Selective Grace

I try to be circumspect about weighing in on news events. If I comment at all, I generally prefer to wait until the dust has settled, the immediate reactions have ceased, and some in-depth analysis is available. I also try to avoid celebrity news/gossip.

But this Kathy Griffin thing has me intrigued from a theological perspective. The photo shoot she did, where she held up an effigy of Donald Trump’s bloody severed head, was obviously a really dumb and tasteless thing to do (I wonder if it was inspired by the German magazine Der Spiegel, which recently ran on its cover a graphic of Donald Trump holding up, ISIS-style, the severed head of the Statue of Liberty). Most everyone–left, right and center–seems to agree that Griffin went way too far.

Yesterday Griffin issued an apology via video in which she acknowledged that she crossed the line, made a mistake, was wrong, and she asked for forgiveness. I only know of Kathy Griffin vaguely (doesn’t she do the New Year’s Eve coverage with Anderson Cooper?), but the apology seemed sincere and humble to me.

Yet today, despite her apology, many evangelicals–including Franklin Graham–continue to be apoplectic.

A few days ago, in his victory speech, Montana congressman Greg Gianforte (R) apologized clearly and directly to journalist Ben Jacobs for assaulting him. As Gianforte expressed his regret and said he was sorry, one of his supporters shouted out “and you’re forgiven,” causing the assembled crowd to cheer.

Evangelicals likewise quickly forgave Donald Trump for his “grab them by the pussy” statement and his mocking of a disabled reporter (and his multiple marriages and infidelities and corrupt business dealings and crass name-calling, and propensity for lying, etc.) without any requirement that Trump even apologize or express remorse. “He’s a baby Christian” was the justification. “We all make mistakes.” “We’re not perfect, just forgiven.”

But Kathy Griffin? No, she cannot be forgiven that easily. Her apology has been judged as “insincere.” Franklin Graham and evangelicals of his ilk are nursing their grievance and gloating over the detrimental impact Griffin’s poor decision is having on her career. CNN has now distanced itself from her, which prompts me to wonder if the same folks who were outraged at the “silencing” of Bill O’Reilly will speak out on Kathy’s behalf. I kind of doubt it.

I remember when our evangelical pastors used to preach against “cheap grace”–that is, forgiveness without repentance. Now it seems, they have embraced “selective grace”–that is, forgiveness (with or without repentance)–but only if you’re a member of the conservative tribe.

Griffin’s apology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MorUcN2-FOM

Gianforte’s apology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOy10WCaSkA
Trump’s apology: …

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  • Anna Schrock

    No disrespect in intended;we cannot mix religions and go to heaven. Religion is a belief Christianity is a relationship with YAHWEH the Father the Son and the Holy the one triune God-Father God sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins,Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice for our sins,40 days after he died (the disciples faith WAS tested here) Jesus returned to tell them that even though He would not be with them (us) physically,the Holy Spirit, the Comforter,would be.”Carry on” He said,”We WILL see each other again IF you walk in faith and obedience.
    Sir I have experienced this.
    By no other means can any human being enter heaven. Bending or adding to what God has told us leads to condemnation;
    Revelation 22:18-19 “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
    True Christianity IS that Jesus Christ is the Risen Savior the Truth and the life and that no one can be saved from their sins but by Him
    Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

  • ReaderV

    Dear Daniel, I both agree and disagree with your observations. I did not care for the photo of Kathy Griffith anymore than I care for Skin head Natzi slogans that are leftovers from WWll. We understand the root behind the words and the visuals one historical wrong does not make a modern day right. As peaceful people, we forgive the misguided but, not the concept. From what I’ve seen and what I have read, Kathy has suffered and paid a high price. Was it worth it for the person to ruin another’s life? We are supposed to have freedom of expression here in America. We may not like everything we see but, never before did anyone in a power position react as a “stood up prom queen”. Why is this one person so very fragile, why does he attack those who disagree with his limited focus? Shouldn’t a strong person understand their greatness comes from their own self and their own acts of kindness? Our wars do spread our greatness as a Nation, only our Humanitarian missions leave smiles behind. Because, only the truely pure spirit leads the way for others. Interpreted as a matter of United States Law, We protect the multitude of voices and can not be forced to walk and think the same Kathy is protected by her first admendment rights. Yet, inside the business world, her work can and does influence her jobs. As for the new senator from Wyoming, Punching and choking a member of the press was and always will be wrong. The press, in general, then brought to to the nation’s attention, The Senators Middle Eastern Factory that directly funneled significant payroll and other money from the new Senator to ISIS. Turn over a leaf, one never knows what lies underneith.