Category Archives: religious right

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

Lamar Advertising: Hate Profiteers

Notoriously despicable billboard company Lamar Advertising is profiting from homophobia by accepting this billboard north of Nashville. It was apparently paid for and purchased by “concerned Christians.”

Yeah, this is why people are leaving the church in droves. Just stop the crap, already, religious people. Apparently the tone and message has prompted complaints:

Mayor Wilber said he’s well-aware of the discussions surrounding the sign; one resident called him to complain.

“Thought it was not fit for the time that we’re in, just thought it was out of place, just sent a bad message,” he explained.

Good for the people of Portland, Tennessee. And really, Lamar Advertising is profiting from this? What a horrible company. I’m reminded of this story from just a few years ago in which they refused to run ads from Georgia Equality, saying,

…”We just didn’t feel the copy was right for those markets” …

The offending copy?

The billboards proposed by Georgia Equality feature images of professionals, such as a male firefighter and a female doctor, and include tag lines that read, “I protect you. And … I am gay. We Are Your Neighbors.”

Yeah, so not right.

What a bunch of assholes. Profiting from hate never works, Lamar Advertising.

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Filed under GLBT, religious right, Tennessee

Religion Is Dead

That will be the upshot of today’s completely outrageous Hobby Lobby ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court has effectively killed religion.

I know, it looks the opposite, but what have I said here a gazillion, bajillion times, folks? When religion gets forced on people by government or corporations, religion always dies. People don’t want this shit foisted on them. As I’ve said a thousand times before, the surest way to kill off religious belief is to declare a “state religion.” The bigger religion’s role in the secular aspects of life, the more people run away from it.

And in this ruling SCOTUS said some corporations can impose the beliefs of some religions on some employees, effectively legalizing discrimination against women and certain religions. If you’re a company owned by Jehova’s Witnesses, sorry, you have to pay for blood transfusions. No out for Scientologists who object to psychiatry and psychiatric drugs. Christian Scientists who don’t believe in most healthcare at all still have to pony up. But if you’re a Christian fundiegelical who believes completely erroneously and incorrectly that IUDs cause abortions — even though they don’t! — you can refuse to offer a healthcare plan covering that form of birth control to your female employees. That’s what SCOTUS just ruled.

The debate wasn’t even really about the Hobby Lobby peoples’ religious beliefs, it was about their completely erroneous, counter-factual scientific beliefs cloaked in religion:

Hobby Lobby already covered 16 of the 20 methods of contraception mandated under the Affordable Care Act, but it didn’t cover Plan B One-Step, ella (another brand of emergency contraception) and two forms of intrauterine devices because of aforementioned ideologically driven and not medically based ideas about abortion.

“These medications are there to prevent or delay ovulation,” Dr. Petra Casey, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the Mayo Clinic, told the New York Times in a piece on the science behind emergency contraception. “They don’t act after fertilization.” As the Times noted, emergency contraception like Plan B, ella and the hormonal IUD do not work by preventing fertilized eggs from implanting in the womb. Instead, these methods of birth control delay ovulation 0r thicken cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching the egg, meaning that fertilization never even occurs. That said, when used as a form of emergency contraception, the copper IUD can interrupt implantation, but this still does not mean a pregnancy has occurred.

This ruling was stunningly ham-fisted on so many levels. In a nutshell, in “going narrow” SCOTUS picked a religion — the fundiegelical Christian kind — over the rights of female employees who may not be of that religion, and also over the rights of every other religion out there. This is going to have repercussions, people — and not good ones for the religious folks. It’s gonna get messy, and I think it’s gonna smack religious people on the ass so hard they won’t sit for a month. Stories like this one are going to ripple across the workplace in every state. It’s a ruling that basically legalized gender discrimination and religious discrimination. When it all shakes down it’s not going to be pretty for the people currently doing a happy dance.

In the meantime, folks calling for a Constitutional Convention to repeal corporate personhood just got a little more ammo.

[UPDATE]: ThinkProgress agrees with me.

[UPDATE] 2: Charlie Pierce at Esquire also agrees with me. SCOTUS just perpetrated an act of religious discrimination while professing to do the opposite. WTF is up with that, people?

