Category Archives: Religion

10 Things You Can’t Do And Call Yourself A Progressive Christian

onedoesnotsimplyprovideevidencememe
An example of #3

The Progressive Edition

A certain popular progressive Christian blogger has made a name for himself with a series of posts titled “10 Things You Can’t _________”. These lists make some really good points, but I have a slight problem with them: they’re all directed at conservative, evangelical and/or fundamentalist Christians. That’s a problem for me  because it smacks of the “Not all Christians” thing. God knows progressive Christians aren’t saints, however much we’d like to think otherwise. So, I came up with my own list. And, I’ll go ahead and say you probably aren’t going to like it.

  1. You can’t call Trump supporters “deplorables”. Or “racists”, or “ignorant”, or any of the other epithets that get thrown at them. It doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not. Jesus told us to love our neighbors and I’m pretty sure telling someone that they’re “deplorable” isn’t what he’d consider “loving”.
  2. You can’t tell everyone “I can’t vote for him/her. I’m voting my conscience.” Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying you can’t vote your conscience, just that you can’t be a condescending ass about it. Because, no matter what you think you think, that’s the way you come across when you say this. The same goes for “Choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.”
  3. You can’t call people out for taking advantage of “white privilege” while doing the same thing yourself. See #2 above.
  4.  You can’t pontificate on what you’d do if ________. What I’m talking about here is something I wrote about last week. I’ve seen several progressive bloggers write about what they’d do if one of their kids turned out to LGBTQ. It’s the “if” that’s the problem here. If you don’t have a gay kid (or have any kids at all), shut the fuck up and let people who actually live this reality talk about it.
  5. You can’t put words in people’s mouths. Or thoughts, or ideas, or pretty much anything else. It’s wrong. Don’t think progressives do this? Tell you what, google “progressive Christian memes” and then we’ll talk.
  6. You can’t marginalize people because of they lack the “proper” educational credentials. Don’t think this is happening? Take a look at the roster of speakers at any progressive Christian event. I can almost guarantee you won’t find anyone who doesn’t at least have a masters degree. And, don’t get me wrong, I’m not against education. Hell, I’m going into some serious debt right now because I believe in it so much. But, progressive Christianity has to open it’s eyes and see that there are people out here who have important things to say that are being ignored because they don’t have any letters after their name.
  7. You can’t attack everything a person believes in. This is less about the message than the way you present it. Granted, some of the things Christians believe need to be challenged because they are, to put bluntly, fucked up. But, going all “scorched earth” on a conservative Christian’s belief that “the homosexual lifestyle” is a sin won’t get you where you want to go. Unless where you want to go is making yourself feel superior to “those people”. If that’s the case, you are definitely on the right track.
  8. You can’t block people on social media because you don’t like what they say. It goes back to that “love your neighbor” bit. Is it hard? God damn right it is. But, I think that’s what Jesus was talking about when he said “Take up your cross and follow me.”
  9. You can’t be a condescending douche. If you’re thinking most of the items on this list are covered in this point, you’re right. This attitude of theological and moral superiority (that borders on arrogance) may be progressive Christianity’s greatest sin. Don’t you think it’s about time we started working on it.
  10. And, last, you can’t make lists telling people what they can and can’t do as a Christian. This pretty much negates everything I’ve said up to now and that’s the point. I don’t think we get to be the arbiter of what is “Christian” and what isn’t. It really gets on my nerves when some hard-core conservative tells me that I’m not a Christian because I believe in full inclusion, reject the idea of Hell, that I’m “pro-life”, etc. Doing the same thing to them seems kind of shitty.

Me, Jack and The Devil

haw-haw-hawSo, Jack Chick died last week. You may not know who he was and, if that’s true, you should probably count yourself lucky. If you are that fortunate, let me give a little background. Chick was a cartoonist and publisher best known something called “Chick tracts”: tiny, little fundamentalist/evangelical comic books that attempted to scare people into getting “saved” and almost always featured Satan at the end. Subtly may not have been Chick’s forte, but he was a master at scaring the shit out of me. That son-of-a-bitch was the author of many of my nightmares as a gullible, evangelical kid.

