The American Fundie Hunger for “Persecution”

Emerson

Missionaries walking backwards. Touch ’em and they bleed. Might mean somethin’ to you.  It ain’t nothin’ to me.  ——- Tom Petty (1985)

Today we take up the subject of Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical persecution. The late Tom Petty grew up in Northern Florida (Gainesville). Although I could be wrong, I strongly suspect the foregoing lyrics from his song It Ain’t Nothin’ to Me were inspired by the local fundies in that particular corner of Fundieland. If you have ever driven through Northern Florida on Interstate-75, you know you are in Fundieland because of all the anti-abortion billboards. Until last summer when I zoomed through there on vacation, I had never seen so many pro-life billboards along one short stretch of a major American highway.

Tom Petty must have learned early in life that you do not have to throw a southern fundie to the lions or use one as a human torch at an evening patio banquet to draw out the famous—and it truly is famous—fundie persecution complex. All you have to do is mildly disagree with a fundie on some matter of faith—and the bleeding begins. Simply “touch” a fundie like Tom said, and you suddenly have an emotional hemophiliac on your hands. For example, I will never forget a brief on-line interaction I had with a young fundie woman about 19 years ago. To the best of my recollection, I had simply disagreed with her on some matter of Christian theology. Moreover, I had explained in some detail why I was in disagreement with her. What surprising response did I receive?  It was this one:

Why are you persecuting me?!!!!!!!!!

For the rest of this blog article, I am going to use a listing format to offer a few of my own personal thoughts and observations on the fundie persecution complex and why it exists as it does.  Here goes:

(1) Outside of evangelism alone, Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals seem to have little real concern for whether they are following the words and deeds of Jesus in the New Testament—as a matter of action in their own daily lives and in the lives of their fellow man. Acquiring the mind and heart of Jesus as disciples who truly emulate him and truly try to follow him do not seem to be major concerns for many fundies. They might give discipleship a lot of hollow lip service and passively go through the motions of learning about it in a Sunday school class. However, actually counting the cost of being a true disciple of Jesus and putting it into regular social action in the real world seem to be secondary or tertiary concerns to many fundies.

(2) What then are fundies most concerned about—really?  Sin and Hell.  It seems to me that they are most concerned about sin (more other people’s sins than their own) and whether their fundie soul is going to Hell. When I attended a highly conservative Southern Baptist Convention church in the 1980s, one of the major concerns among members of the congregation was—and this is a fundie all-time classic:

How can I know—that I know—that I know—that I know—my soul has truly been saved from the eternal fires of Hell?

Was that about following Jesus?  Was that about discipleship?  Was that about loving God? Was that about loving your neighbor as yourself—and caring for his or her welfare?  Was that about emulating Jesus and doing for others in this life as Jesus did and commanded?

No!!!  It was (and still is) nothing but a brazen, self-centered, me first concern for saving one’s own soul skin. Discipleship is not all about “getting something.” Rather, it is about loving and giving to the members of the Holy Trinity and to our neighbors. Indeed, some high-level members of American Christianity have actually said, and I think rightly so, that the Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals have abandoned the members of the Holy Trinity for a new false god—a god called certainty. Nowhere is this new god on better display than in the overriding fundie concern about Hell and how certain a fundie can be about being saved from its fires. In the fundie mind, the Christian faith is all about an angry God who seeks vengeance against sinners, the fires of Hell, getting saved from Hell, and how certain a person can be about their salvation from Hell. I think you can see by now how utterly self-absorbed Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are—and why personal certainty is so important to these fundies.

(3) How can a Christian fundamentalist or conservative evangelical know—that she knows—that she knows—that she knows that her sorry carcass has been saved from smoking like a beef brisket forever in the fires of Hell?  Well, the Bible indicates that those people who are truly saved will be persecuted by other human beings in this life. Therefore, if a fundie is being persecuted, then she can know that she is saved from Hell and is definitely a “true” Christian. This is why the fundies hunger for some form of persecution.  It validates their self-perception of being “true” Christians, and it reassures them that they will never spend time in Hell. Hungering for the pain of persecution for spiritual reassurance seems counter intuitive at first, but American fundies already have that oddity covered.

(4) As my Uncle Malcolm used to say: “But Wait!!!” Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals in the United States have a huge, huge, huge problem. It is called the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion to all American citizens.  The United States is not ancient Rome, and it is illegal to torture or kill fundie Christians like the ancient Romans did. No President of the United States has ever thrown fundie Christians or any other kind of Christian into an arena with hungry lions. Unlike Nero, no American President has ever set a fundie body on fire to light up a state dinner at the White House. Therefore, where and how are the fundies going to get all this persecution they need to stoke their fires of certainty about being saved from Hell?