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Filed under birth control, corporations, healthcare, religious fundamentalism, religious right, Supreme Court, women's rights

Fundie RWNJ Admits Climate Change Is Man-Made

Sorta:

“We’ve made God angry by allowing abortion! Abortion causes climate change!” claims Barton.

Barton claims that we opened the door to losing God’s protection over our environment by supporting abortion which, he says, will lead to just killing everybody anyway.

Progress?

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Filed under abortion, climate change, religious fundamentalism, religious right

Williamson County You Still Suck A Thousand Ways

God, I am so over the good, white Republican Christian folk of Williamson County. You people suck:

original

A waitress at a Red Lobster in Tennessee posted this photograph of a receipt left from her customers with a special, racist note written in the total portion.

This was, as the photo shows, at the Red Lobster in Franklin, just south of Nashville. To be more specific: it’s the Red Lobster in Cool Springs, a very prosperous shopping community dominated by a gigantic mall, dozens of strip malls, and every restaurant chain ending in apostrophe-S you can think of. Cool Springs used to be farmland but decades ago it got developed and now it’s a shining ode to Consumer America. It is severely conservative, hard-right Republican, sanitized, cookie-cutter, mega-church, soccer mom suburbia: the kind of place people move to because “it’s a good place to raise a family.”

Yes, because racism is such a great family value. /sarcasm

It’s the kind of place where both the chair and first vice chair of the county Republican Party can openly and vocally speak out against a school breakfast program for poor kids, and feel no shame whatsoever.

There are places like it all across America, but I daresay Williamson County is both petri dish and microphone for the conservative worldview. Its Congressmonster Rep. Marsha Blackburn is a regular on Fox News. It’s the home of the Christian music industry, the Gospel Music Assn., and Thomas Nelson Publishers. Dave Ramsey is headquartered here. TCOT got founded here. Hell, Victoria Jackson lives here. ’nuff said.

So let’s not fein surprise that it’s racist as hell, too. Racism, intolerance and contempt for the poor are not Christian values but they sure do seem to be widespread in the modern conservative movement.

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Filed under Christian Right, Christianity, racism, religion, religious right, Tennessee

God Pwns Christians, Has Last Laugh

Okay, Christians: God’s just fucking with you now.

Exhibit A:

Staffer shocked by lightning on Creation Museum attraction
Worker injured while clearing guests from zip line

PETERSBURG, Ky. — A staff member was injured Wednesday while clearing guests from a zip line at the Creation Museum.

Staffers had cleared the lines before 1:20 p.m. as storms moved into Boone County.

Museum officials said a male staffer touched an object that had been energized by lightning and was injured.

Images: Staffer hurt when lightning hits zip line

He was taken to an area hospital as a precaution, but his injuries were not considered to be serious.

The zip line attraction opened this spring to help the religion-themed museum attract a wider audience.

Which is worse: that a staffer at the Creation Museum was struck by lightning, or that they had to open a zip line “to attract a wider audience”?

Exhibit B:

So, it seems that in their exuberance about America, the brainiacs at ORU decided to release a bald eagle inside chapel this week. Also, the chapel has glass walls. Guess what happens next…

Video at the link.

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Filed under Christian Right, religion, religious right

Fun With Traveling Americans

Laughing at these folks would make me a truly horrible person so instead I’ll just remind this family that God works in really mysterious ways and also has one helluva sense of humor:

PHOENIX — A northern Arizona family that was lost at sea for weeks in an ill-fated attempt to leave the U.S. over what they consider government interference in religion will fly back home Sunday.

Hannah Gastonguay, 26, said Saturday that she and her husband “decided to take a leap of faith and see where God led us” when they took their two small children and her father-in-law and set sail from San Diego for the tiny island nation of Kiribati in May.

But just weeks into their journey, the Gastonguays hit a series of storms that damaged their small boat, leaving them adrift for weeks, unable to make progress. They were eventually picked up by a Venezuelan fishing vessel, transferred to a Japanese cargo ship and taken to Chile where they are resting in a hotel in the port city of San Antonio.

Their flights home were arranged by U.S. Embassy officials, Gastonguay said. The U.S. State Department was not immediately available for comment.

Oh, the irony. I’ll assume the U.S. State Department demanded the Gastonguay family renounce Jesus and become Pastafarians before lifting a finger to help them? No? Huh.

