Nel's New Day

June 23, 2013

Religion, Hate, and Hope

“Because issues like segregated schools and housing, lack of jobs and opportunity — symbols of history that are a source of pride for some and pain for others — these are not tangential to peace; they’re essential to it. If towns remain divided — if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs — if we can’t see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division. It discourages cooperation.

“Ultimately, peace is just not about politics. It’s about attitudes; about a sense of empathy; about breaking down the divisions that we create for ourselves in our own minds and our own hearts that don’t exist in any objective reality, but that we carry with us generation after generation.”

This is what President Obama said on his visit to Northern Ireland. And this is what the conservative media translated his words into because they know that conservatives won’t bother to read exactly what the president said:

Drudge: President Obama made an “alarming call” for an “end to Catholic education.”

The Washington Times: An 800-word article began with this statement: “The backlash, which has grown steadily since Mr. Obama made the comments Monday, once again has put the commander in chief at odds with the Roman Catholic Church.”

Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter: The president’s remarks are proof of the president “attacking America while he’s abroad.”

David Limbaugh (Rush’s younger brother):  It was “unbelievable” to see the president “attacking Catholic schools.” He added, “How much evidence do people need to understand the breadth and depth of Obama’s radicalism?”

As Michael McGough, a Roman Catholic, wrote in the LA Tmes:

“Northern Ireland Society in Northern Ireland is much more stratified, and the role of religiously defined schools more problematic. You can be perfectly comfortable with the role of Catholic schools in the American context and worry about their contribution to estrangement between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland.”

The hate just keeps coming toward the president. From American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer:

“The thrill is gone from Barack Obama. What you’re about to see is Barack Obama is going to be kicked to the back of the Democratic bus. This guy has now become a liability … and the Democratic Party is going to tell him to sit in the back of the bus; the front of the Democratic bus belongs to the white person, Hillary Clinton.”

From another fundamentalist Christian corner, End Times radio host David Wiles complained about the responses he received to the clips that Rachel Maddow replayed describing radical views supported by some GOP congressional leaders. In Conservative Land, Wiles is known for having called the president a “foreign plant,” a “manufactured person,” and a “devil from Hell.” Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) agreed with Wiles that Congress should look into Obama’s “validity.” Wiles said that emails sent him were from “people who are demon-possessed” and serve as further proof that an anti-Christian holocaust is coming to America. He continued:

“The people who do watch [The Maddow Show] have a visceral hate for Jesus Christ and Christians.  In fifteen years of full-time ministry, I have never read or heard such ugly, hateful, threatening, vulgar, obscene, blasphemous messages in my life. Ever.

“The spirit of Antichrist is loose in America …. It is the same spirit that rose up in the Nazis in Germany towards the Jews. This time it will be the Christians in America who are locked up or put to death.”

In Oklahoma, Keith Cressman, a Methodist pastor, is suing the state because the license plate carries the image of a Native American shooting an arrow into the sky. According to Cressman,  it violates his religious liberty because it makes him be a “mobile billboard” for a religion that promotes pantheism and animism. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, 2-1, that his case can proceed.

The statue called “Sacred Rain Arrow,” part of the state’s heritage and sculpted by the late Oklahoma artist Allan Houser, was used for the image. The case was dismissed two years ago, but the 10th Circuit Court reinstated it.

Another lawsuit regarding religion this week was against Grace University, a conservative Christian college in Nebraska. After it expelled Danielle Powell for being a lesbian, the school charged her $6,300 for what they said were federal loans and grants before they would forward her transcripts to another school.

Ralph Reed’s shindig last weekend indicates that the far-right Christians are losing their grip on politics. Media made it appear that his annual Faith & Freedom Coalition conference, “Road to the Majority,” had thousands in attendance, but here were actually fewer than 400 in attendance, a fraction of those who, years ago, thronged to Pat Robertson’s  annual Christian Coalition “Road the White House.” Of the top tier of 2016 presidential hopefuls–Sens. Rand Paul (KY), Ted Cruz (TX), and Marco Rubio (FL) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker—only two even spoke. Walker didn’t even bother to attend, and Cruz was only at a reception.

There were the usual suspects, however. Friday banquet keynoter Donald Trump lambasted not only the Dems but also Karl Rove, Mitt Romney, and Rubio. Sarah Palin’s solution to the Middle East crisis is  “let Allah sort it out,” and her description of immigration reform was “a pandering, rewarding-the-rule-breakers, still-no-border-security, special-interest-written amnesty bill.”  Herman Cain had his “ETA” plan, “enthusiasm, targeted races and activists” but nothing about helping the country.  No ideas for improving the country—just get rid of the opposition. Texas Gov. Rick Perry    confused Lebanon with Libya when he referenced the assault at the U.S. consulate.

A new figure at the conference was E.W. Jackson, top Virginia bigot and GOP candidate for lieutenant governor. He redefined freedom for the “freedom coalition”:

“Freedom doesn’t mean ‘Do whatever you want.’ It’s the pursuit of character, integrity, decency, honor. Now we’re being told freedom is license.”

Jackson has said that the government is worse for black families than slavery. He said that his ancestors were born into slavery and that their families were more intact than black families are today.

The happy ending for the next story may be the bad publicity that immigration authorities received. A 64-year-old atheist and permanent U.S. resident for over three decades, Margaret Doughty, was told that her application for naturalized citizenship would not be accepted until she officially joined a church. Doughty stated on her application that she objected to the pledge to bear arms in defense of the nation due to her moral opposition to war. Immigration authorities originally said that she could object to war only because of religious beliefs.

Thirty-seven years ago, a Christian-based organization called Exodus started its mission to “cure” homosexuals of their sexual orientation. After a unanimous board decision this week, it closed its doors and its president, Alan Chambers, apologized to gays and lesbians for the group’s abuse. Last year California became the first state to ban “ex-gay” therapy. Chambers admits that he is still attracted to men and now  “accept[s] these feelings as parts of my life that will likely always be there.”

Because far-right Christians are busy putting up monuments about their religion on public land across the country, Florida members of American Atheists got permission to build a 1,500 granite display in Bradford, a small town in the northern part of the state. Placed next to the year-old display of the Ten Commandments, it will feature secular quotes from Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Madalyn Murray O’Hair on a four-foot-high panel next to a bench opposite the five-foot Christian monument. It also has a quote from the Treaty of Tripoli, a 1796 peace treaty between the U.S. and North African Muslims.

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The county attorney said that the Ten Commandments monument was not intended to sponsor any religion. County requirements for monuments are non-permanent commemorations of “people, events and ideas which played a significant role in the development, origins or foundations of United States of America or Florida law, or Bradford County” that are not “libelous, pornographic or obscene.”

To finish off the religion portion of my blog, I want to provide two beautiful photographs from my wonderful partner Sue. Whether you think that they came from a god or science—or both—they are magnificent.




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