Posts Tagged “Christianity”

Bible-openThe nation’s Christofascists continue relentlessly using government to promote their dour religionism. It’s a tired refrain, but it’s a campaign these people simply will not let go of, no matter what happens and no matter how illegal it may be. The latest example comes from the Bible Belt (er, Bobble Bay-elt) state of Louisiana. As the Associated Press reports via WWL-TV in New Orleans, a bill naming the Bible Louisiana’s state book is moving through the legislature’s machinery (WebCite cached article):

Lawmakers are moving ahead with a proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana’s official state book, despite concerns the bill would land the Legislature in court.

A House municipal committee advanced the bill Thursday with an 8-5 vote, sending it to the full House for debate.

Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport, said he sponsored the proposal after a constituent made the request. But Carmody insisted the bill wasn’t designed to be a state-endorsement of Christianity or a specific religion.

“It’s not to the exclusion of anyone else’s sacred literature,” he told the House committee. Again, later he said, “This is not about establishing an official religion of the state of Louisiana.”

The illogic of Carmody’s claim is hilariously laughable. He actually thinks people are going to believe him when he says that making the Bible Louisiana’s state book can’t possibly be construed as an “exclusion” of other holy works. To the contrary … of course it’s exclusionary! Of course it promotes Christianity over other religions! What else can possibly be the result of such a pronouncement?

Deciding that “the Bible” is Louisiana’s “state book” leads inevitably to the question, “Which Bible?” There are many Bibles to choose from. The original bill specified that the official “state book” was to have been a particular copy of the Bible in the Louisiana State Museum, one which happens to be a King James translation (cached). But that specification was removed from the bill, I assume because it would have opened up a sectarian can of worms. After all, the King James Version was first written for the Anglican Church in order to help sever it from Catholicism. So selecting that particular Bible as Louisiana’s “state book” could have been offensive to Catholics, not to mention Orthodox or other kinds of non-Protestant Christians. Gee, how nice of Carmody to have been that accommodating, no?

Given that Louisiana is a religionist state with a fiercely religionist governor, I expect this bill will pass and become law. There are lots of Bible-worshippers there who’re desperate to use their state government to promote more Bible worship.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland fills in as a talk show host on WTIC AM radio in Farmington, Conn., Friday, July 2, 2010. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill), via New Haven RegisterI recently updated my post about former Connecticut governor John G. Rowland having a talk-show on WTIC-AM in Hartford, by noting he had to quit WTIC-AM (WebCite cached article over what were, at the time he left the station, allegations about his involvement in election fraud. Those allegations have, since his resignation, become a federal indictment (cached).

In this morning’s Hartford Courant, reporter Jon Lender goes over the indictment — which is based on accusations by a GOP Congressional candidate and her husband, backed by emails he’d sent them as well as to another Congressional candidate who’d previously rebuffed his solicitation (cached):

“Love the Gov.”

That’s how ex-Gov. John G. Rowland signed an email to Republican congressional candidate Mark Greenberg on Oct. 23, 2009 — in the first of several messages that prosecutors say he sent over seven months in hopes of becoming a consultant to Greenberg’s 2010 [Republican primary] campaign in the 5th District.

Rowland wasn’t bashful about mentioning his former office — which he quit in 2004, a year before being jailed for corruption — in pitching Greenberg for what a newly released federal indictment describes as a “a sham consulting contract” that would have paid him secretly for helping Greenberg’s campaign.

Rowland depicted himself as still a big man in the district that he’d represented, himself, as a Republican congressman from 1985 to 1991 before he became governor.…

Greenberg ultimately refused the contract.

Rowland didn’t settle for Greenberg’s rejection of his proposal:

In the 2010 election campaign, the indictment says that Rowland proposed that he be paid through a non-profit animal shelter run by Greenberg. Two years later, the indictment says, Republican candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley agreed to Rowland’s proposal that he enter a consulting arrangement with her husband’s nursing-home business while helping her ultimately unsuccessful 2012 campaign.

