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Posted by Charles II on August 20, 2012

Via Avedon, a good theological argument on why everything that conservative Christians think they know about what the Bible says on homosexuality is wrong.

Now, if only it were this clear-cut. The Bible is simply not very clear on many issues and this is one of them. But Matthew Vines makes an excellent, erudite case for his viewpoint, and even (especially) people who think that the Bible condemns homosexuality should hear him out. Including those gays/lesbians/TG who have left the church believing they have no place in it.

Posted in Christianity, gay rights | 3 Comments »

Fraudulent historian David Barton called out by actually conservative actual Christians

Posted by Charles II on August 8, 2012

David Barton has long been a thorn in the side of any honest person who regards themselves as a Christian.

To put it very simply, he makes stuff up and, worse, these lies get spread far and wide without contradiction by eventheNewYorkTimes and other putative guardians of the truth. Then these lies are recycled endlessly through the HypoChristian and Right-Wing Political Machines. Americans United has been writing about Barton for years. Now, at last, conservative Christian scholars are starting to speak up. Thomas Kidd at WorldMag (via t/o):

David Barton, president of the WallBuilders organization and a frequent guest on Glenn Beck’s broadcasts, is one of America’s most popular Christian history writers. Liberal critics have long accused Barton of misinterpretations and errors…But now some conservative Christian scholars are publicly questioning Barton’s work, too.

Jay W. Richards, senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, and author with James Robison of Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family, and Freedom Before It’s Too Late, spoke alongside Barton at Christian conferences as recently as last month. Richards says in recent months he has grown increasingly troubled about Barton’s writings, so he asked 10 conservative Christian professors to assess Barton’s work.

Their response was negative. Some examples: Glenn Moots of Northwood University wrote that Barton in The Jefferson Lies is so eager to portray Jefferson as sympathetic to Christianity that he misses or omits obvious signs that Jefferson stood outside “orthodox, creedal, confessional Christianity.” A second professor, Glenn Sunshine of Central Connecticut State University, said that Barton’s characterization of Jefferson’s religious views is “unsupportable.” A third, Gregg Frazer of The Master’s College, evaluated Barton’s video America’s Godly Heritage and found many of its factual claims dubious, such as a statement that “52 of the 55 delegates at the Constitutional Convention were ‘orthodox, evangelical Christians.’” Barton told me he found that number in M.E. Bradford’s A Worthy Company.

A full-scale, newly published critique of Barton is coming from Professors Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter of Grove City College, a largely conservative Christian school in Pennsylvania. Their book Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third President (Salem Grove Press), argues that Barton “is guilty of taking statements and actions out of context and simplifying historical circumstances.” For example, they charge that Barton, in explaining why Jefferson did not free his slaves, “seriously misrepresents or misunderstands (or both) the legal environment related to slavery.”

This has been a very long time coming, and Jay Richards deserves little credit for at last discovering the extensive fraud that’s been before his nose. But credit where credit is do. Conservative historians have at last discovered–and outed– one liar who is beyond the pale.

Posted in Christianity, Good Things, historians, history | 3 Comments »

Christians Being Christian

Posted by MEC on March 11, 2012

Here in southeastern Michigan, an Evangelical church is producing a play with a message of compassion for gays.

The play will be a fundraiser for The Trevor Project, which provides a 24-hour suicide prevention hotline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth.

[The church’s pastor, the Rev. Bill] Barnwell said the church is conservative by most standards, but is taking a stand against the harsh mistreatment of the gay community.

Barnwell said if a church proclaims to be pro-life, then its leaders and members should care about the lives of gay teenagers.

Whatsoever you do for the least of these…

Posted in Christianity, doing the right thing, gay rights | 1 Comment »

Posted, cringing

Posted by Charles II on November 23, 2011

As a Christian, stories like this trouble me deeply. Claire Gordon, Daily Finance:

A $10 bill is a joyful sight for a server. But when one waiter went to retrieve such a note out from under a diner’s plate recently, he reportedly noticed something curious. The tip it provided wasn’t monetary, but took the form of advice. “SOME THINGS ARE BETTER THAN MONEY,” it said on the back, “like your eternal salvation, that was brought and paid for by Jesus going to the cross.”

The idea that Christians are poor tippers apparently has been whispered in service circles for a long time. Many waiters try not work Sunday brunch, so as to avoid notoriously stingy churchgoers, claims Justin Wise, the director of a Lutheran ministry in Des Moines, Iowa.

