It’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.
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.
Forgive me, Dear Reader, for this blog post which deals entirely with politics and has nothing to do with belief or metaphysics of any kind. This is important, so please indulge me.
I’m sure you’ve heard about all the ridiculous and juvenile antics of real estate mogul and “reality TV” star Donald Trump, now that he’s joined the Republican presidential primary for 2016. That makes him King Bozo of the “clown car” (WebCite cached article). I won’t quote any of Trump’s comments or rationalizations for them here; their content — aside from their crass, insulting, and rude nature — is beside the point, as is his fierce and petulant refusal to apologize for any of it.
No, my point is something else entirely. And that is that — on the strength of his fiercely juvenile antics — he’s riding even higher than before among the Republican rank-&-file (cached). Most politicos will say this is because a lot of Republicans are tired of political “business as usual” and are gratified that a fresh and unorthodox voice is making itself heard. I’m sure this makes sense to a lot of folks … but it doesn’t fly with me. The reason is very simple: It’s possible to be both outspoken and unconventional, without being unduly insulting. Unacceptable, outrageous, and childish remarks and actions need not accompany a critique of the political establishment. A guy like Trump certainly is capable of taking on and eviscerating “the Establishment” without acting like a two-year-old.
I’ll digress here with a full disclosure: For a decade, through the 90s, I was a Republican activist in my home state of Connecticut. I was a delegate at several district and state party conventions. I assisted the campaigns of several GOP candidates. I’ve dealt with a lot of Republican officials, including some whose names are well-known to other residents of the Nutmeg State (if not to folks in other parts of the country or the world). I wasn’t exactly a “big wheel” in the machinery of Connecticut’s GOP, but I had a lot of contacts and through those years spoke with hundreds of active Republicans, as well as a lot of Republican voters, during the process of campaigning for candidates.
I chose to leave the party around the time George W. Bush was elected, because I didn’t like what I saw in it. There was a great deal of religious ferocity, as well as a rather virulent strain of intolerance for anyone who didn’t think “correctly.” Nasty, vile jokes at the expense of Democrats and minorities were common — and openly traded. Anger was palpable. I’d entered politics in order to make my town and my state better; but many of my fellow Republican activists had done so because they wanted to get “their way” all the time and to vent their rage at whatever they disliked; and they did so with the party’s approval. The GOP worked very hard to instill a certain amount of sanctimonious anger among conservatives beginning in the early 90s, and they’ve been milking it ever since as the chief fuel of the party. That particular aspect of the GOP has endured long after I left, as seen for example only last year.
(It’s possible much the same could be said of some Democrats. I really don’t know, because I didn’t join them and have never dealt directly with any Democratic activists. But even if so, that doesn’t excuse the childishly tasteless words and behavior I saw within the GOP, and it doesn’t make conservatism any less dysfunctional as a movement.)
At any rate, the Republican rank-&-file has embraced Trump, not because he’s unconventional, but because he’s saying things they like hearing. They’re every bit as crude and distasteful as he is, so they happily embrace his angry, juvenile verbal vomit. They see themselves in him — so they happily approve of his every childish move.
Even more than that, though … each time the mass media laugh at his latest juvenile maneuver and wonder aloud when his campaign will collapse, that only further encourages the Right to stick to him. Why? Because they goddamn fucking hate the mass media! Conservatives have despised the media since at least the Nixon administration, which for a while did a very good job of making it appear the Watergate scandal was just a figment of the imagination of the Washington Post and the rest of the “media elite.” Since then, the mantra that “the mass media are biased against the Right” has become part and parcel of conservative subculture. (They conveniently forget that major outlets like Fox News and the Wall Street Journal are decidedly biased in their favor but also very much a part of the mass media. Oh well.) Right-wing pundits like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Mark Levin, and the rest of that sanctimoniously-enraged crowd keep reiterating it to them by the moment, which only further reinforces this assumption. Many conservatives blame the mass media for Obama’s election (they were, after all, “in the tank” for him from the moment he announced his candidacy, you see). So the more the media ridicule Trump, the more convinced the Right becomes that he’s their man.