You see, from the ages 10 to 16,  my family was part of a hyper-religious, charismatic, evangelical group that witnessed to anyone, in any place, at any time and in any situation. No matter where we were, we were never without a supply of evangelizing material and Chick tracts were a huge part of our arsenal. They weren’t handed out in person; usually,  they got stashed away some place where an unsuspecting heathen would accidentally stumble across them and BAM! They got ambushed with the fear love of Satan God. We were masters of passive-aggressive evangelism.

Because we always had a ready stash of these fucked up little comic books (and because I love a comic books), I was inevitably drawn to them. I also don’t think my parents wanted me to see them because they were never offered up for my brother or I to read. In fact, I really don’t remember being handed one to pass out on my own; they were just there. In fact, they were held back just enough to make them seem like forbidden fruit, thus making them all the more attractive to me.

I can remember almost every Chick tract I ever saw, which is really no big feat because they’re basically all the same. Oh, they may have different characters or evils to rail against, but the theme, the dialogue, the mood were identical. But, the most enduring image is the Devil that was at the end of every pamphlet. That motherfucker creeped me out like you wouldn’t believe.

It wasn’t just Chick tracts, though. As a kid growing up in the weird quasi-Pentecostal world of Charismatic Christianity of the late 60’s and early 70’s, I was exposed to multiple exorcisms, for others and myself (at the time, some crazy-ass cult leader said my ADHD was actually an “evil spirit of laziness”) and”facts” like Ouija boards being a doorway for demonic possession. To this day, I can’t watch “The Exorcist” (the first one. No one can watch the sequels) and I avert my eyes or change the channel when trailers for that damn Ouija board movie show up on television. Yes, beloved, I was in on the ground floor of the great “Satanic Panic” that gripped the 80’s. And, it was just as fucked up as it sounds.

As I said at the beginning of this piece, Chick died last week and a week is an eternity in the blogosphere. But, with all the baggage surrounding this subject, it’s taken me that long to process my feelings on the matter. And, even now, I’m not really sure how I feel about it, other than to say I hope “Haw, haw, haw”, was the first fucking thing the old bastard heard when he awoke in whatever afterlife situation in which he landed. Not only that, I hope they were uttered by that creepy-ass Devil he took such glee in rendering. I know that’s not very Christian, but it’s about all the grace I can muster, right now. Sayonara, Jack. You won’t be missed. Not by me, anyway.

Unicorns and Dinosaurs and Bears! Oh My!

Coming soon? Shit, they're already here!
Coming soon? Shit, they’re already here!

You may not know this, but Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter opened last week. You probably didn’t know because there wasn’t much fanfare outside of evangelical/fundamentalist circles. Well, that is unless you count the people pissed off about the fact that a privately owned, overtly religious theme park got an $18 million dollar tax break even though Kentucky is one of the poorest and hungriest states in the nation. Isn’t that nice?

Now, I’m not going to go on a tear about how this tax break violates the 1st Amendment, even though it does. And, I’m not going to talk about how much the whole thing cost ($100 million) and how Answers in Genesis could have better spent that money. Instead, I’ll just talk about the Ark and let you work the rest out for yourself.

The Ark Encounter, and its sister attraction the Creation museum, are both the brain children of Answers in Genesis. AiG is a Young Earth group headed up by the aforementioned, Ken Ham, aka America’s leading creationist . You probably remember him from his debate with Bill Nye (everyone’s favorite Science Guy) about the origins of the universe a couple of years ago.

Those of us who believe the earth is older than Ham and his associates claim thought that Nye won the debate. But, that may not be so. Ham contends that the debate helped stimulate fund-raising for the Ark Park. Man, talk about getting bit in the ass.

So, what hath Ken Ham wrought in the hinterlands of Kentucky? According to the park’s website, it is “a full-size Noah’s Ark, built according to the dimensions given in the Bible. Spanning 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high, this modern engineering marvel amazes visitors young and old.”

Modern engineering marvel? Dude, there are a lot of things in this world more marvelous than your “ark”. Unless you built it with Stone Age (or possibly very early Bronze Age) tools, that is. Otherwise, it’s just a big-ass building.

