Nel's New Day

March 11, 2018

Evangelicals Leaving DDT?

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 8:52 PM
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Gay? Horrible! Paying hush money to a porn star for an affair four months after your son was born to a new wife? God forgives all. Robert Jeffress, an evangelical adviser to Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), doesn’t’ support sex with adult film actors but doesn’t hold DDT’s affair with Stormy Daniels against him:

“Evangelicals still believe in the commandment: Thou shalt not have sex with a porn star. However, whether this president violated that commandment or not is totally irrelevant to our support of him.”

Jeffress’ opinion has shifted in the past decade. Ten years ago, he said:

“Christians need to remember that the kingdom of God is not going to come riding in on Air Force One. The danger in all of this discussion is that Christians sometimes are willing to sacrifice the temporal for the eternal, that in order to get their candidate elected, to enact those laws that they feel are crucial, somehow we fool ourselves into thinking we are going to bring about the kingdom of God here on Earth. We are not going to do that. I’m not willing to trade people’s eternal destiny for some temporary change in the law.”

In the 2012 presidential candidacy, Jeffress called Mitt Romney “a member of a cult” and described Roman Catholicism a “cult-like pagan religion” which represents “the genius of Satan.” Former DDT associate Chris Christie said that any relationship with Jeffress was “beneath the office of president of the United States.”

About evangelicals’ ignoring any of DDT’s flaws, Michael Gerson, former speech writer for George W. Bush, wrote:

“The level of cynicism here is startling. Some Christian leaders are surrendering the idea that character matters in public life in direct exchange for political benefits to Christians themselves. It is a political maneuver indistinguishable from those performed by business or union lobbyists every day. Only seedier. You scratch my back, I’ll wink at dehumanization and Stormy Daniels. The gag reflex is entirely gone.”

Michael Steele, a former Republican National Committee chairman, said about evangelicals on MSNBC’s Hardball:  

“Just shut the hell up and don’t ever preach to me about anything ever again. I don’t want to hear it…. After telling me how to live my life, who to love, what to believe, what not to believe, what to do and what not to do and now you sit back and the prostitutes don’t matter? The grabbing the you-know-what doesn’t matter? The outright behavior and lies don’t matter? Just shut up.”

Christian Dominionists, another far-right religion, not only give DDT their votes but also enrich his personal wealth. Last month, their event at DDT’s Trump International Hotel in Washington pursued the Dominionist plan to take complete control of every part of the country—secular, cultural, and political. “The Turnaround: An Appeal to Heaven National Gathering” collected people who believe, like Billy Graham’s son Franklin Graham, that the DOJ and FBI are trying to destroy DDT’s presidency and plan to help DDT with “the turning of the Supreme Court.” The hotel lowered its prices for the group.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State’s Communications Director Rob Boston said about the Dominionists and another fringe group, the Reconstructionists:

“They are at war with much of modern life. They refuse to accept things like women’s liberation, LGBTQ rights, secular public schools, religious pluralism, democracy, modern science, higher education, biblical criticism, liberal Christianity, non-theistic belief systems, and so on. To Reconstuctionists, the 6th century Byzantine Empire is a model society—except, of course, that they would install a fundamentalist Christian emperor and not an Orthodox Catholic one.”

Frederick Clarkson, senior political analyst at Political Research Associates, said that the groups “intend to fill the atmosphere in Washington with ‘biblical decrees’ [in] the ‘divine call to war.'” Top Dominionist leader Chuck Pierce will halt a meeting to receive the word of God, and people are glued to his every message about “enforcing kingdom rule” and an “Army of Special Forces.”

Despite DDT’s amoral behavior, Dominionists proclaim him as God’s instrument. Clarkson said:

“It’s a typical political bargain, and whether this crowd cares to acknowledge it or not, it definitely involved the selling of many souls and the shredding of mounds of moral credibility…. Holding the event in the five-star Trump hotel a few blocks from the White House is plenty of proof of the truth that they are carrying out the will of God and must stand up to Trump’s opponents, who must also be seen as the opponents of God.”

