The Gospel of Self: How Jesus Joined the GOP

Gospel of Self

Most of you are familiar with Pat Robertson, his Christian Broadcasting Network, and its long-running flagship program The 700 Club.  I was not aware of this until today, but the former executive producer of this program has written a new book entitled The Gospel of Self: How Jesus Joined the GOP.  I have not read this book, but it sounds like a good one. It is written by yet another fundie system insider (like Frank Schaeffer) who became disillusioned with Christian fundamentalism, conservative evangelicalism, and the so-called Religious Right—and decided to reveal all to the American public.  I like books like this one because they usually shine a bright light on the hidden, behind-the-scenes evil that lurks within a Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical community that often wants its public image to look lily white and pure as the driven snow.

With regard to this book, I kindly ask you to watch the following brief video clip, read a little more about the new book, buy it, and give it a read:

Book Review

Video Clip

Happy reading!!!

 

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Bible-believing Christians and Religion in Public Schools

Soren Kierkegaard

Two Things Bible-believing Christians Are Famous for Doing

Background Information

I grew up here in the American South and have lived here all of my life. Religion has always been a big factor in life down south—particularly what has been described by its adherents as Bible-believing Christianity.  This term is pretty much synonymous with the terms “Christian fundamentalism” and “conservative evangelicalism.” The chief characteristic of Bible-believing Christians is their belief that the Bible (particularly the 1611 authorized King James version) is the inerrant word of God (as written in the original manuscripts, which just happen to no longer exist, making this claim conveniently unverifiable).  The term inerrant means that the Bible contains no factual errors, no scientific errors, and no stated internal contradictions of any kind. In most cases this doctrine of inerrancy means that every word in the Bible, by some miracle of ancient inspiration, is a directly stated word straight from the mouth of God himself and straight into the eyeball of the Bible reader. Furthermore, this doctrine of inerrancy holds that, except for a few places that are clearly allegorical, the Bible should be read simply and literally because God caused the Bible to be written simply and clearly so even the most simple-minded of average persons will understand the full word of God. Put another way, as Bible-believing Christians have actually told me, “the Bible is a simple book written for a simple people.” Biblical scholarship that goes beyond solely using scripture to understand other scriptures is generally discouraged. Finally, the Bible and its words are believed to be a mystery to nonbelievers who do not have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them.  They can read the Bible—but will not understand it.  The “true” Bible-believing Christian has the indwelling Holy Spirit within him, and the Holy Spirit reveals to him the unique and true meaning of the scriptures as his eyes read the words of the Holy Bible.

This brings us to William Jennings Bryan, American citizen, Bible-believing Christian, populist politician, and perennial losing candidate for President of the United States.  Most Americans remember him as the Bible-believing court opponent of Clarence Darrow in the famous 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial in Dayton, Tennessee.  This is the court case where school teacher John T. Scopes was put on trial for violating a Tennessee law that made it illegal to teach biological evolution in Tennessee public school science classes.  Bryan was an arch opponent of evolution because it violated the simple, literally read creation stories in the Book of Genesis, the first book in the Bible.

One of my favorite journalists and historians was the late Alistaire Cooke, a British-born American journalist who wrote a now famous and very good book entitled  America: A Personal History of the United States.  This 1972 publication was so well-liked that it was turned into a copyrighted 13-part television series on American history, one teachers still use to supplement lessons on American history in K-12 classrooms. In the television version, Cooke stated that William Jennings Bryan believed in two documents that he considered to be Holy writ, the Bible and the U.S. Constitution.  Over my many years of studying Bible-believing Christianity, reading the writings of Bible-believing Christians, hearing their sermons, and reading their various commentaries, I can pretty much agree with Cooke’s perspective on Bryan. Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals in the United States tend to hold the U.S. Constitution, its Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and to a somewhat lesser degree The Mayflower Compact in a degree of high esteem lesser than, but clearly bordering on, the Holy, and from that point, at least reaching out for the notion that these documents too are somehow “the word of God.”

This is my most important point in this background discussion. Listen up!!! Just as fundies believe mainline Christians and nonfundie Bible scholars have undermined, corrupted, and sullied the one, true, only, and unique understanding of the Bible held alone by Bible-believing Christians, the U.S. Supreme Court, lower federal courts, and other assorted knaves and fools have similarly undermined, corrupted, and sullied the “true” meanings of the words in the key founding  documents of the United States. In other words, Bible-believing Christians, sitting under their own fig trees and reading these documents simplistically and literally (or not at all), know better than anyone else what our founding fathers truly meant when these documents were written and what they really mean today.  How is that?  I do not know for certain. However, I suspect they have drawn a Bible-reading analogy. They believe that the indwelling Holy Spirit has somehow given them special knowledge and intuitional understandings of our American founding documents that only a person with a truly Godly, Bible-believing worldview can fathom.

