This may be old news, but I keep finding people who haven’t heard of it, so I thought it might be worth posting.
The stated message of this statue (drafted by Apostle Alton R. Williams) is that “America belongs to God. It proclaims that Christ is the true source of liberty: spiritually, emotionally, physically, relationally, financially, and intellectually. The Statue reminds this nation that it was founded on Judeo-Christian values and urges America to return to them. It says America, bless God if you want God to bless America.”
The statue stands 72 feet high, looking proudly over the interstate outside Memphis. This project cost a pretty $260,000 which some of Williams’ critics thought might have been better spent on the poor. Williams claims that the answer to the poor’s problems is Jesus Christ, whom this statue proclaims.
Williams’ congregation, World Overcomers is a rather puzzling megchurch that whips together a fascinating blend of American nationalism, black liberation theology and standard televangelist health and wealth gospeling. It has a school, a bowling alley, a roller rink, a bookstore and 12,000 members…and a 72 foot statue of the Lord’s Lady Liberty. The church is known around the city for the full page adds condemning homosexuality that they have taken out in The Commercial Appeal, Memphis’ daily newspaper and for the trees they have cut down along the interstate to make sure that their church was visible from the road.
On their website World Overcomers declare that the staute is a propehtic sign for the last days. I’m inclined to agree, but not for any of the reasons that they put forth. It is a prophetic sign to the church of it’s radically compromised state of being. This statue is a picturesque microcosm of a church that is completely sold out to free market capitalism, American nationalism and equates citizenship with discipleship, thereby emasculating Jesus’ message of self-renuciation, self-giving and peace. In contrast to this mutated Lady Liberty, who proclaims spiritual, emotional, physical, relational, financial, and intellectual autonomy we have the witness of Jesus.
“So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions. Salt is good; but if salt loses its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? it is fit neither for soil or for the manure heap; they throw it away. Let anyone with ears to hear, listen!” (Luke 14:33-35)