The media paid the Dominionist event almost no attention, preferring to concentrate at CPAC and the mass shooting in Florida, a lack of notice that makes the group even more dangerous. VP Mike Pence has declared that abortion will be outlawed “in our time,” Cabinet secretaries are guaranteeing that abstinence-only (aka “sexual delay”) policy will be mandated for federal funding, and rights for anyone who is not white, Christian, and straight will disappear throughout the nation. DDT is appointing, and Senate is confirming, judges who will carry this legacy for decades. In his destruction of environmental protections, EPA Scott Pruitt told televangelist Pat Robertson that their god gave people dominion over the world’s resources with no limits to human uses—or abuses—of these resources. The Biblical “dominion,” to evangelicals, is mastery to plunder at will.

As the mission of different agencies change to promote discrimination, 22 Senators, with the blessing of the RNC, have reintroduced the “First Amendment Defense Act” (FADA) permitting discrimination against marriage equality and sex outside marriage in the name of religious freedom. Anyone who pleads “religious belief” cannot be denied any tax benefit or any access to “any Federal grant, contract, subcontract, cooperative agreement, guarantee, loan, scholarship, license, certification, accreditation, employment or other similar position or status.” Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) said that he wants anyone to be able to discriminate without consequence. Ramifications:

  • Government workers could refuse married same-gender couples and their families such services as processing tax returns, visa and passport applications, and Social Security checks.
  • Employers could refuse family or medical leave to care for same-sex spouses and fire unmarried women who get pregnant.
  • Hospitals could refuse to visitation to same-sex partners and spouses.
  • Social services like homeless shelters, drug treatment programs, and adoption agencies could turn away anyone who has had sex outside of a man-woman marriage.
  • Commercial landlords could refuse to provide housing to a single mother.

Lee refutes these concerns, but the legislation would exempt people and groups from following the law to protect unmarried people and LGBTQ couples. Mississippi’s similar law, passed in 2016, remains in effect. All this hatred despite a recent court ruling that “Tolerating [a person’s] understanding of her sex and gender identity is not tantamount to supporting it.”

DDT’s sole religion is becoming more and more wealthy. His “spiritual” adviser, Paula White, preaches the “prosperity gospel,” that God wants people to be rich. According to White, the richer a person is, the more the person is loved by God. Franklin Graham compared DDT to the ancient Persian king Cyrus from the Old Testament. Over four centuries before the birth of Jesus, Cyrus, called the “Messiah,” conquered the Babylonians, released Jewish captives, and decentralized the government. To evangelicals, DDT delivered the righteous from the “whore of Babylon.”

An earlier influence on DDT was Norman Vincent Peale, the pastor who provided the roots to the “prosperity gospel” with the theory that whatever is said long enough will come to fruition. That’s the reason for DDT repeating “Make America Great Again,” the message that the United States isn’t good now but that he alone will create the greatness of the past white nationalism. DDT is operating a Ponzi scheme with short-term returns at the loss of long-term investment. When DDT’s base stop getting these returns, whether emotional of fiscal, they may leave him. Until then, the evangelicals will lead the Republican party by the nose.

Jeffress and Graham may be standing alone one of these days. A February poll shows that 61 percent of evangelicals support him. That’s a high percentage but doesn’t match the 80 percent of evangelicals who voted for him. Black evangelicals are drawing away from white churches.Even worse for DDT, 83 percent of evangelical leaders think that evangelicals should not identify with the percent and policies of DDT, according to a January survey by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) in January. Comments show that these evangelical leaders are drawing away from any political platform. It’s a start.

August 20, 2017

Evangelicals Lack Moral Compass

Four advisory councils for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) disappeared after his support of white supremacists and another never came to fruition. Another one that disappeared today is the panel for the National Climate Assessment that included academics, local officials, and corporate representatives. Two councils, however, are still going strong—one that suppresses votes and another that gives far-right racist Christians power over DDT’s decision. Of the 25 DDT-appointed radical born-again preachers, televangelists and conservative political influencers, only one resigned, showing a bit of the moral compass that the majority of business CEOs did after DDT’s outrageous statements equating people standing for racial justice to the “whites-only” groups. One member had resigned months ago. Those remaining were either silent or strongly supported DDT’s impassioned criticism for those who opposed militant neo-Nazis.

Evangelical supporters of DDT claim the high ground, saying that “the Bible calls us to do as ambassadors of reconciliation, reaching across the aisle, [and] reaching out to other ministers.” This action, however, is not one that they took when Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were presidents. Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s tweet about DDT’s statements described them as being “bold truthful.” Caught up in a backlash, he later tried a spin to say that the “truth” from DDT is that white supremacists “are pure evil and un-American,” but not everyone swallowed his bull.

