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.
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.