I don’t know if you picked up on it or not, but the fine folks at AiG have built a boat that won’t float. As my friend (not to mention, faithful reader) Suzanne asked, “How is a boat that won’t float supposed to inspire awe and reverence?” How indeed.

Here’s the thing: it’s never been about inspiring awe and reverence. It’s about soaking the rubes. You see, admission to the Ark is $40 and from what I’ve seen, everywhere you turn, there’s something else to separate people from their hard-earned cash. 

 But, before I get all cynical, let’s talk about what’s on Kenny’s ark.  For the record, the following observations are drawn from a video posted on the Friendly Atheist site. There appear to be animatronic displays of Noah and his family engaged in various activities, cages of small “animals” (nothing in them except an audio player to generate animal sounds), models of larger ones and “educational” displays about how Noah might have pulled off this amazing feat.
Among those larger animals are…, wait for it: unicorns and dinosaurs. That’s right, my friends, Ham’s Ark contains both mythical animals and creatures who died out millions of years before humans existed in any form; not just our current modern iteration, but any  form.  Holy shit.
I really don’t know what to say about that. It takes some pretty impressive mental gymnastics to believe that either type of animal was on the ark Or, in the case of unicorns, even fucking existed.
Of course, we are talking about people who reject the massive weight of scientific evidence that the world is over 4 billion years old in favor of an idea from some preacher who “calculated” the age of the Earth from Old Testament stories.  When that’s your frame of reference, I guess unicorns aren’t that big a deal.
Remember what I said about “separating people from their hard-earned cash”? Well, according to the correspondent from TFA, the entire first floor is basically one big store. AiG’s money-grubbing and avarice are on full display with the Ark Encounter and I think they have a lot of nerve calling themselves “Christians”.
Unfortunately, as long as Americans are gullible enough to believe this bullshit and line up to fill Ham’s coffers, they’ll keep pimping their fucked up view of the Gospel. In case it’s not obvious, I’m not very happy about that.

 

 

Am I Still A Christian?

Doubt TillichOver the years, I’ve had people ask me, “How can you call yourself a Christian with some of the things you believe?” It’s a fair question, seeing as I don’t put much stock in a lot of orthodox beliefs anymore. The short (smartass) answer comes in two parts: 1) I’m a progressive Christian, which means I’m not hung up on a lot the stuff Christians have traditionally worried about: sex, drugs, rock and roll, etc. 2) I’m not really that good of a Christian.

But, a better question is “Why do I still call myself a Christian?” I think the answer to that will make more sense if I tell what I do and don’t believe these days.

  • The Biblical creation story _ I don’t believe the story told in Genesis is a historical, factual account of the world’s creation. The evidence presented by science about the Big Bang and evolution is overwhelming and to believe otherwise is to be willfully ignorant. That is not to say that I think the Genesis story should be tossed out. For me, it exists as myth or allegory and has to do with why we’re here, not how we got here.
  • That the Bible is the literal, inerrant Word of God _ I gave this one up a long time ago, if I ever really believed in the first place. That was only reinforced by the fact that, for me, learning the history of the Bible was a lot like watching sausage being made: it wasn’t pretty. The Bible has a place in my life, to be sure. But, it’s not the be all, end all of things.
  • The Virgin Birth _  I no longer believe that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived. That’s just not how biology works. Besides, the whole thing is based on a mistranslation of one word. In my opinion, the virgin birth story was a literary device that, like several other historically questionable events in the birth narratives, was meant to show that Jesus was special. Personally, I prefer to spend my time working on living the way he taught than how he was conceived.
  • An actual physical resurrection _ A few years ago, there was a bit of a dust-up between Tony Jones and Marcus Borg about whether the resurrection was physical or spiritual, with Jones arguing for physical. As I followed this discussion (between Jones and his detractors. Marcus was smart enough not to get down in the mud with them), I began to realize I had trouble accepting that Jesus’ body was reanimated and he walked around in it. The best I can do with this one is to believe that something happened in that tomb that inspired his followers to carry on, even in the face of persecution, oppression and death at the hands of the state.
  • The Trinity _ Actually, saying I don’t believe in the Trinity isn’t accurate. A better way to put it would be that I don’t really give a shit. Like the preceding items on this list, I don’t see how spending any time on it makes me a better follower of Jesus, so why bother?
  • Whether God even exists _ I suppose this makes me more of agnostic than anything else. I say this because I’ve never had that moment that some people talk about where God knocked me to my knees. In fact, I’m not sure that I’ve ever felt the presence of God at any point in my life. At least, not in the way others have spoken of.

