Nel's New Day

December 16, 2018

‘War on Christmas’ Continues

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 7:34 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

The “War on Christmas” rolls on with Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) a major perpetrator. He may be telling people “Merry Christmas,” but he cancelled the annual Christmas White House media event, inviting only “nice” commentators “nice”—especially Fox—to other White House holiday parties. Those are the ones who continue to shout “War on Christmas.”

Last year DDT and Melania had a gathering but made a brief appearance and didn’t pose for photographs. The guest list also avoided the inclusion of many black and LGBTQ reporters. Even Bill Clinton was willing to have his picture taken with journalists days after he was impeached. DDT’s relationship with the media has become increasingly frayed during the past year, especially after he pulled Jim Acosta’s press credentials and told the world that his business with Saudi Arabia was more important the torture and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. journalist for the Washington Post.

In their passion about the “war on Christmas,” conservatives forgot to notify the importance of rejecting “Happy Holidays” to its own religious right group Heritage Foundation. Although that political organization has typically used the winter holidays as a wedge against inclusiveness, this year’s gifts fail to represent their battle.

Conservatives—who don’t care about climate change killing polar bears—are up in arms against Starbucks for their sugar cookies decorated as polar bears. The major problem with their complaint is that the cookies disappeared eight years ago.

In Elkhorn (NE), Manchester Elementary principal Jennifer Sinclair banned a long list of Christmas traditions, including candy canes. She wrote, “Historically, the shape [of the candy cane] is a ‘J’ for Jesus. The red is for the blood of Christ, and the white is a symbol of his resurrection. This would also include different colored candy canes.” Her order has been reversed, and the principal is on administrative leave. Because of a high level of “concerns,” a police officer has been posted at the school.

Other signs of the GOP/DDT war on Christmas:

  • Gassing asylum seekers trying to legally come into the United States from Mexico.
  • Separating children from parents, especially with no intent to return them, and imprisoning them.
  • Killing civilians, including those in schools and hospitals, throughout the Middle East.
  • Refusing health care for low-income people after denying them a living wage.
  • Destroying the planet through ignoring renewable energy sources.
  • Depleting the world’s resources to make the wealthiest people wealthier.
  • Building white supremacy over minorities.
  • Insisting on war to build corporate profits.
  • Making dangerous decisions about the economy.
  • Putting unqualified conservative bigots on federal courts.
  • Removing women’s and voting rights.
  • Rigging elections and winning them by fraud to achieve the above.

The Vatican is also having a problem this Christmas season. Pope Francis has removed two cardinals from the Council, his international advice body, for alleged sexual abuse. Cardinal Pell, still the Vatican treasurer, will be on trial on sexual abuse charges in Australia, and Chile’s Francisco Javier Errazuriz has been accused of covering up child abuse while Archbishop of Santiago. Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, 79, also resigned from the Council leaving only six in the group. There are no plans to immediately the empty seats.

DDT’s firm Christian evangelical beliefs did not extend to reciting the Apostles’ Creed at the funeral of George H.W. Bush. He and Melania stood in stone silence while three former presidents—Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter—participated in the service with their wives.

Over a month after the midterm elections, the Democrats still have no intention to “slaughter” tens of thousands of Christians, as Christian broadcaster and conspiracy theorist Rick Wiles warned if the Dems win. He pronounced that “they hate God. These people are against God. Every nation that has been taken over by Marxist-communists, they immediately kill the pastors. They immediately kill Christians. They immediately burn the churches.” He’s also maintained that MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow, an out lesbian, will lead a coup against DDT.

“Be prepared for a mob—a leftist mob—to tear down the gates, the fence at the White House and to go into the White House and to drag him out with his family and decapitate them on the lawn of the White House.”

Matt Shea, a Republican state representative in Washington, wants to kill all people he identifies as non-believers. In his “Biblical Basis for War,” he follows “Dominionism,” also advocated by Ted Cruz’s father, that describes God as a “warrior” and demands that his holy war “kill all males” who do not submit to the document’s rules. Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who gave the material to the FBI, described Shea’s document as “a ‘how to’ manual consistent with the ideology and operating philosophy of the Christian Identity/Aryan Nations movement and the Redoubt movement of the 1990s.” Shea won his sixth term in 2018 with 58 percent of the vote.

