Friday, May 19, 2017

Unrighteous Judgment

Recently, Ben Hopkins, one of the members of the band “PWR BTTM”, was accused by an anonymous source on Facebook of sexual assault. The response was swift and devastating. The anonymous post went viral and the accused was trashed by thousands on all the social networks. Sponsors dropped the band like a hot potato. Stations stopped airing their music. Concerts were cancelled. You get the picture.

Oh, did I mention that PWR BTTM is billed as a “queer punk” band. It’s certainly easy to see why so many jumped on the “Condemnation Express”. They’re all a bunch of sicko’s, right? They’re all the same, right?

But what is lacking in this case is any actual evidence. There’s no police report, no corroboration, no victim with a name… just an anonymous accusation on a social network. That’s all it took for a career to be ruined, and millions of dollars lost. Many people are cursing Ben Hopkin, calling him names, and condemning him to hell or worse.

But where is the evidence? So far there has been none presented. One has to wonder whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty”? Has that been written out of our moral and ethical code? Whatever happened to the right to face your accuser and have a day in court? What have we become as a culture when we immediately believe the worst about people who are somehow different than us… and when we consistently assume the place of judge, jury, and executioner?

Some of you are feeling indignant right now, but while we’re on the topic, would it not appear that the same thing has been happening to President Trump and his family… and even to unrelated people who are merely “supporters”? Hate abounds and calls for retribution have reached even the sophisticated newsrooms of the nation. Many recent newscasts, with their twenty four hour cycle of trumpet calls from on high, sound as if they could easily end with, “Get a rope!” But when they get down to it, there has been little to no actual evidence… just innuendo, accusations, and dirt dished out by anonymous sources. Sound familiar?

Ben Hopkins and Donald Trump are worlds apart and do indeed make a strange pair, but right now they have something in common -- millions have made up their minds about them based on anonymous accusations, and because of our preconceived ideas and biases. We’ve made our judgment… on them and any other "degenerates" or "deplorables" who might be so foolish as to disagree with us. Civility has left the room. Name calling and slanderous labeling have taken the place of any factual debate. Hopkins and Trump have been tried in our arrogant, prideful courts of disdain, and sentenced to the pits of hell. Some would hope for even worse than that. We circle our prey like sharks, seeking any hint of blood in the water.

Many of us who feel so religiously and morally superior, have taken our high chairs of judgment, and we are daily pronouncing curses and damnation….. and Jesus weeps... not because Trump and Hopkins are good people... but because we think we're better than them. Scripture tells us there is no one righteous, that all have fallen short of God's glory. Jesus weeps because in this nation where so many call themselves by His name, we are failing to love others as He loves us, and so few are speaking the truth in love. Lord have mercy. -- Friar Tuck