The $35,000 in payments that Rowland received under that consulting contract were, in reality, payments from the Wilson-Foley campaign for his political assistance — even though the Wilson-Foley camp said that Rowland was a volunteer helper, the indictment says.

Rowland allegedly wanted to conceal his paid campaign work because of potential negative publicity over his December 2004 conviction for political corruption; he pleaded guilty to accepting more than $100,000 in benefits from businessmen while he was governor from 1995 to mid-2004.

At the time he was being paid by Brian Foley’s business and helping the Wilson-Foley campaign, Rowland also was using his role as WTIC-AM radio talk show host to criticize one of Wilson-Foley’s opponents on the air.

What he did for Wilson-Foley was to use his radio show to go after her chief primary challenger, then-state-senator Andrew Roraback (cached). He and his co-host at the time, the Reverend Will Marotti, went as far as to announce Roraback’s cell phone number over the air, implying listeners should call him and protest his opposition to the death penalty as well as his position in other “social issues.” Most of us would call this “inciting to harass.”

Now, why am I pouncing on the poor, beleaguered John Rowland? What’s the relevance of this to religion? That’s easy. As I noted some years ago, Rowland used his religiosity to claim he’s been “redeemed” since he was shamed out of the governor’s office in 2004 and pled guilty to federal corruption charges. He even marketed himself as a motivational speaker, with his main credential being his felonious past, his claimed remorse, and his presumed redemption. Here is his motivational-speaking Web site (cached). He claimed to have become a better man because of his experience and that he could provide life-lessons to other people.

But clearly, he wasn’t really walking that talk. His correspondence with Greenberg in 2010 demonstrates he had his conniving little hand out, trying to scarf up extra money on the side, without anyone being the wiser. In other words, he did again pretty much the same sorts of things he’d done 10 or more years ago, which had forced him out of the governor’s office in the first place.

Had he actually learned his lesson? No. He’d merely pretended to. And he committed this hypocrisy under cover of being religious, arm-in-arm much of that time with his erstwhile theo-political operative Marotti. He and Marotti must have forgotten that their Jesus explicitly and unambiguously forbid them ever to be hypocritical.

What’s more, he used his WTIC microphone to make himself and Marotti (who’s taken his place at the station) into the chief spokesmen for Connecticut’s Religious Right. And those R.R. listeners ate it all up, happily. They called into the show, calling him “governor” even though he’d been out of office for years and in spite of his own crimes that put him in federal prison for a year. All of that was irrelevant. They eagerly kowtowed before, and slavered over, this admitted felon.

Their chief rationales for doing so, are: First, “everybody in office is on the take,” so it’s OK that Rowland had been. After all, there’ve been some Connecticut Democrats convicted of corruption (e.g. former Hartford mayor Eddie Perez and former state senator Ernie Newton), so what’s the big deal with Rowland getting free work done on his cottage by state contractors and political operatives? That the “everyone does it” and “but the other side is corrupt too!” arguments are brazenly fallacious, is something that doesn’t matter to them. Second, many of them think the Hartford Courant fabricated the charges against him back in the early 2000s, and drove a completely-innocent man from office. It’s natural they’d do this, since Rowland himself had spent his last couple of years as governor repeatedly mouthing that very mantra. His wife Patty even once let loose with her own “parody” of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” lamenting how horrible the Courant had been to Connecticut’s first couple (cached). It was all very childish and petulant, of course — not to mention later belied by the fact that Rowland himself allocuted to the charges in federal court when he pled guilty — but many of his followers still cling desperately, in spite of that, to the idea that the Courant had made it all up.

This time around, Rowland once again claims his critics and accusers are wrong. He’s pled not guilty, and his lawyer promises he will be “fully vindicated” (cached). Given the documents in the indictment, it’s impossible to believe this is going to happen, if this should get to trial (unless the jury is packed with Rowland-loving Rightists). Word around Connecticut, over the past couple weeks, had been that, like the Foleys, Rowland was negotiating a plea deal. That effort failed. Maybe his lawyer is pushing back in order to renegotiate a better deal for Rowland, and he’ll plead out later this year. Who knows?

