Category Archives: religion

Religious Freedom

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is threatening to pull its 2017 convention out of Indianapolis if Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs a bill allowing companies to discriminate against GLBT people under the guise of “religious freedom.” In a letter to the governor the denomination writes:

“Our perspective is that hate and bigotry wrapped in religious freedom is still hate and bigotry,” Todd Adams, the associate general minister and vice president of the Indianapolis-based denomination, told The Indianapolis Star.

Adams said the Disciples of Christ would instead seek a host city that is “hospitable and welcome to all of our attendees.”

I’d love to invite them to Nashville. After all, we’re the city whose Metro Council passed an anti-discrimination bill. Unfortunately, IIRC, it was later over-ridden by the bigots in our state legislature, so we don’t exactly have much moral authority on this issue. But can I just tell you how refreshing it is to see a church denomination take a bold stand on issues of equality?

More:

“As a Christian church,” it read, “we are particularly sensitive to the values of the One we follow – one who sat at (the) table with people from all walks of life, and loved them all. Our church is diverse in point of view, but we share a value for an open Lord’s Table.”

The letter was signed by denomination’s General Minister and President Sharon E. Watkins, Division of Overseas Ministries Julia Brown Karimu and Disciples Home Missions President Ronald J. Degges.

The Disciples of Christ has held its annual convention in Indianapolis three times since 1989. Adams expected up to 8,000 people to attend in 2017. The estimated economic impact would be about $5.9 million, according to VisitIndy.

Well, so much for Indianapolis. Two other major conventions have also alerted the governor that they will skip Indianapolis if the bill becomes law, one a music festival and the other the city’s largest annual convention, a group called Gen Con.

Look, there’s just no money in being a bigoted asshole. Just cut it out.

Let me also say, if your religion requires you to be a bigoted asshole, then I have no use for your religion. Can you just imagine? Whatever happened to “Love one another as I have loved you”? Of course, it’s not about the Bible. It’s about belonging to a club that needs to breed hatred and fear of “the other” to justify its lack of cultural impact. You people are supposed to go out and be salt and light in the world, that’s your Great Commission, and yet all you can do is fight for the right of a bakery to not make a gay couple’s wedding cake.

Losers.

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Filed under GLBT, religion, religious right

Faith-Healing And Snake Oil In Nashville

Nashville’s largest healthcare provider, St. Thomas Health, has been running this super-creepy “faith-healing” ad campaign for the past year or so now. I can’t even tell you how offensive and obnoxious I find it. It exploits is based on a quote from the Gospel of Luke, “nothing shall be impossible with God,” and while they leave out the “with God” part, the images that accompany the campaign are so overtly religious, it’s obvious what they’re selling here: faith-healing, snake-oil, and promises of miracles for those who believe.

Imagine seeing this image plastered all over town, on billboards, buses and full-page newspaper ads:Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 5.36.07 PM_0

How does this not trivialize religion?

2014-06-26-10449517_510279559101608_6658025120807367642_n-thumb

The TV ads are even worse. Seeing a team of doctors and nurses holding hands in prayer over an operating table does not make me want to go to this hospital. It makes me want to run in the opposite direction, as far and as fast as possible. It does not inspire confidence in the surgical team. It makes me think of this charlatan:

faith.healer

On top of which, there are quite a few things that are impossible at St. Thomas Hospital. An abortion, for one thing.

I’ve been really uncomfortable with this ad campaign for a long, long time, and while I haven’t posted about it, others have (notably the Huffington Post, here, and this medical blog, here.) Interestingly, some of the campaign’s biggest detractors are religious people. From the latter link:

As I drive home from work (at an unashamedly for-profit hospital) everyday, I pass one of Nashville’s omnipresent “Nothing shall be impossible” billboards. While I am a Bible believing Christian with complete faith in God’s miraculous healing powers, the sight of the ad campaign makes me uneasy. I’m not one to be particularly politically correct or easily offended but the ad campaign gives off the illusion that if you become a patient at St. Thomas, God’s healing power is on your side.

To me, the scriptural slogan seems to imply an unintended opposite effect- it minimizes the power of God. My God cannot be contained within one hospital’s walls. He does not work in ways that we can direct with publicity stunts, let alone ways we can ever hope to understand. He may choose to heal you as a patient at St. Thomas…but he may not. That’s for him to decide, not for hospital admins looking for a raise to direct.

