Category Archives: scripture

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.

 

What Keeps Me Awake At Night

staying-up-at-nightIn a recent sermon at College Park Baptist Church, pastor Michael Usey asked “What keeps you awake at night?” Then, he had us write those thoughts down on Post it notes and stick them on the wall. Afterwards, the notes were gathered and compiled for a word cloud that showed up on the following Sunday’s bulletin. I participated, scribbling down something about “poverty”, “homelessness” or some other socially acceptable topic. And, while those things are on my mind, they aren’t the only things. Hell, sometimes, they aren’t even the most pressing things (In case you didn’t know, I’m nowhere as deep as I make out). Most of time, what goes in my head is…, well, a little weird. Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about:

  • When Noah got hammered.  After the flood was over and things were settling down, Noah planted a vineyard and made some wine. Then, he got drunk and passed out naked in his tent.  While he was sleeping it off, Ham walked in, “saw his father’s nakedness” and went told his brothers about it.  Shem and Japheth took a robe, walked in backward and covered Noah up.  When he woke up and found what had happened, Noah cursed Ham and set his brothers over him.  All that for seeing him naked? Seems a little harsh to me. I’ve gotta think something else was going on here.
  •  Did Moses drop the F-bomb when he found out he wasn’t getting into the Promised Land?   Think about that one for a minute.  The guy busts his ass for over 40 years, leading a bunch whiny complainers who were never satisfied with anything he did and then, just because he screwed up once (at Meribah), all he gets to do is look at the Promised Land from Mount Nebo.  And, that’s after he gave the Israelites some parting directions and pronounced a blessing on them.  Seriously? I’d have kicked dirt all over God’s shoes and told everyone else to kiss my ass.
  • The story of Elisha and the smart-alecky kids  One day, the prophet Elisha was walking along, minding his own business when a bunch of kids came along and started making fun of his bald head.  Elisha cursed them and they ran off.  As they did, a couple of bears came along and mauled all 42 of the little assholes.  Okay, there’s nothing I’m wondering about here, I just wanted a reason to include this picture:

elishabears

  • Why were the disciples so thick-headed?  These dudes spent almost every waking moment with Jesus for 3 years and they didn’t get what he was talking about until Pentecost? Really? There’s also a follow-up question, here: How did Jesus keep from smacking shit out of them?
  • What happened after Jesus raised Lazarus?  The Bible says that when Jesus got to Bethany, Lazarus had been dead for days.  Four days. In the Middle East.  You know he was rank by then.  Did Jesus have to put in any extra work to make Lazarus presentable?  I think he must have, because you can’t take enough showers to fix that kind of stink.
  • Would Paul have mellowed out if he’d gotten some action?  And, if he did, what would that have done to Christianity?  Think about this for a minute: if Paul was getting it on the regular, would he have had the drive to spread the faith the way he did?  I suppose it’s possible, but in my experience, once you crack the seal on sex, it pretty much takes over. Which means Christianity might not be as big a deal as it is now, but we would be able to knock boots without so much guilt. And, would that be such a bad thing?

So, there you go; just a few of the things that keep me awake at night.

Double Standards Abound

Searched #YallQueda and this came up. That's not condescending at all.
Searched #YallQaeda and this came up. Why,that’s not condescending at all.

For the past few days, the internet has been abuzz with news about the militia stand-off in Burns, Oregon. From what I can see, it’s mostly progressive people perpetuating this chatter; my conservative friends are generally silent on the matter. The media hasn’t been much help, either. Much of their coverage has followed along the lines of this tweet from ABC:

Screen-Shot-2016-01-02-at-9.40.46-PM

Peaceful protest? As my friend Michael Woywood pointed out, “…the guns used to take over this building didn’t magically appear. “Accio rifles!”… probably didn’t happen.” I would add that an action like this doesn’t come off on the spur of the moment; to be successful, they need planning. That means when these protesters showed up, they were armed and they had a plan that likely included at least the possibility of violence. In my opinion, that pretty much precludes the idea of a “peaceful protest”.

There have also been posts, articles, memes, etc. pointing out a number of the double standards visible in this incident. Most of them are along of the lines of “black man with gun = thug. White man with gun = patriot”. But, there is a double standard that’s not getting much play: the one that says it’s not cool to use stereotypes to denigrate people of color, but it is acceptable, not to mention uproariously funny, to use them to mock poor rural white folks.