But whatever the case, the real bottom line here is clear: Religious people are just too fucking eager to open themselves up to bad people who’ve claimed their religion “reformed” them. It’s my experience that corrupt people tend to remain corrupt, no matter what they say and no matter if they appear to have cleaned up their acts. Religion has no power to force anyone to become a better person; they either reform themselves, or they don’t. Religion has nothing to do with it. Now, believers in a religion love to think their religion has that kind of power … but their believing it, cannot and will never make it so. Their desire that this be the case, though, leaves them prey to liars, con artists and swindlers.

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Torches and pitchforks (from 1931 Frankenstein) / Courtesy of Word Spy / original URL: http://www.wordspy.com/words/torch-and-pitchfork.aspThere’s a running pattern among militant Christianists talking about rebellion and revolution in order to force their dour religionism on the entire country. Of course, they’re not admitting that’s their goal. Oh no. What they really want — they say — is “religious liberty.” That makes it sound as though they simply want to worship as they want, in their homes and churches. If that were all they actually wanted, I wouldn’t have any problem with it, nor would any other non-believers I know. But it isn’t. Rather, they follow the reasoning:

  1. I have certain beliefs.
  2. One of them is that everyone must follow my religion
  3. Therefore, if I have “religious freedom” …
  4. I must be permitted to force everyone to live by my doctrines.

That’s the religiofascist’s syllogism.

That these people have been forced to deal with things they personally dislike and view as contradicting their beliefs … such as gay marriage … is something they can’t and won’t tolerate. Since they haven’t been able to use the courts to roll some of these things back, they’ve increasingly decided they’re entitled to get their way via extralegal means.

So naturally, Christofascists have been chattering lately about revolt. I’ve blogged about this in the past. But as Right Wing Watch reports, another sanctimoniously-outraged religious activist, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, implied he and his fellow Christofascists may be forced to rebel (WebCite cached article):

Mat Staver recently appeared on the “Light of the Southwest” Christian television program on God’s Learning Channel where he warned, yet again, that America is headed toward a second American Revolution led by conservative Christians over the issues of gay marriage, abortion, and religious liberty.

“We’re seeing the beginning groundswell of a potential new American Revolution,” Staver said, asserting that if the government continues to trample on religious liberty, the nation will soon “run into that decision point of persecution and/or revolution.”

Here’s video of him making these comments, via Youtube:

Note that Staver isn’t precisely calling for a revolution right now (as some of his fellow Christofascists have). No, he’s predicting that, if the persecution of Christians “continues,” a revolution is going to happen. That said, there is no such persecution going on. It’s a figment of his and his fellow Christianists’ imaginations. They think that not getting their way is “persecution,” when — of course — it’s nothing of the kind. That he compares himself to Martin Luther King, Jr is particularly ridiculous … but I’m sure Staver neither can nor will see it that way.

P.S. You’ve just gotta love the irony of Staver’s group’s name: “Liberty” Counsel. You’d think this meant they want to promote freedom. But in fact, they don’t. What they want is to reduce freedom, by forcing everyone in the country — Christian and non-Christian alike — to have to live according to their own evangelical/fundamentalist version of Christianity. That’s not “liberty”; it’s Christocracy.

Photo credit: Word Spy.

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Gospel of Jesus' WifeIt’s been awhile since it was a hot topic in the news, but the so-called “gospel of Jesus’ wife” is in the news again. The New York Times reports that, after some non-destructive tests have been done on it, the fragment is probably of classical or early-medieval origin (WebCite cached article):

A faded fragment of papyrus known as the “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,” which caused an uproar when unveiled by a Harvard Divinity School historian in 2012, has been tested by scientists who conclude in a journal published on Thursday that the ink and papyrus are very likely ancient, and not a modern forgery.…

The papyrus fragment has now been analyzed by professors of electrical engineering, chemistry and biology at Columbia University, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who reported that it resembles other ancient papyri from the fourth to the eighth centuries. (Scientists at the University of Arizona, who dated the fragment to centuries before the birth of Jesus, concluded that their results were unreliable.)

