Sunday, January 28, 2007

Be ye separate: some fundies enter the last century.

Some evangelical, fundamentalist schools have taken baby steps into the 20th century just one century late. The New York Times reports that these institutions, after some discussion, have decided to allow student dances! (Note the link to the Times article may not be good for long since they have the tendency to hide them in archives after a short period and try to charge outrageous fees to access the old articles.)

The Times tells of John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas which was founded by fundamentalist minister John Brown in 1919. Only in December did the university host the first on-campus dance. Prior to a rule change in October anyone dancing on campus would be expelled. The paper reports: “In the past 10 years, several of America’s most established evangelical schools, including Baylor University in Texas, Wheaton College in Illinois and Cornerstone University in Michigan, have lifted restrictions on dancing...”

The dean of students at John Brown, Steven Beers, said: “The evangelical subculture is no longer seeing all forms of social dancing as evil.” A survey of 18 evangelical schools found that half now allow dancing though they can’t agree on how to allow this formally sinful activity. Some restrict students to dances held on campus only. Others restrict students to dances held off campus only. Those that allow often list which dances are acceptable and which are not.

The author of the Times article, Mark Oppenheimer, notes that many of the prohibitions among fundamentalists seem “rooted entirely in prudential culture -- where else would we get the notion, enshrined in the rules of some Christian colleges, that boys must keep their hair cut short, lest they confuse gender roles? And how can dancing be prohibited?” He notes that these issues, in the eyes of the born-again, “did not fit with contemporary understandings of temperance, modesty or prudence. But within this answer was a tacit concession that as culture changes, some rules change, too.”

Particularly popular is Swing dancing. But this sort of dancing was strictly banned as leading to immorality in the past. Now as the world changes the evangelicals seem to shift their moral goal posts as well and that which one generation ago was decadent they now see as wholesome.

One student was skeptical and sounded like the fundamentalists I know. She said this was “giving in to the hegemony of the secular world, and we’ll lose what makes us unique. It’s not that I think that people will dance and go home and have sex, but we’ll lose some of what makes us different.”

Certainly it was my experience that a good deal of the odd rules and regulations among fundamentalists had a lot to do with “being different” and nothing with Scripture. These were often people who had a deep seated need to be morally superior to their neighbors so they concocted morality rules to “set themselves apart”. It was often arbitrary and sometime bizarre.

In my experience in fundamentalism women were not allowed to wear trousers of any kind. And they were encouraged to wear their hair long. Men, on the other hand, had to have very short hair. How short was always a point of debate.

One experience I’ll never forget at seminary was arriving for the start of a new year. A young man came up and introduced himself to me and shook hands. He said he wanted to know who I was. I told him. He chatted briefly, smiled and walked away. I thought to myself that he was being very nice to introduce himself like that.

Little did I know. He had arbitrarily decided that my hair was about a quarter of an inch too long. He introduced himself and wanted to know my name because he wanted to go the staff and turn me in for flouting the rules and promoting immorality since my hair was a tiny bit too long. I was called in to the office, told I had demerits because of it and sent home to get a haircut. I literally had one about two weeks before. We really were talking about the difference between very short hair and very, very short hair.

The girls were routinely lined up and made to kneel on the floor where staff would take out rulers and measure the distance from the floor to the bottom hem of their skirt. I believe two inches was the maximum distance allowed and anything else was immoral. Movie theaters were off limits no matter what they showed. Swimming was off limits as well unless segregated by gender. Interracial dating was strictly forbidden. Alcoholic beverages were strictly forbidden and church communion used grape juice. Whether or not television was acceptable at all was hotly debated.

They couldn’t figure out if women should wear make up to look feminine or whether make up made them look harlots. One church would give seminars on how women could become “total women” through the use of make up while another church, in the same denomination, would ban all make up whatsoever.

There was this belief that if fundamentalists held to such rules that they would stand out and that others would want to emulate them. Mostly other people just ridiculed them.

But as I said I don’t think this emulation theory was behind this “being separate” idea at all. I think it was more deeply rooted in the psychological needs of the typical fundamentalist. Most were poorly educated, compared to the rest of the public, most were decent people but not particularly talented or well off. There was no real sense of accomplishment or self-esteem. Their view of self depended on how others viewed them.

Their fundamentalism gave them immediate superiority to the entire world around them. They had salvation, something most millionaires lacked. They might not be smart, well off or educated but they were “saved”. All those smart people with money and good jobs were doomed to hell.

The fundamentalists are looking for something to give them status. And the worldly traits of education, prestige, and wealth are pretty much unattainable for many of them. So they find their status in something different -- their beliefs. They are the saved and we are the damned. But beliefs don’t show. And many people feel the need to show off. They show off with big houses, fancy cars, expensive trinkets or vacations, etc.

How does someone who has nothing to show off to others gain recognition of his superiority? (Please note I don’t think any of these things show what a person is worth at all and that they are poor substitutes for true self-esteem. But this problem is apparent in lots of people religious or not.)

Now someone with some money can go out and buy a fancy car so he can receive envious looks from others. He then assumes, falsely, that this means he is superior to those without his car. From this he concludes he has some value as a person. But the fundamentalists has internal “superior” markers in his beliefs. But that doesn’t get any of the looks that such people need to tell themselves they are valued.

So they end up with the super short haircuts, the extra long dresses, styles from the 1950s, the often loud, conspicuous saying of “grace” before eating in public, the shunning of movie theaters and dances. They invent all sorts of markers to define themselves separate from everyone else because they find that by being different they can believe they are being better. It is a way to gain self-esteem without actually having a reason for it.

Of course such markets will shift with the culture. While they argue they are “in the world but not of the world” and they are “separating” themselves from worldly influences they are deeply influenced by the world. The man or woman of no self esteem can allow the world to dictate to him in two ways. One is the slave to the current fashion. They are the ones who have to have the latest clothes, the latest music and join in on the latest fads. Whatever is “trendy” dictates to them how they are to act. Their actions are determined by the collective temporary values of their culture.

The fundamentalist thinks they have removed themselves from this sort of behavior. They have not. Instead they allow the current fad to dictate to them by always refusing to follow it. They cling to the old fads and fashions because they are old and they shun the new because they are new. They don’t really determine how they will live as individuals. They let dead generations dictate to them in what they cling to and they shun new fads merely because they are new.

They still refuse to be self-actualized individuals. They need the herd to define themselves. They may laugh at the teen aged girl who is a slave to cultural collective. But they are no different.

When you obey others they control you. When you rebel constantly against what others say they still control you. Your course of action is determined by what they think. You reject their values so you do the opposite of what they say. But the cultural rebel is as much a puppet of the culture as the fashion conscious faddist.

To give you the idea of how legalistic some evangelicals are about such things here are some dress rules for one Christian school. (By the way they seem relatively liberal compared to many others.)

