Nel's New Day

September 3, 2017

Not All Religions Save People

 (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

Religion entered the stories about the flooding in Houston after Hurricane Harvey when Joel Osteen, “prosperity gospel preacher,” refused his church as a shelter for displaced people.  Early in the flooding a week ago, Lakewood Church posted that the building was “inaccessible” due to flooding and told people to go somewhere else. It was a lie. Former home of the Houston Rockets, the facility holds 16,800 people and could shelter thousands of people whose homes were flooded. That directive went viral on Twitter the next day. The church created a website sending donations to relief efforts, but Osteen’s Twitter account blocked people who criticized him or asked whether the church would take in needy people. By late Monday, writer Charles Clymer said he had heard the church was readying to accept impacted people. Osteen said on Tuesday that the church would offer baby food and formula. A church spokesman announced Tuesday that it was prepared to shelter displaced people ― “once the cities and county shelters reach capacity.”

By Wednesday, Osteen said on NBC’s Today show that the church had always been open before he reversed his statement a few minutes later. He said, “We were just being precautious [sic], but the main thing is the city didn’t ask us to become a shelter then.” By Wednesday when Osteen was permitting people to shelter in his magnificent church, he passed the collection plate among them.

Joel Osteen has come full circle after a week, telling Fox that the building was unsafe a week ago, but they still took in three people. In today’s service, he made this announcement and blamed a security company for possibly turning people away. Osteen also preached that Hurricane Harvey is part of God’s divine plan using platitudes such “God knew that Houston could handle the hurricane,” and “Quit being upset by something you can handle.” He added, “God is in control of the universe and what he has spoken over your life will come to pass.”

Osteen’s actions spoke far more loudly than his words: People cannot rely on religious leaders to do the right thing. His expensive church with its renovation price of $95 million exemplifies the words of Dallas pastor Jim Jeffress who spent $130 million on his church. He claimed it glorified “the splendor and majesty of God” in “these tough economic times.” Osteen told Oprah Winfrey, “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a nice place to live and being blessed.” His organization has an annual budget of over $70 million; Osteen himself, the fifth wealthiest pastor in the nation, lives in a 17,000-square-foot $10.5 million mansion and is worth about $40 million. He may have overlooked Matthew 19:24, “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.”

Jesus is pretty much off Osteen’s radar. In his tweets, he mentions the savior’s name only around Easter—not even at Christmas. In the past three years, his hundreds of tweets used either “Jesus” or “Christ” only 14 times. Last year a satirical article wrote about Osteen apologizing for mentioning Jesus in a sermon, and people took it seriously.

Osteen’s refusal to help people in Houston’s floods has gone viral and created a PR nightmare.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) won the presidential election with 80 percent evangelical support, and no part of Christian evangelism in the United States represents DDT more than the prosperity gospel worshipping money. Like DDT, prosperity gospel values are indifferent to the poor, put magical belief over reasoning, and follow the cult of personality. God blesses those with faith and gives them wealth, according to prosperity gospel. Its theology promotes material and physical prosperity as God’s will and requires donations to demonstrate faith—a “Christian” self-help pathway to prosperity.

Osteen says:

“I don’t think it’s God’s best [to be poor.] Some people have this poverty mindset, and I’m a Christian, and I’m supposed to suffer. That’s just not how I see it.”

Prosperity gospel teaching pressures people into giving money to a pastor for a “thousand-fold “harvest” or guilts them into donating money that they need themselves. When people fail to get any return, they are told that they lacked faith. Prosperity evangelist Paula White, close DDT friend who bought a $3.5 million condo from him, told a television audience after DDT’s white supremacist support following Charlottesville (VA) that opposing DDT is anti-God. According to White, DDT has been appointed by God. She also wants people to “sow your prophetic seed of $77 or more” for their own “special, anointed prayer cloth as a point of contact for this prophetic word!” The con is similar to DDT wearing his “Official USA 45th Presidential Hat,” which sells on his reelection website for $40.