More bull came from Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, who blamed media misrepresentation, despite the entire press conference broadcast on television. Jeffress also advises war with North Korea. He said, “God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un.” According to Jeffress, nonviolence is only for “Christians,” not government. He added that a president should “absolutely not” obey the Sermon on the Mount, including helping the poor. Jeffress’ mandates comes from Roman 13, “that gives the government to the authority to do whatever, whether it’s assassination, capital punishment or evil punishment to quell the actions of evildoers like Kim Jong Un.” [Note: Roman 13 refers to people obeying the laws of their own nation, not making DDT the dictator of the world. It also mandates paying taxes.]

Matthew Dowd, chief strategist for George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, tweeted that “corporate America has a greater moral compass” than the Evangelical Council. Only A.R. Bernard (Christian Cultural Center, Brooklyn) formally left the council with the tepid statement “that there was a deepening conflict in values between myself and the administration.” Guardian has a list of the remaining “ultra-conservative religious cheerleaders.”

One of DDT’s evangelical council will extend her responsibilities to the United Nations where she will help all the nations in the world adopt Christianity in preparation for the “End Times.” Michele Bachman’s (above right) “appointment” comes from The Jefferson Gathering, a project from the Skyline Church that came from congressional conservatives gathering with religious right leaders in Statuary Hall to pray for forgiveness for the nation’s sins such as legalized marriage equality. These people believe that God caused 9/11 and the 2012 Benghazi attack in his judgment.

Former students at Liberty University plan to return their diplomas in protest to Falwell’s racist perspective. A group letter states:

“This is incompatible with Liberty University’s stated values, and incompatible with a Christian witness.”

Chris Gaumer, a former student government president at Liberty, called Falwell “complicit” in DDT’s defense of “Nazis and white supremacists.”

The Southern Baptist Church has formally rejected racism but only for the church. All that concerns evangelical church, and others, is collecting everyone into their fold to win their souls. Evangelicals support any politician who furthers their position, despite that person’s character. They use these politicians as a tool to gain their domination. Evangelicals think that God anointed DDT as their president This group of religious leaders has decided that God has placed Trump as POTUS. Because God has put DDT there, they have no right to lift their hands against God’s anointed one; he is their master and they cannot object (1 Sam 24:6). Changing their position about him would destroy the entire belief systems of evangelical leaders and cause them to lose their followers—and income. [Note: Rejecting Clinton would probably not have hurt their belief system.]

From the Guardian:

“It is one of the ‘difficult but primary duties’ of a political leader to speak for a nation in traumatic times. A space shuttle explodes, a school student goes on a shooting spree, a terrorist flies a plane into a building, a hurricane floods a city. When such things happen, Michael Gerson wrote in the Washington Post, ‘It falls to the president to express something of the nation’s soul.’ Yet if Donald Trump’s words about the violent white extremist mobilisation in Virginia on Saturday – which an under-pressure White House was desperately trying to clarify on Sunday – are an expression of its soul, America may be on the road to perdition….

“There is absolutely no moral equivalence between the fanatical white supremacists who rallied in the Virginia city on Saturday and the equality defenders who demonstrated peacefully against them, one of whom was rammed and killed by a speeding car allegedly driven by a man who had attended the neo-Nazi rally. The supremacists hate black people and Jews, and regard white people as superior. They talk portentously about blood, soil and the right to bear arms. They admire Hitler and give Nazi salutes. They fly the flags of the pro-slavery Confederacy – the ostensible cause of their rallies this summer is Charlottesville’s decision, more than 150 years after the south’s surrender, to remove a statue of Robert E Lee from a park. And one of them committed the sort of act that was rightly called terrorism when it occurred in Nice, Berlin and London.

“Yet, in his first response on Saturday, Mr Trump utterly failed in his primary duty to uphold equality and speak the truth about the racist violence that had taken place. Instead of placing the blame where it belonged, on the supremacists and Klansmen who triggered these events, and rather than stand up for the indivisibility of equality and tolerance before the law, Mr Trump’s words were by turns slippery, banal and morally compromised. It was not true that the violence in Charlottesville came from “many sides”, as Mr Trump evasively said, before repeating his evasion. It is the head of state’s duty to stand up, explicitly and unequivocally, against racists and those who promote racial violence. Mr Trump was found wanting.”

