Nel's New Day

May 14, 2017

DDT: Religion, Mother’s Day

Evangelicals may not be as supportive of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) as in the past, but the far right Christian nationalists (aka white supremacists) are still clinging to him. Their heritage is creating an extensive private school system after Brown v. Board of Education (1954) ordered desegregation. Because of that, Jerry Falwell, Sr. developed his fame in founding and defending the “segregation academies.” When the federal government blocked tax-exempt status for private segregated schools in 1971, religious schools burgeoned throughout the South with the sole goal of preventing racial mixing. At the same time, the evangelicals fought to keep sex discrimination by opposing the ERA and then developed a strong political stance against legal abortion, sex education, and contraceptive access. Collaboration of corporations, that wanted a government that gave them money, and religion, that oppose civil and voting rights, made a strong voting bloc. The evangelicals ignored DDT’s sexual assaults and multiple divorces as long he used virulent racist rhetoric.

Another evangelical argument in support of DDT is their belief in the rapture. DDT believes in chaos, and evangelicals think that he is God’s weapon to bring the righteous closer to the event that will destroy the world and raise the believers to Heaven. They began to worship DDT when he pushed the conspiracy theory that President Obama was born in a foreign country and that he is secretly a Muslim. An international capitalist with investments in over 20 countries, DDT became a symbol for anti-globalism to conspiracy theorists. As a result, DDT is in the center of racist, anti-woman conspiracy theorists. He alone can make the United States into an all-white nation. Their solution is to burn down the country, and DDT is willing to carry out their plans.

As Valerie Tarico  points out, DDT supporters view him as a kind of god, with great similarity to the one in the Old Testament. He incessantly tries to prove his power to people, even rigging his microphone so that his voice sounds powerful. As an insatiable attention seeker, he displays the same characteristics that the bible demands that people grovel before him and prove their loyalty, just like DDT demanded of former FBI Director James Comey before he fired him. Like the Old Testament god, DDT is cruel and sadistic as well as racist and prejudiced. They both reject the handicapped and demean women. Revenge is also a strong characteristic of both DDT and the evangelical god, and the bible is as contradictory as DDT. Science in the bible is garbage, but both of them promise riches for following them. Biologist Richard Dawkins summed up Jehovah in a sentence: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” Yup, that’s DDT. Except for the fiction.

Evangelicals have used the bible to justify DDT’s actions such as extreme vetting. A panel at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) conference was titled: “If Heaven Has a Gate, a Wall, and Extreme Vetting, Why Can’t America?” In The Guardian, Arwa Mahdawi provided other suggestions for following the bible:

  • Marry your rib: Conservatives used the myth of Adam marrying Eve, made from Adam’s rib, to prevent marriage equality so they could take the story to its logical conclusion.
  • Pay taxes with magic fish: Peter did it after Jesus told him to catch a fish that would have money for taxes in its mouth. 
  • Offer up virgin daughters to be raped as in Sodom: Enough said.

Today Mother’s Day is celebrated in 40 countries around the world. Most people see the day as just another commercial enterprise and don’t realize that it began in the 1850s when a women formed clubs to improve sanitary conditions and try to lower infant mortality by fighting disease and curbing milk contamination. During the Civil War commemorated the day to mourn their fallen soldiers. They also tended wounded soldiers and worked for peace. In 1870, Julia Ward Howe, composer of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” issued a widely read “Mother’s Day Proclamation” calling for women to take an active political role in promoting peace.  [More history here.]

Before speaking at great length about football during his graduation address at the evangelical Liberty University, founded by Jerry Falwell and now operated by his son, DDT spoke briefly about today’s celebration:

“And especially this weekend, let’s make sure we give a really extra special thanks to the moms. But in all of this excitement don’t forget that tomorrow is Mother’s Day, right? I had a great mother, she’s looking down, now but I had a great mother. I always loved Mother’s Day.”