Before we go any further, let me state for the record that I am a white working-class southerner and I have a certain kinship with the  militia folks out in Oregon. I don’t agree with them, but I understand where they’re coming from. Because of that, if I have to listen to one more pretentious educated-beyond-their-intellgence “progressive” gleefully crow about #YallQaeda, someone’s going to get the shit slapped out of them. That’s some classist bullshit and it needs to stop.

It is a pretty common belief among blue-collar white people that they are the last group that it’s still okay to make fun of and there is some truth in that belief. Before you get your panties in a wad, think about this: how many of us get upset about words like “n—–r” or “c—k”, but have no problem with “white trash”, “cracker” or “redneck”? What the hell, progressives? Did we use up all our vaunted tolerance on minorities and people of color and have none left for working class white folks?

When you’re done laughing at your clever, little hashtag smack down, think about this: whenever you say that shit, you are reinforcing the belief of poor and working class rural white people that they are, in fact, persecuted and under attack. You want to know why they “vote against their interest” (i.e. Republican)? It’s partly because they don’t believe the Democratic Party gives a shit about their interests; probably because it’s run by people who think these folks are ignorant hillbillies and don’t bother to hide it. To be fair, the Republicans believe this too, but at least they’re smart enough not to say it out loud.

As I say in the title, double standards abound. That’s as true on the progressive side of things as it is on the conservative. Unfortunately, we’ve been so busy pointing out the speck in our conservative brother’s and sister’s eyes we haven’t seemed to notice the log in our own. Maybe it’s time we did something about that.

Americans Becoming Less Religious

Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Recently, a friend posted a link to a Pew Research Center report titled “U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious” and asked “How do we reach people where they are at, without driving them away?” Not long before that, I heard a commercial for a church in Chapel Hill NC advertising an event to pack 20,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now. These two seemingly disconnected things are, in my opinion, inextricably joined: one is the problem we’re faced with and the other is a ham-fisted, utterly clueless attempt to confront that problem: i.e. the church’s growing irrelevance in modern society.

To put a finer point on things, the church has a massive credibility problem right now, especially among millenials. Why? Because we have a history of being assholes, that’s why. From the Crusades to the modern-day church’s marginalization of people who are LGBTQ, the bill of particulars against us is long, varied and, all too often, bloody and violent. It also showcases our hypocrisy. Our faith is based on a man who told his followers to love their neighbor, love their enemy; hell, love everyone. That’s about as inclusive as it gets, but what has the church done? Turned it into an exclusive club with a long list of requirements that must be met to qualify for membership. Is it any wonder that millenials, with their yearning for authenticity, are rejecting us in droves?

So, how do we reach people where they’re at without driving them away? Well, we could follow the example of certain mainline churches and immerse ourselves in the liturgical aspects of worship. But, unless there’s a sea change in our attitude, that’s just window dressing and it will wear as thin as the rock concert atmosphere of an evangelical mega church. The church should be more concerned with what happens in the community its a part of than what goes on inside its walls.

To fully answer this question, I have to tell you a short story, first. Every Thursday night, a coffeehouse near me has a trivia contest and many of my friends from church attend regularly; including my pastor, Michael Usey. The one time I’ve made it out there, we trying to come up with a name for our team and Michael  said “How about The Non-Shitty Christians?” We all laughed and answered “Hell yeah”. Our scores in the contest were dismal, but the name was a hit, drawing laughs every time the emcee said it. My friends, that name is my recommendation for how we reach people without driving them away. We need to become “non-shitty Christians”.

So, how does one be a “non-shitty Christian”? For one, you can stop obsessing over lady bits and sin and start doing the things Jesus told us to do (loving our neighbors, caring for the poor, not hording shit, etc.). If you do, it’s entirely possible that people will notice and say “Hey, I like what these folks are doing”. If you’re lucky, they might  even come join you. For another, you can open your doors to everyone. And, when I say “everyone”, I mean “everyone”: Lesbians, gay men, bisexual folks, people in polyamorous relationships, people of color, even (maybe especially) trans men and women. And, when I say “open your doors”, I mean “open them all the way”, none of this half-measure bullshit we get from some denominations that supposedly welcome folks who are LGBTQ but won’t ordain, marry or even allow them to join the church.

