Law and Order: Ted Haggard Redux

Law And Order logoThe Haggard debacle has made it to the screen–the small one, anyway. Law & Order tonight focuses on a “Rev. Sterling,” pastor of “New Promise Church.” A gay associate is found murdered and things start to point to Sterling.

The more interesting thing is the portrait of the church that L&O paints. New Promise is more corporation than community. Actually a network of 125 churches, with more than 150000 members, New Promise has a CEO. When questioned about the murder, and about the surprising attendance numbers, the CEO replies, “You sell a good product, people want to buy.” He holds out a church brochure that features the handsome pastor prominently and promises deliverance from lostness, confusion, and homosexuality.

So the church-as-business critique has found its way out of our schoolyard and into the world. Seeing this caricature on L&O only confirmed my own disgust at that model of church. It was a caricature, sure, but caricatures are intended to exaggerate realities.

Sadly, NO Christian in this episode comes off well. The CEO’s secretary, who describes herself as “not a Bible thumper,” does the right thing by revealing a rumor that the pastor was gay. The pastor’s wife is a rube who shouts at police, “Why do you hate us so much? Is it because we have the courage to worship the Lord?”

The aforementioned rumor leads to a former lover, who reveals that Pastor Sterling is a fraud, a poser, who preaches Jesus by day but snorts meth and has gay sex by night.

Everyone’s ready to nail this sucker, and the writing is unbelievably heavy-handed. (The police lieutenant [S. Epatha Merkerson) tells the detectives to make the arrest public. “I want this hypocrite to feel some pain,” she says.)

This is another subject that will have to wait for a fuller treatment. For now…blecch.

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2 thoughts on “Law and Order: Ted Haggard Redux”

  1. Things that make you go: hmmm. There’s no denying that the writers of Law and Order (all of them) are leftest New Yorkers. It could be said that the writers and producers just don’t know or only see one side. But the real problem is that we (The Biz Church) have painted ourselves into the corner. In an effort to be bold with our faith, we have forgotten that we are simply redeemed sinners, saints because of grace.

    On a lighter note: I was at a conference on Friday and the last session featured a Student Affairs practitioner/Life Coach (yes, I kid not). He started off on his presentation and I thought I was at a Catalyst Conference. He was dynamic and motivating. I laughed to myself at how similar he was to many preachers I had sat under. After the session was over, my friend, a Jewish guy from New Jersey, turns to me and said, “If he would have gone on a little more, I would have raised my hand and shouted ‘Glory’.”

  2. Boston Legal also touched on the Christian approach to homosexuality in a recent episode. A judge had been diagnosed with Same Sex Attraction Disorder (SSAD) and had gone to a Christian treatment facility. He was suing the facility because the treatment didn’t stick, so to speak. The facility’s position was that if the judge had tried hard enough, if his faith was strong enough, the treatment would have been successful.

    Today, one of my residents stopped by while I was watching Ellen. The resident said “Yeah, she’s funny, I just wish she wasn’t so messed up.” I said, “She’s messed up?” The resident said, “Yeah, well, she’s a LESBIAN” (her emphasis). I said, “So that makes her a messed up person?” She said, “Well, no, I mean, you know what I mean.” I held my tongue to keep from saying “No, not really” and just let it go.

    So, all that to say this: I’m sad and embarrassed to admit that the portrayal of Christians’ attitudes toward this particular topic are often spot on. Until we start acting differently and giving Hollywood some new material, I fear we’ll never see anything different.

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