In 2007, the Senate Finance Committee investigated White and five other televangelists regarding use of tax-exempt donations for personal enrichment. The investigation went nowhere. Followers of prosperity preachers allow them to continue their improprieties, just as DDT followers ignore or praise his sexual assaults and unconstitutional actions.

Other faith communities rushed to offer aid from the beginning of the crisis. Mosques that had been attacked by anti-Islamists opened their doors, and churches canceled services to house people. At least one preacher checked submerged cars for trapped people. Congregation Beth Israel synagogue was surrounded by four feet of water, but the rabbi promised to open as a shelter when the water receded. Sue Deigaard, whose house was threatened with flooding, got a key to St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church where she and friends set up camp. About 40 residents waded to the church, and some of them floated a pregnant woman and her family to safety in a canoe.

Even businesses were far more supportive that the “Christian” Lakewood Church. Jim McIngvale known as “Mattress Mack,” a business owner, not only took refugees into his two huge Houston furniture stores but also sent his trucks to pick up people who needed help getting to the locations. He posted a video online inviting people with their pets and gave out his personal phone number. People slept on the furniture that he was selling–recliners, couches, and hundreds of mattresses, and he provided them food. Thousands of people performed rescues and voluntarily gave shelter. Joel Osteen kept his church doors closed until he was embarrassed into offering shelter.

 

DDT has declared today a National Day of Prayer for people harmed by Hurricane Harvey. At the same time, he indicated that he might break the U.S. trade agreement with South Korea and stop trade with any countries doing business with North Korea, including China, Russia, and India. DDT also suggested that the U.S. could stop trade with countries doing business with North Korea, but that includes China and India. The tweets were in response to North Korea’s claim that its latest nuclear test is a hydrogen bomb that can be loaded on an intercontinental ballistic missile. An H-bomb has far more power than the destructive atomic bombs in the 1940s, but one expert thinks that the test was a “boosted” atomic bomb. It did cause a 6.3 magnitude earthquake,however, making it five to six times stronger than NK’s previous test. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has shifted from “fire and fury” to “we’ll see” in response to a reporter.

DDT may have to create far more National Days of Prayer if he gets the nation into World War III. Or maybe one in a couple of weeks if Hurricane Irma hits our mainland.

Advertisements

February 12, 2017

People Use Religion to Disrespect Women’s Rights

Yesterday’s marches against Planned Parenthood again ignored that federal money doesn’t go to abortions whereas the government spends hundreds of billions of dollars to kill people around the world—many of them innocent—and conservatives are determined to kill people through air and water pollution. These pro-life people are willing to kill anyone except what they consider the “unborn” and abuse children after they are born. Yet they use the bible as their justification for a woman’s choice regarding her own body because conservatives believe women aren’t smart enough to make the right choice for themselves.

A few facts from their bible:

God defined a potion for abortion potion: “May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.”—Numbers 5:22-27

God fines the killing of a fetus but puts to death the person killing a woman: “And if men strive together, and hurt a pregnant woman, so that her fruit [children] come out, and yet no harm follows; the one who hit her shall surely be fined, according as the woman’s husband shall impose upon him; and he shall pay a fine as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth ….” —Exodus 21:22-23

God defines a person through the ability to breathe: “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” – Genesis 2:7

The bible’s opinion of women:

A wife is man’s property: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife … or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” —Exodus 20:17

Girl babies are twice as unclean as boys: ‘If a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days …. But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks. —Leviticus 12:1-8

Women should keep silent:  “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” —1 Cor. 14:34

A raped daughter must be sold to her rapist: ““If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.” —Deut. 22:28-29

Women must cover their hair—like the Muslim hijab: “For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.” —I Cor. 11:6

Women should be forced to have children: “Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.”—1 Tim. 2:15

Women make men dirty: “[Those redeemed from the earth] are those who did not defile themselves with women.” —Revelation 14:4

Opinions from revered church leaders:

“Woman is a temple built over a sewer.” –Tertullian, “the father of Latin Christianity” (c160-225)

