Saturday, September 15, 2012

Friday, August 10, 2012

One For the Books

David Barton is an evangelical historian who has made a very nice career out of selling books that re-tell history from a Christian perspective.

Among the many whackadoodle claims that Barton tells trembling-with-joy audiences at his 400 annual speech-making appearances, is that the bible plainly states opposition to the minimum wage, to corporate bailouts, to socialized medicine, and just about anything else that a non-teabagger might endorse. Most infamously, he claims that virtually all of the Founding Fathers were in fact devout evangelical Christians who expressly created the United States to be a nation of, by, and exclusively for Jeebus people.

His latest book, The Jefferson Lies, tells us that contrary to all the known history about Thomas Jefferson, he, along with John Adams and Ben Franklin, was really a devout Christian and was inspired to write the Declaration of Independence by the Baby Jesus leaning over his shoulder in that sweltering summer of 1776.

Real historians took issue with the book, and now the publisher has yanked it.

The company began to evaluate the criticisms, Harrell said, and “in the course of our review learned that there were some historical details included in the book that were not adequately supported. Because of these deficiencies we decided that it was in the best interest of our readers to stop the publication and distribution.”

I find it both amusing and infuriating that some Christians feel the need to legitimize their mythology by distorting history, as if they need some kind of secular affirmation. It means they don’t have a whole lot of faith in their own faith, or they’re trying to force the rest of us into believing that by rewriting the past, fiction becomes fact.

Doesn’t that destroy the entire idea of religion? If all you have is fact, where’s the room for belief in things unseen and unknown? And, ironically, why would evangelicals be interested in supporting their faith with godless facts after they’ve spent centuries demonizing everyone from Galileo to Stephen Hawking?

One For the Books

David Barton is an evangelical historian who has made a very nice career out of selling books that re-tell history from a Christian perspective.

Among the many whackadoodle claims that Barton tells trembling-with-joy audiences at his 400 annual speech-making appearances, is that the bible plainly states opposition to the minimum wage, to corporate bailouts, to socialized medicine, and just about anything else that a non-teabagger might endorse. Most infamously, he claims that virtually all of the Founding Fathers were in fact devout evangelical Christians who expressly created the United States to be a nation of, by, and exclusively for Jeebus people.

His latest book, The Jefferson Lies, tells us that contrary to all the known history about Thomas Jefferson, he, along with John Adams and Ben Franklin, was really a devout Christian and was inspired to write the Declaration of Independence by the Baby Jesus leaning over his shoulder in that sweltering summer of 1776.

Real historians took issue with the book, and now the publisher has yanked it.

The company began to evaluate the criticisms, Harrell said, and “in the course of our review learned that there were some historical details included in the book that were not adequately supported. Because of these deficiencies we decided that it was in the best interest of our readers to stop the publication and distribution.”

I find it both amusing and infuriating that some Christians feel the need to legitimize their mythology by distorting history, as if they need some kind of secular affirmation. It means they don’t have a whole lot of faith in their own faith, or they’re trying to force the rest of us into believing that by rewriting the past, fiction becomes fact.

Doesn’t that destroy the entire idea of religion? If all you have is fact, where’s the room for belief in things unseen and unknown? And, ironically, why would evangelicals be interested in supporting their faith with godless facts after they’ve spent centuries demonizing everyone from Galileo to Stephen Hawking?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cluck Off

I watched with bemusement at the people lined up around the block in the U.S. to show their solidarity with Chick-Fil-A yesterday. They were exercising their right to clog their arteries and flip off the librul mayors and anti-Christian queers and sodomites. Jesus is Lord with a Lipitor chaser.

I’ve already made it quite clear that folks who boycott a restaurant because they don’t like the company’s business model are free to do so, and that mayors of cities who object to the company and their beliefs are going over the line when they say they don’t want them in their town. (I have a number of progressive friends who disagree with me on that point. Fine. That’s what healthy debate is all about.)

