Nel's New Day

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.]

April 20, 2014

Fox Declares War on Religious Freedom amid Easter, Passover Celebrations

Several religious celebrations—or at least commemorations—took place during the past week.

Exodus_MapPassover began last Monday and lasts until Tuesday night, also Earth Day. The festival, which always begins on the night of the first full moon after the Spring Equinox (about March 21), is a remembrance of the Jewish liberation in ancient Egypt over 3,300 years ago when God delivered the Jews from the Pharohs. According to the story, Moses led his people across the desert for 40 years before they came to the Promised Land.

Last Tuesday, I was privileged to attend a Seder with six other women. This structured event includes eating proscribed foods and retelling the story of the exodus. The focus of a Seder is the Jewish freedom from slavery, but our leader added the dimensions of feminism, humanism, and Buddhism with a large dash of humor. We read aloud the Haggadah that she had prepared, answering the four questions addressing the issue of what sets apart that night and talking about other rituals connected with the Seder.

I have no Jewish heritage, but the meaning of the Seder applies to all peoples. As our leader wrote:

“In modern times, the Passover Seder is again imbued with fresh meaning, in which we are called to consider the plight of all oppressed beings, human and non-human of the world and to reconfirm our commitment to make their struggles our own….

“In Judaism, there is a concept of tikkum olam, which means healing the world, which is one approach to bringing about an Age of Peace. It’s about each person’s responsibility to do what we can to help make the world a better place. We can do that by trying to be loving and kind and contributing some of our time, talent, and treasure toward helping out where we find the opportunity. We hope we can leave the world a little better than it was when we came to it.”

Sharing this tribute to an ancient story that still rings true today has made me more thoughtful about life’s connections and richer in my experiences.

Holy Week this year occurred at almost the same time as Passover. This last week of Lent, including Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, leads up to Easter.

Easter, like Passover,is based on the Hebrew lunar calendar. The date is always the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the Spring Equinox. Both Passover and Easter are taken from Pagan celebrations surrounding the return of light in spring. Early Christians took the philosophy that Pagans would be more likely to accept the new religion if it kept their Pagan practices.

The name Easter comes from the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility, Ostera or Eostre, who was annually celebrated for thousands of years before the birth of Christ. Colored eggs represent the light of spring. Egyptians, Persians, and Chinese all had customs of coloring eggs, and a Babylonian legend refers to the “queen of heaven” coming from a giant egg that fell from the sky. Pope Paul V (1605-16021) referred to the “wholesome sustenance” of the egg “in remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Bunnies, another Easter symbol, represent fertility. Somehow, Easter celebrates the rabbit, which births live young, supposedly produces Easter eggs. Thus a Pagan symbol for new life is somehow tied to the resurrection of Jesus and a story about a bunny laying eggs.

The Unholy War on Easter is a conservative celebration during the time before Easter. Not satisfied with declaring that progressives have declared wars on Halloween and Christmas, Fox network devoted ten segments to what Bill O’Reilly called the continued “war on Judeo-Christian tradition.” Fox’s accusations:

  • O’Reilly said, “The goal is to marginalize religious opposition to secular programs.” His complaint was that President Obama and the White House empowered “secular progressives” to pressure school districts around the country to eliminate terms like “Easter bunny” and “Easter egg.”
  • Fox & Friends First replayed O’Reilly’s ranting, and co-host Heather Nauert asked, “What the heck is a Spring egg anyway?”
  • Fox & Friends Sunday guest co-host Jesse Watters echoed O’Reilly’s remarks and accused people who want to remove the word Easter from school activities of causing pain to most people.
  • The Fox Five co-host Eric Bolling declared an attack on Easter when the principal of an Alabama middle school directed her school to not call an egg hunt an “Easter egg” hunt in order to respect others’ religion.
  • Six segments appeared on March 27 about the Alabama school’s decision twice, asking for audience opinion and ridiculing the way that the principal talked.
  • Gretchen Carlson said that that the last week had only two religious celebrations, Passover and Easter. She said the problem would be solved if both of them were included. She missed these.