Main Topic for Today

Todd Starnes, the religion journalist at FOX News, has his panties all in a twist about a voluntary-attendance baccalaureate service (a religious service) held recently for graduating high school seniors in Opp, Alabama. This was an allegedly illegal religious service because it was held inside a taxpayer-owned public school, and the public school administrators and teachers were helping to plan it and set it up—and they were participating in it along with the students, which if true, was a violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that such religious services and school personnel participation are illegal. With this in mind, the Freedom from Religion Foundation in Wisconsin wrote a letter to the school system to point out their sin against the U.S. Constitution, and then the usual local and national fundie outrage and kerfuffle ensued. (After all, only Bible-believing Christians are officially authorized to point out sin in the public and private domains.)  You may read the Todd Starnes article by clicking on the following safe link:

Baccalaureate, Graduation Prayer

After reading over the many comments on this Starnes article from outraged Bible-believing Christians living in Opp, Alabama, and elsewhere, I felt compelled to leave a large comment of my own.  My comment was based on three things:

(1)  The content of the actual statements various commenters made in their comments.

(2)  Reading between the lines of these comments (as my English professors taught me).

(3)  Quite similar statements and complaints I have heard and read from Bible-believing Christians across many years.

Quite frankly, I was appalled and shocked at the stated and implied contents of these comments from Bible-believing Christians and assorted political conservatives—and what these comments reveal about their way of thinking and their worldview relative to the traditional legal understanding of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which is the first 10 amendments to the constitution.

Text of my Summary Comments on the Reader’s Comments

“After reading most of the comments below, I have gleaned several observations and themes that pretty much summarize them:

(1) Most of the conservative folks who have commented, particularly those from Alabama and other Southern states, have an appalling ignorance of the U.S. Constitution, the American legal system and how it works, and American civics in general. Were you folks never taught these things in K-12 or college? Were you not listening to your teachers, doing your homework assignments, and reading your civics and American history textbooks? Said kindly, your ignorance of these things screams out from your comments and breaks my heart. I grew up down South too, but I somehow managed to learn these things. Are the school systems in Alabama and other Deep South states really this bad—or were you just not interested in learning new things in your K-12 school days?

(2) Major Theme (Both Stated and Between the Lines): Bible-believing Christianity, particularly the several Baptist kinds, should be made the OFFICIAL NATIONAL RELIGION of the United States.

(3)  The U.S. Government should provide Christians, particularly Bible-believing Christians, with special considerations, special rights, special high rewards, and unique favors that nonChristian Americans do not have. They and their churches should get as much preferential treatment as possible.

(4) The “free exercise clause” in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution means that every Bible-believing school administrator and teacher in the United States should be totally free to conduct Bible studies in class, order students to pray prayers she has written, and evangelize her classrooms until all the children in class become Bible-believing Christians. If many of the students in class are mainline Christians (e.g. Methodists, Lutherans), adherents to other religions, or people of no particular religious persuasion, complaints from these students and their parents should be ignored. All are apostate and enemies of God. They should have no human rights or civil rights in school because they are Godless. The only thing that really matters, even above daily 3R’s education itself, is using the taxpayer-funded public school system to save all the children in class from the eternal certainty of the Hell that is assuredly awaiting them if the school system does not succeed in its primary, over-arching mission to evangelize the school child.

(5) For American adults, the “free exercise clause” in the First Amendment should be legally understood and applied in a very different way than it is now—but only for Bible-believing Christians. Bible-believing Christians are taught from birth that evangelism is the most important thing in life and that they must be in a constant state of active evangelism in every small and large thing they do each day—throughout their entire lives. To them, the words “free exercise” mean that Bible-believing Christians should be given free rein to evangelize people wherever they are. They should be able to evangelize in their work place, even if the business owner/property owner objects. Bible-believing Christians should be able to invade a department store or supermarket anytime they like and do street preaching in the shirt and canned goods aisles. Bible-believing Christians should be free to ruin a Saturday evening party at a person’s private home by turning the party into a fundie evangelism fest with baptisms in the swimming pool out back. Bible-believing Christians should be allowed to crawl into a complete stranger’s bedroom window at 3:00 a.m., wake up a couple, and evangelize them in their bed. Then and only then will Bible-believing Christians have the “free exercise of religion” guaranteed to them in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution—and they are going to do everything within their power to make this happen.

