Posts Tagged “christians”

Luther posting his 95 Theses in 1517, by Ferdinand Pauwels [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsToday is the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther posting his “95 Theses” to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. As the Associated Press reports via Religion News Service, Germany is celebrating “Reformation Day” as a holiday (Archive.Is cached article).

The history of Luther, his Theses, and the resulting schism — which continues to this day and is as entrenched as ever — is well known. The point of the Augustinian monk’s protest was to criticize the sale of indulgences. These are ways of reducing the time one must spend in Purgatory, after death, atoning for sins before reaching Heaven. It wasn’t indulgences Luther objected to per se, but rather, the Church’s sale of them.

This objection led to Luther, and others (including his friend Philip Melanchthon, who arguably was Luther’s intellectual superior and had more to do with the direction Luther’s movement would later take) to differ from the Church on more topics than just the sale of indulgences. Among the more important of these were the so-called Five Solas, declaring that salvation came from 5 interconnected sources — none of which was the Church itself or any of its personnel. The Christian didn’t need a priest, a church, or anything of the sort.

This approach to Christianity knocked the theological legs of the Church right out from under it, rendering it useless. Those who disliked the Church and competed with it for power, certainly found this sort of thinking attractive. Luther and Melanchthon made their reform movement more appealing to the numerous princes in Germany by advocating nationalizing Church treasuries within each realm. Many of them ultimately signed on, and effectively became heads of both church and state within their domains. In the 1530s, King Henry VIII of England would follow a similar philosophy in seizing control of the English Church.

But for all that came of the movement Luther launched (and for which Melanchthon, then John Calvin became the chief proponents, along with many other reformers like Ulrich Zwingli), what’s forgotten are the reformers who came before Luther and had raised similar issues themselves. Perhaps the most important of these was Jan Hus, executed for his “heresy” just over a century before Luther posted his “95 Theses,” who in turn had been inspired by John Wycliffe of England. The ideas of both these men actually continued on, through Luther’s time, and even beyond. Hus’s movement led to the establishment of a separate organization (i.e. the Moravian Church), which still exists.

And these, in turn, had forebears in the Waldenses of France in the late 12th century. Church reforms, you see, were not new. Some reform movements were internal, taking place within and inside the Church, such as the Cluniac reforms, the rise of the mendicant orders, etc.

It is true that the Church’s power was broken by the onset of the Reformation sparked by Luther’s protest, but the stage had been set for him, already, by others. What’s more, the Church had, by then, already undermined itself and its credibility as an institution, e.g. the Great Western Schism and its other attempts at meddling in European politics, like Boniface VIII’s issuance of Unam Sanctam. It’s possible to make too much of what Luther did, and to fail to realize that it’s the inherent irrationality and uncertainty of the many precepts of Christianity which helped the Church grow in power and become mighty in the first place, then to collapse as an institution subsequently as European Christendom fractured into many competing sects.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Group photo of women wearing bikinisWe all know religionists tend not to think highly of women. This is true across religions; many Muslims are notably misogynistic, as I’ve noted many times, but a lot of Christians are, too. And Orthodox Jews are no better.

But as poorly as these religions treat women, they obviously don’t think very highly of men. The idea that women must dress modestly — sometimes so modestly that they barely even seem to be human — results from their assumption that men are too primitive to exercise restraint in the presence of women who actually look like women. Usually these modesty-rules are promoted in the name of treating women with “dignity,” but honestly, there’s no “dignity” in forcing women to cover themselves up that much.

So it’s rare that any religionist openly and explicitly admits s/he thinks men are slaves to their raging libidos, but once in a while one of them lets the cat out of the bag. This happened recently when, as Right Wing Watch reports, a Christianist pastor claimed that women who dress provocatively are “sexually assaulting” men (Archive.Is cached article):

Carl Gallups, a right-wing pastor and conspiracy theorist who spoke at Trump campaign rallies during the 2016 election, spent a portion of his radio program on Friday discussing the idea that women are “sexually assaulting” men by dressing in a provocative manner.

