Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Coming Out Of The Hate Closet For The New Year: Answering A "Patriot"

Hate Begets Hate

With this writing, I am coming out of the hate closet. I've tried my whole life to "love" everyone - even my enemies, but I've sinned in this regard and I can no longer be hypocritical about it.

I hate the Christian Right.

A big "DUH!" just exploded from the internet ether. Yes, I'm stating the obvious, but this is one of the few times I've ever admitted to pure, unadulterated hatred. I have to admit the admission feels good, since hatred is part of the "human condition" and comes easily to everyone - certainly easier than love. In admitting it, I feel more human.

What brought about this admission? Pressure has built up over the years to admit my guilt, but today, I received a comment for an article, Why I Hate Duck Dynasty. (As If It Matters). I will not name the person commenting. All I can say to describe him is that he is a member of the Patriot Movement according to his avatar. 
     "You claim to be a reverend and yet seem to have no religion in you. You are filled with hate for anyone who might not like homosexuality and homosexuals. You are angry and bitter and write mostly negative pieces about one subject only. You say you are angry because you have to write about it when you don't. You simply are ego driven to project yourself out there on others because you want everyone to listen to you, you, you... You are angry because you judge icon Phil Robertson to be shallow, but maybe you should look in the mirror?

     "And you say America is easy to deceive and this is precisely why liberalism and homosexuality have been allowed to dominate our culture in recent years which many are now coming to regret. Many growing millions out there are now more resentful than ever reverend. And since it is politically incorrect to have such views, those tens of millions will just keep it to themselves. Homosexuals come out of the closet and push anti-homosexuals into the closet. Way to go there reverend.

     "Yes America is easy to deceive which is precisely why you and others have taken advantage of it to ram your platform down everyone's throats whether they want it or not. You don't seem to care.

      " Why I Hate Duck Dynasty. (As If It Matters)" And it don't matter, but project your hate anyways reverend.
It was the last sentiment that prompted me to come out of the hate closet: hate always matters and the comment's vituperative rant made me realize that I have hated some people just as much as they hate me. But WHY I hate, ah, that is something of which the commenter doesn't have a clue.

"... you seem to have no religion in you."

God, I hate that.

Response: there is none of YOUR religion in me.Which may be a good thing. I have FAITH in more than a codified religion: I have faith in God, in scholarship and humanity (in that order). Note: I did not write "God, the Bible, and America," which is what you would have preferred.

"You ... write mostly negative pieces about one subject only."

I hate that too.

Response: you (like the rest of the Christian Right), assume that because someone writes negatively about something on a consistent basis, they are obsessed (or possessed). I've written about a myriad number of things regarding religion and politics, but I think of myself as merely focused (another good thing).

"You simply are ego driven to project yourself..."

Response: Writing is almost always an egotistical act. You write when you comment (and you comment extensively here at OpEdNews - over 1000!). Interestingly, I've noticed from your profile that you have not contributed articles, only comments. Perhaps you are an avowed apologeticist. Perhaps the only way you can get your point across is by posing a negative against a negative. Perhaps you are an ardent cynic. That is a contribution, to be sure, yet you've never written any unique article on this progressive (read: liberal, to you) site. Lamenting the sad state of American culture seems to be your raison d'etre, commenting constantly and very, very often, as if you have nothing better to do with your life.

" ...politically incorrect to have such views ..."

Response: "Political correctness" was formed so that people could speak politely to and about one another. True, it has been formed by some rather stringent codes, but the Christian Right has never bowed to political correctness: it speaks its mind no matter how insulting, degrading, or demonizing it may be. It speaks against what it wants and who it wants and is never slapped on the wrist: the myth of pulpit hate speech being criminalized is just that - a myth. 

" ...the "growing millions"

Response: The "growing millions" of which you speak may be the wounded tiger about which I often write: dangerous in its stance against personal freedoms (freedom that seem to go contrary to "religious freedom" but do not). It is also dangerous in its stance against diversity of any kind: those "millions" who are "coming to regret" are merely the ones who despair of the change to diversity and want everything to be as it (never really) was: a Father-Knows-Best-flag-waving-Christian-only nation. You claim to be a patriot, but is that true patriotism? I wonder. The first patriots were for freedom ... and change. They took a big first step into the future and did not dwell on the past. They embraced new and diverse thinking because they loathed the chains of a theocracy as well as a monarchy.

"... ram your platform sown everyone's throats"

Response: It's not so much ramming down throats as repeating dictums of love and tolerance (some Biblical) because many people like yourself are so narrow-minded as to be thick-headed. Seems to be an oxymoron but it is not. But herein is where a common in-your-face myth stands: those asking for tolerance are not hypocritical, lacking tolerance, because we ask for tolerance only from the people we think are reasonable. Have we ever asked for tolerance specifically from you? I doubt it. We're not into butting our heads against stone walls. After viewing your other comments, for example, I would never ask for tolerance from you - or your compatriots.