(5)  You guessed it. American fundies have to manufacture their own phony persecution narrative from scratch and make sure the high jump bar is set so incredibly low that all fundies will be able to reach out and claim persecution for their faith—and thus claim their much longed for certainty about being saved from Hell. As Tom Petty said, all you have to do is touch them—and they bleed. All you have to do is disagree with a fundie on a matter of faith, theology, or church history, and you are automatically persecuting her because of her fundie faith. And notice how they are often able to shrewdly self-select forms of persecution that are mild—and even comfortable—when compared to being eaten alive by a lion.

You see what the fundies are doing here. Right?  This phony, contrived persecution narrative is just one more example, among many other examples, of how Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals deal in lies and deceit every day on the American stage.

Catch this imaginary but plausible conversation between a 1st century Christian in a Roman dungeon and a modern fundie who has used a time machine to briefly travel back in time and then return home safely:

Debbie:  Hi Claudius.  How are they going to persecute you today?

Claudius:  Chop off my arms and legs with a rusty ax while I’m still conscious?

Debbie:  Oh no!!!

Claudius:  What about you?  How are they going to persecute you?

Debbie:  Make me explain to an NYC board why I refused to bake a gay wedding cake?

Claudius:  A what?

Debbie:  A gay wedding cake.  I feel so persecuted!!!

Claudius:  May I go back with you?

Debbie:  No.  The machine won’t work with ancient people in it.

Claudius:  What’s the very worst that could happen to you when you get home?

Debbie:  I might have to pay a small fine for discrimination and bake the cake?

Claudius:  Sounds great to me right now—wish I could get “persecuted” like you folks.

(6) Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals should be ashamed of themselves for creating a phony, self-serving persecution narrative like this. It is a direct and shameful slap into the face of every Christian martyr over the past 2,000 years who has endured real torture, cruel and unusual punishments, and horrifying deaths because of their faith in Jesus Christ.

(7) Even worse, this phony Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical persecution narrative is utter hypocrisy of the worst kind when you consider the fact that American fundies have become major league persecutors in our own time. Many of them support discrimination and persecution against LGBTQ Americans. They go out of their way to support denial of basic healthcare to poor Americans. They rarely miss a chance to deny civil rights and basic services to American women and girls. Dare we even talk about their fundie racism, ethnic prejudice, and support for white supremacy? The American fundie appetite for inflicting discrimination and persecution on other Americans today is just plain disgusting and the very height of spiritual hypocrisy.

(8)  Today, supported by FOX News and other conservative media outlets, Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals regularly whine about the persecution of Christians in foreign countries. They demand U.S. government intervention to stop it. Yes, this is often real persecution of Christians, just as much so as the persecution of Christians in Roman times.  It is indeed bad, and it should be stopped.  However, when it comes to the fundies and their complaining about it, one important thing bothers me.

The fundie narrative seems to be that Christians overseas—particularly fundie Christians—are such incredibly special human beings that they should be saved from harm—above everyone else in danger—simply because they are Christians. Jesus taught us to love all of our neighbors as ourselves–not just the ones who are most like us—and he also indicated that following him may involve personal sacrificing for the sake of others.

We Americans have about 7 billion neighbors on this Earth. I rarely ever hear these same fundies whining for United States intervention to rescue nonChristian men, women, and children from discrimination, persecution, and suffering—and God only knows the world is full of it and them. Why do American fundies have a heart only for suffering Christians—particularly fundie Christians who are suffering overseas?

God makes it clear in the Bible that he loves every human being. Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals should be working hard to end all discrimination and persecution in this world—including persecution of Christians—both here at home and around the world. I suspect that is what Jesus would be doing if He were here in the flesh among us today. Once again, as usual, the Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals deny the words of the Bible they claim to love and reside in rank exclusivity and hypocrisy on matters of discrimination and persecution.

(9)  Last but not least, the fundie persecution complex (quite conveniently for the fundies) dovetails perfectly with another well-known, self-serving narrative called the fundie paradox. Now, what is that?

When the fundies experience a rare political win on some issue, they puff themselves up with great spiritual pride and tell the world how large their numbers are; how diversified, wealthy, powerful, and influential they are; and how their win proves that God is on their side. When they lose on some issue, which happens very often, they portray themselves as downtrodden, small in numbers, marginally influential, money short, and victimized by a Godless secular culture. Those are the two opposite poles in the fundie paradox.  Their persecution narrative fits in really well with the victimization pole of this fundie paradox—and the “oh woe is us” crocodile tears they cry. These two fundie narratives eventually combine to become little more than an opportunity to raise vast sums of money to grease the wheels for their next dubious, bullshit adventure in their so-called War for the Culture.

