Archive for Religion


Is that a gun in your pocket or do you just love Jesus?

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Gun CaptureIt’s the Gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Heckler & Koch: Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. From the Texas Observer:

That, in a nutshell, is what Liberty University students heard from Jerry Falwell Jr., in the wake of the shootings in San Bernardino in December. Falwell — president of the evangelical Christian college and son of the late Moral Majority founder — told students, “If more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in and killed them.” Adding that he was carrying a weapon in his pocket, he encouraged students to take Liberty’s concealed-carry training course.

Liberty University is in Virginia. It didn’t take long for the gospel to reach there from Texas (emphasis mine):

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Give me that old-time constitution

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Ammon Bundy

Say what you will about the excesses of Rome and the papacy (and not to ignore Constantinople), prior to the Reformation there was some central authority to define Christianity for much of the West, to set standards and protocols, if you will. The Reformation may have decentralized the faith and brought it closer to the people, but it also meant by the late 20th century that any American huckster with a flashy suit, an expensive coif, a sonorous voice, and a black, Morocco-bound, gilt-edged, King James red-letter edition could define Christianity pretty much any damned way he pleased. And did. Who was to say he was wrong?

That do-it-yourself spirit extends as well to Americans’ understanding of their founding documents. Every born-again, T-party convert carries a pocket Constitution and becomes an instant expert and his own defining authority on what is and isn’t the true American faith. It’s the American Dream: every man his own Supreme Court; no priestly judicial caste interposed between a man and his God.

Dana Milbank looks at how, like the stand-oafish Bundy militia in Oregon, they love them some law of the land until they have to live under it. Then it’s “unconstitutional.” Conservative thought leaders (oxymoron?) regularly wink at lawbreaking when it furthers their purposes. Because their leaders condone it, the Bundy bunch believes the atmosphere is right for challenging “unconstitutional land transactions” 108 years after a Republican president set aside public lands for conservation:

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Another dose of sanity

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After the week and year we have had, it becomes hard to believe there is still a Force for good operating in this world. So the NPR story last night about Omaha’s Tri-Faith Initiative lifted the gloom just a bit. Religious leaders in Omaha are constructing a mosque, a church and a synagogue on a shared 38-acre plot.
At least someone is trying to get along. These days, it is a radical idea. Making Omaha a target even:

All the more reason that it feels right, says Doug Dushan, a member of Countryside Church. He says attacking the foundation of extremist, separatist, ideology isn’t just dangerous — it is exhilarating.
“It does reinforce that I think any development in any faith have happened against the grain,” Dushan says.
Similar initiatives are underway elsewhere. One in Berlin would house all three religions in a single building. Elnes, the minister at Countryside, says it’s part of a growing movement.
“Right now, worldwide, what we see when we look at the three Abrahamic faiths,” he says, “is that the progress end of all three of those faiths actually have more in common with each other than they may have in common with the extreme ends within their faith.”
Syed Mohiuddin agrees. A cardiologist, he heads the American Muslim Institute and is excited to complete the Tri-Faith campus, which should happen in the next few years.
“We’ll have music. We’ll have parties,” Mohiuddin says. “Food, food brings everybody together” — that is, after they work out the various dietary restrictions and hundreds of other small issues.

Representing the Darker Side, the publications FrontPage, Daily Caller, and WorldNetDaily view attempts to have interfaith music and parties as deeply disturbing, as possible attempts by the Muslim Brotherhood (and Warren Buffett?) to destroy Israel and the Judeo-Christian values of America. (Sorry, no links. Not gonna do it.) A ringing endorsement, you might say.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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“Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

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Flipping channels the other night, I caught this key scene from The Dark Knight. Bruce Wayne is having trouble wrapping his brain around just what the Joker is after. Alfred explains that trying to understand the Joker logically might be futile:

Alfred Pennyworth: … some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

Hold that thought.

As Matt Bevin was being sworn in as the new governor of Kentucky this week, NPR ran a story about struggling people in rural Kentucky who, in spite of Bevin threatening to roll back Medicaid expansion in the state, voted for him anyway. Liberals have a hard time wrapping their brains around that (emphasis mine):

Among those on Medicaid in Jackson County is Angel Strong, an unemployed nurse in McKee, Ky. — one of roughly half a million Kentuckians who received health insurance after outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, embraced the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. Kentucky saw one of the sharpest declines in the rate of uninsured adults.

“I had never had Medicaid, because I had insurance at my job,” said Strong. “Now I am out of a job and I am looking for another job, but in the meantime I had no income.”

Bevin’s lack of support for expanded Medicaid didn’t faze Strong, who voted for Bevin because she supported his socially conservative stands against gay marriage and abortion.

“My religious beliefs outweigh whether or not I have insurance,” Strong said.

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Trump’s right. We have gotten soft.

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Donald Trump’s “bold statement” on banning Muslims from the country has freed us (at last). Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) told Chris Hayes on All In last night that Trump has freed us from “politically correct enforcement” and opened up space for serious consideration of his immodest proposal. Meaning Muslim is the new N-word (or something) and can be used derisively in polite company by Real Men. The segment was jaw-dropping.

Transcript at Crooks and Liars.

A stunned Hayes offered past cases where Americans traveled the Road to Xenophobia before — sans Hope and Crosby — to their historical regret. King brushed them aside and went off on Sharia law and how Islam is incompatible with the Constitution:

HAYES: Let me ask you this. Why are you so confident that they got that wrong, that we now look with the sort of benefit of hindsight, we say well, clearly that’s bigotry. Catholics weren’t infiltrating America to bring it orders down from the Vatican.

