Posts Tagged “christian fundamentalists”

First Assembly of God, Torrington, CT / Stay cool with Jesus sign / Mike Angogliati / Torrington Register-CitizenI know I’m going to get complaints about this, so let me straighten this out, right at the start. There are many sorts of “terror” in the world. Only a little of it is what we generally connect with the word “terror” — i.e. suicide hijackers and abortion-clinic bombers. By using the word “terror” in the title of this post, I am not, by any means, asserting any kind of equivalence among these events. “Terror” does not always mean “killing many innocent bystanders at once.” Many sorts of threats can constitute “terror,” even if those threats are never manifested in violence. There are degrees of terror, some much worse than others. But still, they all remain “terror” in some way or another.

Which brings me to the topic of this post. Most Christians — especially of the fundamentalist sort — will not accept this as an example of “terrorism.” They don’t view it that way, but that doesn’t mean it’s anything other than a form of terror by threat.

The nearby Torrington Register-Citizen ran a story today about the heatwave which is gripping much of the country (WebCite cached article). It included a picture of a Torrington church’s sign:

MIKE AGOGLIATI / Register Citizen / A sign of the times. This sign at the First Assembly of God Church on New Harwinton Road offers advice for keeping cool in the summer heat. 'Think it's hot here? Imagine Hell.'

Mike Agogliati / Register Citizen / A sign of the times. This sign at the First Assembly of God Church on New Harwinton Road offers advice for keeping cool in the summer heat. Their 'loving' message? 'Think it's hot here? Imagine Hell.'

I can think of no better example of what is wrong with fundamentalist / evangelical Christianity, than this sign. It carries the threat of this particular religion, which claims that, if one fails to believe precisely what it teaches, one will be condemned to an eternity of torment.

Those who adhere to this sort of thinking haven’t the slightest clue how horrific it is. To them, it’s “fact,” and its ramifications don’t matter to them. They do not realize theirs is a campaign of terror: “Believe what we order you to believe, or you will FRY with the Satan’s demons in ‘the Lake of Fire’!”

Consider if what they believe is true … that their angry, sin-hating, almighty God will condemn people to eternal torment merely because of what they happen to believe. Why should mere “belief” provide relief from eternal perdition? What being worth worshipping should care so much about what the beings he ostensibly loves “believe” rather than what they “do” or what they “are”? How does this sort of threat differ from any other kind of extortion?

To put it bluntly — it doesn’t. It’s a threat. Nothing more, nothing less. Any being who feels the need to threaten people, in order to coerce their adoration and worship, is not worth adoring or worshipping. Period.

Photo credit: Mike Agogliati / Torrington Register Citizen.

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One Nation, Under God: America is a Christian NationDavid Barton is popular among the Religious Right, at the moment. He’s a Christofascist’s Christofascist, happy to tell Chrisitianists around the country that the US was originally founded as the Christocracy they think it should be … even though it absolutely and demonstrably was not. He’s a pet historian for militant Christians of all stripes, from Glenn Beck to Newt Gingrich to Mike Huckabee. The mass media are even enamored of him, because he’s always good for a sound bite or two. Mother Jones offers this story about Barton and the hard-on the Right has for him (WebCite cached article):

Newt Gingrich is a fan. So’s Michele Bachmann. Mike Huckabee’s such a booster that he recently said that all Americans should be “forced at gunpoint” to listen to this guy.

The object of this high praise from Huckabee — and recent shout-outs from other potential GOP presidential contenders — is David Barton, a Republican activist and minister who founded WallBuilders, a for-profit evangelical outfit that works to inject religion into politics. Barton holds some pretty unconventional views, and in the past he has spoken alongside fringe figures like Holocaust deniers and white supremacists. Among other things, he claims that Jesus would oppose the capital gains tax and the minimum wage; that global warming is “self-correcting”; and that the nation’s homeland security apparatus has been infiltrated by members of the Muslim Brotherhood. He also contends that the separation of church and state is a perversion of the Founding Fathers’ intention to create a Christian nation.

Pretty much every reference to Barton that I’ve seen in the mass media — whether it’s a quote from some angry theocrat, or if it’s the reporter him/herself — calls Barton a “historian.”

The trouble is, he isn’t one.

That’s right, folks. The Religious Right’s favorite historian, is not a historian at all! He’s not even close to being a historian.

Barton’s only bona fide academic degree is a B.A. in religious education from Oral Roberts University (class of ’76). Barton has absolutely no credentials in the field of history. Not one. Not even so much as a vague whiff of one.

I expect Rightists to make a big deal out of Barton and to mispresent him. Of course they’re going to call him a “historian,” if the “history” he spews is a steaming load of fierce militant Christianism and he’s no historian at all. I understand Rightists lying about him. But folks in the mass media have no reasonable excuse for misstating Barton’s credentials. They probably refer to Barton as a “historian” simply because the Right calls him one and they cannot be bothered looking at his C.V. to see if he truly is one. But as someone who did earn a B.A. in history, I am incensed that this lie continues to be propagated.

Barton, and all of his sanctimonious fans who call him a “historian,” are now members of my “lying liars for Jesus” club. (If they weren’t members already … a lot of them are.)