Woman is a misbegotten man and has a faulty and defective nature in comparison to his. Therefore she is unsure in herself. What she cannot get, she seeks to obtain through lying and diabolical deceptions. And so, to put it briefly, one must be on one’s guard with every woman, as if she were a poisonous snake and the horned devil. …” –Saint Albertus Magnus, Dominican theologian, 13th century

“[Women’s] very consciousness of their own nature must evoke feelings of shame.”–Saint Clement of Alexandria, Christian theologian (c150-215)

“The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes.” –Martin Luther, Reformer (1483-1546)

In pain shall you bring forth children, woman, and you shall turn to your husband and he shall rule over you. And do you not know that you are Eve? God’s sentence hangs still over all your sex and His punishment weighs down upon you. You are the devil’s gateway; you are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God. … Woman, you are the gate to hell. –Tertullian, “the father of Latin Christianity” (c160-225)

“Even as the church must fear Christ Jesus, so must the wives also fear their husbands. And this inward fear must be shewed by an outward meekness and lowliness in her speeches and carriage to her husband…. For if there be not fear and reverence in the inferior, there can be no sound nor constant honor yielded to the superior.” –John Dod: A Plaine and Familiar Exposition of the Ten Commandements, Puritan guidebook first published in 1603

“A wife is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband, even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ.” – Official Faith and Message Statement of Southern Baptist Convention, Summer 1998, (15.7 million members)

“The Holiness of God is not evidenced in women when they are brash, brassy, boisterous, brazen, head-strong, strong-willed, loud-mouthed, overly-talkative, having to have the last word, challenging, controlling, manipulative, critical, conceited, arrogant, aggressive, assertive, strident, interruptive, undisciplined, insubordinate, disruptive, dominating, domineering, or clamoring for power. Rather, women accept God’s holy order and character by being humbly and unobtrusively respectful and receptive in functional subordination to God, church leadership, and husbands.” –James Fowler: Women in the Church, 1999.

People who use the bible—“God’s word”—to justify their treatment of people, including eliminating reproductive rights for women,  often also say that no one should take the words in the bible literally. According to Matthew 13:13:

“Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”

People who try to limit others by quoting the bible should follow their own advice and not bully others with their personal religion.

Fortunately, many people in the United States agree with this position. Counter-protests yesterday were much larger than the anti-abortion activists outside Planned Parenthood to cut off funds for Planned Parenthood. Those attending the rallies talked about how much Planned Parenthood does for health—birth control, cancer screenings, testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, counseling, etc. Medicaid funds pay for these health services for both men and women. Last month, Donald Trump banned U.S. funding to any international group that even provides information about abortions. Cutting funds for Planned Parenthood would cause 400,000 women to lose access to health care.

Oregon senators, in support of women, are working on a bill to require Oregon insurance companies to cover reproductive health care services. The Reproductive Health Equity Act, HB 2232, would cover all services under the current Affordable Care Act as well as abortion. The bill goes to the House first to address questions and clarify language. At this time, the measure has an exemption that protects religious beliefs.

Illinois advocates are supporting HB 40 to guarantee reproductive care services, including abortion, for all enrolled in Medicaid, something available only in 17 other states.

New Mexico lawmakers have introduced three bills to improve reproductive health access and rights: preserve birth control access, allow women to obtain one year of contraceptive medication at a time, penalize medical providers who refuse reproductive health services, and mandate “reasonable accommodations: for pregnant women in the workplace. Hospitals would not be permitted to “limit or otherwise interfere” with a doctor’s “independent professional judgment” in providing reproductive health information, referrals, and procedures “where a failure to provide” them “would violate the medical standard of care owed to the patient.”

New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed an amendment to the state constitution that protects abortion rights as outlined in Roe v. Wade.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen has approved a bill prohibiting discrimination based on reproductive decisions or pregnancy with a limited exemption for religious institutions but not for business owners who use religion to object.

Respect for women means respecting our rights–all of them.

