Category Archives: radical discipleship

Looking For The Bright Side Of NC House Bill 2

Or, in this case, an odious, discriminatory law.
Or, in this case, an odious, discriminatory law.

I’ve written quite few posts about NC House Bill 2 of late and they’ve been…, let’s say, “less than complimentary”. As a young man growing up in the South, one of the lessons that was beaten into me that I learned was if I couldn’t say something nice, I shouldn’t say anything at all. Sadly, the ship concerning the latter part of that adage sailed a long time ago. So today, in an attempt to live up to my raisin’, I thought I’d take a shot at finding something nice to say about a law that I have referred to as a steaming pie of discriminatory shit. Something tells me this may not be so easy.

First up, we have to address the fact that HB 2 has rekindled conservatives’ love of laws. I mean, they’ve spent years telling us how laws (of the gun control variety) don’t stop criminals. Now, however, they’re convinced this new one will prevent the awful (and non-existent) threat posed by bathroom predators. It really makes me happy to see my conservative friends embracing law and order once again.
Next up, there’s the way HB 2 has revealed the bigotry that abounds when it comes to LGBT folks, especially the “T’s”. Okay, the fact that folks don’t seem to have a single fucking qualm about shitting on people who are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and the rest of the alphabet soup that makes up that acronym wasn’t exactly what you’d call a huge  secret. But, every so often, we seem to need reminders that people like to discriminate against those they don’t understand. And, more importantly, that doing so is wrong.
We can’t forget how House Bill 2 has helped shine a light on Republican hypocrisy when it comes to the best way to govern. For years, the GOP has championed small government and local control. But, since they took control in Raleigh 4 years ago, they’ve attempted to take over the operation of Charlotte-Douglas Airport, they did take over Ashville’s water system and changed the make-up of Greensboro’s city council, all without these cities consent or public referendum. Even if you disagree with their methods, you’ve got to admire their chutzpah. Or not. I mean, it is pretty shitty.
Finally, there’s the fact that our esteemed legislators didn’t say anything about religion, freedom or anything else along these lines. This is good because, for once, bigoted assholes aren’t hiding behind their faith while they treat people like shit; they’re hiding behind their wives and children. Is that just as much of a dick move as saying Jesus told you to discriminate? Well, yeah; if anything, it’s an even bigger one. But, at least the J-man is catching a break this time. God knows, he could use one.

Well, would you look at that? Turns out finding the bright side(s) of HB 2 wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I mean, all I had to do was turn my already jaundiced eye on the fetid swamp that is North Carolina politics and look beyond all the bullshit the GOP-dominated General Assembly is spewing to find the actual benefits(?) of House Bill 2. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to take multiple showers in what is probably a futile attempt to feel clean again.

Be Sure To Get Your Lesbian Abortion Cookies

The conservative vision of Girl Scouts?
The conservative vision of Girl Scouts?

Well, friends, it’s that time of year again. It seems that, yet again, conservative Christians have their knickers in a twist over Girl Scout cookies. Yesterday, Franklin Graham took to Facebook to let us know that he’s not buying any this year, because these tasty treats raise funds for the Girl Scouts’ secular humanist, America-wrecking agenda. Fortunately, there is one man standing strong against these feminazi’s in miniature, St. Louis archbishop Robert Carlson.

According to Graham, the archbishop “isn’t worried about being politically correct in letting people know about (the GSA’s agenda) either”, telling his flock that the Girl Scouts’ values run counter to the teachings of the Church. And, why might that be? Because, the GSA welcomes and affirms all girls, no matter what their sexual orientation or gender identity may be. Oh, the horror!

In what may be the most unintentionally ironic statement ever, Bishop Carlson wrote, “While Catholics are called to treat all people with compassion and mercy, we must at the same time be mindful of whom we allow to teach and form our youth and the messages they present.” I’m not making that up, you guys; a Catholic priest actually said we should be careful about who is allowed to teach our young people. Just let that sink in for a minute.

Of course, it’s not just the GSA’s embrace of kids who are LGBTQ that has Carlson’s panties in a wad; he’s also unhappy with their “continued promotion of contraception and ‘abortion rights’ on behalf of its girl members, the majority of whom are minors”. Yes, we wouldn’t want girls to grow up with the idea they could be anything more than barefoot and pregnant, would we? And, what’s this “girl members” bullshit? Isn’t being a girl, like, the primary requirement for being a Girl Scout? Of course, for a closed-minded douchebag like Carlson, the primary requirement for being a girl is internal plumbing. Or, “having a vagina” in case that’s not clear enough.