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Who Would You Have Been?

Adolf Hitler Stamp

German Postage Stamp (1934 – 1945)

I have found a question for you to ponder, and it is germane (no pun intended) to living in the United States during the so-called Age of Trump. This key question is raised in a recent article by Christian anthropologist and author Benjamin L. Corey:

Who Would You Have Been in Nazi Germany?

Pretend that you are eating dinner at your home one evening.  While sitting at your dining room table, your body suddenly undergoes that mottled-light disintegration process that happens in the Transporter Room on the Starship Enterprise.  You are being transported somewhere by someone—but you have no idea who is doing it or where you are going.  All of a sudden, your body reintegrates, and you find yourself standing in a narrow residential backstreet in Berlin.

You glance down and notice that someone has left the day’s newspaper in the street.  You pick it up and notice that the date is August 19, 1934. You can read and speak German fluently, and the headline says Adolf Hitler has just been elected Der Fuhrer. You take a deep breath and say: “Uh-boy!!!”  Then you notice a small, folded envelope in your shirt pocket.  How did that get there?  You take it out, open it up, and read the message inside. It says you are to live in Nazi Germany for the next 12 years, observe the times, and participate as a German citizen in those times.  What will that be like for you? How will you live, and what will you do with your life throughout those 12 years?

Now, let us go read the short article by Benjamin L. Corey at the following safe link:

B.L. Corey Article

Yes. Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling you—calling you to wake up. Our times in the United States today are already too much like those times in fascist Germany 84 years ago. Please wake up while we still have free speech and the ability to vote. Who are you going to be on election day in November 2018?  Are you going to be part of the Trump problem, or are you going to be part of the solution to it?

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Why Are Christian Fundamentalists So Filled with Hatred?

New Saying

We all know it is true.  We have seen it numerous times.  We have seen it in action in the lives of our friends, neighbors, and family members. We have seen it in our acquaintances and complete strangers. We have seen it in thousands of churches. We have seen it in the sermons and writings of many pastors and religious leaders. We have seen it in the speeches and writings of the so-called Religious Right. Journalists have written about it. Mainline Christian pastors and other nonfundie pastors have observed it thousands of times across many years. One world-renowned Anglican priest and theologian has even posed it as a serious question in a public speech. It is all too evident to anyone with ears to hear and eyes to see. It is not a matter of imagination, and no amount of equivocation or gaslighting will ever make something so plainly obvious go away. Therefore, its existence and its vast sweep here in the United States and around the Earth are not in question. Only one thing about it is in question, so I will ask my own slightly expanded version of the question asked by the great Anglican priest and theologian:

Why are Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals so filled with hatred?

The comments are open for this post. To make a comment, please click on the title of this post and then scroll down to the comments box.  However, as usual, I am enforcing some firm limitations here. One of those limitations is zero tolerance for gaslighting of any kind. In other words, I shall not accept gaslighting language and deflection statements along the lines of these:

  • The things you call “hatred” are really “love.”
  • You must be imagining all this hatred.
  • I have no idea what you are talking about?
  • The statement: “You are going to burn forever in Hell” is love in action.
  • The Flee from Christian Fundamentalism blog is a hate website.

I am going to finish this call for comments with just a few examples of the millions of hate mail statements devout Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals have made over the years in e-mail messages, U.S. Postal Service letters, and various unmoderated religious commenting venues on the Internet. Messages such as these are not extremely rare exceptions. They are commonplace. I have seen numerous items such as these in all sorts of media venues since the Internet first became widely available and popular in 1994.

Famous American journalist Sally Quinn writes in The Atlantic about the numerous items of hate mail she received after writing a few articles on current American spiritual issues:

I can’t tell you how many people wrote in to say that I was a whore and a slut and so much worse that I can’t even write it here. And these all came from Christians. I was going to hell. I had made a pact with the devil. Jesus and God hated me. One man wrote that he hoped I would get in a car accident, that the gas tank would explode and I would be burned alive. He was a God-fearing Christian, and he ascertained that I obviously was not one.

Mr. Michael Weinstein is a very nice Jewish family man who was once an officer in the U.S. Air Force. Today he is the founder and director of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) [Footnote 1]. The MRFF is an organization dedicated:

…to ensuring that all members of the United States Armed Forces fully receive the Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom to which they and all Americans are entitled by virtue of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Check out these three items of hate mail the MRFF has received as a result of standing up for traditional American religious freedom in the U.S. military, along with the numerous signs of poor literacy these messages almost always contain:

Fuck your crybaby slut ass wife and fuck your crybaby spoiled children. Who got their fancy air force academy educations all paid for by the GRACE of Amercan CHRISTIAN taxpayers. And just look what we got for our tax money. The family Whiningsteen jew traitors from HELL. Cry cry cry cause you have it so bad in a CHRISTIAN made country. You know what you all happier in North koria or back in Jewsrael. get OUT of our country! Here Jesus is KING and if you dont like it than fuck you.

