Posts Tagged “christian”

Gospel of Jesus' WifeI blogged about the so-called “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” back when it hit the news four years ago. Since then, tests on the fragment showed it could have come from an actual classical manuscript. As I said both times, whether or not the fragment is “real” doesn’t really present any substantial challenge to anyone’s Christianity. The most it would have told us is that one group of Christians, in 4th century Egypt, thought Jesus had married. That’s all. Nothing more. Even so, traditionalist Christians raged and fumed about it, as though someone had tried to kill them or something. (That would be your Christian martyr complex at work.)

Well, Ariel Sabar of The Atlantic has done some investigating — not on the fragment itself, but into its provenance — and offers compelling evidence it was a hoax (WebCite cached article):

[Harvard professor Karen L.] King has steadfastly honored the current owner’s request for anonymity. But in 2012, she sent me the text of e-mails she’d exchanged with him, after removing his name and identifying details. His account of how he’d come to possess the fragment, I noticed, contained a series of small inconsistencies. At the time, I wasn’t sure what to make of them. But years later, they still gnawed at me.

The American Association of Museums’ Guide to Provenance Research warns that an investigation of an object’s origins “is not unlike detective work”: “One may spend hours, days, or weeks following a trail that leads nowhere.” When I started to dig, however, I uncovered more than I’d ever expected—a warren of secrets and lies that spanned from the industrial districts of Berlin to the swingers scene of southwest Florida, and from the halls of Harvard and the Vatican to the headquarters of the East German Stasi.

Sabar’s revelations are engaging, and I urge you to take the time to read it all. I’ll leave the story as is. The bottom line is that the likely forger was an East German, now living in Florida, who’d studied Egyptian antiquities for a time, and thus was in a position to pull of a hoax of this kind.

Professor King herself, in the wake of this, acknowledges the likelihood she’d been hoaxed (cached):

A Harvard professor who rocked the musty world devoted to studying early Christianity when she presented a tiny swatch of papyrus that referred to Jesus as married now concedes the fragment is probably a fake.

From the very start, she had hedged her bets and suggested it might have been a hoax, but given what she did — i.e. to broadcast it to the world in as public a way as a historian of religion could — belies that. What’s more, her total disinterest in the fragment’s provenance — which normally is of great importance to scholars when reviewing any artifact — suggests she feared it might be a hoax; purposely minimizing her knowledge of it helped her alleviate that fear. In other words, it’s a classic case of Sgt Schultz thinking.

I’m sure conservative Christians who’d been incensed with King’s publication of “the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” back in 2012 are now crowing with glee. Bit I bet they weren’t as happy that the so-called “James ossuary” a number of years ago turned out not to be the “proof” of Jesus’ historicity they’d presumed it was (cached) … so I guess turnabout is fair play, no?

The bottom line is that this was a case of people investing more sentiment into something than it deserved. And I say that not because it ended up being a hoax. I say that because, from the very beginning, and without regard to its genuineness or phoniness, too many people made more of GJW than it deserved. Prof King took it too seriously as “proof” of the existence of some feminist Christian sect, and her critics took it too seriously as well, with their sanctimonious outrage that someone might provide potential evidence that early Christianity wasn’t as uniform — and consistent with the Biblical canon — as they’d like it to have been. People really need to fucking grow the hell up already.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” Probably a Hoax

Rainbow flag on white background - harvey milk plaza, san francisco (2012) (8148105584)This is the sixth in a series of posts I plan about the recent Orlando gay-nightclub shooting, by an American Muslim who appears to have been influenced by ISIS and other violent Islamists. By now my readers will surely know a great deal about this horrific event. The topic of this post is:

Terrorism Isn’t Just an “Islam” Problem

A lot of Americans — especially on the Right — tend to view terrorism, especially when it occurs within the US, as solely the product of Islam. The only terrorists we’ve dealt with, they’d tell you, are Muslims. Thus, as they see it, terrorism an an Islam problem.

