Nel's New Day

May 13, 2018

Pence Aims to Control All through His Evangelical Belief

Since Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was inaugurated, the Washington Post has kept track of his lies—what the New York Times sometimes calls “reversed his position” as in when DDT said he did pay hush money to Stormy Daniels after he said he didn’t pay her off. Or sometimes from the NYT, “contradicts earlier claims.” After at least 3,001 “false or misleading claims” in his first 466 days in the Oval Office, however, the question might be how long people can stay in denial about DDT’s incessant lying. That 6.5 lies per day is an increase of 32.6 percent over the average of 4.9 daily lies during his first 100 days. One of his prime lies is that he keeps his promises. The Post also noted that DDT “kept only 23 percent of 60 key promises and broken 27 percent.”

A high percentage of DDT’s lies are to make himself appear superior, especially to earlier presidents. For example, his statement to the Celebration of Military Mothers and Spouses Event when he bragged about his raises for the military were “first time in ten years” in his continuing attempts to make President Obama look bad. Except DDT’s wrong. The military received raises every year since the inception of the all-voluntary military—45 years ago.

With so much attention focused on DDT’s lies, the media generally ignores VP Mike Pence’s history of lying, including this list from Politifact. Pence will do anything to do what the person in authority requires, including lying for him. Since Pence rejected a coup against DDT after the “pussy” video was released, Pence has been sycophant in chief—“servant to authority”—supporting all DDT’s lies including DDT’s false claim that he had no collusion with Russia.

Conservative columnist George Will became fed up with Pence’s lies and sycophancy after Pence’s full-throated support of former Maricopa County (AZ) sheriff and current U.S. senator candidate Joe Arpaio as “a tireless champion … of the rule of law.” Will’s opinion of Arpaio differs from that of Pence. Instead of Pence’s hero, Arpaio to Will is “a grandstanding, camera-chasing bully and darling of the thuggish right, [who] is also a criminal, convicted of contempt of court for ignoring a federal judge’s order to desist from certain illegal law enforcement practices.” Will concluded his column about Pence:

“Trump is what he is, a floundering, inarticulate jumble of gnawing insecurities and not-at-all compensating vanities, which is pathetic. Pence is what he has chosen to be, which is horrifying.”

The entire column is well-worth reading, if only for an amazingly extensive use of vocabulary.

In his attempt to assume the role of authority in another few years, Pence works to retain support from evangelical voters and donors, including his commencement address to Hillsdale College, the small, private, far-far-right wing Christian school in Michigan. Pence’s message was that more people in the U.S. believe in God because DDT was elected to the nation’s highest office. “President Trump and our entire administration have been advancing the very principles that you learned here in the halls of Hillsdale College,” Pence said. Considering the fraud, corruption, destruction of the planet, and robbery of poor people, the question might be what principles are taught at the Christian school.

A look at the recent Gallup poll shows that Pence is “misrepresenting” the involvement of religious involvement in today’s United States. The poll indicates an increase in the number of people who express dissatisfaction with religion and want less influence by organized religion. Fewer people in the United States believe that the Bible is the actual word of God, to be taken literally, and more people see the Bible as fables. Fewer people believe in God. (Further statistics here.)

A Pew Research poll from April 2018 revealed that 80 percent of people believe in “God,” but only 56 percent believe in the God of the Bible. One-third of the population believe in some other higher power.

Hillsdale is important to Pence because of its ties to wealthy family of Betsy DeVos. Both she and her brother Erik Prince, founder of the Blackwater security services company paid millions by the U.S. government, are graduates, and Prince is a member of its board. Other alumni work for DDT, including as speechwriters. As an article in the Hillsdale Collegian states, “Hillsdale Alumni Take over the White House.” Conservatives Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), both aiming for House Speaker, have Hillsdale graduates on their staffs. After DDT’s national security spokesman left the White House, he found a job at Hillsdale. Quite astonishing for a college of only 1,486.

Hillsdale gained notoriety last year when a GOP amendment would have exempted the school from a tax on university endowments. The proposed amendment was written so that Hillsdale would have been the only college in the nation with that exemption. Four GOP senators—Susan Collins (ME), Deb Fischer (NE), John Kennedy (LA), and Lisa Murkowski (AK)—joined Democrats to vote down the amendment.

DDT has pushed a theocracy in his first 68 weeks, but Pence would be even worse in continuing to support far more people like Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. After trying to allocate most educational funds to religious charter schools, she wants to give more taxpayer monies to religious colleges and universities, a possibility after the Supreme Court ruled last June against denying government grants to religious institutions for secular purposes. That case, Trinity Lutheran v. Comer, was about surfacing playgrounds; DeVos will move the bar far lower to education. The DOJ also plans to greatly expand support for religious groups in “employment, contracting, and programming,” according to AG Jeff Sessions. Sessions and DeVos intend to permit unrestrained discrimination to federally-funded institutions.

A coalition of Christian right groups, including those from Congress, has created Project Blitz, a legislative initiative to pass connected Christian nationalism bills on the state level for a “dominionist” nation. Basically, they want a Sharia law for Christians to subjugate everyone to their perception of family structure, gender identity, marriage, and all other societal issues. The 71 bills introduced in states have innocuous “feel-good names” such as the Child Protection Act.

Joining the evangelical movement to take over the United States is Focus on the Family, founded by Roy Moore supporter James Dobson. This movement that proudly claimed to focus on “family values” focuses only on white men. By declaring itself a church, the organization can avoid taxes and audits through IRS standards that a religious organization does not need to meet all the requirements. Supposedly tax-exempt religious status mandates “a recognized creed and form of worship,” “a formal code of doctrine and discipline,” “regular religious services,” “Sunday schools for religious instruction of the young,” and “schools for the preparation of its ministers.” Yet Focus on the Family has no congregation and “rites of various parts of a person’s life,” according to Gail Harmon, an attorney who advises nonprofits on tax law. VP Mike Pence has promised Focus on the Family the administration’s unwavering support.

Liberty Counsel also escapes filing IRS forms by declaring itself a “church auxiliary.” Lawyers in this group represented Kim Davis in her losing fight to illegally deny same-gender couples marriage licenses and is awaiting the Supreme Court “wedding cake” decision about whether businesses can discriminate against anyone they don’t like. The DOJ is filling up with members of the Liberty Counsel, those who aren’t traveling the world to help countries legislative draconian anti-LGBTQ laws.

The dual evangelical goal is to force non-evangelicals to pay for their institutions by not paying all taxes and control the actions of the entire population of the United States, no matter what their beliefs.

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April 8, 2018

Evangelicals Enable Sexual Misconduct, Other Un-Christian Behavior

After enabling Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) for his non-Christian behavior during his campaign and since his inauguration, evangelicals worry about losing elections from his behavior and divisive language. A leader of a faith-based ministry said about the Stormy Daniels’ affair, “We’re very concerned.” Christian evangelical leaders plan a meeting with DDT on June 19 at DDT’s Washington, D.C. hotel. DDT has been asked to take questions for 90 minutes during the daylong meeting with questions about the women suing him in private discussions, a “sidebar conversation.”

A source referenced Galatians:

“There’s things that are like fingernails on the chalkboard to people of faith. That’s not who we are; that’s not a ‘fruit of the Spirit’; that’s not leading with humility.”

Ethical concerns come from its organization with the White House its venue at DDT’s hotel. A planner said, “This is probably the best deal in D.C.”

