for Jesus and sharing in his righteous indignation is good fun. Who doesn't understand your inclination to take him as your model? And, for the pastor of an enormous church with thousands of members, who gets to run in important political circles, I'm sure it's much easier to read "Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel" and think it applies to you than to read "But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation" and know it does. *Or, come on, any church.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Sarcastro said...

Notice how Jerry called it "the Church", as if he is speaking for all of Protestantism or even all of Christendom. Jerry is going to have a hard time getting a consensus among the sheep he is fleecing, er, tending.

Next, since when do Kroger managers make television sponsorship deals? "I need a clean up on aisle twelve. Jorge, go unload the truck and get the meat right in the freezer. Oh, and NBC, here's a million dollars for television advertising to sponsor a television program."

Why would the Chevy dealership give a shit? Everyone knows God drives a Toyota Tundra.

1/16/2006 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

And, strangely enough, a few of us are well aware that God sucks at trivia.

1/16/2006 09:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Sarcastro said...

God's mighty fingers were too big for the little buttons on the machine.

He did, however, smite the dirt-worshipping heathens.

1/16/2006 09:39:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

Suddenly, it's all clear. You think "smite" means "wait for the heathen to get up to go to the bathroom and then pay for everything before she can stop you." What a fortuitous misunderstanding for me!

1/17/2006 06:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Sarcastro said...

Yeah, like you could stop me.

1/17/2006 08:10:00 AM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

Like I'd want to.

1/17/2006 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger egalia said...

I value your feedback Aunt B., so tell me which conclusions your referring to.

We need to pay attention to this church come election time.

1/17/2006 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

Egalia,

Nice to see you here. What I was referring to is when you say that the TV show being written and featuring gays "no doubt" offends Sutton and when you say that "It's highly likely that he also had the material distributed during church services."

I think it's very likely that he's offended by the involvment of homosexuals and I wouldn't be surprised if he addressed the whole incident in church, including how the congregation should react to it.

But I don't know him and I wasn't there and so I can't say for certain. It seems possible, even likely, but that's the kind of thing I want to see for myself. Which is why I loved that you published the letters.

Good job.

b.

1/17/2006 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger angie01 said...

I was never happier than when my husband showed me your blog. I was absolutely apalled at the hippocracy and self-righteousness that was shown over the premiere of this show. I want to thank you for your intelligent and realistic opinions about the whole situation. I could not have done a better job of speaking out. My husband and I did send an email to NBC voicing our disgust concerning the decision to pull the show off of the network line-up. We are so thoroughly sick of being told what we are and are not allowed to watch and hold the same opinion as yours- if you don't like it turn it off!!!! And furthermore, who are you (Jerry Sutton and others like you) to tell me that I have to believe as you do and my interpretation of the bible must fit yours? What about free will? Live as you preach otherwise stop preaching.

angie2408

1/20/2006 01:12:00 AM  

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