But beyond what’s already happened, the real problem for the Republican party is, it can only get worse. Trump has learned his poll numbers go up the more odious and vile he gets; so he’s sure to keep ramping it up. And the more he ramps it up, the more fiercely the GOP rank-&-file will attach themselves to him. He has no incentive to cool it, and the rank-&-file have no desire for him to do so. This is lethal for the party’s chances in the presidential election, though, because Trump’s disapproval ratings among the overall American population are high. Should he become the GOP nominee — which is quite possible, no matter how convinced many in the media are that it’s not — he’s guaranteed to throw the election to whoever the Democratic nominee is. The same fate will befall them if Trump doesn’t become the nominee and mounts a third-party campaign. So the GOP’s electoral fate may already be sealed.
In sum, Republicans created a monster when they decided to use anger, sanctimony and outrage as the glue that holds conservatives together to support their party. They now stand to reap a well-deserved reward for having done so! I suppose it’d sound nice if I could say I wished them luck, but quite honestly, I don’t. (This is in spite of the fact that I’m not really a fan of Democrats and/or liberals, either, and I’m by no means pleased with everything the current administration has done.) I want the Republican party to go down in flames — electorally speaking! — in 2016. Maybe that will encourage conservatives to fucking grow the hell up for the first time in their sniveling little lives and start acting like adults.
P.S. Ed. to add: Well, well, well! Buzzfeed reports that Donald Trump may have paid Breitbart News — an exceedingly popular Right-wing Web site — for glowing coverage (cached). This arrangement — which the site’s management vehemently denies — supposedly goes back to last year, so it predates Trump’s campaign by quite a while. It certainly doesn’t explain Trump’s staggeringly vast lead over his rivals, but if true, it means his candidacy is a lot less impromptu than it had appeared to be. Hmm.
That the teaching of history, in particular, doesn’t work the way conservatives think it does, should be rather obvious. For instance, my 4 years in university learning medieval history didn’t make me into a crossbowman, swordsman or jouster, even though I learned about medieval military methods and read about a lot of tournaments.
A new conservative school board majority here in the Denver suburbs recently proposed a curriculum-review committee to promote patriotism, respect for authority and free enterprise and to guard against educational materials that “encourage or condone civil disorder.” In response, hundreds of students, teachers and parents gave the board their own lesson in civil disobedience.
On Tuesday, hundreds of students from high schools across the Jefferson County school district, the second largest in Colorado, streamed out of school and along busy thoroughfares, waving signs and championing the value of learning about the fractious and tumultuous chapters of American history.
“It’s gotten bad,” said Griffin Guttormsson, a junior at Arvada High School who wants to become a teacher and spent the school day soliciting honks from passing cars. “The school board is insane. You can’t erase our history. It’s not patriotic. It’s stupid.”
The Times article explains that the board’s conservative majority (3 to 2) has been stirring up trouble for several months, including driving out a 12-year superintendent. They’re really angry, and appear to have fallen for the prevailing conservative myth that public schools are nothing more than Marxist indoctrination camps.
In addition to the false notion that teaching kids about civil disobedience will force them all to become perpetually “civilly disobedient,” they appear to forget that civil disobedience has been used to promote conservative ideals and even to bring about changes that American conservatives approve of. Have they forgotten so soon about things like a western Rightist’s decades-long unrepentant refusal to obey federal law (cached) — a sterling example of civil disobedience if ever there was one? Or about the “Brooks Brothers riot” (in which Rightists working for G.W. Bush campaign used civil disobedience to try to derail the 2000 election recount in Florida)? Or have they forgotten about protests around the world, especially in eastern Europe, that toppled many communist regimes in 1989? Or even that many of their own number want the incumbent president removed from office, and wouldn’t object to civil disobedience or even revolt in order to make that happen?
