Nel's New Day

October 28, 2012

Perverted Perspectives from So-Called Christians

“When you elect Mitt you’re electing every right wing nut he’s pandered to in the last 10 years. If the Mitt-mobile does roll into Washington it’ll be towing behind it the whole anti-intellectual, anti-science freakshow.”—Bill Maher

The vast majority of Romney supporters identify as white and Christian, nearly eight in ten (79%), including 37% who identify as white evangelical, 19% who identify as white mainline Protestant, and 19% who identify as white Catholic. Not all these people can be classified as belonging to the “right wing nut” category, but there are many of them. Here’s a recent sample:

Gary Cass, a former leader of the San Diego Republican Party and current leader of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, has usually spent his time attacking the president, Muslims, LGBT people, and Mormons. According to Cass, Harvard is now “animated by the spirit of Antichrist.” His latest rant claims that people without guns cannot be Christians. He uses the Bible for his rationale:

“You have not just a right not bear arms, you have a duty. How can you protect yourself, your family or your neighbor if you don’t have a gun? If I’m supposed to love my neighbor and I can’t protect him, what good am I?”

Evangelist Cindy Jacobs has called for prayer against Hurricane Sandy and “rebuke this storm in Jesus’ name.” She claims that “the authority of the believer is powerful enough to shift weather patterns.”

The theory that President Obama is a Muslim because of the ring he wears has been confirmed by Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. When “Chip in Fitzgerald, Georgia” asked Fischer on his radio show why no one in the mainstream media is reporting on this fact, Fischer responded that there are no reports because President Obama “may in fact be a closeted Muslim.”

In his strong support of fellow Mormon Mitt Romney, Glenn Beck has a new reason behind his claim that the Obama administration lied about the attack in Benghazi, Libya: it’s an attempt to cover up the president’s arming Syrian rebels for the benefit of al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.

After her attempt to literally follow the Bible for a year, evangelical Rachel Held Evans wrote and published a book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood. LifeWay Christian Resources, operated by the Southern Baptist Convention, has refused to stock the book. Although they gave no reason, Evans assumes that the problem is that she left the word “vagina” in the book despite the fact that she removed a few mild profanities.

The same white Christians are trying to remove what is left of the separation of church and state in the United States. An example is the initiative on the ballot to allow public funding of religious ministries. Amendment 8 would remove century-old language in the State Constitution that bars religious or sectarian institutions, or people, from receiving state money. Religious groups in Florida already receive state money, but they are barred from using the money to proselytize. Typically, the money is used for social services and health programs run through organizations like Catholic Charities. Passing this amendment would allow the state to funnel taxpayer funds to religious schools through the use of vouchers.

A basic premise of the religion known as Jehovah’s Witnesses is a separation from state, such a deep separation that they don’t even vote in political elections. Yet the city of Raleigh (NC) is providing $150,000 so the Jehovah’s Witnesses can hold a major event locally. And it’s not the first time. Once again, taxpayers are funding a religion.

So many evangelicals are upset with voting for either a Mormon or someone they believe to be a Muslim, that they are pledging to write in another name for president—Jesus. Evangelist Bill Keller, founder of the Internet ministry liveprayer.com, has set up a website where people can do this pledging, at the rate of 1000 names an hour during Eastern daytime hours. By now, Keller has harvested between 1.5 million and 2 million pledges. Keller describes his reasons for opposing both candidates:

“If President Obama is re-elected, his anti-American, socialist policies will continue, as will his attacks on Christianity and Christian churches. He will continue to support abortion, homosexuality, the enemies of Israel. How can a true follower of Christ vote in good conscience for a man who has proven to be a true enemy of God and His Word and will continue to be so in his next term?

“If Mitt Romney is elected, he will be the fulfillment of his cult’s polygamist, pedophile, racist, con artist, murdering founder Joseph Smith’s ‘White Horse’ prophecy that Romney and all Mormon’s believe. That prophecy says that the United States will facing great economic and social unrest, a Mormon will be elected President, declare a national emergency and set aside the US Constitution and enact a Mormon theocracy.”

Mormons who displease the church leadership, or commit “apostasy,” can be excommunicated from the LDS Church. When Mormon blogger David Twede found himself in this position, he resigned his church membership. His sin was writing critical essays about LDS history, temple worship and contemporary issues. Those who take this path can belong to the Exmormon Foundation, a group that provides support for those leaving and/or questioning the Mormon faith.

LDS Church spokesman Michael Purdy has vehemently denied that any Mormon would be disciplined “for having questions or for expressing a political view,” and the faith claims that they are neutral in political affairs. This is the same church that admitted to spending almost $200,000 to pass California’s Proposition 8, that stopped marriage equality in the state. Some people guess the church was behind 70 percent of the almost $44 million raised to pass the initiative that has now been blocked by courts.