Thanks and No Thanks
I do have to thank you, of course, for forcing me out of my hate closet. Others have tried, but missed the mark. Your comment made me realize that I am human and cannot therefore, like God, love every human in existence. I strive to love, but slip into intolerance and hatred occasionally.

I do not hate Christianity. I believe myself to be Christian in that I try to follow the teachings of Christ. True, I do not believe some other things the Christian Right believes to be true: I do not believe, for example, in Creationism, the inerrancy of the Bible, Augustine of Hippo's construct of Original Sin, or the theology of being "born again." I am certainly not YOUR kind of Christian, but I am Christian in my own way and (hopefully) in the eyes of the Creator. 

As to the Christian Right: I hate them, of course, for their abhorrent righteous arrogance. Theirs is not the "one, true faith" simply because there is no one, true faith. Any faith that enlightens, inspires man to better himself and his neighbor is a "true faith." And hypocrisy? The Christian Right has always been rife with it - lousy with a hypocrisy that has corrupted everything it has touched. 

It may well have corrupted you. 

God bless you.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Why I Hate Duck Dynasty. (As If It Matters)

“They’re full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant God-haters. They are heartless. They are faithless. They are senseless. They are truthless. They invent ways of doing evil.”

The "Duck Dynasty" flap has made me angry, and not for the usual reasons.
First of all, I'm angry because I have to write about it.

Don't get me wrong. I absolutely love exposing hypocrisy - even in myself. But the hypocrisy embedded in Duck Dynasty's Robertson clan as well as A&E and it's critics is so obvious, there is no exposing it. But I have to write about it because, hey, people EXPECT me to.

Secondly, I'm angry because I have to deal with an icon (of sorts) who is perhaps the shallowest of persons - and few will believe me.

I have not seen Duck Dynasty. That is my hypocrisy - criticizing something that I have not fully experienced. I have no desire to see Duck Dynasty just as I have no desire to see reruns of the Beverly Hillbillies, nor to meet Fred Phelps. Yes, this aspect of my animosity makes me look just as hypocritical as Pat Robertson expounding on the homosexuality he knows nothing about, but I cannot help it.

I viewed the other Phil Robertson tape. The one I posted on OpEdNews last week. The one in which Phil Robertson said that gays "invent ways of doing evil."


"While reiterating that Robertson’s views are not those of the channel, A&E noted Friday that he has publicly said he would “never incite or encourage hate.” The show itself is more than one man’s views, it added.
“It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family, a family that America has come to love. As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness,” A&E said.

      “They’re full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant God-haters. They are heartless. They are faithless. They are senseless. They are truthless. They invent ways of doing evil.”

"...never incite or encourage hate." "pray for unity tolerance and forgiveness." All of this seems to be on the surface: just what does he pronounce to his offspring off camera? What has he instilled in them all these years that is not evident and open to the public? Could the family of such a patriarch call him a hypocrite - and get away with it?

Is it possible that the family "America has come to love" is really the family America loves to hate, but with long beards? Is it the Phelps/Westboro Baptist family in disguise?

America is so easy to deceive.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Season Of Getting Part 4 : Tough To Take Heart Among The Limbaugh Scrooges And Their Trickle Down Christmas

The Season of Getting Part Four

Perhaps more than any other Christmas season in recent memory, this one has been a season of contrasts: it has been a season of extreme opinions, of extreme politics, of giving and getting - mostly on one side. But perhaps the biggest contrast is between the heartened and the hardened.

Tough To Take Heart

It's been tough this Christmas Season to find things that would make you take heart - give you hope. So very many things have surfaced regarding the hardened. For example: yesterday a discarded 10-week-old apricot poodle puppy was found barely alive on a conveyor belt in San Francisco's city dump. Animal Control named her "Gem" because they considered her a "diamond in the rough."

"Gem" actually serves as a symbol of the kind of throw-away, trickle-down economy we have. Instead of tending to her wounds and giving her up for adoption (or to a poor family who wanted her), she was cast away into a recycling bin. Maybe whoever threw her away thought some homeless person might rummage through the trash and find her. After all, they eat dogs in undeveloped countries, don't they?

Yes, that last was a cheap shot at the rich, but Gem's apparent worthlessness warrants a lot of cheap shots.

The Economics Of Limbaugh Scrooges And Pope Francis

Speaking of cheap shots, the pope continues to take them right and Right by personages such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity this Christmas Season because of his "trickle down economics is tyranny" statement. They called him a Marxist.

Pope Francis
"The Marxist ideology is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended [to have been called a Marxist]. There is nothing in the Exhortation that cannot be found in the social Doctrine of the Church... The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefiting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger nothing ever comes out for the poor."
Or the poor get meager scraps from the table - like dogs.