My guess is, they’re blissfully unaware of this. They tend to be authoritarian, and demand unthinking adherence to authority. That they sometimes, themselves, object to some authority figures just doesn’t register with them all that often. In other words, they’re hypocrites — fiercely decrying civil disobedience if they find it inconvenient, but using it like a tool whenever they feel as though they can. Wah wah wah, little babies.
I’ve blogged before on the phenomenon of demonstrably-erroneous ideas that just will not die out, no matter how often they’re refuted. And I cited the “birther” delusion … i.e. the idea that President Barack Obama is not an American citizen and thus not entitled to hold office … as a prime example of this. His birth certificate from Hawai’i has been checked out and is fully legitimate (see FactCheck and Politfact, cached here and here).
But the Birthers, you see, don’t give a flying fuck about that. They just know, you see, that he’s not really an American. And they intend never to let go of that idea, no matter the facts. (One way they do this is to dismiss all fact-checking Web sites as “biased,” even though neither of the sites I linked to above avoids pointing out Obama’s exaggerations, misstatements, and lies. So they aren’t “biased” in the President’s favor.)
Because of the persistence of the “birther” delusion among their constituents, GOP politicians are constantly dancing around the subject, trying to appeal to “birtherism” without saying something that will make them look like total morons in the eyes of the rest of the country. Unfortunately, despite their wishes, there is no viable way to do that. Any conciliation to “birtherism” is, by definition, moronic.
As my friend Kyle Mantyla at Right Wing Watch reported yesterday, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) was a guest on Rick Wiles’ unhinged radio show the other day to discuss some of the major issues of the day, including the host’s fears that immigration reform may lead the government to implant biometric scanners in U.S. citizens. Wiles specifically asked Duncan whether lawmakers might “pursue Barack Obama’s phony identification papers.”
Duncan initially tied to laugh it off, saying that people should have voted against Obama during the last election but Wiles refused to let it go, saying “if we know they are lying about all these other things, why not go back and say ‘well, maybe the first scandal was a lie too?'”
And with that point, Duncan wholeheartedly agreed, saying “there you go; I’m all with you, so let’s go back and revisit some of these things because Americans have questions about not only the IRS scandal but also about the president’s validity.”
Sadly, this is yet another example of GOP insanity. I wonder how long it will take these guys to get over the fact that Obama was elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012. My guess is, they won’t. Hundreds of years from now there will still be lunatic Right-wingers screaming to high heaven that the US had an ineligible president in office for 8 years.
The best thing for everyone, of course, is for Republican officials, and the “birtherist” masses to whom they’re appealing, to just fucking grow the hell up and get over the fact that someone they despise was elected president. Maturity is the only solution to this mass delusion. Unfortunately, even grown adults tend to resist maturity. More’s the pity.
P.S. I’m well aware that Rachel Maddow and the Right Wing Watch are both ideologically-driven Web sites, and tend to avoid such sources, however, in this case there’s primary-source evidence to back up the report of what Duncan said. I suppose RWW could have faked this recording … but barring evidence to the contrary, I doubt they did so.
Google’s decision to honour the birthday of U.S. labour organizer Cesar Chavez angered some American Christians on Sunday, who fumed that it was disrespectful to celebrate Chavez with a so-called Google Doodle on Easter Sunday.
The face of Chavez, a Mexican immigrant who organized Latino farm workers in the 1960s, was situated in the middle “o” of the Google logo on Sunday as the search engine giant opted against recognizing a secular holiday to commemorate what would have been the civil rights activist’s 86th birthday.
Conservative websites assailed Google’s decision.
In case you haven’t see it yet, here’s a screen shot of the Google doodle in question:
Google Web site, showing Google doodle honoring the 86th birthday of the late activist Cesar Chavez (3/31/2013)
Already, conservatives have identified what they believe as the source of this outrageous attack on their religion; why, it could only be the hated President Barack Obama:
The Daily Caller expressed confusion about why Google “chose specifically to honour Chavez’s birthday, instead of Easter Sunday.”
