Nel's New Day

August 20, 2017

Evangelicals Lack Moral Compass

Four advisory councils for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) disappeared after his support of white supremacists and another never came to fruition. Another one that disappeared today is the panel for the National Climate Assessment that included academics, local officials, and corporate representatives. Two councils, however, are still going strong—one that suppresses votes and another that gives far-right racist Christians power over DDT’s decision. Of the 25 DDT-appointed radical born-again preachers, televangelists and conservative political influencers, only one resigned, showing a bit of the moral compass that the majority of business CEOs did after DDT’s outrageous statements equating people standing for racial justice to the “whites-only” groups. One member had resigned months ago. Those remaining were either silent or strongly supported DDT’s impassioned criticism for those who opposed militant neo-Nazis.

Evangelical supporters of DDT claim the high ground, saying that “the Bible calls us to do as ambassadors of reconciliation, reaching across the aisle, [and] reaching out to other ministers.” This action, however, is not one that they took when Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were presidents. Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s tweet about DDT’s statements described them as being “bold truthful.” Caught up in a backlash, he later tried a spin to say that the “truth” from DDT is that white supremacists “are pure evil and un-American,” but not everyone swallowed his bull.

More bull came from Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, who blamed media misrepresentation, despite the entire press conference broadcast on television. Jeffress also advises war with North Korea. He said, “God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un.” According to Jeffress, nonviolence is only for “Christians,” not government. He added that a president should “absolutely not” obey the Sermon on the Mount, including helping the poor. Jeffress’ mandates comes from Roman 13, “that gives the government to the authority to do whatever, whether it’s assassination, capital punishment or evil punishment to quell the actions of evildoers like Kim Jong Un.” [Note: Roman 13 refers to people obeying the laws of their own nation, not making DDT the dictator of the world. It also mandates paying taxes.]

Matthew Dowd, chief strategist for George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, tweeted that “corporate America has a greater moral compass” than the Evangelical Council. Only A.R. Bernard (Christian Cultural Center, Brooklyn) formally left the council with the tepid statement “that there was a deepening conflict in values between myself and the administration.” Guardian has a list of the remaining “ultra-conservative religious cheerleaders.”

One of DDT’s evangelical council will extend her responsibilities to the United Nations where she will help all the nations in the world adopt Christianity in preparation for the “End Times.” Michele Bachman’s (above right) “appointment” comes from The Jefferson Gathering, a project from the Skyline Church that came from congressional conservatives gathering with religious right leaders in Statuary Hall to pray for forgiveness for the nation’s sins such as legalized marriage equality. These people believe that God caused 9/11 and the 2012 Benghazi attack in his judgment.

Former students at Liberty University plan to return their diplomas in protest to Falwell’s racist perspective. A group letter states:

“This is incompatible with Liberty University’s stated values, and incompatible with a Christian witness.”

Chris Gaumer, a former student government president at Liberty, called Falwell “complicit” in DDT’s defense of “Nazis and white supremacists.”

The Southern Baptist Church has formally rejected racism but only for the church. All that concerns evangelical church, and others, is collecting everyone into their fold to win their souls. Evangelicals support any politician who furthers their position, despite that person’s character. They use these politicians as a tool to gain their domination. Evangelicals think that God anointed DDT as their president This group of religious leaders has decided that God has placed Trump as POTUS. Because God has put DDT there, they have no right to lift their hands against God’s anointed one; he is their master and they cannot object (1 Sam 24:6). Changing their position about him would destroy the entire belief systems of evangelical leaders and cause them to lose their followers—and income. [Note: Rejecting Clinton would probably not have hurt their belief system.]

From the Guardian:

“It is one of the ‘difficult but primary duties’ of a political leader to speak for a nation in traumatic times. A space shuttle explodes, a school student goes on a shooting spree, a terrorist flies a plane into a building, a hurricane floods a city. When such things happen, Michael Gerson wrote in the Washington Post, ‘It falls to the president to express something of the nation’s soul.’ Yet if Donald Trump’s words about the violent white extremist mobilisation in Virginia on Saturday – which an under-pressure White House was desperately trying to clarify on Sunday – are an expression of its soul, America may be on the road to perdition….