August 14, 2016

Fundamentalism: Christianity = Capitalism

Jimmy Carter was the choice of evangelicals 40 years ago. It was a natural fit: he was a Southern Baptist who taught Sunday School, and Christians hoped for a theocracy. Four years later, they switched their allegiance to Ronald Reagan because Carter had weakly supported abortion and women’s rights. Four presidents after Reagan, evangelicals are supporting a twice-divorced casino owner who displays a woeful ignorance of the Bible and differed with almost all the evangelical positions until a recent, unconvincing conversion.

The question is why all those white Christian evangelicals are supporting Donald Trump by 49 percentage points—down from 60 points less than a month ago. One theory is that evangelicals like Trump’s authoritarian approach. Trump has strong similarities to the fundamentalist god—driven by whim and demanding loyalty, punishing those who stray from the pack. An important piece of Trump’s far-right following is his seeming ability to accumulate wealth—the “spirit of capitalism.”

In the early 20th century, Max Weber’s “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism,” explained how the Puritans’ promotion of self-flagellation through constant inward interrogation replaced the European rites of penance and forgiveness inculcated by the Catholic Church. From Puritanism came Calvin’s emphasis on business productivity—a “prosperity gospel.”

The end of state-established churches in 1820, vast resources in the New World,  and the rapid Westward expansion replaced the glumness of Calvinism with a “market revolution” supported by the rise of money-minded faiths such as the entrepreneurial Mormonism. The Pentecostal tent revival meetings of the early 20th century led to famous televangelists such as Jerry Falwell who went on to found what is now Liberty University almost 50 years ago and the wealth-worshipping of Norman Vincent Peale and megachurch pastor Joel Osteen. .

The early American work ethic, admiring purposeful work, disappeared as the new evangelicals worshipped the accumulation of wealth. Osteen preaches the value of capitalist heroes and calls Trump “an incredible communicator,” “a friend of our ministry,” and “a good man.”

Religious leaders didn’t develop their obsession with becoming rich on their own. Industrialists and business lobbies, distressed by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s determination to help the poor through regulations, recruited and funded fundamentalist pastors in the 1930s and 1940s to preach “faith, freedom and free enterprise,” as Kevin Kruse describes in One Nation under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America. The corporate rationale for the religious leaders was that Christianity and capitalism are the same: if you’re good you succeed and if you’re bad you fail. Kruse said:

“The New Deal, [corporations] argue, violates this natural order. In fact, they argue that the New Deal and the regulatory state violate the Ten Commandments. It makes a false idol of the federal government and encourages Americans to worship it rather than the Almighty. It encourages Americans to covet what the wealthy have; it encourages them to steal from the wealthy in the forms of taxation; and, most importantly, it bears false witness against the wealthy by telling lies about them. So they argue that the New Deal is not a manifestation of God’s will, but rather, a form of pagan stateism and is inherently sinful.”

The corporate campaign to use religion for its own ends largely succeeded with the election of Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s. He put a Christian god put on U.S. currency and into the once-secular Pledge of Allegiance. After the election of progressive Democrats in the 1960s, business knew it needed to more heavily involve fundamentalist churches in politics, and Ronald Reagan was their success story. Once elected, he incorporated the term “God bless America” into all his speeches—the first time that this had happened except for Richard Nixon using the phrase once after the Watergate scandal.

Although he voiced acceptance of all religions, George W. Bush extended the policy of bringing Christianity into the federal government. His presidency was a time when religious groups received tax money, and Bush focused on faith-based governance while increased the coffers of the wealthy by reducing their taxes. During President Obama’s terms, many states became increasingly conservative, pushing punitive laws on issues such as women’s and LGBT rights. Recently the courts have started controlling unconstitutional laws, but the next election will determine the direction of the United States, either toward more a secular or a more religious government, returning to Victorian times.

Trump Watch: Today may be Sunday, but Donald Trump never stops sending his outrageous tweets. He’s gone from blaming “rigged” elections for his drop in the polls to raging against what he calls the “disgusting” media after an article in The New York Times displeased him. The day after the RNC agreed to work with Trump’s campaign in Florida, he issued a number of tweets targeting the newspaper before expanding his vitriol to indicting media in general. Now he claims that the media is protecting Hillary Clinton:

“I am not only fighting Crooked Hillary, I am fighting the dishonest and corrupt media and her government protection process. People get it!”