If that’s not bad enough, Carlson gave fuller voice to his opposition in a post on the diocese’s website. There, he called into question the GSA’s internal policies that supposedly say that “some parents and troop leaders should not be informed if there is a transgender child in their troop”. Where was this concern when the church was heavily involved in covering up the fact that some of their priests were raping young boys? I guess trans girls are way more dangerous than pedophile priests,

Graham, however, thinks Carlson’s stand is the bee’s knees, saying “Archbishop Carlson is exactly right—the “ways of the world” are incompatible with biblical values.” That’s interesting, since both Carlson and Graham are Christians, which means they follow Jesus and the “biblical values” they espouse must be ones that He set out Let’s look at the one that sums up what Jesus cared most about: John 13:34-35,

“I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”

Now, I’m not a biblical scholar, but I’m pretty sure ostracizing and marginalizing some of the most vulnerable among us doesn’t measure up to that commandment. Maybe these two “men of God” (read with al possible sarcasm) should think about that.

 

 

 

No One Leaves Home…

Refugees
3:30 in the morning is entirely too damn early to get up, even if you only have to pee. When that’s the case, you can stagger to the bathroom and handle your business without turning on any lights or anything else that will wake you up enough to prevent going back to sleep. Getting up at 3:30 because you have to be somewhere is a different story and that’s the case for me today. I write this, sitting at the hospital in Mt. Airy while my mom has knee replacement. With that in mind, I’ll ask you to forgive me if I take the easy way out and give you a post mostly composed of words from other people.

Yesterday, during the early service at church, one of the pastors read a poem from Somali-British author/editor/poet/teacher, Warshan Shire, titled “Home”.

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
pitied

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

the
go home blacks
refugees
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
savage
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
drown
save
be hunger
beg
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
saying
leave,
run away from me now
i don’t know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here.

In 1934, a little less than a year after the Nazi’s passed their “Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring”,  Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke at the Fanø Ecumenical Conference and said:

“There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared, it is itself the great venture, and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security… To look for guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God’s commandment, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying down the destiny of the nations in the hand of Almighty God, not trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross.”

 

Taste The Rainbow, Mike

In the Republican race for the 2016 presidential nomination (aka 2nd place in the general election), all the candidates have touted their Christian bona fides. Hell, even the Donald has claimed the mantle of “Christian” and said the Bible is his favorite book ever (he couldn’t point to a verse he liked, however). But, in the maelstrom tempest shitstorm that compromises this contest, there is one Christian soldier who stands head and shoulders above the crowd: Mike Huckabee. Interestingly, this warrior for Christ doesn’t seem to grasp the essence of Jesus’ message; you know, that whole “Love one another” thing? Keep reading to see what I mean.

Before we begin, let me point out that Huckabee is the only ordained minister in the Republican field. Prior to entering politics and serving as a (relatively) populist governor for the state of Arkansas, Brother Mike attended the Southwestern Baptist Seminary and pastored churches in Pine Bluff and Texarkana. You’d think a fellow with that kind of background would have a better grasp of what following Jesus is all about and maybe he did early on. But, recently, he seems to have lost his way.

Last month, The Huckster jumped on the Kim Davis bandwagon, making a special trip to Kentucky, greeting the Rowan County clerk with a rally of her supporters after she was released from jail for contempt of court. That didn’t go so well, as he was almost one-upped by Ted Cruz (an alert staffer saved the day) and incurred the wrath of Survivor’s Frankie Sullivan for using the group’s song, “Eye of the Tiger”, without permission. That went well, didn’t it?

Oh, but that’s not all, beloved.  A couple of weeks ago, Frito-Lay decided to provide limited edition bags of Doritos in exchange for a $10 donation to the “It Gets Better” project. The bags sold out quickly and everyone was happy. Well, not everyone. Huckabee took a page out of Franklin Graham’s playbook and had a conniption fit because something non-shitty was happening in relation to an LGBT+ issue. He sent a letter to the company asking them to “do some honest vetting about Dan Savage and his very hateful and vulgar comments toward Christians and his calls for violence and injury to people he disagrees with.”

Huckabee isn’t alone in this fight, though; One Million Moms is also in on the action. And, really, who makes a better ally for a Christian than the fund-raising arm of a certified hate group? According to director Monica Cole, Frito-Lay’s move is an “assault on Christian values” and she urged people to call the company and ask that they “drop its promotion of anti-Christian bigotry.” Right.

