Posts Tagged “Christianity”

Robert JeffressIt’s amazing how resistant many conservative Christians are to the idea that, perhaps — just perhaps! — too many blacks (mostly men) are dying at the hands of police (often white) in confrontations that didn’t necessarily have to end that way. As a rule, conservatives tend to be very distrustful of government as a whole, so theoretically at least, one would think they’d be predisposed to question police officers’ motives and actions. But in the face of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, they’ve become sanctimoniously outraged that anyone might ever question the judgement of any police officer anywhere in the country. In their minds, all killings by police must automatically be viewed as “righteous kills,” so that means anyone who disagrees must be “anti-cop” and want all police killed. Or something.

Since their petulant refusal to accept even the remotest the possibility of error or even criminality on the part of an officer contradicts their overall anti-government philosophy, it’s fair to wonder why this is so. Well, evangelical megapastor Robert Jeffress of Dallas revealed at least one reason for this, as Raw Story explains, when he appeared earlier today on Fox & Friends (WebCite cached article):

Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor at First Baptist Church in Dallas, lashed out at what he called “bogus ministers” who did not preach about having “respect for the police.”

“The New Testament says in Romans 13:4 that law enforcement officers are ministers of God sent by God to punish evil doers,” he opined. “When you think about it, police officers are just as called by God to do what they do as pastors and priests are called by God. And I think we need to remind our members of that.”

Now, Jeffress cited Romans 13:4, but I’ll quote the whole passage in question (including that specific verse):

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. (Romans 13:1-7)

If Jeffress — following Paul — is correct, then questioning any police officer’s actions is un-Christian, since as representatives of the state, they’ve been appointed by the Almighty as his/her/its direct agents and therefore are sacred, inviolate, and ever-perfect. This passage from the epistle to the Romans is often cited in Christian circles to back up authoritarianism and the presumption that government is always right and that total obedience to the state is a Christian virtue. Back in my fundie days, this passage and a few others were bandied about this way.

But let’s face it, these folk are selective in how they apply their principle of Biblical authoritarianism … and Jeffress himself shows exactly why, in this very same segment on Fox:

The megachurch pastor also claimed that President Barack Obama had “exacerbated the racial divide instead of healing it.”

“I’m afraid the president, just like he did with conservative Christians after the beheading by ISIS of Christians, it seemed like he wanted to blame conservative Christians in the past,” he said, “instead of putting the blame when it belongs.”

Note that Jeffress — who had just moments before pontificated on how Christians are required by Jesus to submit wholly to the government and to their rulers — just questioned his own president, accusing him of having rhetorically gone after police and “conservative Christians.” So while he advocates unquestioning acceptance of all police officers’ words and actions, he refuses to do the same for the president’s. Hmm. I see more than a little hypocrisy here, not to mention cherry-picking. I’m guessing Jeffress is unaware his own Jesus clearly and unambiguously forbid him ever to be hypocritical, at any time or for any reason.

What’s more, I’ve searched and searched, but have yet ever to find that President Obama has ever blamed ISIS’s beheadings, police killings of blacks, or the public reaction to such killings (e.g. the BLM movement) on “conservative Christians.” He never used words to that effect, that I know of. I challenge Jeffress to show that Obama explicitly stated “conservative Christians” (using those words) were behind either. Go ahead, Pastor. Prove your contention — if you dare! Citations, please, or it didn’t happen. And if it didn’t happen, that would make you a lying liar for Jesus.

Here’s video of Jeffress’s appearance, if you care to view it:

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons.

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Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, Philadelphia, PATraditionalists in the Roman Catholic Church have had a difficult time with a lot of what Pope Francis has said and done since he assumed office. They’ve complained about him, dismissed him, ignored him, and otherwise tried to act as though none of his innovations was ever offered.

An example of this, as the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, comes from Archbishop Charles Chaput (WebCite cached article):

Divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, as well as cohabitating unmarried couples, must “refrain from sexual intimacy” to receive Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has asserted in a new set of pastoral guidelines.

Released Friday, the guidelines instruct clergy and other archdiocesan leaders on implementing Amoris Laetitia, a major document on family that Pope Francis issued in April.

His six-page instruction, which appears on the archdiocesan website, may be the first of its kind issued by the bishop of any American diocese in response to Amoris Laetitia, Latin for “the joy of love.”

Acknowledging that it is a “hard teaching,” Chaput goes on to say that Catholics in same-sex partnerships, those remarried without a church annulment, and cohabitating persons may not serve on parish councils, instruct the faithful, serve as lectors, or dispense Communion.

Allowing persons in such “irregular” relationships, “no matter how sincere,” to hold positions of responsibility would “offer a serious counter-witness to Catholic belief, which can only produce moral confusion in the community,” according to Chaput.