Gallups interviewed Mike Shoesmith, who recently wrote a piece [cached] in response to the Hollywood sexual assault scandals arguing that women who wear “sexually suggestive clothing around a man” are legally guilty of sexual assault. While Gallups and Shoesmith repeatedly made clear that they were not excusing or condoning sexual assault against women in any way, they were nevertheless outraged that women are allowed to torment men by “walking around in their little sister’s skirt.”

“Men are visually stimulated and unwanted stimulation should meet the basic definition of assault,” Shoesmith said, asserting that women who dress in a suggestive manner are “guilty of indecent visual assault on a man’s imagination, which does cause mental anguish and torment.”

These two bastions of wisdom went on to relate that men are (as I mentioned above) helpless in the face of their neurophysiology and biologically incapable of resisting feminine wiles. Oh, the poor little things! How dare those awful women insolently allow others to see their bodies! How horrific!

Oh, and as for the idea that these two Christianist pricks weren’t “excusing or condoning sexual assault against women” … well, here’s what that is:*cough* Bullshit! *cough* / JaromirAzarov, via Imgur

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

P.S. I wish RWW would stop identifying outspoken evangelical pastors as supporters of the Groper-in-Chief. American evangelicals in general overwhelmingly support the GiC (cached); there’s no need to point this out when discussing them.

P.P.S. This is one of those times when the phrase “Christian Taliban” isn’t without merit (cached).

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'What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church ... such lies would not be against God, he would accept them.' -Martin Luther (PsiCop original graphic)This is the second post today where I’ve had to address something that was said at the Values Voters Summit in Washington. And it happens also to concern a lie that was told in support of Christianism. (I expect dozens of lies were told there, today … but I only have just so much time, so these two will have to do).

The liar I’ll discuss here is former Congresswoman (and current raging Christofascist) Michele Bachmann. As Right Wing Watch reports, she repeated the old fundamentalist canard that archaeology proves the Bible (Archive.Is cached article):

Apparently operating under her new anointing as pastor, Bachmann opened her remarks by celebrating the election of Donald Trump before dedicating a significant portion of the remainder of her speech to recounting the history of Christianity and the saving power of Christ.

“You know, the remarkable thing,” she said, “when you read the Bible, every archeology find that has ever come forward has only proved the authenticity of the Bible.”

This claim — while it’s widely repeated among fundies like Bachmann — is an out-&-out lie. Pure bullshit. A steaming load heaved right out the back of the barn. The cold fact is that archaeology has actually failed to confirm much of the Bible’s contents. For instance, there’s no archaeological evidence for a worldwide flood. There’s no evidence the Hebrews were captive in Egypt, nor is there any evidence of an “exodus,” the Red Sea never parted, nor is there evidence that Hebrews conquered the Levant in a military campaign.

I could go on, but it would be pointless. The number of Biblical events which have never been confirmed by archaeology is legion. It’d be easier for me to point out times they coincide; there are only a few. Among them is the Hittites, a people who were mentioned a few times in the Bible, and had been thought of as maybe-legendary, but hadn’t been encountered by archaeologists until a little over a century ago. But some ruins and tablets … and texts found in Egypt as well … confirmed that there had, indeed, been Hittites in the Near East.

So archaeologically speaking, the Bible got that right — but unfortunately for Bachmann and her fundie ilk, not much else.

Fundies tell this lie, and repeat it endlessly, because it reinforces in their minds the importance of their own strict and literal reading of the Bible texts. They’re so convinced of their mantra that “archaeology confirms the Bible” that they’ve run roughshod over the Near East, particularly Israel and the West Bank, desperately flailing around in search of stuff they think they can use to “prove” to the rest of the world that they’re right (cached). That they haven’t been able to do this, decades into their search, should speak volumes.

At any rate, I’ve added Ms Bachmann to my “lying liars for Jesus” club, where she’ll find many like-minded Christofascists.