I have spent the last two weeks trying to figure out how a fund drive to benefit an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for LGBT youth is “anti-Christian bigotry”. Especially when it’s just rainbow-colored corn chips. I mean, seriously, here’s a photo of the bag:
frito-gayIt’s a sad fucking day when the mere image of a rainbow inspires grown folks to lose their shit.

Of course, it’s really not the chips that are the problem. It’s not even the group that’s reaping the benefits of Frito-Lay’s largesse. No, it’s the man behind “It Gets Better”: gay-rights activist Dan Savage, who Cole says is “one of the most anti-Christian bullies in America.” Well, okay then.

I will grant that Savage hasn’t exactly been “polite” to anti-LGBT Christians (he is the person who coined the Santorum neologism(( you really shouldn’t click this link if you don’t want to be grossed out)) after all). But, if we’re being honest, people who are LGBT+ have plenty of reason to be “impolite” to Christians and we should own that shit, not whine about it.

The Church has systematically worked to marginalize the LGBT community for years and, now that society is beginning to see that marginalization for what it is, Christians are doubling down on their shittiness. That has taken a lot of forms as of late, but none quite as fucked up as dumping on a company for helping an organzation that works to reduce suicide rates among young people. Maybe it’s just me, but that seems like an odd way to love one another.

Pope Francis and The GOP: Where Is The Love?

Both the media and the GOP think Francis is a "progressive". At least one of them thinks that's a bad thing.
Both the media and the GOP think Francis is a “progressive”. At least one of them thinks that’s a bad thing.

Unless you live under a rock, you know the Pope is visiting the U. S. this week. What you might not have known is that Frankie is a “progressive”. At least, that’s what the media (and the Republican party) keeps telling us. Only in the America of the 21st century could a man who’s pro-life, anti-LGBT and against the ordination of women be called a “progressive”. While the media is having a field day with Francis’ visit, saying that the GOP isn’t exactly happy about the whole thing is a bit like referring to the Hindenburg disaster as a “fire”: true, but an understatement of massive proportions.

Take Marco Rubio, for instance. This good Catholic boy recently said, “As a Catholic, the Pope is the Vicar of Christ, the successor of Peter and the head of the Church…And in theological matters, as a Catholic, I believe when he pronounces himself from the chair of Peter, which is actually very rare, he is infallible in those decisions, in those issues. That does not extend to political issues like the economy”. He added, “On economic issues, the pope is a person.” Fellow Catholic Chris Christie agrees. He told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “I just think the Pope is wrong. The fact is that his infallibility is on religious matters, not on political ones.” Isn’t it funny how the Pope’s infallibility evaporates as soon as he starts contradicting conservatives about money or the environment?

Two other cradle Catholics, Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona and Rick Santorum (who, thanks to Dan Savage, needs no introduction) get a little more specific in their criticism of Pope Francis. Both take issue with Francis’ comments on climate change, with Gosar claiming the Pope is promoting “questionable science” and Santorum declaring, “The pope ought to stay with his job, and we’ll stay with ours.” Rick went on to say, “I think we [Catholics] are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we’re good at, which is theology and morality.” Couple of things here: 1) I love how any science that doesn’t allow the GOP’s corporate pals to continue raping the planet in their quest for riches is “questionable” and 2) Francis is scientist, having graduated as a chemical technician and working in that capacity for the Hickethier-Bachmann Laboratory before entering the priesthood. Sounds like someone didn’t do their homework.

You would think the GOP’s very own propaganda channel media outlet, FoxNews, would back them up on all this asshattery. But check out this commentary from the network’s own Shepard Smith:

“I think that we are in a weird place in the world when the following things are considered political. Five things, I’m going to tick them off. These are the five things that were on [the pope] and our president’s agenda. Caring for the marginalized and the poor. That’s now political. Advancing economic opportunity for all. Political? Serving as good stewards of the environment. Protecting religious minorities and promoting religious freedom globally. Welcoming [and] integrating immigrants and refugees globally. And that’s political?

I mean, I don’t know what we expect to hear from an organization’s leader like the pope of the Catholic Church other than protect those who need help, bring in refugees who have no place because of war and violence and terrorism. These seem like universal truths that we should be good to others who have less than we do, that we should give shelter to those who don’t have it. I think these were the teachings in the Bible of Jesus. They’re the words of the pope, they’re the feelings of the president. And people who find themselves on the other side of that message should consult a mirror, it seems like. Because I think that’s what we’re supposed to do as a people, whatever your religion. I mean, it seems to me — and I think to probably, as Bill O’Reilly would put it, most clear-thinking Americans — that that’s how we’re supposed to roll.”

A FoxNews anchor taking Republicans to task on the air? Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more weird.