The NYT article cites anonymous Republicans describing the presidential candidate as “exhausted, frustrated and still bewildered by fine points of the political process.” He also may “be beyond coaching,” according to some of his advisors. Trump tweeted that he won’t be changing: “I am who I am.” Instead of campaigning today, Trump and his team tried to get people to cancel their subscription to the NYT. 

The RNC may publicly support their presidential candidate, but top party officials are privately feeding donors and journalists the position that Trump and his campaign are to blame for his slide in the polls. For example, Sean Spicer, the RNC’s top strategist, spoke to 14 political reporters about the many RNC resources deployed to swing states and the great strength of the GOP infrastructure.  He also said that RNC chair Reince Priebus calls Trump “five or six times a day” to coach the candidate. Spicer said that the deadline for supporting Trump is mid-October, but it could happen before that because early voting starts in September for some states. The RNC is holding off because it wants Trump to do more fundraising, but the RNC message to donors is to give the money to the RNC and not Trump.

While Trump now claims to have been sarcastic in his comment about President Obama being “founder of ISIS,” his vice-presidential candidate hasn’t heard that message. On Fox New Sunday, Pence said that Trump was being “serious” about the statement and “getting people’s attention.” At least Pence was right about the attention. The VP candidate also denied that the “sarcastic excuse” is “getting a bit old,” when host Chris Wallace asked him, because Trump “made his way through a very competitive primary.” Wallace finished the question by asking, “Are you the cleanup crew?”

Hillary Clinton has a projection of how many jobs she would bring to each state and how many jobs Trump would lose. In my state of Oregon, Clinton plus 130,364 jobs; Trump minus 42, 619 jobs. The differences in other states is far more staggering.

Trump says that he has no connection with Russia, but investigators have found the name of his campaign chair, Paul Manafort, along a record of $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments to him from Ukraine’s former president, pro-Russian Viktor F. Yanukovych, in an illegal off-the-books system.

Tomorrow? Donald Trump lays out his plans for working with Muslim allies in the Middle East to defeat ISIS. Hmmm.

 

February 8, 2015

President Obama Calls for Humility, Gets Slammed

The National Prayer Breakfast, organized by the far-right congressional religious group called the Fellowship Foundation usually passes by with little notice from mainstream media. When prominent evangelical members from “The Family” supporting this annual event connected with people who pushed the Ugandan “kill the gays” bill to criminalize homosexuality, mainstream media said almost nothing. This year, however, legislators and media figures across the country are atwitter after President Obama tried to explain that violence in the name of religion is a global problem across all religions.

Syria’s war, Nigeria’s killings, Europe’s resurgence of anti-Semitism, India’s violence were some of the issues that he brought up. Where Christians in the United States objected, however, was his comparison of the Muslims’ attacks to “terrible deeds in the name of Christ,” including the Crusades. He explained, “In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

Jonah Goldberg’s attack on the president in the National Review was inelegantly entitled “Horse Pucky from Obama.” According to Goldberg, the Crusades were justified because of Muslim aggression: it was a “defensive war.” In reality, the Roman Catholic Church paid people from Europe to try to take over Jerusalem—900 years before the United States paid people to take over the Middle East for its own selfish gain. To Goldberg, the Inquisition was a way to stop lynchings. He missed the point that anyone who didn’t declare themselves part of mainstream Christianity, usually after extreme torture, were killed—frequently burned.

In the past, the U.S. has used Christianity as an excuse for colonizing, slavery, discrimination, and cultural destruction. African slaves in the United States were murdered, lynched, burned, and beheaded, and the practice went on for a large part of a century after their emancipation. In the present, the name of Christ is still being used to torment, torture, and kill people in the United States and around the world.

