Category Archives: religion

Today In Church And State

[UPDATE]:

As of Saturday, June 28, the McKnight campaign signs are gone, but the stuff on the church sign is still there.

—————————————————-

Just saw this on my way home from the grocery store this morning:

Nice Tax-Exempt Status You've Got There. Shame If Anything Happened To It

Nice Tax-Exempt Status You’ve Got There. Shame If Anything Happened To It

Amendment One is an anti-abortion measure. I had to Google this McKnight fellow, but he’s a big-time right-to-lifer.

This church isn’t too far from my house. I’ve always referred to it as the Wingnut Bible Church because their signs are always advertising some wingnutty seminar or program: “End-Times Prophecy,” “Justice Sunday” and crap like that. Every July Fourth they put about a dozen or so ginormous American flags on their property, because Jesus was an American and a Founder and Christian Nation and Shut Up. But I’ve never seen them outright politick like this before.

I’m not a lawyer, definitely not a Constitutional one, but I’m pretty sure the IRS frowns on these kinds of outright political endorsements from tax-exempt churches. Don’t they?

18 Comments

Filed under abortion, church and state, Nashville, religion, religious fundamentalism, Tennessee

Hate Isn’t Dead But Fred Phelps Is

Good riddance to a despicable person.

I know we’ll be hearing the usual, “if you can’t saying anything nice …” mealy-mouthed pablum on hearing that Fred Phelps has finally left this earth, but I say, screw that. He was an evil person. He caused so much pain and suffering, not just to LGBT people but to his fellow Christians, to the families of our soldiers, even to his own family. Using gays as a scapegoat for every tragic event that hit the headlines, from Whitney Houston’s death to plane crashes to 9/11, all these fools ended up doing was uniting the nation against them. Again, good riddance.

He was not a Christian and please, stop calling his organization a “Baptist church.” It wasn’t. He presided over an abusive religious cult that operated as a hate group. His wasn’t the only one, there are plenty similar organizations in this country (here’s one), Westboro was just more adept than others at gathering headlines. Phelps probably had something horrible happen to him when he was a child that made him that way, who knows, but guess what, lots of people suffer similar tragedies and don’t end up like this.

When a cult leader dies the cult tends to dissolve into the breeze. I don’t know if that will happen in this case because it seems a Phelps daughter long ago picked up the protest mantle. But one can hope the day of the hate-headline is over.

From the memory hole:

8 Comments

Filed under cults, culture wars, religion

He’s Not Racist BUT ….

Good grief, don’t know how I missed this one from last week:

Filmed at the church April 24, the 17-minute video has racked up nearly 40,000 views on YouTube in less than two weeks, and it has some websites asking whether Reagan is the most racist pastor in America.

“My god has nationalities outside the city,” Reagan says in the video, going into the gist of his argument that he doesn’t consider it right to marry white people with black people, continually calling such relationships “hybreeding.”

“Hybreeding, hybreeding, oh, how terrible, hybreeding,“ he says. “What white woman would want her baby to be mulatto, made by a colored man? Let’s stay the way God made us. I believe it’s right.”

This lunacy comes from the pastor of the Happy Valley Church of Jesus Christ in, you guessed it, Johnson City, Tennessee.

This gets me:

“I feel terrible,” Reagan said. “I’ve been sick since it came out and haven’t eaten in days.”

As terrible as Reagan feels, he’s not backing off the message. He said he’s seen the hardships those in biracial relationships have felt, and though he admits a lot of it has to do with being in a conservative area, he wouldn’t officiate biracial weddings in other parts of the country either.

Wow. Wonder if it ever occurred to this racist fuckwad that the hardships biracial couples experience are a direct result of the words and actions of people like Brother Donny Reagan?

But ya know, it’s so cool that he reminds us that he’s not racist and even has some black friends. Got it.

Watch the sermon here:

8 Comments

Filed under Christianity, racism, religion, Tennessee

We All Saw This One Coming

Jamie Coots, the snake-handling Pentecostal preacher I wrote about last October, was bitten by a snake yesterday and has died.

