Posts Tagged ‘Evangelical’

Many agree Americans live in a racialized society (a society that attributes certain characteristics to groups of people for the purpose of racial hierarchy and racism), that we live in a country whose national origins cannot be separated from the evil ideology of white superiority and black inferiority, and that the U.S. still (in many respects) privileges whiteness over non-whiteness. But other Americans believe and embrace the color-blind theory of race.

The color-blind theory refers to racial neutrality. According to this view, the color of one’s skin does not matter because we live in a post-racial society—that is, a society that has moved beyond race. Further, the theory urges that humans need to look beyond skin color, because treating people equally and ignoring their race will lead to a more equal society.

Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, legal scholar and critical race theorist, explained in a recent lecture at Brown Universitythat the color-blind theory is an ideological frame that basically asserts that a person should treat all persons equally.

Critical race theory (CRT) challenges the color-blind theory of race. CRT is a complex theory that basically says racism is normal, not an abnormality, whiteness is privileged over non-whiteness, and race is a social construct (not biological) created by the majority group to wield power and privilege in favor of the white majority.[1]

My Perspective

As a black Christian scholar with some social privileges because of my educational background (4 degrees—B.S., two master degrees, and a Ph.D.) and because of my teaching position at a prominent evangelical seminary, I am tempted to say this theory on the surface seems to be biblical. After all, Gal. 3:28 states “There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, and neither male nor female, but we are all one in Christ.” Therefore, we should conclude, “There is no such thing as a black Christian or a white Christian. We’re just Christians.” And Christians should not see color and should stop talking about race; talking about race will make race an issue.

However, regardless of how pious the color-blind theory sounds to Christians, it is actually cruel and damaging to many black, brown, and white people who experience marginalized or privileged racialized experiences simply because of their skin color. And the color-blind theory of race perpetuates the very racism that it seeks to avoid by allowing the majority cultural group to maintain their status as the privileged, racialized group.

The Color-Blind Theory of Race Denies the Racialized Experiences of Marginalized Black and Brown People

The color-blind theory of race denies the racialized experiences of those marginalized. The theory communicates to the marginalized races that their racialized narratives are false, because they don’t fit the counter-narratives of the majority group. However, the racist ideology of white superiority that created the historical impetus for slavery placed non-white people (particularly blacks) in a negative light from this country’s inception.

Black people were ripped apart from their families, enslaved, lynched, sprayed with water hoses, beaten with clubs, given separate bathrooms and water fountains, and were forced to live in a society where everything in their experience reminded them of their so-called inferiority to whites. Blacks also had to endure dehumanizing names like coon, nigger, or boy simply because their black bodies were not white, names that reinforced their racialized status of inferiority.

Elijah Anderson (an African-American sociologist at Yale University) recently affirmed the above point at a recent Veritas Forum at Yale University. Professor Anderson asserted that slavery and the iconic plantation established the black body at the very bottom of the American racial order, stating that even justices in the 1800s suggested that black people had no rights that white people were bound to respect.

With emancipation, Anderson continued, black people migrated to the north and south. But their racialized reputations as inferior to whites followed them. He declared the black body has historically moved to and fro in white spaces with a deficit of credibility, not because of any scientifically verifiable biological inferiority, but simply because the black person is not white.

Christian congregations that affirm the color-blind theory grossly fail those black and brown people who are marginalized in their communities and in their churches because of their racialized status. Black and brown (and white!) evangelicals suffer when they experience racialized forms of racism, even in evangelical spaces. Evangelical churches deepen racialized wounds when they suggest from their pulpits, in their classes, in their institutions, or in personal conversations that the suffering of black and brown people because of their race is not real, or the loving Jesus means we should be racially neutral and avoid discussions about race.

The Color-Blind Theory Allows the Majority Group to reinforce Racialized Stereotypes

Contrary to certain evangelical Christians, critical race theorists and social scientists argue that racism is systemic, and is deeply ingrained in the structural fabric of the U.S. Ideas of racial hierarchy and white superiority and black inferiority have shaped the identity of this country. To clarify, this does not mean that every problem experienced by blacks results from racism, but the above does suggest that (like it or not) blacks, whites, and everyone else in this country live in a racialized society. Sometimes one’s racialized perception of others can serve as an advantage or disadvantage for the racialized group in social interactions and achievements. Take, for example, the way black and brown people are disproportionately incarcerated for certain crimes in comparison to white offenders.

In my experience, certain evangelicals will vehemently deny the above premise. Instead, they contend that to affirm systemic racism is to make race an issue, and when people affirm systemic racism this affirmation feeds into the grievance industry. With these assertions, however, there is a subtle interplay of meaning some white evangelicals attach to race. Some white (and a few black) evangelicals do not understand themselves to be a race or to be racialized, but as simply being normal people. They genuinely believe their viewpoint on race is “the truth,” as opposed to having a viewpoint shaped by one’s culture or race. This perspective allows some within the majority group to reinforce racialized stereotypes of non-white people, because they genuinely believe they interpret the world from the posture of objective truth, whereas non-whites interpret the world through a suspicious, ethnic posture.