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Orlando - Disney World - Hollywood Studios - The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights - Peace On Earth Globe & Merry Christmas SignThe end of the year is approaching, and with it — of course! — come the annual repeated appeals to a phantasmal “struggle” called the War on Christmas. This is the contention made by Religious Rightists that Christmas is being outlawed in the US (presumably as the opening salvo in a presumed effort to outlaw Christianity entirely). I call it “phantasmal” because — well! — it is!

There truly is no “war” on the Christmas holiday. Christmas trees have never been removed from anyone’s homes. Churches have never been forcibly closed on Christmas Day. It’s not illegal to buy and give Christmas presents, nor to send Christmas cards. Nothing of the sort has ever happened in the US. Not once … not anywhere … not at all. Ever.

But to hear the R.R. tell it, one would think their very lives are in danger merely because they think about Christmas.

For me, then, the so-called “war on Christmas” is an annual event on my blog. It accounts for many blog posts. And I can always rely on the R.R. to weigh in on it, year after year after year.

This year’s edition begins with our Groper-in-Chief, that legendary champion of Christmas, who — as The Hill reports — weighed in on the phony controversy at this year’s Values Voter Summit (Archive.Is cached article):

President Trump reignited the “war on Christmas” on Friday, telling a crowd of supporters that “we’re saying merry Christmas again” now that he’s president.

Speaking to a packed crowd at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., Trump argued political correctness has gotten in the way of celebrating the holiday.

The GiC rambled a bit, as he usually does, laughably and insanely trying to wax poetic about a fake effort to prevent Christianists from worshipping their Christmas, but then he dropped this extra snippet of idiotic drivel:

Trump went on to briefly pivot toward his push to cut taxes, calling for tax reform as a “Christmas gift.”

Yeah right. The Apricot Wonder’s “tax reform” isn’t going to be any “Christmas gift” for anyone except businesses or the wealthy (cached) — because, pity the poor little things, they’re just soooo beaten down and persecuted, you see.

If I haven’t been clear enough on this, allow me to repeat what I’ve said almost since this blog began: There is no effort to outlaw Christmas, anywhere in the United States. It is not happening, anywhere in the country. Yes, it had been outlawed in some colonies before the country’s independence, by dour Puritans (cached), but they’ve been gone for centuries. Ironically, perhaps, the modern Religious Right movement has a lot in common with the fiercely religionistic Puritans. One wonders why they’re so militant about celebrating a holiday which is not mentioned in their holy scripture, and which hadn’t even been celebrated by Christians in their religion’s first couple centuries. Hmm.

In addition to being clear that there is, in fact, no “war on Christmas” in the US, and it’s been legal to say “Merry Christmas” throughout the country’s history, I’d also like to add that American Christians tend to believe a lot of things about Christmas which, in the end, also are not true at all. For some reason, they seem to like to use Christmas as a kind of bludgeon, and when the reality of this holiday doesn’t suit their needs, they just go and make up shit about it.

Oh, and the GiC’s lie about “Merry Christmas” having been outlawed, places him squarely in my “lying liars for Jesus” club. He’ll enjoy that, I’m sure, since lying is perhaps the one thing he’s best at, and he’s proud of it (cached).

Photo credit: Jared, via Flickr.

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Lucifer, the fallen angel / By Gustave Doré (for Paradise Lost) [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsDespite their religiosity — or perhaps, because of it! — American Christianists oppose religious freedom. Oh sure, they stomp around trumpeting how great religious freedom is, and even whine about how they don’t have any (although that’s a fucking lie). The truth is, they have all the religious freedom they want … and the religious freedom they most want, is the “freedom” to impose their religion on everyone and to harass those who insolently defy their dour metaphysics.

Toward that end, they’ve proclaimed limits on others’ religious freedoms. For instance, many Neocrusaders insist Muslims don’t have any religious freedom, on the grounds that Islam isn’t really a religion, it’s a political philosophy instead. That political philosophies, in addition to religions, are also protected by the First Amendment, is something they appear not to understand. They also say this as though their own religion isn’t, itself, political movement, even though it most certainly is.