Rich Kids - Love, Poor Kids - Guilt

The saying is true: Santa gives more to rich kids than he does to poor kids, and it's not just because the presents are too small to fit down drainpipes. It's because giving to the poor at Christmas time is merely a luxurious, gratifying pleasure resulting from a year-long guilt trip. The contrast to their own children is embarrassing. In the back of their minds, they come to realize that Francis is right: "trickle down" economics doesn't work. Time to make up for it. Just this once.

The Beautiful Ones

Francis also called the bombastic Christians (aka the Christian Right) "ugly." They undoubtedly have food drives and canned good bins "for the needy" placed prominently in their churches, but the way they have been trumpeting their Christianity ("There's a war on Christmas!") not only during the season, but all year long ( "We're so persecuted!"), tarnishes their Christian-ness. Their Tea Party liaisons and plethora of prosperity gospel preachers belie their true interests.

By contrast, Francis' statement implied that many progressive, social justice Christians are "beautiful". It also implied that "beautiful" people/souls need not necessarily be Christian. Francis has met "good" people full of heart from all races, creeds and ideologies. He probably has met some good atheists (shock!).

So the "beautiful" ones are those in which we must take heart. They are the ones the poor must depend upon - all year round. Depending upon people like Rush Limbaugh might lead you to finding your Christmas present in a recycling dumpster.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Season of Getting, Part 3: The Hospital With No Respect For The Living, The Dying, Or the Just Plain Dead

North Carolina mom files lawsuit after son is sent home from hospital dead in a taxi

Although the incident happened over two years ago, the lawsuit emerging from it is very pertinent with today's squabbles about healthcare.

A North Carolina woman is suing a hospital security contractor over a 2011 incident in which her late son was carried off hospital premises and sent home in a taxi after his death.

It's rather ironic that this tragedy should come to light at the same time as the Obamacare/Francis season is in full swing, for to millions of people, that's what the season has been portrayed as: the season of healthcare and humility, and one which the Right has been screeching about. To "social conservatives" everywhere, this is the worst Christmas ever: Obamacare continues to roll out despite a near disastrous start, gays are getting married at a record rate as states fall one-by-one to gay rights and same-sex marriage, and the new pope is championing compassion and humility in the face of capitalism.

The Tragedy of  A'Darrin Washington

A'Darrin Washington suffered from recurrent pneumonia associated with Hodgkin's lymphoma. He had been a patient at the Cumberland County for ten years. He was admitted into the hospital on Nov. 22, 2011 where he was (mis)diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia. He was given the wrong medication for more than several days, during which time he became unresponsive and was in pain. After tests revealed that he was suffering from fungal pneumonia, he was given the proper medication. Even though he was still unresponsive, he was judged fit to be discharged. 

The complaint states: "Mr. Washington was unresponsive due to the fact that he was dying."

A nurse called security to remove A'Darrin because he was "uncooperative" and "refusing to walk and move." Even though several staff voiced their concerns, security removed him from his bed, placed him in a wheelchair, then placed him in a taxi.

The taxi cab driver was concerned that A'Darrin was already dead. The drive took 45 minutes. A'Darrin's body was cold by the time he was received by his mother and other relatives.

The Cumberland County Hospital and its security looked like cruel, annoyed ____ (use your own plural noun). A long time terminal cancer patient was treated so badly that it's a wonder the hospital has not been  investigated and closed down. It is not clear as to why the hospital has not been sued directly.

"Healthcare in America is the BEST IN THE WORLD"

Last November, Speaker John Boehner accused Obamacare of destroying the "Best healthcare system in the world." Such hubris would not go unnoticed by advocates of social justice such as Pope Francis who called Christians who refuse to humble themselves to help others "ugly" and "pagan." So, yes, there is a point in bringing up A'Darrin's tragedy:

And it is this: uncaring healthcare is a product of the "unfettered capitalism" both Francis and Obama have fought for years. The Cumberland County Hospital needed the space for "healthier" (read: longer living) patients and became annoyed with a continuous patient and his needs. The staff and security could no longer humble themselves to take care of A'Darrin.

No, Mr. Boehner, our healthcare is not the best (nor the most compassionate) in the world.

Just ask A'Darrin Washington. 

Oh, sorry, you can't.

He's dead.

The Season Of Getting, Part 2: Uganda Gives Duck Dynasty A Present

And one to Tony Perkins, Bryan Fischer, Pat Robertson ...

UPDATE: Unfortunately, the Christian Right just got another lump of coal: Utah.
Right Wing Watch:

       "An anti-gay law championed by evangelical Christians in Uganda with the enthusiastic backing of Religious Right leaders in the U.S. has passed parliament and is awaiting the president’s decision on whether to sign it. The bill as passed apparently no longer includes the death penalty provision but makes homosexuality a crime punishable by life in prison. LGBT activist Frank Mugisha says his colleagues are panicking, fearing that “there is going to be a hunt.”
"Social Conservatives" have had a bitter-sweet Christmas season, certainly it was not a Season of Getting ... what you pray for: with New Mexico on the brink of approving same-sex marriage, a pope telling the world that bombastic Christians are ugly, an embarrassing show of bigotry and homophobia by a cherished reality TV star, and now Utah, the bastion of Mormon anti-gay sentiment, performing gays marriages after a federal judge struck down their 10-year-old state ban on gay marriage, the last few weeks have been, well ... hell.