The above was written before DDT’s appalling press conference on Tuesday that lambasted people in opposition to racial injustice. The Guardian continued after that egregious performance:

“In his angry and undignified press conference on Tuesday night, Donald Trump deliberately and shockingly crossed the line that separates the acceptable and the unacceptable in the conduct of an elected democratic leader in a multiracial society. Mr Trump must now face the consequences of this momentous and inexcusable decision. Those consequences should include the way that the leaders of multiracial European nations, including Britain, conduct their dealings with the US president from this moment on….

“Mr Trump’s petulant and narcissistic demeanour made it clear that he is more outraged by criticism and with the American press than he is with his country’s racists and its neo-Nazis. He clearly cannot help himself. But that is no excuse. This is therefore a moment at which America and the world need to display the moral clarity of which the US president is so embarrassingly incapable. There are not “many sides” to the arguments that came to the boil in Charlottesville and since. There is a right side and a wrong side. Racism, antisemitism, white supremacism and Nazism, new or old, are wrong. A leader who cannot bring himself to say this clearly and unequivocally is not just clueless. He also forfeits his claim to moral authority and much of his right to be respected as leader….”

Far-right Christians face another crisis tomorrow—a total solar eclipse across the United States. A 60-mile wide band of total darkness begins on the north-central Oregon coast and continues through 13 more, mostly red, states of the nation.

Evangelicals such as  Pastor Mark Biltz warns  how the event is a sign from God:

“As the sun is larger than the moon, the sun represents the nations of the world and the moon represents the nation of Israel…. When there is a total solar eclipse, it is a warning to a specific nation or nations depending on its path.”

According to Biltz, eclipses recorded in his bible led to war and plague. If DDT stays president, these events may come to be, attacking at least 12 GOP-dominated states.

June 14, 2015

Christian Unjustified Paranoia Leads to Discrimination

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) may be a Catholic, but he opposes his church’s leader in climate change. Santorum thinks that Pope Francis should stay quiet about this subject because the pope isn’t a scientist. Santorum said,”I think that we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we’re really good at, which is theology and morality,” he said. Francis has an advanced degree in chemistry—which makes him a scientist.

During his interview on the Fox network, host Chris Wallace asked Santorum:

“I guess the question would be, if he shouldn’t talk about it, should you?”

Santorum answered that “there are more pressing problems confronting the earth than climate change.”

Santorum has company in Bill Donohue, Catholic League president, Bill Donohue, who thinks that the pope’s authority lies only with faith and morals. Donohue wants Pope Francis not to talk about climate change because “no one has ever said that air pollution is intrinsically evil.”

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), who proved to his personal satisfaction that climate change doesn’t exist because he threw a snowball on the Senate floor, is equally upset with Pope Francis. He said:

“Everyone is going to ride the pope now. Isn’t that wonderful,” he said. “The pope ought to stay with his job, and we’ll stay with ours…. I am not going to talk about the pope. Let him run his shop, and we’ll run ours.”

A Presbyterian, Inhofe doesn’t need to follow the Pope’s precepts, but Santorum and Donohue should. And the pope is scheduled to speak to Congress in a little over three months.

The persecution complex of fundamentalist Christians ratcheted up when Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress, a far-right mega-church leader in Texas, compared the treatment of Christians in the United States to Germany’s treatment of Jews before the Holocaust. “They marginalized the Jewish people, disparaged them, and make them objects of contempt.” Questioning from Fox’s Sean Hannity led Jeffress to add that Christians in the United States are “treated as objects of contempt by the media and once that happens then the taking away of further rights will be very easy.” Jeffress’ terror comes from LGBT rights in receiving businesses and services.

After Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order allowing refusal of services based on the provider’s religious beliefs, the “religious freedom” fans scored victories in other states. In Michigan, faith-based adoption groups can refuse to work with any couples that violate the groups’ religious beliefs. The bill was put on the state Senate’s agenda at the last minute with no notice, and the House immediately concurred. North Carolina now allows magistrates and registers of deed to recuse themselves from performing marriage duties that might violate their religious beliefs. The number of legislators required to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto was lowered because of absent legislators, some who had voted against the bill the first time. North Carolina’s bill has an interesting twist. Any North Carolina officials opting out in writing cannot perform marriage duties for the next six months, creating long delays for couples wanting to marry in rural areas. [My question is whether they still get paid.]

