Archive for Religion
[h/t Doug Abernethy]
It’s 12.12.12. Do with that what you will. In the past 24 hours there have been approximately 153,400 deaths world-wide ( with approximately 356,201 births, do with that what you will), one of those deaths belonged to Ravi Shankar, again, do with that what you will. Also, several people were shot and killed at a mall in Portland, by a man wearing a white mask and brandishing a semi-automatic rifle. He killed himself. Also, North Korea shot something off, and had a parade. They are fond of parades.
Here’s some random stuff to read/discuss/ignore (after the break):
This week, Louisiana state Rep. Valarie Hodges expressed second thoughts, about passing the state’s new voucher law because taxpayer dollars might go to support not just Christian, but also Islamic schools.
“Unfortunately it will not be limited to the Founders’ religion,” Hodges said. “We need to insure that it does not open the door to fund radical Islam schools. There are a thousand Muslim schools that have sprung up recently. I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere here in Louisiana.”
That is, it’s okay for me, but not for thee. (Hodges might want to read Jefferson and Madison regarding Mahometans.)
Many evangelicals insist that America was founded as a Christian country – right up until you suggest that America behave like one. Like Hodges, they believe America was founded by Christian men and that its constitution is interwoven with Jesus’ principles and values. David Barton travels the country claiming to receptive (and unquestioning) audiences that, “it is absolutely no surprise that so many of the clauses we find in the Constitution are literal, direct quotations out of the Bible.” He then directs listeners to a list of verses that anyone can see are not. Right Wing Watch asks, “… if Barton is willing to lie about what the Bible says , it raises the question of whether there [is] anything that he won’t he lie about?”
North Carolina is in the news again, this time because of an anti-LGBT sermon preached by Pastor Charles Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, N.C. You can see footage of his sermon here.
Make no mistake: the violent theology animating Pastor Worley’s sermon is directly linked to the discriminatory animus at work in Amendment One or the North Carolina statutes that treat LGBT people as second-class citizens.
The violence of Pastor Worley’s message speaks to the evil at the heart of persecution, and it ensnares all of us, including him, including me. It is an evil that seeks to dehumanize people and that seeks to divide communities. It has long lurked in the shadows of religious and political discourse and, periodically, makes itself plainly visible and clearly heard.
What are we to do when such attacks occur? Each of us has an individual choice to make about how to respond.
I often need help cutting through the static of anger and sadness in moments like this. I need help getting to love and, in my own life, I turn to my faith for that help. My faith’s teachings on this point are clear and consistent: no matter how hard it is to do so, we are called to love those who oppose us. There are many reasons for this, not least of which is the fact that my existence is inextricably bound to my enemy’s, whether either one of us likes it or not.
The hard thing right now is to find a way to love Pastor Worley. To do so does not also imply condoning or supporting what he has said. But it does mean choosing to respond to spiritual violence with the only force that can overcome it: love. And it means seeing the violence of his words as an expression of how he too has been wounded by a persecuting system; his theology isn’t just plain wrong, it’s wounded.
But my faith also teaches me that the rhetoric of love is not enough. We must also act to directly resist unjust laws in public life and, as we take action, to express empathy and love towards all those we encounter. This is precisely why and how we take action with the WE DO Campaign and why this campaign will continue growing across the South until we achieve full equality under federal law.
Love has changed the world before and, we dare to believe, it can do so again.
All property shall be held in common; for as many as possess lands or houses shall sell them and bring the money to the the capitol; distribution shall be unto every person according as they have need.
I wonder how many Christian pastors would be out in front of the polls urging people to support passing that because it’s from the Bible. And not in an Old Testament book written half a millennium before Christ, but by people who knew the man and wrote the Gospels and the New Testament.
Act 4:32 ¶ And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any [of them] that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
Act 4:33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
Act 4:34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
Act 4:35 And laid [them] down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
On NPR’s Morning Edition on Monday, Barbara Bradley Hagerty looked at the question of whether Jesus was in favor of small government, as some conservatives believe.
HAGERTY: For other religious conservatives, the Bible is a blueprint for robust capitalism. Recently, on his radio program, “Wallbuilders,” David Barton and a guest discussed Jesus’ parable of the vineyard owner.
In it, the owner pays the worker he hires at the end of the day the same wage as he pays the one who begins work in the morning. Many theologians have long interpreted this as God’s grace being available right up to the last minute. But Barton sees the parable as a bar to collective bargaining.
DAVID BARTON: Where were unions in all this? The contract is between an employer and an employee. It’s not between a group. He went out and hired individually the guys he wanted to work.
David. Seriously. Can you hear yourself? You’re telling me that the wandering rabbi, Jesus, told his peasant disciples the parable of the vineyard two thousand years ago as a lesson in avoiding collective bargaining in negotiating employment contracts?
That’s not the Bible you’re reading from, pal. It’s Jesus Shrugged.
HAGERTY: Peter Montgomery at People for the American Way says conservative evangelicals have been arguing for years that the Bible favors a free market system. But since Barack Obama was elected, he says, they’ve shifted into high gear.
PETER MONTGOMERY: They are finding biblical justification for opposition to progressive taxation, opposition to unions and collective bargaining, opposition to the minimum wage, opposition even to social welfare spending and Social Security.
Richard Land at the Southern Baptist Convention, for example:
RICHARD LAND: The Bible tells us that socialism and neo-socialism never worked. Confiscatory tax rates never work … People aren’t going to work very hard and very productively unless they get to keep a substantial portion of that which they make for them and for their families.
Right. Second Chronicles 17:35. Richard, can you hear yourself?
What’s next? Jesus died on the cross to make a case for capital punishment?
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. – Matthew 6:24
President Richard Nixon once observed, “Flexibility is the first principle of politics.” But that brings up something I notice about some right-wing antagonists: how lithe they are in debate.
It is behavior progressive talk show hosts know well, particularly when it comes to hot-button social issues. Right-wing callers dial in hoping to score a few on-air points against the liberal. If one tack isn’t working, they quickly pivot and launch into another argument they hope will get more traction – the first was disposable. And then another, almost as if they are getting paid by the talking point. These exercises are not about the truth, or even about being right. This is about winning.
There is something else that enhances their flexibility: the unholy marriage of Christianity, libertarianism and Austrian economics. What the latter two have to do with Jesus is beyond me, but the order of argument depends on the particular bent of the person doing the arguing. It goes something like this:
Among the things that need changing in American politics is for liberals to start playing offense instead of letting the right wing set the terms and conditions of debate in this country. Meanwhile, lacking sane candidates and sane policies to run with in 2012, the right wing is throwing every social issue in its arsenal against the wall to see what, if anything, might stick. Well, of course they insist that President Obama’s contraception policy is a liberal assault on religious freedom! If the debate is about contraception (or your personal right to privacy), they lose. If it is about shrinking government small enough to fit in a woman’s vagina, they lose even bigger. Ask Virginia Republican lawmaker Dave Albo, who told Statehouse colleagues how their bill mandating transvaginal ultrasounds for women seeking abortions kept him from getting laid.
Rick Perlstein of Rolling Stone dives into that topic in “Why Obama Needs to Change to Win.” While Andrew Sullivan and others thought the administration had “‘punked’ the GOP on contraception,” Perlstein believes that by being accommodating Obama legitimized his critics’ views when he should have repudiated them. He should have set boundaries, as I noted last week, and again failed to do so. House and Senate Republicans followed up by doubling down on efforts to further restrict access to contraception.