Posts Tagged “book of revelation”

Lake of Fire by BenRR / via DeviantArtHere’s something that’s not surprising, way down south in the Bible Belt Bobble Bayelt state of Mississippi. As the Biloxi Sun Herald explains, a judge there assigns Bible essays to youthful offenders (WebCite cached article):

Judge Albert Fountain offers youths found with alcohol an offer most don’t refuse.

In part, they must write him a 1,000-word essay in order to to keep the conviction off their records and avoid hefty costs.

They can write the entire essay about the effects of alcohol, but Fountain recommends they give him 500 words each on that and on the Book of Revelation, one of the most feared books in the Bible.

This is such an obvious violation of separation of church and state, that I can’t see why a sitting judge could even be allowed to get away with it. Then again, this is Christocratic Mississippi … where little things like the First Amendment just aren’t all that important.

The good judge claims there’s no force involved:

“I don’t force them to do it. It’s their choice.”

However, as explained in the article, there actually is force involved:

Those who accept the plea offer must hand over their driver’s license for 10 days and maintain good behavior, and are placed on 90 days of non-reporting probation. The case is then non-adjudicated and it stays off their record.

Those who don’t accept the offer are fined $500, ordered to pay a state assessment of $155.75 and lose their license for 90 days. And the conviction stands as a misdemeanor record.

So these kids have a choice: Write the essay, and skate on the charges; or not write the essay, and be punished (in not just one, but three different ways). To say there’s no coercion here is a clear lie on the judge’s part. That places him in my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

Why Revelation, one might ask? Because, as the judge himself admits, it’s the most terrifying book of the Bible:

“When they read Revelation, they can’t help but think about what we’re heading for in the future if we don’t do the right thing,” Fountain said.

“I’ve had them come back with tears in their eyes,” he said.

“They tell me it’s a scary book to read. I can’t force them to do it, but all I can do is plant a seed.”

Yep, that’s good old-fashioned Christian psychological terror: “Say, do, and believe what we order you to … or you’ll BURN IN HELL FOR ALL ETERNITY!!! Mwa ha ha ha ha ha!” Of course, neither Judge Fountain, nor the rest of his fellow Christofascists, see this as a problem. They’re willing to say and do anything in order to make “believers” out of others. They truly think the end justifies the means. As long as they’re saving souls for their precious Jesus, nothing else is important … even brazenly violating the Constitution, then lying about it, are acceptable for this sort of militant Christianist.

Photo credit: BenRR, via DeviantArt.

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Bamberger Apokalypse - Book with 7 Seals - The Second BeastA funny thing happened while Tim LaHaye and a cadre of like-minded proponents of cosmic doom ventured to Hawai’i to discuss their predictions of divinely-ordained cataclysm: They were rudely interrupted by the approach of a tsunami produced by the earthquake that rocked Japan a couple days ago. This event fit neatly into the doomsday scenarios that led him to establish the “Left Behind” publishing empire and made him a millionaire. He chose to explain all of this via his media outlet of choice, World Net Daily (locally-cached version):

Tim LaHaye, the best-selling author of the “Left Behind” series of Bible prophecy novels, was one of many visiting the island of Maui who had to be evacuated to upper floors of the Marriott Hotel today.

He said being caught in the crossfire of the fourth largest earthquake in modern history helped prepare him for two prophecy conferences he was scheduled to address in Hawaii.

“The Bible tells us in Matthew 24 that one of the signs of the last days — one of the birth pangs to occur — is an increase in earthquake activity and intensity,” LaHaye told WND. “We’re seeing that happen here. It’s not just earthquakes, but hurricanes and all kinds of natural disasters.”

That earthquakes (and hurricanes and other things) happen all the time, around the world, and have been happening since long before there ever was a “Biblical prophecy” — hence, one earthquake cannot possibly have been “prophesied” in the Bible — appears not to matter much to LaHaye. Like a dutiful literalist-End Timer, he rattles off a number of Bible verses he claims predicted the Japan earthquake … as though that can impress anyone not already part of his dour Christianist doomsday cult.

I love how hyperreligious nutcases are so eager to use human misery as a tool to promote themselves and their agendas, as Marion “Pat” Robertson did 14 months ago in the wake of the earthquake in Haiti. I expect LaHaye will meet any criticism he receives over this, with continued defiance and claims to be “right,” as Robertson did in the wake of the controversy that erupted over his own comments. These guys never back down, they never admit error, and they never concede anything … ever … no matter the facts of the issue at hand.

