The Pious Fraud That is Rev. C. Welton Gaddy

A mock-"Peanuts" comic strip making the rounds, perhaps you've seen it, by way of LiberalLogic101.com -- a friend of Charlie Brown's says, "This tragedy should show us how desperately we need to ban guns," referring to the Sandy Hook massacre.

Charlie Brown says -- "Actually, I was thinking it shows why we shouldn't disarm victims." His friend responds -- ""How dare you politicize such a tragic event!" (video clip after page break)

I posted this on my Facebook page Tuesday. The following night, another cartoon figure by the name of C. Welton Gaddy, pastor of the Northminster Baptish Church in Monroe, La., and executive director of the Interfaith Alliance, played the role of Charlie Brown's confused friend.

Gaddy did this while appearing on "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC. What follows is a partial transcript of their conversation with my italicized commentary throughout --

MADDOW: Seeing these folks from Newtown trying to help lead a national response to what happened, do you think that proximity to a tragedy like this lends a kind of moral leadership, a moral signature that can help the rest of us trying to figure out what we ought to do in the wake of this?

GADDY: I certainly do, Rachel. I think it is certainly moral integrity for them, they have the experience, they know what happened to them, they know what can happen to other people and so they want to move. There's something else involved also, though, that I think is very therapeutic about this (imagine the rage from liberals if a conservative suggested that pregnancy caused by rape might eventually prove "very therapeutic") because so many times when this happens in a community or even just a death among good friends ("just" a death?) and people are just, you know, like this (wrings hands) as to what, I feel so helpless, I don't know what to do. Here's something to do. Here is a situation in which to grieve is to also imagine what can we do to stop needless grieving, needless deaths. (Providing we don't think it through).

The only thing that scares me about this and it certainly can be overcome is in Washington, moral authority (as embodied by me) doesn't really go very far. If it did, we'd be feeding hungry people all over the world already (... which I could be working on now, but I'd rather be here). We would find it harder to go into war and we would find it easier to get out of war. (He's talking to you, George W. Bush). So, these people are filled with passion and with empathy and I'm glad to know who they went to see today (an allusion to Newtown residents going to Washingon to attend a news conference organized by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence), because they can be helped there. But this is not going to be quick.

Now something may happen quickly, but the real solutions are going to take awhile and they're going to be disappointed. They're going to go into a room where there are people they think should be their friends and, they're right, they should be, but they're feeling a political will that is being battered by lobbyists, by the National Rifle Association (the KKK ...), by people saying, oh you're just not realistic about living in this world (people who doubt the wisdom of abortion on demand and the stellar safety record of gun-free zones) , we have to have our guns to fight the government (which have always been benevolent forces for progress), we have to be prepared, and they're going to be sorely disappointed. That's when they have to reach deeply again into their guts and find that passion and say, we're not going to be stopped by that. We've got to get this done.

MADDOW: As head of the Interfaith Alliance, I thought about you when watching President Obama addressing that interfaith service on Sunday night in Newtown, quoting from Scripture, speaking both as a president but also speaking as a man of faith, talking to people in a very interfaith, very diverse environment. Do you feel like, especially in moments like this when people are so emotionally affected, I mean, there are a lot of different types of tragedies that happened over a lot of different time in our country. This one has grabbed people by the heart. To see people so upset, you see a lot of references to faith, you see a lot of people reaching for faith (... holding prayer vigils in schools, for example, which is usually verboten) and talking about faith in a way that is more open than they usually do. (And which usually makes my skin crawl).

Do you feel like the religious community is being constructive and playing an important role in the response so far? (And when can we expect them to revert to their hidebound ways?)

GADDY: As always, some of it and some of it is not. And there are some people who are still as religious leaders carrying political baggage and delivering political mail. And it makes me sick at my stomach to see that.

Pass the barf bag, pastor, I know just how you feel.

Jack Coleman
Liberated ex-liberal from the People's Republic of Massachusetts