Posts Tagged “evangelical christianity”

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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Bob Jones University, Front Campus FountainThere are a number of evangelical Protestant colleges in the U.S., and Bob Jones University in South Carolina is one of the strangest and most controversial of them. It resisted admitting blacks until long after other major schools in that state had started admitting them, and even after that, it maintained a ban on interracial dating that lasted until 2000. In the 1970s the school fought a legal battle to retain its tax-exempt status, and ultimately lost. It’s also remarkably anti-Catholic (although this is in keeping with its Protestant evangelical origins). In spite of the controversy that swirled around it, BJU incubated more than a few Republican presidential campaigns.

But now BJU has found itself embroiled in yet another controversy. As the New York Times reports, this involves sexual-abuse reports on campus and the manner in which BJU dealt with them … or, rather, how it refused to deal with them (WebCite cached article):

For decades, students at Bob Jones University who sought counseling for sexual abuse were told not to report it because turning in an abuser from a fundamentalist Christian community would damage Jesus Christ. Administrators called victims liars and sinners.

All of this happened until recently inside the confines of this insular university, according to former students and staff members who said they had high hopes that the Bob Jones brand of counseling would be exposed and reformed after the university hired a Christian consulting group in 2012 to investigate its handling of sexual assaults, many of which occurred long before the students arrived at the university.

Last week, Bob Jones dealt a blow to those hopes, acknowledging that with the investigation more than a year old and nearing completion, the university had fired the consulting group, Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment, or Grace, without warning or explanation. The dismissal has drawn intense criticism from some people with ties to Bob Jones, and prompted some victims and their allies — including many who were interviewed by Grace investigators — to tell their stories publicly for the first time, attracting more attention than ever to the university’s methods.

The management of BJU apparently had differences of opinion with Grace. They claim to have wanted to resolve these differences … but one wonders what that means, given how they chose to go about it:

[BJU president Stephen Jones] said the university had not told Grace what its concerns were and wanted to discuss them with the consultant but could do so only face to face and felt compelled to fire the firm first.

“We terminated our agreement with Grace so that we could sit down and get it back on track,” Mr. Jones said, vowing to complete the investigation, with or without Grace.

I honestly don’t understand how they were forced to fire their own chosen investigators in order to get the investigation going again. This is mind-boggling gibberish.

Also, rather strangely, it’s not just on-campus abuse that BJU tried to squash:

But at Bob Jones, most of the stories that have been made public do not involve assaults on campus. They are about people who were abused as children and then looked for help in college.

Honestly, this too is mind-boggling. Why would BJU object to its students seeking help for abuse that occurred years before? Why would they get in the way of it? How could they find that unacceptable?

At any rate, the firing of Grace has blown the lid off the situation at BJU, and people are now talking about how the university handles sexual abuse cases. The Times reports:

“They said not to go to the police because no one will believe you, to defer to authority like your father or especially someone in the church,” she said. “They said if you report it, you hurt the body of Christ.”

Now, maybe it’s just because I’m a cynical godless agnostic heathen, but I’m not quite sure how “the body of Christ” can be “hurt.” I mean, Christ is God, is he not? Can God be hurt at all? How, exactly, does that work?

I note that running interference for sexual abusers, and the pressure on victims not to report it, in the name of protecting “the body of Christ,” is nearly the same as what we find occurred in the priestly-pedophilia scandal. Yes, folks, it does happen in places other than the Roman Catholic Church. It really, truly, absolutely is not just a Catholic problem — and I’ve never once said it wasn’t (even if Catholicism’s apologists may claim otherwise). But that it happens elsewhere still doesn’t mean it should happen anywhere, especially at the hands of people who claim to be doing God’s work and promoting morality.

Hat tip: Rational Wiki.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Hoaxed photo of the Loch Ness monster from 21 April 1934.We’ve seen that Creationists will stop at nothing to indoctrinate school children with their irrational, non-factual, hyperreligious dogma. They’re ferociously angry at the idea that anyone might actually accept evolution (what they often call “Darwinism”*). That evolution is currently the only valid scientific explanation for the diversity of life on the planet, doesn’t matter to them. They’re still outraged that science has validated evolution. (“Science,” you see, in their minds is an insidious diabolical conspiracy designed to destroy them.)

An example of just how far these people will go in their sanctimonious effort to promote Creationism and discredit evolution, can be seen in this Scotsman report about a Louisiana outfit that claims the Loch Ness Monster refutes evolution (WebCite cached article):

Thousands of American school pupils are to be taught that the Loch Ness monster is real — in an attempt by religious teachers to disprove Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Pupils attending privately-run Christian schools in the southern state of Louisiana will learn from textbooks next year, which claim Scotland’s most famous mythological beast is a living creature. …

One ACE [Accelerated Christian Education] textbook called Biology 1099, Accelerated Christian Education Inc reads: “Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence.

“Have you heard of the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland? ‘Nessie’ for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.”

Another claim taught is that a Japanese whaling boat once caught a dinosaur.