A bizarre part of the argument is that only the Crusades have been referenced, perhaps because the current Christian bigotry in the U.S. is too uncomfortable to discuss. On Meet the Press, conservative Jon Meacham stated that the Crusades was an exception to the rule, as if Christians have not used religion to persecute others outside the eleventh century. Sometimes liberal, but less so as time passes, Andrea Mitchell said that the prayer breakfast was not a place to bring up the issue. To her, “the word Crusade” is “too fraught.” Because “you have to deal with issues that are in front of you,” mentioning anything else is too “nuanced.”

Even more bizarre, however, was David Brooks’ defense of Obama on the same program.

“I am pro Obama. I am totally pro Obama on this. I think he said the right thing. It was a gospel of humility. What sorts of people need a little gospel of humility? People in Washington, pundits, religious believers, — I happen to be all three of those things — and so we are told to walk humbly in the path, that the Lord’s paths are mysterious. And so he was saying we are prone to zealotry. As Jon said we are fallen. So to underline that, that’s useful in Washington today. That’s useful always.”

Earlier this week, the Fox network used the president’s religious speech to attack him by claiming that President Obama is attacking Christianity. According to Eric Bolling, only Muslims kill people in the name of religion:

“Reports say radical Muslim jihadists killed thousands of people in the past few months alone. And yet when you take Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, whatever, their combined killings in the name of religion––well, that would be zero.”

If al-Quaeda had sent death threats to a Christian doctor and then killed him, far-right Christians would be outraged. Yet Dr. George Tiller was killed in his church by anti-abortionist terrorist Scott Roeder on May 31, 2009 after decades of threats and an earlier shooting. Far-right Christians cheered at their victory.

Middle East historian Juan Cole determined that Muslims had killed about 2 million people in the 20th century. His 2013 study revealed that during the same time Christians killed almost 100 million people in the name of Christ. Adolf Hitler’s killings were done in the name of Christianity as were the colonial wars in Southeast Asia and Africa. Although some claim that this violence was not Christian-based, combatants used their religion as part of the military campaigns just as today’s Islamist militants organize around groups sharing a common religious and cultural background.

The 1990 sectarian warfare in the Balkans culminated in genocide against Muslim Bosnians by Serbian Orthodox Christians. Balkans researcher Keith Doubt explained in a 2007 paper that the “role of the Church as protector of the Serbian nation gave the Church increasing social control, and with this power clergy fermented a xenophobic and bigoted attitude towards Muslims in former-Yugoslavia.” The Church dispatched Orthodox chaplains to bless “Serbian forces, such as the elite Panthers commando unit, which has been accused of committing numerous atrocities, before they set off on operations.” The Church would offer “Serb warriors communion without requiring confession,” giving them absolution for the crimes they were committing to create a “Greater Serbia.”

During Rwanda’s genocide, “Churches became sites of slaughter, carried out even at the altar.” Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka wore a gun and colluded with a Hutu militia who massacred hundreds of people seeking shelter in his church. After the genocide, Catholic clergy helped church ministers who were guilty of murder flee the country and re-settle elsewhere.

A Christian militia in the Central African Republic beheaded a young Muslim man, the same thing that ISIL is doing to groups determined to be the enemy. Christian-led Mexican cartels had beheaded and killed journalists in other ways. The cartel organizations have deep financial links to Mexican churches.

After the Fox network had its worst ratings last year in 13 years, it changed a policy of not airing violent propaganda videos from terrorists. It is the only U.S. news organization to air the entire video of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaebeth who was burned in his cage. Fox anchor Bret Baier claimed that the reason was to show “the reality of Islamic terrorism.” Even Fox’s national security reporter, Catherine Herridge, admitted that the video is a recruiting tool for ISIL. Malcolm Nance, an expert on counter-terrorism and radical extremism, said, “[Fox News] are literally – literally – working for al-Qaida and ISIS’ media arm.” Before President Obama was elected, Fox frequently criticized other media outlets for airing “terrorist propaganda” because it would threaten national security and U.S. troops. They were right then; they’re wrong now. Nance said, “The whole value of terror is using the media to spread terror.”