This has led to all sorts of idiotic tripe; for instance, Breitbart announced that fierce Religious Rightist Newt Gingrich called for a Congressional inquiry into “Islamic supremacism” (WebCite cached article):

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called Tuesday for the creation of a congressional commission to examine the radical Islamic terrorist threat.

Gingrich said Tuesday in a Facebook video chat:

We can no more afford to have fanatic terrorists at home just because they’re American citizens, be allowed to run around, get organized and kill people, than we can afford to bring in thousands of unvetted and unverified Syrian refugees. So I believe the president is profoundly, fundamentally wrong. I believe the Congress should create a commission on Islamic supremacism and terrorism in the United States. I think we should start looking at serious new laws.…

Gingrich noted that he welcomes the “modern Muslim” who accepts the authority of “secular law” and the reality of “diversity,” but that adherents of Sharia law should be inadmissible to the United States.

Gingrich’s commission would surely resemble the anti-Muslim show-trials Rep. Peter King hosted a few some 5 years ago. Those never went anywhere, since they were never intended to do anything other than allow King and other Neocrusaders to grandstand. Also note the requisite bellyaching about the bogeyman of “shari’a law” in the Newtster’s Neocrusading comments. Perhaps he imagines this investigation somehow will prove his contention, a few years ago, that “radical Islamists” are “secular atheists” and vice versa. (In case you didn’t realize it, that would be a staggering contradiction: “Secular atheists” are non-religious, while “radical Islamists” are exceedingly religious. It’s literally not possible to be both at the same time.)

I’ve said it before and will say it again: Terrorism — both worldwide and in the US — is most assuredly not just an “Islam” problem. It’s a “religious extremist” problem! And extremism can be found within any religion.

The reality of terrorism in the US is that there have been Christian terror attacks in addition to Islamist attacks — not to mention ordinary, mundane, sociopathic attacks.

Many people refuse to believe there is such a thing as Christian terror, but there is! Among the most recent examples of it is the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting, just last November (cached). There was also a guy who shot up Austin TX almost a year and a half ago (cached). There’s also a guy who was indicted for conspiring to kill Muslims in upstate New York (cached). Another guy conspired to kill Muslims and the president using some kind of radiation weapon (cached). And another creep tried to bomb the Kansas clinic that Dr George Tiller had worked at (cached).

Ultimately, any given American is much more likely to be attacked by a criminal with no religious motivation at all, or a Rightist with a potentially Christian motivation, than fall prey to a raging Islamist barbarian.

For Christianists like Newtie, or any other Neocrusaders, to scream and holler about how horrible and violence-prone Islam is, without acknowledging the violent militancy of some of their own co-religionists, is hypocritical. And hypocrisy is something that their own Jesus clearly, explicitly, and unambiguously forbid them ever to engage in. They should clean up their own religion before running around trumpeting about the faults of others. But of course, they will never do so.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on Orlando Shooting Observations, Part 6

Rainbow flag - DC Capital Pride parade - 2013-06-08 (8992857356)This is the fifth in a series of posts I plan about the recent Orlando gay-nightclub shooting, by an American Muslim who appears to have been influenced by ISIS and other violent Islamists. By now my readers will surely know a great deal about this horrific event. The topic of this post is:

Militant Christianists Spout Off Like the Hateful Cretins They Are

We all know by now that America’s Christianists are hateful little monsters who simply cannot — and will not — tolerate anything they dislike. They constantly rage and bluster and fume about all sorts of people they think shouldn’t be allowed to exist. A lot of the time they’re able to hide their despicable hatred, but all too often, something triggers them, their sanctimonious fury takes over, and they show their true colors. Talking Points Memo reported on a couple of them doing just that (WebCite cached article):

After 49 people were gunned down in an Orlando gay nightclub in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, pastors in California and Arizona praised the gunman for massacring “perverted predators” and “pedophiles.”

In Sacramento, Pastor Roger Jimenez of Verity Baptist Church said the killer succeeded in making Orlando safer.