These are lies, of course. The putative Loch Ness Monster has never been recorded by any imaging device, ever … not by sonar, and not even by photograph — for example, the famous “surgeon’s photo,” above, is a known hoax (cached). Over the last few decades, a number of expeditions have tried to locate and image “Nessie,” but all have failed to do so. If “Nessie” exists, then she’s done a remarkable job of hiding herself from all of these efforts. Maybe this is because she’s aware she’s being searched for and is purposely avoiding detection, specifically in order to deprive skeptics of evidence of her existence …!?

In short … one can’t possibly use “Nessie” as proof evolution isn’t true, because “Nessie” does not even exist!

It’s one thing for private Christianist schools to want to teach this nonsense to their children. They’re free to do so, even if what they’re teaching is wrong. The problem here, as The Scotsman explains, is that public funding is financing the education of some of the kids who’ll be indoctrinated this way:

Thousands of children are to receive publicly-funded vouchers enabling them to attend the [ACE] schools — which follow a strict fundamentalist curriculum.

So Louisiana taxpayers will be picking up the tab for some of this religious indoctrination. I’m sure Louisiana’s devoutly religionistic governor, Bobby Jindal, doesn’t view this a a problem, but those of us with brains know otherwise.

* Use of the term “Darwinism” as a label for evolution is a rather transparent — not to mention juvenile — attempt to discredit it. It implies that evolution is merely “the teachings of Darwin,” rather than a valid field of science. Calling a field of science by the name of the person who first brought it to light, is simply not done. We do not, for example, call relativity “Einsteinism,” nor do we call quantum mechanics “Planckism.” Nor is classical physics called “Newtonism.” Really, Creationists need to grow up already and put “Darwinism” to rest, ferfucksakes.

Hat tip: Skeptical Inquirer.

Photo credit: Wikipedia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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

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First Assembly of God, Torrington, CT / Stay cool with Jesus sign / Mike Angogliati / Torrington Register-CitizenI know I’m going to get complaints about this, so let me straighten this out, right at the start. There are many sorts of “terror” in the world. Only a little of it is what we generally connect with the word “terror” — i.e. suicide hijackers and abortion-clinic bombers. By using the word “terror” in the title of this post, I am not, by any means, asserting any kind of equivalence among these events. “Terror” does not always mean “killing many innocent bystanders at once.” Many sorts of threats can constitute “terror,” even if those threats are never manifested in violence. There are degrees of terror, some much worse than others. But still, they all remain “terror” in some way or another.

Which brings me to the topic of this post. Most Christians — especially of the fundamentalist sort — will not accept this as an example of “terrorism.” They don’t view it that way, but that doesn’t mean it’s anything other than a form of terror by threat.

The nearby Torrington Register-Citizen ran a story today about the heatwave which is gripping much of the country (WebCite cached article). It included a picture of a Torrington church’s sign:

MIKE AGOGLIATI / Register Citizen / A sign of the times. This sign at the First Assembly of God Church on New Harwinton Road offers advice for keeping cool in the summer heat. 'Think it's hot here? Imagine Hell.'

Mike Agogliati / Register Citizen / A sign of the times. This sign at the First Assembly of God Church on New Harwinton Road offers advice for keeping cool in the summer heat. Their 'loving' message? 'Think it's hot here? Imagine Hell.'

I can think of no better example of what is wrong with fundamentalist / evangelical Christianity, than this sign. It carries the threat of this particular religion, which claims that, if one fails to believe precisely what it teaches, one will be condemned to an eternity of torment.

Those who adhere to this sort of thinking haven’t the slightest clue how horrific it is. To them, it’s “fact,” and its ramifications don’t matter to them. They do not realize theirs is a campaign of terror: “Believe what we order you to believe, or you will FRY with the Satan’s demons in ‘the Lake of Fire’!”

Consider if what they believe is true … that their angry, sin-hating, almighty God will condemn people to eternal torment merely because of what they happen to believe. Why should mere “belief” provide relief from eternal perdition? What being worth worshipping should care so much about what the beings he ostensibly loves “believe” rather than what they “do” or what they “are”? How does this sort of threat differ from any other kind of extortion?

To put it bluntly — it doesn’t. It’s a threat. Nothing more, nothing less. Any being who feels the need to threaten people, in order to coerce their adoration and worship, is not worth adoring or worshipping. Period.

Photo credit: Mike Agogliati / Torrington Register Citizen.

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Attention Lunatic AtheistsThe persistence of evangelical Christians to cross every line, and break every rule, in their continuous effort to force their Jesus on everyone, amazes me. Nevertheless, they do it constantly. Not all of them, to be sure, but some. And I suppose they can’t be blamed for it. After all, their Jesus ordered them to “go … and make disciples of all the nations,” without adding any caveats to that order. So they’re only doing what they were instructed to do by the founder of their religion.

Reuters reports that the sheriff of Polk County, Florida has been following this mandate as Jesus stated it, going after a vocal atheist in Lakeland (WebCite cached article):

An atheist and self-described member of the “most hated minority in America” has filed a lawsuit accusing a sheriff in Florida’s conservative Bible Belt of arresting her and trampling her constitutional rights because of her work to separate church and state.