Conclusion

Christians should stop insisting the color-blind theory is true. The very racist social construct of race in 18-19th century Europe and America based on illusory biological traits and rooted in racial hierarchy and biological fiction proves that the color-blind theory is a myth.

When Christians deny they see black, brown, or white skin, they ignore the fact that many people have suffered much because of the color of their skin at the hands of some white people who identified with the Christian movement. And when Christians deny that skin color currently plays a role in determining one’s position and influence in the evangelical movement, they perpetuate the cruelty of racism in their churches, because they show their unwillingness to admit that racial identity often determines who has privilege and what privilege one has in the current evangelical movement and that one’s race often serves as a means of social marginalization.

Great progress has been made in evangelical churches. However, even greater racial progress in evangelical churches will be difficult if we continue to deny the obvious. Black, brown, white, and everyone else in between in the evangelical movement must acknowledge our differences, as well as the fictive racial construct that we’ve inherited, and we must pursue love, unity, and reconciliation in Christ through the Gospel in spite of what we think we see when we look at another person created in the image of God.

By Jarvis Williams/raanetwork

Posted by John the Revelator

Last Friday, Jerry Falwell, Jr. took to Fox News to proclaim that in Donald Trump, “evangelicals have found their dream president.” Two years ago, this statement would have made virtually no sense, at least on the surface. To many outside the white evangelical world, it seemed — and still seems — inconceivable that a thrice-married serial adulterer, ultimate materialist, casino owner, habitual liar, and unprincipled deal-maker could ever become the standard bearer for a group that professes to base their vote on “family values.”

How times have changed. In the two years since Trump announced his candidacy, we have seen a remarkable moral unmasking of white Americans who call themselves Christian, and in particular those who claim the “evangelical” label. Eighty-one percent of white evangelical voters cast their vote for Donald Trump, and the most recent Pew Research poll puts Trump’s support after his first 100 days in office at 78 percent among white evangelicals (and 80 percent among white evangelicals who attend church once a month).

So it makes sense that Falwell would be asked to rate the president on his first 100 days from an evangelical perspective: Falwell was essentially a surrogate for Trump during much of the campaign. And in late January, Trump asked Falwell to lead a taskforce on higher education policy, whose aim is to recommend changes that should be made to Department of Education policies and procedures. He has indicated in particular that he wants to curb or eliminate federal rules that he views as overly burdensome, including the requirement that schools must investigate campus sexual assault under Title IX, a federal law banning discrimination in education.

Given Falwell’s close relationship with Trump’s campaign and administration, it’s unsurprising that he spoke so glowingly about what he views as the Trump administration’s accomplishments so far. Here are some of the claims Falwell made for why Trump is a “dream president” for evangelicals:

  • Trump is more pro-Israel than Obama.
  • He appointed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
  • He has appointed people of faith to his Cabinet.
  • Trump will destroy ISIS, thereby saving the lives of many persecuted Christians in the region.
  • Trump supports secure borders (e.g. the wall).
  • Trump is bringing jobs back to America.
  • Trump is cracking down on “sanctuary cities.”

Falwell made a point to note that he felt “… evangelicals didn’t just vote on social issues this time, because the Republican establishment had lied to them over decades about those issues, and so instead, they went a different direction,” which was his explanation for why so many white evangelicals are “thrilled” about Trump’s hardline positions on immigration. In supporting Trump’s crackdowns and, in Trump’s words, “big” and “beautiful” wall that will keep immigrants out, Falwell is explicitly and proudly saying that white evangelicals voted for Trump not in spite of his racist and xenophobic rhetoric about undocumented immigrants, but because of this rhetoric. How that relates to Christians, including evangelicals, who are in direct relationship to the undocumented immigrants and refugees that Trump wants to deport or keep out of our country, Falwell didn’t say.

Falwell also didn’t mention that Trump’s agenda and proposed budget would brutally cut off vital support to all “the least of these” that Jesus asks us to protect in the 25th chapter of Matthew’s gospel — or that a broad cross-section of leaders from all our Christian families, including the National Association of Evangelicals, have pleaded with this administration and Congress not to do so.

As in this latest interview, Jerry Falwell, Jr. has once again shown himself to be nothing more or less than a Republican political operative, interested in advancing his preferred policy agenda much more than examining what it means to be a Christian. Famously, when the Access Hollywood tape came out with Trump bragging his ability to commit sexual assault with impunity, Falwell stood by Trump, suggesting a “conspiracy” of GOP establishment leaders was to blame for the leak. Falwell also said that “we’re never going to have a perfect candidate unless Jesus Christ is on the ballot” and defended Trump as “a changed man,” saying, “We’re not electing a pastor. We’re electing a president.”