Their bright spot, their shimmering beacon of hope, however, came through: Uganda. And with a codicil that makes it a felony to harbor anyone gay (i.e., knowing that they are gay and not reporting it), the Christian Right can glory in the righteousness of a people turning their neighbors in for vengeance ... or the fun of it. 

      "[Martin] Ssempa got plenty of help from American Religious Right figures like Lou Engle and Scott Lively, who is facing a human rights lawsuit brought by Sexual Minorities of Uganda. “This human rights crisis was made here in the United States,” says Tarso Luís Ramos, Executive Director at Political Research Associates."

Old fashioned witch hunts will characterize the landscape of Uganda, with Martin Ssempa and Madame Mousseveni leading the packs of villagers with torches.

If they can afford them. The sanctions put on the African nation may have a debilitating effect and groups like the Family Research Council may have to come up with money. They already have paid for the Christian schools, but they may stop at torches (or ammunition).

A Boost To Duck Dynasty

Phil Robertson would have loved to preach in Uganda, regardless of the fact that he could not point to it on a world globe. He could have joined Scott Lively and Lou Engle, luminaries in the field of how godless homosexuals can devour a nation.

As head of a family considered to be the Beverly Hillbillies* of the 21st Century, Phil commands more respect than Benny Hinn or even Cindy Jacobs. His recently discovered misogyny, racism, and homophobia have been carefully covered up by A&E:

Sarah Posner, Religion Dispatches

But if the network were true to the genre, it would have showed America the unedited Phil Robertson, not because his views reflect those of the network, but because it is, you know, reality. The network's approach, though, leads to the predictable result: Phil opens up, people are outraged, he gets suspended, conservatives play the victim. Marginalized again! And A&E couldn't even see it coming.

The "unedited" Phil Robertson:

  • "A good woman is hard to find. Mainly because these boys are waiting until they get to be about 20 years old before they marry 'em. Look, you wait till they get to be about 20 years old, they only picking that's going to take place is your pocket. You gotta marry these girls when they're 15 or 16, they'll pick your ducks. You need to check with mom and dad about that, of course."
  • "Why do they murder and why do they hate us? Because all of them ... 80 years of history, they all want to conquer the world, they all rejected Jesus and they're all famous for murder. Nazis, Shintoists, Communists and the Mohammedists. Every one of them the same way."
  • "From one man God made all nations of men. We all came from the same dude, and I don't know what color he was.
  • "Women with women. Men with men. They committed indecent acts with one another. And they received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. They're full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant God haters. They are heartless. They are faithless. They are senseless. They are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil."
The last quote was unearthed several days ago and is contained in the video below. It may be Duck Dynasty's undoing, as well as the undoing of all Robertson's supporters.

Robertson should think of emigrating to Uganda ... to thank them for their Christmas present.

*They also had high ratings.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Ugly Christians (According To Francis). Who Are They? How Are They Grinching Christmas For The Poor?

The Season Of Getting, Part One

“when you see a Christian who doesn’t want to humble himself, who doesn’t want to serve, a Christian who struts about everywhere: it’s ugly, eh? That is not a Christian: that’s a pagan!”

Pope Francis I has again riled the Christian Right by, in effect, calling most of its leaders "ugly" and "pagan": those who crave the limelight, scream out their proselytizing (ahem, "evangelizing") yet purport to be persecuted (horrendously!) by godless liberals and the media. It was a slap in the face to televangelists, faith-healers, prosperity gospel preachers and righteously arrogant, supposedly "Christian" apologists and pundits. It was his own "War on Christmas" - the Christmas created by corporate/church greed, a Season of Getting as much as one can while Giving very, very little to the people who need help just to survive.

Some Uglies

Ann Coulter - While not a born-again Christian, nor explicitly proselytizing her jaws off, Coulter has enough righteous arrogance to sink a flotilla of battleships. After a particularly testy interview with Donny Deutsch, she said, "Well, we just want to perfect you!" Deutsch is Jewish. He was not amused.

Rick Warren - Hawaiian shirts aside, Warren is as fake as can be, coming up with fantastic schemes (e.g. P.E.A.C.E,) which few can grasp the meaning of, and constantly touting the miracles of social justice his plans and his church (megachurch Saddleback) have worked both here and abroad (esp. in Uganda). The figures, however, are based on few reliable sources and don't really add up. His publicity machine is about the only thing that seems to exist.