Although both Michigan’s and North Carolina’s laws are intended for same-sex couples, the legislation is so broad that anyone can be the brunt of discrimination. Almost 40 years ago, Carol Ann and Thomas Person, two legally blind North Carolinians, were denied a marriage license by two different magistrates because of their skin colors. This happened nine years after the Supreme Court had declared that anti-miscegenation laws are unconstitutional. Person recently wrote, “The magistrate told us that marrying an interracial couple went against his religious beliefs.” The current law gives magistrates the right to discriminate against couples because of their race, religion, divorce status—in short, anyone.

At least one presidential candidate thinks that Christian discrimination is more important than LGBT rights. Neurosurgeon Ben Carson is positive that being LGBT is a choice and that LGBT people don’t suffer discrimination because they don’t have to drink out of different fountains from heterosexual people. He refused to discuss LGBT rights further, insisting that they talk about discrimination against Christians in the United States. T. Steelman wrote:

“When you have your Bibles confiscated, churches burned and gun-toting idiots protesting outside your sanctuary then you can talk about being persecuted. Nobody is stopping you from worshiping as you wish or burning you at the stake for heresy. Until they do, please just stop it.”

On his 700 Club program, Pat Robertson first explained that the death of a woman’s child was human error rather than the fault of God.  Then he explained to her that God killed the woman’s baby because he could grow up to be Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin or a serial killer. According to Robertson, God deliberately terminated the baby’s life to save the world.

The Duggar story keeps growing after the revelation that the oldest of 19 Kids and Counting molested at least four of his sisters, one of them five years old at the time, and another young girl several years ago. Two weeks ago, the parents refused to let DHS talk to a child in their care after a 911 call. The refusal led to a county DHS employee calling police for help. The information was revealed after Fox’s Megyn Kelly gave a cozy interview with the parents when patriarch Jim Bob Duggar said that child molestation is common in Christian families.

The Duggars had a compelling reason for not divulging Josh Duggar’s molestation of his younger sisters. While Jim Bob was in state legislature, Arkansas passed a law that the children could not have been homeschooled if Josh were forced to register as a sex offender. Jim Bob said that he knew Josh’s actions were crimes, but he didn’t trust government-sponsored programs to help Josh.

Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee continued to support the Duggars after the truth came out. He told Megyn Kelly that “a person is innocent until proven guilty” although Kelly said, “But he confessed.” That didn’t matter to Huckabee, who joked that he wanted to be transgender as a teenager so that he could shower with high school girls.

Another of Huckabee’s friends has also been accused twice of child molestation. John Perry, the man who co-authored several of Huckabee’s books, escaped “sustained” allegations of “sexual battery” against children because the statute of limitations had expired. Perry was ex-communicated from the Presbyterian church because he “has confessed to committing heinous and repetitive sin […] and has not shown evidence of repentance.” Perry molested one of the girls for three years.

Have you read what the religious right has written about the alleged history of former GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert molesting his high school students? No? There’s a reason. The conservative religious media is staying mum on the issue: to them, it’s not really news.

People who think that separation of church and state might delight in this exchange between Australian comedian and satirist David Thorne and the self-proclaimed “School Chaplain” at his son’s school. The email exchange is five years old but priceless.

“Jesus Welcomes You to Hawkins,” according to Mayor Will Rogers’ sign in Hawkins (TX). Putting the sign on public land isn’t any violation of the constitution, according to Rogers, because “Jesus is part of every major religion in the world, so you can’t pin one religion on Jesus.” No wonder U.S. ranks 14th in the world in education. I’m surprised that the nation isn’t lower.

December 24, 2012

The First ‘War on Christmas’

The conservative claim of War on Christmas will end tomorrow—for another nine or ten months when Fox “News” gears up for holidays in 2013. Here are some notable skirmishes from the past couple of weeks, frequently led by Bill O’Reilly.

A few weeks ago, O’Reilly questioned Pastor Robert Jeffress last week about the lack of outrage at this mythical war on the holiday representing the birth of Christ—the same holiday that many people have described as secular. Jeffress blames the religious leaders: “Wimpy pastors produce wimpy Christians, and that is why we are losing this culture war and I believe it’s time for pastors to say, you know, ‘I don’t care about controversy, I don’t care whether I’m going to lose church members, I don’t care about building a big church, I’m going to stand for truth regardless of what happens.’”

The truth, according to Jeffress, is that Jesus was a fighting man. If he were here, he would pick up his cudgel and force radio stations to play Christmas music. Everyone would be required to say “Merry Christmas,” and every government building would have a Christmas tree.

