Last Friday night, 250 armed people congregated outside of the Islamic Community Center in Phoenix, to “protest” the existence of Muslims and hold another cartoon contest depicting the Prophet Muhammed (عليه السلام).” Jon Ritzheimer, the organizer of the event, said it was meant to be a peaceful protest, but his Facebook post asked people to come armed. These persecuted Christians, as conservatives call themselves, wore shirts that said “F**K Islam and shouted insults. Others yelled about the United States being a “Christian nation.” The Muslims refused to engage, and the event dwindled down after four hours. The question is whether the protesters would have been called “terrorists” if Muslims had behaved this way outside a Christian church. How can young people in the U.S. respect anyone if they have people like this for role models?
Conservative Christians who want freedom from caring for the poor are reinterpreting Matthew 25:40: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Historically, the verse champions the needs of the poor, but Glenn Beck’s website, The Blaze, claims that the “least of these” refers to those poor beleaguered Christians who struggle to share their faith. Denny Burk, professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College (Louisville, KY), explanation shows how the phrase applies to Indiana’s Memories Pizza:
“This text is not about poor people generally. It’s about Christians getting the door slammed in their face while sharing the gospel with a neighbor. It’s about the baker/florist/photographer who is being mistreated for bearing faithful witness to Christ. It’s about disciples of Jesus having their heads cut off by Islamic radicals.”
Conservative “least of these” Christians pushing for extremist, discriminatory,“religious freedom” laws and—in Louisiana—an executive order will be unhappy to discover that they have energized the Wiccans, atheists, and Satanists.
Michael Newdow, who lost his 2005 battle to remove “under god” from the Pledge of Allegiance, is arguing that his religious freedom is violated by carrying money with the statement “In God We Trust.” He compares it to forcing a Christian to carry something that says, “Jesus is a lie.” People who mock Newdow should look at their ridiculous argument that baking a wedding cake for a gay couple means that the baker is participating in the wedding. Newdow wrote, “There is obviously no compelling government interest in having ‘In god we trust’ on our money.”
Currently the question of whether atheism is a “religion” is being determined case by case across the country, but two recent cases have come out on the side of yes. Warren (MI) was fined $100,000 for excluding an atheist from the city’s nativity display, and Madison (WI) voted “to add non-religion as a protected class” under its equal opportunity ordinances, the ones targeted by “religious freedom” laws. President Obama included “atheists” in his Religious Freedom Day address in 2014.
The Satanists have declared that the Supreme Court ruling in Hobby Lobby allows pregnant women to sue Missouri for its 72-hour waiting period for abortions. The case comes from a Satanist who lives hours away from the nearest clinic and works for hourly wages, making two trips over three days apart “imposes an unwanted and substantial burden on my sincerely held religious beliefs.” The Satanic Temple has already stopped a Florida school from its Religious Freedom Day in January after its proposal to participate in the event.
Wiccans claim that the religious freedom laws would allow them to use marijuana and currently banned psychotropic drugs. Those following the Wiccan religion could also refuse blood, DNA, urine, and Breathalyzer tests. Dancing naked in the street for celebration would also have to be allowed. Religious freedom would also allow schoolchildren to wear pentangle symbols.
Kenneth Smith from Harpers Ferry (WV) has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of his daughter claiming that evolution is a religion. According to Smith, teaching about evolution violates the separation of church and state. The daughter plans to be a veterinarian, and Smith also claims that the school is jeopardizing her ability to get into a good college to get her degree because her grades are contingent on learning about evolution “that doesn’t exist and has no math to back it.” Smith has also written a book, The True Origin of Man, to represent “the truth of man’s origins confirmed by D.N.A. mathematical and scientific facts.” You can get it on amazon.com.
Blocking a legal marriage in Alabama shows how the conservatives’ desire for “religious freedom” is a sham. Last February, the Rev. Anne Susan DiPrizio, a Unitarian minister, was at the Autauga County Probate Office when a State Probate Judge Al Booth refused to marry a lesbian couple with a legal marriage license. Booth had halted compliance with the federal court’s marriage equality order the day before. DiPrizio offered to marry the women, and Booth ordered her out of the building. He called six sheriff’s deputies, who arrested her and charged her with disorderly conduct. Last week she pled guilty and received a 30-day suspended sentence, 6 months of probation, and a $250 fine.
The last week goes down in the chronicles of conservative Christianity as the defense of the Duggars. Last Sunday I wrote about how 27-year-old Josh, the oldest of 19 Kids and Counting, sexually molested five females, four of them his sisters when he was 14 years old. Many in the Christian community rose in defense of Josh:
Jessa Duggar’s father-in-law: The Duggar parents should be “commended” for the way they handled the situation. (Josh’s father concealed the crime for over a year before going to the police and lying to them about what had happened.)
Carrie Hurd, wife of Heritage Covenant Church Pastor Patrick Hurd: Josh was just “playing doctor” and it was no big deal.
“Creationist Activist” Eric Hovind, son of creationist theme park creator Kent Hovind in prison for conspiracy and mail fraud: “If evolution is true, then there is no absolute right and wrong. If evolution is true Josh should not have admitted his faults over a decade ago because what one evolved bag of molecules does to another bag of molecules just doesn’t really matter.”
Mike Huckabee, GOP presidential candidate: “Good people make mistakes” and “being a minor means that one’s judgment is not mature.”
Blaze Blogger Matt Walsh, Blaze blogger: “[Progressives] are moral opportunists. They are the actual hypocrites.”
A few Duggar revelations during the past week:
Fox News spent less than two minutes covering the Duggar story between May 21 and May 25, with some of that time devoted to criticizing other networks for pointing out Josh’s connections with prominent politicians. Fox network Megyn Kelly will interview Josh’s parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, on Wednesday, and air the piece on Friday, June 5.
At least 20 advertisers have pulled commercials from the program including General Mills, Payless, Crayola, Pizza Hut, Choice Hotels, ConAgra Foods, Behr Paint, ACE Hardware, H&R Block, CVS, Party City, Keurig, Walgreens, Sherwin Williams, Jimmy Dean, Pure Leaf, Allstate Insurance, Ricola, HauteLook, and King’s Hawaiian. Continuing advertisers include Minute Maid, Arm & Hammer, Listerine, Oscar Mayer, Macy’s, McDonald’s, Panera Bread, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Firehouse Subs, and Lowes.
Jim Bob and Josh Duggar told Arkansas state trooper Joseph Hutchens that the abuse happened only once, through the girl’s clothing. Hutchens used that as the reason he only gave Josh a “stern talk.”
Josh sued the Arkansas Department of Human Services in 2007, nine months after a planned Oprah appearance led to an investigation into his crimes, to appeal the DHS decision from its investigation.
One of Josh’s victims was five years old or younger at the time of the molestation.
While campaigning for U.S. Senate, Josh’s father, Jim Bob, said, “Rape and incest represent heinous crimes and as such should be treated as capital crimes.” Knowing what he did about his son, he still said that Josh should be executed.
While TLC hasn’t said that it’s dropping 19 Kids and Counting, the Duggars’ adult and married daughters, Jessa and Jill, are talking about a spinoff series with their husbands Ben Seewald and Derick Dillard.