What I find supremely ironic is that the same people who are yammering about the First Amendment and freedom of religion have absolutely no problem whatsoever trampling on the First Amendment rights of my religious denomination — the Quakers — to celebrate same-sex marriage. And we’re not alone in holding that all couples, regardless of body parts, have the right to live their lives as they see fit in the way they believe was intended for them by whatever god or higher authority — or none whatsoever. But apparently we need to open a fast-food chain in order to get our message of inclusiveness out there.

The Christians who think they have a monopoly on the morals of America and can dictate them to the rest of us through lung power, television, and high-paid smooth-talking lobbyists are the ones with the problem with the First Amendment, not us. It also should be pretty clear that they see this as some sort of political weapon, ginning up support for right-wing candidates and running with it as if their church is some sort of SuperPAC. That is more of an assault on the Constitution — not to mention a trivialization of faith and practice — than any pronouncement by a mayor of a city who momentarily forgets that being a true democrat means you have to put up with sniveling bigots who want to open a business that supports a group that backs homosexual genocide in Uganda.

What a country.

Cluck Off

I watched with bemusement at the people lined up around the block in the U.S. to show their solidarity with Chick-Fil-A yesterday. They were exercising their right to clog their arteries and flip off the librul mayors and anti-Christian queers and sodomites. Jesus is Lord with a Lipitor chaser.

I’ve already made it quite clear that folks who boycott a restaurant because they don’t like the company’s business model are free to do so, and that mayors of cities who object to the company and their beliefs are going over the line when they say they don’t want them in their town. (I have a number of progressive friends who disagree with me on that point. Fine. That’s what healthy debate is all about.)

What I find supremely ironic is that the same people who are yammering about the First Amendment and freedom of religion have absolutely no problem whatsoever trampling on the First Amendment rights of my religious denomination — the Quakers — to celebrate same-sex marriage. And we’re not alone in holding that all couples, regardless of body parts, have the right to live their lives as they see fit in the way they believe was intended for them by whatever god or higher authority — or none whatsoever. But apparently we need to open a fast-food chain in order to get our message of inclusiveness out there.

The Christians who think they have a monopoly on the morals of America and can dictate them to the rest of us through lung power, television, and high-paid smooth-talking lobbyists are the ones with the problem with the First Amendment, not us. It also should be pretty clear that they see this as some sort of political weapon, ginning up support for right-wing candidates and running with it as if their church is some sort of SuperPAC. That is more of an assault on the Constitution — not to mention a trivialization of faith and practice — than any pronouncement by a mayor of a city who momentarily forgets that being a true democrat means you have to put up with sniveling bigots who want to open a business that supports a group that backs homosexual genocide in Uganda.

What a country.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Chickening Out

I’m not a boycotter. I don’t take up arms against a company if they’re doing something I don’t like, nor do I exhort other people to boycott them. Boycotts rarely work, and a lot of times it gives the company free publicity. It might even backfire. For example, if some odious group like the American Family Association or the Family Research Council is telling the world to boycott Home Depot or Starbucks, I’d probably be inclined to shop there. After all, if they’re getting the bigots and Speedo-sniffers upset, they must be doing something right.

Chick-Fil-A is a fast food restaurant chain founded by a fundamentalist Christian, and the company aligns itself with those beliefs, including contributing to anti-gay and anti-marriage equality causes.

In a new interview with the Baptist Press, Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy — the son of company founder S. Truett Cathy — addresses what the publication describes as his franchise’s “support of the traditional family.”

Cathy’s somewhat glib response: “Well, guilty as charged.”

He went on to note, “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that…we know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

Cathy then reiterated his stance during an appearance on “The Ken Coleman Show,” Good as You blogger Jeremy Hooper reported.

“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say ‘we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage’ and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about,” Cathy said in that interview.