April 13-16: Water Festivals – Buddhism (a cleansing ritual to welcome the new year)
April 14: Baisakhi New Year – Sikh
April 15: Lord’s Evening Meal – Jehovah’s Witness (memorial of Christ’s death)
April 15: Hanuman Jayanti – Hindu (a celebration of the birth of Hanuman, the Vanara god)
April 21: First Day of Ridvan  – Bahá’í (the commencement of Bahá’u’lláh’s prophethood)
April 22: Ardavisht – Zoroastrian (the day to pay tribute to Fire or other sources that illuminate)

  • Father of the war against Easter, Bill O’Reilly, concluded the week’s war with stating that “Christianity is on the run in this country,” and “You rarely see those kinds of assaults against Jews or Muslims.” He also claimed that “the 10 percent who would be upset by the Easter bunny, they should be institutionalized, by the way.”

jesusIn protest against the lack of separation of church and state, the Freedom from Religion Foundation first posted an anti-Easter sign in the Wisconsin state capital and then put up two eight-foot banners featuring Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

5x8-Thomas-Jefferson-banner_proof2 left

freedom from religion




The display countered the Jesus in Daley Plaza with a 10-food image of the deity and a 19-foot cross. Fox network says that expressing a position other Christianity in the public square is an “unholy” attack on Christianity; the founding fathers would certainly disagree.

Warren (MI) Mayor Jim Fouts believes so much in freedom of religion that he let a Christian group put a “Prayer Station” inside City Hall. When Freedom from Religion asked to have a “Reason Station” to promote separation of church and state with secular thought, reason, and logic, Fouts explained that only the Christian station is protected under the First Amendment. He said, “I emphasize one thing. The government cannot restrict an individual’s freedom of speech, but an individual cannot restrict the government’s freedom of speech.” Maybe the government, like corporations, will become persons.

One final comment about the gorgeous “blood moon” on the first night of Passover. At least one Christian is making a lot of money on it by promoting fear among fundamentalist Christians who reject scientific reasons for natural phenomena. Pastor John Hagee, has released a book, bringing his total to over 30, to explain how this event signifies the coming of the Rapture that sweeps all god-fearing Christians off to the heavens while the rest of us stay here to burn. Author of books such as Earth’s Final Moments and Jerusalem Countdown, Hagee heads up San Antonio’s mega-church Cornerstone Church and a multi-million-dollar media empire. His money, that he gets from both the rich and the poor, helps him control GOP politics and funded the largest pro-Israel religious-based lobbying group in the world.

His founding of the 1.3 million member Christians United for Israel (CUFI) has made him one of 50 people having the greatest influence over the GOP’s foreign policy, according to Foreign Policy magazine. His hawkish approach supports a war-like opposition to Iran if Israel should decide to act aggressively toward the country. Researcher and writer Rachel Tabachnick described Hagee’s philosophy:

“Christian Zionists view themselves as ‘fishers’ who must befriend and persuade Jews to move to Israel before the ‘time of the hunters.’ Hunters are those who will violently force the remaining Jews around the world to leave their respective nations and flee to Israel.”

Hagee’s new book, Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change, points out that all four eclipses during this 18-month period occur within Jewish celebrations. April 15, 2014 and April 4, 2015 are during Passover, and October 8, 2014 and September 28, 2015 take place during the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. His conclusion is “that a rapture will occur where Christians will be taken to heaven, Israel will go to war in a great battle called Armageddon, and Jesus will return to earth.” Something will happen in the Middle East within the next two years that will change history.

As proof of his theory, Hagee cites Acts 2:19-20: “And I will show wonders in Heaven above and signs in the Earth beneath, the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.” His book is #4 on the New York Times best-seller list in the “how to” section, and he won’t be proved wrong in his prophecies because he has no specific timeline. He just gets to keep raking in money from the ignorant.

While fundamentalist Christian leaders bilk their followers out of billions without paying their fair share of taxes, we’ll look forward to see what the coming year brings. I prefer the Seder approach of moving toward freedom and peace.