The test results do not prove that Jesus had a wife or disciples who were women, only that the fragment is more likely a snippet from an ancient manuscript than a fake, the scholars agree. Karen L. King, the historian at Harvard Divinity School who gave the papyrus its name and fame, has said all along that it should not be regarded as evidence that Jesus married, only that early Christians were actively discussing celibacy, sex, marriage and discipleship.

The last time I blogged about the GJW, I’d commented on a rather rash Vatican dismissal of any possibility that the fragment could be genuine. Now that some tests have actually been done — which hadn’t been the case back when the Vatican pitched a fit over it — I don’t doubt they’ll still refuse to accept it might be genuine.

That’s a shame, because quite obviously, whether or not GJW is genuine, doesn’t mean Jesus had to have been married. It only means some classical or early medieval Coptic Christians wrote as though he had been. Sure, it seems a really bizarre idea to modern eyes, but there were lots of Christian groups that believed a lot of different things in antiquity, and a lot of those ideas were strange (even to other Christians). If you want to read a really weird account of Jesus’ childhood, for example, read the (possible) 2nd century Infancy Gospel of Thomas. In it, a young Jesus literally curses people to death. No Christians today take that seriously, but some Christian definitely wrote it, back in classical times. There really isn’t any rational reason for anyone … the robed denizens of the Vatican included … to get their knickers in knots over this.

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

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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US DVD cover for Religulous, via MoviePosterDBIt’s no surprise that religionists aren’t fond of atheist Bill Maher. He’s been condemning their religionism for years. They get their knickers in knots almost every time the guy says something. They’re incensed that some insolent atheist dares say atheistic things … and they quite simply can’t tolerate it. The most recent example of their insane fury over the guy, comes from the keyboard of evangelical Christian Tristan Emmanuel who’s called for Maher to be “whipped” for having uttered blasphemy (locally-cached article):

Bill-asphemy: Does Maher Deserve A Whipping For Slandering God? [title]

I think it’s time to bring back blasphemy laws.

And here is why…

“… the thing that’s really disturbing about Noah isn’t that it is silly, it’s that it’s immoral. It’s about a psychotic mass murderer who gets away with it, and his name is God… What kind of tyrant punishes everyone just to get back at the few he’s mad at? I mean, besides Chris Christie.” — Bill Maher

And then he added this little ditty:

“Hey, God, you know, you’re kind of a dick when you’re in a movie with Russell Crowe and you’re the one with anger issues.” — Bill Maher.…

Here is an example of how America once dealt with the likes of Bill Maher.

“Be it declared and enacted by the Lieutenant Governor, Council and Representatives, convened in General Assembly, and it is enacted by the Authority of the same, that if any person shall presume willfully to blaspheme the holy Name of God, Father, Son, or Holy Ghost; either by denying, cursing or reproaching the true God; his Creation or Government of the World: or by denying, cursing, or reproaching the holy Word of God… everyone so offending shall be punished by imprisonment, not exceeding six months, and until they find sureties for good behaviours; by sitting in pillory; by whipping; boaring thorow the tongue, with a red hot iron; or sitting upon the gallows with a rope about their neck; at the discretion of the court…” — Massachusetts General Laws.

Of course, Emmanuel concedes Maher has a right to say what he wants … he just doesn’t think Christians should permit him to, anyway:

[Maher] may have protection under the First Amendment to say whatever slanderous thing that comes out of his toilet bowl brain, but that does not mean Christians should turn the other cheek.

(Actually, Mr Emmanuel, you Christians are required always to “turn the other cheek.” Jesus offered no exceptions or caveats in his instructions. You must do it, every single fucking time, without fail, and without excuse. But I digress.)

Emmanuel hurls the requisite anti-atheist Bible verse (Psalm 14:1) at Maher, as though this one verse justifies any believer doing anything s/he wants to Maher because he’s an insolent non-believer. Personally, I don’t find that Bible verse convincing, and I don’t expect Maher does, either. I mean, it was written a little over 2,000 years ago by a self-righteous semi-nomadic scribe somewhere in the Near East, who obviously was angry that there were actually people in his world who dared not believe in the deity he did, and he couldn’t control his outrage over it. I certainly am not impressed by that infuriated scribe’s opinions or complaints. When Christianists throw that verse at me, I know they’ve run out of rational material and are resorting to name-calling … and that tells me everything I need to know about them, and about their religion.