Mr. M Weinstein I am a spirit-filled ordained pastor of The Gospel from the great state of Nebraska. Stop your attack on God Almighty and His only Son our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  Stop your attack on His holy Christian wariors in our armed military forces! My congregation includes many military from the nearby air force base. We pray as one for you to die tonight in your sleep leaving a bloody mess for your family to find at daybreak.

Athiest jews are servents of satan. They do not deserve America. Mikey weinsteen does not deserve life any place but espcialy in the USA. He is THE leader of all which is wrong in America and all who fight Jesus Christ which is the only true God in the universe. Weinsteen will destroy our military and the whole country if he is not deported. Send him to Cuba which niger Obummer loves so much. Or send him and all the other athiests to North Korea to rot and starve.

I will close with the original question posed by famous Anglican Priest and theologian Keith Ward in his talk at St. George’s Cathedral in Perth, Australia, and follow it with some thoughts on President Trump and his fundie supporters. Here is what Reverend Ward said:

Love is not something that you write down as a law. Love springs from a heart which is transfigured by the knowledge of the presence of God. It’s the Spirit!!!  So, you live by the Spirit.  That’s true!!!  But it doesn’t tell you what to do.  What?  How do you love God? How do you love your neighbor?  And I’d say immediately: “You love your neighbor by caring for their welfare. By caring about what they want. Never, never by hating them.”

Why are [Christian] fundamentalists so filled with hatred?  I can guarantee that they are because the only phone calls I have had this week….so you get letters from people saying: “You are going to Hell!!!”  That’s not very loving, is it? Or letters saying: “If you believe that kind of thing, you are excommunicated from the true church.” That’s not very loving either, really.  You’d think: “Well, at least they’d be sorry for me. That’s the least you could expect!!!” So, you know, if love is the fulfilling of the law, let’s make it a test of of Christian faith that people always speak in loving ways of people they disagree with and never say: “You are condemned!!!” And I’m not condemning [Christian] fundamentalists. When I say they are wrong, I think God will forgive them immediately.

Some American journalists are now calling summer 2018 The American Summer of Hate. It is a direct reference to President Donald J. Trump; his numerous words and actions of bigotry and hatred; the millions of American Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals who support him without question; and his many so-called “white christian” followers in hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. Where is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in all of this fundie hatred——-nowhere that I can see.

______________________

Footnote 1: You may be wondering why Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are so hostile toward Michael Weinstein and the MRFF—and their stand for religious freedom in the American military. A number of commissioned officers and noncomissioned officers in the five branches of the American military are rabid Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals. Some of them are bullies who manipulate the rigid military command structure in an effort to coerce the officers and enlisted personnel under their command into becoming fundies.

For example, and this actually happens, a young officer may be matriculating through a training program to become a military pilot.  Back home, this young officer was raised in a Lutheran Church—and he is still a devout Lutheran. Christian fundamentalist officers believe some denominational Lutherans are apostates—meaning false Christians on the road to Hell because of the church they attend. Fundie officers in command of such training programs often bully and harrass nonfundie trainees (like our young Lutheran trainee) and make it clear to them that they will never pass the training program if they do not leave their Lutheran Church and convert to Christian fundamentalism or conservative evangelicalism. With tears of desperation from the abuse, young military trainees (often with the help of their parents) reach out to Michael Weinstein and the MRFF to get this bullying and corruption stopped—-just so the trainee can maintain his religious freedom to remain in the Lutheran faith he was raised in from childhood—and be treated fairly and without prejudice in the training program. Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals despise Michael Weinstein and the MRFF because they stand up and fight for the religious freedom of individuals like our Lutheran trainee.

What’s that?  You were not aware that this sort of fundie bullying goes on regularly in the American military?  The MRFF has more than 53,000 officer and enlisted personnel complaints about various kinds of within-service threats to soldier religious freedoms—and the case load is still climbing.

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Reverend Jim Martin Calls Out Trump and His Fundie Minions

This is a safe-to-click-on video message that is only about 3 minutes long. It is a reminder to everyone during these dark hours in Christian history and American history. Please click on the white triangle, place your cursor on the video, and click the X on the speaker symbol to get the sound going. We all need to hear this message and take it very seriously.

