A VIEW from LICK SKILLET: Evangelical Christians: recall the eye of a needle

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By Terri Likens, Editor

Last week we wrote some on the topic of the right-wing Republicans and their war upon the poor, concentrating on their efforts to reduce Food Stamps (a.k.a. SNAP).

Today we would focus our attention on one particular segment of these radical right-wing Republicans, i.e. the so-called Evangelical Christians.

Last time we questioned how any Christian, whether clergy or laity, could support these efforts against the poor.

We compared them and their understanding of the Bible with Richard Nixon’s position as stated by President Truman, who, when asked if he thought Mr. Nixon had read the Constitution said that he did not know, but if he had read it he didn’t understand it.

On further reflection, we probably shouldn’t have used Mr. Nixon as an example, for even he, scoundrel that he was, recognized that the poor of this nation should be helped not put down.

As proof of this, we should recall that he was the author of the idea of the Earned Income Tax Credit, as well as some other plans to help our poor fellow citizens.

But, the same cannot be said for all too many of the so-called Evangelical Christians, who are truly zealots in these attacks upon the poor while exerting themselves to aid and protect the rich by opposing any efforts to have them pay anything, much less their fair share, of the cost of government and aid for all our fellow citizens.

Their position is directly contrary to the teachings of that of Christ whom they claim to love and faithfully follow.

As St. Matthew tells us in Chapt. 19, Verse 23, the Messiah said to his Disciples:

“Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Now, how could anyone not understand this plain statement, in this clear language?

Yet Evangelical Christians ignore its clear statement and continue to follow in lock step those who worship the accumulation of great wealth and insist that everyone should do likewise.

It is especially heinous when this position is articulated by the preachers, both in their pulpits and out.

We fear that many of the spell-binding guardians of the right-wing Republican theology will, if the pictures they paint of the horrors of Hell are true, face a terrifying future when called forward to receive Judgment, and are found wanting because of their attitude towards their poor brothers and sisters. Don’t you join them, gentle reader.


After the election of Gov. Haslam, we had high hopes that he would perform his duties and fulfill his oath of office without reference to his up-bringing surrounded by the fabulous wealth of his family, but as time passes we become more and more disillusioned.

Several matters could be discussed showing his tendency to follow the party line and behave like so many other Republican governors have done and are doing, but one matter will suffice to make the point — that is his refusal to adopt the expansion of Medicaid provided for in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

As a result over 140,000 low income Tennessee families will not get the medical insurance that they would have gotten had Haslam simply opted in the plan. But his big-money family and their big-money friends, coupled with the partisan Republican zealots would rather deny health care to thousands of poor Tennessee men, women, and children, than to do anything that would reflect success upon Barack Obama. How any of them can sleep while knowing that their policies will cost countless lives is beyond us.

The indecency of his position is shown when one thinks of his brother, who casually spends a billion dollars to buy a ball team while his fellow Tennesseans are denied health care, and Tennessee community hospitals are forced to shut down because of this refusal to accept the federal money that would go into their coffers and preserve their viability.

But, even worse, and more deplorable is the criminal conduct of the oil company he and his family own and operate — Pilot Corporation.

It is impossible to go into detail as to the criminality of this family corporation, but it suffices to point out that the governor, even if he is no longer in active management of the firm, profits mightily from anything that increases the company’s bottom line, and nothing increases the bottom line more surely than schemes to cheat, steal, and bamboozle one’s customers.

A truly honourable man would do whatever was necessary to correct this misconduct by his own company, but apparently he hasn’t the backbone necessary to tell his brother and other family concerned in the day to day operation of Pilot to cut it out, and run the business openly, honestly, lawfully, and honourably. Unfortunately, unless he encounters a high horse power Epiphany, it’s never going to happen.

More’s the Pity!


Last April 5th, we ran a column entitled “Will the Circle be Unbroken” in which we wrote about the then recent deaths of several of our old friends, including Joe Underwood, Charles Norman, Homer Hamby, Yvonne Utiey Hill, Sim O’Briant and concluding with Jere Ballentine, whose widow was Jane Jones Ballentine.

This past Sunday we read that on 5 Dec. Jane was reunited with Jere, which, after 61 years together, seems only right.

Jane was one of the Swan Pond Joneses, and among her Roane County connexions was her teaching in the early 1950s at South Harriman High School.

Also passing in recent days were two old-line Roane Countians: Bill Tom Ferguson and John Smith, about either of whom several columns could be written, but as the reader can see, we are out of space.

As regular readers will recall, it is our custom to take a break during the holidays, so this is our last column until after the beginning of the New Year.

We hope to be able to begin next year’s commentary with a report from High Sheriff Jack Stockton as to his answers to the questions about the jail which we posed some weeks ago.

We assume that the reason he has not yet answered is that he has been tied up with Christmas shopping and planning New Year’s celebrations, which is excusable, but we would advise him that he should get cracking on providing answers, else folks are going to conclude that he is unable to answer these simple questions, or hiding something, and until answered the old curmudgeon feels obliged in the public interest to continue asking them.