It’s their money, their company, and they can do what they like. Far be it from me to impose my beliefs on them. And far be it from me to insult them or embarrass them by giving them any of my money or coming into one of their stores. It would be very un-Quakerly and presumptuous to force them to put up with me and my business. I am sure they are glad to know that, and I am sure they will be even happier when I tell friends and people I know that it would be very bad for Chick-Fil-A and their reputation if a lot of people who think like me or are gay like me were to patronize their stores.

So rejoice, Mr. Cathy; we’re not boycotting you. We’re doing the Lord’s work by staying away and not shaking our fist at God with our money in your stores. Peace.

Chickening Out

I’m not a boycotter. I don’t take up arms against a company if they’re doing something I don’t like, nor do I exhort other people to boycott them. Boycotts rarely work, and a lot of times it gives the company free publicity. It might even backfire. For example, if some odious group like the American Family Association or the Family Research Council is telling the world to boycott Home Depot or Starbucks, I’d probably be inclined to shop there. After all, if they’re getting the bigots and Speedo-sniffers upset, they must be doing something right.

Chick-Fil-A is a fast food restaurant chain founded by a fundamentalist Christian, and the company aligns itself with those beliefs, including contributing to anti-gay and anti-marriage equality causes.

In a new interview with the Baptist Press, Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy — the son of company founder S. Truett Cathy — addresses what the publication describes as his franchise’s “support of the traditional family.”

Cathy’s somewhat glib response: “Well, guilty as charged.”

He went on to note, “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that…we know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

Cathy then reiterated his stance during an appearance on “The Ken Coleman Show,” Good as You blogger Jeremy Hooper reported.

“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say ‘we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage’ and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about,” Cathy said in that interview.

It’s their money, their company, and they can do what they like. Far be it from me to impose my beliefs on them. And far be it from me to insult them or embarrass them by giving them any of my money or coming into one of their stores. It would be very un-Quakerly and presumptuous to force them to put up with me and my business. I am sure they are glad to know that, and I am sure they will be even happier when I tell friends and people I know that it would be very bad for Chick-Fil-A and their reputation if a lot of people who think like me or are gay like me were to patronize their stores.

So rejoice, Mr. Cathy; we’re not boycotting you. We’re doing the Lord’s work by staying away and not shaking our fist at God with our money in your stores. Peace.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Be Careful What You Wish For

Speaking of education, Louisiana’s voucher plan for letting parents decide where to send their kids to school — public or charter — ran afoul of the fact that some parents who happen to be Muslim might want to send their kids to a school of their choice.

Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Watson, says she had no idea that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s overhaul of the state’s educational system might mean taxpayer support of Muslim schools. “I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools,” the District 64 Representative said Monday.

“I liked the idea of giving parents the option of sending their children to a public school or a Christian school,” Hodges said.

Hodges mistakenly assumed that “religious” meant “Christian.”

Happens all the time, especially if you’re a sniveling bigot.

HT to Ed Kilgore.

Be Careful What You Wish For

Speaking of education, Louisiana’s voucher plan for letting parents decide where to send their kids to school — public or charter — ran afoul of the fact that some parents who happen to be Muslim might want to send their kids to a school of their choice.

Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Watson, says she had no idea that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s overhaul of the state’s educational system might mean taxpayer support of Muslim schools. “I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools,” the District 64 Representative said Monday.

“I liked the idea of giving parents the option of sending their children to a public school or a Christian school,” Hodges said.

Hodges mistakenly assumed that “religious” meant “Christian.”

Happens all the time, especially if you’re a sniveling bigot.

HT to Ed Kilgore.

We’re Going to HolyLand!

Via MSNBC:

The Vatican reported on Thursday that its tiny state wasn’t spared by the global economic downfall. With its budget deficit hitting $19 million, 2011 was one of the Holy See’s worst financial years on record.

With lines for entering Vatican museums and Saint Peter’s Basilica consistently as long as the Vatican wall, last year alone tickets for attractions like the Sistine Chapel filled the Vatican’s coffers with more than $90 million. If to that you add the almost $70 million the pope received in charitable donations, it’s difficult to believe that the smallest state in the world, with its 0.2-square-miles territory, could ever go in the red.