Taken by itself, Smith’s comments could be written off as a cynical attempt to make Fox look like it’s living up to its tagline, “Fair and Balanced”. But, lately, the network has been giving Trump hell and Chris Wallace called Carly Fiorina out on her Planned Parenthood BS, both of which gives some credence that “change of heart” theory. Holy crap on a cracker. Is there a rip in the space-time continuum that I didn’t know about? Or, maybe, the Apocalypse is upon us; I don’t know. Either way, this is uncharted territory and it’s a little scary.

I’m A Christian, But, I’m Not…

Mollie Hemingway recently wrote an article for “The Federalist” titled “5 Most Cringeworthy Problems With Buzzfeed’s Viral ‘I’m a Christian, But I’m Not’, Video” (shown at the top of this page) and she wasn’t exactly what you’d call “complementary”. Now, If I’m being honest, I have to agree that the clip is a little douchey. Not in the evangelical/fundamentalist “I’m saved, but you’re all going to hell” way; more like the NALT project, which is just a little reminiscent of Jesus’ parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector. According to Hemingway, the video “was easily the most unintentionally hilarious, if shockingly bigoted, BuzzFeed video ever produced.” After watching it, I’m left wondering if Hemingway actually understands what “bigoted” really means. Or, “shockingly” either, for that matter.

I say that because the statement in question follows an extremely condescending dismissal of everything the people in the clip say. Displaying the (possibly) unwitting arrogance that seems to permeate conservative Christianity, she attempts to minimize the participants words with quotation marks, a strikeout and, that particulraly odious tool of rejection, ridiculing a person’s spelling/choice of words. Then, she lists the 5 most egregious things in the video. So, let’s take a look at what Ms. Hemingway considers cringeworthy:

  1. No Mention of Jesus
    Hemingway claims, after referencing its text, that the video contains “Not a single mention of Jesus, the author and finisher of the Christian faith.” That’s not exactly true. Sure, no one mentions Jesus by name, but the J-man is all over this thing. Most notably in the statement, “love is the most important thing.” If I could talk to Hemingway (and the young woman who shared this and was a member of the youth group I worked with in the past), I’d tell her that Jesus isn’t constantly smacking us on the ass, yelling “Say my name, bitch!”
  2. No Diversity
    Now, you may be wondering how a video about Christians that features people of color, people who are LGBT+ or who depart from the Church’s view on sex isn’t diverse (I know I was). But, here’s Hemingway’s problem: there are no “conservatives” in the cast. She even breaks it down by percentage, saying “At least 33 percent of those interviewed are LGBT (roughly 10 times the national average) and at least 50 percent are feminist (only 18 percent of Americans actually identify as feminist).” In other words, she’s arguing that the video isn’t “politically correct”; a concept she has a history of criticizing. Talk about “unintentionally hilarious”!
  3. Wow, Was It Bigoted 
    As I said earlier, I’m not sure if Hemingway knows what “bigoted” actually means. According to Merriam-Webster, it is an adjective for “bigot”, which is defined as ” a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.” Does the video display some condescension? Absolutely. Does that condescension rise to the level of hate or intolerance? No, it doesn’t. Not once in this video does anyone claim that their belief is the right one, that everyone else is wrong, or show that they are “intolerantly devoted” to anything. They didn’t, as Hemingway infers, say that people who disagree with them are “homophobic, holier-than-thou, close-minded, unaccepting, uneducated, judgmental, conservative ignoramuses.” But, you know what they say; “A hit dog always howls.”
  4. Christianity Offends 
    Yes, it does. Hell, I’m a Christian and it offends me. Okay, to be more accurate, what currently passes for orthodox Christianity offends me. Why? Because it took a way of life based on unconditional love and turned it into a belief system incorporating a set of arbitrary rules designed to separate and control people. The real problem with the video is that it talks about a Christianity that’s radical and countercultural. And, that scares the shit out of people like Hemingway, a middle class white woman who is heavily invested in maintaining the status quo.
  5. It’s a Pharisee Prayer
    In this item, we finally get to down Hemingway’s real issue with the video: sex. Yes, beloved, after all that other bullshit, it boils down when and with whom you choose to knock boots. I say that because, of all the issues she lists in her article, she uses sex to make her point, saying “The media wrongly think that any time you articulate Christian doctrine on sexuality—which is exacting and more or less completely contradictory to the way of the world—you’re putting yourself on a pedestal. That’s a childish reading of such articulation. And it completely ignores the point of Christianity, which is that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Two problems here: 1) Why do conservatives have such an obsession with sex? 2) The point of Christianity is “that while we were still sinners Christ died for us“? Shit, all this time,  I thought it was “Love one another.” Boy, is my face red.

