JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Why I love crazy spritual leaders

I have many, many friends who are devoutly religious, and I respect them immensely. In fact, my closest female friend, a former Olympic volleyball player named Bev Oden, is a steadfast Christian who believes strongly in the New Testament and desperately wants me to accept Jesus. I have no problem with this, because Bev is righteous in her unselfishness—she believes non-believers will probably perish, and she doesn’t want that to happen to me.

In myriad ways, I love her for that (plus, we have killer debates).

That said, I am bothered by the way the media and general public confuse dedicated, well-intentioned Christians like Bev for the crazies who often speak loudly on behalf of Christian values—but seem significantly more concerned with Q rating and CNN appearances than actually decency. This certainly applies to Pat Robertson, to the late Jerry Falwell, to Jesse Jackson (it hurts me to say that, because I loved o’ Jess back in ’88, but when a minister cheats on his wife, well, the authenticity takes a hit). And, without question, it applies to the devil himself, Mr. James Dobson.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the man, Dobson is is an evangelical Christian and chairman of Focus on the Family, the organization that puts the “bashing” in “gay bashing” and the “nuts” in “Grape Nuts.” (Mmmm … Grape Nuts). More than any of his peers, Dobson is also responsible for guiding millions of seemingly brainless followers into his own political reality. Here, for your viewing pleasure, is the latest video from Dobson’s organization, asking God to produce a rain storm for the night of Barack Obama’s outdoor address in Denver.

Personally, I hope it rains. Not hard, but enough to turn a moment into a MOMENT. The first African-American presidential candidate, standing before thousands of white, black, yellow, Hispanic followers, giving the speech of a lifetime as the sky opens and nary a person leaves his seat.

That, indeed, would be Godly.