Emmanuel repeatedly uses the word “slander” in his screed, as though Maher’s blasphemy is the crime or tort of slander. But it’s not. I’m no lawyer, but as I understand it, in the US, to prevail in a slander case, one must demonstrate two things: First, that the statement in question is factually incorrect; and second, that the person making it knows it to be factually incorrect. I invite Emmanuel to demonstrate that YHWH is not the “psychotic mass-murderer” Maher said he was. He would first have to show that YHWH exists in the first place, then demonstrate he isn’t the “psychotic mass murderer” Maher said he was. I wish him the best of luck doing that. He won’t be able to … but I suppose he can try.

Another tactic Emmanuel uses is to claim that by “slandering” God, Maher is “slandering” his believers. This is just a way of (falsely) personalizing what Maher said, reframing it as something other than it was. Apparently by calling their God a “psychotic mass murderer,” Maher attacked his followers. Well, too bad. He didn’t. Moreoever, to identify oneself with one’s deity and to assume anything negative said about the deity is an “attack” one oneself, is presumption of the tallest order … and irrational.

Emmanuel piles onto his illogic with the claim that blaspheming his God is the same thing as threatening the president. But it isn’t. They’re two different things. Threatening the president is one thing, and it is (sometimes) illegal. But saying YHWH is “a psychotic mass murderer” is something else entirely.

There’s a saying among non-believers that blasphemy is a victimless crime. Effectively, it is. Even if there were a God who is mortally insulted whenever anyone blasphemes him/her/it, the cold fact is that s/he/it is literally unharmed by it. Assuming YHWH exists, how can Maher calling him “a psychotic mass murderer” damage him? He can’t. Maher is a mere mortal, whereas YHWH is supposedly an omnipotent being. Maher cannot harm YHWH in the slightest way, ever. Not by his words, and not by his actions. Maher’s blasphemy also does not harm YHWH’s followers, such as Emmanuel. They can just continue believing whatever they wish, however they wish; nothing Maher says can ever prevent them from doing so.

Blasphemy hurts no one and nothing, except maybe for the feelings of believers … but then, religiofascists like Emmanuel obviously have no reservations about hurting the feelings of Maher — which he did indirectly by tossing out a quotation of Ps 14:1 which refers to him as a “fool,” “corrupt,” and “abominable,” and directly by calling Maher “morally bankrupt.” So he pretty much forfeited the moral high ground here … if he had even been standing on it in the first place.

The bottom line is that an omnipotent being like YHWH can take care of himself. He doesn’t need sanctimoniously-angry followers like Emmanuel sticking up for him and whipping people who say negative things about him. If YHWH objects to Maher’s remark, or his atheism, he has the power to do something about it. If he chooses not to, then Emmanuel should just shut his self-righteous face already and stop doing for his God what his own God will not do for himself.

Hat tip: Raw Story.

Photo credit: Religulous DVD cover, via MoviePosterDB.

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Cross Lighting 2005A bunch of hateful wingnuts in Chesterfield county in Virginia area have been recruiting lately. That’s not really surprising; it’s in the South, after all (although it’s part of the somewhat cosmopolitan Richmond region). The leaflets and assorted hateful bilge they’ve been distributing there kicked up a bit of a controversy. But the KKK chapter there has responded to that, and as WWBT-TV in Richmond reports, they’re defending their efforts to expand (locally-cached article):

We are now hearing from the man behind all those KKK fliers being distributed across Chesterfield. The Klan documents have been reported in multiple neighborhoods since January.…

NBC 12 spoke to Frank Ancona who is Imperial Wizard of the Traditional American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He is president of the group distributing the fliers in Chesterfield County. Ancona says KKK membership is up across the country.

“In the last 6 years that I’ve been president of this organization I’ve seen the numbers probably triple,” said Ancona.

He says members are tasked with recruiting new members.