 

 

Reverend Martin is a Jesuit Priest in the Roman Catholic Church

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Well——What about It Folks? They Declared War on Us Today…

AAA Freedom of Religion

What about it folks?  Today was a really bad day in the USA. Today U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration used a large meeting to do what I have been predicting they would do—right here on this blog. For all intents and purposes, they have officially and openly declared a national war of discrimination and persecution against our LGBTQ citizens, women and girls, and anyone else who is not a Christian fundamentalist, conservative evangelical, or conservative Roman Catholic. This war is to be waged deceitfully against you under the clever disguise of supporting religious freedom. A special federal task force within the U. S. Department of Justice will be in charge of supporting this war of discrimination and persecution. This combined Trumpite/fundie war against millions of American citizens should be officially titled to show what it truly is:

MY FUNDIE CLAIM TO RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

WILL NOW BE USED TO TAKE AWAY THE

AMERICAN FREEDOMS AND CIVIL RIGHTS

OF THE PEOPLE WE HATE

IN THE NAME OF JESUS

I have already mentioned our LGBTQ friends, neighbors, and family members, as well as women and girls, as targets in this war. It would be remiss of me not to mention some of the other nice folks who will—in my honest opinion—bear the brunt of this war of discrimination and persecution. Look out Mainline Christians (like me) because the forces behind this war see you as a member of the enemy camp too. Look out American racial and ethnic minority groups across the United States. You too are considered to be part of the enemy camp. Look out poorly educated and poverty-stricken illegal migrants and legal immigrants. Look out those of you who Jesus called “the least of these.” All of you have targets painted on your backs. You may not be able to see them in a mirror, but they are there. Believe me.  Trump and his many Trumpites can see them.

Every American citizen who is not a Christian fundamentalist or conservative evangelical should be—I repeat—should be—gravely concerned about this turn of events that occurred today. Basically, the things we most suspected and most feared finally crawled out of their dark burrow—into open daylight—today.

Why should you be so concerned? When the power of government and some aspect of fanatical religion join forces like this, discrimination and persecution spread like wildfires driven by the Santa Ana winds—and eventually people die in large numbers. It is a basic lesson of world history that people never seem to learn.

You may read the following article to get a better feel for what happened today.  Just click on the following safe link:

Jeff Session’s ‘Religious Liberty Task Force’ Declares Holy War on LGBT People

All of that said, I have to say something else very important. Those of us who will be defined as members of the enemy camp are not like the German Jews on Kristallnacht. We are not a huddled little Soviet family being shipped off to a gulag in Siberia. We are neither punching bags nor slaves. We are American citizens—with 242 years of constitutional rights, human rights, and a powerful legacy of independence and freedom that push us forward in all that we do. We Americans do not roll over and play dead for anyone. We fight for our rights and freedoms.  So—here is my question for all of you:

How do we all band together, organize, and fight back effectively against this unwelcome war that has been declared on us today by President Trump and his evil henchmen—and most importantly—how do we fight back without resorting to physical violence or illegal activity.  Violence and illegal activity are not the Christian way to fight. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and others have fought such fights and won without resorting to violence and criminal behavior. We too should be able to fight back peacefully—and win. An old adage says that the best defense is a really good offense. Once again, without resorting to violence and criminal behavior, how do we millions of American LGBTQ citizens, women and girls, racial and ethnic minority folks, poor migrants and immigrants, “the least of these,” and Mainline Christians fight back against this unjust war being waged against us? How do we rescue our rights and freedoms—and keep them safe?  Please let me know your thoughts on this in the comments section below.

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Healthcare Evil and the November 2018 Election

Medical

A GOP Numb Skull Visits the Clinic

A couple of days ago, I saw some statistics indicating that healthcare is the No. 1 issue on the minds of the American people today. Those Americans who vote can thank their Republican politicians for the high and often unaffordable cost of healthcare. Congressional Republicans are OWNED by the big insurance companies, large hospital corporations, and huge pharmaceutical companies. These companies have a vested interest in taking every dime in your bank account in exchange for you avoiding a one-way trip to the cemetery.

The people who vote for these Republican politicians are always outraged over government taxation. However, they often have no outrage at all toward these same Republican politicians who make it possible for the American healthcare industry to steal nearly everything they own through outrageously high monthly insurance premiums, insanely high hospital costs ($30.00 for one Band-Aid), and depraved prescription medication costs. Let me give you just one close-to-home example on the depraved medication costs.