Conservative pastor E.W. Jackson maintains that he isn’t Islamaphobic, he is horrified that two Muslim women may be able to wear their hijabs on the floor of the U.S. House starting in January 2019. “The floor of Congress is now going to look like an Islamic republic,” Jackson said. “We are a Judeo-Christian country. We are a nation rooted and grounded in Christianity and that’s that.”

Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar (D-MN) tweeted:

“Well sir, the floor of Congress is going to look like America… And you’re gonna have to just deal 😂”

The ban stating “every member shall remain uncovered during the sessions of the House” began in 1837 to break tradition with members of the British House of Commons who were required to wear hats in order to speak. The House of Commons continued its tradition until 1998; the Senate has no rule regarding head coverings.

Jackson, who lost a GOP Virginia primary for Senate in May said:

“Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe in the freedom of religion, I believe in the First Amendment, but I’ll tell you what, I’m not voting for a Muslim to serve in any office. Me, personally, I’m not doing it. I’m not doing it. Period. I’m not doing it.”

DDT plans to leave for a two-week vacation at the end of the week. Isolated at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, he will have lots of time for more vicious tweets about the media and his opponents with little monitoring to help him be more rational.

Merry Christmas!

December 15, 2013

Fundamentalist Christians Go Too Far

Fundamentalist Christians have taken great umbrage regarding the proposed memorial that the Satanic Temple plans to put on the grounds of the Oklahoma statehouse (last Sunday’s blog). Not a great surprise! Bryan Fischer has used at least two segments on his radio show to explain that freedom of religion in the U.S. Constitution means only freedom of Christianity. No other religion need apply. Therefore Oklahoma can legally reject any non-Christian memorial:

“Our Constitution protects the free exercise of the Christian religion; yours is not a Christian expression, we’re not going to have that monument. If we don’t understand the word ‘religion’ to mean Christianity as the founders intended it, then we have no way to stop Islam, we have no way to stop Satanism, we have no way to stop any other sort of sinister religion practice that might creep onto the fruited plains.”

Fischer joins the religious lawmakers in Oklahoma who claim that they can reject the Satanic memorial because they live in a faith-based state. Again, their faith is almost certainly Christian.

Another religious memorial may be removed from federal land after a 24-year-old case. U.S. District Judge Larry Burns ordered that a 43-foot cross on Mount Soledad in San Diego be taken down within 90 days. The ruling, however, would be put on hold if it is appealed. Two years ago the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the cross violated the constitutional separation of church and state. The Supreme Court declined review, and the case went back to Burns to consider possible alternatives.

Charles LiMandri, an attorney for the Mount Soledad Memorial Association, said Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has signaled that the group backing the cross could return directly to the nation’s high court if it disapproved of Burns’ ruling. “Unless the U.S. Supreme Court denies review or takes it and finds it unconstitutional, that cross isn’t going anywhere,” LiMandri said. “At that point, we’ll go to Congress. We’re not giving up.”

ACLU represented the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America and several local residents to challenge display of the cross. Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, said, “We should honor all of our heroes under one flag, not just one particular religious symbol.”

Ohio wants to put pictures of Jesus back into public schools with its proposed Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Rep. Tim Derickson says he plans to block further encroachment on expression of religious freedom such as prohibition of prayer in schools and public places, zoning issues for churches, and public expression of religious faith, such as wearing crosses and displaying Nativity scenes.

Patrick Elliott of Freedom from Religion explained, “The proposal creates special exemptions from state laws for those who claim any religious burden.” Anyone could complain about a mythical burden.

Seventeen other states already have such a law on their books. In DC, firefighters claimed they wore beards for religious expression, and two Chicago churches used the law to oppose land acquisition for an airport runway expansion. Ohio’s proposed law is similar to a 1993 federal religious freedom act that restored a “strict scrutiny” standard in religious freedom cases after the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated the scrutiny standard in a 1990 ruling.

religious cohabitation

Meri Brown, Christine Brown, Janelle Brown, Kody Brown and Robyn Sullivan of TLC’s The Sister Wives may now legally live together in Utah thanks to a court ruling. U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups struck down the state law preventing cohabitation between a married person and another person not his or her spouse. Although Clark didn’t use the word “polygamy,” he did refer to “religious cohabitation.”

According to the judge, Utah’s law violated the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment because the point of that provision in the statute is “to infringe upon or restrict” people practicing religious cohabitation “because of their religious motivation.” He used the ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence v. Texas that struck down sodomy laws when he noted, “Consensual sexual privacy is the touchstone of the rational basis review analysis in this case, as in Lawrence.”