Tony Perkins - Perkins has had more appearances on Chris Matthews' "Hardball" than the show wants to admit. As the Savior of the American Family, Perkins has reigned as a sort of Christofascist king, looking like an innocent, aging choir boy. But he is merely a boy crying wolf (against dreaded homosexual activists) and his pronouncements about apostate Republicans terrorize few Republicans any more. His "Values Voter Summit" is popular with any conservative who wants to say "God told me to run."

Cindy Jacobs - If Francis could make a list of the ugliest and most chest-beating Christians, "prophetess" Cindy Jacobs would be most certainly at the top. Among other things, she has (according to herself and her husband) performed more miracles than Jesus Christ, has cured a woman of her hysterectomy, has raised children from the dead (via television) and is an avowed idol-smasher (Native American artifacts and statues of Catholic Saints). She has also told all of America's indigenous people to repent for the sins of their ancestors. She has bragged about how many things God has blessed her with. Unfortunately, fashion sense was not one of them.

"Bishop" Eddie Long - For sheer humility, have yourself wrapped in the Torah, declared "king" (of something) and have yourself hoisted up, sitting on a throne, while four men decorously parade you around your church. Sheer humility? No, sheer stupidity. Sex scandals just could not keep him out of the limelight.

Some Plug-Uglies

Bryan Fischer - Fischer is the American Family Association bloviator who has a hate-love relationship with everyone (he broadcasts his demonizing points, then tells everyone he is really doing it because he loves them). He has, in fact, carried demonizing to an art form (very ugly art, but art nonetheless) and his faux humility is legendary. He has established himself as a one-man hate group against the LGBT community and insists that "Rambo Jesus" existed.

Terry Jones - When not causing anti-American murder and violence by threatening to burn the Koran, Pastor Jones manages to plummet to the lowest levels of the humility meter by bleating through a bull horn about his Christianity in places like Times Square. He shares the sobriquet of "most hated man in America" with Fred Phelps. Not a small feat.

Scott Lively - Of all the uglies, Lively portrays himself as the most innocent and clueless. He has parlayed thunderous criticism of his book, The Pink Swastika into international Christian martyrdom and has portrayed himself as the most knowledgeable person on the planet in regards to the evils of homosexuality. His purposeful undermining of LGBT rights in places like Uganda has landed him in court. The charge: crimes against humanity.

Dishonorable Mentions

Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, FOX News, Michele Bachmann, Pat Robertson, Benny Hinn, Franklin Graham, Ken Copeland, T.D. Jakes, Linda Harvey, Janet Porter, Rick Joyner, C. Peter Wagner, General Boykin. If your favorite "uglies" are not on the list, just mention them below in comments. 

Pay Attention To ME! Not The Poor!

Perhaps the ugliest of recent "Christians"/pagans passed away last week: Paul Crouch of Trinity Broadcasting Network, who perched himself on a gold throne-like chair and told those who opposed his empire to go to hell. He spread his wealth only to his family, there being no evidence of any substantial endowments to the less fortunate. He was considered a con man who put himself and his wife Jan first and foremost. The word "humility" was never in his lexicon. It was perhaps his death (and life) that inspired Francis to make his "ugly" point.

Putting yourself before the poor, before your fellow man, humbling yourself to seek out and tend to those in need was the humility Francis was speaking about: focusing on the poor and not yourself.

And as to this particular Christmas Season, the Huckabees, Coulters, Palins and Warrens know that it is not the Season for Giving but for Getting ... attention.

The ugly Christians will be getting uglier ... against Francis. Just wait.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The End Of An Era? Praise The Lord! Televangelist Paul Crouch Dies And Leaves Behind A Life Of Decadence Beyond Belief.

It may be sinful to speak ill of the recently deceased, but if it is, then a host of writers and journalists on religion are indeed very, very sinful (including myself).

Paul Crouch was an inveterate con man who preyed upon the religiously gullible for profit, and he (and his infamously cotton-candy-haired wife, Jan) showed his contempt for his "flock" by openly living a life so garish, so lavish, that Jesus would have wept when His name was intoned.

And He would have wept constantly for the last forty years.

But They Needed It ALL!

It was a scene that America thought it had left with the tragic soap opera of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker: over-the-top spending by ministry moguls frought with sex scandals: Paul and Jan Crouch agonized over which of their many mansions to live in at the same time. You see, they hadn't lived together for years. They just sang together and swindled together - in the name of God.

But they needed those houses, the private jets - and even the 100k mobile home for the dogs, you see, because they'd been given a mission from God to obtain the most ridiculous accumulation of televangelist wealth in history.

Sarah Posner (Religion Dispatches):

Crouch built the network from one station in the 1970s to a global empire featuring a 24-hour menu of health and wealth gospel, preying on the gullible to turn their money over to televangelists to receive God's blessing.

