Sometimes there is more to a visitor than meets the eye! Self-proclaimed atheist Matt Taibbi decided to go undercover and spend some time in Pastor John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church. His goal was not spiritual enrichment, scriptural enlightenment, or Christian fellowship; Taibbi was motived by dirt. He wanted to get some dirt on Hagee and those ‘wacky evangelicals’ who call Cornerstone Church home. So, he signed up and participated in one of Cornerstone’s Encounter Weekends and there misrepresented himself, terribly.
This oddly uniform style of dialogue ringing all around me made me shift in my seat. I felt nervous and unpleasantly certain that I was about to be found out. When Maria asked me why I’d come on the retreat, I bit my lip. When in Rome, I thought.
“Well,” I said, “since the new year, I’ve just been feeling like God has been telling me that I need to get right spiritually. So here I am.”
Admittedly, aspects of the Christian expression Taibbi encountered at Cornerstone Church were bizarre, to say the least. A growing number of young evangelicals brand Hagee-like expressions of the faith with tags such as ’socially and culturally archaic’ and ‘terribly unhelpful.’ Taibbi’s soft assumption that all of religion - and all of evangelicalism - looks and sounds like Cornerstone is not helpful either. Yet, he perpetuates the assumption that Hagee and Cornerstone speak, act, and worship for the rest of us. Could Taibbi have picked a different evangelical church to visit? Sure! But it would have made for a boring story, especially for an atheist. He needed a ridiculous and exaggerated example of religion and evangelicalism. He surely found it at John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church.
Taibbi is not far removed from John Hagee. In fact, they need each other. Taibbi is simply one more sensationalist in a growing line of zealot atheists who know how to pick the worst and most ridiculous examples of evangelical expression and champion them as good reasons for the cessation of all things religious and/or Christian. Hagee is not far behind. He knows how to do the same thing, but from the other side of the fence. The pair are living on opposite sides of the same detrimental social coin. Surely this money tree is wilting, right? Hagee, however, and to his credit, is not wandering around in disguises pretending to be something he is not just to get a bit of dirt on the other side. Say what you will about Hagee and his expression of faith, but he is too honest to stoop to such behavior.