Now, there is a bit of a Catch 22 here: you can’t advertise the things you’re doing because that will kill any credibility/authenticity you might gain from it. This where that church commercial I mentioned earlier comes in. Working to ensure hungry folks get a decent meal is always good and it is one of main the things Christians are called to do. But, taking out a radio ad touting what you’re doing? That goes against scripture and it makes it appear that you have ulterior motives. Strangely, millenials (and other people) are big on that whole “do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do” deal. Following Jesus’ commandments in order to fill the membership roles (and, by extension, the collection plate) or go to heaven doesn’t really fly with them.

The bottom line is that we should stop trying to “attract millenials”, “reach the unchurched” or whatever face we decide to put on our worry over the miniscule reduction of the church’s primacy in the world and start being the damned church. Give food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty. Visit the prisoner and care for the sick. Clothe the naked. Open our doors and welcome everyone. Maybe if we start living the way Jesus meant for us to, we could actualy be relevant in a good way…, for once.

 

Modern-day Pharisees

IslamicChristians_thumb[110]It’s a well-known fact that conservative Christians are the modern-day equivalent of those legalistic, New Testament buzzkills known as the Pharisees. From their obsession with sex to their penchant for out-of-context quotation of the Bible, conservatives are doing their level best to live out H. L. Mencken’s definition of puritanism: “The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” (because progressive obsessions [political correctness, gun control, non-violence, etc] are so much fun).

Take that Kim Davis woman, for instance. Where does she get off claiming “God’s authority” in denying others their legal right to marry when she’s been married 4 times herself. Someone needs to tell this woman that Jesus didn’t say anything about being gay, but he had plenty to say about infidelity and divorce (He also had a lot to say about not judging others and loving our neighbor, but let’s not muddy up the waters with such inconvenient passages). And, now she has a  book deal? Seriously? (Actually, she doesn’t. But, again, why wast time considering things that contradict what we want to believe?) And, what’s up with that hair? If she wasn’t so shitty to gay people, maybe she could find someone to take care of that for her. (Yes, because “the gays” are all about doing some hair.)

I just don’t get all this bigotry against people who are LGBTQQIP2SAA (explanatory link included for all the troglodytes who can’t keep up with this ever-changing acronym. And, I include myself in that category). Why, oh why can’t they be as Christ-like as we progressives are and join us in this march toward justice for all? I realize this shakes the foundations of everything they’ve been taught, but if they’d join us in the 21st century (and by “join us in the 21st century”, I mean “acknowledge that we’re right and they’re awful people”), things would be so much easier better.

As much as I don’t get their anti-gay stance, the political beliefs of conservative Christians baffle me even more. I mean, these people support Donald Trump, for God’s sake! Think about that for a minute; followers of Jesus, a man who preached radical inclusion and eschewed wealth and all its trappings, are losing their minds over a narcissistic money-hoarding billionaire with a xenophobic streak a mile wide (yes, progressive politicians, like Hillary “I love Wall Street” Clinton are pure as the driven snow). Honestly, though, my biggest issue is their mixing of faith and politics (something progressives would never do themselves). Okay, so maybe we do allow our faith to influence our political beliefs, but our intentions are good (and we know what road those have paved).

Isn’t it great to be a progressive Christian? I mean, what other belief allows you to fill social media with posts pointing out (to God and everyone else) all the ways you’re not like those bigoted, narrow-minded conservatives? 

Drive-by Evangelism

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If you live in Greensboro, there is a distinct possibility that you’ve seen this car. Lest you think this is a crazy, one-off occurrence,  let me assure that it’s not. I took this photo at a certain home improvement center on S. Elm Street in Greensboro last fall. Then, just a few months ago, I was sitting in the drive-through at fine fried chicken emporium on the north side of town and a car pulled in and parked. It, too, was covered in “turn or burn” graffiti and when the occupants got out, they were wearing matching t-shirts with similar messages. Isn’t that nice? Nothing says “God is love” quite like “Believe in me or I’ll torture you for all eternity!”

These cars are rolling religious tracts; you know, those lovely little pamphlets that say “If you died tonight, do you know where you would go?” My friend, Jinx Barber, said his answer to that question is “I know exactly where I’m going. First to the medical examiners office, so my wife can see what drugs I wasn’t sharing with her. Then over to the mortuary where they will tan my Baphomet tattoo (which is a full back panel, thank you very much) into a giant canvas. Then they will quarter and cremate me so that I do not have to endure bodily resurrection and have to put up with a bunch of goody two shoes jerks for the rest of eternity.” Did I mention Jinx is a pastor? Yep, a youth pastor too.