Less than 100 years ago, the Ku Klux Klan lynched and burned a young black man, 18-year-old Jesse Washington. Afterward the body was torn into parts that were sold for souvenirs. A photograph shows white farmers, shopkeepers, and laborers from local churches in and near Waco (TX) standing behind the body. The crowd may have been as large as 15,000. A witness who sent home the photo on a postcard wrote, “This is the barbeque we had last night. My picture is to the left with a cross over it. Your son, Joe.” Between 1882 and 1968 were 4,743 recorded lynchings in the U.S., one-fourth of them white people who sympathized with blacks. No one knows how many recorded lynchings happened.

Kid-Setting-Barack-Obama-on-Fire-84399-e1423171421131Some of the people enraged by the president’s statement that religious people can use their beliefs in a “twisted” manner may be the same people who pass along this photo of the President of the United States. Or this lynching on the lawn of Terry Jones’ church. He is the Florida pastor who burned the Quran.

obama lynch

In his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama decried ISIL’s actions and celebrated U.S. missionary Kenneth Bae’s release from North Korea. He talked about faith as a force for good, giving as an example Kent Brantly, the doctor who lived after contracting Ebola in Liberia and donated plasma to fight the virus. He praised former NASCAR driver Darrell Waltrip as an example of people who speak freely about the role of faith in their lives. Referring to his personal faith,  President Obama said he has sought God’s guidance “not just in my own life but in the life of our nation.” The mainstream media, however, is only concerned about his talking about the Crusades. Maybe it was because he concentrated on humility.

June 15, 2014

Christians Control Republicans

Although the GOP incumbent candidate for Congress in Mississippi, Thad Cochran, didn’t know that the House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary election, most other people are aware of this historical first. Cantor’s loss also changes the religious demographics among GOP members of Congress. Cantor is the only Jewish member of Congress on the GOP side–in fact, the only non-Christian. With his disappearance, all GOP members of Congress (278 if the GOP opponent wins) will self-identify as Christians—no other Jews, no Muslims, no pagans, no other minority religions.

On the Democratic side (257) are 32 Jewish, three Buddhist, two Muslim, one Hindu, one affiliated, and 10 unspecified. That’s a total of 49, 19 percent of Democrats compared to 20.8 percent of people in the United States who do not classify themselves as Christians.

Christians running for legislative are becoming more and more conservative. For example, Scott Esk, a candidate running for the Oklahoma House, thinks that stoning LGBT people would be just fine.

“I think we would be totally in the right [to execute homosexuals by stoning]. That goes against some parts of Libertarianism, I realize, and I’m largely Libertarian, but ignoring as a nation things that are worthy of death is very remiss.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) is a little broader in his hatred. He used his time during a Congressional hearing to declare that all non-Christians are going to hell. He made his position clear to a Christian reverend about religious freedom in the United States. Gohmert interrupted the testimony of Rev. Barry Lynn, president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, to argue with him about the journey to Hell.

Gohmert: “Okay so, you don’t believe somebody would go to Hell if they do not believe Jesus is the way, the truth, the life?”

Lynn: I personally do not believe people go to Hell because they don’t believe a specific set of ideas in Christianity.”

Gohmert: “No no no, not a set of ideas. Either you believe as a Christian that Jesus is the way, the truth, or life or you don’t. And there’s nothing wrong in our country with that—there’s no crime, there’s no shame.”

Lynn: “Congressman, what I believe, is not necessarily what I think ought to justify the creation of public policy for everybody, for the 2000 different religions that exist in this country, or the 25 million non-believers.”

Three members of the subcommittee were “non-Christians,” but that wasn’t a problem for Gohmert because they didn’t belong to his political party.