“There is absolutely no moral equivalence between the fanatical white supremacists who rallied in the Virginia city on Saturday and the equality defenders who demonstrated peacefully against them, one of whom was rammed and killed by a speeding car allegedly driven by a man who had attended the neo-Nazi rally. The supremacists hate black people and Jews, and regard white people as superior. They talk portentously about blood, soil and the right to bear arms. They admire Hitler and give Nazi salutes. They fly the flags of the pro-slavery Confederacy – the ostensible cause of their rallies this summer is Charlottesville’s decision, more than 150 years after the south’s surrender, to remove a statue of Robert E Lee from a park. And one of them committed the sort of act that was rightly called terrorism when it occurred in Nice, Berlin and London.

“Yet, in his first response on Saturday, Mr Trump utterly failed in his primary duty to uphold equality and speak the truth about the racist violence that had taken place. Instead of placing the blame where it belonged, on the supremacists and Klansmen who triggered these events, and rather than stand up for the indivisibility of equality and tolerance before the law, Mr Trump’s words were by turns slippery, banal and morally compromised. It was not true that the violence in Charlottesville came from “many sides”, as Mr Trump evasively said, before repeating his evasion. It is the head of state’s duty to stand up, explicitly and unequivocally, against racists and those who promote racial violence. Mr Trump was found wanting.”

The above was written before DDT’s appalling press conference on Tuesday that lambasted people in opposition to racial injustice. The Guardian continued after that egregious performance:

“In his angry and undignified press conference on Tuesday night, Donald Trump deliberately and shockingly crossed the line that separates the acceptable and the unacceptable in the conduct of an elected democratic leader in a multiracial society. Mr Trump must now face the consequences of this momentous and inexcusable decision. Those consequences should include the way that the leaders of multiracial European nations, including Britain, conduct their dealings with the US president from this moment on….

“Mr Trump’s petulant and narcissistic demeanour made it clear that he is more outraged by criticism and with the American press than he is with his country’s racists and its neo-Nazis. He clearly cannot help himself. But that is no excuse. This is therefore a moment at which America and the world need to display the moral clarity of which the US president is so embarrassingly incapable. There are not “many sides” to the arguments that came to the boil in Charlottesville and since. There is a right side and a wrong side. Racism, antisemitism, white supremacism and Nazism, new or old, are wrong. A leader who cannot bring himself to say this clearly and unequivocally is not just clueless. He also forfeits his claim to moral authority and much of his right to be respected as leader….”

Far-right Christians face another crisis tomorrow—a total solar eclipse across the United States. A 60-mile wide band of total darkness begins on the north-central Oregon coast and continues through 13 more, mostly red, states of the nation.

Evangelicals such as  Pastor Mark Biltz warns  how the event is a sign from God:

“As the sun is larger than the moon, the sun represents the nations of the world and the moon represents the nation of Israel…. When there is a total solar eclipse, it is a warning to a specific nation or nations depending on its path.”

According to Biltz, eclipses recorded in his bible led to war and plague. If DDT stays president, these events may come to be, attacking at least 12 GOP-dominated states.

August 16, 2015

‘End Times’ Guide Religious Direction

Former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is framing the Iran deal in terms of the Bible, claiming that the UN vote to approve the Iran deal fulfills the prophecy of Zechariah 12:3 that all the nations of the world will unite against Israel, “with the United States leading that charge.” According to Bachmann, God and “heaven’s armies” will use groups like AIPAC to defeat the deal in Congress and in doing so “prove to the world His power and His strength.” She added that people are lucky to be living in these dark times because the world will soon come to an end.

John Hagee concurs, explaining fundamentalist Christian love for Israel with the belief  that Israel is connected to the Christian belief of End Times. Like ISIS, these Christians think that we’re nearing the time when the Rapture will take all those faithful up to heaven while the rest of us burn down below. In 2011, Rep. Dan Webster (R-FL), said that if “we stop helping Israel, we lose God’s hand and we’re in big time trouble.” This week, Hagee said:

“God could care less about what we say about Russia, about China, about Iran, but when we as a nation take a stand against Israel, God will take a stand against us.”

A pop-upon Hagee’s website this week states, “Bibi [Netanyahu] Did His Job. Now We Must Do Ours.” Since 2001, his foundation has donated over $58 million to hard-right Israeli organizations, and Christian Zionists have paid millions of dollars for Jews to immigrate to Israel. Over 60 percent of white evangelicals believe that at least half of world Jewry must be in the Land of Israel for the End Times to proceed, and 77 percent of evangelicals think that they are living in the End Times as do 40 percent of all people in the U.S.

Jim Bakker, the televangelist who went to prison for bilking over 152,000 of his flock, is back with a new scam—selling gear and food to survive the End Times. Hoping to instill even more fear from the projected End Times, he advertises:

“New York, Chicago, all of your big cities, will be Hell. The gangs will take what they want. They will kill to take what they want. Then they will start eating bodies of the people they kill.”

This past week he talked about the End Times with Rick Wiles, who has his own issues:

“Add it up: Bird flu is killing tens of millions of chickens and turkeys, a mysterious virus is killing millions of piglets, a mysterious colony-collapse disorder is killing billions of honeybees, California is in the throes of a mega-drought unlike anything seen in over 1,200 years. Why? The answer is very simple: America is in a state of rebellion against almighty God.”

Wiles has had a good talk with God:

“He said, ‘America has dealt treacherously with me as a treacherous wife.’ And He said, ‘She wants what’s beautiful and good and then she began to commit adultery with other men and I forgave her, and she did it again and I forgave her, and she did it again and I forgave her, and she did it again and I forgave her. But now she’s committing homosexual sex with another woman and I cannot look at her anymore.’ He said, ‘I can’t even look at her, she’s not my wife anymore. The divorce is final.’ He told me that on the day the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, God went to court too and he got a divorce.”

Bryan Fischer joined Wiles in lambasting same-sex couples through his complaint about their trying to adopt children. Somehow he managed to compare forcing to do things against their will to slavery, ending with the “homosexual lobby” trying to bring “slavery back to the Confederate States of America.” Even if anyone could follow his irrational pretzeling, why would he think that racists in the former Confederacy wouldn’t want a return to slavery?

Rafael Cruz, Christian father of wannabe “Christian” president Ted Cruz is also agonizing about his loss of freedoms. Liberty is important to the elder Cruz because he escaped the Batista regime in Cuba, and he wants everyone here to know how freedom is being taken from us. On the Jan Mickelson show, he listed examples of our lost free will: our ability to buy incandescent light bulbs and our preference of toilet seat is gone. Another myth from Cruz is that the Clean Air Act will regulate the puddles in our own backyard: two mistakes—it’s the Clean Water Act, and it’s not happening. The younger Cruz is equally wacky; he’s claimed that the UN wants to close down all the golf courses in the United States. Racism, uncontrollable gun ownership, healthcare, income inequality, crumbling infrastructure, climate change, lack of food and water aren’t worth a mention, but don’t take away preferred Cruz’s toilet seat.

The War on Christmas has started four months before the actual holiday. Elizabeth Hasselbeck, conservative reject of The View, fired the first salvo from her current position on Fox and Friends when she addressed the story of how people asked for the move of the nativity scene in Belen (NM) from public to private property. The mayor will use taxpayers’ money to go to court because the town is named after Bethlehem. Fox is most likely looking forward to its one-sided “war” after losing the one against Donald Trump.

Outdoing all these ridiculous religious views, however, is this story. The Family Council Action Committee is presenting its first annual “Power of Courage” award to Arkansas state Rep. Justin Harris and another state legislator, Rep. Charlene Fite. Earlier this year Harris “rehomed”—aka gave away—two adopted daughters to a sex offender who then raped the six-year-old daughter. That was after Harris and his wife tried to exorcize the three-year-old and six-year-old girls. FCA’s press release praises the two lawmakers because they “demonstrated courage by standing strong in faith when situations were tough at the State Capitol and they did so with grace. They are consistently models of their Christian values in their homes, their communities, and their churches.” The press release made no mention of Harris’ behavior other than he won’t be seeking reelection.

The Arkansas Times was careful to point out that this news was not satire because it could come straight out of The Onion. The award was to have been presented at an event headlined by GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) until the organizers, the Crawford County Republican Party, asked FCA not to do this at this event.

Despite hate messages from radically-right Christians, the world of religion has some good news this week. Muslim leaders plan to issue a call next week to protect the planet and demand that Islamic followers help the environment. They are taking the same position that Pope Francis has espoused—that humans are stewards assigned to care for the Earth and leave it “a better place than we found it.”

Georgians in the 80th state house district has overturned tradition by electing a Democrat in a district that voted for Mitt Romney by a 56-43 margin. In a special election, Taylor Bennett won the seat over Max Davis by 55 to 45 points, despite spending only one-third as much as his opponent. The winning Bennett ran on his opposition to a proposed “religious freedom restoration act” and talked about his lesbian mother and sister.

The best religious quote of the week comes from Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ):

Cory Booker

Glenn Beck makes me proud to be from Oregon. Number One of the 15 worst cities in the United States (to quote Beck, “avoid like the plague when things go bad”) is Portland. The remainder are, in order, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Phoenix, St. Petersburg (FL), Columbus (OH), Detroit, Boston, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Las Vegas, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Washington, DC, and St. Louis.

[Chuck Todd update: After Todd interviewed Donald Trump on Meet the Press, his conservative panel concentrated on bashing Trump. No one pointed out that the same criticisms, such as Trump not directly answering questions, are also true of other GOP candidates. Or the fact that both Chris Christie and Rand Paul already said that they want to rescind automatic citizenship for everyone born in the U.S. Todd consistently interrupted Trump but treated Ben Carson with great courtesy. Bernie Sanders, another interview subject, had to disabuse Todd of the notion that he and Trump are alike. The husband of a staff member for Democratic candidate Jim Webb, Todd praised Jeb Bush for his speech at the Iowa State Fair but trashed Hillary Clinton, providing the conservative press with several criticisms for the Democratic candidate. Todd is at least consistent in his openness to endorse candidates while trying to keep up a pretense of being a journalist.]

December 7, 2014

Fundamentalist Christians Move toward Theocracy, Terrorism

A definition of “Christian” differs among followers of Jesus and Christ. More progressive people who follow the beliefs of the Christian bible rankle at the thought that those who want differ in thought are also Christians, but fundamentalists Christians do self-identify themselves as Christians. Moderate and progressive Christians do not seem to be successful in defeating the move toward a theocracy in the United States. Only by casting transparencies on the beliefs and actions of fundamentalist Christians, can people understand the dangers of Christians who want to force everyone in this country to follow their specific religion.

Last week, a reader to Nels New Day wrote, “Christian is such a widely used and mis-used tag that gets thrown around, it has lost all meaning.” I agree that the meaning has disappeared, but those who refer to themselves as Christians have gained a great deal of power in the country. As long as people self-identify as Christians, I’ll continue to refer to them in this way.

Conservatives Christians will control the Congress in less than a month, and the president could be a conservative Christian in two years. These are some issues we can expect.

According to research published by the Public Religion Research Institute, almost half the people in the United States (49 percent) and fully 77 percent of white evangelical Christians think that any natural disasters come from the biblical “end times” and not climate change. One-fourth of people in the United States believe that the Earth’s temperature has not been rising at all, despite scientific proof. Only 22 percent of Republicans think that humans have any connection with possible climate change, despite over 900 peer-reviewed scientific articles supply evidence. It appears that climate denial is a religious belief.

Rick Santorum, who may be a presidential candidate—again!—once said that the idea of separation of church and state makes him want to throw up. Now he’s telling his audience that the “words ‘separation of church and state’ is [sic] not in the U.S. Constitution, but it is in the constitution of the former Soviet Union. That’s where it very, very comfortably sat, not in ours.”

To be accurate, the U.S. Constitution does not use those exact words, but James Madison and Thomas Jefferson supported Roger Williams’ support of the concept from 1644. Madison, sometimes called “father of the constitution,” wrote, “Strongly guarded … is the separation between religion & Gov’t in the Constitution of the United States.” The USSR did copy—and ignore—some United States’ First Amendment principles such as freedom of speech and press, which might make Santorum think these are also Communist beliefs.

Bill O’Reilly is again using the mythical “War on Christmas” to improve Fox network’s ratings. According to fundamentalist Christians—and Fox supporters—anyone who tries to “diminish the celebration of Jesus’ birthday” is a “bully who tries to push other people down in order to make themselves feel better.” That’s the testimony of a therapist, Dr. Karen Ruskin, LMFT (Licensed Marriage & Family Counselor) who appeared on O’Reilly’s show in response to a billboard posted by a group of atheists. Ruskin and O’Reilly also claim that atheists who voice their opinion are gang-like and sadistic as well as being emotionally confused and in denial.

American-Atheist-Billboard-1024x298

Todd Starnes is another persecuted Fox pundit, this time by The Disney Channel. When their website didn’t accept an email from a 10-year-old girl, she and her mother assumed it was because she had used the word “God” in her email. Both Starnes and Elizabeth Hasselbeck, in a segment called “Looks like Disney has frozen out God,” complained about Disney. The company reported that their profanity filter lists the word “God” because many people use it in that context and would have explained if the family had contacted them.

Pope Francis has compared fundamentalist Christians to fundamentalist Muslims, and there are similar believes.  For example, the Fox network objects to women voting or being on juries, and some Christians believe that women cannot be raped by their husbands because the marriage vows give them consent to perform sexual acts anytime and in any way that they wish.

Most of the recent terrorist activity in the United States has come from radical Christians, white supremacists, and far-right militia groups:

  • Wisconsin Sikh Temple massacre, Aug 2012: White supremacist Wade Michael Page used a semiautomatic weapon to murder six people with a semiautomatic weapon.
  • The Dr. George Tiller Murder, May 2009: After Tiller’s clinic was firebombed in 1986 and he was shot five times in 1993 by Christian Right terrorist Shelly Shannon, the doctor was shot and killed by Christian Right terrorist Scott Roeder.
  • Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church shooting, July 2008: Shooting people at random, Christian Right sympathizer Jim David Adkisson killed two and injured seven others. He gave hatred of liberals, Democrats, and gays as the reason.
  • The Centennial Olympic Park bombing, July 1996: Best known for the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Olympics that killed spectator Alice Hawthorne and wounded 111 others, Eric Rudolph used his Christian belief to bomb a woman’s clinic in Birmingham (AL) in 1998 that killed Robert Sanderson, police officer and part-time security guard, and caused nurse Emily Lyons to lose an eye.

Pastor Steven Anderson, leader of Tempe’s (AZ) Faithful Word Baptist Church, has a way to “have an AIDS-free world by Christmas“: execute all gays. He claims to get the solution from Leviticus 18:22. With no college degree, Anderson’s claim to fame is that he has memorized over 140 chapters of the Bible “word-for-word,” according to his church’s website. He also argues that “remarriage is adultery” and in favor of keeping women silent in church. Pastor Vernon Meyer with Sun Lakes United Church of Christ compared Anderson to terrorist leaders: “That’s no different than what ISIS is doing in Iraq and Syria. God tells them to go kill anybody who’s different from them.”

Some religions beliefs require parents to kill their children despite the 1944 Supreme Court ruling that “the right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose… [a] child… to ill health or death.” The District of Columbia and 38 states, however, provide religious exemptions on child abuse and neglect, preventing Child Protective Services from investigating and monitoring cases of religion-based medical neglect and discourage reporting. Seventeen states have religious defenses to felony crimes against children, and 15 states have religious defenses to misdemeanors.

One of these religions is Church of the First Born, with over 100 churches in 20 states. Over 30 years ago, Rita Swan founded Children’s Health Is a Legal Duty (CHILD); in 1998 she teamed up with pediatrician Seth M. Asser to investigate child fatalities associated with faith healing. Of 172 children withheld from medical care on religious grounds, 140 had a 90-percent likelihood of survival with routine medical care. At least 82 dead children were connected to the Church of the First Born.

Conservative Christian legislators believe that charities should be done through their religion and not through government. New Beginnings in Tampa (FL) is an example of what would happen with this shift of control. This program, that claims to help homeless people addicted to drugs, alcohol, or both, get clean and get back on their feet to live more productive lives free of substance abuse, uses what CEO Tom Atchison calls “work therapy.” Residents work for local businesses and events but get no income from doing this. The homeless people not only work on labor crews but also telemarketing, construction, landscaping, moving, and even grant writing. If they don’t participate in the labor program that puts money into the CEO’s pocket, they’re charged $600 a month for meals and rent.

There is evidence that the program also takes food stamps, Social Security checks, and other income from the residents, even over the $600. Part of the program’s mission is counseling to its residents, but the charity has no staff to work with residents’ mental illness and addiction problems. One contractor claims that New Beginnings has overbilled Florida for $80,000. Atchison is so pleased with the money that he is making that he’s trying millions of taxpayer money by taking control of Hillsborough County’s newest homeless shelter.

According to fundamentalist Christians, God—who is channeled through legislators—is completely in charge despite the U.S. Constitution, and he wants terrorism throughout the country to control anyone who believes in climate change, human rights, and freedom of thought.

October 13, 2013

Day Thirteen of the GOP Government Shutdown: No Movement, GOP in Fantasyland

With the GOP holding the country hostage, one person is in control—Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA). Late September 30, the House Rules Committee changed the standing House rules. Normally any member trying to address a disagreement between the House and the Senate would have the “privilege” to make a motion to bring the Senate bill to the floor of the House. The rules change just before the actual shutdown applies only to the CR keeping the government running.  that could keep the functioning of the federal government.

New rule: any motion to take up the Senate bill “may be offered only by the majority Leader or his designee.” That designee is Cantor, making him the only person in the 532 people currently serving in Congress who can break the deadlock. “I’ve never heard of anything like that before,” Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said.

The rules change may have led to an heated exchange on the House floor between Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Cantor’s floor director, Chris Vieson, after Democrats made requests for a vote for a clean CR. To avoid media attention—and make sure that members got their flights home—Vieson yelled that they were shutting down the debate and pulling the bill. Crowley asked Vieson if a staffer was shutting down democracy, and Vieson said, “That’s right.” Crowley told him that he was behaving in an inappropriate way. Cantor’s spokesman said that Crowley poked Vieson with an index finger; Crowley denied doing it. 

Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-SC) said, “This is what happens in the public process when we stymie opposition, when we cut off debate, and when we continue to tilt on disaster by manufactured crises. It is time for us to reopen the government.” House members did manage to escape on Friday, planning to return tomorrow.

At this time, there is no movement toward opening the government, and Cantor and GOP members of Congress claim that there would not no problem if the debt ceiling is not raised in less than 72 hours. Reasonable people are horrified by their lack of concern. Why aren’t they afraid of what Businessweek, called “a financial apocalypse” that would cause a worldwide economic depression? 

Most of the Tea Party base, especially the leadership, are fundamentalist Christians whose religion controls their worldview. This is not a secularist movement interested primarily in promoting “fiscal conservatism.” Tea Partiers are people guided by magical thinking and belief. Pew Research shows that Tea Party members are likely to cite religious belief as the prime motivation for their political views. This latest power play from the GOP is simply a repetition of white fundamentalists to assert their “right” to control the country even if their politicians aren’t in power.

A movement controlled by fundamentalist Christians ignores any real dangers that their actions cause. Fundamentalist religion convinces followers to be more afraid of imaginary threats than real ones. People who believe that the Lord’s work is forcing the government into default in an attempt to eliminate Obamacare cannot see the real, negative effects of their beliefs. They simply continue to believe that the president is an agent of the devil and the world will devolve into mayhem and apocalypse if he is not stopped. 

With no reason, Christian conservatives such as Ellis Washington are convincing people that the ACA  will lead to “the systematic genocide of the weak, minorities, enfeebled, the elderly and political enemies of the God-state.” Twenty percent of Republicans believe Obama is the Antichrist.  Washington Times columnist Jeffrey Kuhner argued that President Obama is using health care legislation to promote “the destruction of the family, Christian culture” and demanded that Christians “engage in peaceful civil disobedience against President Obama’s signature health care law.” 

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops joined the evangelicals with their demand that the GOP shut down the government rather than let Obamacare go into effect. The excuse was their objection to the requirement that insurance make contraception available without a copayment, saying ending this requirement matters more than “serving their own employees or the neediest Americans.”

Pat Necerato of the Christian News Network accused the supporters of the law of committing idolatry and accused people who want health care of being covetous. The Christian Post approvingly reported various Christian leaders, including Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, saying things like the health care law is “a profound attack on our liberties” and repeating “today is the day I will tell my grandchildren about when they ask me what happened to freedom in America.”

Rick Phillips, writing for Christianity.com, hinted that Obamacare might be predicted in Revelations, resulting in the End Times. Others went beyond hinting by falsely proclaiming a conspiracy theory of Obamacare requiring microchips planted in all citizens, the “mark of the beast” predicted in Revelations that portends the return of Christ and the end of the world. 

To people who believe in fire and brimstone, worldwide economic depression is no problem. Fundamentalist Christians minimize the problems of the real world while inventing imaginary ones. To these deniers, climate change doesn’t exist because they are more worried about abortion and LGBT rights. 

The far-right have become obsessed with the End Times; one-third of people in the U.S. believes that the Syrian conflict portends the end of the world. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) claimed this is true because President Obama is intentionally sending arms to terrorists which tells her that“the leaf is on the fig tree.” 

Even more horrifying than her mythical approach to politics, however, is her delight in a worldwide war that would kill millions. “Rather than seeing this as a negative, we need to rejoice, Maranatha Come Lord Jesus, His day is at hand,” Bachmann claimed. And most horrifying is that she has access to the nation’s most sensitive and highly classified materials because of her membership on the House Intelligence Committee. 

Three-fourths of the evangelicals who foresee God’s mass murder and hellfire believe they will escape any difficulties because the Rapture will whisk them off to a heaven before anything bad happens. This 19th-century invention took off in the late 20th century after pop culture products like the Left Behind series. The world’s end is also important to evangelicals because it proves they are right—they will have won the argument. There’s nothing like a fiery apocalypse to let people say, “I told you so!” That way they would see the non-believers punished and evangelicals would be instated as the rightful rules of all humanity.

Even Senate Chaplain Barry Black is fed up with Congressional stupidity. His opening prayers for Senate sessions have demonstrated increasing frustration. By today, he said in a Fox network interview that there’s a level of “insanity”  in the current government shutdown and ending the impasse will “take humility.”

When the shutdown seemed eminent, Black prayed, “Lord, deliver us from governing by crisis, empowering us to be responsible stewards of your bounty. May they remember that all that is necessary for unintended catastrophic consequences is for good people to do nothing.” Early in the shutdown, he said, “Unless you empower our lawmakers, they can comprehend their duty but not perform it.” On Day Two, he continued, “Save us from the madness.” 

By the fourth day of the shutdown, Black became even more direct: “Remove from them that stubborn pride. Forgive them for the blunders they have committed… the collateral damage of this government shutdown, transforming negatives into positives as you work for the good of those who love you.” He also said, “Deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable.” 

On Day Nine with the delay of benefits for military families, Black said, “Lord, when our federal shutdown delays payments of death benefits to the families of children dying on far-away battlefields, it’s time for our lawmakers to say enough is enough. Cover our shame with the robe of your righteousness.” By Day Eleven, Black called on the Lord to “give our lawmakers the wisdom to distinguish between truth and error. Give them a hatred of all hypocrisy, deceit and shame as they seek to replace them with gentleness, patience and truth.”

The looming disaster is caused by a small cabal of hard-right legislators and back-benchers pushing the entire GOP into a radically extremist position regarding the Affordable Care Act and other laws. Take a look at this interactive description of 20 people behind the conservative groups with the ability to make the lives of Republicans who seek compromise very, very difficult. 

It’s Sunday night. Black will return to pray tomorrow, and members of Congress are still being paid despite the government shutdown. 

August 11, 2013

Leaders Who Give Religious Directions

Control in organized religion comes from self-appointed leaders who tell others how to behave and what to believe. A prime example is Mike Huckabee, who went from Baptist pastor to governor to presidential candidate and most recently to media star. In the past, In the past, Huckabee stuck to criticizing his own country, claiming that President Obama “grew up in Kenya,” falsely complaining about the “death panels” of Obamacare, going so far as to argue that the health care reform plan forced Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) to commit suicide, and equating the national debt with the Nazi Holocaust. He’s also over the edge with his defamatory comments about LGBT community and relating the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre to the lack of government-sponsored religion.

Last week, however, Huckabee attacked the Muslims, suggesting that Islamic teachings caused recent threats putting U.S. embassies on high alert during the religion’s holy month of Ramadan. “Can someone explain to me why it is that we tiptoe around a religion that promotes the most murderous mayhem on the planet in their so-called ‘holiest days,'” Huckabee said. “You know, if you’ve kept up with the Middle East, you know that the most likely time to have an uprising of rock throwing and rioting comes on the day of prayer on Friday.” Later he did justify his statements by saying he wasn’t referring to all 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide when he called Muslims coming from the mosques as “uncorked animals.”

Imagine a nation that has a murder every 17 minutes, cities with higher murder rates than war-torn Iraq, a violent crime very 26.2 seconds and a property crime every 3.5 seconds, and a rape every every six minutes. Also a country where one in four women will be raped before graduating from college, and 97 percent of the rapists never spend one day in jail although 25 percent of the population is in prison. This country is the predominantly Christian United States.

The Huffington Post’s report noted “numerous factors that have made Friday the most popular day for protests, including the fact that most of the Muslim world gets the day off and frequently congregates in large communal areas to observe the day of prayer.”

Cathie Adams is another religious leader, who served as chair of the Texas Republican Party for the larger part of a year between 2009 and 2010. Before President Obama was elected for the second time, she called him a Marxist who “fried his brain on drugs” and said that watching him in the last debate made her “want to go up and just smack his face!”  Her current rants are directed toward immigration reform, accusing it of causing the End Times. A Senate proposal, now withdrawn, would require fingerprinting of people leaving the United States, a “biometric scanning” that Adams calls “the Mark of the Beast.”