Two years ago, mostly white evangelical Protestants met with DDT at a New York hotel to reassure evangelicals about DDT’s vulgarity and multiple marriages just a few months before DDT’s infamous Access Hollywood tape. According to evangelicals, DDT followed his campaign promises on abortion, religious freedom, and Israel policy. They want DDT’s reassurance and mobilization of conservatives around other issues for the election. Other agenda items  include discussing priorities and strategies for the elections, such as the insertion of voting reminder in church bulletins. Church leaders will be told to describe voting as a Christian’s “civic duty.”

The need for such a meeting shows a recent change in the political climate. Only a month ago, ultra-conservative megachurch leader Robert Jeffress said:

“Evangelicals still believe in the commandment: Thou shalt not have sex with a porn star. However, whether this president violated that commandment or not is totally irrelevant to our support of him…. Evangelicals knew they weren’t voting for an altar boy when they voted for Donald Trump.”

The shift in the evangelical movement from “family values” to the focus on white males is shown in the new church on the evangelical block, Focus on the Family, a charity founded by James Dobson who was a strong supporter of Roy Moore. In joining the religious welfare state by declaring itself a church, the charity eliminates all taxes and audits with the loose IRS requirements that “organization need not have all of the characteristics (few churches do, and newly-created churches cannot be expected to); thus, no single characteristic is controlling.” VP Mike Pence, a worshipper of James Dobson has promised Focus on the Family the administration’s unwavering support.

In a 1998 letter, Dobson wrote:

“What has alarmed me … has been the willingness of my fellow citizens to rationalize the President’s behavior even after they suspected, and later knew, that he was lying. Because the economy is strong, millions of people have said infidelity in the Oval Office is just a private affair–something between himself and Hillary. We heard it time and again during those months: ‘As long as Mr. Clinton is doing a good job, it’s nobody’s business what he does with his personal life.’

“That disregard for morality is profoundly disturbing to me.”

Dobson cited that people involved in licentious behavior would be fired in any other situation—for example, corporate, academic, and medical fields–and finishes with the vital importance of “character”:

“As it turns out, character DOES matter. You can’t run a family, let alone a country, without it. How foolish to believe that a person who lacks honesty and moral integrity is qualified to lead a nation and the world…! Those two positions are fundamentally incompatible. In the Book of James the question is posed, “Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring” (James 3:11 NIV). The answer is no.”

Twenty years later, Dobson’s answer to the question from the Book of James is “yes.”

Operating as a “church auxiliary,” Liberty Counsel, a collection of lawyers, also escapes filing forms with the IRS. Members represented Kim Davis in her losing fight to illegally deny same-gender couples marriage licenses, awaits the Supreme Court “wedding cake” decision about whether businesses can discriminate against anyone they don’t like, and fills the DOJ. Others travel the world to push legislative draconian anti-LGBTQ legislation.

Evangelicals should clean their own house before controlling the lives of others who choose not to be a part of their religion.

  • Anti-LGBTQ Matthew Dennis “Denny” Patterson, pastor for over 20 years at the Nolensville Road Baptist Church (Nashville, TN), resigned last September following charges of child abuse for at least two decades. He is accused of touching children, mostly male, in their underwear and having them sit on his face and stomach.
  • Bill Hybels, co-founder of the megachurch Willow Creek Community Church (Chicago, IL) had a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual misconduct and fired several pastors and staff members. Now former pastors and staff members are accusing Hybels of sexual harassment and misconduct, including a prolonged affair with a married woman.
  • Pastor Ken Engelking was fired for “sexual immorality” from the Morning Star Community Church (Salem, OR) because of abusive, adulterous relationships that included sexual assault and rape covered up by the church since 1982 and still led by Senior Pastor Scott Nelson. One victim said she decided to tell what happened after seeing the movie Spotlight, describing a newspaper investigation into the church’s cover-up of sex abuse by Catholic priests. Past reports about the sexual misconduct to pastors were not reported to minors’ parents or anyone else. Engelking’s wife blamed one of the victims for a rape because the victim was wearing a tank top instead of a t-shirt.
  • Former youth pastor Brad Tebbutt is on administrative leave by the International House of Prayer of Kansas City after being accused of sexually abusing a Washington woman three decades ago when she was 14.
  • Joshua Clemons, a former youth pastor, has been arrested for sexual assault of children while he worked at Cross Roads Community Church (Parker, CO) and the children were part of the youth group. The married pastor also had an affair with a 17-year-old girl.
  • Chauncey Walker, a former youth pastor at Wichita’s Word of Life Ministries Church,faces trial for having sex with a 15-year-old  girl. The senior pastor, Robert Rotola Sr, said there was nothing he could do because Walker had quit when the victim told him and threatened to shame the victim by going public. Conversations showing the guilt were taped and can be used in the April 9 trial, legal in Kansas because only one party needs to consent to a recording. The victim is suing World of Life Ministries and Schools, Rotola, and his son, Robert Rotola Jr who is the church school administrator, for $575,000. An amended lawsuit petition indicates that more victims might be added.
  • Navy Capt. Loften Thornton, chaplain for over 25 years, was from released from his post after a video showed him having sex with a woman in front of a New Orleans pub five minutes away from the Marine Reserve facility.
  • Andy Savage, pastor at Highpoint Church (Memphis, OR), received a 20-second standing ovation after he apologized to his rape victim, Jules Woodson, who he assaulted when she was a teenager. (Savage resigned two months after the ovation.)

These examples are only a few from a cursory search of articles during the past few months in reports of massive coverups regarding sexual misconduct. Coverups are demonstrated by an evangelical leader calling DDT the “dream president” and white evangelicals overwhelmingly supporting former judge Roy Moore in his run for the Senate seat in Alabama after women talked about his sexual misconduct when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.

Evangelicals are reviving the “Billy Graham/Mike Pence Rules,” the evangelical solution to sexual misconduct and assault by preventing Christian male leaders from meeting alone with a woman who is not his wife. Katelyn Beaty, Editor at Large for Christianity Today, gives the female perspective of this male-centric guideline:

“The Pence rule arises from a broken view of the sexes: Men are lustful beasts that must be contained, while women are objects of desire that must be hidden away. Offering the Pence rule as a solution to male predation is like saying, ‘I can’t meet with you one on one, otherwise I might eventually assault you.’ If that’s the case, we have far deeper problems around men and power than any personal conduct rule can solve.

“Most female Christian leaders I know find the Pence rule frustrating. (All the people I know who keep the rule are men.) Imagine a male boss keeps some variation of the rule but is happy to meet with a male peer over lunch or travel with him for business. The informal and strategic conversations they can have is the stuff of workplace advancement. Unless there are women in senior leadership positions — and in many Christian organizations, there are not — women will never benefit from the kind of advancement available to men.

“The answer is not to ask women to leave the room. It’s to hold all men in the room accountable and kick out those who long ago lost their right to be there.”

If DDT were to leave office—for whatever reason—VP Mike Pence might replace him. And so would the “Pence Rule” for the nation’s administration. Women would suffer far more losses because of this evangelical control.

March 18, 2018

Brain Damage in Conservatives

In Texas, a newspaper published in Olton, population about 2,000, erased the name of John Gambill in an obituary for his mother-in-law, mother to Barry Giles. The couple, together for 31 years, submitted the obituary to Giles’ hometown paper with the statement that “those left to cherish her memory include her son, Barry Giles and his husband, John Gambill of Dallas.” The newspaper publisher, Philip Hamilton, claimed that he omitted Gambill’s name “because I wanted to.” Later Hamilton said that publishing anything contrary to the “Word of God” is “false.” Other area newspapers, including the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, did publish Gambill’s name in its version of Light’s obituary. [Photo: John Gambill (left), Brenda Light, and Barry Giles on vacation together.]

