Column by Paul Hein.
Exclusive to STR
Last June, Missouri Congressman Todd Akin made a speech in which he said that liberalism involved “hatred of God.” Needless to say, the professionally touchy were inflamed, and the Congressman was quick to issue an apology. Some local pastors weren’t satisfied with that, however, and sought a face-to-face meeting with Akin at his office. Maybe an apology doesn’t take the first time, or maybe being a follower of Jesus today means never saying anything to offend. Is that what Jesus did?
I don’t know exactly what Akin meant by comparing liberalism with “hatred of God,” but perhaps he was thinking of the liberal penchant for seeing all problems as social, with a liberal government providing solutions, justice, prosperity, etc. In other words, a liberal government replaces God as the source of all blessings. And do we not read in Scripture that those “who are not with Me are against Me?” So maybe Akin’s thinking was along those lines. Maybe not. I’m not losing any sleep about it. What bothers me is not what Akin said, but the fact that he seemed to feel it necessary to apologize for it.
It’s easy to make an off-the-cuff remark that offends someone, and in that case, an apology may, or may not, be in order. Akin’s remarks, as I understand it, were given in a radio interview, and thus were, to some extent, spontaneous. But Akin is a politician, and not likely to deliberately insult possible constituents. If his comment caused offense to some, so what? In recent years, it has become routine for public figures to say things that they subsequently apologize for, as though it were an offense against good manners and etiquette to express ideas which some people don’t like. There’s a significant difference between deliberately insulting someone, or some group, and then apologizing, and stating your beliefs, which may annoy or irritate some sensitive souls. In the latter case, why should an apology be necessary? For a politician, especially, to never utter a word offensive to anybody, would require him to speak nothing but the most banal platitudes. Come to think of it, that would offend me! Apologize!!
So to simplify matters, I have produced the following statement, which any public figure is free to copy and hand out after any public utterance that could conceivably hurt someone’s feelings. Feel free to modify it to suit your own situation as needed.
I (name), speaking for myself or anyone associated with me or acting on my behalf, or on behalf of any organization with which I have ever had any connection, do hereby offer the most sincere and abject apologies for anything that I, or we, say, have said, or might say in the future, that anyone, or any group, anywhere, at any time, might, under any circumstances, find offensive, annoying, irritating, irksome, or distressing. We also abjectly apologize to any who are psychically or emotionally wounded by our failure to say something they think we should have said, as well as to those who find our apologies offensive and hurtful. Our remarks--or maybe the lack of them--were inappropriate, and we are really, really, sorry.
That ought to cover it.