Another change in Utah last week came from the Mormon leadership. Thirty-five years after the Mormon Church allowed black males to become priests in their church, they decided that brown skin is no longer a punishment of God.  In the Book of Mormon, dark skin is a sign of God’s curse because of the conflict of the two lost tribes of Israel who came to the New World.

The verses about the curse were to explain the dark skin of Native Americans. The blackness of Africans came from the stain of Cain’s murder of his brother Abel. In 1960, Church apostle Spencer W. Kimball was delighted that Native Americans who converted to Mormonism were gradually becoming lighter skinned.

Friday’s document removing the stigma of dark skin in the Mormon religion blamed the nation’s prejudicial attitudes in 1830 when the religion was created. It didn’t explain why the discrimination stayed 150 years after the slaves were freed.

People lamenting the ignorance of children in the United States need look no farther than Christian education. Accelerated Christian Education (ACE), a fundamentalist curriculum founded in Texas in 1970, is commonly used with conservative home schoolers and in private Christian schools and government-funded voucher programs around the world. Jonny Scaramanga wrote:

“I went to an ACE school for almost four years. By the time I left, I was certain that it was against God’s will for governments to provide healthcare, evolution was a conspiracy to destroy Christianity, parents were morally required to spank their children, and science could prove that homosexuality was wrong. But worst of all was the feeling uneducated; I still struggle with self-conscious fears about gaps in my learning. ACE workbooks consist of simplistic fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice questions. And these questions are often hilariously, spectacularly bad.”

The article lists 33 of these questions. Here are a few:

wiscom: The pastor spoke with great wisdom.

 

  •  Wisdom means (a) a test  (b) Godly thinking  (c) tasty milk
  •  (Sports coaches, Piano tutors, Librarians) can touch the lives of their students. [Scaramanga explained that “piano tutors” is the right answer because that sentence had appeared earlier in the material and students were supposed to remember the sentence.] 
  •  The word alphabet comes from the Greek Letters ____________  and _____________.  Alpha and Iota    Beta and Gamma  Alpha and Beta   [Question for ages 15-16]

 

If you want to shake your head, go to the article for another 30 of these questions.

While ignorance grows among fundamentalist Christians, so does sex abuse. Christa Brown of Stop Baptist Predators is now asking for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission like the South African group that put apartheid behind them. Veteran religion reporter Peter Smith of the Louisville Courier-Journal has also noted the attempts at accountability and reform moving through the Southern Baptist society after the lawsuit against C.J. Mahaney, leader of Sovereign Grace Ministries.

Boz Tchividjian, Billy Graham’s grandson and a Liberty University law professor who investigates abuse, said that evangelicals are worse than Catholics and that too many evangelicals had “sacrificed the souls” of young victims. Mission agencies, “where abuse is most prevalent,” often don’t report abuse because they fear being barred from working in foreign countries, he said. Abusers will get sent home and might join another agency. Of known data from abuse cases, 25 percent are repeat cases, he said.

Georgia pastor Peter Lumpkins sponsored a resolution at this year’s Southern Baptist annual meeting urging urging denominational leaders “to utilize the highest sense of discernment in affiliating with groups and or individuals that possess questionable policies and practices in protecting our children from criminal abuse.” His reference was to the way that SBC was ignoring their own resolution calling for “a zero-tolerance policy toward the sexual abuse of children in churches.”

Ken Starr, ruler of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment and trial after his affair with a consenting adult named Monica Lewinsky, may have to take a few lumps because he thinks Christopher Kloman, a teacher who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing several female students should not have to do time.  Starr is President and Chancellor of Baylor University in Waco (TX)–the largest Baptist university in the world.  Christa Brown wrote: “Why should parents of high-school students feel any trust in sending their kids off to a university whose president writes a letter urging leniency for a man who molested teens?”

A huge travesty of the sex abuse crisis is that mainstream media fails to report it, instead choosing to protect the fundamentalist Christians. Perhaps, however, embarrassed religious leaders and bigots have reached the tipping point.

January 20, 2013

Good News for Separation of Church & State

During the last decade, the fundamentalist Christian religion has tried to control the entire legal process of the United States. Here is some hope that this process may have started failing.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Emilie H. Elias has ruled that names of church leaders who mishandled child sex abuse allegations will be made public in 30,000 pages of internal Archdiocese of Los Angeles records. The private mediator asked that the names be blacked out to save further embarrassment to the church and “guilt by association.” The judge disagreed, saying that parishioners who learn from the files of a priest accused of abuse in their local church “may want to talk to their adult children” about their own experiences. Lawyers for the church were upset because they had already blacked out the names and didn’t want to pay for redoing the work, a job that could take months.