December 29, 2013

Deception in ‘Duck Dynasty,’ Catholic Church

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:18 PM
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Much as I’ve tried to avoid the entire Duck Dynasty kerfuffle, it seems to be impossible for anyone who reads the news. For those of you fortunate to miss the  disgusting episode, Phil Robertson, patriarch of the long-bearded on Fox network’s reality show about country boys, gave an interview to GQ. Not appearing to be a gentleman, he talked about both homosexuality (it’s sick) and racism (it never existed in his personal South during the second half of the twentieth century). Petitions circulated, and Robertson was suspended from the show. More petitions circulated, and he was put back on.

Sarah Palin went to his defense although she stated that she didn’t read any of the interview. Bobbie Jindal, GOP governor of the Duck state, protested the loss of Robertson’s constitutional rights to free speech and religious freedom. The biggest piece missing from the argument, whether you support Robertson’s employment or not, is that the First Amendment had no part of the discussion.

Robertson can say anything he wants, and A&E is a business that has the right to hire and fire anyone it wishes. Nothing in the U.S. Constitution entitles anyone to a reality show or a business to pay someone for their speech. No one has stopped Robertson from his free expression of his religious beliefs.

More interesting to me is the way that the Robertson clan has hornswoggled its faithful followers. Guided by Duck Dynasty creator Scott Gurney, former actor in an independent gay porn film, the boys and their father just grew long beards, put on flannel and camo, and uttered an occasional “yeehaw.” [Willie moves from having metro-sexual tipped hair into his current “reality.]

metro-sexual tipped hair

Willie after reality

Father Robertson, who gained a master’s degree at Louisiana Tech University and then taught for several years, is a multimillionaire after his invention of a duck call. With his true religious calling, according to the interview, he should have followed Jesus’s directions:  “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” The Bible also requires short hair.

Another comment about women to extend the excessive publicity of Phil Robertson’s egregious—and probably carefully crafted—comments:

“[Women] got to where they’re hard to find. Mainly because these boys are waiting til they’re twenty years old before they marry them. Look, you wait til they get to be twenty years old and the the only picking that’s going to take place is your pocket. You got to marry these girls when they’re about fifteen or sixteen and they’ll pick your ducks.”

It appears that I’m not the only person disgusted by the reports of Father Duck’s antics. Ad News reported that A&E lost 1.51 million viewers during prime time in the week of December 16-22, down 13 percent from 1.73 million a year ago. Adults 25-54 dropped 22 percent, and watchers in ages 18-49 fell 18 percent.

John Hagee has a solution for people who disagree with him. The prominent evangelical pastor said, “[I]f atheists and humanists don’t like being wished a ‘Merry Christmas’ … well, they can just get out of the country.”

After serving 18 months of his 3-to-6 year sentence, Philadelphia’s Monsignor William Lynn, 62, may be released after an appeals court overturned his conviction. It’s not that he didn’t actually do what he was accused of. As secretary for clergy and aide to Cardinals Anthony Bevilacqua and Justin Rigali, he documented hundreds of complaints of rapes, sadist religious rituals, and other forms of abuse filed against priests from the late 1950s through his 1992-2004 tenure. Then he locked the information in a secret archives room.

The Superior Court threw out the conviction with a ruling that the law didn’t apply in the late 1990s to people who hid information like this. Although 20 of the victims testified about their childhood treatment by Catholic priests, the crimes were too old to prosecute. Lynn may go scot free because laws don’t cover what he did.

The best sign of the week comes from the Anglican Parish of Gosford, Australia.

best sign of the week

Earlier signs at the parish: 

“How much stuff do we really need?”

“Jesus, Joseph, and Mary were asylum seekers.”

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has abandoned Ayn Rand for Pope Francis because he cares for the poor. But Ryan also explains why the pope is wrong:

“The guy [Ryan’s term for the pope] is from Argentina, they haven’t had real capitalism in Argentina. They have crony capitalism in Argentina. They don’t have a true free-enterprise system.”

I look forward to the other 69 Catholics in Congress justifying their narrow-minded, selfish approach toward denying help to the poor while increasing the wealth of the rich.


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