They have rules about what colors are permitted: “solid navy, light blue, red or white” seems okay on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. But Wednesday is chapel day and parents are told to view the “dress code chart” for acceptable garments. Friday is casual day when blouses and polo shirts from particular companies only are allowed along with Christian t-shirts and sports shirts for the school team. The student is even allowed to leave the shirt untucked provided “when the student raises his/her hands the midriff or undergarments do not show”. (Wouldn’t want that to happen, the lust would be uncontrollable.)

Dresses no shorter than 2 inches above the knee. Boys can’t have sideburns below “the tip of the ear lobe”. (I think that must be in Galatians!) Girls can have one piercing per ear only. Boys are not allowed any. They are liberal on hair for boys compared to my old school. They require it to be above the eyebrows in the front “and not below the top of the shirt collar in the back” and on the side “the lower half of the ear” must be visible. That is far longer than the hair cut that got me into trouble. Any styles requiring gel are forbidden. Jeans are allowed (Jesus weeps) provided they are not “too tight” but they also must not be “too loose”. They can’t be low rise, can’t be frayed or have any holes. And can only be worn on Friday! (Sort of the fundie equivalent to the old fish on Friday rule I guess.) And “No cargo/crop/capri/carpenter style jeans.” But shoes can be purchase “from retailer of choice” -- how modern!

For sporting events they say shorts had to be no shorter than 2 inches above the knee and “must reflect a biblical standard of modesty and appropriateness.” I am waiting to see what versus in the Bible discuss what kind of shorts one is allowed is to wear.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Same con, different faith.

If you think the Christian faith healers are real cons listen on this lunatic.

Exgay "ministries" focues of new film.

One of the saddest examples of fundamentalism has been the so-called “exgay” ministries. Once run by “exgays” that period pretty much ended after the exgays turned out to be not so exgay after all. Now many of the leaders are people who, while straight, were hurt to find that someone they loved was gay. Not long ago one major exgay group admitted that most the people who attend their meetings are the fundamentalist parents of gay children who simply can’t accept the fact that their child is gay.

A new film on this topic has just been shown at the Sundance film festival. Entitled Save Me it stars Chad Allen, Richard Gant and Judith Light. The three main stars were also producers of the film. Gant and Allen are gay. Sundance describes the film this way:

Save Me, is a film about redemption. Mark (Chad Allen), a lost, young, gay man, leads a wild life of drugs and meaningless sex, searching desperately to fill the emptiness in his soul. When Mark finally hits bottom, his brother checks him into Genesis House, a 12-step, Christian, "ex-gay" ministry specializing in healing sexual brokenness.

Genesis House is the life mission of Gayle (Judith Light) and her husband, Ted (Stephen Lang). Haunted by her past, Gayle is determined to save young homosexual men from their personal demons. Scott (Robert Gant), one of the program's "fifth phasers," is Mark's mentor. The growing friendship between these two men threatens Gayle. Increasingly suspect of Scott's motives, Gayle fights back, refusing to let her carefully controlled world fall apart. Torn by the specter of damnation and the pull of their hearts, Mark and Scott are forced to confront their truth.

The nuanced screenplay by Craig Chester, Alan Hines, and Robert Desiderio conveys the insidious harm of Christianity gone awry, while gracefully avoiding the pitfalls of cliché. Superbly shot amidst the beauty of the New Mexico desert and boasting exceptionally layered performances from its gifted stars, Save Me is pointedly topical and powerfully moving

Judith Light had starred as Angela Bowers in the old sitcom Who’s the Boss? where she worked with child star Danny Pintauro, who also admitted he was gay. Gant played Ben Bruckner in Queer as Folks and Allen is best known for his role of Matthew Cooper in 72 episodes of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Allen and Gant are also co-partners in Mythgarden, the production company behind Save Me.

One of the more surprising reviews of the film appeared in Christianity Today. Rev. David Swanson attended the Sundance festival with students from Fuller Theological Seminary. He says he can only “recommend sparingly” this film because: “I left the theatre completely wrecked--my head spinning.” Why sparingly is never made clear.

He writes: “One of the things that struck me about this film was how the filmmakers (some who are themselves gay as we learned during the question and answer time following the screening) portrayed the motives and stories of the conservative Christians who lead the ex-gay ministry with tenderness and grace. Is it possible that many in the gay community are more gracious in their understanding of Evangelical Christians than we are towards them?”

He continues discussing the “numerous men” “who wept during the most poignant moments of the film and wondered “how willing are we to acknowledge our own role in much of that painful memory?”

In the film Allen plays a conflicted gay man who falls into drugs. The role is not a stretch for Allen who admits that from age 12 to 24 he was using a variety of drugs. He says he was deeply depressed because he didn’t know how to deal with his sexuality. Allen got his start in television when just eight years old. One of his early roles that is best remembered was as Tommy Westphall in St. Elsewhere. In the final show of the series it is implied that the entire story line was nothing more than the imagination of the autistic boy play by Allen.

Allen was considered a teen age pinup surrounded by screaming girls who wanted him. He says he received letters from teens telling him how perfect their life would be if they could be just like him. He says: “And I was like, ‘no, you don’t understand!’ No one wants to hear that a 12-year-old kid isn’t sure if he wants to live.” As one journalist wrote: “Figuring out that you’re gay while screaming girls rip off your clothes is a mindfuck.” Allen eventually admitted his sexuality and was able to deal with his drug use as a result of it.

Gant and Allen, along with David Duchovny, are working on another film together, The Way Out.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Ted Haggard's word come to haunt him -- again.

Fundamentalist preacher Ted Haggard’s mouth has always gets him into trouble. If he’s not resigning over what he put into it he’s being embarrassed by what came out of it. The man never knew when to shut up. Remember that clip about homosexuality that did that appeared in the documentary Jesus Camp for instance.

Well, Alexandra Pelosi has finished her documentary on fundamentalism and it was Haggard who helped guide her around the fundamentalist Right. And there is the grinning Haggard spouting off about how “evangelicals have the best sex life of any other group.” And then he turns around and starts asking some of the men connected with his church how often they had sex with their wife.

I wonder if his impromptu survey asked how often hey had sex with male prostitutes?

Apparently Ted didn’t learn the lesson that those who can do and those who can’t talk about it. Sexual braggarts usually have issues. Ted was no exception.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Ministers in the news.

It’s been a while since we’ve run our column on ministers under arrest. Here’s a bit of the recent arrests in the news.

Rev. John Graier, youth minister at the First Christian Church in Moffat County, Colorado was arrested for sexual assault on two teenage girls. He posted bail, went home and apparently killed himself.