Alabama County Sheriff Todd Entrekin used over $750,000 of funds to feed inmates to buy a beach house for himself—and it was legal. State law lets sheriffs keep “excess” inmate-feeding funds for their personal use. Entrekin’s state ethics forms show that he made “more than $250,000” in each of the last three years. Entrekin’s annual salary is $94,000, but he and his wife own several properties worth over $1.7 million. He claims that it’s just good “business.” A federal judge put another state sheriff, Greg Bartlett, in jail for inadequate meals, including paper-thin bologna and cold grits, but he made only $212,000 over three years. Forty-nine sheriffs have not complied with a legal request to public records regarding the amount of jail food money that they pocketed.

Funds for feeding state inmates is $2 per day. In 2003, ICE gave the Entrekin’s county $8 million to expand the jail facilities so that they could house lots more federal detainees. Entrekin is sheriff in the same county where Roy Moore, then assistant district attorney, spent his time trying to connect with young teenage girls. The man who pocketed $750,000 to feed inmates strongly endorsed Moore in his recent failed candidacy for U.S. Senate but tried to backpedal by looking for “proof” of Moore’s crime. Entrekin leads regular “Run, Hide, Fight” sessions at the James Memorial Baptist Church in Gadsden.

Hamilton is an example of religious fundamentalism in the South where Christians who praise family values take advantage of others whenever possible. As the federal government denies religious freedom to anyone except evangelicals, science is investigating the reason for this radical approach toward religion. According to a study published in the journal Neuropsychologia, religious fundamentalism comes, in part, from an impairment in the prefrontal cortex that diminishes cognitive flexibility and openness important for creativity and curiosity. A functioning prefrontal cortex is important for “cognitive flexibility,” the brain’s ability to shift thought from one concept to another and have simultaneous thinking about different issues. These abilities are vital in adapting to new environment.

Religious beliefs, connected to supernatural events and entities, differ from empiricism, a theory that knowledge evolves from sensory perception and is updated with new evidence. Religion, on the other hand, stays fixed and rigid no matter what people learn with the result of predictability and adherence to a group’s rules.

The scientists define fundamentalism as a cognitive approach that “embodies adherence to a set of firm religious beliefs advocating unassailable truths about human existence.“ With a strong commitment to their close community, fundamentalists tend to reject any other beliefs in combination with climate denial and violence, supporting conviction over deliberation. Religious fundamentalism, emphasizing tradition in writings and rituals, opposes progress in thinking about religion and social issues that questions of challenges their ideology. Religious fundamentalists are aggressive toward anyone who does not follow their beliefs and toward science because it threatens their personal life order.

Researchers in the study used data from Vietnam War veterans, some of whom had brain damage believed to have a connection to functions related to religious fundamentalism. CT scans were used to compare 119 vets with brain trauma to 30 vets with no damage, and these 149 vets were given a survey to assess religious fundamentalism. Almost one-third of them did not specific a particular religion.

Brain imaging research has identified two regions associated with cognitive flexibility in the prefrontal cortex: the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). The current study analyzed people with lesions in both the prefrontal cortex regions to find correlations between the brain damage and the responses to the survey on religious fundamentalism. It found a correlation between this brain damage and the lack of cognitive flexibility. Those subjects scored high on measures of religious fundamentalism.

The findings suggest that damage in the prefrontal cortex from any reason—brain trauma, psychological disorder, drug or alcohol addiction, or genetics—makes people susceptible to religious fundamentalism. Radical indoctrination can also hurt the functioning of the prefrontal regions that blocks cognitive flexibility and openness. Researchers conclude that these factors account for about 20 percent of differences in fundamentalism scores, leaving their findings open to search for additional causes, possibly from genetics or social influence.

Research into fundamentalist and conservative thinking hasn’t been confined to the prefrontal cortex. Other studies concentrate on the amygdala, the area of emotions including fear. Psychologists discovered that they could turn a person more conservative, at least short-term, by making them afraid. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) focused his campaign on fear—crime, immigrants, economic disaster, terrorism, corruption, anything that would get people to vote for him. Once elected, he continued to make them afraid for the future if he isn’t in charge.

The progressive mind thinks of problems as solvable; conservatives encourage people to feel helpless and threatened. Those who concentrate their news consumption from conservative sources have found a great deal to fear from Republican warnings with the assurance that the GOP will magically solve all their problems if we turn our lives over to them in the same approach as religious fundamentalism.

Conservatives’ brains are already configured to feel more fear: research shows that they have a much bigger right amygdala that processes fear-based information in 71.6 percent of the cases. While progressives are more likely to use science in making decisions, conservatives tend to turn to religion in making choices. These ideas are not new, but the fact that they are based on the physical characteristics of the brain explains the difficulty of people changing.

Fear is a big part of campaigning for conservative candidates, especially fear of losing the right to control everyone with their religion. The night before his election for U.S. representative from Pennsylvania, Rick Saccone said:

“I’ve talked to so many of these on the left…. Many of them have a hatred for our country. … I’ll tell you some more — my wife and I saw it again today: They have a hatred for God. It’s amazing. You see it when I’m talking to them. It’s disturbing to me.”

And religious fundamentalists believe the Democrats want to take their religion away from them. Ironically, Christian evangelicals want to take away religion away from everyone else who disagrees with their beliefs, all part of their rigid brain that doesn’t allow for diversity. And it’s sad—Philip Hamilton thinks he has the right to declare what adults can have consensual relationships, and John McEntkin thinks he has the right to starve prisoners if it buys him an expensive beach house. All because of their brain configuration.

March 11, 2018

Evangelicals Leaving DDT?

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 8:52 PM
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Gay? Horrible! Paying hush money to a porn star for an affair four months after your son was born to a new wife? God forgives all. Robert Jeffress, an evangelical adviser to Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), doesn’t’ support sex with adult film actors but doesn’t hold DDT’s affair with Stormy Daniels against him:

“Evangelicals still believe in the commandment: Thou shalt not have sex with a porn star. However, whether this president violated that commandment or not is totally irrelevant to our support of him.”

Jeffress’ opinion has shifted in the past decade. Ten years ago, he said:

“Christians need to remember that the kingdom of God is not going to come riding in on Air Force One. The danger in all of this discussion is that Christians sometimes are willing to sacrifice the temporal for the eternal, that in order to get their candidate elected, to enact those laws that they feel are crucial, somehow we fool ourselves into thinking we are going to bring about the kingdom of God here on Earth. We are not going to do that. I’m not willing to trade people’s eternal destiny for some temporary change in the law.”

In the 2012 presidential candidacy, Jeffress called Mitt Romney “a member of a cult” and described Roman Catholicism a “cult-like pagan religion” which represents “the genius of Satan.” Former DDT associate Chris Christie said that any relationship with Jeffress was “beneath the office of president of the United States.”

About evangelicals’ ignoring any of DDT’s flaws, Michael Gerson, former speech writer for George W. Bush, wrote:

“The level of cynicism here is startling. Some Christian leaders are surrendering the idea that character matters in public life in direct exchange for political benefits to Christians themselves. It is a political maneuver indistinguishable from those performed by business or union lobbyists every day. Only seedier. You scratch my back, I’ll wink at dehumanization and Stormy Daniels. The gag reflex is entirely gone.”

Michael Steele, a former Republican National Committee chairman, said about evangelicals on MSNBC’s Hardball:  

“Just shut the hell up and don’t ever preach to me about anything ever again. I don’t want to hear it…. After telling me how to live my life, who to love, what to believe, what not to believe, what to do and what not to do and now you sit back and the prostitutes don’t matter? The grabbing the you-know-what doesn’t matter? The outright behavior and lies don’t matter? Just shut up.”

