Nel's New Day

December 23, 2012

Exorcism, Pentagrams, Climate Change–Sunday Bits

It’s Sunday again, and there’s so much news! We’ll start with a ray of sunshine. Earlier this month, the Orleans Parish School Board [Louisiana] amended their textbook selection with a caveat:  “No history textbook shall be approved which has been adjusted in accordance with the State of Texas revisionist guidelines nor shall any science textbook be approved which presents creationism or intelligent design as science or scientific theories.”

For people not aware of Texas textbooks, the state is such a huge purchaser that publishers often kowtow to that state’s demands—such as “revising” science and history to match what the Tea Party believes. (I almost said “thinks,” but they don’t.)

The pope, who described marriage equality as destroying the very “essence of the human creature,” has given his former butler an early Christmas present. After Pope Benedict XVI visited the jail where Paolo Gabriele was incarcerated following his conviction of aggravated theft in stealing and leaking documents that alleged the Holy See’s corruption, the pope pardoned him. Catholic policy: theft, okay; marriage equality, not okay.

Other parts of Catholic beliefs can be hard to understand. Bill O’Reilly of Fox News fame thinks that Caroline Kennedy, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention about women’s rights, should have had an exorcism for daring to be Catholic and pro-choice. He may have trouble finding a priest to do this. In 2010, the American Catholic bishops met to figure out a way to prepare more priests and bishops to respond to the demand. Part of the training is to figure out who really needs an exorcism and who just needs a psychiatrist or pastoral care.

“Not everyone who thinks they need an exorcism actually does need one,” said Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield (IL) who organized the conference. “It’s only used in those cases where the Devil is involved in an extraordinary sort of way in terms of actually being in possession of the person.” Pope Benedict XVI has emphasized a return to traditional rituals and practices.

Catholics are not alone in their peculiar beliefs. In a “celebration” of 12/12/12, Brent Troy Bartel carved a large pentagram on the back of his 6-year-old son, claiming he do so “because it is a holy day.” Some people saw the date as significant because it appears only once in every century; the pentagram, a five-pointed star, can be connected to Satanism. Bartel didn’t explain what was going through his mind when he did this.

Two-thirds of white evangelical Protestants think that disasters such as Superstorm Sandy means that the end of the world is near, as predicted by the Bible. The survey from Public Religion Research found others who agree: almost 40 percent of everyone in this country believes this. Even over one-third of Catholics and white non-evangelical Protestants agree. According to 15 percent of the people in the survey, the end of time will occur during their lifetimes, and 2 percent think it will be before the end of 2012. (There’s only eight days left!)

Some of the respondents are hedging their bets. Seventy-five percent of non-white Protestants think that the disasters come from both climate change and the evidence of the Bible’s “end time.”

Over 50 percent of the people in the United States voted for Barack Obama, which may jeopardize their claim to be Christians. According to Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, leader of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Density, during a radio interview on 12/12/12, anyone who voted for the president cannot be a Christian. According to its website, BOND is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to “Rebuilding the Family by Rebuilding the Man.”

The fundamentalists who want a literal reading of the Bible—at least the parts that they like—have possibly found a leader in Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016. He may not know about the end of the world, but he’s not sure when it was created. First, he said that it could have been 6,000 years ago, but then he changed his mind for a more scientific approach.

Rubio does know, however, that kids should believe their parents over their teachers. Teaching students about evolution if their parents don’t believe it is like the strategy of the Communist Party in Cuba, according to Rubio until he decided that some people might not like this analogy. He backpedaled again: “Of course, I’m not equating the evolution people with Fidel Castro.” Letting up on the brakes, he moved back to his other position, saying, “We should do nothing in government that undermines that relationship [between parent and child].” Rubio added, “And for me, personally, I don’t want a school system that teaches kids that what they’re learning at home is wrong.”

Rubio has also talked about how his religious views shaped his policy positions. Homosexuality is a sin, he thinks, but nobody is free from sin. He still opposes marriage equality. Then the science side won out when he said that it has proved that life begins at conception. In his first statement, the one in which he said he couldn’t say anything about how old the planet is because he isn’t a scientist, should have him removed from his position on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

And let us not forget the plethora of religious leaders blaming the recent shooting at Newtown (CT) on those who “take God out of the schools,” the atheists, and the LGBT community.

Notice that there’s nothing about the War on Christmas? That’s a whole blog tomorrow!

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