O’Reilly might want to turn to conservative Christian radio host Matt Barber for help. Barber is ready to go to war. After the Freedom from Religion Foundation filed a complaint to stop a Michigan man from putting a nativity scene on public land, Barber said they should be punched “in the mouth.” The 6th Circuit Court ruled in favor of the nativity scene, but Barber is still angry. He told his listeners that they should contact Liberty Counsel’s toll-free number if they find any “religious cleansing.”

“You know, what do you do with a bully?” Barber explained. “If a bully keeps getting his way and intimidating kids on the playground and nobody stands up for themselves then the bully is encouraged and emboldened and continues to bully more and more people. But when a little kid is being bullied and he turns around and punches the bully in the mouth–metaphorically speaking, of course–then the bully is oftentimes proven to be a paper tiger.”

Atheists aren’t the only cause of the war on Christmas. LGBT and pro-choice people are also instigators—according to O’Reilly and his associates. In a discussion with O’Reilly, Bernard McGuirk, producer of Imus in the Morning, said, “The war on Christmas is very, very real, and if you ask me, in addition to some grouchy misanthropic heathen atheists it has to do — at the root of it — with two things — abortion and the gay rights agenda, because Christianity is against those things.”

O’Reilly’s response was emphatic. “Hundred percent agree. I absolutely agree 100 percent that the diminishment of Christianity is the target, and Christmas is the vehicle because the secularists know the opposition to their agenda, legalized drugs is in that as well, comes primarily from the Judeo-Christian traditionalist people.”

Perhaps O’Reilly should call out his own station for rejecting the word “Christmas” when referring to office parties. In a four-minute segment about how to deal with the upcoming festivities, the hosts referred to “holiday party” experiences twice as many times as to “Christmas party.” Maybe that makes it just a skirmish instead of a war.

bit of information about the holiday. Although the New Testament gives no date for the birth of Jesus Christ, historians and theologians have determined he was born either in the fall or the spring, about the time of Passover. December 25th was chosen to coincide with pagan celebrations in the Roman Empire which went from Europe through Asia Minor to the Middle East and Africa. Other cultures—Egyptians, the Norse, Greeks, etc.—celebrated their gods during late December.

Pragmatic Catholics connected December 25th, known by Romans as the birth of the “Sun” to the birth of the “Son.” Then the Catholics appropriated March 25, a pagan feast-day on the Spring Equinox (aka “the birth of Spring”), into the day that Mary conceived Jesus.

The three Wise Men didn’t appear at his birth. They traveled from their own country and arrived a couple of years later when Jesus and his parents were living in a house.

The word “Christmas” derives from fourth-century Roman Catholicism with the “mas” part coming from the Mass, or blasphemous Eucharistic service of western Catholicism. The actual word, Christmas, comes from 1050 AD.

People who choose to follow a literal translation of the Bible should know that its writings are opposed to using trees. Jeremiah 10 states: “Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them, for the customs of the peoples are vanity. A tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move. Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk.”

The tradition of gifts comes from the requirement of nobility that subjects give presents to them during the Winter Solstice. Saint Nicholas, a Catholic bishop born in 270 AD, promoted the gift-giving ritual when he threw gold into the homes of poor people so that they wouldn’t have to sell their daughters into prostitution.

Druids followed the ritual of kissing under the mistletoe, a medicinal herb, to increase fertility. The white berries represented drops of the Sun God’s semen. Red holly was a symbol of the menstrual blood of Diana, the queen of heaven, and witches used holly wood to make wands.

Maybe these are the reasons that the Puritans didn’t celebrate Christmas. The first War on Christmas came from the original settlers of New England who objected in the excess of revelry and contended that there is no Scriptural warrant for the celebration of Jesus’s birth. They understood that the holiday was superstitious at best, heretical at worst. The Puritans forbid merriment and ordered shops to stay open, churches to be closed, and ministers arrested for preaching on December 25.

Between 1659 to 1681, all people who celebrated Christmas in the American colonies were fined five schillings. The War on Christmas lasted until 1870 when the day was declared a federal holiday as a sop to the Southerners who lost the Civil War. Thus following our Founding Fathers, as many conservatives wish, we should not celebrate Christmas. Back to “Happy Holidays.”

Other December celebrations—which is why it’s a good idea to say “Happy Holidays”!