In Port Richey, Florida police have arrested Rev. Ronald Smart of the Union Missionary Baptist Church. One male member of the church says he came to see the minister after working a night long shift. He was sitting on the couch and fell asleep but woke up to find that the minister had pulled down his pants and was sitting on top of him. The minister was arrested for sexual assault.

Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus was actually arrested but he deserves an honorable mention. The Polish archbishop was recently exposed as having been a willing informer for the secret police of the previous Communist dictatorship. A new book to be published claims that 39 priests in the Krakow area were police informers.

Bishop Margaret Wanjiru of Jesus is Alive Ministries called a press conference. Then, in what is described as a stage-managed power blackout, her bodyguards attacked and beat a journalist. A bodyguard of the minister was arrested.

Joshua Allen was a minister at the Tyler Street Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Texas. He is now going to federal prison after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography including sadistic images.

Rev. Tyrone Moore of Full Word Ministries in North Charleston, South Carolina was arrested for molesting 7 underaged male members of his church. In a previous incident he pled guilty to molesting two young girls from a church where he was choir director. One girl, age nine, was given a venereal disease by the minister. He also admitted to a previous incident where he molested three girls.

Dennis Bowling is a high school drop out but that was no draw back when it came to being a minister. He has led the Kingdom Harvest Church, a Baptist congregation in Riverside, Ohio, for 19 years. He will probably serve a long period of time in prison for sexual assault on up to a dozen underage female members of his congregation.

Keith Brooks was a bishop at the Power of Deliverance Temple, Lebanon, Ohio, was arrested. He is facing charges for helping a cocaine dealer launder his income. In one incident the drug dealer purchased a car with income from his sales and the car was then registered as being owned by the church.

In Australia a senior elder of the Exclusive Brethren sect was arrested for sexual assault of two young girls. Church leaders pressured the parents of the victim to hide the incident and forced the girl to issue a letter of apology to her attacker. After the assault was reported church members began harassing the family of the victim in retribution.

In northern Kentucky a Catholic priest, Thomas Gaeke, was arrested for possession of illegal drugs. In Virginia Father Rodney Lee Rodis was arrested for embezzling something like $600,000 from the church. In San Paulo Brazil Father Aparecido Bianchi was arrested for drunk driving after driving his car into a crowd. He taunted police who arrested him, made obscene gestures and tried to offer them a bribe.

In Deltona, Florida two Catholic priests were implicated in a scandal. It is alleged that the two priests invited a 35-year-old man for dinner and then plied him with alcohol. It is then claimed that the one priest physically restrained the man while the other priest performed oral sex on him.

In Chicago Father Mark Sorvillo is facing charges for stealing close to $200,000 in funds from the St. Margaret Mary Church.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Islamic logic on sex.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Islam in the West.

Here is a disturbing undercover expose of what is preached by Islamists in the mosques of Britain. Don't assume things are any different in the United States. And after you watch this series consider this scary message. Right-wing author Dinesh D'Souza says that Christian conservatives in America ought to ally themselves with Islamists to wipe out the "liberal" social freedoms of the West. It is frightening to listen to these fanatics and see how similar they are to Christian fundamentalists -- or to see how similar Christian fundamentalists are to them. Take your pick. Both are threats to Western civilization and values.

The following videos will show you the entire series from England.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Andrew Sullivan: Embrace your Inner Atheist.

One of the blogs which I read is Andrew Sullivan. He often makes sense, though not always. While he has been a strong opponent of fundamentalist Christianism he is religious. And now and then he goes into his faith babble and when he does he often becomes totally incoherent. I heard him lecture in Amsterdam and remember some of the kind of comments he made.

One particularly incoherent comment of his was along these lines: “I believe because I doubt, I doubt because I believe.” It is the kind of rhetoric one can only get away with when talking theology. I suspect that is because most people assume theology isn’t supposed to be understandable anyway. After all we are talking about the “mysterious” and the “unknowable”. In others words it is about people saying incoherent things about topics which they know nothing about and deny the ability to know anything about. Yet one is always faced with them talking about it -- often endlessly.

Now if this makes no sense to the human mind, if it is unknowable then logically we can have nothing to say about it. In fact we can’t even claim that it is unknowable since that is to claim some knowledge about it.

Sullivan is having an on-line debate with Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith. And while I won’t report on the debate here is a section of what Sullivan said, and this is what I want to comment upon.

Sullivan talks about “truth” but what is his truth? First, can you have truth without a comprehending mind? Is there truth if there is only immaterial objects or lower order animals incapable of rational thought? I’m wondering if you can even speak of truth outside the existence of man. Otherwise what you have is just existence. But “truth” is not another word for existence. It is an evaluation about a theory of existence. When we say something is truth we are saying it is a theory that, in comparison with existence, is rationally shown to be valid.

So for truth to exist you need a human mind, developing a theory, comparing the theory to the reality of existence and then logically appraising it as valid. But for Sullivan “truth” is a vague term that can not be as I’ve describe it. For instance he says that there is no conflict between reason and faith “since both are reconciled by a Truth that may yet be beyond our understanding.”

What sort of truth is that? If it is beyond our understanding how does he know it is ‘truth”? He can’t. But he realizes there are problems between faith and reason so the invents an explanation that is not an explanation at all -- it is truth that is yet beyond our understanding.

Further theobabble from Andrew: “But just because that Truth may be beyond our human understanding does not mean it is therefore in a cosmic sense unreasonable.” This is what I mean about saying things that sound profound but lack any substantive meaning. There are facts we don’t know. But “true” is not an evaluation of existence. Existence simple is. It can neither be true nor false.

To say there is truth we don’t understand is an absurdity since truth is an evaluation of our estimation of existence. If we have no understanding we have no theory and we are saying nothing. You can not evaluate nothing as true or false.

More theobabble: “At some point faith has to abandon reason for mystery -- but that does not mean -- and need never mean -- abandoning reason altogether.” Here is how I see what this means: when we invent gods and the supernatural we are getting into things which by definition are invalid rationally, so we call them mysteries. Of course he has to say this a mystery because there is no reason or logic to it. The entire premise is false. Now they will attempt to smuggle in premises and then logically argue based on the false premises. But when you challenge the false premises they either try to smuggle in further false premises or appeal to mysteries, the unknowable, etc.

Always at the bottom of theology there is a foundation of emptiness. They may construct great edifices of logic but these are based on ultimate premises that are vacuums. You go down to the foundation and find a black hole staring back at you. Everything that is based on a nothing is itself nothing.

Andrew talks about “mystery as the core reality of any religious life.” Notice he smuggled in the idea that this mystery, this black hole, is somehow reality. The vacuum at the bottom of religion is not reality. It is the absence of reality. Andrew tells Harris that he finds religion troubling “purely because it upholds truths that cannot be proven empirically or even, in some respects, logically.”

Then by what standard does he call these things “truths”?

