Tag 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?

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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:

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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

If Only Those Brown People Didn’t All Look The Same

Or, “I don’t think religious freedom means what you think it does,” or, “I don’t think the Constitution works the way you think it does,” etc. etc.:

When we reported last fall on a Hot Springs firing range that was declared a “Muslim free zone” by its owner, several blog commenters asked, “how will she know who’s a Muslim?” The answer, unsurprisingly, seems to be good old fashioned racism. The Times was contacted over the weekend by a college student from Hot Springs who went to the Gun Cave with his father for a round of target practice.

They’re not Muslim, but they do happen to be South Asian. They were told to leave by a woman, presumably Jan Morgan, the owner.

“My dad and I used to go to this gun range,” said the young man, who asked not to be identified by name, “but we haven’t had as much of a chance to go in recent years since I’ve been at college. It’s changed ownership recently.”

“When we went in, a woman asked, ‘Where are you guys from?’ We told her we were from Hot Springs. She said, “this is a Muslim free shooting range,” so if we are [Muslim] and if we don’t like the rule, then leave. We said that we’re not Muslim, but my dad asked, ‘Why is it Muslim free?’ and they started having a conversation. Then, all of a sudden, I don’t know what went wrong, but she stopped us from filling out the paperwork and said ‘I don’t think you guys should be here.’ She told us to leave or she’d call the cops on us.”

Not wanting to cause a scene, they left.

“We’re brown; I don’t know if she assumed we were Muslim,” he continued. “When she first asked us, she said, ‘I would hope if you were Muslim you guys wouldn’t be cowards and would be up front about it.'” The student told the Times he was born in the U.S. and lived in Hot Springs for ten years before going to college in a different Arkansas town; he considers Hot Springs his home.

Sadly, it’s not the first time a gun loon decided Muslims had no business exercising their 2nd Amendment rights.

Shocked face.

[UPDATE]:

Seems to come with the territory. Gun loons = racist assholes. Who knew?

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Filed under Guns, Islam, racism, right-wing hate

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

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.

4 Comments

Filed under GLBT, religious right, Tennessee

Doing It Wrong

I am not sure why East Tennessee State University has opened its campus to crackpot evangelists who harass students, but apparently being fat-shamed and berated as a “fornicator” is something you must endure as an ETSU student. From the Johnson City Press:

One student, whose identity will be protected by The Press, emailed the newspaper complaining that she was verbally harassed by Jackson in front of a large group of her peers when the streetcorner deacon said she “looked like (she) weighed as much as a football linebacker.”

[…]

But Jackson, who travels a circuit of U.S. college campuses issuing provocative condemnations of nearly every vice, bad habit, alternative lifestyle and differing viewpoint, properly filled out and submitted his application to speak in ETSU’s Borchuck Plaza, one of the college’s defined limited public forum areas, Smith said.

Apparently this guy is part of a fundie outfit called Revival Mission Ministries, which sends preachers out to college campuses to do “open-air preaching,” in which they rail and rant against pretty much everything they don’t agree with. They look an awful lot like the Westboro Baptist Church cult. Here they are at East Carolina University back in March:

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Note the joy on the students’ faces. /sarcasm

According to the story, Jackson’s ranting was followed by yet another raving street preacher the next day, with the campus public safety office erecting wooden barriers around him, something deemed necessary after Jackson’s appearance the day prior. Ye shall know them by their fruits, folks.

This isn’t preaching, it’s harassment. It’s ego-indulging, attention-seeking, self-promotion. In fact, people like this aren’t doing themselves or their cause any favors:

A landmark Pew Research from 2012 shows that attachment by young people to organized religious bodies is on the decline. Many of those who don’t belong to a church, synagogue, or mosque still practice religion informally to a certain extent. However, they have grown wary of the way that traditional institutions mix political power with the pursuit of otherworldly aims.

Nine out of ten older Americans are directly affiliated with a religion, a statistic that goes down to two-thirds with the youngest adults. Softened commitment generally means less strong attachment to God and less frequent attendance at services. It also entails more liberal political views, a higher likelihood of voting Democratic, and support for abortion rights.

Here’s a video of Jackson, pulled from the ministry’s website. As one might expect, he doesn’t seem to be winning many converts. Instead, he seems to be indulging his ego. He also seems to have a very narrow view of “sin.” Intolerance and unkindness are just as much sins as what you do with your naughty parts. Not sure why college students should be subjected to this. Jackson seems young and inexperienced, perhaps in a few years he’ll wake up and realize he’s Doing It Wrong.

8 Comments

Filed under culture wars, 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?

25 Comments

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