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Lunatic mainstream revisited

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Because as Charlie Pierce observed yesterday, “America is the greatest country ever invented to be completely out of your mind,” we’re suffering a little insanity overload this morning.

Daily Show host Trevor Noah’s emergency appendectomy gave him a chance to experience America’s “best in the world” health care system this week. Raw Story:

The host said he periodically fainted from the pain of a perforated appendix, but the nurse told him he was not allowed to faint in the waiting area and should instead go to triage to lose consciousness.

“You’re telling me where I can and cannot faint?” he said.

Noah was finally taken, trembling with pain, to another room for treatment — where he was followed by the same nurse, who brought still more forms and asked how he would be paying for treatment of his life-threatening condition.

“With my life, clearly,” he said.

She decided because she recognized Noah from the billboards that he could pay whether or not he had insurance.

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Freedom: Bow now or bow later

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Let’s not point fingers, but for all their hands-over-their-hearts, pocket-Constitution-carrying, misty-eyed Americanity, there are certain of our neighbors who are just not comfortable with democracy. With one-person, one-vote. With freedom of speech and religion that is not theirs. With facts that do not support their preferred view of the world. With not being in control. Galileo Galilei knew a few. As Jesus said about the poor, they will be with us always.

Thomas Jefferson knew to be wary of them:

Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting “Jesus Christ,” so that it would read “A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.
-Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom

So it was no surprise that things did not go smoothly in Spring, Texas this week when the Church of Lucifer opened its doors:
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All things post-September 11 are new again

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After building a party’s political brand (and several of its presidential hopefuls’brands) on whipping up anti-immigrant fervor, here we are, the once and future empire, standing by with our thumbs up our animus as a refugee crisis sweeps across Europe. If the people were Russian tanks, well, hot damn, CNN and Fox News would already have branded the news event with crawlers worthy of a summer blockbuster trailer and they’d have commissioned James Horner to write the score.

Patrick L. Smith writes bitterly of the crisis at Salon, “Washington’s fingerprints are all over the tragedy unfolding across the Atlantic.” But with Trumpism rising along with world sea levels, it is hard to see how America can move to resettle fleeing Syrians here in any more than a grudging manner that would put a scowl on the Statue of Liberty’s serene face. We make the messes. Other people have to clean them up.

There will be tensions in Europe among locals, to be sure, as refugees attempt to assimilate. If they were to come here in this atmosphere, you can bet those tensions would be immediately palpable. Maybe in Chicago:

“Terrorist!” “Bin Laden!” “Go back to your country!” came the shouts from the other car.

Inderjit Singh Mukker, a father of two on his way to the grocery store in his Chicago suburb, pulled over when the vehicle in front kept tailgating him, according to the Sikh Coalition. The 53-year-old Sikh man, who wears a beard and turban, expected that the person in the other car would just drive past.

Mukker wound up in the hospital after a severe beating. For all we know, his assailant was home earlier on Tuesday cheering as Kim Davis left her Kentucky jail cell to the applause of supporters of “religious freedom.”

Mukker is lucky, I guess. He could have been killed like Balbir Singh Sodhi in the aftermath of 9/11. He was the first of many Sikhs killed in the wake of the 2001 attacks. Americans mistook them for Muslims in a country that went on to precipitate the 2015 refugee crisis because we mistook Iraq for a country that had something to do with 9/11.

The Syrian refugees might actually be better off elsewhere. Perhaps that was the nativists’ plan all along.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Tyranny, tyranny, I tell you

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Image via Twitter

Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis left the detention center yesterday after serving five days in jail for contempt of court. Davis had refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of a federal court order. Republican presidential candidate, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was waiting for her:

The case has become a lightning rod for religious freedom advocates who oppose same-sex marriage. For Republican presidential candidates, it has presented an opportunity to court evangelical voters and break away from the crowded field.

“She has ignited something across this country,” Huckabee told reporters Tuesday. “People are tired of the tyranny of judicial action that takes people’s freedoms away, takes their basic fundamental constitutional rights and puts them in jeopardy, and the tyranny of a legislative court that believes it can make up law and somehow find a way to enforce it.”

Hyperbole much, Huck? He praised Davis for surrendeing her freedom for her beliefs. I would have thought surrendering one’s freedom without gunfire (or at least ritual gun display) was heresy on the right. Who knew?

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Sellin’ the big nothin’

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Public domain from Library of Congress

There is an emotional scene at the end of the movie First Blood. Rambo, the decorated war veteran with post-traumatic stress, is breaking down.

He tells his best friend – his only friend – how since leaving the army his life has gone to hell.

He shouts, “For me, civilian life is nothin’. In the field, we had a code of honor. You watch my back, I watch yours. Back here there’s nothin’.”

That nothin’ is what our elites are sellin’.

Oh, our leaders love them some troops in uniform. They put their hands over their hearts, get all solemn, and snap to attention when soldiers pass. They may even think they mean it. But the values they praise in the military are not the values by which they (and we) have organized an economy that no longer serves us. We serve it.

Inside the base perimeter, training instills esprit de corps. Teamwork. All for one, one for all. Self-sacrifice. We give medals for it. Leave no one behind. A code of honor.

But outside in Anytown, USA? Screw you, I’ve got mine. Anyone “out of uniform” is unworthy. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. Stop picking my pocket. Everyone for himself.

Why is that? What is that?

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