My dad was a Type 1 diabetic in 1964. He needed a daily insulin injection just to stay alive. When I was a kid, I had to walk downtown in my small southern city to buy his insulin at a drugstore. The cost for a one-week supply was about $4.00, and my dad paid for it easily out of his own pocket—no big deal. (He was a minimum wage employee in those days.) Recently, I ran that cost through an inflation calculator program to see what the normal inflationary rise in product costs would be for insulin between the year 1964 and 2018. The cost for a one-week supply of injectable insulin should be only about $34.00 in 2018.

Do you know how much insulin actually costs per week in the United States today—again this is per week mind you—without health insurance? It is about $800 per week or $3,200 per month. This is the kind of trouble families without health insurance face in the United States.  I hope you will bear that outrageous cost in mind when you enter the voting booth in November 2018—because it is just about as bad for numerous other everyday prescription medications.

You see. The problem is not just President Donald J. Trump and his evil alone—although he is one huge, evil problem. The real problem is the all-pervasive evil that the entire Republican Party happily underwrites daily in this country—and with nearly zero compassion for the American people. The high cost of insulin (and other prescription medications) is just one example of this Republican depravity. Health insurance premiums are so high that soon—-neither you nor your employer will be able to afford them. What are you going to do when your monthly insurance premiums are eating up half of your paycheck?  Do you ever think about that?  Worst of all, healthcare costs are only a tiny fraction of this widespread evil and near absence of compassion for the American people—which are so characteristic of the modern Republican Party. If you vote for any Republican in the November 2018 election, you will be a personal accomplice in the continued commission of this evil and huge numbers of other evils just like it—and even far worse when you consider the continuing GOP failure to address man-induced global warming.

Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals have been so blinded by Satan that they no longer care about all the massive evils their Republican Party is foisting on the American people and our country—either by action or by just looking the other way. They see only two issues—issues of their own definition—abortion and LGBTQ civil rights. Satan holds those two issues up before fundie eyes just like two dog treats—and just like a dog—all other concerns fade away in their presence. In a dog’s mind, those two treats—and getting them—are the most important things in the entire universe. Nothing else outside of them exists except those two dog treats. So it is with today’s Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals. Everything else can just go to Hell in a hand basket—and it will if you vote for Republican candidates in the November 2018 election.

Sure. If you vote for Republicans, you might prevent a hardware store from selling a wood screw to a gay man. That might even be fun for you. But by the same token, the parents of a sick child may be unable to purchase the medication that keeps their child alive.  Why? It is because those same Republicans will either support outrageously high medication costs or simply refuse to do anything about them. So, which is more important to you and that wood screw? Is it screwing the gay man at the hardware store or screwing the sick child? That is the choice each American must make when he or she steps into a voting booth in November 2018. Personally, I support the sick child and making her medical costs affordable—and I plan to vote that way.

No. Just as it says in the “About” section of this blog, I am not a registered Democrat. I am an Independent voter who cares compassionately for the American people—just as Jesus does. That is how I vote because I care about social outcasts and those Jesus calls “the least of these.”  How many times do I have to say it?  In the eyes of the ancient Roman establishment, Jesus of Nazareth and his disciples were social outcasts.

So sad to say, the Republican Party of today is not the same as the kinder and more understanding Republican Party your Christian or nonChristian parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents voted for in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. It has changed radically. This radical change began via the engineering of people like Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia) in the year 1994. It waxed even worse in 2010 with the election of rabid southern Tea Party radicals to the U.S. Congress. Sadly, many Americans seem to be unaware of the radical changes that have occurred in the Republican Party since 1994. They seem to think every Republican candidate today is some mild-mannered version of Thomas E. Dewey, the Republican Governor of New York who ran for President against Harry S. Truman in 1948. Nothing could be further from the truth. The modern Republican Party has evolved into a radical, right-wing-extremist monster that specializes in either supporting or ignoring a wide range of evils that threaten everyday Americans and their families.

You—yes—you personally—can stop a lot of this evil dead in its tracks by voting for anyone else but a Republican in November 2018.  All of this Republican evil will continue if you fail to go to the polls and vote. You have to get fired up and vote against Republicans to begin putting an end to this evil.  It will not end overnight, but if we all keep after it, the American people will one day win and keep the victory permanently.

If you are a rare, compassionate, and devoted Republican who really does care for those Jesus called “the least of these,” and you want to chase away all of this evil too—including Trump’s evil, the best thing you can do is just stay at home and do not vote in November 2018. As the 17th century devout Christian and poet John Milton said about service to God in one of his sonnets:

They also serve who only stand and wait.