You can imagine how jarring it was and is to see the same religious right figures who (rightly) condemned Bill Clinton’s infidelity come to Trump’s defense. A startling poll in October 2016 showed the dramatic change in white evangelical attitudes: In 2011, only 30 percent of white evangelicals agreed with the idea that “an elected official can behave ethically even if they have committed immoral acts in their personal life.” By October 2016, that figure had jumped to 72 percent. This was the largest recorded change on the answer to this question of any racial, religious, or political demographic measured by this poll.

The issue here is not Christians voting differently from each other. That is normal and likely healthy given the independence that people of faith should show over partisan loyalties. This is about the moral hypocrisy of white American evangelical religious right leaders like Jerry Falwell, Jr. causing a crisis in the church, dividing American Christians on racial lines, and astonishing the worldwide body of Christ — the international majority of evangelical Christians who are people of color — and whose leaders keep asking many of us what in the world is going on with white American evangelicals.

That number, 81 percent, has become an international symbol that tragically now represents what white American evangelicalism stands for. It dramatically and painfully symbolizes the white ethno-nationalism that Donald Trump appeals to and continues to draw support from among white American evangelicals. It is the most revealing and hurtful metric of what I will call the racial idolatry of white American evangelical Christianity, which clearly excludes American evangelicals of color and the global majority of evangelicals. The 81 percent number ultimately signifies a betrayal of the body of Christ — which is the most racially inclusive and diverse community in the world today.

Jerry Falwell, Jr. and I believe in different gospels. With Falwell, of course, this is also a like father like son history. Jerry Falwell, Sr. opposed the civil rights movement and the black churches who led it. On the Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education that integrated public schools, Falwell, Sr. preached:

“If Chief Justice Warren and his associates had known God’s word and had desired to do the Lord’s will, I am quite confident that the 1954 decision would never have been made … The facilities should be separate. When God has drawn a line of distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line … The true Negro does not want integration …. He realizes his potential is far better among his own race … [integration] will destroy our race eventually. In one northern city, a pastor friend of mine tells me that a couple of opposite race live next door to his church as man and wife.”

In fact, he founded the Liberty Christian Academy in 1967, which the Lynchburg News at the time described as “a private school for white students.”

He also attacked Martin Luther King, Jr., saying:

“I must personally say that I do question the sincerity and nonviolent intentions of some civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. James Farmer, and others, who are known to have left-wing associations … It is very obvious that the Communists, as they do in all parts of the world, are taking advantage of a tense situation in our land, and are exploiting every incident to bring about violence and bloodshed.”

As late as the 1980s, Falwell, Sr. personally attacked South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu by calling him a “phony” and campaigned against sanctioning the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Falwell, Sr. later distanced himself from these views, but they remain an important element explaining the origin of the religious right and the views of too many white evangelicals today.

Racism is not a gospel issue to the Falwells, and never has been. That Donald Trump began his political career with a racist lie about America’s first black president isn’t an issue for Falwell, Jr. That Trump opened his campaign by demonizing immigrants in calling them “rapists” and “criminal” doesn’t matter to Jr. either. And Trump’s xenophobic assaults on Muslims seems to be something that Falwell. also agrees with, as his comments at the Liberty University convocation in 2015 indicate. After the San Bernardino shootings, he told his audience that he had a gun in his back pocket ready to use against “those Muslims:” “I’ve always thought that if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in … let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here.”

It is important to remember that the majority of American evangelicals of color, and the 19 percent of us white evangelicals who voted with them — against Trump — did so because we are pro-life and pro-family. For all of us, Trump’s racial bigotry was a deal breaker and disqualifier of a Christian vote. That only a few conservative evangelical leaders, like Southern Baptist Russell Moore, took that stance was one of the saddest things about the 2016 election.

Racism and racial bigotry is a gospel issue, and overcoming our human divisions in a new multi-cultural community was at the center of the vocation of the early church. Last week, when I debated Eric Metaxas, an ally of Jerry Falwell, Jr., he said that raising the issue of race is not Christian — that talking about racism was racist. No. Unlike Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whom he has written about, Metaxas — like Falwell — has gotten the gospel wrong. It’s time for other white evangelicals to call out the white American evangelical leaders who have yet to speak out against the racial politics of President Donald Trump in his campaign, in his first 100 days, and going forward. The integrity of the church is at stake, as is our relationship with our brothers and sisters of color in United States, and our loyalty to the global multi-color majority of the body of Christ.

Let’s go back to Falwell’s characterization of Trump as a “dream president” for evangelicals. He can only mean white evangelicals. I can testify to a legion of conversations with African-American, Hispanic, and Asian-American evangelicals who would describe Donald Trump as a “nightmare” president. Ditto for almost all black parents and black pastors. Certainly Trump is a nightmare for Hispanic people in America, who are living under fear of their families being destroyed by the new president’s aggressive deportation policies.