When we say that something is true we specifically mean that the statement that is made is consistent with reality and has been demonstrated as such. When Andrew speaks of true he speaks of things which are not demonstrated and which apparently can’t be demonstrated. Truth has no meaning in that sense. Any statement, no matter how absurd, could be true since truth no longer is tied to demonstrating the reasonableness of a theory.

What Sullivan does, whether it is his intention or not, is to chuck our reason and logic. But since he is not a fundamentalist he does this. He accepts reason and logic for most things. But there are things he wants to believe, things for which there is no evidence that can be verified. So for the things he feels emotionally attached to, but which for which there is no evidence, he then invents a second means of understanding which he calls faith. It is trotted out to justify beliefs that can not be justified in any other way.

He likes the pageantry and ritual of Catholicism. Its theater for him. He doesn’t accept most the doctrines of Catholicism. He thinks them wrong on most such issues. In the film Jeffrey, the main character seeks out a priest for advice. But he finds a priest who is an atheist who find meaning instead in Broadway show tunes. I see Andrew as somewhat like that priest. He has abandoned most the doctrine, clings to a few ideas he finds comfort in (ideas that make him feel good) and then finds meaning in the theater of religion -- the show tunes, if you will.

Take away the theater of Catholicism and he’d lose the last thing about the church that really seems to inspire him. But then he’d cling to the “feel good” ideas about a deity just because they meet some emotional need. But find comfort in ideas does not make the ideas truth. And throwing out reason and logic so truth means nothing doesn’t solve the problem.

Here is my theory about Andrew Sullivan. At his core there is atheist screaming to come out. But there is a frightened individual fearful that meaning will vanish is his god dies. So he indulges in theobabble that sounds profound but which is an intellectual void. My advice: come out of the closet, embrace your inner atheist.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Those Crazy Anabaptists: Europes first Marxists?

The Anabaptist tradition, today associated in the minds of most people with Mennonites, Hutterites and Amish-type groups, had a long history of revolutionary, coercive socialism based on their understanding of the Scriptures. Peter Walpot, in 1577, in his Great Article Book laid down the Biblical principles of community ownership of the means of production and consumption. Mennonite theologian John Yoder said:

Walpot’s treatise provides more systematic pastoral and ethical arguments where appropriate [for communal ownership]. Such are developed around the texts: “no man can serve two masters,” and “lay not up treasures for yourselves upon earth.” Even the Lord’s Prayer teaches community. Christ did not teach us to say severally, “give me my bread.” The Apostle’s Creed requires us to confess: “I believe in the communion of saints.” Jesus taught community by example, through the miraculous feeding of all who had come to him in the desert; and by doing it by means of the generosity of those who gave what they had. He called the rich young man to enter into that sharing. When the young man turned sorrowfully away, the disciples had learned how hard it was for the rich to enter the Kingdom.
It is obvious that the example of the Jerusalem Church is a powerful supporting argument.
...The Hutterite case would not be weakened if the first chapter of Acts were removed from the story: it is to be found in every other strand of the New Testament.

Yoder notes that Walpot treatise ended with a quote from the Theologia Germanica which pointed out that in Heaven there is no private property and for that reason people “are found content, true peace, and all blessedness.” It argued that if anyone claimed something as property they would be promptly cast into hell. Hutterties also said, “private property is the greatest enemy of love”. While many socialist, anti-liberal concepts find their root in Catholic doctrine it is also true that some of the most radical, socialist experiments (and some of the bloodiest) were rooted in early Reformationist communities.

Harold S. Bender, president of the Mennonite World Conference, lamented how the Anabaptists were perceived. He admits that one writer referred to them as “the Bolsheviks of the Reformation”. But even various socialist writers applauded the Anabaptists. Bender writes: “There are, for instance, the socialist writers, led by Kautsky, who would make Anabaptism either ‘the forerunner of the modern socialism” or the “culminating effort of medieval communism’.”

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, in his book Leftism, quotes Carl Cornelius in regards to some of the Reformationists of the Anabaptist tradition:

The Zürich Doctrines were obeyed in the most uncompromising and radical form. Government offices, oaths and the use of arms were strictly outlawed. Nobody owned property. The stranger who asked for Baptism had to surrender all his earthly goods to the community but in the case of excommunication or banishment nothing was returned to him. Family life, which cannot be imagined without property, was replaced with a different order. The marriages, without consultation of the partners, were decreed and blessed by the Servants of the Word. The children soon after their birth were handed over to wet nurses and later placed in the common school house. Dressed and fed in an identical way, the adults lived according to their occupation in larger households under the supervision of a Servant of Necessity. The whole life moved, day in day out, within the narrowest limits. Any manifestation of personal independence or freedom led to banishment which meant to bottomless misery.

Those Christian traditions which preach a coming literal millennial rule of Christ on earth, mainly today’s evangelical and fundamentalist sects, are outside the mainstream tradition of Christian theology. But they are, perhaps, the dominant tradition when it comes to eschatalogical teaching today. Rothbard in his essay on Marxism as a religious concept talks about the concept of a literal Kingdom of God on Earth (KGE). disturbing aspect of the KGE is the preparatory purgation of the host of human sinners. A second problem is what the KGE is going to look like. As we might imagine, KGE theorists have been extremely cloudy about the nature of their perfect society, but one troublesome features is that, to the extent that we know its operations at all, the KGE is almost always depicted as a communist society, lacking work, private property, or the division of labor. In short, something like the Marxian communist utopia, except run by a cadre, not of the vanguard of the proletariat, but of theocratic saints.

Throughout medieval history various Christian sects attempted to return to the New Testament concept of collective ownership of property. In the 1300s the Bishop of Strasbourg mentioned how a group calling itself Free Spirits, “believe that all things are common, whence they conclude that theft is lawful for them”. In the Fifteenth Century a group of calling themselves the Taborites, an off-shoot of the Hussite movement, tried to put communism into practice. They went one step further than most: “Everything will be common, including wives; there will be free sons and daughters of God and there will be no marriage as union of two — husband and wife.” In 1419 the Taborites instituted a communist society in Usti. With a common storage house supplies were quickly depleted as everyone had a motive to consume but no one had a motive to produce.

What Rothbard calls “theocratic Anabaptism” swept over sections of Europe. Thomas Müntzer, a scholarly theologian, was personally chosen by Luther to be a Lutheran minister in Zwickau. But Müntzer quickly was enamored with the old Taborite teachings. After several years of preaching he had collected a group of followers and in February 1525 took control of the town of Muhlhausen where he imposed a communist regime in the name of Christianity. Igor Shafarevich in his The Socialist Phenomenon described what happened, “...when anyone needed food or clothing he went to a rich man and demanded it of him in Christ’s name, for Christ had commanded that all should share with the needy. And what was not given freely was taken by force.” The princes of the realm were not particularly pleased and sent an army to wipe out Müntzer. The minister preached an impassioned sermon to his followers, mostly poor peasants, and as he proclaimed God’s divine protection a coincidental rainbow appeared in the sky. The superstitious peasants needed no other sign and marched into battle where some 5,000 of them died. Müntzer was captured and executed and his Christian communist regime came to an end.