“Are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today?” Jimenez said in a sermon originally posted on YouTube. “Um no, I think that’s great! I think that helps society. I think Orlando, Florida is a little safer tonight.”

In the sermon, delivered just hours after the rampage on Sunday morning, Jimenez also said, “I wish the government would round them all up, put them up against a wall, put a firing squad in front of them and blow their brains out.”

Tempe, Arizona preacher Steven Anderson also rushed to praise the “good news” that “there are 50 less pedophiles in this world.”

In a video posted online, Anderson, a pastor at Faithful Word Baptist Church, said while he wouldn’t advocate for violence, he said LGBT people should be “executed by a righteous government.”

“The bad news is that a lot of the homos in the bar are still alive, so they’re going to continue to molest children and recruit children into their filthy homosexual lifestyle,” he said, adding the attack would be used to attack Christians and push gun control.

“I’m not sad about it, I’m not gonna cry about it because these 50 people in the gay bar that got shot up were going to die of AIDS and syphilis and whatever else,” he continued. “At least these dangerous, filthy predators are off the streets. I’m just trying to look on the bright side.”

The videos were taken down by Youtube, but Anderson’s has been preserved:

Please note, Jimenez has since doubled down on his remarks and is unrepentant about his hatred for gays (cached).

In addition to these two creatures, longtime Christofascist prick Marion “Pat” Robertson, as Right Wing Watch reports, spewed yet more of his asinine ridiculousness (cached):

Today on “The 700 Club,” televangelist Pat Robertson reacted to the massacre at an Orlando gay club by making the absurd claim that liberal LGBT rights advocates have aligned themselves with radical Islamists and are now reaping what they have sowed.

Robertson said that liberals are facing a “dilemma” because they love both LGBT equality and Islamic extremism, and that it is better for conservatives like himself not to get involved but to instead just watch the two groups kill each other.

“The left is having a dilemma of major proportions and I think for those of us who disagree with some of their policies, the best thing to do is to sit on the sidelines and let them kill themselves,” he said.

Robertson, like Newt Gingrich, incorrectly presumes the American Left is “allied” with, or even includes, militant Islamists. In reality, a lot of Islamists effectively lean in the direction of fascism, and have nothing in common with American Leftists. Moreover, the Left is a secular movement, and Islamists despise secularism above most other things. So they can hardly be viewed as having any connection.

What bothers Robertson is, in all likelihood, Leftists’ determined avoidance of saying or doing anything that might even remotely be viewed as denigrating to Islam or to Muslims. Although this policy is misguided — it purposely ignores the fact that some terrorism, such as the Orlando massacre, is in fact driven by Islam (cached), in the minds of those who carry out these atrocities — that doesn’t mean Islamists are allied with, or part of, the American Left. Far from it! All it means is that they’ve successfully intimidated the Left. Which really, isn’t much of an achievement, since they intimidate pretty much everyone.

Now, with all of this said, it’s easy for moderate and reasonable Christians out there to point out that we’re talking about just 3 people here (Jimenez, Anderson, & Robertson), and they hardly reflect on Christianity as a whole. But let’s be honest: Those moderate Christians will do absolutely nothing about any of them. Each will retain his ministry, or in the case of Robertson, his broadcasting network. None of them will be ousted from their positions, or in any other way punished or disciplined because of what they said. They will, instead, be allowed to rant and rave all they want, however they want, whenever they want.

None of those moderate Christians cares enough to correct any of them … and they will never do so. (No, merely stating disapproval of what these animals said does not, in any way, constitute “correction.” Words are cheap and mean nothing. They’re just a cop-out.) That’s what “the religion of love” stands for. And it’s sickening.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on Orlando Shooting Observations, Part 5

Governor Phil BryantChristianists’ persecution complex ramped up severely in light of Obergefell v. Hodges (2015). They actually think it causes them injury to have to treat gays as though they’re fellow human beings. I’m not sure how or why that’s the case, but they’re convinced of it, and that conviction drives them to keep pitching fits over it.

