Posts Tagged “christian right”

DSC00777Pastor John Hagee is the well-known pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio. He’s a fire-&-brimstone megapreacher of the charismatic-fundamentalist sort. He also happens to be anti-Catholic, and despite being a vocal Christian Zionist, is also anti-Semitic. Yet, for reasons not well understood by observers of Christianity such as myself, he’s widely respected among the Religious Right, and Republican candidates fawn over him, knowing that R.R. voters will do whatever he tells them to without giving it a thought.

As one would expect, therefore, Hagee is also a militant Christianist, and a vehement and devoted Christian Nationer. Naturally, he subscribes to the idea that the United States exists only for Christians, and that others … especially atheists … need to leave. In fact, he stated this explicitly recently, as recorded on video and as reported by Right Wing Watch (WebCite cached version):

Tomorrow, June 6, will be the 68th anniversary of the D-Day invasion at Normandy and Pastor John Hagee used his sermon this past Sunday to reflect upon the sacrifices made on this day … and also to tell atheists to get out of America “if our belief in God offends you” because they are not wanted and won’t be missed while also calling on Congress to “outlaw the practice of witchcraft and Satanism in the US military, lest we offend the God of Heaven”

This video, in case you want to watch his ferocious sanctimonious delivery, is available on Youtube:

Oh how the poor little thing just can’t handle that those insidious and insolent atheists dare tread on his own personal and only-Christian domain, the United States! How awful it must be for him to have to put up with their presence … not to mention the presence of Satanists and witches in the military! Why, it’s an abomination that can’t be tolerated for one more second!!!!

Although I’m not a atheist, nor am I a Satanist or witch or warlock, I am nevertheless a committed non-believer, especially in Hagee’s dour, vicious and intolerant religion; so I’ll take Hagee up on his dare. Pastor Hagee, I dare you to come find me — the cold-hearted, skeptical, godless agnostic heathen that I am — and throw me out of your precious Christian country. If you are really as angry as you seem about the presence of atheists in your precious Christian nation, then you have absolutely no reason not to do so immediately. Come on. Do it. I won’t complain, and I won’t stop you. Just throw me out of your country.

If you refuse my challenge, that will only demonstrate you’re nothing but a pathetic, vile, cowardly little troll who can’t and won’t live up to his own stated ideals.

P.S. Again, I’m aware that RWW is an ideologically-driven site, but I’m using their story as a source since they provided primary-source material (i.e. the video).

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: The Jewish Agency for Israel, via Flickr.

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Pastor Charles Worley, via The AdvocateI blogged a couple days ago about the “loving” Christian pastor Charles Worley who wants all the country’s gays rounded up and imprisoned within an electric fence, so they can die off, thereby — according to his own reasoning — causing “gayness” to die out in the US. His congregants are defending him, however, as CNN reports, and are angry at the uproar this has caused (WebCite cached article):

Just about everyone here [in Maiden, NC] is talking about the local pastor who made national headlines this week after a video that features him telling congregants how to “get rid of” gays went viral. …

Some church members, who declined to give their names, defended their pastor, saying his words had been taken out of context. “He said he would feed them!” some church members told CNN, referring to the Worley’s idea for rounding up gays.

Worley “takes a real firm stand on the Bible and what it says about different things,” said church member Joe Heffner. “Whether I like it or not or whether anybody else likes it.”

Another church member, who declined to give his name, said that “Being gay and lesbian or homosexual is wrong according to the Bible… it’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”

You can see some of their reactions in CNN’s video:

Whew! I’m so glad to hear that Pastor Worley doesn’t object to feeding the gays he’d put inside an electrified fence! Why, that makes imprisoning them there just fine! Doesn’t it?

I mean that sarcastically, of course. It is most assuredly not fine to imprison people for merely being gay … and feeding them while they’re imprisoned, in no way makes imprisoning them morally acceptable. Obviously, this defense of Pastor Worley is not going to fly. Not with me, anyway.

I note another defense these “loving” Christians are leaning on, which is that their pastor is just saying what the Bible says, so tough shit if you disagree. That also is a flawed argument. I admit the Bible does appear to condemn homosexuality. The problem is, what the Bible says, very often has little or nothing to do with how we actually do things. The Bible discusses slavery, too; in places the Old Testament prescribes slavery as necessary (e.g. Dt 20:14), and in the New, it orders slaves to be obedient and accept their fate (e.g. Eph 6:5). But although this is what the Bible says about it, we don’t have slavery any more. The Bible’s messages about slavery no longer have any meaning to us. It’s irrelevant.