  • Jewish Chanukah
  • Secular Winter Solstice
  • Pagan Yule
  • Buddhist Rohatsu5
  • Baha’i Masa’il and Sharaf
  • Jain Maunajiyara
  • Sikh Gur-purab
  • Zorastrian Ghambar Maidyarem
  • African-American Kwanzaa
  • Kenetic Orthodox The Establishment of the Celestial Cow
  • And sometimes Muslim Ramadan, depending on their calendar.

For now, happy holidays!

October 21, 2012

Ain’t Some Religions Grand!

Less than a year ago, prominent Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress condemned Romney’s faith, calling it a “cult.” Now he’s “made peace” with Romney’s Mormonism because he opposes President Obama more. Jeffress told Janet Mefferd on her radio show that it is still better to vote for Romney, even though he is a member of a “cult” and “false religion” that believes in a “multiplicity of god,” than President Obama because of his stances on marriage equality and abortion rights.

Another religious leader scrubbed away the cult, this time on the website of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Other religious groups haven’t caved yet: the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, lists the LDS Church as a theological cult, and the Catholic Church does not recognize Mormon baptisms as being theologically compatible with its own.

In another church-based sex scandal, 30-year-old Sovereign Grace Ministries with 80 congregations is being sued for sexual abuse against, failing to report these, and discouraging members from law enforcement cooperation. The plaintiffs allege a conspiracy of than two decades while church representatives permitted suspected pedophiles to interact with children, supplied them with free legal advice to avoid prosecution, and forced victims to meet with and “forgive” their molesters.

After Dinesh D’Souza accused President Obama of “attacking the traditional values agenda” and “traditional morality” in his best-selling “documentary,” 2016: Obama’s America, the president of an evangelical Christian college in New York, resigned from his position after it was reported that he shared a hotel room with his mistress at a religious conference. D’Souza is still married although separated from his wife. As for the film, the New York Daily News judges the material in the film as having “no evidence” and wrote that many of D’Souza’s opinions “don’t hold water.”

Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan’s atheist and anti-charity mentor, would be proud of the Catholic vice-presidential candidate. First he fights a safety net for disadvantaged people, saying that this will make them “victims,” and then almost single-handedly cuts donations to a non-profit, nonpartisan soup kitchen for the poor. Ryan went to the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society (Youngstown, OH) soup kitchen last week without permission after people had finished most of the cleanup and washed a few “dirty” dishes that volunteers had saved for him.

Brian J. Antal, president of the facility, told the Washington Post that he feared Ryan’s political theater would jeopardize donations to the foodbank that annually serves over 100,000. Antel was right. Donations to the all-volunteer charity are down, but Ryan got his photo-op.  Donations to the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society can be sent to P.O. Box 224, Youngstown, Ohio 44501 or online. Donors should specify that their donations are for the Youngstown, Ohio, soup kitchen.

In trying to explain away his disregard for women’s rights, Ryan has compared them to “left-handed Irishmen.” (Yes, he did say that the war on women was as fictional as war on left-handed Irishmen. But he still used the comparison!)

Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) has had to apologize—again!—after he accused his opponent, Elizabeth Warren of using paid actors in her advertisements defending the legal work she did on asbestos-related lawsuits. At least three people in the ads have complained about Brown’s offensive statements. Ginny Jackson, whose husband died of mesothelioma after working at a Quincy shipyard that was filled with asbestos, said, “What Scott Brown said today is so offensive to me and my family after what we went through. He’s sunk to a new low.” John F. English was more direct than Jackson. “Let Scott Brown tell me to my face that I am nothing but a paid actor, and I’ll set him straight on what it was like to watch my father suffocate to death,” English said. Nate Silver gives Warren a 89.1 percent chance of winning.

Also sinking to a new low is Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL). After his debate with opponentTammy Duckworth, Walsh said that women never die from childbirth. He claimed that pro-choice advocates use the possibility of maternal death “to make us look unreasonable.” In fact, pregnancy-related deaths have increased  in the US, climbing to a rate of 15.1 deaths for every 100,00 live births . For black women the rate is 34.8 percent.

One poll has Duckworth leading by 54 percent to Walsh’s 39 percent. The super PAC Now or Never, which has already put $2 million behind Walsh plans another $2.5 million to “bury Duckworth” (the PAC’s words). Duckworth is a veteran who had both her legs amputated after a helicopter crash in Iraq.   

