Nel's New Day

November 17, 2013

Current Status of Religion–Dinosaurs, Bonds, Surveys, & Beer

A friend sent me this information about the Salvation Army:

“Some of their charity work is given freely, but their primary focus, providing for the homeless, requires recipients to submit to religious indoctrination. Their rehab “program” requires attendance at church services, 12-Step meetings which are led by preachers, and participants are required to pay. SA gets federal grants and donor contributions to operate these programs and then get homeless people to sign up. It’s the only way they can stay in the shelter more than three nights. A few homeless people actually have the money to pony up the $50/week fee. The ones who can’t are required to “volunteer” twenty-five hours labor, i.e., they’re paying these people $2/hour and preventing them from looking for real jobs. in addition, they are ALL required to apply for food stamps and give their SNAP cards to SA. I’ve known guys who were stuck in the SA rehab program for ten years or more. The few of them who get real jobs with SA are paid minimum wages and not allowed to work full-time, so they still have to pay to stay in the program. It’s not a charity; it’s a racket.”

The Salvation Army website does indicate that participants in rehab are required to work for them; the rest of the information above may also be valid.

Around the evangelical circuit:

*On a Veterans’ Day broadcast, televangelist Kenneth Copeland and GOP pseudo-historian David Barton used Scripture to argue that military veterans returning from war can’t get PTSD because they’re doing Godly work. According to Barton, members of the “faith hall of fame” in the Bible “were warriors who took so many people out in battle,” but did so in a just war in the name of God, proving that “when you do it God’s way, not only are you guiltless for having done that, you’re esteemed.”

*Some evangelicals are convinced that dinosaurs and dragons lived at the same time as humans but have to stretch the truth when it comes to the scripture evidence. These are some of their justifications:

  • The great sea monster (whale?) or the giant armored creatures (alligator or crocodile?) would be dragons.
  • God didn’t put every species in the Bible.
  • There is not room in the Bible to discuss dinosaurs or any other extinct species of life.
  • All of the basic “kinds” of living creatures were brought into existence in the same initial creation week. Moses wrote: “In six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is” (Exodus 20:11). This would include both dinosaurs (“terrible lizards”) and man.

*Ken Ham wants to build a full-scale wooden replica of Noah’s Ark at his creationist museum in Kentucky. All he needs is $73 million. How do the dinosaurs fit on the ark? Ham said, “When it came to the very few dinosaur kinds that grew to a very large size, God probably sent ‘teenagers,’ NOT ‘fully grown adults’ on the Ark.” The ark represents the end times which makes this a good time to build it, according to Ham, because of the current “great rebellion against God and His Word in the land.”

Because donations comprise only ten percent of his $73 million thus far and state funding from Kentucky dries up next year, Ham has decided to sell junk bonds to fund his project. The original plan was a “private placement equity offering” for contributors who would “participate as limited equity members in an LLC, with AiG as the controlling/operating member.” The group’s lawyers said, however, that the Affordable Care Act would force Ark Encounter “to provide abortifaciants (i.e., abortion-causing drugs) under its health coverage to its employees.” The lawyers are referring to Plan B contraception which does not cause abortions. The truth doesn’t get in the way of people who think that dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time.

The new solution: “A private bond offering through a 501(c)(3) that will allow us to claim the exemption to supply abortifaciants.” Instead of an LLC, Ark Encounter will be an official religious nonprofit. The website, Answers in Genesis, makes the bonds sound like a sound investment. However, they “are not expected to have any substantial secondary market” and are “not an obligation of AiG.” Because they are unrated—and thus highly risky—they would be almost impossible to resell. And the bonds are secured only by the revenues and assets of the Ark Encounter project, not by Answers in Genesis itself. A failing project means that investors lose their entire investment, principal and all.

*David Barton, listed as one of Time’s most influential evangelicals in 2005, now agrees that climate change is man-made—or at least woman-made. The historian claims that climate change is caused by abortions: angry because of abortions, God is warming up the planet to make crazy weather. Voting pro-choice people into office has brought curses, including flooding, tornadoes, murder, and pedophilia. Barton claims that the country’s founders intended only Christians to be elected to office. He briefly considered running for Texas senator; winning would have made the state’s other senator, Ted Cruz, seem slightly more sane.

The Roman Catholic Church:

Incensed by Gov. Pat Quinn’s signing the bill that legalizes marriage equality in Illinois, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, head of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield, plans to preside over a prayer service of “supplication and exorcism.” He said that marriage between gays and lesbians “comes from the devil and should be condemned as such.” The legislators are, according to Paprocki, “morally complicit as co-operators in facilitating this grave sin.”

Pope Francis, however, is more concerned with fracking. Last week, the pope met with Argentine filmmaker Fernando “Pino” Solanas (La Guerra del Fracking — The Fracking War) and environmental activist Juan Pablo Olsson at the Vatican to discuss fracking and water pollution. [Olsson is on the left, below.] The pope seems to have added the concept of people being stewards of the church to his opposition to poverty, inequality, and bigotry.

Pope frack

The pope’s recent financial reforms may be upsetting the Italian mafia. Anti-mob prosecutor, Nicola Gratteri, reported that the Ndrangheta, an active mafia in southern Italy, is not pleased with the new pope’s actions. “Those who up to now have fed off the power and wealth coming directly from the Church are nervous, upset,” Gratteri said. “If the mafia bosses can trip him up, they won’t hesitate.” Pope Francis is dangerous because he seems to be a true believer in the words of Christ.

First, the pope installed a special commission tasked with investigating the Vatican’s bank and another to probe Vatican finances in general. He also asked a U.S.consultancy, Promontory Financial Group, to conduct an external review of the Vatican bank’s money-laundering rules and, more recently, to look into the internal agency handling its many real estate holdings.

Another way that Pope Francis may be upsetting the apple cart of tradition is surveying Catholics about their opinions. He wants to know how his constituents—and not just the top hierarchy—think about a variety of subjects including marriage equality, divorce, and birth control. The Vatican sent out the survey a month ago to Catholic bishops around the world.

The survey asks what “pastoral attention” can be given to those who have chosen a same-sex union, and “in the case of unions of persons of the same sex who have adopted children, what can be done pastorally in light of transmitting the faith?” Catholics will be asked about is the church’s stance on “the value of the family” in the modern era. Another issue is whether divorce, remarriage and same-sex marriage are a “pastoral reality” in their local church. “How is God’s mercy proclaimed to separated couples and those divorced and remarried and how does the church put into practice her support for them in their journey of faith?” the document asks. It also names mixed or interreligious marriages, single-parent families, polygamy, and “forms of feminism hostile to the church” as issues requiring the attention.

The poll must be conducted by the end of January. Findings will be included in a working paper for a meeting of the synod of bishops next October.

A survey by Quinnipiac University shows that two-thirds of adult Catholics in the United States agree with the pope’s statement that the Catholic Church is too focused on issues such as homosexuality, abortion and contraception. Six in ten Catholics surveyed approve of marriage equality, above the 56-percent national approval. They also support the idea of ordaining women priests by a 60-30 margin.

The pope’s approach hasn’t made fans of everyone. Sarah Palin is taken aback by his liberal attitudes, and Pat Buchanan says the pope is leading the church toward moral relativism because of his “stance of non-belligerence.”

 Protestant churches are also looking for ways to lure more membership, and a new one is providing the members with beer. Calvary Lutheran Church (Fort Worth, TX) has Church-in-a-Pub. The old First Christian Church (Portland, OR) has a monthly Beer & Hymns night, sponsored by the anti-alcohol denomination, the Christian Church Disciples of Christ. 

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