The reality of life in this world, is that gays exist. They aren’t going to go away just because Christians find their gayness unacceptable. They aren’t going to kill themselves off because Christians want them gone. They’re human beings — every bit as human as the Christians who so vehemently despise them — and have the same human rights that they do. That’s just the way it is — “whether they like it or not,” as Worley’s follower Mr Heffner put it. They should grow up, suck it up, and live with it.

Photo Credit: The Advocate.

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MohlerPerhaps the most influential single theologian in the US is R. Albert Mohler. As the head of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he’s the doctrinal custodian of the Southern Baptist Convention, and thus serves as one of the commandants of the Religious Right. I’m not sure why they thought they should do it, but CNN published his idiotic apologia for the Religious Right’s relentless war against gays (WebCite cached version):

Are conservative Christians hypocritical and selective when it comes to the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality? With all that the Bible condemns, why the focus on gay sex and same-sex marriage?

Given the heated nature of our current debates, it’s a question conservative Christians have learned to expect. “Look,” we are told, “the Bible condemns eating shellfish, wearing mixed fabrics and any number of other things. Why do you ignore those things and insist that the Bible must be obeyed when it comes to sex?”

Unfortunately, despite having posed it, Al doesn’t actually answer this question. Rather, he rationalizes avoiding an answer altogether. I’ll let his dodges and swerves speak for themselves … if you can stomach reading it.

What I would like to point out, is that Al — even though he’s a strict Biblical literalist — factually lied about what the Bible says:

Some people then ask, “What about slavery and polygamy?” In the first place, the New Testament never commands slavery, and it prizes freedom and human dignity.

In reality, the New Testament most assuredly does support slavery. It does so more than once, in fact. Read on:

Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. (Eph 6:5-6).

Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. (Col 3:22)

I’m astonished that a supposed expert on the Bible such as Al Mohler would have said something as clearly and demonstrably untrue as this … but he did, nonetheless. Did he really think no one would notice his lie? Did he really think that people like myself, who have actually read the Bible (not only in English, but in other languages, including the original κοινη Greek of the New Testament), would not have been aware of this? Did he really think people are that fucking stupid? My guess is, he did think he’d get away with it — largely because he’s preaching to his own choir; other Southern Baptists would have taken him at his word and not questioned his statement. Regardless of his presumption of being able to get away with it, though, Al’s lie earns him entry into my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

It’s obvious by now that America’s Christofascists have to resort to lying about their own religion in order to support their hateful rhetoric. I’m not sure where in any of Jesus Christ’s own teachings they discovered the mandate to lie about him, but I’m sure they must have found it. Somewhere. I haven’t managed to find that chapter and verse, but Al and his cohorts must know what it is. I wonder if they’ll deign to divulge it to the rest of us “mere mortals”?

Photo credit: james.thompson.

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Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, NC (from PRBC Web site)The Religious Right’s war on gays is definitely heating up, mainly due to president Barack Obama openly stating that he thinks gay marriage should be permitted in all 50 states. Of course, their outrage over the fact that gays exist, is nothing new. They’ve been lying about gays for years and have consistently campaigned to make them second-class citizens (or worse … if you assume they want to make women second-class citizens, then they must want gays to be “third-class” citizens).

At any rate, Obama’s announcement has unleashed their fury and they’ve doubled down on their sanctimonious rage against gays. For example, as Huff reports (based on Youtube video evidence), a pastor in North Carolina wants all gays in the U.S. killed off (WebCite cached article):

The barrage of anti-gay sermons delivered by North Carolina-based pastors to hit the blogosphere continues with yet another disturbing rant caught on tape.

The pastor, identified on YouTube as Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, N.C., condemns President Obama’s much-publicized endorsement of same-sex marriage while calling for gays and lesbians to be put in an electrified pen and ultimately killed off.

“Build a great, big, large fence — 150 or 100 mile long — put all the lesbians in there,” Worley suggests in the clip, reportedly filmed on May 13.

The pastor’s remarks can be seen right here:

According to the good pastor, because gays “can’t” reproduce, once they’ve all been starved to death inside his massive pen, “gayness” itself will die out with them. Supposedly. I’m not sure that would actually work … but then, I’m just a vicious, Jesus-hating, cynical, godless agnostic heathen, so what could I possibly know about something this important?