That Trump is the dream president for people like Falwell and such a nightmare for the vast majority of evangelical, Pentecostal, and Catholic Christians around the world, and our brothers and sisters of color in the United States, really says it all.

This stark contrast reveals white evangelical Christianity in America as a bubble — a very destructive one, and one that is about to burst.

By Jim Wallis

Posted by The NON-Conformist

An Evangelical Christian college suspended a tenured professor for insisting that Christians and Muslims “worship the same God,” echoing the pope.

Dr. Larycia Alaine Hawkins is an associate professor of political science at Wheaton College, an Evangelical private liberal arts school in Wheaton, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. She has taught at the school for seven years.

Last week, in the midst of a wave of anti-Muslim attacks and hate crimes, Hawkins announced that she would publicly wear a hijab, a traditional Islamic headscarf, in solidarity with Muslims during the Christian season of Advent.

Hawkins said she asked the leading Muslim civil rights organization the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) “whether a non-Muslim wearing the hijab was haram (forbidden), patronizing, or otherwise offensive to Muslims,” and noted she “was assured by my friends at CAIR-Chicago that they welcomed the gesture.”

“I don’t love my Muslim neighbor because s/he is American. I love my Muslim neighbor because s/he deserves love by virtue of her/his human dignity,” Hawkins wrote in a Dec. 10 Facebook post explaining her decision.

“I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book,” she added. “And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”

“As I tell my students, theoretical solidarity is not solidarity at all,” Hawkins explained. “Thus, beginning tonight, my solidarity has become embodied solidarity.”

Hawkins’ act of inter-religious solidarity went viral, and was covered in a variety of news outlets.

Her school, on the other hand, was not enthused by Hawkins’ finding common cause with Muslims.

In response to Hawkins’ comments, Wheaten College released a statement Tuesday afternoon notifying the public that it had placed her on administrative leave. The Evangelical school cited “significant questions regarding the theological implications of statements … Hawkins has made about the relationship of Christianity to Islam” in justification of its decision.

Wheaten College could not be reached for further comment Tuesday night.

In 2006, Wheaten attracted controversy for firing Assistant Professor Joshua Hochschild for converting to Catholicism.

More recently, in 2012, the conservative Christian college also filed a lawsuit in opposition to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate, under the Affordable Care Act, that the school must provide access to contraceptives in its health care plan or be subject to fines.

On Dec. 13, Hawkins wrote in another Facebook post that, since she began wearing the hijab to show solidarity with Muslims, she has “received pushback almost exclusively from other Christians.”

“The pushback has primarily centered on the claim that Christians and Muslims worship the same God,” she observed.

Hawkins pointed out that this position has been “held for centuries by countless Christians (church fathers, saints, and regular Christian folk like me),” and linked to an article exploring this question by Protestant theologian Miroslav Volf.

“Those of you who now count me apostate for daring to call fellow humans who happen to be Muslim my brothers and sisters,” Hawkins wrote, “I love you with the power of the love that saved me and keeps me and bids me do justice in my body.”

By Ben Norton

Posted by John the Revelator

Those statements are:

  • The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.
  • It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.
  • Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.

Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation.

The bible is the most misunderstood book ever written. We now have scholars that are revealing truths, that believers throw away because it doesn’t coincide with what they have been taught or what they believe off the teachings they have been taught. The OT are stories that can’t be proven that copied from earlier stories and the NT is a hodgepodge of who wrote what. Out of the 27 books of the NT only 8 were written by the original authors, the gospels disagree with accounts from each book or letter.

Jesus on the other hand is a different matter. For him in the historical sense, its as if he never existed. If you try to find him as a historical figure you have no information, this why he has to be spiritualized or made to believe. As I will continue to say “belief is hope, not a fact!”If you read carefully, he only came for the house of Israel, no one else. He didn’t love gentiles, he treated them as if thy were second class citizens(mk7:27) it was the jews were the second class citizens. Paul created the savior narrative, today Jews don’t believe in a literal Jesus. He died like every other criminal on the toucher stake, his crime was for the act of sedition.

When we speak of sin, what is it. It has to do with theology. You can’t express to others their sinfulness when it has only to do with the believer. It doesn’t refer to non believers. Jesus was nothing more than a MAN, nothing more. You, with your belief attribute power to him. Jesus is nothing but one more way of a belief, all routes promise pretty much the same thing. If this is what you believe, hold fast to it. Allow other to believe what they want. It is amazing how islam and christianity can both believe they are the only truth, how self absorbed and delusional can you be…

Written by John the Revelator

 

 

I’ve decided that, at least in the United States, the religiously devout really do have the interests of rationalist nonbelievers at heart, at least as far as providing us with (a sick, unseemly sort of) entertainment goes. They strive ceaselessly and tirelessly, without remiss, on holidays, weekends, and during the work week, to provide us with new episodes of the tragicomic—though mostly tragic—reality-show farce that is religion, and at their own expense. We might just as well call them the Falstaffs of Faith.