Christian Dominionists, another far-right religion, not only give DDT their votes but also enrich his personal wealth. Last month, their event at DDT’s Trump International Hotel in Washington pursued the Dominionist plan to take complete control of every part of the country—secular, cultural, and political. “The Turnaround: An Appeal to Heaven National Gathering” collected people who believe, like Billy Graham’s son Franklin Graham, that the DOJ and FBI are trying to destroy DDT’s presidency and plan to help DDT with “the turning of the Supreme Court.” The hotel lowered its prices for the group.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State’s Communications Director Rob Boston said about the Dominionists and another fringe group, the Reconstructionists:

“They are at war with much of modern life. They refuse to accept things like women’s liberation, LGBTQ rights, secular public schools, religious pluralism, democracy, modern science, higher education, biblical criticism, liberal Christianity, non-theistic belief systems, and so on. To Reconstuctionists, the 6th century Byzantine Empire is a model society—except, of course, that they would install a fundamentalist Christian emperor and not an Orthodox Catholic one.”

Frederick Clarkson, senior political analyst at Political Research Associates, said that the groups “intend to fill the atmosphere in Washington with ‘biblical decrees’ [in] the ‘divine call to war.'” Top Dominionist leader Chuck Pierce will halt a meeting to receive the word of God, and people are glued to his every message about “enforcing kingdom rule” and an “Army of Special Forces.”

Despite DDT’s amoral behavior, Dominionists proclaim him as God’s instrument. Clarkson said:

“It’s a typical political bargain, and whether this crowd cares to acknowledge it or not, it definitely involved the selling of many souls and the shredding of mounds of moral credibility…. Holding the event in the five-star Trump hotel a few blocks from the White House is plenty of proof of the truth that they are carrying out the will of God and must stand up to Trump’s opponents, who must also be seen as the opponents of God.”

The media paid the Dominionist event almost no attention, preferring to concentrate at CPAC and the mass shooting in Florida, a lack of notice that makes the group even more dangerous. VP Mike Pence has declared that abortion will be outlawed “in our time,” Cabinet secretaries are guaranteeing that abstinence-only (aka “sexual delay”) policy will be mandated for federal funding, and rights for anyone who is not white, Christian, and straight will disappear throughout the nation. DDT is appointing, and Senate is confirming, judges who will carry this legacy for decades. In his destruction of environmental protections, EPA Scott Pruitt told televangelist Pat Robertson that their god gave people dominion over the world’s resources with no limits to human uses—or abuses—of these resources. The Biblical “dominion,” to evangelicals, is mastery to plunder at will.

As the mission of different agencies change to promote discrimination, 22 Senators, with the blessing of the RNC, have reintroduced the “First Amendment Defense Act” (FADA) permitting discrimination against marriage equality and sex outside marriage in the name of religious freedom. Anyone who pleads “religious belief” cannot be denied any tax benefit or any access to “any Federal grant, contract, subcontract, cooperative agreement, guarantee, loan, scholarship, license, certification, accreditation, employment or other similar position or status.” Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) said that he wants anyone to be able to discriminate without consequence. Ramifications:

  • Government workers could refuse married same-gender couples and their families such services as processing tax returns, visa and passport applications, and Social Security checks.
  • Employers could refuse family or medical leave to care for same-sex spouses and fire unmarried women who get pregnant.
  • Hospitals could refuse to visitation to same-sex partners and spouses.
  • Social services like homeless shelters, drug treatment programs, and adoption agencies could turn away anyone who has had sex outside of a man-woman marriage.
  • Commercial landlords could refuse to provide housing to a single mother.

Lee refutes these concerns, but the legislation would exempt people and groups from following the law to protect unmarried people and LGBTQ couples. Mississippi’s similar law, passed in 2016, remains in effect. All this hatred despite a recent court ruling that “Tolerating [a person’s] understanding of her sex and gender identity is not tantamount to supporting it.”

DDT’s sole religion is becoming more and more wealthy. His “spiritual” adviser, Paula White, preaches the “prosperity gospel,” that God wants people to be rich. According to White, the richer a person is, the more the person is loved by God. Franklin Graham compared DDT to the ancient Persian king Cyrus from the Old Testament. Over four centuries before the birth of Jesus, Cyrus, called the “Messiah,” conquered the Babylonians, released Jewish captives, and decentralized the government. To evangelicals, DDT delivered the righteous from the “whore of Babylon.”

An earlier influence on DDT was Norman Vincent Peale, the pastor who provided the roots to the “prosperity gospel” with the theory that whatever is said long enough will come to fruition. That’s the reason for DDT repeating “Make America Great Again,” the message that the United States isn’t good now but that he alone will create the greatness of the past white nationalism. DDT is operating a Ponzi scheme with short-term returns at the loss of long-term investment. When DDT’s base stop getting these returns, whether emotional of fiscal, they may leave him. Until then, the evangelicals will lead the Republican party by the nose.

Jeffress and Graham may be standing alone one of these days. A February poll shows that 61 percent of evangelicals support him. That’s a high percentage but doesn’t match the 80 percent of evangelicals who voted for him. Black evangelicals are drawing away from white churches.Even worse for DDT, 83 percent of evangelical leaders think that evangelicals should not identify with the percent and policies of DDT, according to a January survey by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) in January. Comments show that these evangelical leaders are drawing away from any political platform. It’s a start.

March 4, 2018

Gun-Lovers Flock to Pennsylvania Church

In this gun-loving country, weapons are caught up in the Christian religion. The World Peace and Unification Sanctuary in Newfoundland (PA), about 20 miles southeast of Scranton, views the AR-15 as the “rod of iron” in the Bible’s book of Revelation. Therefore, about 600 people gathered together last Wednesday for a blessing ceremony that featured their beloved rods. Wearing bullet crowns, the worshippers “drank holy wine and exchanged or renewed wedding vows,” according to an Associated Press report.

The religious group, led by Rev. Hyung Jin “Sean” Moon, is an off-shoot of the Unification Church, founded by Moon’s father, Sun Myung Moon who died in 2012. Another Moon son, Moon Kook-jin (aka Justin Moon), founded Kahr Arms, a firearms manufacturing company nearby that sold AR-15s to anyone who didn’t bring one for the ceremony. David Konn, a ceremony participant who drove from Florida, said that he has several rifles bought an AR-15 because he didn’t own one. “I think it retails for $689,” he said.

Part of the religion’s weeklong “Festival of Grace,” the ceremony’s name was the Cosmic True Parents of Heaven, Earth and Humanity Cheon Il Guk Book of Life Registration Blessing to follow god’s will in honoring the 2nd Amendment. Moon (wearing long blue velvet robes below with officials dressed in pink) talked about the “last days” and fighting socialism and communism while he wife held an AR-15. The week included a “President Trump Thank You Dinner” on Saturday.

Moon calls himself the “Second King” and anointed heir to the “True Father”; he calls on his followers to use guns in defending their families, communities, and “the nation of Cheon Il Guk,” the kingdom of God the church believes is prophesied in biblical Scripture. He told people that everyone without a weapon or a $700 coupon from a gun store proving they will buy one, couldn’t come to the ceremony.

“OK, you may be able to sit in the back and receive the blessing like the ungrateful punk that you are, the ungrateful piece of shish that you are. And you’ll know that you’re a piece of cr*p. Will you go to hell, will you lose salvation if you don’t bring a crown and a rod of iron? No. Will you be a b**** if you don’t? Yes.”

Teddy Hose, who grew up with the church but left with his entire family, said, “Sean was a bully.”

