Nel's New Day

September 21, 2014

Conservatives Continue To Fight Freedom of Religion

Air Force enlistees and commissioned members will no longer be forced to swear “So help me God” in their oath, after a review of the policy by the Department of Defense, possibly because someone read the Constitution:

“No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

The revised policy has greatly disappointed religious right members. Bryan Fischer had already praised the oath that included his God, stating that “a man who doesn’t believe in the Creator … most certainly should not wear the uniform.” In this manner, Fischer dismisses the value of soldiers such as Pat Tillman, an open atheist who lost his life after he left his professional football career to fight al-Qaeda.

Televangelist Pat Robertson claims that it’s “crazy” to remove the requirement. He blames “a left-wing radical named Mikey Weinstein who has got a group about people against religion or whatever he calls it, and he has just terrorized the armed forces.” Robertson went on to describe Weinstein as “one little Jewish radical.” Weinstein is the President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

Robertson has also added to the blessings of Jesus on the poor and hungry in his Sermon on the Mount. The televangelist added, “Blessed are the fully armed because theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”

There’s more information about the 14-year-old boy who could go to prison for two years because he posted a photograph of himself simulating oral sex on a statue of Jesus. DA Bill Higgins of Bedford County (PA) called him a “troubled young man” and used a law from 1972 for punishment higher than simple vandalism. “Troubled” might also refer to Higgins: he admitted to having an extramarital affair in his office with a woman who sued him for sexual harassment but was then “convinced” to drop the charges. In addition, he seems to be fan of pornography. The ACLU is looking into the boy’s case.

The Mars Hill (Seattle) is megachurch no longer led by Mark Driscoll; he’s taking a leave of absence after it was revealed that he considers men to be God’s “tool” and women the shelter for the “tool.” In 2001, under the name William Wallace II, Driscoll wrote:

“Ultimately, God created you and it is his penis. You are simply borrowing it for a while. Knowing that His penis would need a home, God created a woman to be your wife and when you marry her and look down you will notice that your wife is shaped differently than you and makes a very nice home.

“Therefore, if you are single you must remember that your penis is homeless and needs a home. But, though you may believe your hand is shaped like a home, it is not… And, if you look at a man it is quite obvious that what a homeless man does not need is another man without a home.”

More recently Driscoll said that women need to serve their husbands with oral sex, he would not have married his wife if he knew she was a victim of sexual abuse, and masturbation is homosexuality unless the man’s wife is watching him. He also accused a parishioner of having “sexual demons” and asked her, in front of her husband, “which one of my husband’s friends I had imagined sleeping with.” Forty percent of the Mars Hill staff has been laid off, and the executive elder has resigned.

Continuing its support for separation of church and state, the Satanic Temple announced its plans to provide its own materials to public school students in Orange County (FL). The action would be a response to a Christian group’s distribution of Bibles to students. In its decision for evangelical groups showing Christian films on school property in Lamb’s Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District (1993), the Supreme Court ruled that  “the First Amendment forbids the government to regulate speech in ways that favor some viewpoints or ideas at the expense of others.” Unlike many Christians, the Satanic Temple does not believe the devil to be real and “advocates for religious tolerance and pluralism.”

raelian symbolEarlier an atheist group sued the school district’s refusal to leave its pamphlets after the distribution of Bibles. The district dropped the case, allowing the pamphlets in the school.  Joining the Satanic Temple are the Raelians, a UFO cult that claimed in 2002 that they had cloned a human baby. As Rael said, “Religious freedom is either for everybody or it doesn’t exist,” Rael declared in his statement. Raelian Guide Ricky Roehr, head of the group’s North American branch, said, “Children should … be exposed to a variety of spiritual beliefs and philosophies, and to experience them as well if they wish. That way, they can make their own choice when they reach adulthood, without the pressure of their parents or their social environment.”

The bombs spread across the country from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in support of Hobby Lobby’s religion have started to explode.  U.S. District Court Judge David Sam ruled that because of Vergel Steed’s religious belief, the member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) can avoid naming church leaders who took children out of school and sent them to harvest pecans in violation of child labor laws. Government officials have also been investigating FLDS for several years because of their forced marriage between underage girls and adults males. Warren Jeff, FLDS’ former president, is in prison for life because of several sex crimes including incest and pedophilia.

Meanwhile Hobby Lobby CEO Steve Green is moving forward with his $800 million, eight-story Bible museum in Washington, D.C. His only concern is that he wants it closer than two blocks from the National Mall. To a retailer, location is all.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has defined faith as “belief without proof.” Bryan Fischer now has the proof (scientific evidence?) that the United States is meant to be a theocracy and not a secular country. In one word, bacon. He told his radio audience:

“You want one single item of proof that America is a Christian nation and not a Jewish nation and not an Islamic nation? One single bit of proof is all you need: we freely allow restaurants and grocery stores to sell and to serve bacon. That can only happen in a Christian country.”

