Posts Tagged “baton rouge LA”

N_2009_1_2There’s a lot of talk about racism in the American Right, and especially in the Religious (or Christian) Right movement. Rightists themselves deny any racism on their part, and the more religious among them point to two things: First, that the Abolition movement of the 19th century was primarily a Christian movement; and second, that the Republican Party, to which nearly all Religious Rightists belong, was founded as Abolitionist. What’s more, they say, the Democratic Party had done more to block the advancement of civil rights, during the 50s and 60s.

All of those things are true, particularly that many Abolitionists were devout Christians and many strongly motivated by their faith. But that doesn’t mean that it’s Leftists and Democrats who’re now (according to the Right) the chief promoters of racism. The reality of the Religious Right movement is that it was founded on opposition to desegregation (in other words, it was predicated on racism). Also, those conservative southern Democrats who once tried to stonewall civil rights reforms, have since then moved over to the GOP.

Put bluntly, “the Party of Lincoln” has become something very different from what it was in Lincoln’s time.

If anyone needs an example of how religiously-inspired racism still lurks deep within 21st century American Christendom, here’s an example to consider. As WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge, LA reports, a shitstorm was kicked up over a Catholic school student’s essay (WebCite cached version):

Parents and students of a Catholic high school received a letter, apologizing after a student’s essay that chastised African Americans circulated on the internet.

The essay, assigned to a class at St. Michael the Archangel in Baton Rouge, was about Black History Month. Instead of writing about events in February in support of equality for all races, a white student wrote she was “unpleased” with having to write such a paper and continued not everyone is created equal.…

The student referenced what she thought were passages from the bible, supporting a claim that the only race on the earth during biblical times were Caucasians.

The school has disavowed the essay, and I have no reason to assume the student who wrote it learned her racist theology there. But, she learned it from somewhere. She didn’t come up with the idea that Jesus’ apostles were all white and there were no “different ethics” [sic] in Jesus’ time on her own. Someone — and an adult someone, at that! — had to have taught her this bullshit. To be clear, there were most assuredly different ethnic groups in Jesus’ time. There were even different ethnic groups coexisting in the Levant, back then. They spoke different languages and followed different religions, and they didn’t always get along … but they were definitely there.

It’s easy to dismiss this sort of thing as a kind of “one-off,” a unique expression of Christianist racism that doesn’t reflect what others think. But I’m not sure it can be dismissed that easily. Along with the B.S. about there being no “different ethnics” in Jesus’ time, the author complained about blacks wearing ill-fitting pants, and more. Tropes like this have been going around for a long time. This student absorbed them, and will — along with other kids her age — carry them forward into the next generation.

What I’m getting at is that this story is an indicator of a larger phenomenon, one that has a very old pedigree and which doesn’t seem to be going away.

Photo credit: State Archives of North Carolina, via Flickr.

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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal waves with a Bible in his hand, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2015, in Baton Rouge, La. Gov. Jindal continued to court Christian conservatives for a possible presidential campaign with a headlining appearance at an all-day prayer rally hosted by the American Family Association. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman, via Washington Post)Louisiana’s Republican governor Bobby Jindal — a fierce Religious Rightist, if not an outright Christofascist — led a prayer revival yesterday at Louisiana State University. As the Washington Post explains, it’s a strong indication that he plans to run for president in 2016 (WebCite cached article):

Skipping an Iowa event that drew a number of 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls in favor of a controversial Louisiana prayer rally, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) called for a national spiritual revival and urged event attendees to proselytize on behalf of their Christian beliefs.

Jindal had insisted the day-long evangelical event hosted by the American Family Association on the campus of Louisiana State University was a religious and not political gathering. And, indeed, his 15-minute long remarks to the group consisted entirely of a highly personal testimony about how he had come to his Catholic beliefs. Jindal was raised by Hindu parents but converted to Catholicism in high school.

But Jindal’s keynote address at the event came as he has been courting Christian conservatives in advance of a possible run for president, meeting with pastors in the early battleground states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Former Texas governor Rick Perry hosted the same event, known as “The Response,” in 2011, just before announcing he was running for president.

