By Rev. Zechariah Isaiah Newton, guest columnist

You may have read some years ago that then Attorney General John Ashcroft covered up those indecent statues, Spirit of Justice and Majesty of Justice. This gave some of us hope that our once God-fearing nation which had become nearly as decadent as Rome, was finally getting back to the virtues that made us a great society; a shining city on a hill. Those of us who took hope in this were mistaken. Now the blue draperies are gone, and a sick man has become Attorney General. America has not turned her back on indecency and debauchery. Gonzales has uncovered the nakedness of these heathen idols. Instead of calling him Alberto, perhaps we should call him "Perverto"!

Perhaps we should have known that this was a truly sick man when the news reported that he did not have a problem with torture of prisoners, and considered the Geneva Conventions "quaint." The sadomasochistic depravity of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay call to mind Caligula and other monsters of the past. He seems to laugh it off. Is this the kind of man we should have as the chief law enforcer in our land? I say no, but sadly, this man is a sign of the times we live in. It is not only he that has inspired me to write this sermon, but all of us. It is our fault if we have bad leaders. We elected them, and they appointed others of their ilk. Mister Gonzales is but a symptom of the illness that infects our society.

It is shameful how our moral compass, which once pointed clearly upward, now spins wildly. We have so lost our way that the seven deadly sins have become our idea of virtues. We have lust instead of love, reveling in indecency and pornography from these statues, to Janet Jackson's breast, to things I shudder to imagine which are but a few mouse clicks away on the Internet. We commit gluttony, becoming obese while much of the world starves. We consume the majority of the world's resources, and in our boundless greed (or avarice as it used to be called) we only want more. Too much is never enough. He who dies with the most toys wins. Many of us know that we are on the wrong path, but in our sloth we will not get up from our easy chairs in front of our televisions to do anything about it. In our streets and around the world we act in anger and wrath, throwing our weight around. We cause harm to the people of the world and damage to the world itself. We wallow in envy of that which others have. Here at home we must keep up with the Joneses, and around the world we steal the natural resources we crave, such as the oil in Iraq.

The greatest of our sins; the one which stands above all the others is our pride.  In wanton pride we take his name in vain exclaiming, "God Bless America", wording it as an order rather than a petition. Pride is the worst of the seven deadly sins, as it can be used to justify the other six. In truth, they rise from it. In pride, we still pretend that we are the one perfect society, and must remake all others in our image. We are so blinded by our pride that we claim to bring freedom and democracy to those we have invaded and conquered. We have reduced these ideals to buzzwords: things that sound good, but have no meaning. It is time for us as a nation to look inside and reflect. It is because of us all that a man who scoffs at torture and revels in indecency is Attorney General. We have become a greedy, grasping, gluttonous, covetous, vengeful and decadent people. In spite of this we still stand tall in pride. When Rome became consumed with this madness, The Lord sent the Visigoths over their hills, and their civilization fell. Can America yet avoid this fate? Not if we continue to choose leaders who talk about "family values" while freely indulging in the seven deadly sins. Not while we freely indulge in the seven deadly sins, chief among them pride. Pride goes before a fall.


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