Supporters of stem-cell research were pleased over a week ago when the Supreme Court failed to review a challenge to federal funding of human embryonic stem-cell research. Abortion-rights opponents, who equate research involving embryonic stem cells with murder, criticized the court’s decision. Appellate judges had acknowledged ambiguity in laws governing stem-cell research but ultimately deferred to the National Institutes of Health, which supports the studies. Scientists believe that stem-cell research, who believe it will yield treatments and cures for diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Christian fundamentalists in Florida, pleased with a new law to allow prayer in school, may not be pleased with the outcome. The Inspirational Messages law allows students to write and read these messages. Overlord Lucien Graves, a spokesperson for the Satanic Temple, has said that they promote many of the same ideas as major religions and should be included in the “inspirational messages.”  The bill dictates that school officials are not permitted to mediate, approve, or participate in these “inspirational messages,” which expand upon the two minutes of silence for quiet prayer or mediation previously observed in Florida public schools.

This coming Tuesday is the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal across the United States. Despite the huge spate of anti-abortion laws passed by states in the last two years on religious grounds, some religious people support the right of women to control their bodies.

Before the Supreme Court legalized abortion, clergy were among the staunchest supporters of women seeking an abortion. The Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion, an underground network that counseled women and led them to compassionate, competent doctors who provided abortion care, grew to about 1,400 clergy operating on the East Coast during the 1960s to serve women from across the nation. Rev. Howard Moody—who was born in Texas, lived in New York, and died in 2012 at age 91—created the network and considered it one of his most important ministries.

Five years after the Roe decision, a number of religious organizations voiced support for the decision in a 1978 ecumenical study document. American Baptist Churches wrote, “Abortion should be a matter of personal decision.” The American Lutheran Church agreed, recognizing the “freedom and responsibility of individuals to make their own choices in light of the best information available to them and their understanding of God’s will for their lives.” The Church of the Brethren voiced support in the document for women who, “after prayer and counseling, believe abortion is the least destructive alternative available to them.”

The 1978 ecumenical study document articulated the inherent value of the fetus and the importance of reducing the need for abortion. It also held up values of humility, freedom, justice, balance, compassion, and responsibility. Since that time, a different translation of the Bible by pro-life advocates now determines that God is opposed to any abortion, wanting people to protect fertilized eggs from the time of conception. In fact, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is sponsoring a bill to that effect, the third of his career. (He has evidently abandoned the need to improve the economy and job market.)

Candidates who want to keep raising money from the issue of abortion need to move the “pro-life” movement to the fertilized egg. With advanced technology, over 60 percent of abortions are now completed before the ninth week and 90 percent before the 12th. Increased use of contraception has drastically decreased abortion rates because prevention of pregnancy is more accessible. The rate in 2008 was 19.6 per 1,000 women, two-thirds of the rate in 1981. In the past, women who would afford the cost of contraceptives rarely needed abortions; with its free contraceptives, Obamacare will shrink the rate of abortions for the poor.

Religious acceptance of reproductive rights for women is important. As the Southern Baptist Convention reasoned when it supported Roe v. Wade, if the government could tell a woman what to do with her body, it could also tell Baptists what they could—or couldn’t—do with their religion. That’s an important reason for separation of church and state.

An update on yesterday and GAD: There were actually five people injured at gun shows yesterday. In Indiana a 54-year-old man accidentally shot himself in the hand outside the Indy 1500 Gun and Knife Shot while loading his .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun in the parking lot. In Medina (OH) a vendor at the Medina County gun show had to be transported to the hospital by EMS after accidentally shooting himself. In Raleigh (NC), site of the other three injuries, the Dixie Gun and Knife Show  closed down yesterday after the injuries and no longer allow people to bring personal guns to the show.

Today in Albuquerque (NM) 15-year-old Nehemiah Griego killed both his parents and three of his nine siblings with an assault rifle. All victims suffered multiple gunshot wounds. The father, Greg Griego, spent 13 years as volunteer pastor at the Metropolitan Detention Center. The killer did not have a criminal record.

If anyone tries to convince you that we don’t need gun laws because law-abiding gun owners are responsible, ask them to watch this video.

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