So, in light of all this, why do I still call myself a Christian? Because the way Jesus taught us to live is a pretty damn decent one. It  definitely makes makes me a better person. And, understand when I say “the way Jesus taught us to live”, I’m not talking about the perversion that is American Christianity, I mean what he actually said: love your neighbor, turn the other cheek, forgive those who treat you badly, don’t hoard your wealth, share with those who have less…, you get the picture.

Radical Islam? How About Radical Christianity?

radical islamIt’s been almost two weeks since “He who shall not be named” walked into an Orlando nightclub and perpetrated the worst mass shooting in American history. And, as you might expect, the bullshit is flying hot and heavy. Perhaps the heaviest is the Republican’s refusal to even acknowledge that this was a hate crime. I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it all pretty goddamned tedious.

So, if the shooter wasn’t motivated by hatred for people who are LGBTQ, why did he do it? The Republican answer? “Radical Islam”, of course. And, they are pulling out all the stops to deflect attention from any other option. Unfortunately for them, it’s not really working, what with all the news coverage of the Senate filibuster and House sit-in.

This inability to control the narrative is causing some desperation on the part of the GOP, leading to events like Louie Gohmert jumping up in the middle of the House Democrat’s sit-in and screaming, “Radical Islam killed these people!” The whole thing might be funny if it wasn’t because of 49 dead folks.

But, Republican temper tantrums aside, there is a “radical” element behind what happened in Orlando and it is part of an Abrahamic religion. It is not, however, the one founded by Mohammed. It’s the one that’s responsible for every shitty act committed against people who are LGBTQ: Christianity.

Why would I say such a thing? Well, let’s take a look at this term, “radical Islam”, and see what it means. If you leave out sites that have an obvious axe to grind, there’s not much on the internet concerning its meaning. I could find only one unbiased option, The Free Dictionary, which defines it as, “An Islamic revivalist movement, often characterized by moral conservatism, literalism, and the attempt to implement Islamic values in all spheres of life.” 

So, is there a strain of Christianity in America that could be characterized by “moral conservatism, literalism, and the attempt to implement (its) values in all spheres of life”? Maybe a group that constantly shouts about “religious freedom” because people they’ve spent years demonizing and pushing to the margins is now beginning to be treated as equal citizens? Or, even human beings, for that matter.  The answer is, of course, yes. And, you don’t have to look very far to find it.

Within hours of the news, a number of “Christian pastors” publicly celebrated what happened in that nightclub. In several cases, their message was almost identical, referring to the victims as “predators”, “pedophiles” and “sodomites” and saying that Orlando was safer with these people gone. Yes, beloved, you read that right: men who claim to be ministers of the Gospel praised the deaths of 49 children of God.

By any stretch of the imagination, what these preachers have said is no different from the words of Muslim fundamentalists who say that LGBT people should be put to death. One of these “radical Islamists”, Farrokh Sekaleshfar, said, “We have to have that compassion for people. With homosexuals, it’s the same. Out of compassion, let’s get rid of them now.” So, if men like Sekaleshfar “radical Islamists”, why aren’t Christians who praise the death of so many people who are LGBTQ “radical Christians”?