But the demise of Müntzer did not mean the end of Christian communism. The Lutheran town of Münster was the site of the next experiment in New Testament economics. Rothbard recounts:

Münster was not destined to remain Lutheran for long, however. From all over the northwest, hordes of Anabaptist crazies flooded into the city of Münster, seeking the onset of the New Jerusalem. Anabaptism escalated when the eloquent and popular young minister Bernt Rothmann, a highly educated son of a town blacksmith, converted to Anabaptism. Originally a Catholic priest, Rothmann had become a friend of Luther and a head of the Lutheran church in Münster. But now he lent his eloquent preaching to the cause of communism as it had supposedly existed in the primitive Christian Church, with everything held in common, with no mine or thine, and each man receiving according to his “need.” Rothmann’s widespread reputation attracted thousands more in Münster, largely the poor, the rootless, and those hopelessly in debt.

The communist Christians of Münster, including Rothmann, then joined another sect of Anabaptists lead by Jan Matthys. Matthys proclaimed the end of the world, except for Münster which would become the New Jerusalem. Christians from all over Europe flooded into Münster to escape the destruction of the world. And with this influx of believers Bockelson emerged with complete control.

The first measure these Anabaptists put into effect was to cleanse the city of all unrepentant sinners by which they meant Catholics and Lutherans. Matthys originally wanted to execute them but was persuaded it might bring down the wrath of local princes. Any “sinners” left in the city were forcibly rebaptized and only those who refused were executed. Matthys had all the wealth of those expelled confiscated and placed into the common store-house where it would be doled out according to needs as determined by church deacons. When a blacksmith protested he was arrested and publicly executed by Bockelson himself as a warning.

Another measure, which had it taken place later in history would have been classic Marxism, was the abolition of money. Since the New Testament said money is the root of all evil these good Christians abolished private ownership of money. Instead it was collected and put in the hands of the Church which used it to hire “outside” workers. Food was also collectivized and rationed out by the Church. Communal dining-halls were created and private homes were declared public property open to the countless poverty-stricken immigrants seeking God’s kingdom.

Like many a good believer before him Matthys took his own religious beliefs seriously. When local princes placed an army around the town Matthys was convinced that God would liberate the town. Convinced of divine protection Matthys and some followers charged the army but were easily exterminated by the, no doubt, amused soldiers. Matthys’ accomplice in government, Jan Bockelson, got the town’s attention by running through the streets naked and then falling into a three-day trance. Like Stalin following Lenin, Bockelson proclaimed that any vestiges of community control were abolished and all power would be placed in his hands. A system of forced labor was instituted and all resistance was punishable by death. Marriage was only allowed between Anabaptists and polygamy was enforced as well. Bockelson soon had 15 wives himself, including the widow of Matthys. When some Church members resisted they were put to death and all dissent disappeared. After another revelation marriage itself was abolished. Soon Bockelson was proclaimed King of the World and lived in great luxury off of the wealth confiscated from the people of Münster. Bockelson used the town as a center to send out Anabaptist propaganda and was thus able to encourage small communist uprisings in much of the heartland of Protestantism. As the message of Christ spread the royal households decided to band together and put a stop to Bockelson. This time a siege was able to cut off the city completely. While the people starved the Church leaders continued to live in luxury still promising divine deliverance. As the siege took effect the people started rebelling. But the Church imposed absolute totalitarian rule and daily executions kept them from losing power. Eventually two town’s people betrayed weak spots in the defense of the town and the surrounding army penetrated the city and put an end to this Christian communist utopia. The town then converted back to Catholicism.

Note: At some point I would like to put down on paper information on the Taiping Rebellon led by Hung Hsiu-chuan, a convert of a fundamentalist Baptist minister. Hung organized the God Worshippers Society and also was the leader of the first communist movement in China in the mid 1800s. His movement waged war in 17 provinces and led to the deaths fo 20,000,000 people. Combine the moral views of Jerry Falwell, the economic views of Karl Marx and you will understand this religous/political movement. It strikes me interesting that the two earliest and bloddiest attempts at primative forms of communism were set up by break off sects of Christianity, first in Europe in the mid 1500s and then 300 years later in China under Hung.

Illustrations: The first image is Müntzer and the second Bockelson.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Another fun look at the wacko Scientologists

I enjoyed this one. And while I could spend most my time wacking the vile, lunatic fundamentalists we do need a break from them sometime and the Scientologists certainly provide plenty to comment about. These are people so crazy they make Mormons look sane.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

He sent them to hell fire and now they send him to Jesus.

Pastor Emeka Ezeuko was better known as Reverend King, a name he used. He was the minister for the Christian Praying Assembly Church in Lagos, Nigeria. Pastor Ezeuko also believed that the day would come that his god would use eternal fire to punish sinners. Pastor Ezeuko, wanting to be godly himself, thought the same thing.

According to the minister said that five church members, who “were all said to be living in his boys’ quarters at his house” were accused by him “of committing amoral acts among themselves under his roof.” The pastor ordered the five to be doused with petrol and he then threw a lit match on them setting them alight. According to the Saturday Sun of Lagos the "amoral acts" was that the minister said the victims were "fornicators and witches."

In the trial a church member “told the court of a private militant group known as the ‘Lord’s Army’ in the church” which was “set up mainly to instil discipline and punishments on the order of the clergy.” During the trial the minister attacked and slapped one of the witnesses in the court itself.

The minister claimed it was all an elaborate set-up to frame him for a crime he didn’t commit. But since most the victims of the attack lived and testified against him the court didn’t buy the defense story and has sentenced the minister to an early meeting with Jesus. The pastor denies he did the killing but according to the Nigerian Tribune "said he would not hestitate to burn down the whole world if God ordered him to do it."

One has to wonder what is going on with this church. Apparently the ministers and many congregation members all have taken the same last name: King. But there have been other incidents at this church as well. The Daily Sun of Nigeria reported that two ministers from the church, Ifeanyi King and Chibuike King, were arrested last year over the death of of a church member identified as Shola "believed to have died of an unknown ailment while within the premises of the church and his corpse was thrown outside the church, where it was exposed to the elements for about nine hours." What is particular bizarre is that the paper says neighbors to the church report this "has become a regular occurrence".

