Christians Need to Practice Forgiveness and the First Amendment
It is a new week and a new apology to a Christian leader. This time it is MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle’s apology to Trump’s new economic advisor Larry Kudlow. Kudlow was being interviewed by Ruhle and mentioned that he would become economic advisor “if it was God’s will.” Ruhle later commented that it seemed an odd statement for an economic advisor to have and then later joked about having to give facts and data to a president that has made over 2,000 false statements at the start of the new year saying that “well, as Larry Kudlow says, ‘It’s God’s Will.’” Kudlow was not pleased and took to Twitter to comment. “Sneering at faith, and God’s will, @SRuhle @MSNBC . Why still on air? She apparently believes people in business & economics should not have faith.”
— Larry Kudlow (@larry_kudlow) March 17, 2018
But this is problematic. First, when you become a public official you must accept public scrutiny. Anything you say may become a reason you are criticized. The Freedom of Speech allows public figures to be criticized, even mocked. This has been affirmed in several Supreme Court Decisions, most notably Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, when a religious figure argued that mocking him was not protected under the First Amendment. Yet it is protected.
Therefore, the claim to fire someone because they said something you did not like is a dangerous knee-jerk reaction. But it is a popular one for attacks on the religious character of a public figure. When Joy Behar of The View made the point that Vice President Pence hearing Jesus talk to him seemed like a mental disorder, there was a spewing of rage and calls for her to be fired. She also had to apologize.
As a reporter, a mom & a Catholic, I know words matter & I want to clear something up.
I meant no offense when discussing @larry_kudlow’s WH appointment. I apologize if my comments came off as dismissive of his faith.
I would never question another person’s believe in God.
— Stephanie Ruhle (@SRuhle) March 17, 2018
While both apologies were accepted, an important part of Christian ethics is forgiveness. Jesus tells his followers to forgive individuals as a fundamental part of being Christian. He states “bless those who curse you [and] pray for those who abuse you.” While it could be argued that the offending party needs to be repentant first, even Jesus asks for forgiveness of the Romans alhough “they do not know what they are doing.” So, the Christian thing would be to forgive the person instantly.
It is reminiscent of a joke from comedian Bill Hicks. He is approached by an angry mob of people after a performance about his mocking of Christians in America. His reply? “Well then forgive me.” It seems that too quickly that Christians do the opposite of what Jesus taught, and need to endorse that universal ethic of love.
Hey @larry_kudlow, you’re in govt now – whom else would you like removed from TV because their views don’t suit you? You’re welcome to attack @SRuhle on our show, but know that I’ve got my partner’s back. Try to be your best self: do your job with dignity & serve the country
— Ali Velshi (@AliVelshi) March 17, 2018
Also imagine if the future economic advisor to America said, “well if Zoltar wills it” and then proceeded to say there was an interdimensional imp who controls reality and so if he became economic advisor it would be because of Zoltar.
This is not to belittle the faith of millions of American Christians. But it begs the question: nearly a quarter of Americans are either Atheist or Agnostic. If they feel uneasy about someone who will deal with hard facts talking about something they see as a myth, why can’t they express their views? This is why Freedom of Speech is in place in America. Kudlow is entitled to speak about his religious faith while Ruhle is allowed to speak about her lack of conviction on that belief or make a joke. Neither voice should be smashed down. The legacy of our country and the will of Zoltar demands it.