Oh, and Mr Barton — and any other like-minded Christianists: If you think that, as an American, I am required to become the kind of Christian you are, then I invite you to use whatever means you wish to make me convert. Go ahead. I dare you! Do you have the courage to give it your best shot? If you truly think I’m required to worship your Jesus, why would you not do everything in your power to make me do so?

Hat tip: Peter at Skeptics & Heretics Forum at Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: Austin Cline, Licensed to About; Original Poster: University of Georgia.

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Bundesarchiv Bild 137-040965, China, Tientsin, HJ und BDM VereidigungI’ve already blogged about the hyperreligious populace of Giles County, Virginia who flew into a towering rage over the matter of posting the Ten Commandments in the local high school. But the Decalogue controversy there refuses to die. There have been lawsuits and threats of lawsuits, with the ACLU coming down on both sides of the issue (opposing the school itself posting the Decalogue in public locations, but supporting students who post them in their lockers).

The county’s religionist parents have successfully gotten their kids to take a stand for Christofascism, as reported by WDBJ-TV in Roanoke (WebCite cached article):

About 200 students walked out of Giles High School Monday morning, demanding the return of a Ten Commandments display. …

“This is Giles County and Christ is a big, big, big part of Giles County. For those who don’t like it, go somewhere else,” shouted one student. She was greeted by a round of cheers from the crowd. …

“This is America and we can have our Ten Commandments and if they don’t like it, they can get out,” said one boy.

So you see, folks, this is what kids in Giles County, Virginia are learning: If you’re not Christian, you must leave. What a marvelous lesson to have taught the next generation of Giles County! Everyone in Virginia must be so proud of their new platoon of Christofascist Youth.

Hat tip: Unreasonable Faith.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons / Bundesarchiv.

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000362 Transformation 2008-canopy of prayerWhile wildlife officials are looking into the causes of some bird die-offs (in Arkansas and Lousiana, among other places), and are not yet sure why they happened, an evangelical preacher has decided she knows why, and is happily trumpeting their cause. According to the Raw Story, it’s because Congress repealed the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” rule in the US military (WebCite cached article):

The deaths of thousands of blackbirds in Arkansas may have been caused by the recent repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” according to a self-described “prophet” who once claimed the ability to banish “gay demons.”

Evangelist Cindy Jacobs said on a video posted over the weekend that the strange phenomenon, that has now occurred in various places across the world, was an “answer” from God for violating his principles concerning homosexuality.

“According to biblical principles, marriage is between a man and a woman, so we have to say ‘what happens when a nation makes a decision that’s against God’s principles?’” she said. “Well, often what happens is that nature itself will begin to talk to us – for instance, violent storms, flooding.”

Jacobs’s credentials as a fundamentalist preacher, prophet, and anti-gay crusader are impeccable, so we know she must be right:

Jacobs founded Generals International (GI), an international evangelical Christian group, along with her husband in 1985. She is also a member of the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders, a group of prophets who claim to have foreseen Islamic terrorism in 1999.

During an evangelical conference [cached] in 2008, Jacobs conducted a mass exorcism of the audience to cast out the spirits of pornography, addiction, lust, bisexuality, homosexuality, and perversion. In another event in Texas in November, she claimed that if Latinos voted for candidates who opposed gay marriage, then God would reward them [cached] with immigration reform.

Here’s the video of Jacobs’s ignorant, juvenile, hateful, and simple-minded diatribe, courtesy of Youtube:

Note the semantic and logical failing of her so-called “argument” right at its start: She begins with the claim that Gods principle is marriage should between a man and a woman, then says that the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” goes against “God’s principles.” The failure here is over the little matter of “marriage.” The “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” rule is not — and never was — about “marriage.” All its repeal does is to permit openly-gay people to serve in the military. That’s the limit of its effect. I suppose that its repeal would allow gay military personnel to marry, but am not sure if the federal Defense of Marriage Act — which remains in effect — still would prevent it.

Of course, neither logic nor correct semantics ever matter much to ferocious fundamentalists, so I’m not sure why I expected them to come from her. Silly me … expecting that grown adults can actually think rationally now and again!

Of course, the idea that God can’t seem to think of any better way to express his displeasure over the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is by roaming the world killing off flocks of birds, also makes little sense and is extremely illogical.

Photo credit: Harvest Evangelism.

Hat tip: Lordrag at iReligion Forum on Delphi Forums.

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Harry Potter book seriesWith the release of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 film this weekend, it was inevitable, I suppose, that some whacky Christian pastor would come out against the Harry Potter franchise as “un-Christian” because it “promotes witchcraft.” Pretty much every H.P. release — whether in book or movie form — has been punctuated by some fundamentalist Christian loudmouth denouncing the book or film as “demonic” or “Satanic”, because it includes sorcery and witchcraft. So this report by the Christian Post is not exactly a surprise (WebCite cached article):

Another Harry Potter film hits theaters everywhere Friday and Steve Wohlberg, author of the new book Exposing Harry Potter and Witchcraft: The Menace Beneath the Magic, strongly advises against seeing it.