In his follow-up article, “The Blessings of Bacon,” he complains about attacks from the God-hating left and libertarian right. No mention of the idea that a secular society would also sell bacon. That’s because selling bacon is in the Bible: Mark 7:19 says of Jesus, “Thus he declared all foods clean.” Leviticus 18 bans bacon, which bothers Fischer not one whit although he uses Leviticus to blast his hatred against same-sex relationships.

According to Fischer’s rationale, China must be a very Christian nation. Each person in that country eats 39 kilograms of pork a year, about 45 percent more than people do in the United States. Actually, fewer than 4 percent of people in China are Christians. Of those believing in religion, about 12 percent are Christians whereas 66.1 percent are Buddhists, Taoists or worshippers of legendary figures such as the Dragon King and God of Fortune. Fischer is the Director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy at the American Family Association which annually receives $20 million in donations.

Fischer has other pronouncements. Although scientists have support for the threat of a sea-level rise, he denies any problem. Climate change is causing the rise of temperatures which are melting ice caps and glaciers at a rapidly growing rate. Increase in water from decrease in ice causes higher sea levels that are putting thousands of miles of coastline underwater. Rainbows remind God to not flood the planet, according to Fischer, because he read it in Genesis 9. God might not flood the planet, but humans are certainly doing this. By the way, rainbows are both a reflection and refraction of light in water droplets. That’s science, not faith.

The Catholic church is expressing an ambivalent attitude toward same-sex marriage. It refuses to recognize marriage equality, but it demands that a gay couple, together for over 30 years and legally married in Washington state, must be legally divorced before they can receive communion. Rev. Samuel Spiering served four days as administrator of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Lewistown (MT) four days before he issued his directive to the couple. The next day he dismissed them from their volunteer posts in the church.Two weeks later, the couple agreed to write a restoration statement supporting the church’s definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, but they refuse to get a legal divorce. About 50 percent of the parishioners support the gay couple.

Christians should celebrate the actions of 13-year-old Kyle Bradford (Weaverville, CA) who gave his lunch to a friend assigned to the cheese sandwich for “non-paying” children. “It seemed like he couldn’t get a normal lunch so I just wanted to give mine to him because I wasn’t really that hungry and it was just going to go in the garbage if I didn’t eat it,” Bradford said.  Kyle got detention. And we wonder why we have problems in the United States.

September 7, 2014

People of ‘Good Faith’ Who Rule by Hate, Fear

Backlash followed the mayor of Winter Garden (FL) after he asked police last week to escort a citizen out of a city council meeting because he wouldn’t stand during the Pledge of Allegiance. The mayor ignored a 1943 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in West Virginia v. Barnette in which the court disagreed with the mayor. Justice Robert Jackson warned, “[T]hose who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.” Winter Garden officials decided that the city commission will open their meetings with “a moment of silence rather than a prayer” and “no one has to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance.” Somebody read the U.S. Constitution.

The Archbishop of Oklahoma City, Paul Coakley, has come to terms with a Satanic group, the Church of Ahriman. The group returned Coakley’s consecrated communion water, and he withdrew his lawsuit against the group holding a Black Mass in Oklahoma City on September 21. In a debate about whether Christians should oppose the Black Mass, one person pondered this question about the Satanists’ actions:

“Why would people of ‘good faith’ –whatever that faith–want to harm an entire group or class of people?”

I wonder the same thing. Why would these people of “good faith” want to harm a class of people?

TV preacher Pat Robertson knows that Robin Williams would not have taken his own life on August 11 if he had not followed the gods of fame and money. All non-Christians are doomed. Williams had been suffering from depression and diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Robertson, a famous televangelist, is worth $200 million. He gets his money by telling people living in poverty to send him money. This is a response to a couple in their 80s:

“You know, you can get on the telephone, people are hiring. There are all kinds of things you can do. For example, you may have a bunch of junk lying around in your garage that you can sell on eBay, and get some money that way.There are many, many ways of making money. And you’re looking at the downside of all the bills you’ve got instead of saying, ‘God, I’ve been faithful to you. Now, I claim my blessing, and I ask you to open the windows of heaven and pour me out a blessing. Show me what you’re going to do, show me how I can move into blessing.’ So, just ask him. He’ll give you some concepts. Your mind will open up.”

Lobbyist Jack Burkman, leader of the anti-LGBT group American Decency, has called for an anti-LGBT protest at the Dallas Cowboy’s home opener in Arlington (TX) because the team signed openly-gay Michael Sam after the St. Louis Rams dropped him. Earlier this year, Burkman proposed a bill that would ban gays from the National Football League. Burkman’s openly-gay brother, Jim, thinks that his brother’s actions are “just an attention grab and a media grab to pander to those folks who pay him to lobby on their behalf.”