“We don’t hate people because of their race,” said Ancona. “We are a Christian organization.”

Aha. So, because they belong to “a Christian organization,” they cannot — by (Ancona’s) definition — be haters. OK, got it. It’s a weird tautology, and one that defies logic (I wasn’t aware that being a Christian meant one cannot possibly “hate” anyone else), but it’s a free country and I suppose he’s entitled to his juvenile irrationality.

In any event, Ancona trots out the usual apologetics:

Ancona claims the packets are meant to recruit, and he says they are tools used to “set the record straight.”

“Because of the act of a few rogue Klansmen,” said Ancona. “All Klansmen are supposed to be murderers, and wanting to lynch Black people, and we’re supposed to be terrorists. That’s a complete falsehood.”

This is the old “don’t judge us by the few extremists in our midst,” but that’s belied by the Ku Klux Klan‘s history. It was founded rather specifically as something of a terrorist group. The killings its members did, do in fact reflect on the organization as a whole, because the organization was founded in order to foster conspiracies to commit violence.

A couple of Ancona’s other points of “clarification” also reveal yet more illogic on his part:

“We want to keep our race the White race,” said Ancona. “We want to stay White. It’s not a hateful thing to want to maintain White Supremacy.”

Actually, Mr Imperial Wizard, it is rather hateful to fear losing your “whiteness” to other races or to worry about loss of numbers or power. There would be no reason to worry about any of those things without first hating those of other races.

Ancona also implies that, because “KKK membership is up across the country,” what he — and they! — are doing must be right. That, however, is a form of argumentum ad populum (aka appeal to consensus, bandwagon fallacy, appeal to the majority, authority of the many, appeal to popularity, and democratic fallacy). The problem is that just because people think something … even very many people … does not necessarily mean it’s true. Veracity is not up for a popular vote, and popularity doesn’t make an invalid notion magically become fact.

Here is WWBT-TV’s video report:

As for KKK members being Christians, most of them very likely are Christians. And the KKK organization itself views itself as Christian. Here, for example, is their own Web site, making exactly this declaration (note, this is a link to a cached version of their page, not the page itself; I will not dignify them by directly linking their site in my own). It can be traced directly to Southern Baptists in the post-Civil War South. Other Christians certainly may disagree with the KKK’s version of Christianity, but its origins as a Christian group are not in dispute. The same is true of the related Christian Identity movement, which is predicated on its own Christianity-inspired mythology, including the idea that so-called “dark races” are descendants of “beast-men” mentioned in the Old Testament (e.g. Jonah 3:8), as well as Anglo-Israelism, a hateful anti-Semitic philosophy I’ve mentioned a few times previously. It is quite literally impossible to extract Christianity from what these hateful pricks believe, and have it remain intact.

The question of interest to me is, how is it that a supposedly divinely-founded religion propounded by a supposedly loving God who embraces all peoples everywhere, can possibly be used as a refuge for people like this? One can argue they’ve distorted their religion in order to suit their hatred, and maybe they have … but how could this have happened, if Christianity were truly divine in nature? Would it not be incorruptible in such a way? If not, why not? And how divine can it really be, if it is so easily corrupted?

Moreover, if it were true that KKK members are part of a “lunatic fringe” and don’t represent Christianity as a whole, how is it that the KKK has survived, in one form or another, for close to 150 years? If they’re such a tiny minority, one would think their hatred would have been stamped out long ago. But it hasn’t been. It persists. Sure, it runs into roadblocks here or there, but it always comes back, and it continues to have a voice. That an Imperial Wizard of the KKK would speak with, and reveal his identity to, a television station in a fairly large city like Richmond, tells me he doesn’t fear any repercussions. He must think none of the other Christians in his area — and there are many! — are going to try to discipline him for having stepped out of bounds. Why are Ancona, and others like him, still skulking around, doing what they’re doing?

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Teachings of Jesus 38 of 40. the rapture. one in the field. Jan Luyken etching. Bowyer BibleAs I’ve blogged so many times, religionists love to use any and all disasters to promote their dour metaphysics. Everything that happens is, for them, an object lesson and/or a warning that proves them correct. Earthquakes, hurricanes, epidemics, droughts, famines, wars, accidents, etc. are all useful to them in this regard. It makes no difference what sort of awful thing happened … religionists are mercenary enough to just go ahead and use it.