No, the mantra they love to spew is that the US was founded by Christians, therefore, only Christians have “religious freedom” — even though, quite obviously, the First Amendment doesn’t say a word about Christianity or any other religion specifically.

The latest Christofascist to reel off this lie, as Right Wing Watch reports, is Rick Wiles (Archive.Is cached article):

End Times radio host Rick Wiles appeared on a program hosted by Greg Hunter of USAWatchdog.com over the weekend, where Wiles declared that people have no right to worship Satan in America and warned that doing so will bring destruction on this nation.

Wiles said that our society “has been sterilized of God” and “Satan is now coming in to fill the vacuum” and is outraged by reports [cached] that city officials in Boca Raton, Florida, are allowing a satanic display to be erected in a city park during the holiday season.…

“What is happening to this country?” Wiles asked. “We’ve lost our mind. And the city council and the mayor say, ‘Well, these satanists have their rights too.’ No, they don’t. They don’t have any rights. You don’t have the right to worship Lucifer. I’m sorry, but this country was founded by Christians, you don’t have the right to worship Lucifer in this country. You’re going to bring damnation and judgment on the nation.”

Note, Wiles’s complaint is pretty much the same as had been hurled a couple years ago by a bunch of militant Christianists in Texas protesting a “Satanist church” there. What none of them understands are two things: First, Satanists have the same “religious freedom” rights as anyone else; and second, they don’t actually worship Satan … they’re just protesting militant Christofascism with an ironic counter-argument of their own. In other words, these Christofascists just aren’t getting the message. It went right over their sniveling, infantile heads.

Wikimedia Commons.

I’ll end this post with a little dig at all the Christofascists out there: Hail Satan!

Hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

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Pacifier for newborn, 2015-07-12Christians love to claim believing in Jesus makes them better people … considerate, compassionate, upright, helpful, moral, etc. I’m sure a lot of them think this is true — but it’s not. If it were, a country with upwards of 85% Christians ought to have virtually no crime and no destitution, but obviously that’s not the case. And if it were the case, we wouldn’t have the phenomenon of couples killing their own children (or just as bad, purposely allowing them to die) because of their faith in Jesus.

This is something I’ve blogged about a number of times, and as horrible as it is, it keeps happening. The Detroit Free Press reports on one example of it having recently happened, in Michigan (Archive.Is cached article):

A Lansing woman refused to seek medical treatment for her newborn daughter even after a midwife warned that the infant’s jaundice could lead to brain damage or death, a police detective testified last week in court.

The mother told the midwife her baby was fine, and that “God … makes no mistakes,” the detective said.

Two days later the infant was dead.

The woman, 30-year-old Rachel Joy Piland, and her husband, 36-year-old Joshua Barry Piland, have been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

The article tells the story of how this happened. The baby was born apparently healthy, but the next day was different:

But when the midwife saw the baby on Feb. 7, her assessment changed.

Abigail appeared jaundiced, and the midwife advised Rachel Piland to take the child to a pediatrician or an emergency room, Scaccia said. “She told Piland the baby could suffer brain damage or die if not properly cared for.

“Rachel declined to seek any medical treatment for Abigail, stating God makes no mistakes,” Scaccia said. “She indicated to the midwife that the baby was fine.”

The child didn’t improve. Piland “went to listen to sermons” rather than call for the help her midwife had recommended. After the child died according to a Lansing detective:

“They then brought Abigail upstairs to pray for her. Joshua continued to massage Abigail, attempting to get her good air. Both Josh and (Rachel) reached out to friends and fellow church members to come to their home and pray for Abigail’s resurrection, but never called the police.”

This couple is involved with some kind of non-denominational Bible school called “Faith Tech Ministries,” which has had nothing to say about this incident.

This couple put their love for their Jesus above their love (if one can call it that) for their own infant daughter. We need to stop already with the claims about how wonderful faith is, and stop treating it as admirable. Obviously, in this case — and in many others — it wasn’t wonderful at all, and no one should admire faith that extreme.