Wohlberg, a bestselling author, expressed his concern to The Christian Post. He said the trend toward witchcraft, vampirism, and occultism among teens has rapidly increased since the Harry Potter Craze began in 1997 in the United Kingdom. Written by J.K. Rowling, the Harry Potter series explores sorcery, witchcraft, and Wicca, noted Wohlberg. …

“The more I read the books, the more I realized how spiritually dangerous the material is,” he said. “Even though it’s fiction there is a lot of reality woven in it. My warning is that Harry Potter is a major contributor to Wicca.”

That there is no “Wicca” in the H.P. series, that it’s never mentioned, nor even hinted at, doesn’t appear to be sufficient to stop this pea-brained idiot from railing against H.P.

Like any other crank of the same sort, Wohlberg bases his views on a lot of supposition and on anecdotal reports he’s managed to catalog:

In his book, he gives several personal accounts of people who have dabbled in witchcraft specifically because of Harry Potter. Teenagers, he explained, are vulnerable to these themes because they are fascinated with the message that magic gives you power. He gives accounts of teens at bookstores on the day of the release of a new Harry Potter book, describing how they have “the book in one hand, and a wicca book in the other.”

Yeah. As though he can provide any demonstrably-genuine photos of this phenomenon.

The truth about H.P. is that the series definitely has moral themes, but ones that most Christians would agree are positive. As I blogged previously, other authors — including assuredly Christian ones such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien — have used magic-infused fictional worlds for their Christian-inspired literature, for a long time now. And I don’t suppose that will end. Moreover, I’d be astonished if any of these anti-Potter folks would dare condemn either The Chronicles of Narnia or The Lord of the Rings for “promoting witchcraft” or any other similar nonsense.

Photo credit: bibical.

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Qur'anIt’s great fun to critique and ridicule religious fundamentalism. It is, after all, so easy to do, since religious fundamentalism is always so utterly irrational and immature. In many ways, religious fundamentalism satirizes itself. But some real entertainment can be had by watching religious fundamentalists tear into other religious fundamentalists. A classic example is the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, FL. I’ve blogged about this childish crew’s antics before, but the Religion News Service (via the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life) reports they’ve decided to up the ante a bit more (WebCite cached article):

A Florida church with “Islam is of the devil” signs in its front lawn plans to host an “International Burn A Quran Day,” on the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks this year.

The Dove World Outreach Center, a non-denominational church in Gainesville, has marked the date in previous years with protests against Islam. …

They’re engaging in this juvenile and incendiary behavior, they claim, as a favor to the world’s Muslims:

“We feel, as Christians, one of our jobs is to warn,” said [Pastor Terry] Jones.

The goal of these and other protests are to give Muslims an opportunity to convert, he said.

As a fundamentalist Christian, Jones of course worships his own set of scripture, that being the Christian Bible. I wonder how much of a “favor” he’d interpret it as, if a bunch of Islamic fundamentalists were to burn some Christian Bibles. I can’t really prove it, but I suspect he’d be outraged over that.

Hat tip: The Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: Doctor Yuri.

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Dr James Dobson (Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)A couple months ago I blogged about James Dobson’s final and total departure from the evangelical group he founded, Focus on the Family, and the end of the last job he had with them, as a radio-show host. Back then, the New York Times had suggested this had happened because he wanted to work with his son Ryan, but Ryan had divorced a few years ago, and the group’s bylaws prevented divorcees from working for them. But preacher Ken Hutcherson — a friend of the elder Dobson — writes for World Net Daily that this is not quite the case (screen shot of article):

Of all the people I know, in an effort to find some semblance of reality about what really happened [at FotF], I am the only one who has talked to both sides — Dr. James Dobson and Jim Daly, the new president of Focus on the Family who also represents the board.

I think that Focus does have a new focus; an image change designed to make them accepted and well-liked rather than standing for righteousness in an unrighteous society. …

The current emphasis at Focus is on being loved and understood.

Hutcherson doesn’t say it explicitly, but based on what he’s suggesting, Ryan Dobson’s involvement with FotF as a divorcee was not really an impediment to his father staying on, it was merely a pretense they used to justify forcing him out.

A rigid and fierce preacher, Hutcherson does not approve of this “new & improved” Focus on the Family, and he vents angrily about it:

A great example of the products currently coming out of the new Focus on the Family is the Tim Tebow ad during the Super Bowl. It said nothing. What a great opportunity that was to promote the pro-life position by revealing what abortion really is. But I guess they didn’t want to offend the world and wanted to make sure everyone loved them. …

I am not very happy with the new, progressive, “loving” leadership at Focus on the Family.

Like a lot of “armchair quarterbacks,” Hutcherson thinks he can do a much better job of running FotF, than its current leadership:

To be perfectly honest, what Focus should have done is give someone like me the leadership over the ministry.

Wah wah wah. They ousted your friend, Mr Hutcherson, and they dared not select you to replace him! Gasp! Horrors!

I can taste the sour grapes from here. What a crybaby!

Hat tip: iReligion Forum at Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: Jeff Fusco / Getty Images via L.A. Times Top of the Ticket blog.

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