At any rate, it’s curious that LaHaye used chapter 24 of the gospel according to Matthew in order to support his “Bible prophecy.” It’s in this chapter that Jesus made predictions that have proven demonstrably incorrect. For example:

Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Mt 24:34)

By “all these things,” Jesus means the catastrophes LaHaye himself cited. Way to go, Tim, quoting a prophecy that proved false … since all the people Jesus spoke to — members of the “this generation” — have long since died, without “the End” having come while they were still around.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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YOU'RE NEXTThere are certain Bible passages which have caused much more mayhem than others. Exodus 22:18, for example, has directly caused the deaths of many women over the centuries. Matthew 28:18-20 led to forced conversions and uncountable violence in order to “spread the Gospel.” These days, Leviticus 18:22 is making life difficult for gays.

Another passage that appears to have inordinate control over many — especially of the Protestant-fundamentalist “end times” type of Christian — is Revelation 13:11-18, which is as follows:

Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon.

He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.

He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men.

And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life.

And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.

And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead,

and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.

Here is wisdom: Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.

This has spawned vast amounts of speculation as to who “the Beast” will be: Among the foolish speculations was that it was the assassinated Anwar Sadat, who defied this prediction by refusing to rise from the dead; then speculation was that “the Beast” would be whoever headed the European Common Market once it had ten member countries, although this too is now out of the question since it morphed into the European Union with many more members than 10); and many more guesses have been made … all of which have failed utterly. I will set aside the fact that, while most believers generally speak of “the Beast of Revelation,” the text actually talks about two separate “Beasts.”

At any rate, in addition to the bilge and kerfluffle that have erupted over the years concerning the identity and nature of “the Beast,” another matter of speculation has been exactly what would be “the Mark of the Beast,” and central to that is that it will be required for commerce under “the Beast’s” rule. That standard UPC codes appear to contain three 6s in their sequencing has been a source of continuing talk among the “Armageddon-worshipping” Christians. Of course, this is not actually the case, but when you’re obsessing over Armageddon, appearances are more than enough. I’m not sure what barcodes on products have to do with “the Mark of the Beast” which supposedly will be placed on people, but that too appears not to be a concern.

At any rate, we finally arrive at the point of this blog post, which is that there is a fundamentalist Christian who believes she has figured out what “the Mark of the Beast” is, and her contention has spawned a lawsuit. Wired Threat Level reports on this bizarre development, which apparently is less unique than I had thought:

A 22-year veteran kindergarten teacher in the Texas Bible Belt could lose her job for refusing, on religious grounds, to give fingerprints under a state law requiring them.

The evangelical Christian, Pam McLaurin, is fighting a looming suspension, claiming that fingerprinting amounts to the “Mark of the Beast,” and hence is a violation of her First Amendment right to practice her religion. Her case is similar to a lawsuit by a group of Michigan farmers, some of them Amish, challenging rules requiring the tagging of livestock with RFID chips, saying the devices are also the devil’s mark. …

McLaurin’s lawsuit against the Texas Education Agency cites various passages of Revelation, the final book of The Bible:

He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand and on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.… Then a third angel followed them saying with a loud voice — if anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God.… He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.

Her attorney, Scott Skelton, said his client believes that the computerized fingerprinting, in which her fingerprints will be stored in a database, is the mark addressed in Revelation. The teacher does not believe that it is merely coincidence that Revelation says only those with the ‘mark on his forehead or on his hand’ will be able to buy or sell, since only those teachers who comply with fingerprinting requirements will keep their jobs, he said.

I wasn’t aware that anyone could opt to have their fingerprints on their foreheads instead of their fingertips, but hey … once again, those Armageddon-worshippers never let little things like facts get in the way of their paranoid thinking.

Despite the lawsuit, the school district still thinks highly of Ms McLaurin:

The Big Sandy Independent School District, where the woman teaches, is located about 100 miles northeast of Houston. Wayne Haglund, the school district’s lawyer, described McLaurin is a “valued member of the faculty and one of the best teachers we have.”

The problem with this “fingerprints are ‘the Mark of the Beast'” scenario, of course, is that it doesn’t work, in the face of what the Bible says about “the Mark,” which is that “no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast” (Rev 13:17). Clearly the implication is that “the Mark” — whatever it’s supposed to have been — will be optional. People may choose to get it — and then be able to buy and sell — or not get it, and not be allowed to buy and sell. Fingerprints, however, are not “optional.” Every human being has fingerprints. (Except maybe the men in black, at least, according to the movie.)

Is it really a good idea to allow someone this fact-deprived and rationality-challenged to teach children? I think not.

Hat tip: The Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: Leo Reynolds.

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