I really hate to point this out — especially since I’ve complained about both the Right and the Left having made use of the distasteful propaganda device known as reductio ad Hitlerum — but what Pastor Worley advocates is shockingly similar to the Third Reich’s program of concentration camps. In fact, it’s just too damned similar for me not to take note of the similarity … even if that seems to contradict my own principles and runs me aground on Godwin’s Law.

Yes, folks … once again, we see “the Religion of Love” at work, showing its true colors to one and all. Isn’t it wonderful? I’m sure Jesus is proud of Pastor Worley.

P.S. I don’t normally use ideologically-driven sites like Huff as sources; but in this case a primary source (i.e. the Youtube video) was included with the story.

Hat tip: Mark at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: Providence Road Baptist Church Web site.

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Gustave Doré (1832-1883), The Crusaders war machinery, via Wikimedia CommonsThis issue isn’t really new. Wired magazine has been reporting on this particular issue for quite some time (cached). It seems anti-terror instruction in the US military has been taken over by Neocrusaders who’ve made any number of outrageous claims about Islam as a whole and are trying to inculcate hatred of Muslims generally among the ranks. I blogged about this particular influence within the FBI when Wired reported on it last year. But the influence of the Neocrusade in the military seems to be worse, more pervasive, and more extensive.

Last year the Pentagon began a review of its anti-terror training materials, and the results of that review are starting to emerge. MSNBC elaborates on an Al Jazeera report on aspects that have come to light already (WebCite cached article):

As the Pentagon reviews all military classes following the disclosure of one that advocated “total war” against Muslims, the news website Al-Jazeera reported Saturday that it had received materials from a similar course and that both were put together by the same group, a nonprofit that offers classes and workshops to military and government officials.

Al-Jazeera said [cached] it received course slides from an unnamed military officer who said “this bigoted conspiracy cabal is both disgusting and so deeply un-American.”

The slides leave the impression that Hamas extremists have infiltrated the U.S. government, media and education via U.S. Islamic groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Al-Jazeera said. …

The documents indicated the two courses were prepared by the consulting firm Strategic Engagement Group, Inc., Al-Jazeera said. The website for Strategic Engagement [cached] does include statements similar to those in the materials cited by Al-Jazeera, msnbc.com found.

I decided to nose around in Strategic Engagement’s Web site to see what they offer. The first link I clicked on was this PDF version of a Powerpoint presentation entitled “CAIR Is Hamas” (cached). It didn’t take long for me to discover that these people are spewing factual errors. For instance, slide 3 of the presentation says:

In the 1920’s, after WWI and the Turkish Revolution, Mustafa Kemal “Ataturk” became the leader of the new nation-state Turkey. He dissolved the nearly 700 old Islamic State (Caliphate) known as the “Ottoman Empire,” outlawed the wearing of hijab, the growing of Islamic beards, the call to prayer, replaced Arabic with Latin, did away with Shariah (Islamic Law) and replaced it with secular law, and built an army to protect secular Turkey.

First, while it’s true that Ataturk did establish a new, and secular, government in Turkey, his new state did not encompass all of what had once been the Ottoman Empire. That dismantled state was succeeded, in those other regions, by other less secular states, or they became colonies of western powers and only later became independent states. So it’s factually incorrect to state that “the Ottoman Empire” was succeeded uniformly by the “secular” state of Turkey.

Second, the Ottoman Empire was not really a “Caliphate.” While some of its rulers did use that title, sporadically, even when they did, it was not universally recognized across Islam. Moreover, that they did so, doesn’t really mean a lot: Ottoman rulers sometimes arrogated other titles, such as “Roman Emperor,” and that’s also difficult to take very seriously. The title that best applies to the Ottoman rulers was “sultan,” not “caliph,” making the Ottoman Empire a “sultanate” rather than a “caliphate.”

Third, Ataturk did not “replace Arabic with Latin.” Within Ataturk’s new state of Turkey, the dominant language had been Turkish, not Arabic, and it remains so. While Turkish had long been written mostly using the Arabic alphabet, it was less than ideal; Ataturk did encourage the use of a Latin-based alphabet instead. But it is simply not true that Turkey went from speaking Arabic to speaking Latin.