Of course, a desire to be persecuted for their Jesus is inherent in Christianity’s psychopathology, and has been since its inception. To a large extent, they can’t help themselves. That’s especially true for fundamentalist Christians, because their fundamentalism has infantilized them to the point where they’re incapable of knowing any better.

This persecution delusion explains something Mississippi governor Phil Bryant recently said. As the Associated Press reports via the Washington Post, he made some telling comments during a Religious Right conference in Washington (locally-cached article):

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant says the “secular, progressive world” vented at him for signing a bill that would let clerks cite religious beliefs to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The Republican governor spoke in Washington as the conservative Family Research Council gave him an award last Thursday for signing House Bill 1523 this year and a similar one in 2014 called the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.…

During his speech at the Family Research Council event, Bryant asked whether critics believe people of faith will abandon “freedoms that our forefathers died for,” including religious freedom.

“They don’t know that Christians have been persecuted throughout the ages,” said Bryant, who is United Methodist. “They don’t know that if it takes crucifixion, we will stand in line before abandoning our faith and our belief in our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.”

Yes, indeed, folks. You read that right. Bryant actually said that Christians would prefer to be crucified than treat gays fairly. Seriously. He said it. He said it proudly and gladly. Bryant spoke for all Christians as though all of them agree with him and share his deluded martyr complex … even though some churches don’t actually object to gays the way he does.

Still, that means nothing to Christianists like the governor. He’s very myopic where his faith is concerned: In his eyes, all Christians think and believe precisely as he does, and there is no variation. Should any disagree, they’re the proverbial “not ‘Real’ Christians” who — in his mind — make him and his religion look bad. In truth, Bryant is making his religion look bad, all by himself. And he’s done a marvelous job of it! Way to go, Guv! You must be so proud!

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on MS Gov. Says Christians Prefer Crucifixion to Treating Gays Like Humans

St Peter's Square, Vatican City - April 2007Among the defenses the Roman Catholic hierarchs have relied on, regarding their mishandling of clerical child-abuse worldwide, is the assertion that it’s something which is “in the past.” Done. Over. Finished. No longer an issue. The US bishops, for instance, used a report they commissioned to declare it a “historical” problem — as in, “it’s history.” Unfortunately for the bishops, it turns out this isn’t actually the case. Reuters reports that an audit actually showed an uptick in child-abuse incidents (WebCite cached article):

An annual audit of reports of sexual abuse by members of the U.S. Roman Catholic clergy released on Friday showed sharp increases in the number of new claims and in the value of settlements to victims.

The audit showed that 838 people came forward from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015, to say they had been sexually abused by priests, deacons or members of religions orders while they were children, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said.

That is up 35 percent from 620 new reports of abuse a year earlier, an increase that the bishops said largely reflected a large number of claims in six dioceses that had either filed for bankruptcy or were located in states that opened windows allowing victims to sue over old cases of sexual assault.

It’s true that bankruptcies and changes to the law can bring out more reports of abuse that took place long ago, but this audit included more recent reports:

While the bulk of the reports related to cases of abuse date back to the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, there were 26 reports made by minors of more recent abuse.

If in fact the “priestly pedophilia” scandal truly was the “historical” phenomenon bishops have claimed, this number would have been zero, not 26. Once again, the truth rears its head and reveals the hierarchs as the inveterate liars they actually are. It’s long past time they owned up to what they’ve done — i.e. to protect abusive clergy — rather than making excuses for it or dismissing it (e.g. insisting it’s not an ongoing issue).

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on No, It’s Definitely Not a “Historical” Problem

Pope Francis at VargihnaAs I’ve blogged previously, Pope Francis seems to march to his own drummer. At various points — mostly in small ways — he’s pushed against Vatican orthodoxy. He recently did so once again when, as the Religion News Service reports, he said he’s examining the possibility of ordaining women as deacons (WebCite cached article):

In an opening with historic import, Pope Francis has said he wants to study the possibility of ordaining women as deacons, a step that could for the first time open the ranks of the Catholic Church’s all-male clergy to women.