In the Roman Catholic cult, aging, supposedly celibate yet surely (concupiscently) turgid priests in frocks and beanies hide behind screens in confessionals and eagerly (probably pantingly) parse accounts of the sexual misdeeds of their flock members, and have the nerve to impose “penance” on them, even as dioceses continue to declare bankruptcy to get out of making payouts to their own sexual abuse victims. In the United States alone, by 2012, the Catholic Church’s victims numbered as many as 100,000, and payouts to them had amounted to as much as $2.2 billion.

Presiding over an obscenely wealthy institution with a documented history of mafia-linked bank scandals and Holocaust profiteering, the Vatican’s supreme cult master styles himself after, and even adopts the name of, a long-dead (earnest and wonderful, even if believing) penurious Italian from Assisi, and wins plaudits from the public for creating a Vatican “tribunal” at which to try bishops accused of sheltering child-raping priests. (We are supposed to consider this “progress,” as if we needed priests at all.) Last year, the Vatican admitted to defrocking 848 priests and sanctioning 2,572, in the more than 3,400 cases of child abuse it has dealt with since 2004.
No pangs of conscience played a role in the Vatican’s divulgation of such appalling figures. The admission came under pressure, as a United Nations committee overseeing the observance of the U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment grilled the Holy See’s ambassador in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi. Courts may well decide that the sexual abuse of children constitutes torture, which could lead to sweeping arrests depopulating the ranks of the Catholic clergy, with shackled priests making perp walks the world over. One hopes a Nuremberg-style tribunal can be set up for them – with Nuremberg-style punishments.

The Catholic Church, in any case, and despite the Pope’s “reform,” remains a citadel of obscurantism, sexism, and social regress, pursuing, as it always has, misogynistic policies regarding reproductive rights, blatantly discriminating against women by refusing to ordain them, and inculcating a junk ideology that instills guilt and shame about sex. (Not that anyone, male or female, should want to be a priest.) Real progress would involve the Catholic Church apologizing to humanity, with the Vatican simultaneously renouncing the statehood granted it by Mussolini’s Fascist government, abolishing itself, and donating its assets to all those whose lives the Church’s sex-crazed priests and rotten doctrines have destroyed. Any non-religious organization with such a lengthy record of employing, aiding, abetting, and sheltering veritable legions of child molesters would have been disbanded as a criminal enterprise long ago.

Feel outraged? Tell the Pope himself during his September junket to Philadelphia, to attend, of all things, something called the World Meeting of Families. Given the long child-rape record Catholic priests have racked up, you might think the last place at which their boss would be welcome would be a gathering of families. But the Catholic Church sponsors this event.

In short, don’t be fooled by the Pope’s “Franciscan” façade. And keep your children away from his priests.

The Pope is, for now, far away, but here in the United States, down in sweet home Alabama, it emerged last week that evangelical Falstaffs of Faith have cynically decided to meld worship of their (probably entirely fictitious) superhero Jesus with instructing civilians in the use of lethal weaponry. That’s right, forget all the gibber jabber about turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:39) and eschewing the sword so as not to perish by it (Matthew 26:52-54). The parishioners of the Rocky Mount United Methodist Church in the hamlet of Jemison appear to be gearing up for Armageddon, the battle of which, the Christian cult generally preaches, will involve Christ kicking the Anti-Christ’s ass and casting Beelzebub into a bottomless pit for a thousand years. (Yes, adults in modern America take this comic-book claptrap dead seriously and are preparing for it.)

However, WIAT NEWS 42, the television news show that reported the story, stressed a more mundane motive — increasing the flock. “Parishoners [sic!] Packing Heat” the anchors entitle their segment. The church, they say, found itself in possession of a gully to its rear. Pastor Phillip Guin and assembled flock members (the “parishoners” in question) fretted about what to do with it. Leave it as a peaceful, if overgrown, preserve of verdant tranquility? No, of course not. When the pastor and his sheep started “brainstorming about what to do with the area,” writes Al Ratcliffe for WIAT.com, “the idea of a gun range came up.”

Why? This doesn’t sound like your grandmother’s church. Wait, grandma might well be among the budding sharpshooters!

“We had quite a number of church members, some elderly ladies, for example,” says Guin, “and some not so elderly women that had purchased guns, but didn’t know how to use them.” Ratcliffe does not explore why this should be a church’s business, but one can assume that God and guns naturally go together down there. They certainly do for Guin, who, moreover, hopes to turn firing lead through bull’s eyes into something akin to an encounter with the godhead; he’s establishing a ministry on his newly fashioned target range.