Gohmert is one of the Christians who have a Jesus far separate from the one in the Bible. Rev. Howard Bess believes that the Jesus in the Bible is a man of peace, non-violence, love, and kindness.  Living in a time of economic disparity, Jesus advocated redistribution of property and possessions among the tribes of Israel, by law to have taken place every 50 years but never accomplished. Jesus told a man to sell everything and give the proceeds to the poor; he also ridiculed the man who built bigger and bigger barns to hold his wealth. As the 278 Christian Republicans in Congress argue for another war in Iraq and oppose helping the poor, they can only talk about going to Hell if you don’t believe in Jesus’ existence.

The Bible is always used to show the evils of being LGBT. For example, one minister gave this advice to parents of adult LGBT offspring: “Alienate them. Separate them. Isolate them. Refuse to have a meal with them. Turn them over to Satan.” When some found his advice objectionable, a blog protested the responses:

“You need to follow ALL of Christ’s teachings not just a few….  One thing the believer needs to realize is that most scriptures do not come with escape clauses. They do not say ‘do good to everyone except…’  or ‘be just and merciful to everyone except…’.  You really need to examine all scripture on how to act and not cherry pick the few that justify your anger, humiliation or shame.”

According to the Bible, Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. All the objections come from the Old Testament. To help the protester avoid cherry-picking scripture, I’ve provided a few issues that Christians like Louie Gohmert need to deal with:

No foods from cattle or pigs: The Old Testament forbids any foods that have fat or blood, and any food taken from an animal that does not both chew their cud and have split hooves. There goes that bacon cheeseburger at McDonalds. Keep in mind as you compare this and other sins to homosexuality that the New Testament has declared all sins equal. Then it tacks on the order to not judge anyone because it’s the same as condemning yourself.

No genetically modified foods and blended fabrics: Mixing or cross-breeding animals and plants are sins as is wearing clothes made of two kinds of fabrics. If you negate this sin by the New Testament ruling that the law no longer has power, then there go all the laws—including discriminating against LGBT people. 

No tearing your clothes and uncovering your head: The New Testament doesn’t let you out of following this law. In fact, it adds praying or prophesying with an uncovered head is a sin. Someone needs to tell Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) that. Jesus doesn’t like praying in public.

No making idols: Most people would say that they don’t do this, but the mandate is that “you shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.” Other no-nos are graven images, literally hieroglyphic paintings and drawings—any representative art, photographs, statues, sculptures, jewelry, etc. The Old Testament doesn’t let you off from that sin.

No fashion statements: These include styling hair, shaving beards, getting tattoos, and wearing jewelry and expensive clothing.

No mistreating foreigners: The scripture specifically orders you not to “vex” strangers. This law cannot be voided. According to Jesus, you have to be nice to everyone.

No marrying after a divorce: Remarrying after a divorce is adultery. Newt Gingrich missed this law.

I will give Pope Francis credit for trying to communicate Jesus’ message about wealth inequality. During last month’s meeting in the U.N., he said that a more equal form of economic progress can be achieved through “the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society.” Afterwards he was even more passionate about his beliefs:

“It’s madness. We discard a whole generation to maintain an economic system that no longer endures, a system that to survive has to make war, as the big empires have always done. But since we cannot wage the Third World War, we make regional wars. And what does that mean? That we make and sell arms. And with that the balance sheets of the idolatrous economies — the big world economies that sacrifice man at the feet of the idol of money—are obviously cleaned up.

“But we have placed money in the center, the god of money. We have fallen into the sin of idolatry, the idolatry of money. The economy moves by the desire to have more and paradoxically it feeds a disposable culture. By discarding children and the old, we discard the future of a people because the young will pull us strongly forward and the old will give us wisdom.”

Over 30 percent of congressional members are Catholic, many of them on the GOP side of the aisle. It’s time that they took the pope’s advice about alleviating poverty.

Update: The religious demographics of Democrats in Congress has been updated to include one Hindu and one unaffiliated. That raises the percentage of non-identified Christians to 19 percent of the Democrats.

AGR Daily 60 Second News Bites

Transformational News In 60 Seconds; What Works For Seven Future Generations Without Causing Harm?

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur ("The thing itself speaks")

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

GLBT News

Official news outlet for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of ALA

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Central Oregon Coast NOW

The Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: