Religious Dialogue Needed During Political Bombast, International Bloodshed

This weekend the world’s major faiths observed sacred and meaningful holidays. Passover, Easter, and Ramadan are all underway and there are many faithful people worldwide who undertake certain rites and services to meet their spiritual needs. That is all to be much applauded.

At the same time as the world seemingly slows a bit and many people are more contemplative and inner-seeking the chaos and carnage continues, either in violent outbursts or verbal bombast.

Israeli forces carried out a widespread campaign of raids into towns and cities across the West Bank, in a response to a wave of recent Palestinian attacks inside Israel that have killed 14 people. The Israeli authorities then also imposed temporary economic sanctions.

A mass shooting Saturday at a busy shopping mall in South Carolina’s capital on Saturday left 14 people injured. The mall was filled with kids and others on this holiday weekend.

In Ukraine, bombs fell, families continue to flee, and bodies are buried wherever the ground space can be found nearby to lower a loved one down into the earth.

In Ohio, Republican senate candidate Josh Mandel continued his primary campaign with an agenda of division against those who aren’t white, patriarchal, and Christian.

I bring this all to the fore as it is Easter Sunday in our home, a day of hope. For many years Sunday was also the day when Tim Russert would hold forth on Meet The Press. Many an Easter weekend I recall Russert having a special look at faith in the nation and how it intersected with all the headlines of the day.

I looked up one of those transcripts online and wish to take you back to Sunday, March 27, 2005.

(Videotape, January 20, 1961, inaugural address):

PRES. JOHN F. KENNEDY:  Let us go forth to lead the land that we love, asking his blessing and his help, but knowing that here on Earth, God’s work must truly be our own.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT:  “Here on Earth, God’s work must truly be our own,” Father. That’s politics and religion together in a very clearly stated way.

REV. DRINAN:  And I think that it–we all agree with that.  The problem is when some religions say that you have to impose in the law our particular beliefs.  Certain fundamentalists think that gays should be discriminated against, and that’s not in the common tradition.  There’s a common core of moral and religious beliefs, and frankly, we are in total violation of that. We are supposed to be good to the poor; we have more poor children in America than in any other industrialized nation.  We’re supposed to love prisoners and help them; we have 2.1 million people in prison, the largest of any country of the Earth.  We also allow eleven children to be killed by guns every day.  All of the religions are opposed to that.  That’s violence.  Why don’t we organize on that?

MR. RUSSERT:  What’s the answer?

REV. DRINAN:  The answer is that there is a core, as President Kennedy said, and that we had that core when we finally abolished abolition and segregation. We had that core when finally we entered the war in Vietnam.  We had that core when we passed the Americans With Disabilities Act, the best law for the disabled in the whole world.  That core is there, and you have to look back and say that President Roosevelt orchestrated it and LBJ was fantastic getting through the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.  That’s the type of religious unity that exists if we can pull it together.

Many people will observe the surface traditions and customs around the world for the holidays of which they are a part, but the larger conversations, of the type Russert engaged in and we need to hear, are far less a part of our dialogue. That lack of connection around the world between what we profess to be, and what we do, or what governments do in our name, remains a great gulf.

And so it goes.

Evangelical Churches: “Teaches Women To Hate Their Bodies”, “Men Their Minds”

Friday I wrote a blog post that has remained the one most read all weekend. (Thank you) The gist of the post can be summed up in this one sentence. For decades I have faulted fundamentalist religions–wherever they may be preaching to the faithful–that failing to address humanity in realistic terms is a profound mistake.

Today The New York Times has a page one, above-the-fold must-read news article on the negative impact evangelical religion plays on men and women when it comes to sexuality. I argued this past week that Robert Aaron Long, the 21-year-old hate-filled killer in and near Atlanta is the latest example of what happens when sexuality is used as a tool by religion so to meet an organization’s own desired ends. 

The newspaper article underscores what many are talking about as of late given the news from Atlanta.

Dr. Onishi, who grew up in a strict evangelical community in Southern California that emphasized sexual purity led him to this conclusion. He said it “teaches women to hate their bodies, as the source of temptation, and it teaches men to hate their minds, which lead them into lust and sexual immorality.”

I had written about the way women are portrayed in fundamentalist houses of worship.

Let us not forget how these evangelical and pentecostal churches often use their attacks on the likes of the Delilahs, Jezebels, and other “temptresses” in the Bible to underscore how a “good man” can go bad.

The new story weighed into this topic, too.

“It presents a very demeaning view of manhood,” said Rachael Denhollander, an evangelical advocate for sexual abuse victims. “Every time you teach a woman in the presence of a young man that it’s her responsibility to keep a man from lusting and that she has the power to keep him from sexual perversion by what she wears and what she does, what he hears is that it’s her fault.”

Jeff Chu, a writer in Michigan, attended an evangelical junior high and high school that, like many similar schools, enforced strict rules for the lengths of girls’ skirts with the goal of encouraging modesty. “It was so rarely about the men controlling their own desires, and so often about women not being temptresses,” Mr. Chu recalled. 

“Purity culture teaches young men to view young women who do not try to maintain modesty as sinister forces,” Dr. Onishi said. “It’s hard not to think about the fact that Asian women have been sexualized and set up to be viewed through the lens of an exotic other who is sexually desirable.”

I wrote about the burdens placed on the people in the pews of these churches.

It should concern everyone to know that there are churches pumping the idea that it is a serious sin even to think about sex. Teenagers, especially, are being placed in a most troubling place about how not to think about sex. Add in the failure to do so means being captured by Satan.

The article begins with a young person from a strict evangelical community, that emphasized sexual purity, who had spent his teenage years tearing out any advertisements in surfing magazines that featured women in bikinis. So not to be pulled into the church’s definition of “sexual addiction” young people go to what most of us would consider extreme behavior.

Dr. Perry described a phenomenon in some parts of evangelical culture that he called “sexual exceptionalism,” in which sexual sins are implied to be more serious than other categories.

As I noted last week at the start of my post there is one reason for this power play by churches about sexuality.

If a religious organization can get a person to abide by a set of prescribed standards of behavior concerning the most personal aspect of life everything else can be easily attained.

And so it goes.

Which End Of Evolution Process Are Republicans On?

Why are students from other nation’s ranking higher in science than Americans? Why does the national business community wish to see far more attention to STEM in our public schools?

When the truly absurd mish-mash from evangelicals can trump logic, reason, and in many cases facts, we wind up with policies of this type, with students not qualified to enter many places of higher education.  To be scientifically wrong, and to be treated as if one is correct, is allowing the tail to wag the dog.

The Ohio House on Wednesday passed the ‘Student Religious Liberties Act.’ Under the law, students can’t be penalized if their work is scientifically wrong as long as the reasoning is because of their religious beliefs.

Every Republican in the House supported the bill. It now moves to the Republican-controlled Senate.

Republicans have again demonstrated what end of the evolution process they call home.  Simply, wow.

What is truly frightening is how the anti-science march has been taken up by so many conservatives.  How under-educated must a person be to view science as ‘liberal’?  From evolution, global warming, vaccines, there is an open attack on science and those who undertake the studies about it.  How is it that science is now scorned, and spreading ignorance is becoming acceptable?

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Donald Trump And Queen Victoria, New Title For Trying Times

Yes, you read that post title correctly.  I am about to write on the topic of Donald Trump and Queen Victoria.

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Each day I spend time somewhere back in the pages of history.  I always have several books going at any given time so I can decide on how I feel as to which era, or continent I wish to land with my coffee pot.   (Today it was Blueberry Crumble while I found myself in the late 19th century Europe).

For readers who might stop on this post months from now, it needs to be stated this week Trump has made a most dreadful series of comments which gives a whole new meaning to the messianic complex.  It has been most embarrassing for our country.

So it was quite ironic as I read Chapter 16 (The Road To War) of The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan that Britain finds itself being pressured by an ever-more confident Russia.  For all their efforts the Brits had not been able to match their diplomatic and political moves with their economic power.  How might Britain show they were more than a mere country among fellow countries?

How about changing the title of the monarch from a royal to an imperial title?  At the time the Russian Czar had a formal title and at times used his name in reference to an elaborate and lengthy list of territories he lorded over.  In time Vicotria will be known as both Queen and Empress.

This week we have seen that Trump believes he has been selected by God to lead this nation.  He now even stands in front of the White House press corps, while holding his hands in supplication, as he glances to heaven while revealing he was chosen to deal with China on trade issues.  Trump has found the title of “The King of Isreal” from a right-wing radio source, along with being viewed as “the second coming of God” to be worthy of embracing and repeating.

Clearly, Trump is shackled by the mere title of his office, given his selection by God to lead.  While Queen Victoria had a title change to check geopolitical spheres of influence Trump is in need of a title that will more resemble the Sun King, Louis XIV.  The fact that Louis was actually very religious and offered daily devotions all his life will not bother Trump, no more than any other fact on any other issue has proved to be a deterrent.

Trump clearly has a desire to be more than a mere mortal elected by humans to serve in government.  He fancies himself to reside in an elevated position of power and respect that communes with God and then speaks to the people.  People like Trump were once thought to be delusional.  Now a sizable segment of the nation calls him president and even are proud to have voted for him.

Can the large vats of Kool-Aid to be far away from being served?

What I was interested in learning was within hours of Trump claiming to be “the chosen one”  the term “antichrist” began trending on Twitter in the United States.

I think Trump should be labeled as nothing more than akin to a televangelist. He is a fraud and purveyor of blarney and bull.  That undereducated people fall for his lines are as much a sign that something is wrong with our society as it is that Trump is mentally unstable and in need of institutional care.

Finally, I wish to ask forgiveness from lovers of history for linking Queen Victoria with someone she would have found to be totally loathsome.

Bible Tax

There are times when justice comes in strange ways. 

As a free trader I have voiced my concerns over tariffs.  Mindful of what China has done, and continues to do with currency manipulation and technological espionage, means there are policy moves which need to be taken to remedy justified concerns.  But trade wars are not the answer.

Needless to say evangelicals have salivated over Trump even though he has publicly demonstrated his worst character time and again.  Those types of people are not in favor on CP.  So this news makes for a bit of Karma that even those who play with snakes during services can not miss.

Religious publishers say Donald Trump’s most recent proposed tariffs on Chinese imports could result in a Bible shortage.

That’s because millions of Bibles — some estimates put it at 150 million or more — are printed in China each year. Critics of a proposed tariff say it would make the Bible more expensive for consumers and hurt the evangelism efforts of Christian organizations that give away Bibles as part of their ministry.

The two largest Bible publishers in the United States, Zondervan and Thomas Nelson, are owned by HarperCollins, and they incur close to 75% of their Bible manufacturing expenses in China, Schoenwald said. Together, they command 38% of the American Bible market, he said.

Why Don’t Evangelicals Live Their Faith On All The Issues?

Over past decades during presidential elections I recall some evangelicals asking the question “What would Jesus do?” But since 2015 I have wondered many a time why evangelicals no longer ask about Christ’s foundations when it comes to Donald Trump or his administration.  Perhaps they do not wish to ponder what is happening to themselves.

While an abortion law made many headlines this week, and evangelicals crowed about using the levers of power (at least in the short-term) to their seeming advantage, I have a few questions to ask.

How do these same evangelicals who claim to put so much value on life not hold this White House accountable on the matter of immigration? If evangelicals wish to force a person who is raped to carry the baby to term, shouldn’t they also slam down hard on Republicans who call immigrants “pests”?  Is life not to be valued from start to finish, even when dark-skinned?

How do evangelicals square their religion with their own government separating families at the border?  Do children, who are ripped from their mother’s arms by immigration agents, have less value than the evangelical’s own description of ‘babies being ripped from the womb” during an abortion?

Should evangelicals accept, with no comment, when a president laughs during a political rally about shooting immigrants?   Do evangelicals find some harbor for such an absurdity within the Bible?

How about the close-lipped attitudes of evangelicals when it comes to the daily shootings in this nation where school children need to practice for mass shootings the way my peers trained for a tornado?

Striking at health care which seeks to aid all people, or siding with polluters and damaging  our environment, while supporting those who weaken regulatory controls all show how insincere evangelicals are when it comes to walking their talk.

In my Sunday School classes, and then church over the years, I was taught Christ was about love.  In that framework, so to show our shared values with him, we are to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and love our neighbor as we would love our-self.  We are not to separate families at political borders, or call brown-skinned people “pests”.

There is no doubt why evangelicals now fail to ask “What would Jesus do?” after they have bent their knees for Trump.  The answer would then require many tables to be turned up-side down in their temples.

When Do Christians In U.S. Stand Up To Donald Trump?

How long does a sewer rat get protection from the ones in the pews?

Following the news about the truly troubling actions of a former U.S. attorney, who now serves in the Donald Trump cabinet, there must be some accounting from the ones who always alert the rest of our nation about sin.  How do self-described ‘good Christians’ continually support Trump and what he brought into government?  How do they dare stand up in church, pray so piously in their places of worship, and then turn a blind eye to the glaring truth the rest of the week?

The Miami Herald today published an investigative report examining a decade-old plea deal that current Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, then U.S. attorney in Miami, struck with the billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. The report indicated that Epstein’s underage sex ring was larger than previously known and recounted how Acosta’s so-called “non-prosecution agreement” shut down an FBI investigation in exchange for Epstein pleading guilty to two state prostitution charges. Epstein served a little more than a year in jail, but he spent much of that time at a comfortable office on work release.

As part of the arrangement, Acosta agreed, despite a federal law to the contrary, that the deal would be kept from the victims. As a result, the non-prosecution agreement was sealed until after it was approved by the judge, thereby averting any chance that the girls — or anyone else — might show up in court and try to derail it.

For all the high-toned moralizing from conservatives there comes the naked truth that they have no shame, no foundation built on some higher plane of honor.  With continued support from the ‘good Christians’ it proves to the entire nation what really motivates them.  The actions from this crowd does not match their words.

And so it goes.

I Humbly Ask The Same Of My Blog Readers

A prosperity gospel televangelist from Louisiana says Jesus has asked him to buy a new private jet.

Jesse Duplantis, leader of Jesse Duplantis Ministries and the owner of three other private jets, is asking his followers to chip in so his ministry can purchase a new jet which is to cost about $54 million.

In a video Duplantis says the planes get him closer to the Lord — both literally and figuratively — and he had a divine conversation in which Jesus asked for the new aircraft by name.

“It was one of the greatest statements the Lord ever told me, he said, ‘Jesse do you want to come up where I’m at?'” the minister says. “‘I want you to bleed me for a Falcon 7X.'”

For my blog readers I simply ask for the bills to be in larger amounts so I do not need to make so many trips to the bank.  And driving less in my car will save on the carbon footprint—-which I will be creating BIG TIME once I take to the air!

Thanks, and just remember this is what Jesus wants.