The Moon multibillion-dollar conglomerate includes the founding of the conservative Washington Times and is now called the Tongil Group. The pro-gun rhetoric has recently become a major part of the empire and received attention from politicians. In 2016, Eric Trump spoke at the opening of Tommy Gun Warehouse, a Tongil gun store.

The AR-15 is known as the favorite weapon of mass shootings, most recently used to kill 17 people on Valentine’s day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland (FL

The Unification Church, a combination of Christianity and Moon-created Divine Principles, started in 1954 and gained fame in the 1970s U.S. with the premise that true enlightenment comes from marriage, sometimes arranged to other Unification members. His followers, sometimes called “Moonies,” were known for public mass weddings of thousands of couples, often complete strangers. The financial success of the enterprise led to ownership of such businesses as a cable TV network and a shipbuilding studio. Moon used his profits for political lobbying.

In 1976, an investigation found that Moon’s church may have been used for Korean government interests, and during the 1980s, Moon served 11 months in prison for tax invasion. Moon created a large network of right-wing organizations with alliances starting with Ronald Reagan’s administration. This week’s gun-worship ceremony in Pennsylvania is a blend of Christian and corporate pro-gun sponsorship. Their techniques, such as “home churches,” has been incorporated into the mainsteam evangelical community that also fetishizes guns with ritual significance.

Of white evangelicals, 77 percent feel safer with a gun in hand, a percentage far higher than any other religious group. Highly religious gun owners are twice as likely to belong to the NRA as less religious gun owners (24% vs. 12%), and one-fourth of gun-owning white evangelicals are members of the NRA.

Opposition to gun safety laws didn’t lessen after 26 people were killed in a Sutherland Springs (TX) Baptist church, but the Florida shooting may be shifting their opinion. Like most other people, white evangelicals hide behind the “mental illness” fix for gun violence, but 80 percent of them also favor expanded background checks and match others with banning assault-style weapons with a 68 percent favorability rating for this practice. Fifty-eight percent of evangelicals in general were more likely than the 46 percent of conservatives and the 45 percent of Republicans to support gun safety reform.

Last week, even Pat Robertson advocated banning automatic weapons and using background checks to screen people before they purchasing guns. These are the people in the Republican base. GOP legislators may need to reconsider their allegiance to the NRA.

Highly religious gun owners are twice as likely to belong to the NRA as less religious gun owners (24% vs. 12%). Gun owners who worship weekly are also more likely to join the NRA (23%) than those who don’t worship as often (18%). A quarter of gun-owning white evangelicals are members of the NRA.

This op-ed in the Oregonian, however, shows that not all NRA members follow the organization’s party line. Rural Oregonian Rusty Munn, an NRA owner, debunks the NRA partyline:

  • Myth 1: The government is trying to take our guns away. Not true….
  • Myth 2: Because of our frontier history, all Americans are good with guns. Not true….
  • Myth 3a: This one is widespread. I call it the Hollywood myth, in which a bad guy is vanquished by a good guy with a gun…. In real life, even well-trained police personnel have difficulties making the correct decision on when to use deadly force. Most people don’t have the training, judgment or instincts to make the right decision in a split second, chaotic situation.
  • Myth 3b: The way to stop school shootings is to arm teachers. Read 3a and add the fact that many teachers do not want to carry a gun.
  • Myth 4: The NRA speaks for all gun owners. Not true. The NRA doesn’t speak for me. The NRA wants license — the ability to do what they want when they want no matter the effect on others and society. Freedom requires responsibility for your actions. License does not….

“The second amendment does not confer unlimited rights. It states: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The founders acknowledged the need for regulation…..

“Violence is a cancer in our society and there are many things we must do to address it. One step is to attempt to keep guns out of the hands of those who would do violence. If that inconveniences me, I’m willing to put up with that. Regulations are coming….

“It makes sense for gun owners to be involved in the development of those regulations. If we gun owners don’t get out in front of this, we won’t like the results.”

Thank you, Mr. Munn. May the World Peace and Unification Sanctuary become more of an outlier.

February 25, 2018

Billy Graham Leaves a Devastating Legacy

Billy Graham, evangelical advisor to presidents for over a half century, died at the age of 99 this past week and will be buried on March 2. People are showering the dead Christian evangelist with tributes, but some of his beliefs are far from what Jesus preached.

Women: Graham criticized feminism and created the Mike Pence rule which advocates men avoid meeting, travelling or eating with a woman, other than one’s wife, alone, to prevent infidelity. At Boston Garden, he told women not to nag their husbands, keep their houses clean, and read a great deal to keep up with their husbands. Graham said that women should wear enough makeup to be pretty and not so much that husbands notice.

Graham’s Wife: When Graham’s wife felt the call to proselytize in Tibet, he told her that the Bible makes the husband the head of the wife: “Then I’ll do the leading and you do the following.” He moved on to harvest fields “more white” while she stayed in the U.S. to get pregnant and raise children according to a dog-training manual before they were sent off to boarding schools.

Civil Rights: Activists, not laws, should change hearts because personal conversions, not federal policies, change behaviors. His 1971 book, The Jesus Generation, praises people who reject government as a way to correct injustices. Of the 1963 March on Washington speech, “I Have a Dream,” by Martin Luther King, Jr., Graham said, “Only when Christ comes again will the little white children of Alabama walk hand in hand with little black children.” “There wasn’t a major Protestant leader in America who obstructed King’s Beloved Community more than Billy Graham did,” says Michael E. Long, author of Billy Graham and the Beloved Community: America’s Evangelist and the Dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/22/us/billy-graham-mlk-civil-rights/index.html

Global Warming: In his 1992 book about signs that the end of the world was near, Graham suggested that businesses reduce pollution, but his 2010 version eliminated the term “global warming.” Government had no right passing laws to save the world for posterity, he claimed.

New Deal: Graham believed that helping people through government, a godless competition for churches, was going to take Christians’ rights and liberties.

Wealth: With a net worth of $25 million, Graham normalized ultra-rich pastors and the focus on riches earth for the clergy.

Pro-War: Graham urged President Richard Nixon to use nuclear weapons that would destroy the dikes managing North Vietnam’s flooding and kill over one million people. Even Henry Kissinger considered this war crime “just too much.” George H.W. Bush said that Graham’s presence on the eve of the Persian Gulf War helped him avoid doubt, “even for a second … (about) the moral clarity of our mission that January night.” With the next Bush, Graham blessed the next Christian “crusade” into the Middle East.

Anti-LGBTQ: Graham preached that AIDS is the judgment of God. Saying later that he didn’t believe that statement didn’t stop other pastors from repeating it. He claimed that homosexuality is a “sinister form of perversion” that contributes to the decay of civilization. He promoted conversion therapy that uses Graham’s rhetoric. In 2012, he paid for 14 full-page ads in newspapers across North Carolina to support the state’s Amendment 1 prohibiting marriage equality. In the ads, Graham wrote, “At 93, I never thought we would have to debate the definition of marriage. The Bible is clear—God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Anti-Semitism: Jews control the media and that was dangerous, Graham told Nixon. “This stranglehold has got to be broken or this country’s going down the drain.” Nixon agreed, and Graham suggested that if he got elected to a second term “we might be able to do something.” In White House audio tapes released in 2002, Graham also refers to Jews as pornographers.

Graham was used as a pawn by both business and conservative government leaders:

Publishing magnates William Randolph Hearst and Henry Luce helped make him famous, and financial and business leaders used him to fight the “socialistic” politics of Franklin D. Roosevelt that brought people out of poverty and starvation.