In her closing paragraph, Hemingway says “Let us all beware of smug complacency and measuring ourselves against others.” That may be the most clueless sentence in human history, because she writes it after spending over 1,800 words doing just that. If there’s any doubt, the last two sentences should clear things up: “Let’s join the tax collector and cry out, “God be merciful to me, a sinner! And forgive BuzzFeed while you’re at it—particularly when it comes to religious content, they could use your prayers.” I guess, as a “real” (i.e. conservative) Christian, Hemingway is in possession of the Truth and we should all listen to her. Especially those heathens at BuzzFeed.

NC’s Own Westboro Baptist Church?

Yesterday, after a great worship service and breakfast with my friends, I walked out of church to this:20150823_104834

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, beloved, these people are protesting my church. Why? I’m not really sure; I wanted to ask, but they wouldn’t stop preaching at me long enough for me to get a word in. So, I just took the picture, laughed and went on my way.

You might think that this would end there and it probably should. But I’ve never been the object of a protest before and I’ll admit, it left me a little rattled. I mean, it’s one thing to see these jokers on television, or even to drive by them while they spew their bile at whoever they happen to hate at any given moment. But, it’s a little different when it’s you they’re calling “filth” and a “stench in God’s nostrils”. I spent most of yesterday trying to process this before I remembered something Chris Hardwick said: “Comedians make jokes about horrible things because, as humans, this our defense mechanism for trying to process those horrible things and gain power over them.” Now, calling me a comedian might be stretching things a bit and I don’t have a show like Hardwick to work this stuff out.  On the other hand, I am a smart ass with a blog. So, let’s get processing!

A little earlier, I said I didn’t know why these douche canoes decided to picket our church, but that’s not exactly true. Sure, I couldn’t get a word in edgewise when I first saw them, but one look at their sign told me exactly what their problem might be: We’re a welcoming and affirming Baptist church. Really? That’s the best you’ve got? Hell, it’s no secret that we’re cool with folks who are LGBT+; it’s plastered all over our website and we held an anti-Amendment 1 rally a few years ago. Seriously, if you going to go to all the trouble protest someone, do your homework. There are so many other things we do and/or believe that would drive these guys crazy. Like the fact that we don’t use the KJV exclusively, teach from books other than Bible now and then, “encourage” doubt by allowing members to ask questions, occasionally have secular music during service and, perhaps worst of all, allow women in positions of leadership. I’m sorry, fellows, but this was just lazy activism.

I’m not sure exactly who they are or where they’re from because, when I finally got a chance to talk to them, they wouldn’t say. All they’d cop to was that they weren’t local. Whether that’s because they’ve been threatened with violence or are afraid someone might show up and protest at their church (as so many people have done to those trolls at Westboro Baptist Church), I couldn’t say. But, it seems to me that if this is the case, you might want to reconsider your message.

Interestingly, these folks staged their “protest” right beside a sign that reads, “Where loving God means loving people.” And, when I say “right beside”, I mean that literally: they were like 10 feet away from it. So, let me get this straight, you’re spewing hate in God’s name while standing next to a sign that references a passage from the Bible? Sadly, the irony of it all seemed to be lost on them. Of course, that reference wasn’t taken directly from the Authorized King James Version of 1611, so maybe they were confused.

Their sign lists Hebrews 12:8 as a reference for their claim that people who are LGBT+ are nothing but bastards. But, let’s look at that passage and see what it says:But if you don’t experience discipline, which happens to all children, then you are illegitimate and not real sons and daughters.” Hmm, nothing about gay folks in there at all. To be fair, though, when I finally got a chance to have a bit of conversation with our visitors, one of them said that they weren’t just talking about homosexuality, but “all sin”: fornicators, liars, thieves, porn watchers like he “used to be”(that’s what he said, I’m not questioning his honesty there), etc. In other words, we’re all bastards. And, while this does seem to echo Will Campbell’s “Gospel in 7 words“, he forgets the most important part: yes, we are all bastards, but God loves us anyway.

I have to say, however, that just talking to these guys was exhausting because they couldn’t say three words in row without it turning into a sermon. And, the hostility? It came off of them in waves. But, I’m proud of my church family, because they didn’t let those ugly signs and the toxic theology get to them. Our pastor invited them in for breakfast and offered them some water (for a heathenous false teacher leading us all straight to hell, he’s not a bad guy).  And, one of the ladies who prepared breakfast took some food and water out to them; they wouldn’t touch it, though. Maybe they were afraid some “gay” might’ve gotten on it, I don’t know. Of course, it probably didn’t help that when she took out to them, she tipped her head at one of them and sweetly asked the other, “Is he your partner?”

