JIM CREES: A lack of compassion

I keep telling myself, “Don’t do it. Don’t write it. Don’t bother.”

But, I rarely listen to myself anyway, so ...

Recently, I was shocked and dismayed by the lack of compassion demonstrated by a national religious denominational organization toward the people of a suffering community.

I’m not going to mention the actual denomination. Hopefully by not naming names readers might understand I’m not painting the entire congregation with the same bitter brush, (although I doubt this will help.)

I would like to point out one thing. I am not writing about the Catholic Church, so all of those faithful can put down their pencils and actually read to the end before they start with the “Crees hates Catholics” stuff.

I am, however, writing about a mainstream denomination with millions of adherents.

Immediately following the horrifying massacre of the innocents at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, area residents gathered to pray and console each other in a number of public services.

At one of these interfaith gatherings, members of the community joined in a prayer vigil led by members of the local clergy - Christians of many denominations, Jews, Moslems and others.

The assembled united in their grief, and held each other up in prayer appropriate to their faith and beliefs.

They did so recognizing that not one specific denomination was hurting, but rather that  a community comprising many faiths and faithful was in anguish and looking to a compassionate Creator for comfort at a time of crushing pain.

“We are not here to ignore our differences or diminish our core beliefs which define our many different faith traditions,” said Rev. Matt Crebbin of the Newtown Congregational Church.

And they prayed.

As a community reaching out to One God despite denominational and religious differences they prayed for comfort and solace for the families most affected by the killing spree, and asked for healing grace in this time of incalculable suffering.

They prayed.

One pastor was called on to offer his benediction at the end of the vigil.

He did so.

He joined the larger community realizing that this suffering was well beyond his petty denominational boundaries.

He prayed.

And as a result, he was reprimanded by his denominational leadership and ordered to apologize for his “weakness.”

I won’t mention the church denomination, or the pastor.  Suffice it to say, a mainstream denominational organization forced a pastor to recant his participation in a community prayer vigil, and repent for his ‘sin’ publicly before his congregation and denomination.

And he did!!!

He apologized for taking part in a prayer vigil in one small community mourning the loss of 20 innocent children and six heroic adults at the hands of a madman.

He apologized for asking God’s tender mercies on the families of those most radically suffering loss, and on the community so enveloped by this evil.

He apologized saying:

“Some have expressed concern, and in some cases public rebuke, that my participation in the prayer vigil on Sunday night has hindered our ability to speak the Christian truth into a pluralistic culture. The fear is that by sharing the stage with false teachers, I have diminished the proclamation of truth which is ours by grace through faith in God.”

He later added, “I apologize where I have caused offense by pushing Christian freedom too far ...”

Sharing the stage with false teachers!!!

Oh. My. God.

Now, just so that we better understand the doctrine involved here.

The rebuke and reprimand of this pastor, and his forced confession and apology is based on a church position which states, (amongst other things,)

“We repudiate unionism, that is, church-fellowship with the adherents of false doctrine, as disobedience to God’s command, as causing divisions in the Church, and involving the constant danger of losing the Word of God entirely ...”


“Church-fellowship with the adherents of false doctrine???”

These were people of faith, (albeit different faiths and denominations), united by community grief, and your team can’t get on the same stage with “adherents of false doctrine” because you might lose the Word of God entirely??


How comforting to understand that Jesus didn’t think like this.

He was at the table, on the road, in the fields, and in constant fellowship with those who most people in his day would consider “adherents of false doctrines” and worse!

He hung around with hookers, lepers, the unclean, the abused, the disenfranchised, and the worst of sinners.

Jesus made his way to the Cross to redeem the lost, but a pastor in Newtown can’t make his way to the stage to comfort a suffering community without needing to apologize for his “pushing Christian freedom too far”!

I won’t mention the church or denomination. It’s easy enough to find out.

I feel sorry, however, for people such as this - blind guides and false prophets.

Worse, I pity their followers.