JIM CREES: That can't be true!

It really is sad.

For many years, the religious leadership of this country provided a strong moral compass for people in dozens of denominations, and a rational forum for progressive thought and action.

Yes. “Rational.” Yes. “Progressive.”

Early religious leaders were often (not always, but often) ahead of their time in introducing a moral framework for a largely uneducated and stiff-necked people.

Despite the strong support for slavery by the church in the deep south, it was the religious leadership who ramrodded the abolitionist movement.

Religious groups and institutions spear-headed social welfare programs helping eliminate child labor, sweatshop work conditions, horrific prisons, and the virtually institutionalized denigration and prostitution of women.

The church provided comfort, solace, and support to the most beleaguered and disenfranchised of people — including immigrants — in these United States.

The church fought for civil and human rights.

Interestingly enough, religious leaders were some of the leading scholars and scientists of their day. The church’s religious saw a real need to make a positive impact on the community in which they lived.

And then ... things started changing.

Today, leaders of the neo-fundamentalist movement are guiding the church and their communities rapidly backwards.

The Dark Ages are once again threatening the Age of Enlightenment.

Take for example — Matthew Hagee.

Matthew Hagee is Pastor John Hagee’s youngest son.

The apple hasn’t fallen too far from that tree.

Pastor John has been soundly and roundly denounced for disparaging everything and everyone not of his own specific flock.

He is an all-inclusive hater denigrating all and sundry with little regard for race, color, or creed.

So Matthew Hagee comes to his stupidity honestly, (and genetically).

Last week, while discussing scientific evidence for mankind’s impact on climate change, Hagee stated simply that God (yes, God Himself!) refuted climate change even while men declared it to be so.

God is always right. Men are always wrong.

It’s that simple.

“The Bible says that whenever we approach the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strange weather patterns,” Hagee said. “Jesus said this in Matthew the twenty-fifth chapter.

“So we have a decision to make: do we believe what an environmentalist group says and choose to live in a world where we’re attempting to make everything as clean in the air as possible, or do we believe what the Bible says, that these things were going to happen and that rather than try to clean up all of the air and solve all of the problems of the world by eliminating factories, we should start to tell people about Jesus Christ who is to return?”

That, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is your only choice.

You can either be concerned about the world in which you live, OR you can tell people about Jesus and offer them eternal salvation.

There’s no AND.

It’s just OR.

There is no middle ground.

“Men are saying things that contradict God’s word,” said Hagee. “God’s word is accurate and men are wrong”

There is no possibility offered by Hagee (or others of his ilk) that God may be directing or inspiring scientists to protect His creation. (It’s called “stewardship.”)

Hagee’s thesis, and the belief of far too many, is that God has promised total physical devastation in the End Times, so there is no need to take care of the physical world while we are all still here.

Sad.

Extreme weather events are not a problem because “... this world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through.”

Ever increasing religious hyper-fundamentalism, such as that espoused by Hagee, in full cooperation with a rapidly growing sense of political pandering is creating an atmosphere in this country in which science is regularly denigrated, and God is used as an excuse for just about anything.

The world is falling apart? Hey, we’re all going to Heaven (or at least some of us are.)

Another war breaking out? No need to try and stop it, it was predicted in the Book of Daniel.

Ice caps crumbling? Don’t worry, God promised there would never again be a flood so ...

And why not believe this stuff? 

Especially when living in a country in which more people believe in angels than they do in scientific theory.

Heck. A University of Texas study carried out a few years back actually found that 25 percent of public school biology teachers believe that humans and dinosaurs inhabited the earth simultaneously!

This past week a Gallup poll showed that “ ... 42 percent of Americans still believe God created human beings in their present form less than 10,000 years ago.” Then, according to surveys conducted for the National Science Foundation, two-thirds of Americans are unable to identify DNA as the key to heredity, and one in five adult Americans believe the sun revolves around the earth.

So, Hagee knows the audience to whom he is preaching.

To heck with science and environmental responsibility. Jesus said so.