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Mark Sanford v. Elliot Spitzer- the Hypocrisy (and faith) Factor

posted by Paul Raushenbush

Alec Baldwin wants me to move on and not pay attention to the Mark Sanford fandango.  I basically agree.  But over the last couple of days I have been wondering why the Mark Sanford affair rankles me more than, say, the Elliot Spitzer affair.  And it is, of course, because of Sanford’s hypocracy. 

Mark Sanford has made a career of moralizing against other people.  The (until soon) Governor voted to impeach then President Bill Clinton for his moral illegitimacy and claims that marriage among gays and lesbians undermines the institution.  On the other hand, Elliot Spitzer never threw stones against other adulterers knowing full well that the shards of glass of his own house might cut him.  He also was a staunch supporter of gay marriage, perhaps because he was inspired by the determination of the gay community to be married in the face of all obstacles, when he could and did take his marriage for granted.

It is the bald hypocrisy of Sanford that makes me gloat over his downfall.  But it begs the question of the font of his hypocrisy.  Unfortunately, I think it may be faith.  Sanford is constantly described as a man of deep faith.  Instead of his faith giving him insight into the deep fallible nature of humans and fueling his compassion for others; his faith has been used as a moralizing bludgeon for attack and condemnation. 

Now that it is his turn in the shame spotlight he will assuredly use his faith to promote a repentance and forgiveness scheme for himself like the Ted Haggards.  But the damage he has done and his systematic judgment of others he used as the faithful ladder of his career has lost its power to elevate. 

All that Sanford and the other hypocrites like him can hope for is that God will break them of their arrogance and make them new as people of compassion and acceptance.  

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Yo dude123

posted June 26, 2009 at 10:24 am

I think that the two of them are equally flagrant examples of hypocrasy, given that Spitzer had spent a good deal of his career bringing down not only prostitution rings, but being very aggressive in going after their clients. He was also “Mr Clean”, the anti-corruption guy. For him to be brought down for spending huge amounts of money on a high class call girl while on public business is anathema to everything that he was professing to fight against in the name of the public interest. Both of them (Spitzer and Sanford) were brought down particularly because of the non-practicing of what they were preaching to others.
I was more disappointed with Spitzer because I was, and still am, a fan of many of the things that he accomplished in other areas.

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posted June 26, 2009 at 11:35 am

In the last few years I have become more aware of the dualism that most Christians in this country, and especially in the South, live with. The dualism is holding the right beliefs and saying the right words without seeing that faith is about God’s transforming grace more than our belief systems. In my experience such as crisis as these men are going through is what is necessary to shatters their protective belief systems and open them up to God’s grace as life transforming. Churches would serve the gospel far better, and their members, if leadership emphasized the radical teachings of Jesus, rather than domesticating him. The could also come closer to being the body of Christ if they focused more on what is found in the different ways of living the contemplative live.

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posted June 26, 2009 at 6:03 pm

OK – just so I have this straight now. My 24 year partnership – the last four years in legal marriage (my country recognizes gays as human, in contrast to the situation in the US) is an abomination before God because of our monogamous, true, loving and committed partnership. Can’t have gays committing to one another.
This pig, however, can go around spending tax payers’ money to boink any woman he cares to and according to crunchycon and the other christianists, it’s just us liberals being unfair and judgmental to point fingers at him?
So, OK, got it – as long as you’re a Bible-thumping Christian, you can screw anything in a skirt, cheat on your wife and be a pig, no problem, God loves you and forgives you. If you are true to your partner and are gay or transgender, God hates you.
Glad we got that cleared up.

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Nat Ersoz

posted June 27, 2009 at 8:48 am

“I was more disappointed with Spitzer because I was, and still am, a fan of many of the things that he accomplished in other areas.”
I completely agree. I realize that Sanford must have been a tormentor of others, but for me, I had never heard of him until now. For me he is and was a nobody. I wish it could be true for everyone else.
However, I fully appreciated what Spitzer, whatever his motives, was doing in financial corruption cases. I wish we had an army of motivated financial prosecutors. I was disheartened when Spitzer went down.