EllenBeth Wachs, 48, said her suit against Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, an evangelical Christian, puts her at “ground zero” in the struggle against religious intolerance. …

“Mr. Judd is actually using law enforcement to basically do a legal lynching of me,” Wachs told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

She was referring to having been arrested by Judd’s deputies three times since March — what she sees as a campaign of harassment and retaliation against her.

This began a while ago when Wachs insolently dared to inquire about something Judd had done:

Wachs first ran afoul of Judd around Christmas last year, when she filed several public-records requests to look into his decision to donate the Polk County jail’s basketball hoops and other equipment to local churches.

Ordinarily in cases like this, one expects the other party to deny the accusation, or to say something that implies the claims are something other than they appear to be. This time, though, silence has been the reply:

The sheriff’s office declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Of course, there’s probably much more to this story than is in this article. I’m skeptical enough to know that Ms Wachs and her attorney are presenting this story in the best-possible light for their side. Even so, the Polk County sheriff’s department’s total silence suggests there’s at least a bit of merit in the suit. This contest has only just begun, and I expect there’s more to come. So stay tuned.

Oh, and if Sheriff Grady Judd is looking for force more people to his Jesus, I sincerely invite him to come here and make me a Christian. If he dares.

Photo credit: Chairman Meow.

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Veracicat has checked your facts and is not impressed with your lies.As a rule, people love to think they live in unusual times, and more often than not, they think the unusual things going on, are bad. Really bad. Historically-unprecedented bad. If you could ask anyone — at any point in history — if there are more catastrophes going on in his/her lifetime than ever before, s/he would most likely say, “Yes, of course!” It’s a kind of selective thinking, often backed up by confirmation bias, because the things we’re aware of and know about as they occur outweigh — in our minds — those we only find out about after-the-fact or hear about having happened historically. A natural ramification of this is that we tend to think that any kind of disaster is now more frequent than it ever was before.

This tendency — which is basic human nature and applies to almost everyone — is one that apocalypticists love to prey on, and they intentionally feed it. Thus we have something of a cottage industry of so-called “experts” on the putative “Maya apocalypse” who happily propagate the lie that the ancient Maya predicted the end of the universe on December 21, 2012. That we’re experiencing more catastrophes and wars, you see — according to them — is a “sign” that the End Of The Universe, which the Maya predicted, is coming.

As I’ve blogged before, this is all bullshit. Pure, unadulterated, unfiltered, stinking-to-high-heaven bull-fucking-shit. The Maya never predicted any such thing! Their ability to have predicted the future accurately is debunked absolutely, by their failure to predict the collapse of their own civilization, which happened around the turn of the 10th century CE. So no, the universe is not going to roll to a sudden, screeching halt in 2012.

But batshit crazy New Agers who claim to know what the Maya said without even knowing the Mayan language — thus, having zero knowledge of what the Maya truly thought — are certainly not the only folks who use this tendency. Christian “End Timers” play it up, too. To claim there are more earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, droughts, famines, wildfires, etc. and then claim these are harbingers of the Second Coming is a classic “End Time” proselytizing trick. “The Bible predicted this would happen!” they claim, and they can quickly spit out chapter and verse to show it.

The problem is, all of this is predicated on a lie. And it’s a lie that’s remarkably easy to debunk. Unfortunately, it’s not often debunked. Which is why I’m so glad to notice that FactCheck decided to look into the claims of one “End Time” apocalypticist, evangelical nutcase Franklin Graham, and their takedown isn’t pretty (WebCite cached article):

On ABC’s “This Week,” the Rev. Franklin Graham was wrong when he said that earthquakes, wars and famines are occurring “with more frequency and more intensity.”

The preacher, who is the son of the Rev. Billy Graham and president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, discussed [cached] the prophecy of Armageddon with host Christiane Amanpour during a special Easter edition of the Sunday talk show.

Graham, April 24: I believe we are in the latter days of this age. When I say “latter days,” could it be the last hundred years or the last thousand years or the last six months? I don’t know.

But the Bible, the things that the Bible predicts, earthquakes and famines, nation rising against nation, we see this happening with more frequency and more intensity.

On all three counts, the preacher is wrong. Today’s famines and armed conflicts are fewer and relatively smaller than those in the last century, and the frequency of major earthquakes has remained about the same.

The rest of the article shows how Graham is flat-out wrong on those three counts.

Given that FactCheck is dedicated mostly to checking politicians’ claims about their opponents, that makes this particular article out of character for them, and that will, no doubt, be used by Graham-like “End Timers” as a rationale to dismiss what it says. “FactCheck should stick with politics, and leave religion alone!” they will say. (Notwithstanding that they never listen to FactCheck’s political fact-corrections … fucking hypocrites!) That dismissal, of course, would be a kind of argumentum ad hominem, but fallacy is the favorite game of the vehement religionist, so it’s expected.

FactCheck’s demonstration that Franklin Graham is a liar, places him — again! — in my “lying liars for Jesus” club. Congratulations, Frankie, on your achievement. By all means, keep lying to everyone.

Photo credit: PsiCop, based on original from quitor.com.

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