Bob Kerns: Thinking

Thinking about Science, Engineering, and Technology


The GOP Religion

by Bob Kerns

In response to some nonsense or other from Steve King [R-IA4], in November 2017, I wrote the following.

My father was an Iowa country preacher. So was my mother’s father. I never saw the slightest hint of such attitudes, heard the slightest whisper. I don’t recall ever being taught that women need men’s protection—just the Golden Rule—treat everyone as you’d like to be treated yourself.

My father and grandfather were in the Evangelical United Brethren (EUB), a Wesleyan denomination that with an intervening split and merger, once counted the Wright Brothers father as a Bishop, and ultimately were an offshoot of the Church of England.

In 1968, they merged with the Methodists, also Wesleyans, gathering most Wesleyan tradition into one church.

In the same year, they also gathered one Oral Roberts, formerly a Pentecostal minister, founder of Oral Roberts University.

The Pentecostal denominations are descended from the Azusa Street Revival—a long-running Revival meeting in LA in the early 20th century. Speakers in tongues, “holy rollers”, and believers in the near-term Second Coming. Not exactly predestinationalists, but they believe in an all-or-nothing salvation. When Christ (soon) walks again on earth, you will be saved, or you will be damned.

The Methodists gave him more freedom of operation, and in the negotiations, expressed a fair bit of envy of his evangelism (aka “recruitment successes”).

I graduated high school in 1972, from Correctionville, a town where my dad had been brought in to handle the merger of two congregations, plus a third in Cushing, an even tinier town to the west, in the same school district.

Fast forward 9 years. Joel Osteen graduates high school in a Houston suburb and attends Oral Roberts University, where he studied, not divinity, but Radio and Television Communications.

Rewind to the year before the merger. Representative Steve King graduates high school from Dennison; he lived in the tiny town of Kiron, about the size of Cushing, that I never even heard of. This was the neighboring district to the Southwest – and halfway between my father’s and my grandfather’s churches. We drove within a couple of miles of it a couple hundred times in my youth, but like Cushing, it was off the main highway.

Go back a couple more years. My elementary school (Grand Meadow) (neighboring district to the north). Population 13 at the time. Had just merged Back a generation. Steve King’s mother attended the same school, prior to the merger that sent me 13 miles further north for junior high. Flash forward to present day, two more mergers, district is now 400 square miles.

Back to the main thread of the story. 1999. Joel Osteen preaches his first sermon. Becomes pastor of Lakewood, the Charismatic/Pentecostal church founded by his father in 1959. Later that year. Forward 4 years, Lakewood leases the Compaq Center, former home of the Houston Rockets. Payment in advance for the first 30 years of the lease – $11.5 million.

Also in 2003, Steve King is elected to the US House of Representatives.

They spend $100 million to renovate and turn it into a mega-church, adding 5 stories in the process, and a television studio, and move in in 2005. Five years later, Houston sells it to them for $7.5 million.

2011, Steve King on the floor of the House: “Well, if you applied that preventative medicine [birth control], universally what you end up with is you’ve prevented a generation. Preventing babies from being born is not medicine. That’s not— that’s not constructive to our culture and our civilization. If we let our birth rate get down below replacement rate, we’re a dying civilization.”

Today, Osteen is noted as one of the leading ministers of the Prosperity Gospel. Donations continue to pour in, funding his lavish lifestyle. Manny Pacquiao, former world-Champion boxer and current Philippines Senator, recently gave him a $86 million jet.

I grew up in parsonages, owned by the church, each not unlike the homes our parishioners lived in. mostly older. Only one still survives; the rest have been abandoned and torn down.

Joel Ornstein and his family live in a $10.5 million mansion.

I’m not jealous. I have a nice home in one of the most expensive counties in the nation. Our next home will be smaller, not bigger.

I’m appalled.

My father would have known what to do with $10.5 million dollars. Heifer International would likely be where it would go, to help feed sustenance farmers. He grew up a farmer, plowing the land with a team of horses. He knew the good that a donation of livestock can do.

Steve King was raised a Methodist.

This is the GOP.

This is the GOP Religion.

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