Pastor Robby Gallaty doesn’t need laws like Burkman proposes; the head of a Tennessee Baptist church just wants homosexuals “put to death” because God would like that. Death is the only way to punish people “infected” with sin. According to Leviticus 20, their murder is their own fault. Who needs Uganda when the U.S. has its own home-grown “kill the gays” minister?

Michael V. Williams doesn’t want to kill LGBT people, but he does want a constitutional amendment to punish them with “ten years in prison at hard labor.” He spreads his word at Preaching Politics.com and asks followers to contact lawmakers so that they can outlaw homosexuality throughout the nation. He wrote:

“Make such a pest of yourself that they’re willing to do anything just to shut you up. And remember, only vote for those who promise to adopt this amendment. We’re in a fight for survival and only one side can win. Let’s make sure it’s our side.”

Former San Diego GOP official Gary Cass, leader of the right-wing group Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, posted this on the group’s website:

“ISSI (sic) has done us all a favor. The true face of Islam is on full display even as Mohammed is burning in hell. We will have to face the harsh truth that Islam has no place in civilized society. Muslims cannot live in a society based on Christian ideals of equality and liberty. They will always seek to harm us.”

Cass continues by giving directions for how to start a “holy war” again Islam. According to this “leader,” violence is the only way to protect Christianity: he and his followers must crush the seed of Ishmael in Jesus’ name. Cass once said, “You can’t be a Christian if you don’t own a gun?”

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) plans to introduce a bill authorizing President Obama “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those countries, organizations, or persons associated with or supporting” the groups namechecked above, as well as “any other emerging regional terrorist groups that share common violent extremist ideology with such terrorist groups, regional affiliates, or emerging terrorist groups.” To paraphrase, the U.S. should bomb anyone who they don’t like and just start World War III.

Tea Partiers also have declared war on other conservatives. Uncivil war broke out in Mississippi after a Tea Party candidate lost a primary run-off to incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran who asked blacks to vote for him. Roy Nicholson, the state’s Tea Party chair, led a prayer at Life Church Jackson asking God to commit violence against establishment Republicans. A bit more of his prayer:

“We’re asking, Father, that you would expose them, set division amongst them, set them one against another, bring confusion and fear into their camp, into their thinking, for the purpose of pulling them down, for casting them down out of their high offices and reducing them, Lord, to having no power in this state.”

Sometimes conservative leaders go too far for their congregation. Members of the 15,000-member megachurch with 200,000 followers online are protesting Seattle’s Pastor Mark Driscoll for a number of reasons including inappropriate use of church funds, plagiarizing, absolute control that cannot be questioned, and a culture of fear described as “spiritual abuse.” For several years, more liberal Christians have opposed his objectifying women and denigrating LGBT people, but conservatives are disturbed by his demands that church elders and their families be shunned if they don’t agree with him.

Leadership in many Christian churches at this time comes from developing a sense of persecution by anyone who dares to disagree with them. The conservative media rabidly publicizes any whiff of the so-called persecution, as with Kendra Turner, a senior at Dyer County High School (Newbern, TN), who broadcast on social media that she was “sent to the office” because one of her teachers didn’t want her saying “God bless you” in class after another student sneezed. Media attention encouraged her to expand the story by claiming her teacher told her she had no constitutional right to discuss God in the classroom before she was sent to the principal’s office and given an in-school suspension for the remainder of the class period. According to Turner, the classmates’ defense of her required other teachers to be called in to control a mini-rebellion.

Dyer County High School Principal Peggy Dodds tells a different story. There was no punishment, no suspension, no request to leave the classroom. Turner just walked out. She was told, however, that she was not supposed to disrupt the class. The teacher also reported that Turner was disruptive and aggressive. Google the story, however, and you’ll get only Turner’s version.

According to Religious Dispatches from USC, Turner’s stunt is not an isolated occurrence. Harold Cronk’s recent fictional film God’s Not Dead shows a Christian student humiliating a philosophy professor who required his freshman students to sign a pledge that “God is dead” and then converting the other students. Adolescents will enjoy replicating the film because it appears to justify resistance to authority and make them heroic through martyrdom. The fictional student in the film said about school authorities, “I want them to realize that God is in control and they’re not.”

To repeat the question:

“Why would people of ‘good faith’ –whatever that faith–want to harm an entire group or class of people?”

Because conservative religions control through fear. If you don’t do as I say, then I want to bomb you, kill you, put you in prison for ten years, or just get you fired—all in the name of Jesus and a Christian god. It’s a lesson that children learn at a very early age from the growing openly hatred in the United States for anything that they don’t understand.

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