I hardly need to investigate these Neocrusading wingnuts any further, given their loose command of basic history. Listen, I get it. Really I do. I get that the United States has been attacked by Islamic terrorists who feel compelled to kill others — and themselves — out of a violent religiofascistic impulse. I also get that there are immature, violent Muslims who are prone to explode in insane fury at the slightest provocation. I concede there are still some dangerously fanatical Muslims out there who think their religion orders them to maim and kill. That’s very much in evidence, and only a fool would say otherwise. What concerns me are these two basic premises of the Neocrusade:

  1. Islamofascist terrorists are not the “fringe” of Islam, they are its heart; which means that all Muslims, not just some, are murderous fanatics.
  2. Only Islam has any murderous impulses; other religions, particularly Christianity, do not.

The former premise is just not true, as witnessed by the fact that there are plenty of “moderate,” non-terrorist Muslims around the world, who at this moment are fighting the terrorist element of their religion. And other religions, including Christianity, most certainly also have their own terrorizing, murderous extremists. Eradicating Islam completely — which is the Neocrusade’s ultimate goal — cannot and will never end terrorism. To assume so is not only irrational, it’s delusional. The cold fact is that nearly any religion, anywhere, is capable of inciting violence and even terrorism in its followers. None is immune to it. The sooner we understand this, the better off we’ll all be.

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Rick Santorum speaks in Eastlake, OhioI’ve blogged about GOP presidential candidate and militant Christofascist Rick Santorum a number of times already. As his candidacy has slumped, I’d hoped I’d be able to avoid blogging any more about this walking train-wreck. But alas, Santorum has — once again — posed as a theologian. This time, he’s declared that Christianity — as he sees it, anyway — is the source of freedom in the US. ABC News’ The Note blog reports on his ludicrous Religious Rightist pontification, earlier in March (WebCite cached article):

Talking about American exceptionalism, Santorum said the concept of equality came from Christianity, not Islam.

“I love it because the left says equality, equality. Where does that concept come from? Does it come from Islam? Does it come from other cultures around the world? Are men and women treated equally? Are adults and children treated equally? No,” Santorum said. “It comes it comes from our culture and tradition, from the Judeo-Christian ethic. That’s where this comes from-the sense of equality.”

I’ve read this several times and cannot figure out where or how Islam comes into play in this. It doesn’t seem to be of any relevance to the subject at hand. I can only assume it was his attempt to somehow work some derision of Islam into his speech, and thus appeal to any Neocrusaders in the crowd.

As for whether or not Christianity, as a religion, supports or opposes the concept of equality, the record on that is slightly mixed. Christianity appeared in the Greco-Roman world, initially in its eastern portion, and as such was a product of that culture. Greco-Roman society was quite stratified, along many dimensions. There were a number of social classes, with the aristocracy at the top, and several layers underneath, ranging down to unskilled laborers and slaves at the bottom. The genders were divided. Ethnic groups tended to be segregated, in large cities often living in enclaves apart from others. Religions tended, too, to separate people, e.g. with Jews living in their own quarters of cities. The Greco-Roman world was one in which people were born into any number of stratifications, and with few exceptions, they stayed within them their entire lives.

The earliest extant Christian documents, the seven “genuine” Pauline epistles*, which date to the 50s CE, exhibit something of a departure from this, at least doctrinally. For example, Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). (Note, Col 3:11 says something almost identical, however, that epistle is not genuine, it was written long after Paul). Paul elsewhere refers to a blending of classes and genders within the church in his day. Only in the epistle to Philemon does Paul concede that there’s any validity to any class division, and that lies in his apparent support of slavery as it was practiced then.

Later on, however, we find the early church turning away from egalitarianism. In the gospels — written in the last quarter of the first century CE — we see references to people mainly by some sort of identifier (whether it’s ethnic, professional, or social class). In his parables and comments, Jesus uses stereotypes of these identifiers, sometimes ironically (e.g. the Good Samaritan). His reported interactions in the gospels are often with groups (e.g. he dressed down “the Pharisees”). Jesus also preached to the lower classes as though their plight had virtue in itself. In general, the gospels are written assuming that people fall into various fixed classifications, that this is how things were supposed to be, and that none other than Jesus Christ himself acted as though this was the case. In only one regard is Jesus said to have resisted the prevailing class-wisdom of his time, and this was by attracting “sinners” as followers.

Subsequent Christianity either stated explicitly, or implied, that social classifications, ethnicity, etc. were all God-ordained and that everyone was required to live within the strictures of his/her position in society. That remained the case until the Enlightenment. Even then, the notion of complete equality took a long time to develop. For instance, initially the United States gave voting privileges only to white landowning males. Suffrage was expanded only incrementally over the last 200 years. Also, slavery was legal in the early U.S. and was abolished only after the Civil War. Christianity’s teachings had little to do with this, at least for the first 16 centuries or so of its existence.

