Suggest that infrequent churchgoer Barack Obama may not really be a sincere from-the-heart Christian and MSNBC's anchors will be chief among the media pack to denounce you for questioning the president's religious faith.
But when it comes to Herman Cain, MSNBC's Martin Bashir is comfortable not merely charging the presidential contender as a hypocrite but suggesting he's headed to Hell (MP3 audio here; video follows page break).
In his December 2 "Clear the Air" commentary, Bashir reminded viewers that Cain serves as an associate minister at Atlanta's Antioch Baptist Church North.
"But if Herman Cain is proven to be lying and drops out of the race, doesn't that also disqualify him from holding a position in the local church?" Bashir wondered. Bashir, a Christian who worships at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, then turned to the statement of faith for the National Baptist Convention to which Antioch belongs (emphasis mine):
...[T]hey say this, "Nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner on earth but his own determined depravity and voluntary rejection of the Gospel."
If Mr. Cain withdraws from politics, then he must surely resign his position in the church, because one thing is for certain: Hypocrites can lie in the pew, but they should never lead from the pulpit.
Given that Bashir has taken to publicly evaluating the qualifications for elders in local churches, one wonders when he'll get around to calling for his colleague the Rev. Al Sharpton to step down from the pulpit, given the biblical injunction that pastors should be, among other things, "self-controlled" and "respectable" and not "quarrelsome."
What's more, Sharpton was initially ordained as a minister at the tender age of nine years old, which clearly seems to be in violation of St. Paul's warning to Timothy that:
He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.