The ministers claimed they have invited the man to a "healing service" at the church but that before he got there he died. The dead man supposedly had AIDS and "His Holiness, Dr. Rev. King" (the man sentenced to hang for murdering other church members) claims the ability to heal AIDS through faith. The ministers refused to answer questions saying: "We need to get permission from the Church before we can answer anymoer questions from you." The Daily Sun says: "If there is anything for which" this church is known "it is the image of civil disturbance, violence, fear and alleged bloodletting".

Church members "deify their leader, with the men dressing like him, keeping their beards and shaving their heads to the skull like he does -- even as they emblazon his poster on their cars." The papers says residents of the neighborhood "wrote a petitition to the police" claiming "killing, maiming, harassment and punishment of innocent people" by the church. It reports that a few months earlier "a senior church authority allegedly ordered the beating of a pregnant woman" who died shortly thereafter. A local food vendor says she was "beaten black and blue and pushed out of the Church naked for allegedly speaking ill" of Rev. King. On another occassion four people were beating by King's goons for not showing respect when the pastor drove through the area. King was also said to have had affairs with numerous women in his church including the at least one wife of another church pastor.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Thomas Jefferson on religion and Christianity.

Thomas Jefferson was, without doubt, the greatest president of the United States. He is the man who authored the American Declaration of Independence and was one of the most influential men when it came to the founding principles of the US. He was also a staunch critic of Christianity -- as were so many of the founding fathers. Here are just a few of his remarks.

“Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one-half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.”

“ecause religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion. Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.
We have solved ... the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries.”

“Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law.”

“History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.”

“In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is easier to acquire wealth and power by this combination than by deserving them, and to effect this, they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer engine for their purposes.”

“The clergy believe that any portion of power confided to me will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion.”

“His [Calvin's] religion was demonism. If ever a man worshiped a false god, he did. The being described in his five points is ... a demon of malignant spirit. It would be more pardonable to believe in no God at all, than to blaspheme him by the atrocious, attributes of Calvin.”

“The priests of the different religious sects ... dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight, and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subdivision of the duperies on which they live.”

“Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.”

“To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no god, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise ... without plunging into the fathomless abyss of dreams and phantasms. I am satisfied, and sufficiently occupied with the things which are, without tormenting or troubling myself about those which may indeed be, but of which I have no evidence.”

“I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded upon fables and mythologies.”

‘The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.”

“It is between fifty and sixty years since I read the Apocalypse, and I then considered it merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy, nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams.... what has no meaning admits no explanation.”

Regarding the four Gospels on Jesus: “We find in the writings of his biographers ... a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstitions, fanaticisms and fabrications.”

“The metaphysical insanities of Athanasius, of Loyola, and of Calvin, are, to my understanding, mere relapses into polytheism, differing from paganism only by being more unintelligible.”

“In our Richmond there is much fanaticism, but chiefly among the women. They have their night meetings and prayer parties, where, attended by their priests, and sometimes by a hen-pecked husband, they pour forth the effusions of their love to Jesus, in terms as amatory and carnal, as their modesty would permit them to use a mere earthly lover.”

“The whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine.”

“I can never join Calvin in addressing his god. .... If ever man worshipped a false god, he did. The being described in his 5 points is ..but a demon of malignant spirit. It would be more pardonable to believe in no god at all, then to blaspheme him by the atrocious attributes of Calvin.”

Another one bites the dust.

Fundamentalist Warren Throckmorton produced a video I Do Exist which contained the purported testimonies of individuals who became fundamentalists and claimed that Jesus changed their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual.

Christians have been particular susceptible to this fraud because they so desperately want to believe it’s true. Over and over they have promoted the claims of “cured” gays and over and over again they proved false. But faith and reality are not connected in the mind of the fundamentalist.

Throckmorton’s video included the testimony of “cured” homosexual Noe Guiterrez. Guiterrez released a carefully worded statement which affirms belief in religion and the possibility of change but which makes absolutely no claims regarding himself. But he does say: “I personally have had a change of heart in the matters of a person’s sexual orientation. It has been my experience in the years since joining (and later leaving) the ex-gay movement that a person’s sexual orientation may or may not be an area impacted by the change that comes by way of a diligent Christian faith.”

Considering his previous position it sounds as if he is saying that while the thinks God might be changing some people he isn’t one of them. And he refuses to answer the obvious question. “For those left wondering about my own sexuality, I have decided to no longer make this small part of my identity a topic for public discussion.”

You will find that Throckmorton coincidentally announced he is retiring the film on the same day. He says the “documentary” will “be no longer be (sic) available as of February 1, 2007.” He says his “current work does not emphasize changing sexual orientation as much as it does achieving congruence with chosen beliefs and values (which may or may not lead to change of attractions).

Perhaps some of them are learning that their faith simply doesn’t work the way they pretend.

Young Americans abandoning religion.

For some time I have thought that religious fervor in the United States would decline. I believe the fundamentalists have become so extreme and intolerant that they are turning people away from religion and faith.

I tend to look at trends not current situations. Where are things going not where are they now is what is important to me. And I have watched the United States with interest because it is the last Western nation that has any significant amount of religion still hanging on.

I should also note that the extremism of fundamentalists alone is not responsible for the decline of religion in America. I think a great deal of blame belongs to George Bush. Bush has tied fundamentalism closely to his own political agenda. He has proven to be a grossly incompetent president who is trampling the Constitution and attacking the freedom of the American people. The net result is that he is not only discrediting his own political party but discrediting religion in the process. And for that every atheist should be grateful. George Bush has done more to discredit Christianity than all the atheists put together.

Now how as this trend shown up? First, there was a dramatic decline in the number of Americans who said they supported having government promote traditional values. Americans tended to think government ought to do this in rather large numbers. But a recent Gallup Poll showed that for the first time in the history of the poll this view lacked majority support. All the decline in support had come in the last two years.

Second, we have seen atheist books become best sellers in the United States. Not since Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason over two hundred years ago have atheist books attracted this much attention. Sam Harris’ The End of Faith and Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion have both sold extremely well.

Now if atheism is increasing where would it show up first? Most adults never change their fundamental beliefs about anything. Most form beliefs when they are teens, or in their early 20s, and never waver very far from those beliefs. They don’t usually think these things through rationally and consider all sides of the issues. They simply adopt beliefs through a process of cultural osmosis and then pretty much cling to them for the rest of their lives.

So if beliefs shift you would first see those beliefs changing among the young. And now we have a new Pew Poll showing a major shift in the religious beliefs of what they call Generation Next, those between 18 and 25 years of age. The poll finds that “20% of today’s 18-25 year-olds say they have no religious affiliation or are atheist or agnostic. Only 11% of those over age 25 fall into this category. The gap between young and old has increased substantially over time. In the late 1980s, 11% of your people were non-religious compared with 8% of those over age 25.”

The shift here is rather dramatic. The numbers of young people who are non-religious has doubled in a very short time. If we go back to the 1980s we find that only 8% of those over the age of 25 were non-religious. Now even that group has slightly increased to 11%. But those under 25 who are non-religious have jumped to 20%.