“This is an opportunity for us to reach out in the name of Jesus Christ in a setting that is completely unique,” Guin tells us. “Even odd by some people’s standards. But who’s to say that church can’t happen right here.” The Jemison Police Department now trains on the site and offers gun safety courses there. This is, by my book, tantamount to government forces of law and order endorsing a religion — in violation of the Establishment Clause. But let’s leave that issue for another day.

The Rocky Mount United Methodist Church is not alone in mixing faith and firepower. In Paducah, Kentucky, the Lone Oak Baptist Church decided last year to throw a shindig and give away “a variety of 25 donated handguns, long guns, and shotguns through a random drawing” in order to “help men understand the Gospel message is extremely relevant to their lives today.” At least these particular arms-dealing Falstaffs of Faith were responsible about it: winners had to pass background checks to actually get their hands on the rods they had won. At Lone Oak, incidentally, only the guns were free. Bibles they sold.

(Not all evangelicals are on board when it comes to mixing God and guns. “Jesus would puke,” said Reverend Nancy Jo Kemper, the leader of the New Union Christian Church in Lexington. Amen to that, except, again, there’s no reason to believe Jesus even existed.)

Where there is faith in the Lord, there is not only sordid sexual abuse of little children, and not only the brandishing of lethal weaponry, of course. There is also rampant, seething lust after lucre, an obsession with amassing piles of (tax-exempt) money by means of the vilest sort of chicanery imaginable, and at the expense of an apparently limitless supply of gullible believers. One would think journalists would cover the pathetically transparent, ongoing (and evangelical, as usual) scams assiduously and often. But no. Surely because it remains a sensitive topic for so many, religion and those wielding it to defraud get, if not a pass, then at least less media attention than they deserve.

Comedians, and especially John Oliver, the host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” feel differently, as a brief recap in Salon showed last week. Herein I’ll be more detailed.

Oliver spent 20 glorious minutes of air time raking evangelical Christianity’s preeminent charlatans over the coals. He did not have to try hard to make his audience laugh. He showed televangelist Robert Tilton babbling in tongues about midgets and commanding lupus to “bow to the name of Jesus;” an Atlanta minister named (no joke) Creflo Dollar on stage beseeching God (actually, his exploitable, faith-stultified viewers) for a $65-million dollar jet (and getting it); the insufferably smug Pastor Mike Murdoch boasting about having bought not one, but two, Cesna Citation jets; and the preacher Kenneth Copeland’s supposed “preaching machine” private jet that flew him to some pretty un-preacherly endeavors.

The shared doctrinal ruse of these hucksters – the “prosperity” or “seed gospel” (sample exposition here), by which the faith-deranged should expect their make-believe Celestial Treasurer to compensate them proportionate to the donations they make to this or that preacher here on earth.

Now if you needed evidence that religion is all about the here and now, all about cunning pulpiteers duping the trusting masses to get rich (and get off, as the Catholic Church’s longstanding lechery shows), the ongoing televangelist swindle-charade (and Catholic Church iniquities) provide it.

In explaining how IRS regulations allow tax exemptions for just about anything related to religious institutions (even private homes, including the $6.3 million palace Pastor Copeland inhabits as his personal “parsonage,” and, of course, all those private jets), Oliver comes to the crux of his dead-serious comedic reportage: the sickeningly lax manner in which said exemptions are worded, and the even more vomit-inducing ways in which they may be exploited. Basically, as Oliver demonstrates, anyone can found a religion on any nonsensical pretext whatsoever, as long as belief in it is “truly and sincerely held” – an unverifiable criterion, and one that, puzzlingly (or not puzzlingly, given our generalized squeamishness about things religious) the IRS does not strictly enforce any more often than it audits the “faith” institutions themselves (once last year, twice in 2013, according to Oliver).

The result, says The Washington Post: More than $82.5 billion a year lost to federal coffers – this, in a time of fiscal austerity, budget cuts, and financial hardship for so many. Add to the $82.5 billion all the money spent on religious paraphernalia, from prayer books to prayer rugs to creationist magazines to trash-talking faith networksto Jesus coffee mugs and Christian apparel and so on, and you have a tsunami of misdirected funds that could feed many of America’s poor and heal many of its sick. In a country that constantly proclaims itself humanity’s last and best hope, the mere presence of multitudes so incapable of rational thought that they ransack their own bank accounts to support the faith industry disproves any assertion of American exceptionalism.

We should, of course, be outraged. More specifically, though, we should campaign to revoke all religious tax exemptions. Our legal argument: Such exemptions amount to costly government subsidies for religion (in violation, as mentioned above, of the Establishment Clause), as well as, of course, a windfall for faith shysters and their self-aggrandizing schemes.