“Christians don’t tip very well,” he wrote for The Lutheran magazine in January 2009. “As a matter of fact, we’re pretty cheap. What makes this worse is that we paint ‘cheap’ with a religious-sounding veneer and call it ‘being a good steward.’ Nothing like hiding behind the Bible to camouflage your stinginess.”

[Now, in fact, a careful study has shown that Christians are not less likely to tip less for good service. But] while it is statistically false to say that Christians are bad tippers, it is true that Christians are more likely to stiff their servers than people of other religious (or non-religious) bents.

The waiter who got the counterfeit-Christian bill makes $2.65 an hour plus tips. Now, in upscale restaurants during busy times, waitstaff make really good money, the kind that Tom Emmer imagines they make. But the reality is that:

In May 2008, median hourly wages (including tips) of waiters and waitresses were $8.01. The middle 50 percent earned between $7.32 and $10.35. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $6.73, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $14.26 an hour. For most waiters and waitresses, higher earnings are primarily the result of receiving more in tips rather than higher hourly wages. Tips usually average between 10 percent and 20 percent of guests’ checks; waiters and waitresses working in busy or expensive restaurants earn the most.

If you work 60 hours a week, you can expect to take home about $25,000 a year. If you’re simply not able to handle that much work–and most of us can’t after we hit 40 or 50–then you’re probably making $16,000 per year. Not even enough to raise a family in dignity.

That makes waitstaff in most restaurants the least of these. And for those, Jesus said this:

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ (Matt. 25)

And that is why there will be so few self-styled “Christians” and so many self-styled “atheists” in heaven.

If you haven’t done something tangible to help someone feel thanksgiving on this holiday, take a moment. There are homeless people who lack clothing. There are families with not enough to eat. There are unemployed folks, including many veterans who need to know that they are not forgotten. And if you’re eating out and don’t have enough money to have a good dinner and pay a tip, well, eat a little less and tip a little more.

Posted in Christianity, greed, hypocrites, poverty | 3 Comments »

The face that launched a thousand drips

Posted by Charles II on May 18, 2011

OK, so a while ago, I linked a Guardian article which reported on a disturbance outside a Coptic church where, it was rumored, a woman was being held to prevent her from converting to Islam. The gist of it was that the Mubarak regime was stoking sectarian strife.

Now Emad Mekay in IPSNews has a story, which might describe what was going on. And it’s one of those wild stories that belongs on Jerry Springer. A young woman from an Orthodox Christian family by the name of Abeer Fakrhy married a man who was, to put it kindly, a louse. He verbally abused her. He beat her. And, since she suffers from severe anemia, requiring regular transfusions, this is serious business. The Pope, Shenouda, told her, no divorce unless you change religions so… she meets a Muslim guy, seems to be kind, and they run off together. Turns out this is not all that uncommon: Christians (Copts plus Catholics) have fallen from a majority of Egyptians to 4.6%. Fun guys like Pope Shenouda appear to be a major cause.

At this point, we’re into a Montague/Capulet meets Hatfield/McCoy mashup territory. Her family and church loose the dogs and, despite changing hiding places, Abeer is tracked down, kidnapped by her family, and held in various churches, landing at last in the Imbaba neighborhood:

Feeling helpless and alone, [Abeer’s lover] Yassen turned to a new rising power in Egypt for help – the Muslim fundamentalist group called the Salafis who, after the fall of Mubarak’s draconian secret police, have shed years of fear and became publicly active.

Dozens of the Salafis quickly congregated outside the Mar Mina church in Imbaba. Clashes erupted between Muslims and Christians at the church that left eight Muslims and four Christians dead. Some 210 were injured, and two churches were burned down.

Egyptian media, still run by executives from the Mubarak era, immediately sought a scapegoat for the bloodshed in Imbaba. They blamed Abeer. Newspapers began calling her “the cause of all troubles” and many columnists asked whether she is a worthy enough person.

She escape from the church during the clashes, but the country’s army generals tracked her down, arrested her and have accused her of stoking religious strife.

Now Abeer is behind bars in the infamous Qanater women’s prison, and blamed by almost all – including human rights organisations that have often adopted the cases of converts to Christianity from Islam but have been hesitant to come to her defence.

Somewhere, in a galaxy far, far away, Jesus and Mohammed are doing face palms.