To elect Richard Nixon, Graham promised President Lyndon B. Johnson that Nixon, if elected, would give Johnson “a major share of the credit” for Nixon’s ending the war and “do everything to make you … a place in history.” Johnson promised Nixon full cooperation if he took the White House. Johnson’s Defense Secretary Clark Clifford thought that LBJ wanted Nixon to become president. Nixon sent Graham as an emissary to Johnson because he knew about their closeness. Graham didn’t know that Nixon was undermining a peace initiative during the last days of Johnson’s presidency.

About his anti-Semitic comments with Nixon, Graham said, “If it wasn’t on tape, I would not have believed it. I guess I was trying to please.” He always gave Nixon a pass, saying that “mistakes and blunders have been made.” The disclosure of Nixon’s wealth, however, and especially the small amount he donated to charity “surprised” Graham. The racist, foul, maniacal rantings on tape that made Graham physically ill, according to Marshall Frady’s 2006 biography of Graham, but Graham continued to make excuses for Nixon and claimed that he had become “deeply religious.” Graham blamed Nixon’s advisers because he was “just trying to protect” them. Frady reported that Graham eventually blamed “all those sleeping pills [that] just let a demon-power come in and play over him.”

Cecil Bothwell wrote about Graham as the father of modern evangelism:

“Graham’s message was principally one of fear: fear of a wrathful god; fear of temptation; fear of communists and socialists; fear of unions; fear of Catholics; fear of homosexuals; fear of racial integration and above all, fear of death. But as a balm for such fears, he promised listeners eternal life, which he said was readily claimed through acceptance of Jesus Christ as one’s savior.”

Theolorigan Dorothee Sölle called white evangelical religion “Christofascism.”  Rev. Broderick Greer’s definition:

 “The perpetuation of a societal status quo in which Christians maintain power, frame the aim of Christianity as a ‘personal relationship with Jesus Christ’ and retain all the ills of white Christian society like patriarchy, colonization, and heterosexism.”

Greer added that the religion “has evolved into a hyper-nationalistic, militaristic and xenophobic corner of American Christianity” instead of a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Almost 20 years ago, Graham wrote:

“If I had to do it all over again, I would also avoid any semblance of involvement in partisan politics… there have been times when I undoubtedly stepped over the line between politics and my calling as an evangelist.”

He was too late in this decision. His son Franklin Graham, who controls the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the group legitimizing Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to evangelicals, has moved to the far right of Billy Graham. About DDT, Franklin tells his 6.3 million followers to “hold your nose and go vote.” He ridicules rights for non-Christians and LGBTQ people, spews hate speech, and calls for discrimination while raising funds for “persecuted Christians.” Franklin Graham claims to “love Muslim people” but adds that Islam “can’t keep you from the doors of hell.”

Sarah Jones described how Franklin changed Billy’s evangelicalism:

“As the father waned, the son waxed: first as a spokesman for his elder, then as an evangelical figure in his own right. Franklin, using the platform he inherited from his father, has defended Trump’s Muslim bans, promoted Russia’s campaign to outlaw ‘homosexual propaganda,’ and once accused gay people of trying to ‘recruit children.’ Franklin, not Billy, represents the evangelical mainstream now.”

The father wanted change by “politeness”; the son follows the style of DDT who “offended everybody! And he became president of the United States.” Franklin crowed, “Only God could do that.” Or maybe Vladimir Putin.

Billy Graham was a handsome man with a powerful voice who was said to have brought more people to Jesus than any other evangelist, a Jesus and a population filled with hatred, bigotry, war-mongering, and domination.

 

February 18, 2018

GOP Tries to Erase Constitutional Church-State Separation

Christian counseling has taken a new meaning during the time of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Reports about his paying off $130,000 to a porn star after a sexual liaison with her led to James Bakker complimenting DDT for his “counseling” her and giving her money to get out of the pornography industry.

Now George Gregory, a 61-year-old Pennsylvania pastor, claims that he “was counseling a young man with a drug problem.” The man was found in the front seat of Gregory’s car, naked and tied up with nylon rope. Gregory claimed that the man propositioned him, but that he “did nothing.” A neighbor had called the police, and officers found Gregory in the back seat adjusting his clothing. He told officers that he and the man “were just playing” and that they “meet up from time to time to play with each other.” Gregory also claimed that he thought he was in a private place, and officials reminded him that he was on a public street. He said, “That conversation never happened.” The Pittsburgh pastor has been charged with lewdness and indecent exposure, and the other man confirmed that what they were doing was consensual.

In Texas, evangelical minister Gloria Copeland believes in Christian immunization:

Jesus himself is our flu shot. He redeemed us from the curse of the flu. We have a duck season, a deer season, but we don’t have a flu season and don’t receive it when someone threatens you with ‘everybody is getting the flu.’ We’ve already had our shot.”

Texas has already had 2,300 deaths from the flu, and the season—which Copeland claims doesn’t exist—isn’t over. Jesus didn’t save Copeland’s megachurch from a 2013 measles outbreak after the preaching that people don’t need vaccines because of Jesus’s protection. Both Gloria and her husband, Kenneth, Copeland were members of DDT’s evangelical advisory panel in 2016.

Evangelical belief is fast becoming the mode, as evidenced at the National Prayer Breakfast last week. DDT said that faith “is central to American life and liberty” although he rarely attends church. The percentage of atheists in the United States has almost doubled to 3.1 from 1.6 percent in 2007, and another 4.0 percent identify as agnostics.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), who delivered the keynote address at the event, was even farther off target than DDT. The legislator who was shot at a baseball practice last year gave a revisionist view of American history:

“This was a nation founded with a deep belief in God. Our founding fathers talked about it when they were preparing to draft the Constitution. In fact, Thomas Jefferson—who was the author of the Constitution—If you go to the Jefferson Memorial right now, go read this inscription from Thomas Jefferson: ‘God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?’

“You can’t separate church from state…. People would say, you know, when you’re voting on issues, how do you separate your faith from the way you vote? Faith is part of who you are.”

Time for a reality check:

Thomas Jefferson didn’t write the U.S. Constitution; he was in France at the time. James Madison, who supported separation of church and state, wrote the constitution. Jefferson did write the Declaration of Independence.

Jefferson also strongly supported the separation of church and state. The term “wall of separation” between the two institutions come from Jefferson’s 1802 letter to the Danbury (CT) Baptist Association about the First Amendment: “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.” As president, Jefferson refused to issue proclamations for official days of prayer.

People’s votes may come from their personal beliefs, but not always religious. And government neutrality on religious issues allows people to seek their own paths without government interference.

Evangelical ascendance is leading the United States into a “post-truth era,” according to writer and reporter Kurt Andersen, and that seems to reduce the average IQ. Anderson, a linguistic expert on DDT’s speaking style, points out that only one-third of GOP candidates in 2012 agreed to the scientific theory of evolution. George W. Bush said that evolution shouldn’t be taught in schools unless it is accompanied by the religious belief of creationism. By 2016, only one candidate, George W.’s brother Jeb Bush, was the only one in a large field supporting the science of evolution. Anderson thinks that the Republican candidates, however, are forced to deny evolution to keep their voters as the GOP becomes increasingly extreme. When religious belief “bleeds over into how we manage and construct our economy and our society,” the United States suffers from lasting trouble.

One way that the DDT administration puts Christianity in charge of justice for all people is the religious liberty czar required for every U.S. attorney office. The DOJ has ordered each office to assign a person who monitors litigation for any suits involving “religious liberty” and notify supervisors. All offices must get the approval of the Associate Attorney General, formerly Rachel Brand, before that case can proceed. With Brand’s resignation, the replacement may be Noel Francisco, allied with the ultra-conservative Christian group, Alliance Defending Freedom. The new policy mandates:

“To the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, Department components and United States Attorneys’ Offices must reasonably accommodate religious observance and practice in all activities, including litigation.”