I get that, as a bishop, Chaput is entitled to issue these sorts of directives, and that as a prince of the Church he can govern its affairs and enforce its doctrines as he sees fit; if gay, cohabiting, or remarried Catholics don’t like it, they can leave their Church. That’s absolutely the case. What’s harder to understand is why Chaput, or any leader within the Church, could be so determined to slam the door of the Church in the faces of some of its lay members. The R.C. Church in the US has been on the wane for years. Traditionalists like Chaput are working to push even more folks out. It’s a dysfunctional way to operate.

But hey, what could this cynical, cold-hearted, godless agnostic heathen possibly know about such important sacred considerations?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Albert Chevallier Tayler - The Christmas Tree 1911The annual “war on Christmas” is an agnostic blogger’s dream. Few things seem to bring out the juvenile insanity within America’s “Christian nation” like Christmas. (Which — contrary to what some of them have said — is most certainly not their religion’s most sacred holiday. That, I have to point out, is actually Easter.) They need to be surrounded, from Thanksgiving through New Year’s each year, by an endless chorus of “Merry Christmasses.” Everyone they come into contact with must say that to them, without regard to whether those they meet celebrate Christmas themselves or wish to have to say “Merry Christmas” continuously for 5 weeks or so every year. If that doesn’t happen, they think Christmas has been outlawed and they’re being denied their “religious freedom.”

Or something like that. I guess.

I honestly have yet to understand it, but then, I’m just a cold-hearted, cynical, godless agnostic heathen, so what the fuck do I know about it?

It’s only June, and early in the year for me to address the annual fraud which is “the war on Christmas,” but I find I must bring it up. You see, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald “it’s my own orange hair!” Trump convened a meeting with a cadre of militant Christianists. (You knew nothing good would come from that!) As Raw Story explains, based on Right Wing Watch video, Trumpie promised he’d force people to say “Merry Christmas”: (WebCite cached article):

Donald Trump greeted religious right leaders [cached] by asking not what Christianity could do for them but boasting about what evangelical voters had done for him.…

Trump launched a broadside in the so-called “war on Christmas” Tuesday afternoon at the event organized by the anti-LGBT groups Family Research Council, Vision America and AFA Action.

“I’m a tremendous believer, and we’re going to straighten it out,” Trump said. “You know, oftentimes at some of my rallies I’ll have 25,000 (or) 35,000 people more, and I say in a joking fashion — but boy, do I mean it, we’re going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.”

Yeah, Trumpie. You tell ’em! You’re going to make those insolent Jesus-haters out there all say “Merry Christmas” until their faces break. Right? Fuck yeah!

Here’s an open invitation, Mr Trump: You track me down and make me say “Merry Christmas” to whoever you want me to say it to. Go ahead. You just do that. OK? If you haven’t got the courage to force me to say “Merry Christmas,” then you’re nothing but an infantile chicken-hawk who talks big but who refuses to get off his ass and actually do anything.

If you won’t do that to someone who’s invited you to give it your best shot, then what makes anyone — including the militant Christofascists you’re pandering to — think you’ll do it to store clerks around the country? Sorry to say, it’s not going to happen.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Rainbow FlagThis is the eighth 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:

Christianists Keep Showing Their True Hateful Colors

I’m not at all surprised I have to revisit one of the topics I already covered, regarding the Pulse nightclub massacre. Sadly, Christianists are all too predictable. It’s not enough that a few sanctimoniously-enraged homophobic hatemongering preachers actually praised the killing of dozens of gays and the wounding of dozens more. No, I knew more would support them. KDFW-TV in Dallas, TX reports on one more pious Christian doing so (locally-cached article):

Leaders of several U.S. churches are praising the actions of a terrorist who killed 49 people at a gay night club in Orlando.

Millions have expressed their shock and sadness since the June 12th attack, but some pastors say they wish the loss of life had been greater.…

While some are speaking out against, what they call, hate speech, Fort Worth Pastor Donnie Romero says he stands with [Pastor Roger] Jimenez [of Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento CA], posting a video of his own on Thursday.

“These 50 Sodomites were all perverts and pedophiles and they are the scum of the earth and the earth is a little bit better place now, and I’ll even take it a little further I heard on the news today that there are still several dozen of these q****s in ICU and I will pray that God will finish the job that that man started,” he said in the video.

Romero did not back down from his comments when Fox 4 asked him if he really believed the world is better off without those people.

“Absolutely I do,” said Romero “The Bible teaches they are predators, and I believe that every Sodomite is a pedophile and is a predator.”

Yes, folks, this creature wants the 53 wounded during the massacre to finish dying for him and for his Jesus. KDFW includes the requisite condemnations of Romero’s vile spew, but unsurprisingly, nothing has been done to Romero about his comments. He hasn’t been confronted, disciplined, punished or corrected by any of his fellow Christians. At least, I haven’t found any news stories saying it’s happened.

Really, that’s the problem here. Lots of Christians are quick to condemn words like these, but they’re not quick to directly confront or punish those who say them. All of these guys still have their pulpits and have been left untouched.

Christians never really do much of anything to other Christians, even when they’ve crossed the line of propriety. They either can’t or won’t summon the courage to deal with extremists in their midst.