I’m still pondering what kind of government we would have it Jesus Christ got elected in a write-in. Maybe less money on defense and more to help people?

June 21, 2012

Nuns Tour to Help Poor

The nuns are still on their tour although people who read only the mainstream media wouldn’t know it. There’s much more coverage on the bishops’ protesting birth control than the nuns’ protesting economic injustice for the poor. If nuns were men ….

The best coverage for the nuns’ activity on Tuesday, the second day of the tour, comes from Barbara Miner’s blog View from the Heartland, called “The Nuns Are Here! The Nuns Are Here!” She tops the story with a photo of 81-year-old Sister Diane Donoghue, as she snaps a photograph from a freeway pedestrian overpass in Milwaukee’s central city. Each week a group of people use well-lit placards to send messages to freeway travelers. Last night Overpass Light Brigade’s message was “Question Authority,” and the nuns marched with Overpass Light Brigade.

The energy of these women is phenemonal! Their walk across the overpass to highlight the anti-poor essence of the Ryan budget proposal culminated a 14-hour day. To quote Miner, “The nuns began with a 9 a.m. press conference at a food pantry in Iowa, got on the bus to Wisconsin, visited Ryan’s office in Janesville to deliver their budget critique, headed up to Milwaukee where they ate dinner at the St. Ben’s meal program in downtown, followed by a “Friend Raiser” at St. John’s on the Lake.” (I was tired by the time that they got to dinner!)

The Nuns on the Bus tour is organized by Network, a social justice lobby in Washington, D.C., that was founded more than 40 years ago by group of Catholic nuns inspired by the Vatican II reforms and religious involvement in civil rights, antiwar and feminist movements.

Some of the Catholic men in the United States are irritated by nuns believing in their support of the poor rather than the male opposition to birth control. In the New York Times, Bill Keller quoted Bob Donohue, president of Catholic League, as saying that Catholics who don’t want to follow the current Vatican should “shut up or go.”

Instead of helping the poor, New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, now president of the U.S. bishops organization that opposes the nuns, established a policy almost ten years ago to pay off pedophile priests to that they would go away and not be an embarrassment to the Catholic Church. The initial payoff was a $20,000 bonus followed by a $1,250 month pension and, until they found a job, health insurance. That may be why men in the Catholic Church don’t worry about the Ryan budget: pedophiles are rewarded with $15,000 a year plus health insurance. That’s more than 50 percent above the poverty level and more than 25 percent of the people with a job make annually in this country.

The nuns know about the need for a safety network in this country to keep people from being “food insecure,” but the Senate refused to keep an amendment that would keep $4.5 billion in food stamps funding. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NW) proposed that the money for food stamps would come from trimming the guaranteed profit for crop insurance companies from 14 to 12 percent and by lowering payments for crop insurers from $1.3 billion to $825 million. The Senate vote down the amendment by 66-33. The loss of this $4.5 billion for people in poverty means families will each get $90 less per month, about one-fourth of its food budget.

According to Gillibrand, “Half of the food stamp beneficiaries are children, 17 percent are seniors, and unfortunately now 1.5 million households are veteran households.” About 26 million people in the United States received this aid in 2007, while more than 44 million got it last year, at a total cost of $76 billion. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that demand will continue to grow through 2014 because of the recession. At least the Senate doesn’t go as far as the House; their budget calls for $134 billion in cuts over 10 years.

Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson said it was critical that Congress pass a farm bill soon “to provide certainty for farmers and ranchers.” There doesn’t seems to be a concern about “certainty” for people who cannot afford to buy food.

Bill Moyers is one journalist who is following the nuns’ tour. His website has  videos and a great interactive map of their 15-day journey. Thus far the bus has stopped at the state offices of Reps. Steve King (R-IA), Paul Ryan (R-WI), and Joe Walsh (R-IL), all who voted for Ryan’s budget and none of whom were available. Tomorrow they’re scheduled for Reps. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Justin Amash (R-MI), both of whom voted against Ryan’s budget.

Monday they head to the office of House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who supported the Ryan budget. In just Ohio, the Ryan budget would eliminate $72.6 million from the Head Start budget, more than $110.8 million in special education spending which affects nearly 63,937 students, and 177 million meals for families needing food stamps as well as ending a tax credit that would help 107,210 Ohio small businesses provide insurance to their employees.

Tony Vanacoro, a commenter on an article from Think Progress, said it best: “I am a complete and avowed atheist, but even I know it’s bad karma to piss off Nuns!”

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