The order of deacons was reinstituted in the Catholic Church after the reforms of the 1960s, and while deacons cannot celebrate the Eucharist like a priest, a deacon can preach at Mass, preside at weddings and funerals, and perform baptisms.

But in restoring the diaconate, the church also restricted ordination as a deacon to “mature married men” over 35.…

“I would like to constitute an official commission to study the question: I think it will be good for the Church to clarify this point, I agree, and I will speak so as to do something of this type,” Francis said, according to the Vatican transcript of the encounter [cached].

“So, with regard to the diaconate,” he added a bit later, “yes, I agree and it seems to me it would be useful to have a commission to clarify this well, especially with regard to the early times of the church.”

Conservative Catholics, as one would expect, are throwing conniptions over this. They say this will lead to ordaining women as priests. That this is “slippery slope” thinking, and therefore fallacious, doesn’t matter to them. They’re determined to equate this move with the ordination of women as priests, in spite of these facts: First, studying the ordination of women as deacons doesn’t mean it will ever happen; and even if women are allowed to be ordained as deacons, it doesn’t mean they’ll be ordained as priests, too. The offices of deacon and priest are very different. What’s more, that this need not lead to a “slippery slope” scenario is evident in the fact that married men have been ordained as deacons for decades, yet this hasn’t led to married men being ordained as priests.

Another point to be brought up is that Vatican study commissions often lead nowhere. For example, Francis’s own child-abuse review commission has basically imploded. So just because the Pope wants to study the matter, doesn’t mean anything will ever come from that. Conservative Catholics would do well to calm the fuck down and stop getting their panties in knots every time Francis opens his mouth.,

Lastly, Catholics need to be aware of something they should know, yet many don’t, or don’t wish to accept: For the last few decades, the Church has dealt with a shortage of priests. The post-Vatican II restoration of the diaconate was, at least partly, a way of dealing with that: It allowed some tasks to be handed off to non-priests. The “vocation crisis” remains a severe problem for the Church. Allowing the ordination of deaconesses would, essentially, double the potential pool of applicants to the diaconate. I can’t see why this can’t be a partial solution to a problem the Church faces.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on Pope Francis Talks About Ordaining Women as Deacons

Sad Girl, Depressed, Unhappy, Woman / ferobanjo, via PixabayAs I’ve remarked before, religious folk have a lot of really strange, if not barbaric, notions about mental illness. They consider it a spiritual problem, not a medical one. What’s more, they’ve been known to use it as a tool to hook people and stay in their lives. Slate magazine just published an exposé of a Christian ministry which ostensibly treats troubled girls, but in reality, it does nothing of the sort (WebCite cached article).

The article is a long one, telling a number of troubling stories, and I recommend reading it through. But here’s an important passage:

[Mercy Multiplied, formerly Mercy Ministries] doesn’t require its counselors to be licensed mental health practitioners, which Christy Singleton, Mercy’s executive director, confirmed in an email. Moreover, Mercy’s licensed counselors or those in training are forbidden to practice psychotherapy, alleges one former counselor who worked for the organization between 2011 and 2012. “They say they do clinical interventions, but I wasn’t allowed to use my clinical experience,” she says. (She requested anonymity so as not to jeopardize her current employment as a secular psychologist.) Instead, the counselor said, executives in Nashville instructed her to walk each woman through the same seven-step counseling model and assign a prescribed regimen of readings, response papers, and audio sermons, which residents were meant to complete as homework before their weekly one-on-one counseling sessions.

