Nel's New Day

December 22, 2013

Battles in Holidays, Capitalism, LGBT Rights

Sometimes, religious news goes far beyond hypocrisy into just plain crazy. Here’s my top tale for the week.

One of the four Texas’s GOP gubernatorial candidates to replace Rick Perry is Larry Secede Kilgore, who changed his middle name because he wants the state to be an independent country. He wants LGBT voters to help him get elected. If he wins, he promises to step down for a year and then run for office again. His platform at that time would be to kill all homosexuals, just as the Bible says. What a campaign slogan! “Vote for me so I can kill you.”

Next to Texas is Oklahoma with its handsome tablet of the Ten Commandments in front of the capitol. The state promised that it would allow representations from other religions but reversed its positions after applications rolled in. The Satanic Temple started the requests, followed by a Hindu group (a monkey god), an animal welfare group (world peace), and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission voted to ban new monuments on statehouse grounds until it settles its separation of church and state court battle with the ACLU.

Cuddly-Flying-Spaghetti-Monster-via-Wikimedia-Commons

The Flying Spaghetti Monster has already joined the traditional holiday display at the Wisconsin State Capitol next to a “Festivus” pole and a “Winter Solstice Nativity” scene featuring Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, and Mark Twain. Freedom from Religion has posted this sign:

“Think this is ridiculous? We agree! Religious ideas should not be promoted within the halls of government. Protect the separation of church and state, it protects us all.”

Up in South Jersey, the religious battle is between a billboard reading “Keep the Saturn in Saturnalia” and a “Keep Christ in Christmas” banner hanging over the main street of Pitman. The traditional Christians decided that the best way to oppose the celebration of Rome’s precursor to Christmas, a Winter Solstice festival, was to burn it down.  An off-duty police officer saw two men in a pickup truck who succeeded only in “charring the sign’s steel support beams.” Another protester wants Christmas instead of “Obamass.” Later police sent a family on their way after they tried to cover the sign with a picture of Jesus.

saturnalia

Phoenix (AZ) has another warrior to preserve Christmas. A woman ringing bells for the Salvation Army in front of a Wal-Mart told a shopper “Happy Holidays.” A shopper asked her if she believed in God and then told her, “You’re supposed to say Merry Christmas.” Then the shopper punched the bellringer in the arm.

Sen. Marco Rubio is caught between a rock and a hard place after he pulled his nomination of William Thomas, a gay black judge, for the federal bench because of Tea Party protests. Members of Miami’s 93rd Street Baptist Church are now protesting the withdrawl of Thomas’ name for a U.S. district position.

Not satisfied with current translations of the bible, Andy Schlafly, the founder of conservapedia.com and son of Phyllis Schlafly, is ridding the sacred book of liberal verses. In soliciting the “best of the public” in proposing new wording for offending terminology, Schlafly has listed words that can be used in these revised verses such as capitalism, death penalty, anticompetitive, elitism, productivity, privatize, pro-life—even “a.m.” which supports the work ethic.  According to Schlafly, “accuracy” is a conservative term because “liberals are masters of deceit.”

Thus far, Schlafly has finished the New Testament and several of the Old Testament books. Some of their “revisions”:

Eliminations:  “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone” (John 7:53-8:11) and “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Changes: “Blessed are the meek” switches to “Blessed are the God-fearing.” And “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:24) replaces “rich” with “fully fed and entertained” or “idle miser.” Schlafly translates “Peace be with you” (John 20, 26) into “Peace of mind be with you.” Environmentalism takes a hit as the word “world” changes to “mankind” in “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but to save it” (John 3, 17). Because hypocrite is often “misused politically against Christians,” the word is changed to “deceiver” when Jesus admonishes hypocrites to “Cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.”

Humorous alternatives: One suggestion is the rewrite, “It is easier for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than a poor camel driver.” Christians might accept this because of their recent love for capitalism. Gone is the idea of helping the poor, as Ayn Rand’s unfettered capitalism is now an important part of evangelical policy:

Jesus was a capitalist:  Ramesh Ponnuru explains away Pope Francis’s recent positions on the excesses of capitalism by saying that he doesn’t understand “markets could instead enable a creative form of community.” Jonathan Moseley at WorldNetDaily redefines “capitalism” as an imaginary tax-free governmental system.

Labor unions are anti-Christian: Ralph Reed argues for the submission of workers to employers, and David Barton uses a Bible story about a vineyard owner hiring employees to show that God hates collective bargaining.

Jesus wanted poor people to starve: The far right ignores the Bible stories about Jesus’s generosity with its focus on this verse from 2 Thessalonians:  “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.” They also ignore the fact that many people on food stamps do have jobs.

Religion freedom means employers control workers’ private lives: Hobby Lobby is going to the Supreme Court to keep female employees from using their own insurance plans for contraception, and other corporations want to follow suit.

God doesn’t believe in environmentalism: those believe climate change is real don’t have enough trust in God.

Catholic news of the week:

o-THE-ADVOCATE-570 The naming of Pope Francis as Time magazine’s “person of the year” didn’t raise eyebrows, but his next accolade was more surprising. The Advocate, America’s oldest LGBT rights magazine, chose the pope as the ‘single most influential person of 2013 on the lives of LGBT people.’ Not everyone agrees with The Advocate. Michelangelo Signorile published an op-ed on the serious flaws of the Catholic Church in relation to the LGBT community.

 

Cardinal Raymond Burke, former Archbishop of St. Louis, has lost his position. An avid opponent of abortion and marriage equality, he openly criticized the pope’s new direction of the church. He will stay as the head of the Vatican high court, the Apostolic Signatura.

detail=email  Administrative changes from Pope Francis also removed Burke from his position on the Congregation for Bishops, that oversees the selection of new bishops, along with Cardinal Justin Rigali. Both have been called “culture warriors” who blame the Church’s problems on others. Rigali “left Philadelphia a mess, a string of Grand Jury reports detailing malfeasance in dealing with clergy sex abuse that rivaled the pro-Dallas Charter days. Rigali left St. Louis a mess…,” according to Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Reporter.  A new appointment to the Congregation is Washington’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who said that married gay Catholics are “not a great problem.”

Archbishop John Nienstedt has temporarily stepped down from his post in Minneapolis and St. Paul after accusations that he inappropriately touched a minor boy in 2009. This followed a report describing his concealment of continued sexual abuses by priests. The list of 46 priests “credibly accused” of the abuse was finally made public earlier this month. 

Fifty 50 Catholic leaders sent a letter to the president of the Catholic University of America (CUA), criticizing him for accepting a $1 million donation from Charles Koch because his “trickle-down economics” ideology directly opposes that of Pope Francis and the Catholic Church. The letter also pointed out the problems with Koch’s opposition to unionizing and expansion of health care as well as “an abysmal environmental record” of its company.

To Catholics, the pope is infallible. But to Catholic Sean Hannity, the pope is wrong. Hannity explicitly said that the pope is wrong when he calls unfettered capitalism “a new kind of tyranny.” His guests helped him by explaining that “Free market capitalism does help the poor.” People rise up by lowering taxes which creates competition. And American was founded on “free market capitalism.”

Good News of the Week:

Rev. Frank Schaefer, the Pennsylvania United Methodist pastor who was stripped of his position because he officiated at his gay son’s wedding in 2007, has been offered a job by a California Methodist bishop. He would have most of the rights and responsibilities of ordained ministers. Hundreds of Methodist ministers reject the church’s official policy against marriage equality, some of them facing discipline for presiding at same-sex ceremonies.

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