At some point, any Christians who claim to object to such language — spewed in the name of their religion by credentialed clergy — are going to have to get off their asses and actually do something about them. Until I see them having done so, call me unconvinced they truly object to any of this.

Photo credit: Richard Datchler, via Flickr.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist, Dispatches from the Culture Wars, Raw Story & many others.

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'Wishing a Blessed Ramadan to our Muslim neighbors' sign / via Spring Grove Area (PA) school board member Matthew Jansen, via TwitterAmerica’s Christianists are having a bad time of it recently. They no longer can handle the existence of those insolent Muslim types in the midst of their precious Christian nation. The Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando FL just over a week ago was the last straw, it appears, and they’re not taking any more shit from any more Muslims. Oh, and they’re not going to stand for any good Christians wishing them well, either. As the York (PA) Dispatch explains, at least one vocal Christianist — and public official — in Pennsylvania is upset over a “blessed Ramadan” sign put up by a church there (WebCite cached article):

[The Rev. Christopher] Rodkey, pastor of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Dallastown, earlier this month changed the sign in front of the 205 W. Main St. house of worship, as he does regularly.

This particular time, however, he changed it to read, “Wishing a blessed Ramadan to our Muslim neighbors,” a nod to the monthlong Islamic holiday that began June 6.

On Saturday, June 11, a message was left on his cellphone by a man saying he was “shocked” by the “despicable,” “unbelievable” sign and that Islam is a “godless,” “pagan” religion.

“Are you sick? Is there something wrong with you?” the man asked after promising to share a photo of the sign on Facebook and Twitter “so everybody can see this, what you’ve done.”

Although he didn’t leave his name with the message, that man was Matthew Jansen, a Spring Grove school board member and an elected delegate to next month’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where he intends to vote for Donald Trump.

The Dispatch spoke with Jansen and obligingly regurgitated this Christofascist’s Neocrusade talking-points:

[Jansen] acknowledged he was irate when he called the cellphone, and the reason he left the message was the “greater issue of Islam.”

“The very next day after I left this message, 49 Americans were murdered by somebody who claims to be an Islamist,” he said, referencing the Orlando nightclub shootings committed by an American Muslim.

“It’s not a religion. It’s not a cult. It’s a system” designed to promote “global Sharia,” he said of the faith.

“Sharia law is inconsistent with the values and philosophies of western cultures,” Jansen said, adding he saw the sign in front of St. Paul’s as a blessing to a “pagan” religion.

“I think (St. Paul’s and Rodkey) deserve some pushback,” he said.

Jansen, who said he’s Protestant, said he doesn’t have a problem with any other religions. “This wasn’t any kind of a discriminatory thing,” he said.

Note the putative arguments here, which — as I’ve noted here on this blog — the Religious Right has been reeling off for years:

  1. “Islam isn’t a religion, it’s a political ideology”: This, of course, is absurd on its face. Some Muslims are politically-oriented, it’s true … but then, so too are a lot of Christians! So pardon me for wondering what the hell the difference is between them? I don’t see one.
  2. Islam equals ‘Shari’a Law'”: Most of the Neocrusaders who fall for this whine don’t even know what shari’a law is. They don’t know that it’s not the same thing as the religion of Islam; that not all Muslims want it; that even those who do, don’t agree on what it is; and they insist it’s about to be imposed on the US, even though the First Amendment explicitly forbids religious law. In short, they’re fucking ignorant and have no clue what they’re talking about. They just use “shari’a” as a snarl word to rationalize raging and fuming about Islam.
  3. “Islam is a pagan religion”: A lot of them base this on some notion that the deity of Islam, known as al-Lah (often spelled “Allah”), is an ancient moon god. The trouble is, aside from the fact that the crescent moon is sometimes used as a symbol in Islam, there’s really no association to speak of between them. It’s true that Islam, as founded by Mohammad, was influenced by the Arabic pagan traditions of his time … but it was also influenced by Judaism and Christianity, and is wholly monotheistic. In fact, it’s even more monotheistic than Christianity, whose central deity is a weird, logic-defying three-in-one and one-in-three figure.

Once again, we see a sanctimoniously furious Christofascist who’s trying to start up a pissing contest over whose religion can be more intolerant than someone else’s. It’s at times like this that I’m proud to be a cynical, skeptical, cold-hearted, godless agnostic heathen who rejected religion (and all other forms of metaphysics) long ago and wants no part of any such conflict.

Oh, and for anyone who might say the aforementioned Orlando massacre somehow justifies Jansen’s putrid rant … please note that he left his message on Rodkey’s phone on June 11, a full day before that horrid event. So don’t go there — just don’t. Oh, and please note: Christians, too, are guilty of terrorism, themselves. Their body count might not be as high, but radical Christianists are every bit as violent and religiofascist as any radical Islamist might be.

Photo credit: Matthew Jansen, via Twitter.

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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.

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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.

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