Louisiana Mandates Posting The Ten Speedbumps On Classroom Walls

Louisiana Mandates Posting The Ten Speedbumps On Classroom Walls

Pastor Robert Morris, right, spiritual adviser to Donald Trump, welcomes him to Gateway Church Dallas in 2020.

Photo by Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS

Let’s begin our descent into this black hole of legal religiosity with the story of the resignation on Tuesday of Pastor Robert Morris from his perch at the pulpit of the massive Gateway Church in the Dallas, Texas suburb known as Southlake. Two days ago, Morris, who founded the megachurch in 2000, was forced to resign after it became known last week that he had sexually abused a 12-year-old girl on Christmas night in 1982 at a so-called “youth revival.” The abuse continued for the next five years, according to the victim, Cindy Clemishire.

The Gateway Church has more than 100,000 members. Morris has had a religious television program that reaches 190 countries. According to a biography that was scrubbed from the Gateway Church website earlier today, Morris’ radio program airs in more than 6,800 cities. He served as an official “spiritual adviser” to Donald Trump during his time in office.

In an interview on Sunday, Morris admitted to “inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady 35 years ago. It was kissing and petting and not intercourse, but it was wrong,” Morris told Dallas station WFAA-TV. In a statement to the news station, the Gateway Church claimed that Morris has been “open and forthright about a moral failure he had over 35 years ago,” and claimed that he had committed “no other moral failures.” In the interview, Morris explained that after his “transgressions” were first discovered some years ago, “I submitted myself to the Elders of Shady Grove Church and the young lady's father. They asked me to step out of ministry and receive counseling and freedom ministry, which I did.”

Here's where we get to the good stuff. Morris explained away his “transgressions” by telling the Dallas television interviewer, “This situation was brought to light, and it was confessed and repented of.”

See how that works? You are a pastor, a so-called “man of God,” and you sexually abuse a girl when she is 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16 years old, and all you have to do is confess your sin and repent and the whole thing is over with.

By any rational reading of the Ten Commandments, Morris broke three of them: the Seventh, forbidding adultery, because he was married at the time of his sexual “transgressions” with the underage girl; the Ninth, forbidding lying, because he lied about it for years; and the Tenth, against coveting, because Morris clearly coveted something, sex with an underage girl, which kept him, in the words of the Bible, from “putting God first.”

But that’s okay, because 35 years later, Morris went on TV in his hometown and confessed his sins and explained that he repented.

See what I mean? It’s not the ten commandments. It’s the ten speedbumps. All you’ve got to do when you break them is slow down and if you’re Catholic, say a few Hail Mary’s, or if you’re a Protestant, confess your sins and say you won’t do it again, and all is forgiven. There’s no cop. There’s no reckless driving ticket for speeding and endangering the life of another. Having sex with a 12-year-old girl and lying about it for decades is just a speedbump in an otherwise spotless life because the statue of limitations on sexual abuse of minors ran out years ago in the state where Morris committed his crimes, Oklahoma.

It's just a speedbump for Morris, who not only sinned against the word of God, but broke the laws of man by sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl. The whole thing about their pastor having committed multiple sins over multiple years and broken multiple laws is just a speedbump for the Gateway Church, too.

NBC News was given a recording of a meeting that was held on Tuesday when the Gateway Church staff was informed of the Morris resignation over his “transgressions.” Kenneth W. Fambro II, a member of the Gateway Church Board of Elders, got up before 150 employees of the church and first, warned them not to record what he was about to say. Then he told them that accepting the resignation of Pastor Morris “has been one of the most difficult decisions in my life.” NBC News reported that Fambro, speaking on behalf of the rest of the Board of Elders, told the church staff that “Pastor Robert did a phenomenal job of being open and transparent about his transgressions and his past, his moral failures. What we did not know was that she was 12 years old.”

But hey! Just a speedbump! Fambro is there in an auditorium with the doors closed to the outside world, believing that nobody else is listening, and he can speak freely, right? So what is to be done about this crisis, when a church with 100,000 members learns that for 24 years they have been led by and listening to an inveterate liar and a sinner?

Not to worry: “If you’ve been here long enough, you’ve heard Pastor Robert say, ‘Before we can move, we need to hear God,’” Fambro assured his staff. “So yes, there is an anointing on this house. Yes, there is an anointing on Pastor Robert. But both and yes? There was some stuff that was done. They both can exist. Pastor Robert wants to see Gateway Church succeed in the body of Christ. Pastor Robert wanted to resign to not be a distraction.”

Another church elder stepped up to explain the counseling services that would be available to church employees.

Yeah, you heard that right. Nothing about counseling for the victim. Not a word about reporting the crimes admitted to by their leader, Pastor Robert. Fambro wanted the church employees to “focus on what they can do to help the church succeed,” according to NBC News.

“I can dwell on the past,” Fambro told the staff. “You guys can, as well. Or I can choose to say: ‘That’s a data point. How can I affect the future?’ How do we move forward?”

So, there it is. Three of the Ten Commandments broken by the leader of the Gateway Church, and it’s a “data point,” a fucking speedbump on the way to making God happy by collecting more money and supporting fellow speedbumpers like Donald Trump.

These are the Ten Commandments the state of Louisiana today said must be displayed in every classroom from Kindergartens to state colleges. Announcing the passage of the law, the governor of Louisiana told reporters, “If you want to respect the rule of law you got to start from the original law giver, which was Moses. I can’t wait to be sued.”

He will be. The American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation announced today that they will file a federal lawsuit challenging the Louisiana law. The Ten Commandments of course are a part of the Christian and Jewish faiths and have nothing to do with any other religion. So, mandating the posting of Christian and Jewish religious doctrine in public classrooms is on its face promotion of the faith of two religions over all others and a violation of the First Amendment.

Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito and the rest of the the court’s Christian soldiers will doubtless look for some way to overturn the 2005 Supreme Court precedent outlawing public displays of the Ten Commandments in Kentucky courthouses. They will surely find their solution in the “history and tradition” doctrine they recently hatched. They’ll cast around and find some reference to Ten Commandments being displayed somewhere in the 1700’s or 1800’s, so because this country has a “history and tradition” of favoring one religion over another, the Louisiana law will no doubt be allowed to stand.

But not to worry, folks. To old Moses, the The Ten Commandments may have been laws, but these days, they’re just speedbumps. Any questions? Just ask the folks at the Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas who, confronted with wholesale violations of the so-called Ten Commandments by their own pastor, are ready to move on.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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