I find it interesting that these people were quoting the Bible and “calling out sin”, but seemed to be completely ignorant of Matthew 7:1-2. You  know the one that says, “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. You’ll receive the same judgment you give. Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you.” Or, James 4:12, who said “There is only one lawgiver and judge, and he is able to save and to destroy. But you who judge your neighbor, who are you?” Funny how that works, huh?

I’m not sure what their endgame was, but I suspect that, on some level, they hoped that all their preaching, sign-holding and Bible-waving would cause us all to see the error of our ways and we’d fall to our knees and ask God’s forgiveness. Or, failing that, maybe some college student would hear their “message” and turn from the life of depravity that they had been living. Yes, because nothing brings a person to God quicker than the knowledge that God “hates” them and wants them to burn in Hell for living the life God created them to live in the first place. That is such a compelling argument.

Okay, this thing is getting a little out of hand, so I’ll close with something my son, Parker, had to say about the whole thing: “If you have protesters outside your church, completely unprovoked, you must be doing something right.” That’s the way I’m looking at it, anyway.

Planned Parenthood, Abortion and Me

 

Confessions of a Reluctant Pro-Choice Advocate

Just to warn you, this post is going to be a little more weighty than most of what you’ll read on The Progressive Redneck. I figured I’d make that disclaimer since the title implies that it’ll be the sort of light-hearted romp I usually throw up on the internet. But, with all the fuss over those propaganda “creatively edited” videos concerning Planned Parenthood, abortion has once again taken a major place in the public debate. Up until last night, I had pretty much lurked in the background, posting a meme or liking someone else’s post on the subject. Honestly, it’s not a debate I like to get caught up in because it doesn’t really go anywhere. And, there’s the fact that I feel a little dirty when it’s all said and done.

Like some of my friends, I am reluctantly pro-choice. I’m guessing that’s a statement that requires a little explanation. That’s going to be hard, because I’m not sure I fully understand it myself, but I’ll give it a shot. I use the qualifier “reluctant” because, let’s face it, some of the pro-choice arguments are rather callous ( a fetus isn’t alive, it’s just tissue; it’s human, but it isn’t alive, etc). Then, there’s the fact that I am a father of two children and there’s nothing that influences your belief on abortion quite like holding a life that you helped create. I’m also a product of my upbringing, growing up in a time and place (the South of the 1960’s and 70’s) where abortion was accepted as the law of the land grudgingly, if at all. Lastly, I am a Christian and Christians have a long history of opposing abortion.

But, I am pro-choice because there is no scientific consensus on when life begins. Now, you might think that would push me the other way, but it doesn’t and it’s my Baptist faith that’s the reason. As a historical Baptist, I believe in something called “soul freedom” (aka “soul competency” or “soul liberty”). “Soul freedom” is the concept that each person has the right to choose what their soul (or conscience, if overt religious language is a problem for you) decides is right and they are responsible only to God once that decision is made. Personally, I believe abortion is wrong and it’s something to which I could never be a party (except in certain cases). But, in the absence of scientific proof that life does begin at conception, soul freedom means I cannot in good conscience force others to accept my belief. That is a matter to be decided between each individual and God.

There is a second reason that I am pro-choice and that is that criminalizing abortion and closing down facilities won’t stop the practice; if anything, it will only make the situation worse. Right now, we are seeing renewed Republican efforts to defund Title X of the Public Health Service Act because groups like Planned Parenthood provide abortion services. Of course, federal money can’t be used for abortions, but it can and does help organizations provide a myriad of services to women who either can’t afford or can’t get to other facilities, things like birth control, cancer screenings, counseling, etc. The largest of these groups is conservative bugaboo, Planned Parenthood (FYI, abortions comprise about 3% of what they do). Now, Planned Parenthood could possibly find other funding streams and continue to operate, but many smaller organizations couldn’t. That translates to a lot more unwanted pregnancies which, in turn, translates to more abortions. In other words, defunding Title X to stop Planned Parenthood from performing abortions is a self-defeating proposition.

If we truly want to stop abortion, there is another way: a concerted effort to make abortion unnecessary. How would that work? By providing comprehensive sex education in place of the failed abstinence-only model, making sure contraceptives are readily available to anyone who wants/needs them and ensuring that all families in this country have a roof over their head, food to eat, decent healthcare and a good education. It should be our goal that every person in this country (citizen and alien alike) not only survives, but thrives. If we did these things, abortion would eventually become a practice resorted to only when the life of the mother is at stake or in cases of rape or incest. But, then it wouldn’t be a political hot button that could be used to divide the masses. God knows we don’t want that. 

Are We Wrong About Matt Walsh?

satire defIs it possible we’ve gotten the wrong idea about Matt Walsh? I know I’ve been pretty hard on him, calling him a douchecanoe, a sick and delusional man and America’s shittiest Christian (and that’s just in the just the last few months). Okay, so the last one is new, but you know what I mean. Of course, there does appear to be lots of evidence concerning his douchery, lots and lots of evidence. Take his latest two pieces on The Blaze, for instance. They’re about a video that’s going viral in anti-abortion circles that supposedly shows a Planned Parenthood official talking about selling fetal body parts. That sounds bad, doesn’t it? Well, don’t get your shorts in a knot; it’s bullshit.

How do I know that? Well, for one thing, the group that “produced” it, the Center for Medical Progress, is basically a front group for Live Action. And, that organization has quite a bit of history with PP. Headed by anti-abortion activist Lila Rose, Live Action has made several attempts to smear Planned Parenthood in the hopes of “bringing down” the nation’s largest provider of health services for women. Unfortunately for Ms. Rose, all those attempts have failed. It would probably help if Live Action would keep its claims within the realm of believability.

On its own, this is one of the wilder stories to come out of the fevered minds of Rose and her cronies (a list that includes James O’Keefe). But, it gets even wilder when Matt Walsh steps up to the plate with a classic “hot take” on the subject. He opens with the “fact” that liberals love nothing more than killing babies. In fact, we love it even more than “gay marriage or genital mutilation” (aka sexual reassignment surgery). He even compares people who are pro-choice to ancient pagan cultures who practiced child sacrifice, stating “The liberal has a cult-like, religious devotion to sacrament of infanticide.” It was then I realized that maybe I had Matt Walsh all wrong: what if he’s not the douchecanoe I thought. What if he’s actually America’s greatest living satirist?

Right about now, you’re probably wondering how I could even think such a thing? Well, that’s going to take a little explanation, so bear with me for a minute or two. First, I’ve got to go out on a limb and say that even Glenn Beck wouldn’t knowingly publish the ravings of an insane person (and, yes, I realize that’s a pretty weak limb), so more than likely, Matt Walsh isn’t mentally ill. Now, as there is no possible way a sane person could honestly believe the level of batshit crazy Walsh regularly publishes, that leaves us with only two options: 1) Matt Walsh is a cynical bastard who is intentionally writing inflammatory rhetoric that winds up conservatives just to get attention, or 2) Matt Walsh is comedian the likes of which the world has never seen, combining a Colbert-like mastery of satire with a flair for the outrageous that would make Andy Kaufman jealous.  Now, I’m probably the most cynical person I know, but after reading his piece on abortion, even I can’t believe someone would so disrespect his audience as to attempt to manipulate them with such utter bullshit. And that, beloved, leaves us with the second option.

Still don’t agree? Check out this statement on the mainstream media ignoring Live Action’s video: “I say “response,” but naturally the response from much of the media was nothing but a blaring, deafening silence. Aside from Fox News, most of the cable and network channels dusted off their patented blackout strategy, last employed during the Kermit Gosnell trial, and ignored the scandal completely.” Well, of course they’re ignoring it; it comes from a known Republican propaganda outfit that’s been screaming “GOTCHA!!!” at PP for years. And, with little to no evidence to back up their claims, I might add. No news organization in their right mind would run a story with sources that sketchy. Walsh knows this and includes the fact that Fox did talk about it to highlight their obvious bias.

It’s not just this article where I can see Walsh’s genius for satire; it’s evident in everything he writes. In an article about Caitlyn Jenner, he compared being transgender to cultural appropriation. And, then, he pretends to minimize the practice by claiming it’s nothing more than “listening to Nikki Minaj” and wearing “flat brimmed hats”, thereby calling attention it. Or, after posing as the ultimate anti-feminist for most of his blogging career, using feminism as a reason not to watch “Fifty Shades of Grey“. And, in what may be my favorite Matt Walsh moment ever, his description of Donald Trump’s statements about immigration as “accurate”. What a hoot! Anyone with a brain understands that the Donald wouldn’t know an accurate statement if it walked up and bit him on the ass.

Is Walsh’s satire way over the top? Of course, it is. But, when you have presidential candidates claiming that “getting saved” will solve racism or Christian pastors saying that we should be packing heat in church, you have to go way over the top to write an effective parody. Mostly, just to keep people from thinking you’re being sincere. I’m telling you, it’s hard out here for smart ass.