The Bobster’s revival meeting didn’t go unnoticed by others, as the Post reports:

The event drew protests outside the basketball arena where several hundred were gathered because of accusations that the American Family Association promotes discrimination against gays and is hostile to non-Christians. Jindal briefly referred to the protests in his appearance, asking the rally’s attendees to pray for the demonstrators.

Ah. The old “I’ll pray for you” thing hurled at those who refuse to believe. I’m sure he knows this is an insulting tactic, even if it sounds all compassionate and shit. Well played, Bobby! Well played.

The Bobster even included a gratuitous little story which likely reflects how he intends to inject his fierce, dogmatic religionism into government:

Jindal recalled a girl in high school who said she wanted to grow up to be a Supreme Court justice, so she could “save innocent human lives” from abortion.

He put these words in the mouth of someone else, but this tale illustrates how he views participating in government. And that’s not to uphold the laws that are written, as they’re written, but instead to wrench and manipulate them to coincide with the Almighty’s dictates, whatever he thinks those are, and without regard for what those laws actually say.

Not that the Bobster really cares much, but here’s my response to his “response”:

Gov Jindal, if you think the country needs more God, then start with this one American: Track me down and make me turn to your God. I dare you. If it’s mandatory for all Americans to do so, then what reason would you have not to do it? Go ahead. I invite you to try your best — if you dare. Should you not do this, to me or to any other insolent non-believer, then I must presume that Americans turning to your deity can’t actually be as imperative as you said it is. That would demonstrate your cowardice, not to mention your hypocrisy — which, for supposedly-dutiful Catholics such as yourself, was explicitly forbidden to you by the founder of your own religion.

One last observation: The irony of a Roman Catholic leading a Protestant-style prayer revival — sponsored by a Protestant group — is especially precious. By leading an event of this kind, the Bobster openly admits he needs to curry the favor of devout Protestants, especially of the evangelical variety. But in the end, they’re his ecclesiastical enemies, not his friends. Just as America’s Catholic bishops have done, he’s forging what, ultimately, can only be called an unholy alliance. Should he get elected and start bending the country toward the Christocracy he wants, eventually he and his fellow Catholics will end up in evangelicals’ crosshairs. Many of them consider Jindal’s Church “the Whore of Babylon” mentioned in Revelation. A lot of those evangelicals would happily throw “Mary-worshipping papists” like Jindal into the flames of eternal perdition, if ever given the chance. Just saying.

Photo credit: AP Photo / Jonathan Bachman, via the Washington Post.

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Ten Commandments with Hebrew Numbering (read the description for an explanation of why)I’ve blogged a couple of times on the phenomenon of militant Christians promoting Ten Commandments idolatry. This time it’s happening in the great religionist state of Louisiana, as the Times-Picayune of New Orleans reports (WebCite cached article):

A resolution calling for House and Senate members to support the concept of a Ten Commandments monument on Capitol grounds cleared a Senate committee without objection Wednesday and now goes before the entire Senate.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 16 [cached] by Sen. Mike Walsworth, R-West Monroe, approved after more than 40 minutes of debate by the Senate Committee on Senate and Governmental Affairs, would direct the governor’s Division of Administration to find a location for the monument, to be paid for with private funds.

Of course this is an example of a state forcing religion onto its citizens. That fact is not changed by the transparent contrivance of private funds paying for it; in the end, the monument is going up at the direction of Louisiana state government, so there’s no logical way anyone can say it’s anything but a government action.

This monument’s promoters are also trying to envelop it in a veneer of “historicity”:

“The Ten Commandments is where laws first began,” Walsworth said. “This (Capitol) is where the laws of Louisiana are made each and every year. … This is more of an historical thing.”