[Douglas] Wead, who developed an extensive list of influential evangelicals with whom he wanted 1988 Bush presidential primary campaign to connect, had first-hand knowledge of the Crouches' world. Yet he recognized the potential downside of Bush being seen with Crouch, whom he described as an "exaggeration of the most bizarre manifestation of the peculiar evangelical subculture." He advised the vice-president not to appear for a televised interview with Crouch. But he staged such an interview himself, using the tagline "correspondent Doug Wead," coaxing Bush to exhibit his faith in Jesus Christ for the TBN audience.

Hey, That Cotton Candy Do Costs A Lot!

The list of the Crouch family mega-mansions is too long to list here, but suffice it to say that their total worth could feed Sierra Leone for a year. Add to that TWO jets and salaries neighboring in the millions, well, you get the picture. During most of his tenure at TBN, Paul Crouch sat on what looked to the viewers to be a gold throne befitting an emperor of Christian broadcasting.

And according to granddaughter, Brittany Koper (also TBN's former finance director), the regal lifestyle extended to:

  • Mr. and Mrs. Crouch have his-and-her mansions one street apart in a gated community here, provided by the network using viewer donations and tax-free earnings. 
  • Mrs. Crouch, 74, mostly lives in a large company house near Orlando, Fla., where she runs a side business, theHoly Land Experience theme park. Mr. Crouch, 78, has an adjacent home there too, but rarely visits. Its occupant is often a security guard who doubles as Mrs. Crouch’s chauffeur.” 
  • One $4m jet and another $48 jet. 
  • Matching homes for son Matt's children that included an indoor basketball court. 
Besides the "outing" of his financial chicanery and lavish overspending, Crouch had the ubiquitous scandal concerning sexual harassment of a male TBN employee. It was "settled out of court" for about $450k.

Ironically, the most notable "tributes" to Crouch after his passing came from prosperity preachers and scam artists Creflo Dollar and Benny Hinn as well as "mega-ministry preachers" from all over the country.

He was, after all, their gold standard.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Give Til It Hurts vs Buy Til It Hurts: Francis Challenges Traditional American Christmas Greed

"The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us."

Black Friday always brings out the worst in American greed, and last week's was classic, with violence in parking lots and in stores all over the country. It made the retailer happy, the store managers cringe ... and the pope sad. It showed the manipulations of a got-to-have-it culture by cold and calculating capitalists. His first official published work was about this form of economic self-pleasure. For many, it was as if Francis was whipping the Waltons in the Temple, but for others, it looked like Francis was taking his papal whip to revered Madison Avenue Santa Clauses.

Such audacity from a pope will not be tolerated! So much has been said about the pope's missive concerning rampant capitalism that one wonders if the Right (Christian or otherwise) can keep up with all the "restrained" disagreements let alone the undignified ones.

Christian Post:
"This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope," [Rush] Limbaugh declared. The commentator noted that, until this letter, he had admired Pope Francis. Now, however, he must distance himself. On economics, the pope is "totally wrong, I mean dramatically, embarrassingly, puzzlingly wrong."
Of course, Limbaugh doesn't see anything wrong in the disparity between himself and the poor. 

David Brooks:

I guess I would wish he would emphasize two things, first, that capitalism over the last 25 years has been an incredible moral good. It has reduced poverty more in the last 25 years than ever before in human history, mostly in Asia. But that's been a phenomenal good. That's relieved suffering. And that has been a product of capitalism.
Brooks seems to think that capitalism itself reduced poverty, but capitalism itself doesn't see to a living wage. Francis is talking about unfettered, run-amok capitalism, the kind that George Bush gave free rein to during his tenure.

Perhaps the most forceful statements were made by FOX's Stuart Varney who said that "capitalism is liberating" and that Francis should stay out of the world economic arena simply because Varney does not want to mix religion and politics.

Huh? He might get canned from FOX for that last statement, or at least get a tongue lashing from Mike Huckabee. And as for capitalism being "liberating", he certainly doesn't address the sweatshops of Bangladesh.

The Juggernaut of Santa

In the world of greed, it's hard to beat the jolly old elf's bag brimming with toys - for good children or good adults. Change that last to "successful" adults, for in most of American culture success equals goodness. Asking some people to forego the signs of their success is like asking them to give up their souls - their reasons for living. Unfettered capitalism depends upon an unbridled drive for success and acquiring displays of success. 

In essence, the American Christmas is one huge display of success. What Pope Francis proposes is to stop the display and reverse course: show your success as a human being by helping others. Lessen the gap between rich and poor.

That will never do. Not for the Waltons, the Koch Brothers, prosperity preachers like "Bishop" Eddie Long or Pat Robertson. 

Yes, in his first substantive missive, Pope Francis has taken on Santa Claus. It's a pity he won't win. Not by a long shot.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hey, Kids: On Thanksgiving, Be Thankful That Your Parents Don't Follow These Pearls Of Wisdom.