The conservative news organization also suggested Obama might have influenced Google’s thinking. Google CEO Eric Schmidt was an “informal adviser” in both of Obama’s presidential campaigns, the Daily Caller reported, was a member of his transition team in 2009 and is apparently rumoured for a cabinet position during the president’s second term.
I’d like to break a little news to these angry conservatives: Google is a company that can do whatever it fucking wants with its Web site. If that means they honor Cesar Chavez’s birthday on Easter Sunday, then that’s what it means. And you know what? There’s not a fucking thing you sniveling crybabies can do to prevent it! Time to stand by your own stated pro-business rhetoric and let a corporation do what it wants to do. Anything else is clearly hypocritical … and if I may point it out, your own Jesus explicitly and unambiguously ordered you never, ever to be hypocritical … not at any time, and not for any reason.
Amusingly, the article notes that conservatives’ anger is so consuming that some of them conflated two different Chavezes (Cesar, and Hugo):
Others on social media praised Google for honouring Chavez and mocked those who confused him with Hugo Chavez, the recently deceased Venezuelan president.
The Twitter account for The Twitchy, conservative pundit Michelle Malkin’s right-wing news outlet, initially claimed Google was honouring the late revolutionary.
That they’d confuse two different men, both of whom they despise passionately, is just hilarious! I can hardly keep from laughing at their stupidity and ignorance.
At any rate, none of this is unexpected. Religious Rightists simply can’t tolerate anything that they view as “dissing” their religion. They view any slight to their faith as a very real “attack” on their persons, little different from being punched in the face or held up at gunpoint. That companies like Google are free to decorate their Web sites however they wish, is irrelevant in the face of this perceived insult. They quite simply refuse to tolerate any apparent disrespect for their religion.
Denise and I were trying to do the right thing. I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced, even though in a state of separation and in divorce proceedings.
Really, Dinesh? The Right considers you the most brilliant man in the country … yet you had no fucking clue that being affianced while still married doesn’t look right? I’m not a Christian, but it sure looks weird to me, and it would look weird without regard to the religion of the people involved.
D’Souza also confuses “taking action to get a divorce started, someday” with “actually having initiated a divorce proceeding in court”:
While World notes that my divorce filing was registered with the court on October 4—giving the impression that I moved quickly on the day their reporter spoke to me—in reality I had been working with a San Diego law firm on this for the previous two weeks.
Sorry, Dinesh. Hiring an attorney to talk about divorcing, is most assuredly nowhere near the same thing as actually having filed for divorce. Not at all.
D’Souza then launches into a plaintive whine about WORLD, its editor-in-chief Marvin Olasky, reporter Warren Cole Smith, and the organizer of the event he’d attended:
… Smith apparently deployed conference organizer Alex McFarland to call and raise the issue with me. I clearly told McFarland that Denise and I stayed in separate rooms. McFarland knew he didn’t have what he wanted, because he subsequently called me back and asked me again. I realized McFarland may be fronting for Smith, so I told him I didn’t have any further comment. I’m not sure whether McFarland is lying or Smith is lying, but one of them made up the quotation attributed to me that we stayed in the same room but “nothing happened.” This is pure libel. …
So why would World write such a misleading, sensational story that we would normally expect from the tabloids? Actually there is a back story here which was noted by Amy Sullivan at the New Republic, as well as numerous other sources. Marvin Olasky, the editor of World, is the former provost of the King’s College. Olasky was on the search committee when I interviewed to be president, and he vehemently opposed my candidacy. Olasky publicly admitted that he was resigning his position as a consequence of my appointment. The reporter who wrote this story, Warren Smith, also used to work as a consultant for King’s until I decided not to renew his contract. And what was Olasky’s gripe against me? As he put it, I was seeking to make King’s a non-denominational “mere Christianity college” in the image of C.S. Lewis. This for Olasky was simply intolerable. Having nursed his grievance for two years, now apparently Olasky is using World to continue his vendetta.