All these lovely activities fall into the category of something called “drive-by evangelism”, which Thom Rainer says is “A derogatory term for evangelistic encounters that are brief and abrupt and are considered to be ineffective for convincing people to convert to Christianity.” I especially like that last bit, “considered to be ineffective for convincing people to convert to Christianity”. And, that is true…, just like walking up to complete strangers and smacking them in the face is an ineffective way to make friends.

Most people who engage in this sort of thing usually claim it’s biblical, citing such verses as Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 5:42 and 20:20. Sure, because Jesus was the original tract bomber (that’s a real thing, y’all) and Paul traveled around the Gentile world with a sandwich sign that said “Get saved or you will burn in hell for all eternity!”

I suppose I should take moment to point out that, yes, Jesus did say that we should spread the good news. And, that Paul spent the last years of his life doing this very thing. Of course, they did so by taking the time to build relationships with people, not shoving scary-ass little booklets into their hands or waving ridiculous signs telling them what vile disgusting sinners they are.  But, hey, we’re Americans and finding quicker, “better” ways to do stuff is what we do. So what if we’ve applied our assembly line ethos to Jesus’ message of hope for the downtrodden and, in the process, turned it into a glorified “get out of jail free” card?  We’ve got to get this shit done so we can kick back on a cloud with a halo and a harp and enjoy the fruits of our labor. Because, really, isn’t it all about us?

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.

The Dumbest Thing On The Internet

I’m thinking about starting a new feature called “Dumbest Thing On The Internet”. If that happens, this will most likely be the inaugural piece. 

citizenship-oath

It appears that some folks are a little upset over a recent change in the United States Oath of Allegiance. claiming it was done to comply with Sharia law. According to the latest from the tinfoil hat crowd, this is a problem because “Islamic supremacists” (that’s a new one) could “feign loyalty to non-Muslim “infidel” authorities”. These new changes will allow them to carry on their pretense without fear of having to live up to their oath. Yes, because that makes so much sense.

Wherever did I find this jewel of a conspiracy theory? In an article from the Breaking Israel News website, titled “Obama Alters U.S. Oath of Allegiance in Compliance with Islamic Law“, that’s where. You might think something this crazy sounding would be a one-off, only showing up on that one site. If so, you really don’t know the internet. Google that shit and you’ll get page after page of unfiltered, batcrap crazy.

Before we get into all that nuttery, let’s take a look at these changes to the oath. Here it is, straight from the horse’s mouth:

A candidate may be eligible to exclude these two clauses based on religious training and belief or a conscientious objection. The new guidance clarifies that a candidate:

  • May be eligible for modifications based on religious training and belief, or conscientious objection arising from a deeply held moral or ethical code.
  • Is not required to belong to a specific church or religion, follow a particular theology or belief, or to have had religious training in order to qualify.
  • May submit, but is not required to provide, an attestation from a religious or other type of organization, as well as other evidence to establish eligibility.

That’s pretty much it.  As you can see, it’s not a sinister plot to help Muslims bring about an American caliphate, just a change that reinforces new citizens’ right to conscientiously object the same as natural-born ones. I’m not sure how this morphed into Obama instituting Sharia law. I guess it comes with the territory when you’ve lost your god-damned mind due to Obama Derangement Syndrome.

As I read this article, I was thinking, “Holy shit, this is some whacked out stuff”, but I didn’t really see a way to use it here at The Progressive Redneck. Then, I found it: the first item in the criteria says that a candidate may request a modification based religious belief or conscientious objection “arising from a deeply held moral or ethical code.” Hmm, I thought, that sounds familiar. Where have I heard it before? Oh yeah, in all those damn “religious freedom” laws conservatives have been shoving down our throats in the last couple of years. We all knew this “religious freedom” was just for Christians, but now it looks like it doesn’t have jack shit to do with actual freedom either.

Why do I say that? Because the same conservatives who demand we acquiesce to their temper tantrum respect people’s “deeply held religious beliefs” on marriage are pissed off because the oath of allegiance now includes a couple of changes that actually respect the “deeply held religious beliefs” of some of this country’s newest citizens; who, incidentally, might not be Christian. That is some Grade A hypocrisy, right there.

Am I being a little hard on folks who believe this shit? Maybe. Okay, probably. But, I’m a little short-tempered because we’re 7 years into Obama’s presidency and people still believe he’s a secret Muslim. Seriously? Okay, so maybe he doesn’t wave his faith in everyone’s face like some of our leaders have (I’m looking at you, G. W.), but he doesn’t hide it either. Of course, this disconnect on the president’s faith most likely arises from two sources: 1) while he may be a Christian, he’s a progressive one. And, we all know that progressive Christians aren’t really Christians. 2) “Muslim” is a code word. And, I’m pretty sure I don’t have to tell you what for.