And only 32% of people this age attend church regularly while 16% say they never attend church. What is interesting here the number who never attend church is smaller than the number of non-believers. And it is unlikely that all of the 16% who never attend church are atheists. So this would indicate that a good number of young people sitting in the pews are closet atheists.

Generation Next is also the group most strongly to accept scientific explanations for the origins of human life and not Biblical mythology. Where only 42% of Americans over the age of 61 believe in evolution 63% of Nexters are Darwinists.

And on the moral issues they have also abandoned the religious Right. When asked if they support full marriage rights for gay couples 47% of Nexters say they do. (The civil unions options which has a stronger level of support was not asked.) And 58% of them say that homosexuality ought to be full accepted and 61% support the right of gays to adopt children.

On abortion their views are as evenly split as among the older population but they are far more supportive of allowing women to use the “morning after” pill.

Friday, January 05, 2007

An unsympathetic look at Scientology.

Obviously the opinions are those of the producers of the cartoon. We agree with some of them and don't agree with some of them. Think for yourself.

Some of the background over the Episcopal split.

Finally a mainstream newspaper caught on to the fact that the US Episcopal churches which split from the Church of England were not really Episcopalian to start with. Basically these churches ended their affiliation with the Church of England and placed themselves under the control of a bigoted bishop from Nigeria. The complaint these people had was that the Church of England under the Archbishop of Canterbury didn't hate homosexuals enough to make Jesus happy.

Now one of these churches was actually the birthplace of the fraudulent "exgay" movement. The "cured" homosexual they had running the ministry was seducing the men who were being cured. The exgay ministry there was abandoned but the faith healing fundamentalists at the church continued. These congregations were taken over by fundamentalists decades ago. One of the members of this congregation is Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, an advocate of using torture.

These churches became magnets for individuals who were fundamentalists but who wanted to pretend they were within mainstream Christianity. One of the church leaders at these faux Episcopal churches admitted that he "would be more comfortable" with local fundamentalists "than with anyone I might run into at an Episcopal Diocesan Council meeting." The church admits on their website that they basically became Pentecostals. They write that in 1970 a Pentecostal evangelist visiting the church "led to the first encounter of parishioners with the baptism of the Holy Spirit" meaning they went into hysterical fits of babbling which they call "speaking in tonques". They write that from that point on "Truro took on its distinctive characteristic as an Episcopal church at the center of the charismatic renewal."

Don't forget that these people are now following a bishop who supports legislation that makes being gay a crime punishable by imprisonment. The law supported by the bishop also makes it a criminal offense to advocate changing the law. In other words they have no respect for rights.

God's rules for beating your wife

Here we have an Muslic cleric explaining the rules for a husband as to what kind of beating he is allowed to give his wife. Such civilized people!

Some fundamentalist Christians are not far off from this. Calvinist author David Chilton takes the view that all people are property of God and thus the rules of God, as outlined in the Bible, tells one how to treat others. He writes: "It is true I do not have an aboslute right to my property. Nor do I have an absolute right to dispose of my wife and children as I see fit. Everything I have must be owned in terms of God's requirements." Note that wife and children are included in the cateogory of that which is "owned".

If you don't think that is clear enough he says: "I must not rob my neighbor of his life, his wife, his property, or his reputation, nor must I covet anything that belongs to him." Right in the middle of that list of properties owned by the individual is the wife. I don't think Chilton has gone so far as to give rules for beating one's wife however. But no doubt numerous fundies would find that right.

Chilton does find that the Bible condones slavery, another area when human beings are literally considered property. He writes: "The Bible permist slavery... biblical laws concerning slavery are among the most beneficent in all the Bible... it is clearly unbiblical to speak of slavery as being wrong or sinful... that He gives rules for the proper management of slavery shows that to disregard the laws of slavery is a sin." In fact he argues that slavery is especially good if those enslaved are atheists and unbelievers! He argues that Christians enslaving heathens exposes them to the gospel and: "Unbelievers are slaves by nature, and there is no reason to free them as long as they remain in their spiritual bondage."

Now if people are property how can property be treated? Can it be beaten in ways discussed by the mullah linked to above? Chilton says they may. The problem with treating people like property is they have incentive to produce. If you labour on behalf of others in exchange for value it is contract and you have an incentive to work since it is an exchange. Slavery, however, is theft, much like socialism. You work and others reap the rewards so the incentives are absent. Chilton notes that God provided for this (how nice of him). Without economic incentives "the master is allowed to provide that incentive by beating them."

And just like the Mullah this Jehovah has given some rules on how to beat your human property. Exodus 21:21 provides that rule. The master may beat the slave without mercy provided the slave does not die from the beating the same day! Note the "same day" rule. If the slave lingered in pain for a day or two before dying the master was let off the hook entirely. So much for God's compassion. See the master is not allowed to intentionally kill the slave, who after all really belongs to Jehovah. If the slave dies the same die it looks as if the master tried to kill the property of God. But if the slave suffers for a day or two first then the master is off the hook since that indicates he didn't intend to actually kill the slave just inflict severe pain on them (much the way Jehovah supposedly inflicts pain on humans).

Chilton also says that Biblical law "protected slaves from severe mutilation". I presume that moderate mutilation is a different matter. And government, they argue, ought to protect these "rights" to treat others as human property.

Calvinist preacher Joseph Morecraft occupies the pulpit of the Chalcedon Presbyterian Church in Marietta, Georgia. He sees civil law as serving the same function as the master. You have to terrorize people to get them to do what God wants. He wrote that the function of government is to "terrorize evil doers" and "to bring down the wrath of God on all those who practice evil." Calvinist theologian Rousas Rushdoony said something similar: "God's government prevails and His alternatives are clear-cut: either men and nations obey His laws, or God invokes the death penalty against them."

Morecrafts wants the death penalty used frequently including on all churches which don't worship the fundamentalist deity. "Nobody has the right to worship on this planet any other God than Jehovah. And therefore the state does not have the responsibility to defend anybody's pseudo-rights to worship an idol." "I suggest that in a Christian society... the death penalty is still appropriate for the crime of worshipping another god on the Lord's day."

Calvinist theologian Greg Bahnsen agreed saying the death penalty applies to "someone who comes and proselytizes for another god or any other final authority (and by the way, that god may be man.)." Note that last rule about any "other final authority" would apply to those of us who think reason applied to reality is the final authority as well.

