Why is their faith so weak?
Rollin Riggs for The New York Times
Tacky and wrong
Lady Liberty Trades In Some Trappings
By SHAILA DEWAN
Published: July 5, 2006
MEMPHIS, July 4 — On Independence Day, Lady Liberty was born again.Even in Tennessee it's seen as tasteless.
At a megachurch in Memphis, the Statue of Liberation Through Christ was consecrated Tuesday. The statue, says the church's pastor, is a way of "letting people know that God is the foundation of our nation."
As the congregation of the World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church looked on and its pastor, Apostle Alton R. Williams, presided, a brown shroud much like a burqa was pulled away to reveal a giant statue of the Lady, but with the Ten Commandments under one arm and "Jehovah" inscribed on her crown.
And in place of a torch, she held aloft a large gold cross, as if to ward off the pawnshops, the car dealerships and the discount furniture outlets at the busy corner of Kirby Parkway and Winchester that is her home. A single tear graced her cheek.
It was not clear if she was crying because of her new home, her new identity as a symbol of religion or, as the pastor said, America's increasing godlessness. But although big cheers went up from the few hundred onlookers at the unveiling, and some people even wore foam Lady Liberty crowns bearing Christian slogans, she was not universally welcomed.
Most of the customers at the Dixie Queen food counter near the church viewed the statue as a cheap attention grab, said Guardia Nelson, 27, who works there.
"It's a big issue," Ms. Nelson said. "Liberty's supposed to have a fire, not a cross."
Elena Martinez, a loan officer visiting Memphis from Houston, said her family was speechless at the sight.
"The Statue of Liberty has a different meaning for the country," Ms. Martinez said. "It doesn't need to be used in a religious sense."
At the pizza place next door, Amanda Houston pronounced the combination of the Statue of Liberty and Christianity "ridiculous," though her co-worker Landon Condit was far less critical: "I can't see anything wrong with it. This is the Bible Belt."
The Statue of Liberation Through Christ, as she is called, stands 72 feet tall from the base of her pedestal to the tip of her cross. She was the idea of Mr. Williams, a very successful pastor whose church, World Overcomers, qualifies as mega: it has a school, a bowling alley, a roller rink, a bookstore and, he said, 12,000 members.
In "From Slavery to Lady Liberty: Lady Liberty's African Connection: The Key to Black America's Liberation," he pointed out that the real Statue of Liberty wears a broken shackle around one ankle, and revisited evidence that the statue, a gift from France, was originally intended not to welcome immigrants but to celebrate the emancipation of slaves.
"Many blacks are not patriotic, and they are not patriotic because of the history of our nation," Mr. Williams said in an interview at the church, in the richly appointed sitting room he uses to receive visitors. "It's good for our people to know that the nation has something for them as well."
To critics who say there are better ways to spend $260,000, Mr. Williams responds that his church gives millions to the needy and says he views the statue as outreach: "I personally feel that the answer for the poor is Jesus Christ.
Maybe some people like church with no responsibilities, but it's kinda dehumanizing to me.
But Williams is an asshole for repeating that old conservative canard. Black people are not blindly patriotic, sure, but God should strike him down for saying black people aren't patriotic. I'm sure there are a couple of thousand families of dead and wounded Iraq and Afghanistan war vets who would disagree.
I hope that fucking statute falls in on itself. Idolitry combined with an insult.
posted by Steve @ 5:13:00 PM