Posts Tagged “kentucky”

Jesus with a gun / via Counterlight's PeculiarsQuite some time ago I blogged about the phenomenon of pastors embracing guns and gun ownership as an expression of Christianity. And a few days ago I blogged about Christofascist Jerry Boykin’s claim that Jesus is going to return soon, armed with an automatic weapon. (He actually “checked it out,” you see, and is absolutely certain of it.)

Well, many Christians continue viewing their Jesus as a “patriot” like themselves, even if he was nothing like them at all. Let’s be honest … it’s difficult, if not impossible, to see how angry, maniacal gun-toters like Ted Nugent or Wayne LaPierre possibly bear any resemblance to the man who’s reported to have said things like “turn the other cheek” and “those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.”

It seems Kentucky’ Baptists are no exception. As the Louisville Courier-Journal reports, they love arming themselves to the teeth for Jesus (locally-cached article):

In an effort its spokesman has described as “outreach to rednecks,” the Kentucky Baptist Convention is leading “Second Amendment Celebrations,” where churches around the state give away guns as door prizes to lure in nonbelievers in hopes of converting them to Christ.

As many as 1,000 people are expected at the next one, on Thursday at Lone Oak Baptist Church in Paducah, where they will be given a free steak dinner and the chance to win one of 25 handguns, long guns and shotguns.

The goal is to “point people to Christ,” the church says in a flier. Chuck McAlister, an ex-pastor, master storyteller and former Outdoor Channel hunting show host who presides at the events as the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s team leader for evangelism, said 1,678 men made “professions of faith” at about 50 such events last year, most of them in Kentucky.

In Louisville, he said, more than 500 people showed up on a snowy January day for a gun giveaway at Highview Baptist Church, and 61 made decisions to seek salvation.

Lest anyone think this “packing heat for Jesus” movement is a localized phenomenon in Kentucky, it’s not. As CNN explains, a church in Troy, NY is giving away a gun for Jesus, too (WebCite cached article):

An upstate New York church is giving new meaning to the biblical passage, “My peace I give unto you.”

In this case, it’s a piece: an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

Grace Baptist Church in Troy — about two and half hours north of Manhattan — is giving away the semi-automatic rifle as part of a special event honoring hunters and gun owners later this month. The church website entices gun lovers with the words “Win a Free AR-15″ followed by the New Testament line.

The holder of the winning ticket will receive an AR-15 modified for sale in New York state.…

In a letter to his congregation, Pastor John Koletas said: “Our country was built with the King James Bible and the gun.”

Sounds as though Koletas’s church is a member of the waning KJV-Only movement … which as I’ve explained previously, is based upon pure, unadulterated, 100% grade-A bullshit and lies. In any event, this giveaway has something of a political pedigree:

New York Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, a Republican, will speak at the service.

The C-J article points out these (literally!) militant churches and their pastors have some critics within Christianity, but it doesn’t appear those critics are actually doing much of anything about it, other than to provide a few sound bites to the occasional reporter who happens to call looking for a comment. Not one of them is explaining to these pastors that Jesus was no warrior, that he didn’t want his followers brandishing firearms all over the place, and that what they’re doing is thoroughly and completely un-Christian. No, other Christians are quite happy to let their militant co-religionists run around, holding onto their dour, sanctimonious belligerence.

Photo credit: Counterlight’s Peculiars.

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Bible lecternIn a move sure to make dominionists around the country happy, Kentucky’s Senate just approved a bill which would permit Bible classes in the commonwealth’s public schools. WLKY-TV in Louisville reports on this development (WebCite cached article):

Bible classes could be taught in Kentucky public schools under a bill that’s made it halfway through the legislature.

State Senator Joe Bowen wants Kentucky public school students to have an opportunity to take classes about the bible.

“No doubt about it, the most important book ever written and obviously, it’s had so much influence on our society and all of western civilization,” Bowen said.

The bill in question is SB56; its supporters insist this is not an effort to proselytize to school kids; it’s supposed to be strictly academic-literary:

“What this bill provides for is a social studies course. It’s education, it’s not indoctrination,” Bowen said.

Riiiiiight. As though that’s how it will be. I’m sure some of these “Bible-as-literature” teachers will keep it strictly literary … but not all will. Devout Christians never let the rules get in the way of foisting their beliefs on others … not even the principle of separation of church and state.

Also, even though this “Bible-as-literature” course is only an elective, there’s no doubt that children will be pressured by their communities to take it, at least in areas that are intensively evangelical Christian (and that description applies to a great deal of Kentucky).

SB56 still has to get through the Kentucky House, though, and it’s not likely this will happen. So the Christofascists may well be kept at bay for another year, anyway.

We hope.

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

Photo credit: FreeFoto.

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Noah's Ark finds dry landIn a time when the Religious Right is screaming to high heaven over government spending of any sort, there’s one project not one of them is speaking up about. A Noah’s Ark theme park is going to be built in Kentucky, with the assistance of commonwealth tax abatements. The New York Times reports on the Kentucky government’s latest proselytization effort (WebCite cached article):

Facing a rising tide of joblessness, the governor of Kentucky has found one solution: build an ark.