D’Souza eventually comes around to a good old “We’re all Christians we have to stick together so you’re obligated to accept my claim that I haven’t done anything wrong” speech:
Ultimately this is not just about Olasky or even World magazine. It is also about how we Christians are supposed to behave with one another. And the secular world is watching.
You see, then, D’Souza’s appeal here: Don’t think badly of me, because if you do, the “secular world” we all hate, will love it!
But the most precious part of this little screed comes near its beginning. It’s the part where he throws his wife (or ex-wife, or something) under the bus:
My wife Dixie and I have been separated for two years. Dixie approached me and demanded this before I came to King’s College to become its president in late August 2010.
The whole situation is Dixie’s fault, you see. She threw him out, you see, and forced the poor little thing to take up with another woman. What a fucking loser. At the risk of sounding cliché, it’s obvious to me that Dixie is now much better off without this cretin in her life.
Yet, none of these men … nor several others I might name … seem to have paid much of a price for their “sins.” They all remain relatively popular among Religious Rightists. Newt Gingrich nearly became the GOP nominee for president, a few months ago; Jimmy Swaggart’s ministry has continued for decades; David Vitter remains a respected GOP Senator; Ted Haggard has a new, growing church; and Rekers remains professor emeritus at a public university.
The rest of the Religious Right doesn’t seem to be very disturbed by anything any of these guys has done. That they moralized endlessly about the “sins” of others, and professed concern over the “sanctity of marriage,” yet failed to live up to those ideals, makes them hypocrites, of course. But in spite of the fact that the supposed founder of their own religion explicitly and clearly forbid his followers ever to be hypocritical, they went ahead and did it anyway. And the rest of the R.R. quite frankly don’t give a flying fuck that they did so.
About 2,000 people gathered on Sept. 28 at First Baptist North in Spartanburg, S.C., to hear high-profile Christians speak on defending the faith and applying a Christian worldview to their lives. Among the speakers: Eric Metaxas, Josh McDowell, and—keynote speaker for the evening—best-selling author, filmmaker, and Christian college president Dinesh D’Souza.
D’Souza’s speech earned him a standing ovation and a long line at the book-signing table immediately afterward. Although D’Souza has been married for 20 years to his wife, Dixie, in South Carolina he was with a young woman, Denise Odie Joseph II, and introduced her to at least three people as his fiancée.
This obvious little transgression did not go unnoticed, as WORLD explains:
The next day another conference organizer, Alex McFarland, distressed by D’Souza’s behavior, confronted him in a telephone conversation. D’Souza admitted he shared a room with his fiancée but said “nothing happened.” When I called D’Souza, he confirmed that he was indeed engaged to Joseph, but did not explain how he could be engaged to one woman while still married to another. When asked when he had filed for divorce from his wife, Dixie, D’Souza answered, “Recently.”
According to San Diego County (Calif.) Superior Court records, D’Souza filed for divorce only on Oct. 4, the day I [reporter Warren Cole Smith] spoke with him.
As I said, I predict this news will not harm D’Souza’s renown among the R.R. He is, after all, the architect and presenter of the conspiratorially Rightist documentary 2016: Obama’s America. The vast majority of the R.R. will dig its heels in and refuse to repudiate D’Souza or disassociate from him. At worst, he might … just might! … lose his job as head of the indoctrination center known as The King’s College. But that will be the worst that happens to him; within a year or two he’ll be back on his feet, with a prestigious job at some Rightist think-tank or a posting at some other Rightist college. Ultimately, D’Souza’s adultery will have been forgotten and he will have paid no appreciable price for his “sin.” And … he’ll continue moralizing over the failings of others, as though he’s guilty of none himself.
Unfortunately that’s how Christianists are. They do not reject, ostracize, or discipline their own … not for any reason. They will not admit their heroes might not be the upstanding citizens they claim to be. They do not concede any error on the part of anyone in their little “club.” It’s a reflexive, tribalistic instinct in them, that they largely can’t help, because their minds are so primitive and their thinking so delusionally paranoid.