The man of family values, representing the party of family values, didn’t see his wife, the mother of his son, or his son on Mother’s Day. DDT was busy golfing with his buddies at the Trump National Golf Course in Virginia, four states away from his wife and son, on his 21st golf excursion in 112 days since he was inaugurated. He did tweet:

 

“Wishing @FLOTUS Melania and all of the great mothers out there a wonderful day ahead with family and friends!”

He picked “friends” over family.

Melania Trump tweeted this photo of her and Barron, her son with DDT, with the message: Happy Mother’s Day!

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October 12, 2014

Justice, Persecution in Faith

Many Christians tend to wear a cloak of superiority in the world, comfortable in the belief that all others are inferior to them. Yet research indicates that religious beliefs removes people from justice and fairness. Christianity teaches that God’s world is just: sin is punished, and appropriate beliefs are rewarded. That’s why athletes will thank God for winning a game. This philosophy makes religious people believe that poor people, victims of crimes, and “losers” deserve what happens to them. In the biblical story, Job follows the belief that “God will not cast away an innocent man, neither will he uphold evildoers” (Job 8:20) and gets all his wealth and status returned to him. His dead children are replaced with seven new ones. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, he says that “those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” will get everything in the end. The pain of persecution will result in rewards.

A jury sentence in Florida shows how callous people can be when they exonerated a 22-year-old woman’s rapist. The foreman said, “We all feel she asked for it [by] the way she was dressed.” She wore a white lace miniskirt and green tank top. The Just World Hypothesis is the tendency to believe that victims of misfortune deserve what happens to them because everyone lives in an orderly. predictable, and just place.

On the Fox network, former prosecutor Kimberly Guilfoyle explained how Michael Brown could have stayed alive in Ferguson (MO) instead of being shot in the street because he wasn’t on the sidewalk: “Don’t go out and commit crimes.” Her advice reflects a 1966 study when psychologist Max Lerner watched students inflicting painful electric shocks on classmates. When the student “jury” thought they could do nothing to stop the suffering, it just decided that the victim deserved the punishment.

Nine years later two researchers took this study’s findings to examine the nature of the “jurors.” Followers of the Just World Hypothesis tend to be religious, authoritarian, conservative, and negative toward underprivileged people. While admiring social institutions and authority figures, they “feel less of a need to engage in activities to change society or to alleviate plight of social victims.”

Society’s privileged classes follow the same mindset. They literally think differently from the less wealthy, and society reinforces the beliefs, equating success with virtue. This is equivalent with people believing that CEOs making 700 times more than the employees just “work harder” and thus deserve the money.

People with more modest incomes are more generous, charitable, and helpful as they give a larger percentage of their disposable income to charitable causes than the wealthy. Drivers of luxury cars are more likely to cut off other vehicles in traffic than drivers of less expensive models. The wealthy are more likely to endorse lying and cheating because of a sense of entitlement from their self-perception of superior intellect or work-ethic.

Beauty also demonstrates a “reward,” as physically-attractive people are viewed as more sensitive, kind, and better-natured.  (Thanks to Mark Esposito for these ideas about religious and justice.)

One can ask if the following religious figures found their “justice” through their religion:

The U.S. Supreme Court has approved last year’s ruling from the Ohio Supreme Court upholding Mount Vernon school officials in firing a middle-school teacher who would not remove religious materials from his classroom. Maybe John Freshwater, the teacher, went over the edge when he marked a cross on a student’s arm with a hand-held Tesla coil.

God TV, one of the biggest Christian television networks in the world, has serious problems after founder Rory Alec left his wife, Wendy, to move with his girlfriend from Israel to South Africa. The wife says that Satan was the cause. All may not be lost. The Christian network Daystar survived two scandals in two years between founders Marcus and Joni Lamb and their employees.