Maybe it’s because the phrase “radical Islam” really means “Islam in general”. All too many people in this country have a skewed view of Islam and it’s not good. Mention “peace” and “Islam” in the same breath around some folks and you’ll get an earful. More than likely, they won’t bother with the qualifier “radical”. And, let’s not forget that old stand by, “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but most terrorists are Muslims.” (hint: they aren’t)

But, I can understand the Republican’s desperation to make Orlando about “radical Islam” even though we can’t find any link to ISIS. Times are changing and this kind of rabid anti-LGBT sentiment is quickly becoming a millstone around the neck of anyone running for office. But, unfortunately for the GOP, what happened in Orlando isn’t about Islam, radical or otherwise. No, it can only be laid squarely at the feet of Christianity. And, if we’re being honest, not just the “radical” kind.

What the Hell, Y’all?

This flag belongs to what is now one of the most progressive states in the South.
This flag belongs to what is now one of the most progressive states in the South.

I don’t know what’s going on down here in the South, but it seems like quite a few states have lost their damn minds. Last month, Governor Pat McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly passed what was, at the time, the most sweeping anti-LGBT legislation in the country. Not to be outdone, Mississippi passed a religious “freedom” law that considerably ups the ante in the “Craziest State In The Union” Sweepstakes. Then, South Carolina senator Lee Bright (R) introduced a bathroom bill for his state. And, finally, the Tennessee legislature passed a law that will allow therapists and counselors to reject patients that violate their “sincerely held principles.” What the fuck, y’all?!?

I’ve told you several times about North Carolina’s “Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act”, aka House Bill 2 (here, if you’re interested), so I won’t waste anymore space on that. Instead, let’s talk about these other legislative abominations. In thinking about how to order this list, I considered chronologically, geographically and alphabetically. But, in the end, I decided to go with least offensive to most offensive (in my opinion, of course):

  • First up is Tennessee’s HB 1840. I find this the least offensive of all these turds for two reasons: 1) it is the narrowest in scope and 2) while it is discriminatory, I’m not so sure that it doesn’t do LGBT folks a favor by keeping them away from providers who would not see a patient based on some bullshit religious belief. Oh, I’m sorry, that should have said “sincerely held principle”. Seriously, what kind of mental health professional are you if you can’t put aside your prejudice and help someone who’s hurting? Hell, what kind of human being are you?
  • Next is South Carolina’s Senate Bill 1203. Palmetto State senator Lee Bright (R) stole a page from NC’s law to craft a bill that says “Units of local government in this State may not enact local laws, ordinances, orders, or other regulations that require a place of public accommodation…to allow a person to use a multiple occupancy bathroom or changing facility regardless of the person’s biological sex.” Right, so not only does Bright want to codify discrimination, he wants to stomp on local administrations while he’s doing it. So much for the Republican ideals of “small government” and “local control”.
  • And, finally, there’s Mississippi. Two weeks after North Carolina’s law was passed, lawmakers from the Hospitality State (that’s actually one of Mississippi’s nicknames. Oh, the irony) enacted what has been called “one of the most sweeping of the nation’s ‘religious liberty’ bills”. HB 1523 will allow bigots of all stripes (governmental, private sector and health care workers) to deny services to people who are LGBT on the basis of their religious beliefs; that those beliefs are ‘sincerely held’ goes without saying.

There’s one aspect to all these bills that boggles the mind: each of them either came up for consideration or were passed after the shitstorm of backlash from HB 2 was rocking North Carolina. I cannot for the life of me figure out how a state could look at what’s going on here and say, “Hey, that looks good. We should get us some of that.”

Since Governor Pat “Coal Ash” McCrory signed NC’s economic death warrant HB2, businesses have left, entertainment acts have begun boycotting us (Justin Bieber may the biggest act that’s still coming. Justin…Fucking…Bieber) and, perhaps worst of all, Georgia looks more progressive than us. Georgia, people; a place where the state flag is the old Confederate Stars and Bars with the state seal incorporated. That state is now considered more progressive than North Carolina. Do you have the slightest inkling how fucked up that is??? If you’re thinking about joining us down here in the muck, I don’t believe you do.

Adult Coloring Books = Tool Of Satan

adult coloring books mandala
Evidently, this is the gateway to H-E-Double Hockey Sticks.

