Posts Tagged “fundamentalism”

AngusTJonesHWOFSept2011Most of us assume that religious people are capable of feeling a certain amount of gratitude for the things they have in their lives. But all too often, they don’t. For example, fierce Christofascist Glenn Beck bolted from Fox News, the network that placed him front and center in America’s living rooms, just as soon as they’d made him famous enough to build his own publishing operation (WebCite cached article).

The latest example of a religionist publicly biting the hand that feeds him, is actor Angus Jones of Two and a Half Men. The (UK) Guardian reports that, now that he’s a fundamentalist Christian, Jones is railing against his own show and begging people not to watch it (cached):

If all publicity is good publicity, Two and a Half Men has once again hit the marketing jackpot. The show, which survives and apparently thrives on its off-screen dramas, has added new elements into the mix: God, Satan and eternal damnation.

Angus Jones, better known as the character Jake Harper, the adolescent “half” in the title, has released two videos criticising the CBS sitcom, now in its 10th season, as “filth”, and urging viewers to shun it lest they become contaminated.

The 19-year-old actor, who reportedly earns $350,000 per show, making him the highest paid teenager in US television, made the pleas after embracing the Forerunner Chronicles, a California-based Christian group which warns about evil in entertainment.

Wow. What a class act this kid is. He makes his fortune on a TV show, becoming one of the highest-paid performers in the industry … and decides to denounce it as evil and Satanic. Boy, that’s Christian gratitude for ya! Well done, kid. Well done. I’m sure your Jesus would be so proud!

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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

Comments 2 Comments »

Michele BachmannWith Christofascist Michele Bachmann leaping to the fore of the pack of Religious Rightists who are climbing all over each other to become the Republican candidate for president next year, and she being a rigid fundamentalist Christian, I suppose it was inevitable that the scriptural role of women in Christianity (especially in Bachmann’s version of it) would come up. She appeared on all the Sunday shows — since she won the more or less useless Iowa Straw Poll — and addressed this on Face the Nation, as CBS News reports (WebCite cached article):

Appearing on “Face the Nation” Sunday, Rep. Michele Bachmann stood by her comment in Thursday’s Republican debate that when she said that wives should be submissive to their husbands, she meant that married couples should have mutual respect.

In 2006, Bachmann said her husband had told her to get a post-doctorate degree in tax law. “Tax law? I hate taxes,” she continued. “Why should I go into something like that? But the lord says, be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.'”

Naturally, therefore, this dutiful scriptural Christian wife did precisely as her husband had told her to do. In other words, she was obedient. However, when questioned on this, Bachmann said something very different:

“I respect my husband, he respects me,” she said. “We have been married 33 years, we have a great marriage…and respecting each other, listening to each other is what that means.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t see how “obedience” can be “mutual,” a word which implies “equality.” Continued questions only caused Bachmann to fall into even more ridiculous semantic claims:

“Do you think submissive means subservient?” O’Donnell asked.

“Not to us,” Bachmann said. “To us it means respect. We respect each other, we listen to each other, we love each other and that is what it means.”

Unfortunately, neither “submissive” nor “subservient” even comes close to implying the kind of equanimity that Bachmann outlines in that last sentence.

Those not familiar with fundamentalist Christianity may not understand what this is all about. It comes from two Bible verses, nearly identical, found in two different deutero-Pauline epistles — Ephesians 5:22 and Colossians 3:18. These are translated into English variously:

Ephesians 5:22

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (New American Standard Bible)
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. (King James Version)
Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. (New American Bible)

Colossians 3:18

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. (NASB)
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. (KJV)
Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, as is proper in the Lord. (NAB)

In the original Greek, these verses are as follows (courtesy of Unbound Bible):

αι γυναικες τοις ιδιοις ανδρασιν υποτασσεσθε ως τω κυριω (Ephesians 5:22)

αι γυναικες υποτασσεσθε τοις ιδιοις ανδρασιν ως ανηκεν εν κυριω (Colossians 3:18)

The Greek word in question, then, is υποτασσεσθε, a form of the verb υποτασσω which can mean any of the following: “to submit to,” “place under,” “be subordinate to,” “to obey,” “be under the authority of,” etc. but which is assuredly related to υποτιμω, which means “to abase.” Not one of these possible meanings of υποτασσω comes anywhere near to expressing the kind of equanimity or mutuality that Bachmann suggests it means. In fact, the context of the verse — both in Greek and in English translation — only further confirms that it means anything but equality, and that is in the mention of “lordship” (e.g. “as unto the Lord” or τω κυριω). The concept being conveyed in both verses is that the husband-&-wife relationship is the equivalent of the Jesus-Christ-to-his-Church relationship, in which the latter is decidedly subject to (or subordinate to, or under the authority of, however you want to say it) the former. There is absolutely no equality, either stated or implied, in either of these verses. Not one iota of it. (Pun intended.)