The latest example of this involves the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 (which has gripped the mass media like nothing else over the last couple weeks). And it comes from Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of the famous evangelical preacher Billy Graham; to her, the plane’s disappearance is a harbinger of something to come (WebCite cached article):

The pictures of grieving friends and family members of those who are missing are heart-wrenching. I have prayed for God’s peace and comfort for them, as well as God’s direction of the search and rescue teams who are desperately looking for clues that will solve the mystery. But the unanswered questions seem to intensify the horror…

How could a modern airliner drop out of sight so quickly and completely? …

Bottom line: Where are all the people?

The answers don’t seem to be forthcoming as I write this. But as I have prayerfully pondered all of the above, I can’t help but wonder…Is this worldwide sense of shock and helplessness, of questions and confusion, of fear and grief, a glimpse of things to come? Is this a small snapshot of what the entire world will experience the day after the rapture of the church? Because the Bible is clear. There is coming a moment in time when Jesus will come back to gather to Himself all those—dead and alive–who have put their trust in Him. And on that day, the world will be asking, Where have all the people gone? Not just 239 of us, but millions of us.

On that day, with millions of people directly impacted by their own missing friends and family members…in the midst of overwhelming shock and helplessness, of questions and confusion, of fear and grief…when the world searches for clues, how easily will they find The Answer in what I leave behind? Instead of an oil slick, will there be traces of His grace and glory and truth?

The day Lotz mentions, when “millions” of Christians will supposedly vanish spontaneously, is a reference to what evangelical Christians like her call “the Rapture.” This eschatological legend is based upon Matthew 24:31 and 1 Thessalonians 4:17. It describes how “the faithful” will be sucked up into the sky (the dead first, the living after them) to meet Jesus as he descends to earth during his Second Coming. Now, that by itself isn’t a lot to go on. Paul’s remarks about Jesus’ return doesn’t contain much narrative, and although Jesus says quite a bit about “the End,” he doesn’t say much about the Rapture moment, either. Taken as they are, these passages seem to be a sequence of events that comes in rapid order; first, Jesus and his heavenly host begin their descent (Mt 24:30 & 1 Th 4:16); the deceased “faithful” go up to meet him, then the living “faithful” (1 Th 4:17 & Mt 24:31), and after that, “destruction” will befall the earth, and presumably those who remain on it (1 Th 5:3). What evangelicals have done with the “rapture” verse is to couple it with other scriptural passages elsewhere that describe “the End” in greater detail.

As one might expect of such an exercise in creative reinterpretation, they’ve come up with a variety of ways to wedge it into their “End Times” mythology. In this regard it’s interlocked with another Christian legend, the Great Tribulation, a coming time of cataclysm and torment, described among other places in Revelation 9:1-21. Some evangelicals believe the Rapture will come at the end of the Tribulation; others believe it will happen somewhere in the middle of it; and the most popular belief — conveniently for them! — is that it will happen before the Tribulation begins. Each of these scenarios has what appears to be definitive and often exclusive scriptural support … all of which just demonstrates the folly of this kind of interpretation game. (Full disclosure: During my own fundie days, I was a “mid-tribber.”)

In any event, the notion that their Jesus will vacuum them off the earth at some point triggers a lot of fantasies in the minds of fundamentalist Christians. They imagine those who’re left behind will be horrified by the fact that so many people suddenly went missing, and they revel in this (“Hah, you insolent Jesus-haters! We’ll be up in heaven with our precious Jesus, while the rest of you will wallow in torment down on earth, terrified by our sudden departure — and then you’ll see we were right, after all!”). The famous and lucrative “Left Behind” publishing and media empire is built upon this schadenfreude.

This sort of giddy fantasy, based on suppositions built on suppositions, and capped by diatribes like Lotz’s, is all very irrational. It reveals a lot about evangelical Christians’ character … and it’s not flattering.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Christian Post.

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