Here’s an idea: turn it into a theme park. Why not? They’ve already got a bunch of folks running around in costumes, and they’ve got people lining up to see the sideshows. Open a few rides — “You must be THIS TALL to ride the Wild Friar” (oops; too soon?) — sell Sno-Cones made of holy water, and they could make up the deficit in no time.

Or they could just have a yard sale.

We’re Going to HolyLand!

Via MSNBC:

The Vatican reported on Thursday that its tiny state wasn’t spared by the global economic downfall. With its budget deficit hitting $19 million, 2011 was one of the Holy See’s worst financial years on record.

With lines for entering Vatican museums and Saint Peter’s Basilica consistently as long as the Vatican wall, last year alone tickets for attractions like the Sistine Chapel filled the Vatican’s coffers with more than $90 million. If to that you add the almost $70 million the pope received in charitable donations, it’s difficult to believe that the smallest state in the world, with its 0.2-square-miles territory, could ever go in the red.

Here’s an idea: turn it into a theme park. Why not? They’ve already got a bunch of folks running around in costumes, and they’ve got people lining up to see the sideshows. Open a few rides — “You must be THIS TALL to ride the Wild Friar” (oops; too soon?) — sell Sno-Cones made of holy water, and they could make up the deficit in no time.

Or they could just have a yard sale.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Once Upon A Time

Digby spotted a story where a member of the Vatican hierarchy is defending the church in light of a recent scandal and came up with an interesting angle of attack on journalists:

In a rare interview with the Italian Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana, Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, accused the media of “intentionally ignoring” the good things the Church does while dwelling on scandals.

“Many journalists are playing the game of trying to imitate Dan Brown,” said Bertone, referring to the best-selling author of novels such as “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels and Demons”.

“They (journalists) continue to invent fairytales and repeat legends,” he said.

Here’s a guy who works for an organization that makes its living telling fairytales and legends complaining about … oh, never mind. My irony meter is still broken.

Once Upon A Time

Digby spotted a story where a member of the Vatican hierarchy is defending the church in light of a recent scandal and came up with an interesting angle of attack on journalists:

In a rare interview with the Italian Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana, Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, accused the media of “intentionally ignoring” the good things the Church does while dwelling on scandals.

“Many journalists are playing the game of trying to imitate Dan Brown,” said Bertone, referring to the best-selling author of novels such as “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels and Demons”.

“They (journalists) continue to invent fairytales and repeat legends,” he said.

Here’s a guy who works for an organization that makes its living telling fairytales and legends complaining about … oh, never mind. My irony meter is still broken.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Love One Another

Here’s your latest entry in the contest to find the purest example of Christian outreach.

The pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca, Kansas says President Barack Obama has gone too far in supporting same sex marriage and it’s time for the U.S. government to begin killing gay men and lesbians.

“Terrorists are dangerous, the economy is a real and present danger,” Pastor Curtis Knapp told his congregation on Sunday. “But there is simply nothing other than the holocaust of the unborn which imperils the safety of our country or places our people in jeopardy as does the leader of the Western world publicly raising his fist at the heavens and declaring that the bedrock institution of society, ordained of God and meant to be protected by the state, is little more than a convention of convenience with the children of Sodom to transform the meaning of something, which is precious to Jesus Christ, and a living picture of his love for the church into a legally protected justification for perversion and a vehicle of hatred aimed directly at that love.”

Knapp went on to read from Leviticus 20: “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death.”

“They should be put to death,” Knapp declared. “‘Oh, so you’re saying we should go out and start killing them, no?’ — I’m saying the government should. They won’t, but they should.”

“You say, ‘Oh, I can’t believe you, you’re horrible. You’re a backwards neanderthal of a person.’ Is that what you’re calling scripture? Is God a neanderthal, backwards in his morality? Is it His word or not? If it’s His word, he commanded it. It’s His idea, not mine. And I’m not ashamed of it.”