As you probably  know, adult coloring books are a thing these days. Not for me, though. I hate coloring. In fact, I have always hated coloring. Why? Mostly because my ADHD makes staying inside the lines a real challenge. Now, you might be thinking, “So what? Color outside the lines. Nobody cares.” Unfortunately, I’m also have a slight case of OCD (part of the wonderful package deal that comes with ADHD), which means coloring outside the lines drives me absolutely crazy. But, it turns out that coloring isn’t just irritating, it’s also spiritually dangerous.

A couple of days ago, l stumbled across Melanie Tubbs’ article “A Southern Pastor: The Evils Of Adult Coloring Books” on Liberal America. Ms. Tubbs, a UMC pastor, writes about the penchant of some conservative Christians to ascribe any pop culture phenomenon they don’t like/understand to Satan, bringing up things like Disney’s “Pocahontas” (worshiping nature) and Harry Potter (witchcraft!). Finally, she got around to the main event and linked to a blog called The Last Hiker and a post titled, “Adult Coloring Books and Mandalas, A Warning For Christians“. And, that’s where I found out these coloring books are how the Devil gets in.

I don’t know the Hiker’s name as it’s not listed anywhere on his site, so I’ll just refer to him as LH. Now, according to LH, The problem is not so much the act of coloring, as it is what you’re coloring. And, if you’re coloring mandalas, which most of these adult coloring books are filled with, well…, you’re probably going to hell. And, not alone either.  You’ll be taking the trip with a full complement of demons leading you by the hand.

A mandala, as LH so helpfully points out, is a “beautiful circle pattern that looks like it would be impossible to draw free hand”. Mandalas are also “spiritual and ritual symbol in Indian religions, representing the universe.  In common use, mandala has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a microcosm of the universe.” Nice, huh?

Well, not so much, because LH also informs us that tantric Buddhists also use them as aids in meditation. In his words, “They believe that you can merge with the deity by meditating on the mandala. ‘A mandala is also visualized (dhyana) by the yogin whose aim it is to merge with the deity’….Focusing on mandalas is a spiritual practice where you merge with ‘deities’–this practice opens the door to demons.” I’m just guessing, but if LH gets this bent out of shape over a coloring book, he probably isn’t a big fan of yoga or contemplative prayer, either.

Isn’t it funny how evangelicals and fundamentalists are so frightened by eastern religions like Buddhism or Hinduism since Christianity is, itself, an eastern religion? Oh sure,  western Christianity bears about as much resemblance to faith practiced by those early followers of Jesus as the current American political system does to what was set up by the founding fathers 200 years ago, but that’s where it came from. People like LH just need to take a chill pill and relax. A good yoga session and coloring book should do the trick quite nicely.

The Bible Is Literally True?

Bible literalismOne of my most fertile fields for developing blog posts is in the car. Driving requires just enough concentration to quell the manic mental activity brought on by my ADHD and allows me to spend enough time on one subject to put together a coherent thought. Recently, while tooling around town, I thought about all the truly weird shit that’s in the Bible. Then, I thought, “Why would any thinking person believe these insane things actually happened?” (See “Biblical literalism”) My next thought was that maybe these “thinking people” hadn’t actually done a lot of…, well, thinking on this subject. So, I decided to toss out a few nuggets for them to mull over.

  • When you say you believe the Bible is literally true, you’re saying you believe a donkey actually talked to Balaam. That’s right, a talking donkey. Like in Shrek, although not as funny.  And, what did Balaam do when his donkey spoke to him? Why, he had a conversation with it. Like it was the most normal thing in the world. Which, I suppose, could be true if you’re drugs are good enough.
  • When you say you believe the Bible is literally true, you’re saying you believe God sent bears to maul 42 kids for making fun of ElishaYes, you read that right: the God that Christians continually refer to as a “loving father” sent a couple of bears to maul some kids after Elisha “cursed them in the Lord’s name” for calling him “Baldy”. Well, that’s a little embarassing.
  • When you say you believe the Bible is literally true, you’re saying you believe we should stone smart-alecky kidsThat’s right, beloved, the “Good Book” says that if your child is consistently stubborn and rebellious, they should be stoned. And, not in the good way, either. To be fair, though, after raising a couple of teenagers, I can see where this one was coming from.
  • When you say you believe the Bible is literally true, you’re saying you believe Moses actually saw God’s assYep, Moses got a look at God’s butt. Oh sure, it says “back parts”. But, where I come from, that’s “ass” all day long.
  • When you say you believe the Bible is literally true, you’re saying you believe that sheep looking at striped sticks while mating will give birth to striped, speckled, and spotted  babies. . Who knew you could genetically engineer livestock with a few sticks? I’ll bet all those egghead scientists feel pretty stupid when they read this one.
  • When you say you believe the Bible is literally true, you’re saying you believe that God gave the Philistines hemorrhoids for taking the Ark of the Covenant. That’s right, bitches, fuck with God (or even God’s people) and you get hemorrhoids. Been there, done that and, frankly, I’d rather be mauled by bears.

