Joseph Hazar: Recent column offensive to Christians (Opinion)

As a pastor of a Christian Church — in fact, the oldest Christian “denomination” in the world — I take great offense at Gazette-Mail Editor Emeritus James Haught’s column published on Dec. 6. His piece was inflammatory, offensive, nonsensical and ill-informed.

Haught misrepresented Christian views, which apparently he does not understand, and had the audacity to claim to know what Jesus Christ was like. By claiming that the “nones” are tolerant because of their views (which conveniently agree with Haught’s own politics), he suggests that Christians are intolerant.

While I cannot speak for the Evangelical community, I do have something to say on behalf of Christians, and as a minister of Christ’s Gospel, on behalf of Christ, as well: Christianity is not an intolerant religion, St. Paul is not a bigot and Mr. Haught is not more merciful than Jesus Christ.

Christian doctrine and dogma teach a certain way of life out of love. If, somehow, that has become misrepresented by certain groups that Mr. Haught may have come in contact with, I am sorry that he has had those experiences, but please do not put all Christians together in one box.

As a matter of fact, we shouldn’t put all of any group in one box. I have friends who are politically liberal Orthodox Christians, conservative gays and everything in between. Putting everyone in one box is the definition of bigotry.

Mr. Haught seems to claim to be tolerant, but I see from his opinion piece that he is an “intolerant tolerant” — he is only tolerant of people who think like him.

Are the votes of the evangelicals less valuable simply because they do not fit Haught’s loose understanding of Christianity?

American citizens have the right to vote for the candidate they feel best represents their ideology. This does not imply that the candidate is a perfect reflection of their ideology. However, per Haught’s understanding of voting, people who voted for former President Bill Clinton support white men taking advantage of their young interns.

The type of speech found in Haught’s column is the kind of divisive and hateful rhetoric that we can do without in this country. In fact, I believe that President Donald Trump was elected specifically because he is the voice of those who are sick and tired of being bullied for having traditional beliefs.

Let me be clear, I am not political. I am not a Republican or a Democrat. I prayed for President Barack Obama (while he was in office) the same way I pray for President Trump currently.

I would love to have a president who is a positive role model to young boys and girls, but our society has produced a world where morality is no longer a value that is important. The politics of our day reflects and encourages the Godless drama that is passing for news.

I am in favor of love, truth and tolerance — all of which are part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My way of showing love may be that I believe no one should be killed: not through abortion, nor through war, nor through execution. What box is Mr. Haught going to put me in? Does he think there is no logic in conservative beliefs? The kind of arrogance found in Mr. Haught’s column should be labeled as narcissism.

Finally, Jesus is not “liberal” nor “conservative.” He is Truth. His Gospel commanded us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned, etc. Notice, He commanded us, not our government. Insisting that our government do it is just as un-Christian as ignoring it. Jesus is the same God who appeared in the Old Testament.

I generally do not respond to such articles, but this one especially caught my attention as fuel to a problem in our country, which is dividing people.

If I have a message for the “nones” (or anyone else for that matter), it is: Do not wait for someone to tell you what to believe or what is popular to be angry about this week. Don’t listen to journalists who manipulate news. Instead, demand that they do their job and report the news — rather than trying to get you to think like them. You are smart enough to think on your own. These wolves in sheep’s clothing are insecure and need an army behind them to be reassured of their own beliefs.

The God I worship blesses the peacemakers and calls them sons of God. Mr. Haught has done the opposite here. I hope he will forgive me if I have offended him, but his public statement required a public response.

Father Joseph Hazar is the dean of St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral in downtown Charleston. He has a BA in psychology from Hellenic College, a master of divinity degree from St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and did additional studies at the Balamand Patriarchal Seminary.

Funerals for Thursday, January 23, 2020

Ball, Mamie - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville. 
Browning, Molly - 1 p.m., Evans Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Chapmanville.

Coleman, Jason - 1 p.m., Keller Funeral Home, Dunbar.

Eskew, George - 1 p.m., Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Friend, Raymond - 1 p.m., Foglesong-Casto Funeral Home, Mason.

Fuller, Ellen - 11 a.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Hood, Melissa - 2 p.m., Gatens - Harding Funeral Home Chapel, Poca.

King, Mildred - 1 p.m., Sharon Church of God, Dry Branch.

Miller, LouEllen - Noon, Koontz Funeral Home, Hamlin.

Sovine, George - Noon, Culloden Community Cemetery.

Ward, Debra - 1 p.m., Graceland Cemetery, Alum Creek.