These folks have some pretty whacked ideas:

Hannah Gastonguay said her family was fed up with government control in the U.S. As Christians they don’t believe in “abortion, homosexuality, in the state-controlled church,” she said.

U.S. “churches aren’t their own,” Gastonguay said, suggesting that government regulation interfered with religious independence.

Among other differences, she said they had a problem with being “forced to pay these taxes that pay for abortions we don’t agree with.”

The Gastonguays weren’t members of any church, and Hannah Gastonguay said their faith came from reading the Bible and through prayer.

“The Bible is pretty clear,” she said.

We have a state-controlled church? Taxes pay for abortions? Since when?

You know, is this an awesome country or what? You can come up with all sorts of crackpot, crazy ideas that have no basis in reality about how America has failed you and this country will still bail your butt out when you get into trouble.

[UPDATE:]

Meanwhile, y’all picked Kiribati? For realz? Y’all don’t read much, do you?

Running out of options, and water, a nation’s leader enters an end game against climate change. The President of Kiribati urges an orderly evacuation — “migration with dignity”.

So let’s get this straight: some clueless Christians suffering imaginary “persecution” decide to escape to a country that is literally going under water due to climate change and will soon no longer exist. And on their way they hit storm after storm, have to be rescued, and are forced to turn to the country they think oppresses them for help.

God is shouting at you people and her message is Get a fucking clue!

(h/t, friend of the blog Leslie P.)

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Filed under religion, religious fundamentalism, religious right

Let The Churches Deal With Them

I just have one more thing to say about this whole “let the churches care for the poor” viewpoint which, let’s be honest, is not unique to Rep. Stephen Fincher, but is pretty pervasive among conservatives of all stripes.

Nothing is stopping any church from helping anyone. Please, churches, knock yourselves out. Feed as many people as you want: old, young, whatever. We need you to do this, we really do. Wasn’t that the whole point of Bush’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives? Guess what, haters: the Mooslim Usurper Nobummer didn’t close that office, he expanded it. So yes, churches: feed us, house us, help us.

And indeed, the faith community is helping. Good grief, I’ve been part of more church-based programs helping the poor in this town than I can count: Room In The Inn, Rooftop, the Martha O’Bryan Center, Safe Haven Family Shelter, you name it. Here’s Nashvllle’s Downtown Presbyterian Church which feeds hundreds of homeless every week (much to the chagrin of local businesses,who don’t like having a soup kitchen on their doorstep). The Salvation Army has soup kitchens all across the country feeding the hungry (for which they are reimbursed by the government, I might add.)

But the need is great. There are not enough congregations doing enough of this work to help everyone. Every church-based effort I’ve been part of has had to ration the amount of help it provides because the need is simply greater than funds allow. At Rooftop, which provides temporary, one-time rental and mortgage assistance to keep people from being evicted, we routinely ran out of money and had to suspend services, sometimes for an entire month.

The need is great. Many churches are helping the poor. But many do not. C’mon, you know it’s true. Many church organizations prefer to spend their money on bullshit marketing efforts like the Scripturally-dubious I Am Second campaign, whose billboards have popped up all over town. Harold Camping’s Family Radio empire raked in millions of dollars in donations, money which could have been spent helping the hungry and needy. Instead, it went toward buying thousands of billboards across the country proclaiming a hilariously wrong prediction about the Second Coming.

No one can tell any faith community how to spend its money. And they don’t always spend it on the needy. Sometimes they spend it on ideological bullshit like this. How many kids could have been fed if the Mormons had channeled their $20 million somewhere other than the Prop 8 campaign?

Right-wingers are always telling us we don’t need the government to provide services, “charity” should take care of it for us. But what do right-wing billionaires spend their money on? Think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, and Cato Institute, whose sole purpose is to promote conservative ideology. Or phony conservative “foundations” like Citizens for a Sound Economy (now known as FreedomWorks) and Americans For Prosperity — political groups spreading the low-tax, low-regulation, free-market message. Maybe if Richard Mellon Scaife and the Koch brothers redirected the billions they spend on political power toward social welfare, the need wouldn’t be so great. Maybe if they walked their talk, their views might have more credibility. And yes, I know these and other billionaires spend a lot on charity, I’m not saying they don’t. But they spend at least as much, if not more, on political power.

