The first church service I ever attended must’ve been when I was about 10 or so; I learned the first and only Bible verse I memorized in my childhood that day, Romans 8:11.
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of[a] his Spirit who lives in you.
I spent most of the next 26 years, until my mother’s death in 2013, rarely attending church at all. Still, I never forgot that verse. Especially in the few traumatic years that followed, I needed that message that 10 year old me committed to memory. If God can wake up a dead Jesus, he can do something with your triflin’ ass.
So this morning, when I saw photos of a throng of evangelical-types at Atlanta’s First Baptist Church praying over and laying hands on Herschel Walker—he of no tolerance for abortions except those he paid for out of convenience to his lifestyle, of many apologies for racists, of many, many, many lies, of alleged abuse of his wife and abandonment of his kids, of denial of those same kids—I wondered how many of them were there because they, too had committed that verse to memory. If God can wake up a dead Jesus, he can fix up ol’ triflin Herschel, too.
Of course one of the most important things the Bible warns believers against— besides murder, theft, false accusations, being green eyes about other folks’ possessions and adultery, is standing in judgment of others—so it’s probably not best for me to make assumptions about the motives of those who prayed over the Republican Senate nominee from Georgia. But who am I fooling? I’ve broken almost every single one of those Commandments so why stop now?
I don’t want any of those people sitting next to me in a church. I squinted real hard to make sure I committed every face in that picture to memory, in case the next time I’m in ATL and don’t drink too much on Saturday night, I walk into a sanctuary and see anybody up in there I remember praying for Herschel Walker to win a U.S. Senate race. That ain’t a house of worship I wanna be in.
The good thing is that the hours between 8 a.m. on Sundays and the kickoff of the early slate of NFL games remain the most segregated in American society, so given the overwhelming whiteness of the hands outstretched toward Walker, there’s not much chance any of those folks would show up at any church I’d feel comfortable in. But hey, just in case.
What about forgiveness, mercy, redemption, you ask? Walker, like me, like you, like everyone, is entitled to all those things, presuming you identify as a Christian. What he’s not entitled to is a seat in the U.S. Senate, where those who showed up to pray over him really want him, so they can push a repressive agenda that has little in common with the life or message of Jesus.