So, do I think this will sway any biblical literalists from their belief that not only can we take the Bible literally, we must take it literally? Sadly, no, I do not. But, it was fun to write and, I hope, fun for you to read. And, who knows, maybe there’s a lone fundamentalist out there, on the verge of breaking through to a new way of looking at the Bible. If so, this will probably drive them right back into the fold. Oh well.

Christians For Trump Pt III

"See, not so short!"
“See, not so short!” said the short-fingered vulgarian

In the past month or so, I have written a couple of posts about Donald Trump’s appeal to evangelical Christians. And, guess what? I’m doing it again! I keep returning to this topic because I find it fascinating. Besides, I wouldn’t be a very good curmudgeon if I didn’t salivate at the idea of Christians following a narcissistic, money-hoarding billionaire with a xenophobic streak a mile wide.

One of things that makes The Donald’s campaign so interesting is that no matter what bat shit crazy offensiveness falls out of his face hole, his numbers go up. As I told you Monday, he was…, reluctant, to disavow endorsements from David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan. Now, you would think something like that would be political suicide. But, guess what happened on the next poll? If you said he picked up 8 percentage points from the previous one, you are correct. Holy shitballs.

Today, I had every intention of writing about Phyllis Schlafly, who endorsed Trump back in December as “the last hope for America“, and her latest brain fart (basically, she said that baseball was better back in the 40’s, before all those brown people started playing). But, that shit is out the window after last night’s Republican debate.

Before we dive into that cesspool, you’ll need a little background. When Spy magazine was still relatively new on the scene, they wanted to make a name for themselves. To do this, they started making fun of Trump because his well-documented inability to let a slight pass  was sure to get them some much-needed attention. They hit the jackpot in 1988 when they referred to him as a “short fingered vulgarian“. For some reason, this phrase gets under Trump’s skin worse than any other insult hurled at him. The only thing close is questioning his net worth.

Interestingly, it wasn’t being called a “vulgarian” (an unrefined person, especially one with newly acquired power or wealth) that upset Trump, it was the idea that his fingers aren’t “long and beautiful”. We know this because, in  2015, Spy founder (and current editor of Vanity Fair) Graydon Carter wrote that he still gets occasional notes from Trump with pictures of his hands circled in gold Sharpie, the use of which Jon Oliver says is “so quintessentially Donald Trump: something that gives the passing  appearance of wealth, but is actually just a cheap tool.”

Now, fast forward to Sunday, February 28th at Roanoke College in Virginia. During a rally there, candidate Marco Rubio took off the gloves and said, “I don’t understand why his hands are the size of someone who is 5’2. Have you seen his hands? They’re like this. And you know what they say about men with small hands?” He paused for dramatic effect, then added, “You can’t trust them.” Damn, this is the most interesting presidential campaign since 1800, when Thomas Jefferson called John Adams a hermaphrodite.

That brings us up to last night, when a debate between candidates for the highest office in the land turned into a dick measuring contest. When asked about Rubio’s personal attacks (in addition to the comment about his hands, Marco went after The Donald’s “spray tan”), Trump, true to form, responded, “Look at those hands. Are they small hands? And he referred to my hands — if they’re small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there’s no problem, I guarantee.” I cannot stop laughing at all this. Between bouts of sheer terror at the possibility this human hair ball might actually be President, of course.