So, yeah, I’ve been a little harsh and dismissive of people who believe some things I find ridiculous. And, believe it or not, that does bother me. I’ve spent hours struggling over this post, worrying that it’s too mean, doesn’t adequately respect the beliefs of others, etc. I don’t like being an asshole (although that does seem to be my default setting) and try to avoid it as much as I can. Okay, saying I don’t like being an overt asshole is probably closer to the truth, but shit like this riles me up. I console myself with the fact that when Jesus got riled up, he could be an asshole, too.

The Trump Effect

http://www.cleveland.com/darcy/index.ssf/2015/07/huckabees_hair-raising_holocau.html
Jeff Darcy’s cartoon from cleveland.com

For a while now, I’ve thought American politics couldn’t get more divisive, stupid and just generally shitty than they are at whatever point I make that observation. And, every time I think that, I am proven wrong. There are plenty of examples of this phenomenon, pages and pages of examples. But, let’s focus on the latest one: the  stupid pronouncements of equally stupid people seeking the highest office in the land.

It started with Donald Trump saying that Mexico is actively sending its criminals into our country, calling people seeking a better life drug mules and rapists. When I heard this, I thought it was a perfect storm of stupid. I mean, seriously, a country that struggles to keep its criminals in jail has the wherewithal to gather them up and ship them over the border? And, that’s not even accounting for the abject shittiness of painting an entire group of people with one disgusting brush. To be fair, he also said that ” some, I assume, are good people.” But, that doesn’t really help, does it? If anything, it makes the statement worse.

Now, you’d think that, between making such statements and refusing to apologize for them, the Donald’s campaign would’ve been killed before it even got off the ground. Especially since the Republicans have been making a big deal about courting Hispanic voters after their dismal showing with that group in the last election. But, you know what? You’d be oh, so wrong because Trump’s ridiculously offensive comments have actually catapulted him to the top of the Republican field. The rest of that field is watching and taking notes. It was only a matter of time before the Trump Effect finally kicked in.

Unless you’re Luddite like my brother (who has actually considered living in a tent), you know that Mike Huckabee said something a little incendiary Saturday. In his zeal to toe the Republican line and trash the Iranian nuclear deal that President Obama helped broker, the Huckster said:

“(Obama)’s so naive he would trust the Iranians, and he would take the Israelis and basically march them to the door of the oven.

Well, isn’t that special?

Huck has learned the lessons taught by the Donald very well because he’s not backing off this ridiculous metaphor; instead doubling and even tripling down on the stupid. In fact, he’s following Trump’s lead to the point of pilfering the Donald’s lines. Just as Trump claimed that the Mexican people love him, Huckabee told Matt Lauer on The Today Show that, “The response from Jewish people has been overwhelmingly positive.” But, wait; it gets better.

During an interview with Greta Van Susteren on Fox News, Trump said he was “okay” with the comment and that Huckabee had “hit a nerve and he’s made people think a little bit.” Yeah, you could say that. The Huckster’s shitty remark has definitely hit a nerve, even with those “Jewish people” he claims love what he said.  Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, a vehement critic of the deal, said the language was “inappropriate”. And, New York Representative Eliot Engel, one of Congress’ most vocal supporters of Israel told reporters “I do think his choice of words was less than smart. I don’t think that we should trivialize the Holocaust or compare everything to the Holocaust.” As for making us think, it has definitely done that. But, not the way Trump meant. What we’re thinking is that Huckabee is a massive douche for saying something like this.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Huckabee has trivialized something important to people who are Jewish. While he was still “exploring” his current presidential bid, he compared legalizing same-sex marriage to forcing a Jewish deli to serve bacon-wrapped shrimp. For a member of a party with a long history of pandering to the Jewish community, the man is remarkably tone-deaf.

Now, it’s one thing for a politician to say stupid, offensive things to get noticed when their poll number suck; sadly, we’ve come to expect that. But, Huckabee is more than a politician; he’s a pastor. And, using a horrific event like the Holocaust to score political points is about as unpastoral as it gets. It appears that, in his eagerness to stand out from the crowd, Huckabee has forgotten the one commandment Jesus left for his followers: to love each other. That’s just sad.

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.