|Operation Save America protestors|
In yet another vicious attempt to impose Christian religious views, members of a group calling itself Operation Save America recently invaded a Unitarian Universalist Sunday prayer meeting in New Orleans. Most had to be escorted out because they were disrupting an effort to honor a member who had died.
The invaders claimed they were presenting the “truth in the synagogue of Satan.”
Actually, it’s hard to get more satanic that attacking innocent people having a moment of silence during a peaceful service.
Even before this sinister attack, Operation Save America had already been condemned by the Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference as “an affront to Islam, all people of faith, and to our society as a whole... not Christian [and] not American.”
Operation Save America is headed by the Rev. Philip “Flip” Benham who has already earned a jail sentence and a reputation for attacking abortion clinics and their clients. A minister of the Free Methodist Church, Benham served in the U.S. Army from 1970 - 1973 and then became the owner and operator of the Mad Hatter Saloon in Florida.
Presumably, both the “free” in the church name and “mad hatter” in the bar’s name are unintentionally ironic. Operation Save America clearly has no sense of honor or humor.
Benham has openly savaged gays and Muslims, lead protests against a gay-straight alliance in North Carolina and burning Korans. His son, David, wrote in a blog on the Operation Save America website that the group’s protest against gay rights is comparable to the World War II fight against Nazism. He referred to Muslims as “enemies attacking” the United States.
Actually, the Benhams and their ilk parallel the Nazis, who also opposed gay people and killed them. Nazis also tried to impose their views on everyone else, murdering those who rejected them. Given a chance, there’s no doubt Operation Save America would follow that same path.
Hate is still hate, regardless of the name of the perpetrators.
The Rev. Deanna Vandiver from the Unitarians didn’t see the attack by David Benham and his deranged followers paralleling any battle against Nazis. She called their invasion of her church “terrorism.”
Who is Vandiver? According to her website, she is “a Unitarian Universalist minister committed to the life work of undoing oppressions plus also singing, loving.”
And what kind of “satanic” religion was the gang of crazed lunatics attacking?
Universalism dates back probably to the 4th century and espouses a belief that all persons can be saved. That’s the same thing Pope Francis said. It became a separate denomination in this country in the 1790s. Universalists merged with Unitarians in 1961, and the resulting society is better known under the initials UU.
The Unitarian movement also began as an offshoot of Christianity, accepting Jesus but rejecting the idea of a God with three parts. Commonly considered liberal Protestants, Unitarians did not become an organized denomination until 1825, but still lists as members famous individuals who accepted its tenets without actually being members.
On its website, the group claims as members such famed “devil worshipers” as Presidents John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Millard Fillmore and William Howard Taft as well as senators Daniel Webster and Adlai Stephenson along with luminaries like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine and editor Horace Greeley.
Others who are claimed by the Unitarians include Alexander Graham Bell, Jane Addams, Clara Barton, Luther Burbank, Linus Pauling and Florence Nightingale.
All are clearly in league with the Evil One.
What do UUs believe? They accept all religious beliefs, and are actively involved in working for equality, promoting peace and nonviolence, and environmental protection, among other issues.
Only a group like Operation Save America could find something to hate on that list.
Reportedly, the mayor’s office said, “It is routine for the City to provide standard proclamations to visiting non-profits, faith-based organizations and conventions that request them.”
It’s also routine to arrest people who harass others and disturb the peace.
That didn’t happen as, increasingly, a small but fanatical cadre of religious maniacs seizes hold of this country. Officials who share their views see protests and hate speeches as attempts to bring this country back to a rigid Christianity. Actually, Operation Save America and similar groups are marching the United States in the wrong direction — on a direct line to Hell.
Long-time religious historian Bill Lazarus regularly writes about religion and religious history. He also speaks at various religious organizations throughout Florida. You can reach him at www.williamplazarus.net. He is the author of the famed Unauthorized Biography of Nostradamus; The Last Testament of Simon Peter; The Gospel Truth: Where Did the Gospel Writers Get Their Information; Noel: The Lore and Tradition of Christmas Carols; and Dummies Guide to Comparative Religion. His books are available on Amazon.com, Kindle, bookstores and via various publishers. He can also be followed on Twitter.
You can enroll in his on-line class, Comparative Religion for Dummies, at http://www.udemy.com/comparative-religion-for-dummies/?promote=1