It’s true that equality movements like Abolition were comprised of many Christians who believed that Christianity taught to open freedom to others, but this was not universal in Christianity. The Southern Baptist Convention, for example, was founded by southern slave-owning Baptists who opposed the Abolitionist turn their denomination was taking in the 19th century. They, and other Christians, insisted that the Biblical “Curse of Ham” meant that God had rendered black Africans less-than-human.

It is correct to say that the concept of equality can, historically speaking, be viewed as anti-Christian (and anti-Judeo-Christian). Once again, by claiming otherwise, Santorum reveals his ignorance of both history and Christian theology. Well done, Rickie … well done!

Hat tip: Apathetic Agnostic Church.

Photo credit: PBS NewsHour.

* The seven epistles in question are: 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philemon, Philippians, Romans, and 1 Thessalonians.

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Lauren Lancaster / Time / Greenwell Baptist Pastor Tony Perkins, right, and Pastor Dennis Terry, left, pray for Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum's campaign at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church in Greenwell Springs, Louisiana, March 18, 2012.Readers of this blog are likely to know about the fire-&-brimstone preacher, Pastor Dennis Terry, who introduced presidential candidate (and vehement Christofascist) Rick Santorum this week, with a speech in which he ordered non-Christians to “get out” of this country. The Daily Beast reports on his thunderous declaration, with Santorum standing by (WebCite cached article):

At a Baton Rouge revival yesterday, the Republican presidential candidate was introduced and blessed by the fire-breathing pastor Dennis Terry. To a cheering crowd, Terry shouted that ours is a “Christian nation,” that “we don’t worship Buddha, we don’t worship Mohammad, we don’t worship Allah,” and that anyone who doesn’t like “the way we do things” should “get out.”

Of course, the gist of this article is Santorum’s reaction — or more accurately, his non-reaction:

Santorum said nothing. And when the time came to receive a blessing from Terry—right hand over Santorum’s shoulder, left hand on his back—Santorum accepted it, nodding in reverence.

Rightist defenders of this incendiary rhetoric are, of course, comparing it to the fiery speeches of Barack Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and the controversy they engendered while Obama was campaigning in 2008. This superficial appearance aside, the relationship between pastor and candidate is somewhat different … and far more explicit: Terry and Santorum were at the same event and on the same platform together. At the same time. With the pastor’s comments made clearly right in front of the candidate, who — very visibly — did not object in any way. The same cannot be said of Obama and Wright’s incendiary rhetoric. Video of Pastor Terry’s tirade is available, courtesy of Right Wing Watch, via Youtube:

Beyond the political implications of this — which are obviously legion — I have something else to ask, here. If Pastor Terry is convinced that everyone in the US who’s not an evangelical Christian like himself needs to “get out,” then I invite him to begin making that happen, starting with me. Pastor, please, throw me out of your country. Locate me, come here, and toss me out on my cynical, skeptical, godless agnostic heathen ass.

Forget that it might be considered assault and you’d likely be arrested for it. I won’t report you for trying it, but even if I did, why should that matter to you? Isn’t your God more powerful than the state of Connecticut (where I live)? Aren’t the wishes of the Almighty more important to you than criminal laws?

If you’re truly and sincerely convinced beyond any doubt that your Jesus has decided it’s absolutely necessary for non-Christians like myself to “get out,” then why on earth would you not do everything in your power to make that happen? If it’s so clear-cut, why haven’t you already started throwing people out?

I reiterate: Pastor, I challenge you to throw me out of your “Christian-only” country. Please, do whatever you think you must, in order to make it happen. Go ahead. I sincerely, seriously, and eagerly await your attempt.

If you do what I expect you will do — which is to be a sniveling little coward and refuse to throw me or any other hideous non-believer out of your precious, believers-only country — that will be evidence you are not sincere in this belief, and that you espouse a philosophy you don’t actually hold. That of course would make you a hypocrite; and I remind you, your own Jesus explicitly forbid you ever to be hypocritical, for any reason, at any time.

P.S. It goes without saying that evangelical Protestants don’t consider Catholics — like Santorum — to be “‘real’ Christians.” They are, after all, just a bunch of Mary-worshipping papists. If the pastor had his way, then, Santorum himself would eventually have to “get out” of this “Christian-only” country.

Photo credit: Lauren Lancaster / Time magazine.

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