The bottom line of both these verses is that wives — and by extension, all women — constitute a second-class within Christianity. No other interpretation of these verses makes any sense, because the exact words here cannot be construed to mean anything else — if one assumes (as Bachmann and her fellow fundamentalists supposedly do) that the Bible can only be read strictly and literally. If on the other hand one assumes these epistles were written by mere human beings, and specifically by male authors trying to propound their authority over women … well … that’s something else.

Really, this whole idiotic episode is just Bachmann’s way of veering out of the way of the strict scriptural directive that women are to be subordinate to men, so that she can then justify running for president, an office in which she would have authority over men (if she were elected). There’s no way around it.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr.

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

Comments 4 Comments »

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.

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

Comments 2 Comments »

One Nation, Under God: America is a Christian NationDavid Barton is popular among the Religious Right, at the moment. He’s a Christofascist’s Christofascist, happy to tell Chrisitianists around the country that the US was originally founded as the Christocracy they think it should be … even though it absolutely and demonstrably was not. He’s a pet historian for militant Christians of all stripes, from Glenn Beck to Newt Gingrich to Mike Huckabee. The mass media are even enamored of him, because he’s always good for a sound bite or two. Mother Jones offers this story about Barton and the hard-on the Right has for him (WebCite cached article):

Newt Gingrich is a fan. So’s Michele Bachmann. Mike Huckabee’s such a booster that he recently said that all Americans should be “forced at gunpoint” to listen to this guy.

The object of this high praise from Huckabee — and recent shout-outs from other potential GOP presidential contenders — is David Barton, a Republican activist and minister who founded WallBuilders, a for-profit evangelical outfit that works to inject religion into politics. Barton holds some pretty unconventional views, and in the past he has spoken alongside fringe figures like Holocaust deniers and white supremacists. Among other things, he claims that Jesus would oppose the capital gains tax and the minimum wage; that global warming is “self-correcting”; and that the nation’s homeland security apparatus has been infiltrated by members of the Muslim Brotherhood. He also contends that the separation of church and state is a perversion of the Founding Fathers’ intention to create a Christian nation.

Pretty much every reference to Barton that I’ve seen in the mass media — whether it’s a quote from some angry theocrat, or if it’s the reporter him/herself — calls Barton a “historian.”

The trouble is, he isn’t one.

That’s right, folks. The Religious Right’s favorite historian, is not a historian at all! He’s not even close to being a historian.

Barton’s only bona fide academic degree is a B.A. in religious education from Oral Roberts University (class of ’76). Barton has absolutely no credentials in the field of history. Not one. Not even so much as a vague whiff of one.

I expect Rightists to make a big deal out of Barton and to mispresent him. Of course they’re going to call him a “historian,” if the “history” he spews is a steaming load of fierce militant Christianism and he’s no historian at all. I understand Rightists lying about him. But folks in the mass media have no reasonable excuse for misstating Barton’s credentials. They probably refer to Barton as a “historian” simply because the Right calls him one and they cannot be bothered looking at his C.V. to see if he truly is one. But as someone who did earn a B.A. in history, I am incensed that this lie continues to be propagated.

Barton, and all of his sanctimonious fans who call him a “historian,” are now members of my “lying liars for Jesus” club. (If they weren’t members already … a lot of them are.)

Oh, and Mr Barton — and any other like-minded Christianists: If you think that, as an American, I am required to become the kind of Christian you are, then I invite you to use whatever means you wish to make me convert. Go ahead. I dare you! Do you have the courage to give it your best shot? If you truly think I’m required to worship your Jesus, why would you not do everything in your power to make me do so?

Hat tip: Peter at Skeptics & Heretics Forum at Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: Austin Cline, Licensed to About; Original Poster: University of Georgia.

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

Comments 3 Comments »

Bundesarchiv Bild 137-040965, China, Tientsin, HJ und BDM VereidigungI’ve already blogged about the hyperreligious populace of Giles County, Virginia who flew into a towering rage over the matter of posting the Ten Commandments in the local high school. But the Decalogue controversy there refuses to die. There have been lawsuits and threats of lawsuits, with the ACLU coming down on both sides of the issue (opposing the school itself posting the Decalogue in public locations, but supporting students who post them in their lockers).

The county’s religionist parents have successfully gotten their kids to take a stand for Christofascism, as reported by WDBJ-TV in Roanoke (WebCite cached article):

About 200 students walked out of Giles High School Monday morning, demanding the return of a Ten Commandments display. …

“This is Giles County and Christ is a big, big, big part of Giles County. For those who don’t like it, go somewhere else,” shouted one student. She was greeted by a round of cheers from the crowd. …

“This is America and we can have our Ten Commandments and if they don’t like it, they can get out,” said one boy.

So you see, folks, this is what kids in Giles County, Virginia are learning: If you’re not Christian, you must leave. What a marvelous lesson to have taught the next generation of Giles County! Everyone in Virginia must be so proud of their new platoon of Christofascist Youth.