We should also urge all the current presidential candidates – in particular, practicing evangelicals such as Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Dr. Ben Carson, and also the Catholic Jeb Bush, and even the committed Methodist Hillary Clinton (who has boasted of chowing down with the Lord) – to cease and desist from professing their faith on the campaign trail. By doing so, they de facto endorse the toxic misconception that believing far-reaching propositions about reality on no evidence constitutes not a vice, but a virtue.

Moving away from Oliver’s masterly, mordant (as well as sadly hilarious) reportage, we need to recall the stakes. Faith-deranged politicians and action groups are working hard to curtail women’s reproductive rights, discriminate against gays through religious freedom restoration acts, ruin the education of our young by promoting Genesis bunk as an alternative to the fact of evolution by natural selection, and stymie the passage of right-to-die bills (and thereby, incidentally, blocking attempts by rationalists exasperated to the point of fatal illness to exit with dignity the dumbed-down inferno of backwardness and idiocy the religious are trying to turn America into). Anthropogenic global warming poses increasing threats to our health and even national security, and, credible scientists report, may well lead to the extinction of the human race – and not in some distant future. Abroad, vicious sectarian warfare is causing chaos in ever greater parts of the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.

Now, facing such unprecedented jeopardy, even peril, do we really want to elect men and women to high office who believe in superstitious gobbledygook sodden with the putrid notion that our destruction on some Lord-supervised “Day of Judgment” will be a wonder to behold, and should even be welcomed as “salvation?” Are we really going to vote for, once again, those who pander to the deluded acolytes of modern-day sorcerers and witch doctors, or for those who were themselves such sorcerers and witch doctors? (Think Huckabee and even Scott Walker, who preached during his teens.) Or would we prefer those who can think rationally, without recourse to magic books and abracadabra rituals?

Such are the questions the tragicomic farce of religion presents us with. We know the answers. We need to act on the strength of our convictions, which must exceed in firmness the determination of the faith-deranged to impose their will on us.

This time, if we fail, we have everything to lose.

By Jeffrey Tayler /  Salon

Posted by John the Revelator

Allow me to say firstly, you are an artist and that’s how people view you. They don’t believe you have the insight to look at the world unless it’s from the view of a christian lens, also truth must be told; you’re black! I have to say you have put yourself in a precarious situation. You want to talk about the subject of racism. My question is, do you really want to be a black man, speaking to a white identity about a subject they may know more about than you. Racism white supremacy runs deep, deeper than you will ever know or understand. You made the first mistake by referencing it by calling it racism. I dare to say you or many blacks do not know the definition of racism. Racism isn’t about liking someone. 1. It is a group concept, your god created it. 2. It is based on economics, color only was included during the 1500’s because of enslavement. 3. It is about groups that are competing for control of resources, wealth and power to use it to benefit “their” people. once they get enough , they can shut down, enslave another group. This is the very reason you can’t be a racist. Please understand this, because what you don’t understand will only confuse you!

The only way to speak on this subject is honestly, are people ready to acknowledge the very subject of your jesus and his white identity.  All of this matters! Race identity is within your bible, Jesus says he’s only interested in the house of Israel. Whoever creates the religion creates the god identity and how that god looks. Your history is a stolen one, think about it this way. If you were the first created in Ethiopia; what happened? Our history was before and after slavery.

Understand young brother, you can’t hide under the guise of christianity, it only further hides truth. Are you going to talk about enslavement, how land is taken, now and then. Speak about the issue of gentrification as James Baldwin so eloquently referred to it as negro removal. Okay, what about housing policies , employment insurance, social security, why we make up more black bodies in the prison industrial complex, redlining. In 1910 they started zoning cities by race, hence came ghettos. Let’s talk about bad loans, G.I. Bill, inferior education. Read about how the new deal affected blacks, Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time by Ira Katznelson. If you want to find out why your message about racism will ruin your career in white circles. Think about what your doing before you continue, you’ll find out white christians aren’t as tolerable/tolerant as you think. This subject goes so much deeper than you think. We have to deal with this subject head on, don’t be ashamed. I used to be confused, I’m less confused today. I put black first, not religion! I left religion or christianity alone awhile ago, I’m able to look at individuals and cultures more carefully. Not through the lens of a god or bible, you will only believe you’re correct and everyone else in wrong or going to HELL.

Written by John the Revelator

There is no valid argument disputing the simple fact that America is a paradise for patriarchs and, to a slightly less degree, champions of misogyny. What defies logic, especially in the 21st Century, is that Republican patriarchs are able to maintain their hold on political power when women make up 51% of the population. Even shaky reason dictates that a robust women’s electoral movement would cleanse Republican patriarchs from Congress, governorships, and state legislatures, and bring the Republican war on women to an abrupt and just end. However, that is certainly not the case and it is down to American women’s greatest enemy and it is not Republican men per se, but the evangelical women electing them.
Republicans have historically, and regularly, opposed any legislation aimed at granting women equal rights as American citizens, and although no Democrat or Republican has the courage to admit it, the unspoken and permanently entrenched “male supremacy clause” is founded in the biblical edict that women are commanded by a mysterious deity to be subservient to a man; any man, any time, any place, and under any circumstances. Although America is not a nation under bible, Republicans have had the greatest measure of success known to man in keeping women as subservient, second-class citizens in an nation alleged to be founded on equality, and their greatest supporters are not necessarily other patriarchs, but women who vote for Republicans.