You know, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, Larry Wilmore, Amy Schumer, etc have shown that satire is the hot ticket in comedy these days. If Comedy Central is smart, they’ll offer Walsh a show so he can continue to skewer conservatives in his own inimitable way. I’ll bet it would be a massive hit.

You’re Making The Rest Of Us Look Bad

Between the craziness about the flag and the way conservative Christians have lost their fucking minds over the Court’s ruling on marriage, it’s an interesting time to be a progressive blogger with a snarky, sarcastic side. We’ve all seen the crap coming from Tony Perkins, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and a host of others.  But, the most consistent purveyor of bat-crap crazy has got to be Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. In a field of frothing-at-the-mouth nitwits, Fischer manages to rise head and shoulders above all the others with utterances like this:

Bryan Fischer back of the bus
Image courtesy of Dan Arel’s danothropolgy blog on Patheos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, beloved, you can believe your eyes: a white guy just compared the imagined persecution of a bunch of (mostly) white people to the Civil Rights movement. Funny, I haven’t seen the cops turning fire hoses and attack dogs on conservative Christians because they’re protesting the recognition of someone else’s rights. My god, the irony in that statement is almost as palpable as Fischer’s cluelessness.

Sadly, that’s not the only demented thing he has to say on the subject; it was just another post in a Twitter rant that’s still going on. So far, Fischer has called the Supreme Court “rainbow jihadists”; said that Justice Kennedy “killed” the 1st Amendment; compared people who are LGBT+ to Nazi’s (aka “the Gay Gestapo”); claimed that SCOTUS released the ruling when they did in order to “turbo-charge gay pride parades” and said (this may be favorite) that the “Supreme Court makes it harder to go to heaven”. You know, Fischer’s ranting is almost as imaginative as that of Antonin Scalia. Were these two separated at birth or something?

As I said earlier, Fischer isn’t the only one saying this kind of stuff, he’s just the most…, let’s say, “interesting”. Now, most of these assholes have an agenda to push: Huckabee and Santorum are trying to whip their supporters into a frenzy that they hope will result in votes; Perkins and some others are attempting to scare people into sending them more money; a few, like certain people on Fox (I’m looking at you, Bill O’Reilly), are attention whores who desperately hope their comments translate into higher ratings. Almost none of these people actually believe the crap they’re putting out; it’s just a means to an end. Only a few, like Fischer, are “true believers” and are throughly convinced of the rightness (and, righteousness) of their message. But, that doesn’t make what they say any less stupid or damaging.

If the propagators of this bullshit were just sleazy politicians pandering for votes and attention whores trolling for ratings, it would be one thing. But, it’s not; almost all the ugly things being said about same-sex marriage, affordable health care, racism, income inequality and a host of other important issues are coming from people who claim to be followers of Christ. What…the…actual…fuck? Seriously, almost everything these people say is in direct opposition to what Jesus taught. What, you don’t believe me? Well, let’s a take a quick look:

  • Same-sex marriage _  this is a tough one, because Jesus didn’t say much about marriage in general and nothing at all about same-sex marriage. In fact, the only thing he did say on the subject concerned  divorce. While some folks try to say that passage somehow speaks to what Jesus thought about same-sex marriage or sexual orientation (concepts that didn’t even exist when this was said), that’s a stretch, at best. And, disingenuous at worst.
  • Affordable health care _ Again, we’re faced with a dilemma because, like LGBT+ issues, this wasn’t even a thing is the 1st century. And, again, Jesus never said anything about it. But, considering that most of the miracles he performed were healings, I have a sneaking suspicion that he’d be cool with the idea.
  • Income Inequality _ Finally some solid ground! What’s that you say? Jesus would never condone redistribution of wealth? Au contraire, mon frere. He specifically did so in Mark 10 (aka the story of the rich young man). So, yeah.
  • Racism _ Now, the J-man didn’t specifically speak about racism, but he did tell his followers to love each other. Losing your shit when we just talk about removing a flag that symbolizes racism and oppression to a lot of people in this country isn’t exactly what I’d call loving. Come on y’all, it’s not that god-damned hard to figure out.

Don’t get me wrong, though; I’m not saying you can’t agree with Fischer on these and other subjects. Hell, I’m not even saying that you can’t call yourself a Christian if you do. As proponent of free will, I believe you can do and say anything you want. But, if you decide to keep this up, I really wish you’d find another name for yourselves. You’re making the rest of us look bad.