And that’s the problem. The fact that so many billionaires would rather spend their fortunes on politics not people proves our point. The lure of power is great, is it not? Indeed, too often the lure of power is greater than the lure of helping your neighbor. I’m pretty sure Jesus and the Old Testament prophets knew this.

This is why we need government programs like SNAP: to fill in the holes left by human nature’s failure to always do the right thing. Charities and faith communities are doing a lot but they can’t do it all. Ask any social worker and they will tell you. Ask any secretary of an urban church, inundated with calls for help on a daily basis. They will tell you.

But this discussion is all big a waste time. Because people like Rep. Fincher don’t really care about the poor, do they? When I hear someone say, “let the churches deal with x, y, z problem,” what I’m really hearing is, “I don’t want to deal with x, y, z problem.” That’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it?

If only the poor would just go away. But they won’t, Rep. Fincher. They won’t just “go away.” They will always be with us, as Jesus said, as an eternal reminder of human failure — an eternal reminder of our sin, to use church parlance.

The poor will always be with us as long as we expect someone else to deal with the problem.

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Filed under charities, poverty, religion, religious right

We Didn’t Leave The Church, The Church Left Us

My daily fishwrap has a front page story on the demise of the Religious Right (I’ve linked to the same story in another, non-firewalled publication, just FYI.) I found the story interesting but it’s also nothing we haven’t talked about here for years.

So, check this out:

Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and a national Religious Right leader, said the election was an “unmitigated disaster.”

He believes the country will become much more secular and look more like Europe. “It is going to be a chastening, humbling moment for American Christians to realize that we are going to be in the position across this country of speaking as a minority,” Mohler said. Today, about 1 in 5 Americans has no religious affiliation.

That doesn’t mean that the faithful will give up on politics or on trying to shape American culture to fit their values. But it does mean they need to pay more attention to the Bible and less to the GOP, said author and speaker Stephen Mansfield.

[…]

To remain relevant, Mansfield said, conservative Christians also have to learn how to express their views in a way that appeals to the general public, not just like-minded believers. They can’t just hold up the Bible and expect people to agree with them, he said.

No, that’s absolutely wrong. The problem is not the way you express your ideas. The problem IS your ideas. Many of which, let me point out, are not even Biblical, nor are they the church’s historical position. For example, back in the ’60s, evangelicals were pro-choice:

In 1968, Christianity Today published a special issue on contraception and abortion, encapsulating the consensus among evangelical thinkers at the time. In the leading article, professor Bruce Waltke, of the famously conservative Dallas Theological Seminary, explained the Bible plainly teaches that life begins at birth:

“God does not regard the fetus as a soul, no matter how far gestation has progressed. The Law plainly exacts: ‘If a man kills any human life he will be put to death’ (Lev. 24:17). But according to Exodus 21:22–24, the destruction of the fetus is not a capital offense… Clearly, then, in contrast to the mother, the fetus is not reckoned as a soul.”

The magazine Christian Life agreed, insisting, “The Bible definitely pinpoints a difference in the value of a fetus and an adult.” And the Southern Baptist Convention passed a 1971 resolution affirming abortion should be legal not only to protect the life of the mother, but to protect her emotional health as well.

I would love to get my hands on a copy of that vintage 1968 Christianity Today, wouldn’t you? I bet it’s been purged from the archive.

Isn’t that interesting, though, that what is considered a cornerstone of conservative Christianity today — being “pro life” — is a complete reversal of what the church believed 40 years ago? I find that fascinating. I guess, like Scott DesJarlais, conservative Christians have “evolved” on this issue. (Wait — I thought they didn’t believe in evolution?)

The church changed for political reasons, not theological ones. Until Jerry Falwell came along, Christians largely stayed out of politics — it was, in fact, a guiding principle of Southern Baptists and other denominations to not get involved in worldly things like lobbying Congress and launching boycotts and showing up on the evening news in a frothy lather over some imagined offense like a War on Christmas. Falwell changed all of that, and 40 years later the church finds itself no longer relevant. To think these two things aren’t somehow connected is ludicrous.