It’s just so tacky to exploit peoples’ religious feelings to sell something. It’s gross, and it’s disrespectful. And let’s take a look at exactly what kind of miracle we’re selling here, shall we?

Few of the people I spoke to had any idea about the actual context of Luke 1:37. It comes when Mary questions the angel Gabriel about how she will become pregnant since she is a virgin. Gabriel points to her cousin Elizabeth, who is pregnant after many years of having been barren, and announces, “nothing will be impossible with God” (NRSV). Indeed, Mary does become pregnant. The implication of draping this verse across a hospital entrance is that any kind of healing is possible: a barren woman becomes pregnant, and then even a virgin becomes pregnant.

St. Thomas Health does not offer fertility treatments.

So much fail.

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Filed under advertising, Nashville, religion

The Unenlightenment

File this under “crap with which I will no longer put up”:

“The Principle,” asserts the press release, “will begin an exclusive limited engagement at AMC theaters in Burbank, CA, Orange, CA, and Spokane, WA, on January 23rd, with additional markets opening in the weeks following.” There will also be a screening for critics in Los Angeles Jan. 13.

The release goes on to say, “‘The Principle’ brings to light astonishing new scientific observations challenging the Copernican Principle. The film explores, from all sides, the question of Earth’s station in the universe and whether it could, in fact, have a unique importance. Astonishing results from recent large-scale surveys of our visible Universe disclose surprising evidence of a preferred direction in the cosmos, a so-called ‘Axis of Evil,’ aligned with our supposedly insignificant Earth.”

The Copernican Principle, of course, is the centuries-old scientific discovery that the Earth is not the center of the universe/solar system. And no, I do not have time for this bullshit. I do not have the patience to deal with pseudoscience and conspiracy nonsense any more.

And that goes for the stuff coming from my friends on the left, too. I get a lot of crap from my New Age-y friends making all sorts of ludicrous claims and I simply do not have the patience to deal with this any more. I do not want to hear about climate change denialism by people who know only politics not science, nor do I want to hear about the latest health scam from people who know only New Age bullshit not medicine. I don’t want to hear about how people’s thoughts can change water molecules or that ujjayi breath boosts the immune system or any of the crap peddled by practitioners of ayurvedic medicine.

But back to our film:

The force behind all of this is a man named Robert Sungenis. He’s quite a piece of work. The author of a book titled Galileo Was Wrong: The Church Was Right, Sungenis is angry because the heliocentric model has cast doubt on the authority of the church and its leaders. He has written, “Prior to Galileo, the church was in full command of the world, and governments and academia were subservient to her.” (According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Sungenis is also an anti-Semite who denies the Holocaust.)

Um, AMC? You wouldn’t show The Interview but you will show this? What the hell is wrong with you people? Do you have no standards? None at all?

Also, Kate Mulgrew and the others who were duped into participating in this crank’s propaganda film: learn to Google, you idiots. You’ve just given credibility to a most obscene form of scientific denialism, not to mention endorsed the views of an anti-Semitic crackpot. Slow clap, folks.

The writer and producer of this film is a guy named Rick DeLano who claims years in the film business but his IMDB profile came up with a big fat nothing. However, he claims that negative reaction to his film is all a giant conspiracy. Of course he does. That’s what they all say — even my friends on the left when I tell them the water molecule thing is bullshit. “Oh, that’s just what they want you to think.”

Honestly I am so over this. When did everyone in the world decide that reason was a bad thing and crazy unfounded theories were the truth?

As the story says, “never underestimate the power of slickly-produced propaganda.” How long before this nonsense is taught in our schools?

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Filed under religion, religious fundamentalism, science

Unhappy Holidays

I have this theory that fundiegelical Christians are so wrapped up in the War On Christmas, not because of what the holiday represents Biblically, but because it’s the one time of year when they aren’t culturally out of step with the rest of an increasingly secular country. Or perhaps more accurately, it’s the one time of year when even secular America is in step with them.

And having people say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” or demands that a menorah share space beside a traditional Nativity scene in the public square encroaches on that last little square of cultural real estate that they can call theirs.

Kinda makes me feel sorry for them in a way.

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Filed under Holidays, religion, War On Christmas

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:

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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:

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Filed under Christianity, racism, religion, Tennessee