The state has promised generous tax incentives to a group of entrepreneurs who plan to construct a full-size replica of Noah’s ark, load it with animals and actors, and make it the centerpiece of a Bible-based tourist attraction called Ark Encounter.

The project’s main proponent doesn’t give a shit about the “separation of church and state” issues inherent in this, even though they’re obvious to everyone else:

Since Gov. Steven L. Beshear announced the plan on Wednesday, some constitutional experts have raised alarms over whether government backing for an enterprise that promotes religion violates the First Amendment’s requirement of separation of church and state. But Mr. Beshear, a Democrat, said the arrangement posed no constitutional problem, and brushed off questions about his stand on creationism.

“The people of Kentucky didn’t elect me governor to debate religion,” he said at a news conference. “They elected me governor to create jobs.”

Actually, Governor, they didn’t elect you governor in order to create jobs at any cost. They elected you to perform the job of governor, and that job requires you to live within the boundaries of the Constitution.

You remember the Constitution, don’t you? You Rightists are always yammering and howling about it. Well — try obeying it for once. OK?

Beshear’s lie that this is not an example of Kentucky promoting religion, places him in my “lying liars for Jesus” club. Congratulations on finding yourself in such glorious, pious company, Governor!

(Yes, I’m aware Beshear is a Democrat, and he might once have been liberal to some degree, but he typically does things according to the Religious Right’s whims, so as far as I’m concerned, he’s a definite Rightist.)

The group behind this project, by the way, is Answers in Genesis. They’re the people who previously brought you the laughable Creation Museum, and who also have claimed that non-believing teens are all murderous sociopaths, eager for a chance to grab some firearms and blow away everyone else. Yeah, they’re a wonderful bunch, too.

Photo credit: JonnyBaird.

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Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican City, 2010-03-29 (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)A lawsuit filed in Kentucky in 2004 has forced the Roman Catholic Church to offer up legal theories that, it claims, show that it’s immune to a lawsuit over clerical abuse. The AP reports via Google News (locally cached version):

Dragged deeper than ever into the clerical sex abuse scandal, the Vatican is launching a legal defense that the church hopes will shield the pope from a lawsuit in Kentucky seeking to have him deposed.

Court documents obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press show that Vatican lawyers plan to argue that the pope has immunity as head of state, that American bishops who oversaw abusive priests weren’t employees of the Vatican, and that a 1962 document is not the “smoking gun” that provides proof of a cover-up. …

The Vatican is seeking to dismiss the suit before Benedict XVI can be questioned or secret documents subpoenaed.

This isn’t apparently the first U.S. court case to take up this matter:

The United States considers the Vatican a sovereign state — the two have had diplomatic relations since 1984. In 2007, U.S. District Court Judge John Heyburn rejected an initial request by the plaintiffs to depose Benedict.

“They will not be able to depose the pope,” said Joseph Dellapenna, a professor at Villanova University Law School an [sic] author of “Suing Foreign Governments and their Corporations.”

“But lower level officials could very well be deposed and there could be subpoenas for documents as part of discovery,” he said.

Note: The verb “depose” in this story refers — I assume — not to an attempt to remove the Pope from office (i.e. definition #1 from Merriam-Webster’s), but to force him to give a deposition (i.e. definition #3 from the same).

At any rate, the plaintiffs think they have documentary evidence to back up the claim of a cover-up:

Crucial to the Kentucky lawsuit is the 1962 document “Crimen Sollicitationis” — Latin for “crimes of solicitation.” It describes how church authorities should deal procedurally with cases of abuse of children by priests, cases where sex is solicited in the confessional — a particularly heinous crime under canon law — and cases of homosexuality and bestiality.

[Plaintiffs' attorney William] McMurry argues that the document imposed the highest level of secrecy on such matters and reflected a Vatican policy barring bishops from reporting abuse to police. …

The existence of Crimen did not become publicly known until 2003, when a lawyer noticed a reference to the document while reading a 2001 letter written by Benedict, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. McMurry is seeking to subpoena Ratzinger’s letter, which instructed all bishops to send cases of clerical sex abuse to him and to keep the proceedings secret.

Strictly speaking, Crimen sollicitationis deals only with priests’ misconduct in the confessional or during the sacrament of reconciliation (also known as confession and/or penance). Many of the abuse cases that have been reported through the years do not involve the confessional or this sacrament; nevertheless, many Church officials have interpreted this 1962 letter as covering all accusations of abuse by a priest.

This case has already been bumped up to the federal appellate level, but the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed it to proceed in Kentucky courts again. I expect numerous appeals in this case, up and down through both the commonwealth and federal courts, for years to come. This isn’t over yet … not if the Vatican has anything to say about it.

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Quick note at the start: I’m titling this post “part one” because I assume there will be more new on this topic over the next several weeks, not because I already have additional entries planned.