They might land your parents in jail - and you in the morgue.

Last week's sentencing of Larri and Carrie Williams for the death of their daughter Hanna Williams refocused on the books and teachings of Michael and Debbi Pearl:

Two parents in Washington state have been found guilty of murder after following the abusive parenting techniques advocated in the parenting book "To Train Up a Child" by Michael and Debi Pearl.

It all started with James Dobson

In the 50s parental child abuse seemed to terminate with Dr. Benjamin Spock. In fact, it was Spock who was blamed for the permissive parenting (hence the rebellious, anti-war youth) in the 50s and 60s. He was widely criticized for encouraging parents to treat each child as an individual - an individual who needed self-expression and affection.

The Christian Right started to find a niche in the pro-war movement, denouncing the "hippies" who were pro-"love" and anti-war (it was Norman Vincent Peale who spearheaded a denunciation of Spock and his guidelines). And while they weren't as successful as they wished in bringing youth (via discipline) back to the fold, they proclaimed their voice and stance through preachers and televangelists like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.Nevertheless, the hawk disaster that was Viet Nam made things difficult for preachers of stern parenting, so it was with a sigh of relief that Dr. James Dobson came on the scene with "Dare to Discipline" (1977). Dobson became founder of the "Vatican of the West" - Focus on The Family with its headquarters in Colorado Springs - as well as a prominent leader in the Christian Right.*

Dobson's influence increased with by his stance against homosexuality and his opinion that it was a "choice" brought about by environmental factors. The Christian Right, of course, ate it up, including his views on parenting: "spanking" became OK - to a limited degree - and stern, disciplinary parents felt vindicated and relieved.

The Words Of A Knife-throwing Sadist** And A Jesus Freak***.

When the Pearls came on the scene with To Train Up A Child in 1994, few people bought into the idea that rebellious children, like livestock, could be trained into docile, obedient kids willing to do their parent's bidding at the drop of a hat. But the champion "hatchet man"* and his Jesus Freak mate* persevered, producing subsequent books, becoming a grass roots effort to tame children according to the Bible.

"625,000 copies in print!"

The most disturbing thing about the Pearls' cover: not the smiling child unaware that he's about to be "disciplined" if he quits smiling, but the "625,000 copies in print." It may be true that the Pearls now have a following, but it is the following of parents who are willing to "break their spirits" at any cost. In this aspect, the Pearls treat children more like horses. Rubber hoses are used more like riding crops - crops that will leave no mark should the child welfare agency come around.

The title, of course, should be indicative: the Pearls are not about rearing or parenting, but TRAINING and subduing any child's willfulness. Children are "disciplined" with switches as young as 6 months old. Boundaries are set (indeed, there are admonitions for children who crawl off a blanket). And while it is true that they guard against abuse, they delight in submissive, obedient children to the point of obsession:
In a lengthy diatribe on his Facebook fan page, he wrote that he and his family are all laughing at the "caustic critics" who have come out against him after the death of Lydia Schatz. He writes that children who are disciplined according to his methods "...become the models of self-control and discipline... that pay the taxes your children will receive in entitlements."
"My granddaughters laugh with joy after giving their baby dolls a spanking for “being naughty” because they know their dolls will grow up to be the best mamas and daddies in the world—just like them."
Perhaps they "laugh with joy" because they are transferring the pain down to another object. The possibility that these children will make good parents is slim indeed.

"Truly An Evil Book"

Although the Pearls actually make conciliatory statements against child abuse, most people agree with the definition of child abuse as causing undue pain. The abhorrent technique of causing pain to infants has caused people to speak out against the Pearls and focus on when their techniques are put to overuse. Review on Amazon:
2 people wrote this book. 900 people gave this book 5-star reviews. That's 902 people that the police should be keeping an eye on.
Too bad the police didn't keep an eye on Carrie and Larry Williams: 
On the night of May 11, 2011, sometime around midnight, 13-year-old Hana Williams fell face-forward in her parents’ backyard. Adopted from Ethiopia three years before, Hana was naked and severely underweight. Her head had recently been shaved, and her body bore the scars of repeated beatings with a plastic plumbing hose. Inside the house, her adoptive mother, 42-year-old Carri Williams, and a number of Hana’s eight siblings had been peering out the window for the past few hours, watching as Hana staggered and thrashed around, removed her clothing in what is known as hypothermic paradoxical undressing and fell repeatedly, hitting her head. According to Hana’s brother Immanuel, a deaf 10-year-old also adopted from Ethiopia, the family appeared to be laughing at her.
Hana was pronounced dead at the hospital, the cause hypothermia compounded by malnutrition and gastritis. The following day, when Child Protective Services tried to check on the other children, Larry Williams refused to let them in. When police followed up, a deputy noted that the family acted as though Hana’s death was “an everyday occurrence.” Twelve days later, detectives and CPS conducted interviews with the children, but their answers seemed rote and rehearsed, all repeating that Hana was rebellious and refused to mind Carri; one child said he thought Hana was possessed by demons. According to investigators, Immanuel said that “people like [Hana] got spankings for lying and go into the fires of hell,” just before Larry abruptly ended the interview.
As investigators searched the house—so orderly it didn’t look like eight children lived there, wrote Detective Theresa Luvera in her warrant affidavit—they found a fundamentalist Christian child-rearing book called To Train Up A Child, written by Michael and Debi Pearl, which advises raising children to obey without question by starting to spank them when they're just a few months old. The book has been implicated in the beating deaths of two other adoptees—an American boy in North Carolina and a Liberian girl in California; the prosecuting attorney in the latter case, Michael Ramsey, called it “truly an evil book.”
Giving Thanks