National Geographic plans to film Killing Jesus, one of Bill O’Reilly’s killing series that includes Kennedy, Lincoln, and Patton. In an act of realism, the Middle Eastern man in the four-part series will be played by a Middle Eastern man. Lebanon-born actor Haaz Sleiman is also a Muslim. Fox, however, is convinced that Jesus is white—at last until O’Reilly’s book becomes a movie. Then Breitbart.com may be incensed, but Fox may stay quiet. Note: Sleiman has also played a gay Muslim and a terrorist. Back to far-right fundamentalist Christian wailing and gnashing of teeth.

The U.S. can get rid of Fox host Mike Huckabee if the GOP refuses to fight the recent court rulings supporting marriage equality. On the American Family Association’s “Today’s Issues” program, he declaimed, “I am utterly exasperated with Republicans and the so-called leadership of the Republicans who have abdicated on this issue. I’m gone. I’ll become an independent. I’ll start finding people that have guts to stand. I’m tired of this.”

That old leaky separation of church and state doesn’t hold water in Indiana. Ellen Bogan escaped with a warning after State Trooper Brian Hamilton pulled her over for an alleged traffic violation, but she didn’t escape his sermon. Did she have a home church? Did she accept Jesus Christ as her savior? Then Hamilton left her a pamphlet from the First Baptist Church in Cambridge City that asks to “acknowledge that (she is) a sinner.” His lights flashed the entire time that he was talking religion, and Bogan didn’t feel safe in leaving. He also violated the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution by keeping her longer than necessary to give her a warning ticket. Bogan is suing.

After years of bigotry toward LGBT people, Fox network, thanks to host Chris Wallace and guest Ted Olson, is trying a different tack. Family Research Council president Tony Perkins attempted to spew his usual hatred on Fox News Sunday, but Wallace asked him how his happy marriage would be changed with a same-sex couple living next door. No matter how much Perkins tried to avoid the question, Wallace returned to it. Olson also pointed out studies showing that children do as well or better in two-parent same-sex households as in heterosexual ones.

Students in three schools of the Rowan-Salisbury School District (North Carolina) are taught that the earth was literally made in seven days. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has sent a letter to the school district explaining that they are violating the Constitution of the United States.

The far-right seems obsessed with sex, and Phil Robertson, star of the reality TV show Duck Dynasty, is no exception. In a sermon last month, he declared, “Biblically correct sex is safe. It’s safe. You’re not going to get chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, AIDS — if you, if a man marries a woman, and neither of you have it, and you keep your sex between the two of you, you’re not going to ever get sexually transmitted diseases.” Earlier this year, researcher Elizabeth Boskey discovered that it’s possible to be “infected asymptomatically” and not test for an std for a long time.

It may not be safe to have religious parents. Pamela J. Christensen, 47, told the police that she tried to kill her three daughters because she wanted them to “meet Jesus Christ.” Her estranged pastor husband had sent her messages telling her the world was coming to an end. The Montgomery (IL) woman’s daughters are ages 12, 16, and 19. The girls refused to drink poison so Christensen stabbed them. Christensen had served her husband, Vaughn, because he had become increasingly violent toward her and the children.

As Valerie Tarico wrote, white U.S. evangelical Christians believe they suffer more discrimination than minorities, atheists, Muslims, or Jews. Christianity is the majority religion in the country and controls all the legislatures and courts, both state and federal. Yet, as Alan Nobel, a professor at Oklahoma Baptist University, wrote about the “evangelical persecution complex” because victimization has become part of Christian identity and culture. Persecution, according to religion, makes believers more righteous—more like Jesus.

People who are convinced they are wronged cannot see the wrongs that they themselves commit. It also keeps people from making things better and makes them helpless. As Tarico wrote:

“[The theology of persecution] has also blinded generations of believers to the possibility that sometimes the hardships they face are due not to their faith or outsiders hating Jesus, but to the fact that they hit first. And sometimes the bewildering hostility they perceive may simply be something the theology of persecution has set them up to expect, whether it is there or not.”

It’s time for those who feel persecuted to start figuring out how to help others instead of dragging them down.

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