“He said put them to death,” he continued. “Shall the church drag them in? No, I’m not say that. The church has not been given the power of the sort; the government has. But the government ought to [kill them]. You got a better idea? A better idea than God?”

I remember reading somewhere in the bible about love thy neighbor as thyself and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I guess Mr. Knapp was out the day they taught that part.

Love One Another

Here’s your latest entry in the contest to find the purest example of Christian outreach.

The pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca, Kansas says President Barack Obama has gone too far in supporting same sex marriage and it’s time for the U.S. government to begin killing gay men and lesbians.

“Terrorists are dangerous, the economy is a real and present danger,” Pastor Curtis Knapp told his congregation on Sunday. “But there is simply nothing other than the holocaust of the unborn which imperils the safety of our country or places our people in jeopardy as does the leader of the Western world publicly raising his fist at the heavens and declaring that the bedrock institution of society, ordained of God and meant to be protected by the state, is little more than a convention of convenience with the children of Sodom to transform the meaning of something, which is precious to Jesus Christ, and a living picture of his love for the church into a legally protected justification for perversion and a vehicle of hatred aimed directly at that love.”

Knapp went on to read from Leviticus 20: “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death.”

“They should be put to death,” Knapp declared. “‘Oh, so you’re saying we should go out and start killing them, no?’ — I’m saying the government should. They won’t, but they should.”

“You say, ‘Oh, I can’t believe you, you’re horrible. You’re a backwards neanderthal of a person.’ Is that what you’re calling scripture? Is God a neanderthal, backwards in his morality? Is it His word or not? If it’s His word, he commanded it. It’s His idea, not mine. And I’m not ashamed of it.”

“He said put them to death,” he continued. “Shall the church drag them in? No, I’m not say that. The church has not been given the power of the sort; the government has. But the government ought to [kill them]. You got a better idea? A better idea than God?”

I remember reading somewhere in the bible about love thy neighbor as thyself and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I guess Mr. Knapp was out the day they taught that part.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Bible Study

Time to fact-check the preacher.

Houston-based mega church minister Joel Osteen said on Sunday that same sex marriage should be illegal, but insisted he was “not for discriminating against gay people.”

In an interview on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked the pastor if being gay was a sin.

“I believe that the scripture says that being gay is a sin,” Osteen smiled. “You know, every time I say that, Chris, I get people saying, ‘You’re a gay hater and you’re a gay basher.’ I’m not. I don’t dislike anybody. Gays are some of the nicest, kindest, most loving people in the world. But my faith is based on what the scripture says, and that’s the way I read the scripture.”

Well, far be it from me to call Mr. Osteen a liar, so I’ll just suggest that he’s factually incorrect. True, there is a biblical citation (Leviticus 18:22) against one man lying with another man, the same way there are prohibitions against eating shrimp, planting corn next to wheat, and wearing a cotton-blend shirt. But I still remember my Old Testament class from freshman year at St. George’s, and there is nothing in that collection of myths, fables, and magic that says being gay is a sin. (By the way, the word “homosexual” isn’t in the bible; it wasn’t even a word until the 19th century.) “Lying together” is an action (hot or otherwise) verb, but “to be” is a transitive verb, which means there is no action, there is just being; for example, “Bobby is gay.” He’s not doing anything about it, he just is. I would like Mr. Osteen or any other scholar of the bible to show me the passage where it says simply that a person being something such as gay, straight, black, white, left or right-handed, is a sin.

But then again, this guy makes millions of dollars a year by fleecing the gullible and exploiting their fears and ignorance, and he gets to go on TV and pass judgment on other people for fun and profit, and I’m just a poor Quaker who happens to think that there is more to being good or bad, sinful or saintly, than what was written in a book.

Maybe we should ask Jesus what he thought about gay people.

[crickets]

Oh, that’s right… he didn’t say anything about it. Okay, well, then, let’s move on to the next topic. About that talking snake….