Bahnsen notes that Jehovah set out 15 crimes which were capital offenses including sodomy, apostasy, sabbath breaking and blasphemy. Rev. W.O. Einwechter, vice moderator of the Calvinist Association of Free Reformed Churches said that the death penalty applied to grown children who "rebelled against the authority of his parents". He said such individuals should be stoned to death. Calvinist Gary North agrees saying the "integrity" of the family "must be maintained by the threat of death." Mark Rushdoony wrote: "Parents will be required to bring their incorrigible children before the judge and if convicted have them stoned to death." In fact Rushdoony says in a Christian society the divorce problem will be solved "under God's law because any spouse guilty of capital crimes will be swiftly executed, thus freeing the other party to remarry."

Just like in Muslim theocracies these Calvinists want to use stoning. Gary North said in a Christian society "Executions are community projects -- not with spectators who watch a professional executioner do 'his' duty but rather with actual participants." Yes, you too can executive your sinful neighbors unless they execute you first. North prefers stoning because stones are cheap and plentiful and allow everyone to participate. Hell, even a small child can chuck a rock!

No doubt the Religious Right will take great comfort in the video to which I've linked. A Muslim cleric discussing how to beat one's wife will be seen as proof that Islam is a barbaric religion (which it is). But what of these Christian theologians who want communities to get together for a picnic and a stoning?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

He's off his meds again.

The certifiably insane Rev. Pat Robertson is hearing voices again. Every year at around this time Pat hears Jehovah whispering to him. Last year God told Pat that there would be major storms hitting the coast of the United States. Last year was a real anomaly. Not one hurricane battered the coast at all.

Now Crazy Pat is saying that a new terrorist attack will result in “mass killing” in the United States. “I’m not necessarily saying it’s going to be nuclear. The Lord didn’t say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that.” Rev. Loony says that major cities will be involved and that millions of people could be involved and that it will take place after September.

Oddly Robertson said: “I have a good relatively good track record. Sometimes I miss.”

How is that possible? If he’s reporting what God told him then he would have to say that sometimes God misses.

In fact most of Robertson’s “prophecies” are rather pathetic. He predicted in 2004 that Bush would easily win. It was not an easy win by any means. And if you think about it this wasn’t really going on a limb. For all practical purpose the US presidential is a two horse race so that pretty much narrows down the choices. He predicted Bush would appoint conservative judges -- gee, not that was a surprise. He predicted that Social Security reform would pass and it didn't. He's not correctly predicted anything that is unexpected and has been wrong several times. Hardly a good record.

And last year’s prediction about storms battering the coast couldn’t have been further off. Robertson, however says, that heavy rains in New England partly fulfilled his prophecy. Nope. It doesn’t. And don’t forget he added a tsunami hitting the US in that prophecy as well. God was mumbling. What he really said: “No Pat I’m not speaking to you. So sue me.” That was “so sue me” not tsunami.

This report includes tape of Crazy Pat drooling about what Jehovah told him.

When God wants little children murdered.

What sort of God was Jehovah and what sort of people where his chosen people? Remember that the chosen people were supposedly given the land on which other people lived. This was a problem as people tend not to want to surrender their property to the appropriation of others no matter who is claiming the right of eminent domain. So the way to solution was some old fashioned smiting. That is archaic Bible talk for slaughter, kill, murder, commit genocide, etc.

Consider just a short section from First Chronicles in the Old Testament. In the first verse of chapter of 18 we are told that David “smote the Philistines, and subdued them, and took Garth and her towns out of the hands of the Philistines.”

Of course he wasn’t finished. He “smote Moab” and the Moabites “became David’s servants”. Now this doesn’t mean he employed them to iron his shirts or wash his windows. It means he enslaved them.

Next he went and “smote Hadarezer, king of Zobah” and “David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven thousand horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen. Next David “slew of the Syrians two and twenty thousand men” and “the Syrians became David’s servants”. He also helped himself to their gold and silver along the way.

Next Abishai “slew of the Edomites in the valley of salt eighteen thousand... and all the Edomites became David’s servants.”

In Numbers we are told that the Hebrews “began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.” Jehovah told Moses to kill these people and “Take all the heads of the people and hang them up before the Lord against the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel.” So Jehovah not only wanted people killed but like an Islamic terrorist he wanted them beheaded. Now he couldn’t post this gruesome act on the internet like his counterparts today so he had it done in public so people could watch.

In the same chapter we get this incident. An Israelite “came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses”. Well a religious fellow named Phinehas saw this and “went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.” Apparently if this man had killed this poor woman then Jehovah would sent judgement on the Hebrews.

Jehovah endorsed the murder of this woman saying that Phinehas “hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel.” In fact Jehovah said this murderer should be rewarded by thrusting this woman through with his sword. And since the woman as a Midianite Jehovah then ordered his people to slaughter all Midianites as well.

Nor should we forget that Jehovah was fond of killing children who have done nothing wrong. They are killed because he wants to teach a lesson to their parents. Remember this is what the Bible claims not me. There is no Jehovah and these stories are for the most part bogus. And even though there is no evidence that the Hebrews were ever enslaved in Egypt this lie is a central point of the Old Testament. And to get the Hebrews out of Egypt he “smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt”.

But Jehovah’s keen sense of justice, akin to the feuds of hillbillies, was to punish people for merely being related to the person who displeased him. In First Chronicles when David took a census this got the prissy Jehovah upset. So he “sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men.”

In First Samuel the genocidal maniac worshipped by the Hebrews told them to “go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” Of course the godly Hebrews obeyed and slaughter infants just as Jehovah wanted.

Or take this gem from Numbers when Moses was told to “kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the woman children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.” So Moses was told to kill all the boys and the women but keep the young girls alive for himself. And it sure sounds as if Jehovah was suggesting the young girls could be used to sexually service the conquerors.

Consider how Moses acted. Now when Moses was wandering about deciding whose land to steal he supposedly tried to go through Heshbon but Sihon the king would allow this because “God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate.” Note please that Moses says it was Jehovah who caused this to happen. But then Jehovah had another temper tantrum when Sihon did what Jehovah forced him to do. So Jehovah told Moses that he was to take possession of all the land of Sihon, i.e. to steal someone else’s property. Well when the Hebrews go out to steal the land “Sihon came out against us, he and all his people”. Gee, what a surprise.

Moses seems baffled that a group of people would defend their property from a nomadic group of plundering barbarians. But Moses writes: “the Lord our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people. And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, or every city, we left none to to remain; Only the cattle we took for a prey unto ourselves, and the spoil of the city which we took.”

Again the followers of the Biblical deity went out and slaughtered thousands of people including small children and then stole everything those people worked to create for themselves. Of course this wasn’t the end of the slaughters. In Ezekiel the Hebrews were told to go “and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women.” Of course the Hebrews supposedly did just what Jehovah wanted. For some reason this maniacal deity has a regular desire to slaughter “little children”.

Saddam Hussein was just executed for doing less than this. We really should be surprised when so many "Bible-believing" Christians turn out to be such nasty folk. They are only emulating the deity they worship.


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