Unfortunately for these Christofascists, it is absolutely, 100% not true that “laws first began” with the Ten Commandments. No way! Not even close. Legal systems predate the appearance of the Decalogue by millennia. Yes, folks … that’s by millennia! The Decalogue as we know it dates to about the middle of the last millennium BCE; but the ancient Sumerians had written law codes by the middle of the 3rd millennium BCE, and those in turn were based on a tradition of legal decisions which were made during the preceding several centuries. The Sumerian king Ur-Nammu (who lived in the 21st century BCE) and the Babylonian king Hammurabi (who lived in the 18th century BCE) were both famous for having promulgated widely-influential law codes — but the tradition of Mesopotamian kings propounding law codes was ancient, even in their times. And other peoples of the region, including the Egyptians, also had law-codes of their own, likewise dating centuries or millennia prior to the Ten Commandments. What’s more, the content of the Decalogue isn’t even innovative; admonitions against theft, murder, and lying in court, for example, are all part of these earlier law codes; they were prevailing legal principles in the region long before the Hebrews ever appeared.

It’s incontrovertible: As a legal code there is virtually nothing innovative about the Ten Commandments, aside from its admonition against worshiping other deities. Walsworth’s false claim puts him in my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

Yet another problem with any Decalogue monument, is which list of the Ten Commandments is posted on it. Most believers are not aware of this, but there are several ways in which the Ten Commandments have been enumerated over the centuries. Judaism has its own list; Catholics have theirs; Protestants have one of their own (with a few variations among denominations); and so too do the Orthodox churches. Any single list of the Ten Commandments will, therefore, inevitably be sectarian in nature, favoring one Decalogue tradition — and therefore one religion or denomination — over the rest. It can’t be any other way.

I’ve previously referred to the movement to build Decalogue monuments as “idolatry,” and it quite obviously is that. But I don’t expect proponents of these religionist monstrosities to see it that way. They’re doing it for Jesus, you see, so it just can’t be idolatry … by definition! This is, of course, very wrong. Idolatrous behavior is idolatrous behavior, without regard to the reasons one engages in it. Not only is the construction of Decalogue monuments idolatry — explicitly forbidden to all Christians, under all conditions — it’s also a form of public piety, which is likewise explicitly forbidden to all Christians, under all circumstances.

If there are any Christofascists out there who, nevertheless, still think Decalogue monuments are godly, and that I, as an American, am required to worship them just as they do, I invite you to do whatever you wish in order to make that happen. Force me to bow and scrape before your monument. I dare you to try it, by any means you wish. Go ahead. Make me. If you’re so sure it’s what your precious Jesus wants, why would you not do everything in your power to make it happen?

Photo credit: abbyladybug.

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What Would Jesus Do ... with a gun?About a year ago I blogged about a church pastor in Kentucky who insisted that all good Christians carry guns around. He felt that guns and Christianity are inseparable, even if guns hadn’t existed in Jesus’ time and there is no evidence he had so much as touched any kind of weapon (aside from the scourge he used in the Cleansing of the Temple).

Well, it’s not just a pastor in Kentucky who wants worshippers to pack heat when they go to church; the ferociously Religious Rightist governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana signed a law specifically promoting exactly that, as reported by Politico (WebCite cached article):

Louisiana GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed a law allowing holders of concealed-weapons permits to carry guns into houses of worship.

The bill, signed Tuesday night, allows permit holders who take an additional eight hours of tactical training each year to bring a gun into “any church, synagogue, mosque or other similar place of worship.”

I honestly do not get how any rational Christian could possibly view arming him/herself as a valid way of worshipping the man who said — among other things — “do not resist an evil person” (Mt 5:39), “turn the other cheek” (Lk 6:29) and “whoever lives by the sword will die by the sword” (Mt 26:52). There must be something about Jesus’ own plain words that I don’t get … because I can’t see any place in the gospels where he even began to suggest that his followers needed to arm themselves. It’s just not there. The phrase “militant Christianity” is a contradiction in terms, if one looks at Jesus’ actual teachings as recorded in the gospels; yet it seems to be an expectation of all Christians, by Jindal and the rest of the Religious Right.

Photo credit: Counterlight’s Peculiars.

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