And before Al Mohler starts fearmongering again about European-style secularism destroying Christianity, he needs to read this old post of mine. I wrote it after another of his anti-Europe rants in 2009:

Mohler and his kind are most ignorant in their favorite tactic of using Western European countries as their warning of what’s in store for America if we don’t DO something, quick, like stop teaching evolution in public schools and outlaw abortion. These folks like to talk about how secular Western Europe is, all the tolerance for nasty things like teh gaii, but they fail to mention that many of their worst secular offenders (Scandinavian countries, for example) have a state religion!

This astonished me when I was in “secular, liberal” Norway last spring. In fact, it was just one year ago next week that the Norwegian government changed its constitution, so that the Lutheran Church is no longer the state religion.

Yes, that’s right, up until last year, every person born in “secular, liberal” Norway was automatically born a Lutheran. If you wanted to raise your kids Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Baptist or atheist, you had to petition the government. Can you believe that?

The Norwegian government still finances the Lutheran Church, and until last year appointed church bishops. In other words, the government had authority over the church. Can you imagine? Can you imagine your tax dollars funding church salaries?

The surest way to kill a religion is to make it your state religion — to remove that wall of separation. A generation ago religious people in this country knew that, they knew the wall separating church and state protected the church from the state, as much as the other way around. But along came Jerry Falwell and the rest of the ignoramuses of the Moral Majority, and here they are.

I find it all incredibly, hilariously ironic.

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Filed under Christianity, religion, religious right

Couldn’t Happen To A Nicer Asshole

Richard Land’s comments about the Trayvon Martin case — which were both plagiarized and intolerant — have come back to haunt him. His radio show has been canceled and there have been calls for him to step down:

Land’s comments upset many black Southern Baptist leaders, one of whom called for Land’s resignation. The controversy got more intense when a blogger revealed that Land’s commentary was copied nearly verbatim from an editorial in The Washington Times, although Land did not credit the newspaper on the air.

After an investigation, the trustees board of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission reprimanded Land for the comments and the plagiarism. Land, who is the commission’s president, has previously apologized for both.

Land heads the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. That’s a fancy way of saying he’s their spokesperson on national affairs, basically the front man on political issues. He’s their lead general in the culture wars. He’s anti marriage equality, anti contraception, anti choice, anti single mothers, anti divorce, anti Obamacare (cuz, what would Jesus do, after all?), anti-Democratic Party, anti pretty much everything a good liberal would be for.

What is Richard Land for? He was for the war in Iraq, calling it a “just war.” Repeatedly. He lusted after a war in Iraq so badly he penned a dozen or more columns about it. Even tried to sell the idea that Martin Luther King Jr. would have wanted a war in Iraq. He thought the war in Afghanistan was a grand idea, too. And he blamed Abu Ghraib on secularism, not the moral failure that was the Iraq War itself.

Richard Land hates gays and gay marriage and gay couples who have been together for 20 years but can’t have the same legal protections as any other married couple but he loves, loves, loves our little imperialistic wars. Christians who love war but hate loving committed relationships are hypocrites in my book.

He also hates “Obamacare” and called it a “government takeover of healthcare.” He decried obstruction of President Bush’s judicial nominees but remained silent when Republicans did the same thing to President Obama’s.

Wading through the archives over at the ERLC is quite an education. Richard Land of the 1990s was not nearly the partisan hack that he is today. The brazen electioneering for the Republican Party and obvious regurgitation of GOP talking points were far less blatant back then. The 1990s-era Richard Land had a smidgen of independent thought, but that Richard Land is long gone. The Richard Land of today is a Republican Party tool. His very existence at the top of the Southern Baptist Convention is reason enough to yank the Convention’s non-profit status.

And now this good little foot soldier for movement conservatism did what he was supposed to do, attack Trayvon Martin as a means of stoking conservative racial fears. Ah, but the poor guy was busy that week, he had a lot on his plate, so he took his opinions straight from the Moonie Times (that religious conservatives like Richard Land find Rev. Sun Myung Moon a kindred spirit tells you all you need to know about the depth of their religious convictions). Woopsies. Busted.

And this is why no one wants to join your stupid, intolerant little club of bigots and haters.

And I guess he also forgot about the SBC’s own ugly racial history which they are still battling and which has prompted the denomination to elect its first African American leader.

I have to wonder how Land’s blatant shilling for an increasingly extremist and racist Republican Party will fly in the era of Rev. Fred Luter Jr.? I predict Land will be retiring to spend more time with his family in the next year or so.

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Filed under religion, religious right