This year’s installment of the perennial “War on Christmas” has been underway for a few weeks now. The most serious controversy underway at the moment, is going on in Kentucky. Governor Steve Bashear sinned by referring to a Yuletide evergreeen display as “a holiday tree,” as reported by WKRC-TV in Cincinnati:

Gov. Steve Beshear has angered some Christians with his yuletide terminology. A giant evergreen that will brighten the Capitol lawn this winter won’t be called a Christmas tree. Instead, the Beshear administration has dubbed it a “holiday tree.”

The Rev. Jeff Fugate, pastor of Clays Mill Baptist Church in Lexington, said Christians find the change troubling.*

Wah wah wah. Christmas is a holiday, so the tree is — most assuredly! — a “‘holiday’ tree,” in addition to being a “Christmas tree.” Denying this is not only foolish but semantically invalid; this name is neither wrong nor misleading.

Nevertheless, Gov. Beshear promptly caved in to the uproar, as reported in the Morehead (KY) News:

Officials from Gov. Steve Beshear’s office have issued a statement saying that the tree on the capital grounds shall be referred to as a Christmas tree.

There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned, sanctimonious Right-wing furor to make the Democratic governor in a Bible-belt state quiver and fall like a house of cards. Their anger, of course, is based on a delusion, one that’s the product of their Christian persecution complex.

American Christians, especially of the Religious Right variety, believe a lot of things about Christmas that just are not true. I will go over those in another post — or perhaps a dedicated blog page — in an effort to debunk these myths … so stay tuned!

Update: I’ve added this page to the blog, it’s called Myths About Christmas In The U.S. Enjoy!

* Observation: WKRC referred to the Christmas holiday period as “yuletide.” Yule, of course, was a very-pagan, pre-Christian, Germanic holiday. I wonder if any of the pastors they quoted would dare decry the TV station’s use of this pagan label to describe Christ’s natal observance? Hmm. Seems to me they ought to.

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I blogged previously about an effort by the Kentucky legislature to use that commonwealth’s Homeland Security office to proselytize. Well, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports they’ve been dealt a blow by the courts:

A Franklin circuit judge Wednesday declared unconstitutional a reference to God in a 2006 law creating the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security.

In an 18-page order, Judge Thomas Wingate said the General Assembly created an official government position when it passed a law requiring the office to acknowledge “the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth.”

The law requires the executive director of the office to include a statement asserting the state’s reliance on God in training materials and on a plaque at the state’s Emergency Operations Center.

Of course, this law’s proponents haven’t given up:

Rep. Tom Riner, D-Louisville, who inserted the language into the 2006 legislation, said Wednesday that he hopes [KY Attorney General Jack] Conway will ask Wingate to reconsider his decision. Conway has 10 days to do that and 30 days to appeal.

Riner, who is pastor of Christ is King Baptist Church in Louisville, said the decision is a “very disconcerting thing.”

He cites a precedent elsewhere which, he says, supports his view:

Riner said the provision was akin to the use of the phrase “In God We Trust” on American currency.

“In God We Trust is an affirmation that we trust in God,” he said. “That doesn’t make that a church doctrine.”

Riner is incorrect here: Telling people that they must “trust God,” is in fact a “doctrine” and does set the government up as a church. That fact, as well as the way in which religionists like Riner use coinage as a precedent allowing them to proselytize in any other way they can imagine, is why “In God We Trust” must be removed from US currency … the sooner, the better.

Just once I’d like to see a religionist like Riner just come right out and admit, honestly, what his motive is in coming up with stuff like this … i.e. it’s to proselytize. That’s all it’s good for. They know it, and I know it, and we all know it. They damage their own credibility and integrity by insisting that this is not their goal.

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The latest “God” story out of Kentucky — home of the infamous Creation Museum — is a bit odd because it’s not exactly “news.” It is, rather, a “discovery” of something that was actually done back in 2006:

Today’s Lexington Herald-Leader reports on a little-noticed provision in Kentucky’s law enacted in 2006 to create the state Office of Homeland Security. KY Code 39G.010 requires that the agency’s executive director is to “publicize the findings of the General Assembly stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth by including [specified findings] … in its agency training and educational materials.”

Yes folks, that’s right — God is “vital” to Kentucky’s security, and now everyone knows this is true, because it was a “finding” of the Commonwealth’s legislature. You know, of course, that the legislature governing the home of the Creation Museum could not possibly be wrong on that score, don’t you?

// End sarcasm mode //

I find it a bit odd that this has only just been uncovered. There’s more to this story, methinks, than meets the eye.

At any rate, it’s clear that the religionazis of this country will leave no stone unturned — and no ceremonial language out of legal statutes — in their effort to proselytize. I can’t help but wonder why it is that they’re so insecure in their beliefs, that they need to see the importance of God cited in a law and on a plaque? Are they really that immature and weak-minded?

… No, don’t answer that, I already know what it is …

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