The policy adds that “the Office of the Associate Attorney General has supervisory responsibility for overseeing the Department’s respect for religious liberty in litigation.”

A new DDT division of the Office of Civil Rights, the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division (CRFD), permits healthcare workers to deny treatment to LGBTQ people and women seeking abortions if it conflicts with their religious convictions. [The White House has also issued many other mandates giving Christian control of the United States.]

The CRFD will cost the health care system at least $300 million to set up new religious requirements as hospitals, nursing homes, state health programs, pharmacies, and other service providers must post employee notices, draft policies, maintain documentation, and prepare other methods of guaranteeing that health care workers can discriminate against people based on their form of Christianity. Annual maintenance of these practices will continue to cost $125 million. Catholics at institutions supported by taxpayers have re-confirmed their opposition to abortion and death with dignity practices.

Other GOP leaders are following DDT’s lead. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has picked anti-LGBTQ conservative Christian pastor to head up the Michigan Civil Rights Commission last week. The state senate is supposed to confirm the person for this position, but Snyder ignored that requirement.

As evangelicals move farther from the cultural mainstream, they are also losing their constituents through aging and attrition. As a result, the white evangelical Protestant population in the U.S. has fallen over 25 percent from 23 percent in 2007 to 17 percent in 2016. over the past decade, dropping from 23 percent in 2006 to 17 percent in 2016. Almost two-thirds of them are now at least 50 years old. Perhaps this change will overcome the listing of the ship of state toward Christian theocracy and Christian sharia-like law.

February 4, 2018

God Says ‘No’ to Bachmann

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 9:11 PM
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Former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) had considered running for U.S. Senate after Al Franken’s resignation, but she had to get permission from God. Goodlordabove.com has provided her an answer

The definition of “Christian” those who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. Bachmann’s Christian god may not want her for a senator for some of these reasons:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.” [John 13:16]

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. Matthew 7:1-2]

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” [Luke 6:41]

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” [Matthew 5:9]

“Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” [Matthew]

“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” [John 8:7]

“But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” [1 John 3:17]

“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” [Matthew 9:35]

“Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” [Matthew 23:28]

“And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.” [John 2:14-16]

“And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” [Matthew 19:24]

“Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” [Matthew 22:37-40]

“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” [Matthew 6:5]

“But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.” [Matthew 12:7]

“But Jesus said unto them, they need not depart; give ye them to eat.” [Matthew 14:16]

“And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.” [Luke 11:46]

“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” [Luke 12:48]

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” [Matthew: 11:28]

“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” [Matthew 25:34-40]

“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.” [Matthew 25:41-43]

Conservative Christian pretenders hate peace, charity, mercy and acceptance. They want power and wealth for themselves with none left over for anyone else and presume to set themselves up to judge everyone else. They are the only ones deserving of health care. The Christian god will not want to set Michele Bachmann up in the U.S. Senate to be another vote for anti-Christian beliefs. And those of us who follow these egalitarian Christian beliefs without bragging about what spiritual following we have don’t either.

January 21, 2018

Evangelical Racism in America

[Note on government shutdown: a GOP talking point against the shutdown is that Democrats are holding the military hostage by refusing to pay them from the shutdown. VP Mike Pence lied to an audience of U.S. soldiers that the Democrats were at fault: Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) immediately attempted to introduce a bill to pay all military-connected employees after the shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) shut her down.]

American evangelicals has a long history of racism:

  • New England Puritans waged war against indigenous people in the 1600s resulting in best-selling fiction about innocent white women forced to live in the forests with men who scalped their children.
  • Ulster Scots in the middle and southern British American colonies in the 1700s viewed the Creeks, Cherokees, and Shawnees the same as the savage Irish infidels they escaped.
  • American Founders considered themselves superior to non-white people in the American “nation,” the term from Latio natio, birth. Thomas Jefferson called black people a hostile nation.
  • Future president Andrew Jackson told volunteers in the War of 1812 that they were free to wipe out indigenous communities and runaway slaves south of the Tennessee River like Israelites waged holy war for “their” land west of the Jordan.
  • Whites believed they were endangered and had the right to vengeance in the 19th and 20th centuries: the KKK lynched black men who they accused of raping women in the 1890s, and the KKK of the 1920s attacked Jews and Catholics because of “racial purity.”
  • White nationalism was manifested in the mid-20th century with communism as the enemy.
  • Southern and western evangelical mega-churches became a political force during the 1970s and 1980s.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has ridden the wave of white supremacy since he was sued in 1973 for trying to keep black people out of his rentals. In 1989, he called for killing five men of color who were accused of raping a white woman in Central Park and continue to declare their guilt ten years after DNA proved them innocent in 2006. His white supremacist following increased in 2011 when he started the “birther” movement, claiming that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen. DDT has never personally retracted his accusation. Andrew Jackson was his model when he came to the White House, and his racist rants have increased. The religious right has now adopted DDT and his racist beliefs.

Evangelicals have defended both DDT’s sexual assaults on women and his “s**thold” statement. Robert Jeffress, one of DDT’s Evangelical Advisory Council, said:

“What a lot of people miss is, America is not a church where everyone should be welcomed regardless of race and background. I’m glad Trump understands the difference between a church and country. I support his views 100 percent.”

Samuel Rodriguez described DDT’s remarks “a distraction,” and Mark Burns justified DDT’s comments with 1 Timothy 5:8:

“A man that does not take care of his own home, his own home, their own people, is worse than an infidel. We have somehow forgotten that in America.”

In his inability to understand that the bible doesn’t make law for the U.S., Jeffress also said that DDT has the religious authority to kill the leader of North Korea:

“The Bible gives President Trump the moral authority to use whatever force necessary including assassination, or even war to take out an evildoer like Kim Jong-un.”

Steve Strang, founder of the Christian magazine Charisma, compared DDT to the Messiah while touting his new book, God and Donald Trump.

“Here he was, the promised Messiah, and these are the people who practice Jewish law better than anyone else and they just had a mindset against him and couldn’t see the truth. A lot of people get a mindset, they think a certain way politically … and they just think that way and they don’t think for themselves.”

According to Strang, people who don’t support DDT are like the “Pharisees in Jesus’s day” who conspired to sabotage Jesus. Dissenters will not be tolerated. Strang compared opposition to DDT with other “Christians throughout history who have twisted facts.”

Strang did get one strong dissent to him in an article reporting these beliefs. Ernst Loehl Sr. (Expeditor at Freelance Entrepreneur) shouted this in an email:

“SO JESUS WAS AN ADULTERER, LIAR, PERVERT AND SEXUAL PREDATOR by his own words ????? A THIEF, CHEAT, DISCRIMINATOR, AND A RACIST????? HAD FIVE CHILDREN BY THREE DIFFERENT WOMEN AND DIVORCED TWICE??? THAT’S THE COMPARISON YOUR ANALOGY PURPORTS TO SUPPORT !!!  … YOUR CONTENSION IS NOT ONLY DISGUSTING AND UNTRUE,, ITS EVIL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Televangelist Jim Bakker, convicted criminal for accounting fraud and accused of rape, exonerated DDT’s alleged sexual relationship with porn queen Stormy Daniels by saying that DDT was sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with her and the $130,000 that DDT secretly gave Daniels was “to help rescue her from the destructive adult film industry. What a man of God!”