I know a compassionate, long-time moderate Republican like you or Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) would never dream of voting for an Independent or a Democrat to chase away all of this evil that has taken over your party in recent decades—evil like Trump and other evils just as bad. (Note: Senator Corker is retiring from the U.S. Senate to escape from the evil things his own party has become in the White House and U.S. Congress.) However, as a moderate Republican like Senator Corker, you too can do one thing to serve Jesus and common decency in the November 2018 election. Just avoid the voting booth. Stand all day at home or work—and wait until election day is over. This will be your one legitimate service to Jesus on election day. They also serve who only stand and wait.

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Southern Fundie Religion: A Hill to Die On

Hill to Die On 2

A Hill to Die on in the American South

We have so much journalistic literature and so little time to read it these days. A lot of it is average to bad literature because someone has a job and their boss requires them to write a bunch of things each day—and maybe the author’s heart and soul are not really into it. However, important exceptions are out there. A couple of days ago, I ran into a really excellent article by Stephanie McCrummen in The Washington Post. The title is Judgement Days: In a Small Alabama Town, an Evangelical Congregation Reckons with God, President Trump, and the Meaning of Morality. You may have already read this article, which has been trotting from one major newspaper to another over the past three days. If not, please read it by clicking on the following safe link:

Judgement Days

I really like this article because Ms. McCrummen went to Luverne, Alabama; embedded herself like an ethnographer in the congregation at First Baptist Church; and made friends with the pastor and women folk of the church. A huge photograph of these women is shown on the first page of the article. Just so you will know, nearly every woman in that photograph is most likely a direct lineal descendant of 18th century Scots-Irish-English immigrants to the 13 British colonies in the New World. I grew up in the American South in the 1950s and 1960s, and ladies much like these populated just over 50 percent of my small southern town.

Read the above article carefully and you will understand in greater depth who the fundie people are that support President Donald J. Trump and why they support him with such stubborn vigor and fervor.  You will also notice an important theme I have discussed in depth under the “About” subheading on this blog. That theme is fear of annihilation, which is so characteristic of the various religious fundamentalisms around the world today, including Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism in the United States. This theme is especially important in the American South because of its unique history. It may be a bit hard for people in other regions of the United States, Canada, and other foreign countries to understand, so I will explain it to you.

The people of the rural and small town American South are overwhelmingly white Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASP) who value southern cultural tradition almost as much as they value Jesus and life itself. Indeed, all three are tied together tightly like a triple-helix bond in the southern mindset.

The American Civil War (1861-1865) devastated the 10 states of Old Dixie to the same horrifying extent that Syria is devastated by its current civil war. Southern people have never viewed the American Civil War in the same way that people in other parts of the United States have viewed it—a simple four-year war to reunite the nation and free African-American slaves.

Prior to 1861, people in the American South believed that they had an ideal traditional cultural way of life that worked well for them—something that was not broken and did not need fixing—and I am not talking about the system of slavery alone. Traditional southern culture has always been far more than that alone. Southern people viewed the American Civil War as a Yankee outsider attempt to destroy their most highly valued traditions, culture, and way of life. It was seen in the same way that Americans, Canadians, and Europeans viewed Soviet communism during The Cold War. The Soviet Union was not out to just conquer them by military force. The real Soviet aim was to totally annihilate their democratic governments, capitalist economies, and traditional cultural ways of life.  (Hang on tightly to the term traditional cultural way of life as you read on down the page because it is central to this discussion.)

Right after the American Civil War, the Reconstruction Period began in the American South. Between 1865 and 1967, southern white people were creating a new traditional cultural way of life, often referred to by the term Jim Crow. This new way of life included oppressive laws and social sanctions designed to contain African-Americans and keep them beaten down and submissive. Southern white people, while still painfully wounded by memories of the American Civil War, believed they had successfully created this new traditional cultural way of life, which combined what was still leftover and best of the pre-1865 way of life with the new policy of containing and oppressing African Americans. Southern white people believed it was a new traditional cultural way of life that worked—one that suited them just fine—one for which they believed no fixing was needed.

Then the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the U.S. Supreme Court  came along. Another southern cultural disaster was looming. The Civil Rights Movement was supported by northern and western white college students—and at first the Republican Party—and even Vice-President Richard Nixon to a small degree. The Democrat Party had long been a major supporter of the so-called Solid South and its newly found Jim Crow way of life. Then, all of a sudden in 1960, Robert F. Kennedy talked the Democrat Party into abandoning its support for the Jim Crow south and into supporting African-American civil rights. This was all initiated as a part of the attempt to get his brother, John F. Kennedy. elected President of the United States.

Many white people in the American South soon understood the Civil Rights Movement to be a second American attempt to annihilate their newly found traditional cultural way of life. Southern white racists started fleeing by the millions from the Democrat Party to join a new Republican Party. By 1968, it was known colloquially as the Party of Nixon, and it quietly welcomed all of these rabid southern racists with open arms, a warm bed, and a French kiss.