Posted in Christianity, Islam, wrong way to go about it | 1 Comment »

The Corapi dyscent

Posted by Charles II on April 13, 2011

It’s rarely a housekeeping pleasure to follow trackbacks from MercRising. Usually it’s spam artists. Sometimes it’s tedious people who don’t know when they’ve lost an argument, and insist on continuing it with themselves. But very occasionally, it is rewarding.

And so I discovered Caelum et Terra (Heaven and Earth) and, in particular, that blog’s discussion of the Father John Corapi situation. A regular on EWTN, often presenting a heavily political message, Father Corapi has been accused of sexual and drug abuse. To (I would say primarily right-wing Catholics), he is a saint waiting only for death so that he may be canonized. Like C&T’s Daniel Nichols, I was a bit more skeptical. I don’t think that the peace of Christ leaves one as dour and brooding as Corapi seems to me. And, learning about the sumptuousness of his lifestyle, it’s hard to see how he could avoid falling.

There’s potentially more to the potential scandal. Corapi has been accused by one of his counselees of burning the diary of a victim of sexual abuse committed by the counselee. And, via C&T, information emerges about a for-profit company that Corapi founded to serve as the vehicle for his televangelism.

As I mentioned to C&T in thanking them for tracking the Corapi story, it’s interesting to contrast the careers of modern clerics such as Corapi with St. Francis. Although we know Francis almost exclusively through the pen of Thomas of Celano, who wrote under commissions that required him to present Francis through the most favorable lens, what is clear is that Francis understood the dangers of wealth and power. Good people can take on these burdens imagining that they will accomplish great good with them. Instead, they develop a sense of impunity, by which they tie burdens onto others that they themselves cannot bear, and judge others in ways that they would find very unfair if applied to themselves.

Consider what is being done to the poor by our government, many of whom consider themselves Christians and all of whom doubtless think of themselves as good people. They are taking away medical care from the ill, food stamps from the hungry, and the pension’s mite from the widow or widower. They do this in the name of saving the nation from bankruptcy (the hypocrisy of which is evident in the fact that the wealthy and corporations are not called upon to sacrifice at all, but rather to reap the benefits), or–in times when there are not deficits– to improve the morality of the poor by forcing them to work and not depend on government. Never mind that 3 year olds and 85 year olds–the majority of the poor being very young or very old–are not in great demand in the work world, or that some of the benefits our government is seizing were earned, so that what our leaders are doing is morally identical to a street mugging.

This is what wealth and power brings. A sense of impunity, arrogance, greed, contempt for the poor, tyranny over the weak, and hypocrisy to keep down the stench from that rotten sewer of evil.

Francis got it. Why not church leaders today?

Posted in Christianity, religion | 5 Comments »

Which side is Hillary on?

Posted by Charles II on March 8, 2010

I’ve written about how Hillary seems to have sided with the most retrogressive forces in supporting the Honduras coup. I had ascribed that to her DLC leanings.

But as I read Jeff Sharlet’s The Family, I begin to wonder whether she is not part of it. For those who are not familiar with The Family, it was established to influence political, religious and financial leaders. Nominally fundamentalist Christian, it has embraced dictators and unrepentant criminals of all stripes, from Charles Colson of Watergate fame to Indonesia’s mass murderer, Suharto, to Siad Barre, the butcher of Somalia, whose shipwreck of that country was the precursor to the pirates attacking American shipping today. The Family has no trouble with non-Christians like Suharto: it imagines that it is working God’s will through their crimes. And The Family is mainstream. It runs a number of members of Congress, including Bart Stupak, who is presently single-handedly denying American health insurance knowing that thousands will die as a result.

There is plenty of material in Sharlet’s book to lend credence to the view that Hillary Clinton is under the sway of The Family, although the careful nuance Sharlet provides makes it clear that she is almost certainly not in the inner group. However, neither does she seem to be an opportunist who simply uses political contacts in The Family for her own ends. Instead, she seems to be one of those many benighted people who believes that God gives power to people because He approves of their actions… and thereby gradually becomes corrupted. A couple of excerpts:

The Family works through the men and women who we put in power. Sam Brownback. Hillary Clinton. Pick your poison. In the calculus of party politics, these two do occupy distant coordinates, but in the geometry of power politics, the Family knows, they are on the same plane, and the distance between them is shrinking. They mean well, both of them, and I’m more partial to the views of one of them, but I can’t help looking at that narrowing spectrum and wondering, This is an awful tight space in which to fit a democracy. (p. 284)