The religious right may start trying to ban people of color in the judicial system just as they want to prevent LGBTQ judges. Mat Staver, head of the far-right legal group Liberty Counsel, has said gay judges cannot make fair rulings in LGBTQ rights and his “religious freedom.” He protested the nomination of Andrew McDonald as chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court who could be the first openly gay chief justice of any state court. McDonald has been on the court since 2013. Staver accused McDonald of being a sexual deviant by comparing him to Alex Kozinski, the 9th Circuit Court judge accused of sexual misconduct by six women. According to Staver, gay judges “identifies as someone based upon his sexual practices” but heterosexual judges don’t. It would be appropriate, however, to nominate a judge whose identity is wrapped up in religious beliefs such as Thomas Nielsen who defended Prop 8 in California that banned marriage equality.

One pastor lambasted DDT for his racist comments about Haiti and African countries when Vice President Mike Pence listened to him from the front row. Pence and his wife, Karen, attended the Metropolitan Baptist Church, an historic black church in Largo (MD) when Maurice Watson told the congregation that God led him to speak against DDT’s “dehumanizing” and “ugly” comments. Watson said that many of his congregants had come from those countries and added:

“Whoever made such a statement, whoever used such a visceral, disrespectful, dehumanizing adjective to characterize the nations of Africa, whoever said it, is wrong. And they ought to be held accountable.”

The congregation clapped, and Pence’s face turned red. The next day Pence failed to appear at a public Martin Luther King Jr. Day ceremony although his name was listed on the program. He had taken photos of himself laying a wreath at the King memorial in private the day before and tweeted something about “all men … created equal.” Comedian Samantha Bee of Full Frontal took him to task, referring to Pence flying across the country to walk out of a NFL game after players knelt in protest during the National Anthem:

“Three months ago, you walked out of an event in disgust because of a non-violent protest by black athletes.”

The pastor of Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach (FL) left the GOP because of its failure to denounce white supremacists and child molester Roy Moore. Former DDT supporter Reverend O’Neal Dozier said he can no longer tell black voters to support Republicans. He had hoped, like the “white people from the ’60s and ’70s,” DDT would “reverse his views concerning black people” but “saw after he was elected that he has not changed,” Dozier said. “He is always attacking people of color.” Calling DDT “the great divider in chief,” Dozier said, “He hates everybody except the white supremacists.” (Dozier still hates “homosexuality.”) Dozier’s letter to the South Florida Times.  

Evangelicals are becoming polarized like the rest of the country. Roger E. Olson, theology professor at Baylor University in Texas, asked his colleagues to stop enabling DDT’s language and actions.

“My fellow evangelicals who continue to support and even defend Trump in spite of everything he has said about the weak and vulnerable people of the world: It is time to admit you have been wrong and stop defending the indefensible.”

Olson pointed out that the poverty in the countries that DDT denigrated often comes from “European and American colonialism and exploitation.”

To further polarize the nation, DDT created an agency promoting health workers to deny services to people for any reason that they consider “moral” or “religious.” It’s an authoritarian method permitting the dehumanization of all groups of people except white Christian men—the same process used in other countries to eliminate all “undesirables.” DDT started the process immediately after his inauguration by almost entirely selecting far-right Christian white men for the judiciary and the executive departments and continued it with a “fake” report that demonizes immigrants. The new agency advancing discrimination furthers his purpose to “Make America White Again.”

We cannot forget the poem by German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller protesting the Nazi movement and the inattention by other Germans that begins “They came for the …” and ends “Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” We are in a time when the government has started coming for one segment before moving on to another. If we are not careful, there will be no one left “to speak for me”–or you.

December 23, 2017

The Christian War on Christmas

For centuries, fundamentalist Christians avoided any involvement in politics. During Ronald Reagan’s campaign, however, Republicans decided to use evangelicals to get their candidate elected, and these Christians have increasingly left their biblical religion to move to a political religion. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has raised this avoidance of traditional Christian values to a high. This year, he and other Republicans spread the lies about the use of “Merry Christmas,” telling people that it had been banned and that President Obama never used the term. Videos prove them wrong, but facts don’t dissuade fundamentalist Christian beliefs, especially because the Fox seasonal message began with the term “War on Christmas.”

The politicization of Christmas, as shown by this billboard, is in keeping with the rest of the Republicans. More confirmation of the GOP lie comes from the political group America First Policies that is spending $1 million for a pro-DDT A pro-Trump nonprofit says it is spending $1 million to air a new pro-Trump ad concluding with a little girl saying, “Thank you President Trump for letting us say ‘Merry Christmas’ again!” The ad also thank DDT for “reminding us to stand for our national anthem.”

DDT goes beyond politics to capitalism with his baseball cap, embroidered with colored lights on “Make America Great Again” and “Merry Christmas” on the back. Selling for $45, the cap is all sold out, but you can still get one from eBay for $150.

Six years ago, DDT tweeted the lie, “What a convenient mistake: @BarackObama issued a statement for Kwanza [sic] but failed to issue one for Christmas.” Tweeting about Kwanzaa did not preclude President Obama from also sending his last Merry Christmas message with the image below.

 

 

“The best part of the holidays is the time we share with those we love. On behalf of Michelle, Malia, and Sasha, Merry Christmas everyone.”

Chris Hayes has put together a number of video clips showing President Obama saying “Merry Christmas.” (Check out the last minute for this montage.) Meanwhile, tweets from Ivanka Trump and her brother Eric trumpet “Happy Holidays!” (And yes, Ivanka Trump is Jewish.)  Despite DDT’s concentration on the word “Christmas,” the invitations for the White House parties called the event a “Holiday Reception.”

Christmas celebrations for DDT’s first term were similar in style to those of past years but less in substance. DDT’s events were also less attended as shown by this visual from the lighting of the National Christmas Tree. It’s like the difference between inaugurations for President Obama and DDT. As you might guess, DDT’s ceremony is on the left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The White House decorations for DDT were sometimes a bit bizarre. The library had a “booktree” although DDT doesn’t read books. The books were purchased with a focus on the color green instead of the books’ contents, indicated by such titles as World of Golf, Tainted Evidence, and Ronin: A Marine Scout-Sniper Platoon in Iraq.” Another that may be a precursor to DDT’s term is American Mourning, how public mourning shapes politics and our future outcomes. Last year’s library decorations used the theme “Let Girls Learn” for the First Lady’s education program.

This year Melania Trump chose the theme “Time-Honored Tradition. The spooky trees in the White House East Colonnade (below left) produced a variety of humorous tweets complete with photoshopping. Tim Teeman wrote:

“Melania Trump, with what looks like the help of Tim Burton, has designed an anti-Christmas wonderland of white branches set stark against the wall and casting creepy shadows on the ceiling…. The only thing missing is a dragon breathing fire, intent on stopping you getting your hands on a magic amulet.”

In contrast is the East Colonnade decorated at Christmas in the time of President Obama.

DDT dropped his obsession with Christmas by spending his first day of that vacation at Mar-a-Lago talking about problems in North Korea and the Middle East as well as lambasting FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who he had appointed as acting FBI director after he fired James Comey. That was after he skipped over the majority of his supporters to give a massive Christmas gift to the wealthy through the tax bill that he signed yesterday.

Although fundamentalist Christians perceive DDT’s occasional fixation with saying “Merry Christmas” as a form of religious liberty, all other religions are downplayed or eliminated from notice. People who have watched politics the past year might see that there is no “War on Christmas,” but there is a war on Jews—as shown by the white supremacists marching against them—and a war on Muslims, made clear by DDT’s travel bans. People are really demanding Christian beliefs.

To feel the Christmas cheer, remember how Barack and Michelle Obama celebrate it with children. Below is President Obama a week ago taking a bag of gifts to 50 children  of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington.

Happy Holidays!

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