Monday, February 20, 2017

Lou Engle: Shut Up and Stop Complaining

New Apostolic Reformation preacher Lou Engle took to Twitter to comment on the recent surge in protesting and political dissent. In a February 9th tweet, Engle wrote that "To protest is an American privilege. Yet to protest with a bitter spirit defiles many." In another Tweet that day, Engle claimed that "If people would pray for their leaders instead of complaining about them the kingdom would more speedily advance." Engle's tweets are problematic for several reasons.

First, protest is an American right, not a privilege. The rights of citizens to exercise freedom of speech, to assemble in a peaceful manner, and to petition the government for redress of grievances are protected by the Bill of Rights. Furthermore, democracy thrives when citizens hold leaders accountable and communicate their will to all levels of government. It is not only the right but the duty of Americans to offer dissent when leaders propose unsound policies. Contrary to what Engle writes, protest is an important American tradition, not a privilege.

For citizens to hold their government accountable, they must speak. They must identify what is wrong with a leader's decisions and make their thoughts known. Engle frowns on this as "complaining", but in reality, it is an expression of free speech that is essential to healthy democracy. Speech and action, not prayer, bring about results in the real world.

Engle's comment about protesting with a "bitter spirit" is revealing. First, it suggests that Engle sees rancor in the protests of the past few weeks, instead of righteous anger, courage, humor, and solidarity with the marginalized. Second, "bitter" is a epithet that some Christian fundamentalists hurl at those who criticize persons in power or demand justice for wrongdoers. Is it easier for Engle to dismiss the anti-Trump protests as outpourings of "bitterness" than to listen to the grievances of the protesters?

With Donald Trump in the White House, unsuitable figures rising to cabinet positions, alarming executive orders flying off the president's desk, and so much at stake, Americans can't afford to be passive. We can't afford to stay silent for fear of appearing "bitter", and we can't wait for a cosmic white knight to fix our problems. Now is the time for constructive action, not passivity.


  1. If people would pray for their leaders instead of complaining about them the kingdom would more speedily advance

    Kingdom? What kingdom? Yes, I know how fundies use "the kingdom" in a metaphorical way, but surely he knows that the people protesting the Trump regime are not trying to "advance" some weird theocratic fantasy. The fact that these people seem more attached to a metaphorical kingdom than to the idea of a republic where many viewpoints are accommodated, is very revealing.

    Anyway, I know of no actual historical cases where staying at home mumbling to yourself has proven more effective at getting things done than protesting in public.

    1. Infidel -- New Apostolic Reformation prayers -- speaking in tongues, swaying, and working oneself into a heightened emotional state while droning worship music plays -- seem to be more about making worshipers feel good than bringing about change anyway.

      When the issue is something Engle cares about, such as abortion, he urges passion in his followers. The Trump administration doesn't seem to worry him so much, as reflected in his tweets.


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