What is stunning beyond comprehension is that women who support Republicans, particularly evangelical women, know full well that their support for Republican patriarchy is inflicting second-class status, and certain misery, on their own mothers, sisters, daughters, and other evangelical women. It leads one to assume that evangelical women either suffer from Stockholm Syndrome and adopted their patriarchal masters’ cult belief that women are born to be subservient to men, or they just hate other women; there can be no other explanations.

Republicans running for the Senate and House have made little effort to conceal their anti-women’s rights agenda; particularly restricting every woman’s right to choose their own reproductive health. In both the House and Senate, Republicans have introduced “personhood” legislation that, if passed in a Republican-controlled Congress, will effectively criminalize birth-control as premeditated murder; choosing when to give birth will be eliminated. Many so-called conservative Christian Republicans have more-than intimated that they are in strict agreement with Catholic doctrine that contraception is a mortal sin. And yet, even though over 95% of American women have used artificial birth control, including Catholics and evangelical Christians, at least half of them regularly vote for Republicans intent on adopting the Catholic prohibition on artificial birth control. Not only to force women into perpetual birthing machines, but to control them.

Evangelical women also dutifully vote for Republicans in state legislatures and Congress intent on abolishing women’s access to reproductive health providers and advocates such as Planned Parenthood, despite the lion’s share of their work is devoted to family planning, pregnancy counseling, pre-natal services, birth control, and cancer screenings; all things Republicans are adamant that women, especially poor women, do not deserve and will not receive if they control Congress. One can hardly imagine that any woman, even a staunch evangelical woman who embraces her own subservient position, would advocate for restricting other women’s access to any healthcare, much less reproductive health care, but when they vote for Republicans they are willingly, and with malice aforethought, denying other women’s access to health care.

If a woman refuses preventative cancer screenings, new baby coverage, or contraception, it is their right to choose for themselves. It may be inherently stupid, but it is their right to be inherently stupid whatever their motivation. However, for any woman to give unwavering electoral support to Republicans who promise to deny every other woman that coverage borders on pure evil, whether they are trapped in a cult or suffer Stockholm Syndrome.

Look, any person who would deny women the right to any healthcare options is deficient of basic human compassion, and all Republican candidates, especially males, appear to lack any regard for women. One just expects other women to show more compassion than Republican males, but as the evangelical Republican war on women demonstrates, there is no difference between Republican patriarchs or evangelical women; they both lack compassion for women.

Evangelical women are also aware that many, many women, especially their evangelical cohorts in the Confederate Bible Belt, work to help support their families and either earn poverty minimum wage, or if they are very fortunate to hold “professional” positions, earn 76-cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. Republicans have not only blocked every single piece of legislation to provide women equal pay for equal work, they vehemently oppose raising the pathetically-low minimum wage of which women make up the majority of the workforce earning poverty wages.

When women vote for Republicans, they are voting against not only their own economic well-being, they are voting to keep all women economically disadvantaged. One might think that being Christians these women would be aggrieved at the thought of anyone suffering in poverty due to Republicans keeping wages low, especially other evangelical women. However, they must be mesmerized by their cult’s demand that subjection to a man is a pre-condition to enter heaven to deliberately vote for Republicans pledged to keep women economically disadvantaged.

Republicans have made no secret of their economic agenda they claim appeals to women; but what woman in their right mind is attracted to earning less than a man because they are a woman, or loves earning poverty wages with no hope of an increase? Obviously many evangelical women do because they will help elect Republicans on Election Day. Also, what woman in their right mind embraces the prospect of perpetual pregnancy that Republicans will impose on them when they restrict access to contraception and a woman’s right to choose with a certain-to-pass personhood bill in a Republican-controlled Congress? Evangelical women, of course. It begs the question; are women who vote for Republicans’ anti-women policies devoid of compassion for their own mothers, sisters, and daughters, suffering Stockholm Syndrome, or brainwashed into helping force all women into biblical subjection to men? The answer is likely all of the above.

It is true that Republicans, primarily patriarchal males, are enemies of American women; of that there is no rational dispute. But without a majority of evangelical women loyally electing Republican patriarchs to positions of power, Republican men would be impotent to wage war on women; a war they could not prosecute without the loyal support of American women’s greatest enemies; evangelical women.

written by Rmuse for PoliticusUSA

Posted by John the Revelator