Hillary may well be God’s beautiful child, but she’s not a member of Coe’s Family. Rather, I’ve been told at Ivanwald, she’s a “friend,” less elect than a member, but more chosen than the rest of us. A fellow traveler but not a sister. Her goals are not their goals; but when on occasion they coincide, Hillary and the Family can work together…. The theology of Jesus plus nothing [but lacking any of the teachings of Jesus and the Church] is totalitarian in scope, but diplomatic in practice. It doesn’t conquer, it “infects,”…. (p. 272)

“Infected” seems like a good description of US Honduras policy.

Posted in Christianity, Hillary Clinton, hypocrites | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Wednesday Morning News Roundup

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 18, 2009

Obama’s plans for Afghanistan include an “end game”. In other words, it sounds like he’s not buying the arguments of McChrystal or McChrystal’s Australian guru, Dr. David Kilcullen, that we need to stay in Afghanistan for fifty or a hundred years.

Frank Schaeffer discusses with Rachel Maddow how all those “Pray for Obama: Psalm 109:8” are actually calls for him to be murdered — “trawling for assassins” is how he puts it. As the Christian Science Monitor explains:

The psalm reads, “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.”

Presidential criticism through witty slogans is nothing new. Bumper stickers, t-shirts, and hats with “1/20/09” commemorated President Bush’s last day in office.

But the verse immediately following the psalm referenced is a bit more ominous: “Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.”

As a commenter on Daily Kos mentions in a diary on this subject:

It’s important to note that in Hebrew poetic language (of which the Psalms is a part) repetition was a major form. A writer would say something and repeat it once or more times with slightly different wording to bring out a fully-fledged meaning. So it is not only possible that Psalm 109:9 makes 109:8 seem more ominous, 109:9 clearly shows that the author wants someone dead in order that their office will come to someone else. There is no other good interpretation. So don’t let anyone get away with some “that’s out of context” non-sense.

— Speaking of conservative efforts to misuse religion, the conservatives in the Catholic Church are not happy to hear this news that preliminary phase of the $2 million study commissioned by the bishops at the height of the Church’s sexual abuse scandal has so far found no connection between sexual orientation and abuse of children by clergy.

Posted in Afghanistan, Christianity, evil, faith-based flim-flams, false prophets, fascism, fearmongering, gay rights, President Obama, Professional Christians, rightwing moral cripples | 3 Comments »

Another victory in the American quest for the world as a Coke commercial

Posted by Charles II on August 1, 2009

Ben Quinn, The Guardian:

Six Christians were burned alive in Pakistan yesterday when hundreds of Muslims attacked and looted their homes, sparked by rumours that pages from the Qur’an had been desecrated.

The dead, including four women and a child, were killed when Christian homes were torched by hundreds of supporters of a banned Muslim organisation in the Punjabi village of Gojra, in eastern Pakistan.

Tensions have been running high between the two communities over allegations that Christians had defiled pages from the Muslim holy book, despite authorities insisting that the rumours were unfounded.

It would be really nice if the adherents of religions that claim to be peaceful could all act that way for a day or so.

Added 8/2: From Tariq Saeed, Dawn,

Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti said 40 Christian homes had been torched on Saturday by the banned Sipah-i-Sahaba group, which is accused of attacking security forces and of staging bombings at public places in recent years. He said there was no truth to allegations that the Holy Quran had been defiled and accused the police of ignoring his appeal to provide protection to Christians under threat.

From Center for Defense Information:

The Sipah-I-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) – Army of the Friends of the Prophet – is a Sunni sectarian group responsible for carrying out terrorist activities against Shias in Pakistan. It has also operated as a political party, and its leaders have won elections to Pakistan’s National Assembly. … Initially called the Anjuman Sipah-I-Sahaba, the group was formed as a response to rising Shia militancy and sectarian violence in Pakistani Punjab….The SSP believes that Shias possess too much power and influence in Pakistan, and want the country to be declared a Sunni state. It aims to restore the Khilafat (Caliphate) system, while protecting Sunnis and their Shariat (Islamic laws). SSP members declare that Shias are non-Muslims and must be violently converted or suppressed …

Posted in Christianity, Islam | Tagged: | 14 Comments »

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