The Civil Rights Movement and the U.S. Supreme Court that supported it did not stop with just African-American civil rights.  Another big blow to the American South was the 1963 high court ruling on prayer in American public schools. I remember that one very well from my childhood days. Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical religion—big-time southern style—was huge in the elementary schools in my small southern town. We kids had to say prayers, repeat prayers written for us by teachers, memorize Bible verses, and stand up and orally recite the verses we had memorized. Bible stories were often read to us at story time in our classes. Jesus songs and traditional Christmas carols were sung. Sometimes it was hard to tell where Sunday School ended at church and where the 3 R’s began at school. In many ways, it all seemed like one big thing.

The most important aspect of all this that I remember was the parental outrage that accompanied that U.S. Supreme Court ruling on school prayer. Our southern parents were emotionally devastated by it and exceedingly angry about it—and they still are. Soon afterwards, equally devastating U.S. Supreme Court rulings were handed down, such as Loving vs. Virginia, the ruling that allowed interracial marriages. With it came the birth control pill, the American Sexual Revolution (as Hugh Hefner dubbed it), and Roe vs. Wade. Large numbers of American white people from the north and west, as well as people from foreign countries, began populating the emerging New South. A tidal wave of sociocultural change was enveloping the southern states and their people in the 1960s and 1970s. Once again, particularly in the small towns and rural areas, southern people felt that their newly found traditional cultural way of life was under siege and in danger of annihilation.

No person who has lived south of the so-called Mason-Dixon Line can discount the sheer power that Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism (together as one) have over the rural and small town populations of the American South. It pervades all things in southern culture. It has the same power over southern white people that Islamic fundamentalism has over the Taliban in Afghanistan. It tightly grips them, and they tightly grip it. Sentimental southern hearts bleed for that ole time country religion, tent revivals on hot August nights, waving funeral home fans, all-day Sunday singing (southern gospel style), and dinner on the grounds at the little country church. The little country church is painted in a favorite cultural color—all white). Momma, daddy, all their dead babies, and members of the past 11 generations of the family are buried in the cemetery next to that little church. All are united as one in traditional culture, mind, and soul.

If Margaret Mitchell, the author of Gone with the Wind, were still alive today, I think she would agree that the people of the American South (particularly older whites) see themselves as a people who have been under incessant cultural assault for the past 188 years. It began in the 1830s with the first rumblings of slavery abolition, and it still goes on today. Their white ancestors had their traditional cultural way of life ripped from their hearts by the violence of civil war, the fiat of government courts, and the “inferior” cultures of foreign invaders. Never mind that most of those foreign invaders were and still are white people from places like Connecticut, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, California, etc. Never mind that the new wave of invaders consists of Islamic refugees from Syria and Somalia, Latinos from Mexico and Central America, or immigrants from China. In the traditional cultural mindset of the American South, the whole lot of them are the “new Yankees and n-words” that endanger the traditional cultural way of life so highly valued by elderly southern white people.

I believe the Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism of white people in the American South are more than just religion alone today. They are both faith and symbol. Both are still the predominant faiths of the American South, but they are simultaneously a living symbol of all the traditional cultural ways of life that have been lost  since 1861. Moreover, they are viewed as the last redoubt—the last hilltop fort—the last really important piece of their traditional cultural way of life. If fundie religion collapses in the American South, then all is lost forever—all is lost forever—all is lost forever—all is lost forever—and ever—and ever. The thought of such loss is too painful for old southern white people to contemplate or tolerate. They feel a deep need to be rescued by someone.

If all is lost, life will no longer be worth living for many elderly white men and women in the small towns and rural areas of the American South. Old white people live in fear that the larger American culture (represented in their minds by the twin monoliths of liberalism and progressivism) have targeted their fundie faith and the few remaining tidbits of their traditional southern culture for final annihilation. As their Confederate monuments and the Stars and Bars flag go down, perhaps for the last time, they have staked out their southern ole time religion (Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism) as their “last hill to die on.”

Donald J. Trump is not just their choice for President of the United States. He is seen as the Anointed One of God. Trump is the one God himself has appointed to save their fundie faith tradition, rescue the last remaining tidbits of their traditional cultural way of life, and begin the restoration of all that has been lost. If Trump fails to restore what has been lost, if he fails to protect their fundie faith, if he is thrown out of office by a U.S. Senate trial, then all that remains will be the millions of AR-15s in the American South, vast stocks of ammunition purchased from local firearms merchants, and the hill many southern white fundies plan to die on.

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