(6) The government (federal, state, and local) should be doing everything in its power to discourage and work against religions and religious beliefs that ARE NOT Bible-believing Christianity—-particularly foreign religions like Hinduism. Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism, Shintoism, etc. The construction of Mosques and other centers of worship for these foreign religions should be banned inside the borders of the United States. People who are adherents to these religions should not be allowed to immigrate to the United States. For those who are already here, Bible-believing Christians and their churches should have special government authority to hound, harass, discriminate against, and persecute these people, and even take away their civil rights, until they finally submit to becoming Bible-believing Christians. Those who refuse to submit should be deported, even if they are already American citizens.”

A Final Word

Who knew? I have never harvested any of these very oddball and truly outrageous understandings from my American history classes, American civics classes, my readings of the U.S. Constitution, and my readings of the Bill of Rights. I very much doubt that most experts on constitutional law and most American attorneys believe in this garbage—and that is what it is—pure garbage. However, as one Starnes commenter would probably hasten to add here:

That’s because you, them experts, and them attorneys were all corrupted by the lies of your God-hating liberal and progressive college professors.  They taught you nothing but lies.  We have God and the truth on our side!!!

Dear readers—this is insanity.  Most people do not care about insanity as long as they can put some distance between themselves and all the craziness—-and just forget about it. However, that option may no longer be open for any American, mainline Christian, or nonChristian.  A very serious and quite radical element is right now—at this very moment—trying to organize a Convention of the States (a legal constitutional process) to create a Constitutional Convention to amend the U.S. Constitution in various ways. To succeed, the legislatures of 38 states must agree by voting “yes” in this process. Twelve states have already signed on. Jim DeMint, a famous former U.S. Senator from South Carolina, has left The Heritage Foundation to lead this national effort on behalf of the Tea Party.

A Constitutional Convention led by Tea Party radicals may turn out to be one of the worst threats to American constitutional rights, liberties, and human rights this nation has ever faced. So-called Bible-believing Christians will be in the thick of this Constitutional Convention with every uneducated, hair-brained idea they can muster. God help us all if they start revising the Bill of Rights. They are doing this now because the U.S. Congress and most state legislatures are controlled by radical Republicans who are just as crazy as their Bible-believing supporters. Their ace in the hole is President Donald J. Trump, a man so uneducated in the ways of constitutional government (and often unwilling to even learn) that he will sign off on anything a radical Republican U.S. Congress shoves under his nose—and without even personally reading through it before he signs it. My prayer: “Lord  Jesus—please deliver us all from this fundie evil, ignorance, and insanity.”

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A Sad Commentary on Fundieland

BBWJ

Cartoon Credit: A Beer for the Shower

Rev. John Pavlovitz has an interesting, but short, article up on his blog about how Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical churches and church members are driving people to become atheists—or at least ex-Christians. You may read his short article at the following safe link:

The Christians Making Atheists

Sorry to say, in my opinion, the cartoon above aptly illustrates in comical fashion the essence of the Pavlovitz article. This cartoon also exhibits the kinds of reasons young people, particularly millennials, are avoiding Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical churches. It also shows the reasons why so very many young people are fleeing from the Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical churches they were raised in for the first 18 years of their lives. According to Southern Baptist Convention statistics, 70-88 percent of the youth raised in their churches quit attending church by the time they reach their second year in college.

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Disgusting Fundie Actions Against a Man of Deep Faith and the Bible

Fundamentalists

As I have noted on numerous occasions, Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are full of sinful pride in their beliefs. Just like Tigger in the Winnie-the-Pooh books, they are God’s ONLY ONES.  In their view, all nonfundie churches and nonfundie people around the world are driving down the highway to Hell and a certain eternity in a Lake of Fire where their indestructible spiritual bodies will forever experience the exquisite pain of fire-burned flesh and never be able to die.  If you are United Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Moderate Baptist, Quaker, Congregationalist,  United Church of Christ, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Unitarian Universalist—the list goes on and in a world with 46,000 different Christian denominations—then the Lake of Fire is your future home.

