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Hypocrisy in the Bible Belt

Scantily-clad dancers wash cars in the parking lot of one of many Dallas strip clubs
Scantily-clad dancers wash cars in the parking lot of one of many Dallas strip clubs
ShadowOfMyFormerSelf, Flickr

Let me start by saying I am now on location for my full-time job in Dallas, TX. It is not the first time I have been here: I met my future wife here on a job in 2002, and our second date was church (Eirene Christian Fellowship), leading me to getting saved.

I also returned for more work in 2003 and 2004. But at that time I had not attended the seminary, had not even read the entire Bible, and certainly was not qualified to write about faith. I was, however, plenty qualified to see hypocrisy.

There are over 40 scriptures in which Jesus criticised hypocrisy--His top issue of the day. He fought against the spiritually dead but legalistic religious leaders of His day, the Saducees and Pharisees. If you want a taste of how He viewed them, read Matthew 23: 2-39--it is 38 verses of some of the strongest condemnation He ever issued.

Verse 28 sums up the problem I see in the city often described as the "buckle" of the Bible Belt: "Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity."

I bring this up because I am reluctant to tell strangers I live in San Francisco. There is not only a rivalry among Texans with California, but in many cases outright despising. It is as if many see the state by the name of the cable program, "Californication."

Several years ago, the animated television show "King of the Hill," set in a fictional Dallas suburb, had a season cliff-hanger centered around the potential Hank Hill would have to go to California. His response: "Over my dead body!"

California is seen by many in the Bible Belt as the centre of debauchery, and not without reason: Hollywood marriages are a joke, with shorter life spans than many of God's creatures. In San Francisco, the city I love, Christianity is just about the only religion not accepted by many, it is not uncommon to see partially or fully nude patronage at some events. For those who cling to old-fashioned philosophies that homosexuality is in and of itself perverse, the State of California and especially the city of San Francisco have more of that than anywhere else in this country.

But San Francisco has nowhere near the proliferation of strip clubs that exist in Dallas. You cannot go ten miles down any Dallas freeway without seeing multiple billboards for "Gentlemen's Clubs." (As if any gentleman reduces women to such a value system that judges them entirely on appearance. The women participating and profiting from it may not be exploited, but womankind is by the mere propagation of this attitude.)

This does not make San Francisco superior to Dallas. Every city has its problems, and of the major cities I spent significant time living in, Dallas and San Francisco share an unusual compassion for the homeless: Nowhere have I seen so many car windows roll down so people can give to those on the street. And Dallas residents have shown me a remarkable hospitality and willingness to help that does not exist in other cities I have lived.

Those are Christian values. But passing judgment is not.

I expect as much from those not calling themselves Christian, because it is a human flaw. But the many Christians in Dallas (and indeed, in the church itself) should remember that judgment starts in the House of the Lord, and "Judge not, that ye be not judged." (Matthew 7:1).


  • Cindi 4 years ago

    Good observations. Thanks for sharing!

  • xexon 4 years ago

    Amen, and pass the fried chicken!

    I gave up both religion and meat many years ago.

    I grew up in Alabama. A small town. To this day, you cannot buy either alcohol or a copy of Playboy there. Religious influence in the law of the land.

    No shortage of hellraisers though. Cause the biblebelt don't fit everybody.

    I'm hard on all organized religion, but those who use their religious beliefs to shield personal shortcomings attract me most. Zionists especially. They're thick in the south.

    Christianity is nothing but a cult of personality. Of a person long dead who was not understood in life.

    The religion that followed in his wake is an abomination. A corruption.

    But you have to learn that for yourselves.

    And stay out of the south, as it's a spiritual wasteland full of well meaning sheeple who are ready to save you in Jesus' name.

    Landing on a planet full of meth babies couldn't be any stranger.


  • MJ Kasprzak 4 years ago

    Thanks to both for commenting. There is a big difference between religion and faith--my faith is my spiritual centre, but religion is about dogma and rigidity.

    However: Xenon, don't be so critical of the South as a whole--everywhere has hypocrites. I was a community organiser for an environmental group, and ran across tons of pseudo-liberals in the Bay Area who wanted everyone to know they voted for a black man but took issue with me doing the very thing that got him started--they were all for a cause until it involved some personal sacrifice on their part. I just can't write about them for a Christian site because their hypocrisy was not related to the faith.

  • ckas 4 years ago

    Of all the human frailties, hypocrisy and intolerance are probably the worst. They are somewhat connected, for you really can't practice one without practicing the other. As you pointed out, tho', redeeming qualities are often found in places (people) that appear without redemption.

  • CyPontuo 4 years ago

    Kasprzak ~ I had similar experience with leftist groups -
    And as far as the judgment thing, stop judging "their" judging.
    Grace is the key and you draw nearer the Lord as you know how much He saved you and admit how wretched you are. Jesus(God) was not saying everything goes, but was basically saying that the law is only important when you worship daily and surrender daily. From the inside out - it does not abolish the design of God for better living - ultimately He will resurrect the lives of believers - some things we will see others will be beyond the sight. Father wants and is pleased with admittance and repentance which breeds willing followers on the journey to the One True God and heavenly kingdom. ONE WAY TO THE FATHER ~ JESUS

  • MJ Kasprzak 4 years ago

    Cy: I recognise that the left is guilty of this, too, and that's why I was quite critical of Jesse Jackson in the article preceding this one and talked about the faults of all people in this article and subsequent comments. But I will not stop judging the judgmentalism in the faith when it turns people away from God's grace because they reject the religion of those they see only this hypocrisy from--remember, Jesus condemned the same spirit in the Pharisees.