I’m wondering if we’re now at a turning point. Sure, Trump’s evangelical supporters have stood by him while he’s touted his unabashed greed, displayed an astounding ignorance of the Bible with his “Two Corinthians” quote (I always want to add, “walk into a bar” when I say that), and torn up the Gospel with his comments on immigrants and Muslims (Matthew 25:34-46). But, now sex is in the picture, and we all know how they feel about that. So, what’s it going to be, evangelicals? This man has trashed everything you claim to hold dear. Are you going to stick by him? But, don’t worry, there’s no pressure. Only the whole world is watching.

 

Christians For Trump Pt II

This is the man that evangelical Christians are lining up behind. Take a minute to get your head around that thought.
This is the man behind whom more and more evangelical Christians are lining up. Take a minute to get your head around that thought.

On a recent episode of “Last Week Tonight“, John Oliver said, “Donald Trump is America’s back mole. It may have seemed harmless a year ago. But, now that it got frighteningly bigger, it is no longer wise to ignore it.” And, much as I wish he wasn’t, he is absolutely right. Especially since Trump is starting to pick up endorsements. The political ones, like Chris Christie or Jeff Sessions, don’t bother me a whole lot. Christie’s performance in the primaries shows that Americans think he’s a tool and Sessions has only to open his mouth for people to figure that out. No, it’s the religious leaders jumping on the Trump bandwagon that are most disconcerting to me.

Yes, beloved, I said “religious leaders”. Amazingly, The Donald is picking up a good deal of support among evangelical Christians. The list of endorsements from that quarter reads like a Who’s Who of the Religious Right. There’s

  • Jerry Falwell, Jr.
  • Kenneth and Gloria Copeland
  • David Jeremiah
  • Jan Crouch
  • Paula White
  • Robert Jeffress

This list is not exhaustive, it only includes the ones I could verify this morning.

There is one endorsement that I feel deserves more than a mere mention in a list and it comes from James David Manning, “pastor” of ATLAH World Ministries. In the past, Manning has claimed that Starbucks uses semen to make their lattes “even more flavorful” and that gay men would “carry babies in the testicles for nine months and then gestate them out of their assholes” before the City of New York foreclosed on his church for non-payment of water bills. Understand that if you’re backing Trump, you agree with this psycho. Chew on that for a minute.

Of course, Manning isn’t the only “controversial” figure who has come out in support of The Donald; there’s a group with views even more disgusting than Manning’s who are lining up behind Trump: white supremacists. And, he’s cool with that.

Okay, given his comments about Islam and immigration, it’s really no surprise that Ku Klux Klan chiefs like Rachel  Pendergraft (national organizer for the Knights Party, a KKK standard-bearer) and former Grand Wizard David Duke like what they hear. But, it is more than a little shocking that, in 2016, a candidate for the highest office in the land refuses to disavow their support. This is not a joke, people. Trump actually refused, on national television, to condemn an endorsement from the Ku Klux Klan.

Yesterday, on CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper gave The Donald multiple chances to distance himself from these people. Tapper brought up Duke’s message to white people that voting against Trump would be “treason to your heritage” and Trump…, well,  you just have to watch it for yourself:

Well, that’s “problematic” (and yes, I realize that is an understatement of massive proportions). But, even more problematic is the fact that it doesn’t seem to bother the Christians who are flocking to his campaign. You’d think the last thing people who follow Jesus would want is to be allied with representatives of what may be the most odious organization in American history (the GOP is coming on strong). But, I guess not. There’s no outrage, no calls for a boycott of all things Trump. Basically, there’s just silence. So far, all I’ve seen is Robert Jeffress’ answer to The Daily Beast’s request for a comment:  “Thanks but I think I’ll pass on this one!”

Siding with the Klan is right where you want to be as a Christian, isn’t it? You know, it’s one thing to watch Trump bullshit his way through hard questions (which are “hard” because he can’t answer the way he should for fear alienating a large part of his base), but it’s another to see a Christian run from the opportunity to call Trump out for not rejecting the support of such an awful group. It’s called “speaking truth to power” and it used to be a thing in Christianity. But, these days? Not so much, it seems.