Why is this?  It is because they do not believe “right doctrine,” as arrogantly defined by the fundies for themselves and the whole world.  You see.  When it comes to the Christian faith, the 30 or so members down at the Possum Holler Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) church know everything—and you know nothing.  They know everything and the Professors of Divinity at Oxford University, Harvard University, Duke University, and all the other great universities know nothing. All of these professors and the other “so-called Christians” in America are apostates who exist in perpetual darkness, and they are the enemies of a persistently angry and vengeance seeking fundie God.  The only true light in Jesus Christ comes from Pastor Homer “Ho-Ho” Hokum of Possum Holler and his inerrant, literal, simplistically read Bible (preferably the Authorized King James Version).

This sinful fundie pride and arrogance are as wide and deep as the oceans—so much so that many pastors, evangelists, and teachers put on an almost God-like persona in the eyes of the Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical masses who follow them. What happens when one of those God-like entities reaches out for a real, deeper, and more mature connection with Jesus Christ, his love, and his teachings—and they go outside the rigid lines of fundie “right doctrine” to do it?

Please read the following article, which I regard as a must read, to see what happened to one devout Christian man. See the cruelty that was heaped upon him, even after he came down with a rare form of cancer and was fighting off multiple tumors in various parts of his body.  I want you to take this very seriously because some version of this is what can happen to you and your family if you ever join a Christian fundamentalist or conservative evangelical church in the United States.  Here is the safe link to the story:

A Prime Example of Fundie Cruelty

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The President Has Peaches!!!

Peaches

In recent days various news media sources have indirectly informed me that President Trump has peaches. Where are they? Well, best I can figure out, they must be somewhere inside his body.  I have no idea where inside his body.

Something related to these peaches has President Trump really rattled these days—causing him a whole lot of pain. Many Americans are begging the U.S. Senate to have mercy on Mr. Trump and take those peaches out of his body.  These Americans want the senators to impeach the President. You heard that right.  They want those peaches to come out of the President, and impeachment is the only way.

The folks at the Common Dreams news service have even kicked in and made the sign below to support this cause, which will put Mr. Trump out of his misery and help the American people too.  I plan to copy it to Microsoft Word, paste it onto a landscape page, print it out, and tape it into the back window of my Honda Odyssey van so the whole world can see it. Who would have thought that fear of a few peaches would cause so much scandal and trouble?  Here is the sign:

Impeach Trump

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Why Are So Many Millennials Becoming Atheists?

Jesus with a Gun

They grew up in oppressive and abusive Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical homes and churches–and they want to live their lives henceforth—outside the realm of abuse, hatred, and inequality dished out in the name of Jesus. As I have often said, and I say it again here, I believe Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism are the two biggest atheist generators in the United States.

What do the millennials have to say about all this?  Some female millennials want you to hear them out in the following article:

Why Millennial Women Are Embracing Atheism

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Alert: 24,000,000 Americans in Danger of Losing Healthcare Insurance

gerard

The servants of Satan have won another big one for their master. Today Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, and the Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives teamed up to take the first big step toward jerking healthcare insurance away from 24,000,000 Americans—many of them poor and sick Americans. Soon—we will no doubt hear rejoicing from the Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals who support these heartless politicians in nearly everything they do—and mark it with a rubber ink stamp that says “APPROVED BY JESUS.”

Many of the Congressmen and Congresswomen who are engaging in this evil claim to be followers of Jesus.  Many of the 24,000,000 poor and sick people they are throwing to the wolves and the Grim Reaper are followers of Jesus. Do you think there might be something wrong with this picture?  I sure do.

I have been through the emotional gamut with all this today: shock, empathy, sadness, anger, four-letter words, compassion, depression.  You name the emotion.  I have been through it.  Yet, through all of this intense emotional pain, I remain passionate about defending and speaking up for the poor, sick, hungry, homeless, the otherwise needy, and the oppressed.

My life began as one of these needy people, and I know what it is like to be stuck in poverty. I was the son of a poor carpenter who never earned more than minimum wage until age 65 when he retired. Being a poor child and the son of a carpenter has its advantages though—because it leads one to see people and the world in much the same way that Jesus did because He too was the son of a poor carpenter.

The Bible makes it clear from Genesis to Revelations that the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit do more than just stand beside the poor, sick, and oppressed.  They ARE the poor, sick, and oppressed. If you take medical care away from a sick person, you are directly and immediately taking medical care away from the Holy Trinity.  Hear this Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and all you fundies out their who support these jerks:

How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? (1 John 2:17).

Educate yourselves about your hatred of the poor and sick by reading the following article:

Hating the Poor but Loving Jesus?

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