Sunday, May 09, 2004


I am posting this full article taken from ...
because I believe it is important and moreso
during Christian Aid Week ......................
We Know Bono's Christian By His Love
Lexington Herald-Leader, May 08, 2004
Rich Copley

Earlier this year, Christian musicians rallied behind U2 front man Bono's charge for the church to fight the AIDS crisis in Africa.
They put together a 13-song CD of covers of U2 classics such as "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "Beautiful Day," with proceeds going to World-Vision's efforts to combat AIDS. For someone who's followed contemporary Christian music and U2 for two decades, it was so cool to finally see the faith community embrace a band and a man who has walked the walk outside the mainstream church for most of his career. It was even cooler to see it happen in the name of doing the work Jesus called us to do: reaching out to help the sick and the poor.

Then I read the "Feedback" section in CCM magazine this month and caught a note from a guy named Christopher Stone, who was upset that the catalyst for In the Name of Love: Artists United for Africa was Bono drawing attention to the AIDS crisis.

"Why did it take him saying something about it for us to do something?" Stone wrote. "Jesus said for us to help those in need long before Bono's grandparents were even thought of, and he's not a very good example of the Christian walk either. He promotes attention to the AIDS in Africa problem; yet with the same mouth, he proclaims profanities. Am I the only one who sees a problem with this?"

No, Christopher, you aren't.

I, too, think it's a shame that a rock star had to come in and guide the church into doing something ministers and evangelists should have been addressing long ago.

But moreover, I see a problem with your judgmental attitude toward Bono. But you aren't alone. Despite U2's numerous statements of faith and unflagging support of humanitarian efforts and social justice, the band members and Bono in particular have regularly been the objects of derision inside the church because some Christians don't like their lifestyles.

Look, can we get off this jag of downgrading a guy for some four-letter words and a little drinking, when basically he's spent most of his life in the excessive world of rock 'n' roll standing up for bedrock Christian principles such as caring for the impoverished and oppressed.

OK, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that when judgment day comes, the Almighty will be a lot more interested in what we did for the least of these than how many times we dropped the F-bomb. The shame is that in the duration of U2's career, the band has done a lot more than the mainstream church has done to lead people to a concern for their fellow humans.

You say it shouldn't be that way?

You've got that right.

I'm not saying that there are not wonderful ministries to the poor and needy in churches in Lexington and in the United States. I was extremely proud to see the Faith Community Housing Foundation on the front of our City and Region section Wednesday, because it is one of the organizations in Lexington that is truly doing God's work. Around the world, groups such as Habitat for Humanity and Compassion International also do great work in God's name.

But all too often these days, the images we see of Christians are the faithful carrying signs with vicious slogans denouncing gays, evangelists on talk shows shouting down fellow Christians critical of The Passion of the Christ, and similar bile in the name of Jesus.

I have no idea what they think they're accomplishing.

They'll know we are Christians by our love?

You can stand up for your beliefs without being mean and ugly. I talk to people all the time who think Christians are basically about judgment and condemnation. In light of this, Christians really need to think about how they present themselves and their beliefs.

Here's something that stunned me. I just read a book by former CCM magazine editor Matthew Turner called The Christian Culture Survival Guide. In it, he talks about the many, many churches he has visited searching for the right one. In one section, he lists eight common areas for people to get involved in churches -- things like small group leader and worship team member -- and not once, not once does he mention missions.

I'm not going to fault Turner for that. The shame is that in the mainstream Christian church in the United States, a person could visit dozens of churches and not once be impressed that God commands us to care for the least of our society.

No. But don't say cuss words or drink alcohol, whether or not you're getting drunk.

Meanwhile, in the late 1980s, Bono was out there telling us we needed to care for starving people in Africa, that we needed to stand up against the cruelty of apartheid -- that we need to be the leaders in making this world a more just, fair and humane place.

So, you tell me, you Bono bashers who just cannot stand the fact that he occasionally uses profanity in public and likes his Guinness chilled: Who is modeling a Christian walk?

Our churches need a revolution to show the world that God is about compassion and healing. And if that revolution starts with a salty-tongued Irishman...well...God's used stranger characters.
© Lexington Herald-Leader, 2004.