What a charlatan and a scam artist. He abused, starved and dehydrated his reptiles to make them more docile, then pretended it was GOD doing a miracle. And along comes NatGeo to sell ads off the spectacle? Sick.

7 Comments

Filed under animal cruelty, media, religion, religious fundamentalism

A Question About Protecting The Right To Discriminate

Regarding this discussion about exempting churches from ENDA, I have a question:

Until 1978, Mormon church doctrine viewed black people as inferior. Blacks were prevented from joining the priesthood, which is something all male Mormons who’ve been on their mission get to do. If you’re not in the priesthood there’s a bunch of stuff you can’t do, events and rituals you can’t participate in, offices you can’t hold, etc. My question: were the Mormon Church and its institutions (like schools) exempted from the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

Anyone know? Seems like a parallel here.

12 Comments

Filed under culture wars, GLBT, racism, religion

Speaking Of Charlatans

Last week that smarmy huckster Joel Osteen Tweeted this:

Osteen

Umm …… no. Just …. aaagh. What an idiot.

I can’t believe this fraud has such a huge following. Then again, yes I can. Look at all the idiots who re-tweeted and favorited this bullshit.

2 Comments

Filed under Christianity, religion

Everyone Needs A Hobby

Considering a career change? This may be the “how-to” guide for you!

Book

Learn how to make a fortune as a religious con artist. This lucrative career has sustained countless scoundrels, frauds and hucksters for millennia. If you play the part right, you will be blessed with riches, power, prestige and sex.

Discover the easy, inexpensive ways to get religious credentials (and the tax-free status that goes with them), how to develop your following, how to tailor your message for maximum gain and how to weasel out of trouble when your lavish lifestyle or personal misconduct hits the fan.

Your victims will be the feeble, the old, the poor and the desperate, so this is for people with no conscience whatsoever. Get ready to stare into the hopeful faces of the lame and the terminally ill and lie, convince working people to send you their last five or ten bucks by telling them that God will return the donation a hundredfold and rob nursing home residents of what little they have as they hang on to every word you say. In return, you will give them a good show, a temporary emotional high and a hefty dose of false hope. And you will be one rich SOB!

Whether you’re actually considering a career in televangelism or just studying their methods to protect yourself or a loved one, you’ll find page after page of shocking, amusing and heartbreaking true stories.

Paladin Press publishes a lot of stuff for the home munitions enthusiast and survivalist set, including a notorious “how to be a hit man” title which landed it in court at least once. These folks crossed my radar back when I was doing research for my perpetually-unfinished novel and needed to learn some backyard ballistics. I hate to give them any money because they’re nuttier than a Baby Ruth bar but I just had to pick this title up.

Who knows, it could offer some real tips on how to fleece the Teanuts for fun and profit!

8 Comments

Filed under Books, religion

This Sounds About Right

Yesterday I caught most of this story on NPR . It appears the reason snake-handling Pentecostal preachers are rarely bitten is not because of the holy spirit but because they systematically abuse and neglect their animals:

“The animals that I’ve seen that have come from religious snake handlers were in bad condition,” says Kristen Wiley, curator of the Kentucky Reptile Zoo, a facility in the town of Slade that produces venom and promotes the conservation of snakes. “They did not have water. The cages had been left not cleaned for a pretty long period of time. And the other thing we noticed is there were eight or 10 copperheads in a container that was not very large.”

What’s more, she says there was no fecal material in the container, which indicated the snakes were not being fed. Riley says a snake that may be dehydrated, underweight and sick from close confinement is less likely to strike than a healthy snake. Moreover, the venom it produces is weaker.

She says snake-handling preachers who don’t take care of their snakes are “setting themselves up for a safer encounter during their services when they use a snake that is in bad condition to begin with.”

And then there was this:

In a follow-up call, I asked him how long his snakes usually live.

“Average is probably three to four months,” Coots says.

The Kentucky Reptile Zoo reports that well-cared-for snakes live 10 to 20 years or longer in captivity.

I always thought snake-handling preachers were just egomaniacs trying to call attention to themselves. The snakes — and God — are just props. The fact that they abuse their animals to tilt the odds in their favor doesn’t surprise me a bet.