Oh, and before anyone says “Not all Christians think that way,” guess again! Their own holy scripture relays the story of a profoundly righteous man — the legendarily-holy Abraham himself — who’d been willing to sacrifice his own son to his deity YHWH. Not only is this story found in the Old Testament, it’s upheld in the New Testament as proof of Abraham’s sanctity and faith:

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son. (Hebrews 11:17)

And in the gospels, Jesus himself calls for parents and children to turn on one another, over him:

For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. (Matthew 10:35-36)

Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:51-53)

For better or worse, even Christians who aren’t cruel enough to kill their kids for Jesus, cannot disavow the notion — deep within their religion — that faith in God is to come before all else, even one’s love for one’s own children. That principle lurks within their faith, whether or not they wish to admit it.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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In this 2012 photo provided by a former member of the church, Word of Faith Fellowship leader Jane Whaley, center, holds a baby with others during a church ceremony in Spindale, N.C. From all over the world, they flocked to a tiny North Carolina town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, lured by promises of inner peace and eternal life. What many found instead: years of terror _ waged in the name of the Lord. (AP Photo)It’s been awhile since I blogged about the sorry crew which is the Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, NC. In their case, it’s not quite true that “no news is good news.” Far from it! The Associated Press has continued digging into their affairs, and reports on a scheme the church’s leadership cooked up (Archive.Is cached article):

When Randy Fields’ construction company faced potential ruin because of the cratering economy, he pleaded with his pastor at Word of Faith Fellowship church to reduce the amount of money he was required to tithe every week.

To his shock, Fields said church founder Jane Whaley proposed a divine plan that would allow him to continue contributing at least 10 percent of his income to the secretive evangelical church while helping his company survive: He would file fraudulent unemployment claims on behalf of his employees. She called it, he said, “God’s plan.”

The scheme went like this: Companies owned by Whaley’s parishioners would pretend to lay off employees, allowing them to file for unemployment, but they would continue working at those companies. The business would have workers, but no payroll. For them, it must have been an amazing boon.

But if you’re smart, like me, you immediately knew the gaping hole in this plan … at least, for the employees:

The former congregants said that not only were they coerced into continuing to work while collecting unemployment, the money fell short of what they needed to pay their bills.

“The unemployment checks never equaled what you were making,” said [Rick] Cooper, who worked for Diverse Corporate Tech Inc., a manufacturing company owned by church leader Kent Covington.

“I was making about $700 a week, but I only collected $235 a week in unemployment,” Cooper said. “So I’m working the same hours — many times, much longer hours — for less. It was devastating for my family.”

Church members were expected to keep tithing regardless of their financial situations and Whaley kept close tabs on “who was giving what,” Cooper said.

The AP reports beatings were doled out for anyone who didn’t cooperate, along with separating people from other parishioners and even family members. Yeah, nice, huh?

All in order to keep tithes coming in from business owners who were having financial problems. Tithes, to a church which is part of the religion founded by a man who supposedly taught the virtues of poverty, and specifically — and explicitly — taught his followers not to amass money and never concern themselves with it:

  • “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. … No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matthew 6:19-21, 24)
  • Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 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.” When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” (Matthew 19:21-25)
  • Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 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.” They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” (Mark 10:21-26)
  • And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44)
  • And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 6:20)
  • “But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.” (Luke 6:24)
  • “Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:33-34)
  • “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Luke 16:13)
  • When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! 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.” They who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” (Luke 18:22-26)
  • “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: … ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.'” (Revelation 3:14a, 17-18)

(If those aforementioned Bible verses sound familiar, that’s because I cribbed them from a much-longer article I wrote, discussing many Biblical teachings that most Christians have refused to obey.)

Some participants in this scheme cooperated with the state’s investigation, even though risk being prosecuted for unemployment fraud themselves. I wonder what else the AP is going to uncover about these people?

Photo credit: Associated Press.

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