So unlike your ChristBy
“I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” —Mahatma Ghandi
I was going through the archives this afternoon (not really, but it sounds good) and found this interview that Scrutiny Hooligans did with the Reverend Wendell Runion nearly five years ago. You might recall that the good Reverend was the first to speak out against equality during public comment at this past week’s city council meeting (watch it here), lumping gay people in the same breath to pedophiles and sex offenders.
An icon of Western North Carolina, the Reverend Runion, is the head of IBOM (The International Baptist Outreach Ministry — seriously folks, you can’t make this stuff up). He also serves as the chairman of the Buncombe County Republican Party‘s Faith Committee, the “sole purpose” of which is to “to preserve Christian values and American traditions” — or rather that was its sole purpose, until — after some outcry — its purpose changed just “to support American traditions and people of faith.” Nothing to see here. Move along.
Anyhoo, here’s an excerpt from that interview (read the whole thing here). It’s a fascinating look inside the mind of a man who dresses up his bigotry in colorful ecclesiastical garb. —Michael Muller
P.S. Please keep your comments civil, folks. Inappropriate personal attacks won’t be tolerated. Thanks.
From March 10, 2006:
“Debate is the Greatest Sin” – Dr. J. Wendell Runion
Dr. J. Wendell Runion was gracious enough to return the phone message I left him earlier in the day, and I peeled myself off of my sickbed to have a conversation with him regarding tomorrow’s “Rally…in SUPPORT of CHRISTIAN and CONSERVATIVE BUSINESSES and their RIGHT TO OPERATE according to FAMILY VALUES, SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE (between one man and one woman), WHOLESOME WORK ENVIRONMENT (without oppression from the Sodomites & Liberal Media)”
Dr. Runion believes in the Bible. He believes in the King James Bible of 1611 and says it “is without error”.
“It is the only book that agrees with itself”.
To glean more, I quoted Leviticus, “A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev. 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality? I don’t agree. Can you settle this?”
Dr. Runion replied that that verse is about the Law, but Christians are not “under the Law, we are under Grace.” I asked how he came to decide which verses to attend to and which to ignore. “The Word of God is a declaration,” he said, “Debate is the greatest sin. Nobody wins in a debate. I stopped debating years ago.”
Mistaking me for a homosexual, Dr. Runion said, “You people suddenly become medical professionals and Bible scholars in your knowledge and your training.”
“Gay people being born that way is a medical opinion.”
“I have two Doctor degrees in religion and in Christian education.”
I said that some would consider tomorrow’s rally a Hate Rally. Dr. Runion grew animated and told me, “My brother-in-law is a homosexual and has been for forty years. My heart breaks that he’s unsaved and going to hell.”
“I hate the sinful lifestyle.” But, he went on to say, tomorrow’s rally is “not about hate.”
By way of clarification, Dr. Runion said, “If a pedophile or serial killer walks into my house, I don’t respect him.” But he would share the Bible with them.
“I’m a child of God,” he went on, “and I can commit any sin you can commit. Sin is by choice.”
I asked him about whether he would agree with the statements of Reverend Fred Phelps of “God Hates Fags” fame. Dr. Runion claimed “I’ve never heard of him. I don’t know anything about him.” He then went on to say that the “Wrath of God will come upon sinners”.
Regarding his advertisement, I asked how he felt he was being oppressed by homosexuals or the media. Runion recounted the Wolf Laurel Ski Resort controversy. When I asked how this had oppressed anyone, he replied that the Wolf Laurel management was “scrutinized”. I asked him how scrutiny amounted to oppression, and Runion declared he wasn’t going to debate it.
Screwy Hoolie: “When Christianity is the dominant religion in America, it’s hard for me to stomach the idea that you’re oppressed.”
Dr. Runion: “Christianity is the most loosely used word in the English language.” He went on to explain that real Christians are far fewer, “I don’t know very many of them.”
I expressed my hope that tomorrow’s rally would be peaceful, and Dr. Runion was quick to condemn the counterprotesters at the last rally he sponsored regarding the sanctity of marriage. “The police marched them back across the street.”
He then went on to say regarding tomorrow’s rally, “Everyone’s Welcome,” he said, “We live in a free America. I can’t force a man to believe anything.”
And, aside from the inevitable effort on his part to draw me into a theological discussion about accepting Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, I thanked Dr. Runion for his time and patience and hung up.