Hat tip: Unreasonable Faith.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons / Bundesarchiv.

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

Comments 4 Comments »

Zürich - Kunsthaus - Rodin's Höllentor IMG 7384 ShiftNEvangelicals around the US have gone into fits of apoplexy over a book that hasn’t even been released yet, by a well-known Christian pastor, Rob Bell. The controversy began when a Christian blogger determined — based on blurbs about the book released by its publisher, in advance of publication — that it contains the horrific idea that all of humanity will be saved. This assumption on the part of a lone blogger has turned into full-scale theological war among evangelical Christians, as CNN’s Belief Blog explains (WebCite cached article):

[Christian blogger Justin] Taylor’s claim — based on a description of the book released by publisher HarperOne and a promotional video — ignited a wave of criticism against, and a counter-wave of support for, Bell. Some critics went so far as to label Bell a heretic. Prominent evangelical pastors on both the right and left rushed to condemn or defend the Michigan pastor. …

The controversy even caught the staff at Bell’s church off-guard. On Sunday, Brian Mucchi, an assistant pastor, told the church they knew a controversy could come, they just didn’t expect it to come so soon, according to a church member who was at the service but did not want to be identified.

Bell’s latest book is so disturbing to evangelical Christians, that it caused him to have to jump publishers:

“Love Wins” is Bell’s first book since his break from Zondervan, the Christian publisher based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that published Bell’s first four books and also publishes the New International Version of the Bible, one of the most popular translations of the Bible among evangelicals.

Bell’s split from Zondervan came in part over this new book. “The break with Zondervan was amicable,” Tauber said. “In the end the president of Zondervan made the decision. The proposal came in and they said, ‘This proposal doesn’t fit in with our mission.’ “

Criticism of Bell comes from a lot of the usual suspects, like Al Mohler, as well as from others. What these people find disturbing is that Bell’s “universalism” undermines the presumed exclusivity of Christianity; the idea that salvation and eternal life can only come from Jesus Christ and only in a certain way. Evangelicals, who can only see things in an “all or nothing,” black-&-white way, are aghast. For them, “universalism” renders all of Jesus’ career meaningless … because if salvation comes to everyone, with or without Christ, then what good is anything he said or did, and what good is it to believe in him at all?

This is all predicated on the idea that the only purpose of Jesus’ career was to bring eternal life; that he had nothing to say of any value or substance, which is not directly related to salvation. This assumption sells Jesus short — immensely! He taught many things, including humility, charity, compassion, and more. Do these cease to have any value, if it should turn out that salvation will come to everyone and not just those who believe in him in a certain way? Of course not! Humility, charity and compassion are all important and they all have value, even if no one achieves life after death.

The truth about evangelicals is that they use their presumed exclusivity, coupled with the threat of eternal perdition, as a bludgeon to get others to believe as they do: “If you don’t accept Jesus Christ as your Personal Lord and Savior™, you’ll burn in hell forever!” Their campaign of psychological terror, however, bears no resemblance to Jesus’ career. What it does do, is give them a lever by which they can control others.

At the moment, though, we don’t know what’s in Rob Bell’s book. The assumption that it promotes “universalism” is exactly that — an assumption. So all of this speculation may turn out to be a tempest in a teapot. But even if that’s the case, the nation’s evangelicals will have revealed themselves as the control-freaks and psychological terrorists they are.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons / Roland zh.

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

Comments 9 Comments »

Joel Osteen at Lakewood ChurchMegachurch pastor Joel Osteen recently made an incongruous claim, during an interview on Piers Morgan’s new show on CNN. CNN described his laughable equivocation in his own words (WebCite cached article):

Well, it’s strictly back to what the scripture says. I mean, I can’t grab one part and say God wants you to be blessed and live an abundant life, and not grab the other part that says, you know what? You know, live that kind of life. So it comes back to the scripture. I’m not the judge. You know, God didn’t tell me to go around judging everybody.

There it is. Osteen is judging gays to be sinners, but then states that he’s not judging anyone.

Fucking hilarious. Or at least it would be, if Osteen weren’t rationalizing treating a whole class of people as lesser human beings by virtue of their how they were born.

Of course, this is not Osteen’s only incongruity. He’s a “prosperity gospel” preacher who thinks Christians are entitled to be — and in fact should be — millionaires … even though the founder of his religion explicitly and unambiguously condemned being wealthy:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

“Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:25)

“But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.” (Luke 6:24)

“For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:25)

By claiming not to judge others when he is, in fact, judging others, and by preaching that amassing wealth is what Jesus wants his followers to do, when in fact, Jesus stated the opposite, Osteen is engaging that time-honored Christian tradition known as “hypocrisy” — and that, too, is in spite of Jesus’ own words clearly telling his followers never to be hypocritical.

Oh, and because he lied when he said he wasn’t judging others, I’m putting Osteen into my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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

Comments No Comments »