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Kirby: The perils of using Christianity as a hammer

By Robert Kirby

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Feb 23 2012 01:14 pm • Last Updated Feb 24 2012 04:58 pm

The presidential race took another dive into nonsense Tuesday when Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, said he couldn’t be sure whether Presisdent Obama is a "true" Christian.

On MSNBC’s "Morning Joe," Graham further announced that he "could not definitively say that the president is not a Muslim" either.

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Graham then cited several examples indicating that Obama is not only actually a Muslim, but quite possibly an Osama Bin Laden love child — bomb-making skills, routine "death to America" rants before Congress, the eating of Christian babies, etc.

OK, I got creative there at the end. A little.

The point is that Obama’s discernible status as a "true" Christian is extremely important to Graham. It’s so important that it’s pretty much all that matters.

But Graham has no doubt about the Christianity of Rick Santorum, whose staunch Catholicism actually isn’t "true" Christianity according to most "true" Christians.

"No question about it," Graham said about Santorum on MSNBC. "I think he’s a man of faith."

This is truly ironic (and fun) given how much theological bitching went on in 1960 when "true" Christians opposed JFK’s bid for the presidency based on the claims that he "bowed to a Roman God."

I love humanity. You can’t beat us for mindless entertainment. We’re like a huge reality show. Every evening, the Lord kicks back, turns on "World’s Dumbest Creations" and shakes his head in disbelief.

It’s not entirely our fault. It’s the way we’re made. Graham is merely doing what everyone else does: using the only tool he’s got to figure out everyone else.

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There’s a problem with that. According to psychologist Abraham Maslow, if you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.

Note: Maslow was Jewish, which means he wasn’t Christian at all. It’s an important point if you’re the sort of moron who believes that has any bearing on whether he knew what the hell he was talking about.

In Graham’s case, the hammer is Christianity and everybody who isn’t one is a nail. It isn’t whether Obama is a good man (or not) or an effective leader (or not) that matters, but rather what kind of Christian (or not) he may be.

In Utah, the equivalent of this single-tool logic would be determining people’s moral character on whether they’re LDS. As in, "No you can’t play with the neighbor kids. They aren’t members."

It’s a top-down model of judging people. You set the bar — which coincidentally is always right where you are — and then assign merit to others based on their willingness to measure up.

I do it, too. The only tool I have is an unshakable belief that the entire human race (including me) is no smarter than a loose collection of lug nuts.

Mine is a bottom-up model of judgment. When someone like Graham says something, I don’t automatically give him the benefit of the doubt based on how much we agree about Jesus.

I start with the far more likely fact that Graham’s a fellow idiot and work from there. Given human nature, I like it when I’m pleasantly surprised. Most of the time I’m not.

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/notpatbagley.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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