9 Comments

Filed under animal cruelty, religion, religious fundamentalism

Crazy

[UPDATE]:

The latest is here.

So, this happened:

As the House finished their vote to reopen the federal government and raise the debt ceiling, a House stenographer decided it was a good time to let everyone know her feelings about God, Congress, and the Freemasons.

“He [God] will not be mocked,” the stenographer, apparently named Molly, yelled into the microphone as she was dragged off by security. “The greatest deception here is that this is not one nation under God. It never was. It would not have been. The Constitution would not have been written by Freemasons. They go against God. You cannot serve two masters. Praise be to God. Praise be to Jesus.”

You can hear the rant here.

Definitely doesn’t do much to dispel the notion that we are ruled by religious nuts. Apparently the woman was taken for a mental evaluation.

10 Comments

Filed under Congress, religion

Christian Healthcare Just As Obnoxious As The Regular Kind, Of Course

I swear, there must be some kind of conspiracy whereby NPR knows the 15 minutes each week I listen to Marketplace and schedules the programming most likely to give me an aneurism for that time slot.

Anyway, today I caught this bit about the “Christian alternative to Obamacare”. It’s basically a healthcare co-op for Christians, or to put it another way:

“It’s a group of people, in this case Christians, who band together and agree that they want to share one another’s burdens,” says Andrea Miller, medical director for the largest Christian health-insurance alternative, Medi-Share.

Their “case study” is a guy and his wife from Chattanooga who would have racked up tens of thousands of dollars in healthcare bills in recent years were it not for this “health sharing ministry.” And there’s some personal attention too, such as:

“The night before my surgery, the lady who’d helped me locate the right providers and everything called me back and said, ‘Would it be OK if I prayed with you for your surgery tomorrow?'”

Three days later, she called back to ask how the surgery went.

Okay, that works for me, I buy into the socialisticky- “see how they love one another” ethos at play. It’s my hippie-dippy version of Christianity at work. Rock on.

Then we get to the requirements of being part of a “Christian healthcare ministry”:

There are a few requirements to fulfill before participating, Miller says. The first is that you have to be Christian. “Second, you need to agree to living a Christian lifestyle, including no smoking, including not abusing alcohol or drugs,” she says.

Yeah, that’s kinda annoying, folks. I missed the part of the Bible where the “Christian lifestyle” is described in those terms. After all, Jesus turned the water into wine (indeed, wine is probably mentioned in the Bible more often than any other foodstuff). But beyond that, there’s a superiority implied by such a statement, as if Christians are somehow healthier/better than non-believers — as if, somehow, Christians are immune to the issues of addiction that plague everyone else.

Really, guys? If Christians did a better job of avoiding substance abuse problems and every other pitfall of the human experience, Christian rehab centers wouldn’t be a booming industry.

And that begs the question: do they not cover rehab services? Mental health services? I’d love to know.

But anyway, I was still ready to give them a pass until we got to this part:

“We do not share in every medical need that a person has,” Miller of Medi-Share says. “Some of the things we don’t share in are related to lifestyle issues, such as an abortion. But others of them are related to things that the members have agreed that they would rather pay for themselves.”

Wait, wut? Abortion is a lifestyle issue? Are you serious?

Calling abortion a “lifestyle issue” is basically buying into the whole judgemental “those sluts must be punished” approach to abortion we always hear from the anti-choice folks. Judge not lest ye be judged, y’all.

Even worse, classifying abortion among the things “members have agreed that they would rather pay for themselves” is really saying, members don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want to know when it comes up as an issue and they don’t want to know about it during and after, either. All of that “would it be OK if I prayed with you” stuff is fine for kidney surgery but not fine for abortion, even a necessary one.

In short, they don’t want to hear anything that challenges their pre-ordained idea that abortion only happens to “those people” who live “that way” “over there” in “those places.”

At a time when a family could most use the prayers and support of their community, you’re all agreeing to just shove all that under the rug.

“Christian” healthcare ministry? Pffft.

13 Comments

Filed under abortion, Christianity, health insurance, healthcare, religion