First Paul Ryan has yet to bring home his own state for the Republican presidential ticket, and now the Salt Lake City Tribune, Utah’s biggest newspaper, endorsed President Obama and attacked Romney. I’ve provided a few quotes, but the entire editorial is well worth reading.

“Who is this guy [Romney], really, and what in the world does he truly believe? The evidence suggests no clear answer, or at least one that would survive Romney’s next speech or sound bite. Politicians routinely tailor their words to suit an audience. Romney, though, is shameless, lavishing vastly diverse audiences with words, any words, they would trade their votes to hear.

“And what of the president Romney would replace? For four years, President Barack Obama has attempted, with varying degrees of success, to pull the nation out of its worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression, a deepening crisis he inherited the day he took office. In the first months of his presidency, Obama acted decisively to stimulate the economy. His leadership was essential to passage of the badly needed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Though Republicans criticize the stimulus for failing to create jobs, it clearly helped stop the hemorrhaging of public sector jobs. The Utah Legislature used hundreds of millions in stimulus funds to plug holes in the state’s budget.

“In considering which candidate to endorse, The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board had hoped that Romney would exhibit the same talents for organization, pragmatic problem solving and inspired leadership that he displayed here more than a decade ago. Instead, we have watched him morph into a friend of the far right, then tack toward the center with breathtaking aplomb. Through a pair of presidential debates, Romney’s domestic agenda remains bereft of detail and worthy of mistrust.

“Therefore, our endorsement must go to the incumbent, a competent leader who, against tough odds, has guided the country through catastrophe and set a course that, while rocky, is pointing toward a brighter day. The president has earned a second term. Romney, in whatever guise, does not deserve a first.”

The last presidential debate is scheduled for tomorrow. The subject is foreign policy, and the format the same as the first one although the participants will be seated at a table. Moderator Bob Schieffer, like his close friend Jim Lehrer, has a reputation for being fair and balanced, but also non-confrontational. Lehrer described dealing with the candidates’ aggressiveness as a “form of hell.” He said, “That aggressiveness is new, that sense of, ‘I’ve got more to say, and to hell with the rules. I was surprised by that. I didn’t expect it. No pair of candidates have ever done that before,” added Lehrer who has moderated more presidential debates than anyone else.

The 90-minute debate divided into six segments seems to concentrate on the Middle East and thus terrorism: America’s role in the world; the war in Afghanistan; Israel and Iran; the changing Middle East; terrorism; and China’s rise. Once again, Romney will lie. He will accuse the president of single-handedly reducing the military budget a year ago because the bipartisan sequester will force this issue if Republicans remain intransigent—which they are sure to do.

Romney will lie about his position on China, failing to remember (because of his Romesia) that three years ago he protested Obama’s decision to slap tariffs on cheap Chinese tires flooding the United States:

“Long story short, the wrong answer for America’s workers and for the wealth of every citizen of this nation is to try and put up barriers to stop competition, either domestic competition or competition from abroad. The right answer is always to see competition as an opportunity and a necessity for investment, innovation, technology and becoming more productive.”

Later in his book, No Apology, Romney wrote, “President Obama’s action to defend American tire companies from foreign competition may make good politics by repaying unions for their support of his campaign, but it is decidedly bad for the nation and our workers. Protectionism stifles productivity.”

By the primary debates in 2011, Romney had reversed his position: “The actions a president can take are, No. 1, to declare China a currency manipulator. And under our law, that allows the president to apply tariffs in places where the president believes that China’s practices are killing American jobs.” When asked if this would harm jobs in this country, Romney said that you just had to forge ahead and do it and everything would be okay.

As for Libya and the death of four people there over a month ago, Rahm Emanuel declared Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) “reckless” for releasing Libya documents, thus endangering the lives of people still there. Romney will attack President Obama on the basis of veracity and competence, but he has to be very careful to not let his ignorance show as he did in the last debate. Instead he may concentrate on other areas such as Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, and Russia. This debate is a toss-up depending on how hard Romney hits, how people react to the hits, and how many missteps he has.

 

Today’s Good News: District Court Judge Neil Wake has blocked Arizona from applying a new law preventing Planned Parenthood clinics from receiving money through the state to provide medical care. Wake was a George W. Bush appointee based on the 2004 recommendations of both Arizona Republican senators John McCain and Jon Kyle. Can’t you just hear Fox news damning those liberal judges?!

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