The Catholics are known for having male religious leaders with “feet of clay.” The most recent addition is Monsignor Arthur Coyle, a top official in the Merrimack Valley area for the Archdiocese of Boston, who was arrested Sunday last Sunday, charged with soliciting a prostitute. Police report that he paid her $40 for oral sex. A month after Coyle was first stopped for suspected solicitation in Lowell, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley and Pope Benedict XVI honored him by giving him the title of Prelate of Honor, a rank within the title of monsignor. O’Malley credited Coyle for “exemplary service” throughout his priesthood and said Coyle’s leadership as episcopal vicar would be “of great assistance” as the archdiocese moved ahead with plans to reorganize some parishes.

Catholics don’t believe in divorce, as Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, could know. Catholics see marriage as a duty and institution, not as an expression of love, which is why the church leadership denounces same-sex marriage. As Donohue said, “The whole purpose of marriage is to have a family. It’s not about making people happy. It’s not about love.” Donohue is a divorced father of two.

Bill O’Reilly is not a church leader, per se, but his position on the Fox network allows him to preach to millions of people. Anti-contraception and pro-abstinence, O’Reilly tried to get his ex-wife ex-communicated from the Catholic Church for remarrying, considered “adultery” by church teachings. Yet his sexual pursuit of coworker Andrea Mackis in 2004 was so severe that she sued him for sexual harassment. O’Reilly settled out of court.

After his relationships with men and use of meth, married evangelical minister Ted Haggard went to claiming he was bi-sexual and then back to heterosexual. While in “recovery,” he lived off donations. Now absorbed into the evangelical fold as a pastor, he thinks that biblical teachers are against marriage equality but believes that the state should allow it.

Many of us watched Newt Gingrich run for president last year after the evangelicals accepted his apology for his transgressions. He secretly dated his high school geometry teacher and then married her. When she was in the hospital with uterine cancer surgery, Gingrich said he wanted to be free to marry his girlfriend. On Mothers Day in 1999, he told his second wife he was divorcing her after discovering that she had MS. He had asked her for an “open marriage” to continue a relationship with his mistress who later became his third wife. Six months before his second divorce request, Gingrich was a leading advocate for President Clinton’s impeachment because of a sexual liaison.

Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) has just kicked off a campaign for his third term. Court transcripts show that he admitted under oath to eight affairs, pressured a lover to get an abortion, and used a gun to intimidate his first wife during an argument. According to testimony, the medical doctor and his ex-wife agreed for her to seek two abortions, one of them because the pregnancy didn’t happen at the right time and the other because they weren’t getting along. DesJarlais was also reprimanded and fined by the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners in May for having sex with patients. He’s running as a “family values” candidate highly opposed to abortion. He could get re-elected: Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and  Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) have.

Religion has used the ex-gay groups to convert LGBT people into the straight mode. A major force in the 1990s for the “cure” through prayer and therapy, John Paulk finally gave up after he shown to be in a gay bar in 2000. Fading from public notice, he has reappeared in Portland (OR), trying to publicize his catering business with the LGBT community. They are less than impressed with their new entrepreneur. Wayne Besen, founder of Truth Wins Out, thinks an apology is not enough for redemption from Love Won Out’s former spokesman. Another gay man, Terry Bean, talked about the damage that Paulk did in his ministry and the number of teenagers who killed themselves because of Paulk’s former leadership.

My nomination for the worst Christian “leader,” however, is Ronald William Brown of Largo (FL) who had a successful Christian children’s show, Joy Junction, to warn kids about the horrors of pornography until he was arrested for possessing child pornogrphy. His puppet show that presents his anti-porno message is truly creepy. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, followed by lifetime probation. Brown was also allegedly involved with Michael Arnett, whom he met through the Gulf Coast Church, to kidnap, cook, and eat a child. They had even picked out the child.

Brown says that he hadn’t intended to carry through his sick fantasies. On an Internet chat, however, he wrote, “I imagine him wiggling and then going still.” He also used the Internet to solicit images of dead children from people with similar fantasies. The website for Gulf Coast Church states, “Get out of the ordinary and try something new.”

Polls show that younger people are becoming more and more religiously progressive than the seniors. Conservatives have high hopes that youth will switch to conservative policies as they age. With hypocritical leaders like these, that may not happen.

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