[Mercy founder Nancy] Alcorn doesn’t describe the doctrinal origins of Mercy’s counseling in her writings, but [Baylor Univ. psychologist Matthew] Stanford says the Mercy model appears to combine two religious philosophies, Theophostic Prayer Ministry and Restoring the Foundations Ministry. (Alcorn’s original counseling model and RTF Ministry share a name and are similar but not identical.) Both are rooted in the Charismatic Christian movement, which believes in spiritual warfare, the gifts and healing powers of the Holy Spirit, prophesy, the laying of hands to anoint or empower an ailing individual, and salvation from demonic forces through deliverance. “We’re talking about demons in the literal sense,” says Stanford. “[Practitioners might say] ‘You have a spirit of depression,’ meaning an actual demon is causing you to be depressed. Or you could be experiencing depression because generations ago in your family, someone gave an opening for the demonic.”

Multiple former Mercy residents told me that staff members shouted at demons to flee their bodies. Bethany M., a 2007 resident of Mercy’s St. Louis home (who asked that Slate withhold her last name due to privacy concerns) says staff threatened to expel her from the program if she didn’t let a visiting evangelist lay hands and prophesy over her during a sermon. When mononucleosis swept through the Lincoln home, Hayley says staff blamed the outbreak on evil spirits and asked the residents to walk through the halls calling for the spirits’ banishment.

Mercy’s public statements on demons are inconsistent. Its website states that the group does “not perform or endorse exorcisms” [cached]. And Singleton says Mercy neither emphasizes Charismatic teachings nor mandates the laying of hands on residents. The enemy, she says, isn’t some evil force “but the lies we tell ourselves.” Yet in a 2008 speech at the Capital Christian Center in Sacramento, Alcorn said that Mercy “deals with areas of demonic oppression.” Then she laid out her feelings on the matter: “If there’s demonic activity, like if somebody has opened themselves up to the spirit of lust or pornography or lots of promiscuous sexual activity, then we’ve opened the door for demonic powers. And secular psychiatrists want to medicate things like that, but Jesus did not say to medicate a demon. He said to cast them out. And that’s supposed to be a part of normal Christianity.”

As a former fundamentalist Christian, I can confirm that the idea that illnesses — especially of the mental variety — are of demonic, not natural, origin is very common. Obviously this ministry isn’t in the business of treating mental illnesses, they’re just using these troubled girls to extort money from their families, who often — and erroneously — think they’re being “treated.” The Slate article goes on to describe how Mercy’s so-called “treatment” methods also resemble the long-ago-debunked “repressed memory” trope that ruined so many lives just a few decades ago.

You may be asking why this outfit is allowed to operate this way, using unscientific treatment methods as they do. But answering that question leads to the most troubling aspect of all: Mercy’s facilities are unlicensed, because they are, supposedly, religious ministries. They can essentially do whatever they want. There’s no oversight, no regulation, no nothing. Because Jesus:

In 2011, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals received a call about Mercy’s home in West Monroe. The caller said the residence was operating without a license from the department, according to a DHH spokeswoman. But when DHH investigated, it determined the home didn’t actually need a license because it wasn’t providing “services for compensation.” Instead, the program was “operating in a way that is similar to a homeless shelter,” where residents receive food and lodging for free, according to the state’s DHH lawyers.

In an email last April, Singleton told me that Mercy’s three adult facilities are licensed by social services agencies in their respective states. But agency representatives at both Louisiana’s and Missouri’s departments of social services, health, and mental health could find no records of Mercy in their systems. When I emailed Singleton in April 2015 to ask for clarification, she stopped responding. When I wrote her again this month, a full year later, she said she had nothing to add.

It’s long past time for religious folk, especially of the fundamentalist Christian variety, to stop exploiting the mentally ill. Religiously-flavored pseudopsychology is not a valid alternative to the real thing. It should be obvious that it’s not ethical to target a vulnerable population and use them to one’s own spiritual — or worse, financial — gain. Yet Alcorn, Singleton and their ilk happily do so, nonetheless. It’s time for state authorities to stop giving phony treatment centers like Mercy’s a “pass” merely because they’re religious in nature. If they claim to treat mental illness, they should be evaluated, licensed, and monitored just like any other such facility — period.

Photo credit: ferobanjo, via Pixabay.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on “Mercy Multiplied” Offers None to Its Victims