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Nat Ersoz

posted June 27, 2009 at 3:33 pm

Hmmm, I just had a thought.
If marriage is defined by the state as the union between one man and one woman, does the state “unmarry” or declare a mis-marriage, or dissolve the existing marriage when one of the married spouses introduces an external spouse? (Spell it out: being unfaithful, yknow it a sexual sort of way).
So is it the state’s responsibility to unilaterally declare a mis-marriage in this event? Not that the couple could not seek refuge in the legal context of civil union going forward. But as for marriage, if the religious right were consistent, we would have the state instantly void a marriage right then and there when someone was caught in the act. Or, if Jesus were really being followed, the marriage would be void by the mere thought of adultery.

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posted June 28, 2009 at 10:54 pm

From the original post:
>And it is, of course, because
>of Sanford’s hypocracy.
>Mark Sanford has made a career of
>moralizing against other people.
This does not make Sanford a hypocrite and, evidently, you do not understand the meaning of the word ‘hypocracy’. Hypocracy is the act of saying what is wrong for you is OK for me. This is not what Sanford or Spitzer professed. When caught, both admitted that their actions were immoral nowhere did either of them even hint that it was OK for them to behave this way, but not for others.
Like so many of us, these men are simply failed human beings.
Bill Clinton was probably as close to hypocracy as one can get without actually crossing over the line. His justification of his act on the basis of the definition of ‘is’ and/or the claim of his supporters that oral sex did not rise to adultery is close. Still, I do not view President Clinton as a hypocrite. Like Spitzer, Sanford, and so many others, they are failed, sinful members of fallen humanity. In this, they exemplify us all.

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posted June 29, 2009 at 9:26 am

After that charming little apologia for this pig and the other christianists who deny me human status in the US, perhaps you have time to comment on the distinction between lies of omission and commission?
Had Sanford not made such a point of imposing his hateful, spiteful nastiness on other people, I doubt you would find this level of commentary on him.
To the great shock and surprise of the christianists, we have had it with their lies and perversions of justice. Now that the Bush dictatorship is past, I think you will find many more people speaking out when one of the mullahs is caught with his pants down.
This is a good thing.

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Your Name

posted June 29, 2009 at 10:47 am

From Webster’s Dictionary:
1: a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not ; especially : the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion
Fits Gov Sanford pretty well in thus case. Of course it has a lot to do with his reaction to his own failures not matching what he’s called for with others who committ the very same act.

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Your Name

posted June 29, 2009 at 10:53 am

1 : a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion
2 : a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings
1. a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, esp. a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.
2. a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, esp. one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.

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posted June 29, 2009 at 11:08 am

Actually, I have a name. I don’t always enter it in after I edit.

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Ellie Dee

posted June 29, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Your choice of the word “gloat” leaves me to believe, less compassion, and decernment was used in this article, than judgement.

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posted June 29, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Ellie Dee,
I think it is more a case of the righteous judging righteously.
Oh, right – I forgot – only fundacrites get to pass judgment on others.
In all seriousness, it is always the same game – whether, to name but a very select few – Vitter or Ensign or Sanford: First, we get the “Ah have sinned again’ the Lawd, but He hath fuhgiven me, ’cause Ah’m a gen-u-whine Christin man.
Then we get: Mah wifey stands by me, come up onna stage dahlin’, let them see yo’ pretty face.
Next, the poor woman – who really wishes the earth would just open and swallow the jerk and his adultress du jour – has to say how much this has really strengthened their marriage.
Finally, conservative Christians pronounce it all “forgiven and forgotten and, anyway, BILL CLINTON was much worse…
The next one’s just around the corner, no doubt we’ll see the usual absurd theater played out once again before the summer is out.

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posted June 30, 2009 at 11:51 pm

OK, I can’t wait to hear the conservative Christians defend him after today.
We should keep him as governor to demonstrate repentance to his four kids?
How many women was he sleeping with?
Heaven’s above, at this point I so do not think we will need to fight over the question of his hypocrisy…just over his STD status…
Is the reason conservative Christians opposed gays having monogamous marriages simply this: Incapable of anything but adultery (serial adultery?), they see monogamy as a perversion?
Would explain alot….

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