Nel's New Day

June 8, 2014

Religious Advice Both Right, Left

Conservative religious leaders specialize in giving advice and ordering around their parishioners. Here are a few prime examples from the past few weeks:

If anyone sends you a letter with the new Harvey Milk stamp, don’t open it. That’s because Milk was one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States. In fact, you should go farther than that, according to Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, and write “Return to Sender” on the envelope before sending it back. Worse news for Perkins: the Milk stamp is a “forever” stamp which allows it to be indefinitely used as first-class postage.

Harvey Milk Avoid health care because it’s the same as sexual gratification, another pearl of wisdom from Perkins. Misogyny and prevalence of guns aren’t responsible for the Santa Barbara killings. Perkins said, “It’s almost like Obamacare, you have a right to healthcare, you have a right to sexual gratification, almost.” [No, I don’t understand the connections either.]

Christians need to be afraid of LGBT people, Tony Perkins also said, because the gay agenda wants “to start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians.” He claims that LGBT people want to exterminate poor Christians in concentration camps. On the same program, Nicole Martin warned against “witch hunts” against Christians, another reversal of when Christians cheerfully killed anyone they didn’t like.

Be sure that you’re a Christian if you want to get married in Virginia, the state with motto “Virginia is for lovers.” Court-appointed officiant in Franklin County, Bud Roth, insisted on performing a ceremony at the church and then asked the couple about their religious beliefs. He turned them away because one was an atheist and the other an agnostic. Roth said:

“You don’t believe in God… I just don’t marry anyone who does not believe in God [or] believes that there is a God someplace. So I’m not going to talk the issue over with you and I’m not going to argue about it, okay? I’m just not going to marry you. Correct?”

The couple protested to Judge William Alexander, who appointed Roth. He thought that the paid government employee could refuse to marry anyone he wanted. Maybe Virginia is just for unmarried lovers.

Christians may now eliminate all other belief systems from prayers at public government meetings, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of Town of Greece, NY v. Galloway. Chesterfield County (VA) Board of Supervisors now permit only Judeo-Christian clergy to give the before-meeting prayer. No Wiccans need apply because they are “neo-pagan and [invoke] polytheistic, pre-Christian deities.” No Sikhs either.

Virginia isn’t alone. When La Vista (NE) hosted a “Faith and Freedom” Memorial Day event, Robert Fuller, a member of the Omaha Atheists, asked Mayor Douglas Kindig if they could meet to talk about Fuller’s concerns. “Take me to f—ing court because I don’t care,” Kindig told Fuller before he said, “Minorities are not going to run [my] city.”

Beware the eminence of the biblical “End Times” because of climate change, says Texas pastor John Hagee. And don’t do anything about it because you’re better off talking about Jesus than you are trying to make the planet better.

“The Bible says that whenever we approach the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be strange weather patterns. Jesus said this in Matthew the twenty-fifth chapter. So we have a decision to make: do we believe what an environmentalist group says and choose to live in a world where we’re attempting to make everything as clean in the air as possible, or do we believe what the Bible says, that these things were going to happen and that rather than try to clean up all of the air and solve all of the problems of the world by eliminating factories, we should start to tell people about Jesus Christ who is to return?”

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has announced a new watchdog group called “Operation Inclusion” to protect the rights of all people in the United States. My advice? Join them.

operation inclusion

More of my advice:

Don’t bother to join Utah’s Church of Compassionate Service to avoid paying income taxes. They’ve been busted by the courts. A decade ago, Kevin Hartshorn started this great scam by taking money and possessions from all his so-called ministers and giving them debit cards used for paying their expenses. Hartshorn said that none of these people could be sued because they have no assets. Agency Assignments were doing what the ministers were already doing. For example, Bruce Calkins was told:

“[T]o enable you to fulfill your responsibilities as agent of the Order, you are hereby instructed to pursue work in histotechnology at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, San Diego, CA as a Histotechnologist and as an Independent Associate/Distributor of nutritional supplements and skin care products produced by USANA Health Sciences . . . for the financial support of the Order. Further, funds generated from the results of your labors are not to be construed as income or financial gain to you personally, yet will be the financial blessings of the Compassionate Order of Service.”

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals didn’t swallow Hartshorn’s arguments.

Not all mega-churches reject LGBT people. With 4,500 the Dallas Cathedral of Hope has a 90-percent LGBT membership. Seventy-percent of the congregation is under 30, and the church holds weekly services in Spanish.

In California, Pastor Danny Cortez kept his job at the Baptist New Heart Community Church after he openly accepted his gay son. The congregation also voted to become a “Third Way” church, welcoming LGBTI people without judgment. Cortez’s son, Drew, came out to his father after he learned that his father liked the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis song “Same Love” because of its inclusive message.

Avoid the Colonial Hills Baptist Church (Indianapolis, IN) if you object to violence against women. Under the guidance of Pastor Nate Utley, the youth group made a video for seventh graders to show them what to do with people who break rules. In one scene, Utley beats a woman with a baseball bat until she is appears to be lifeless on the floor. She was accused of disrespecting him. Utley beats another girl because she doesn’t throw a pizza box into a trashcan. Other enactments included cutting off a person’s hand for failing to return a cell phone and hitting kids with tennis balls. Here’s the video.

Leader of the Colonial Hills Baptist Church, Chuck Phelps, shamed a pregnant 15-year-old girl for being raped by a church deacon in 1997 while he was at the Independent Fundamental Baptist Church in New Hampshire. Phelps told the girl she should have been stoned to death; his wife asked the girl if she enjoyed the rape. The motto of Phelps’ current church is “A Church That Feels Like Home.”

People who are 100 percent opposed to marriage equality hurt their LGBTQ children. Mormon couple Wendy and Tom Montgomery fought to pass California’s Prop 8. Then they read their son’s journal and found that he is gay. Jordan, who was nine years old and questioning during that time, said, “It was really depressing to see my parents supporting something that was completely against what I was.”

Their journey is shown in a short documentary, Forever. Wendy Montgomery said, “I am a better person for having a gay son. I love differently, and I love more openly. I didn’t realize the judgment I had before I realized that having a gay son was a great blessing and not a burden.” Too bad she didn’t know that six years ago.

You can now pay taxes in Kentucky without wondering if the money goes to the Ark Encounter theme park, a religious place that shows dinosaurs living at the same time that humans have. The state has decided that it will no longer provide the $43 million a year in tax incentives to support the place.

In one small victory to separate church and state, South Carolina has removed all religious language from naming the Columbian Mammoth the South Carolina state fossil, as an 8-year-old girl requested. The GOP is still pushing for creationism in its education standards, but that’s a subject for another Sunday.




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