While the abusive "training techniques" were carried to the exceptional extremes, the Williamses are not alone in their zealous behavior: millions of children are "trained" routinely, using the spare-the-rod-spoil-the-child dictum of the Old Testament. Some of those children will overcome the beatings (as some of their parents had), while others will not: they will suffer emotional as well as physical scars and a few, like Hana, will die. 

Children across the country may not know it, but they should be giving thanks that their parents are not following the Pearls' teachings or their "truly evil book."

*While not an ordained minister, Dobson has his 18 honorary doctorates from Christian colleges and universities prominently displayed behind glass at Focus On The Family.

** From the book:
On another note, Michael is an inductee into the International Knife Throwers Hall of Fame and holds several world titles, including Gold Cup winner of 2008-9, long distance thrower of the year with a record all time high of hitting a four inch target at 63 feet, and he is the undisputed best tomahawk thrower of 2009, holding the world title.
***Debi Pearl grew up during the 1960s at the height of the hippie revolution and the Jesus Movement. The forced draft due to the Vietnam War brought a sense of eternity to the youth, provoking them to seriously consider their souls. It was a time of a great move of the Spirit of God. As a teenager, dressed in tie-dye tee shirt and long drooping peasant skirt, she stood on the highways and byways sharing the gospel and seeing miracle after miracle of God’s amazing grace. She married her life mate, Michael Pearl, in 1971.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Aimless Apologists: Free Birds Is Fraught With Subversive Meaning! Yeah, Right.

Beware of a family movie that doesn't mention God. Beware of a silly movie no evident motive but to entertain, because it is surely sinister. Beware of a movie that shows a wild imagination. There are subliminal meanings in everything.

There comes a time when you have to say to uber-Christians: "Give it a rest already!" 

I saw Free Birds last night. It was a fun, silly movie about two turkeys who time-travel to the first Thanksgiving in order to change the menu, thereby saving the lives of future turkeys. The only political bent that could be noticed was that the voice of the President (who pardons the main character) is definitely a take on Bill Clinton. Anyone seeing any socio-political message in it would have to be one hell of an absorbed individual, bent on an agenda of his own.

Jackson Cuicon of Christianity Today, is one such individual.

I know how I sound when I type the sentence—"The Indian turkeys are happier than the U.S. turkeys so clearly the movie thinks religion is bad." I know it sounds like a classic over-reading of the text, reading anti-Christian rhetoric into a movie that's totally benign just so that you (as reader) and I (as writer) will have something to get angry about.

Then he proceeds to go on (and on and on) about things like:

IMAGERY - This flashback's imagery plays heavily on the image of Paul's visitation on the road to Damascus,
MARX ("religion is a falsehood told out of compassion") and
EXISTENTIALISM ("compassionate atheism").

Yes, it's a classic over-reading of the text, but who the hell reads it like this particular "Christian" reviewer with an apologetic axe to grind?

Sometimes a silly movie is just ... a silly movie. Get over it.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hawaii Got A Scientist While Russia Got A Crackpot: Two Sides Of LGBT Equality

UPDATE: Yesterday, Illinois passed marriage equality. Hawaii and New Mexico may soon follow suit.

On Nov. 4th at the Hawaii State House of Representatives eminent bio-geneticist Dean Hamer (for 35 years, a researcher at the National Institutes of Health) gave testimony in support of Hawaii's marriage equality hearing.

It was perhaps the most compelling argument by a scientist that gays are biologically motivated in their sexual orientation as heterosexuals are. It is a "must see" that is making the rounds of the internet - but slowly, discreetly, especially if you're laptop is monitored by your right wing pastor.

But in Russia:


"Russia's parliament invited an American anti-gay psychologist whose work has been widely discredited to give expert testimony where he suggested that a third of LGBTs support pedophilia, according to a participant in the meeting."
"Family Research Institute founder Paul Cameron, who has been censured by the American Psychological Association and the American Sociological Association for distorting statistics in efforts to block LGBT rights, spoke at a Duma roundtable on "family values," according to tweets from lawmaker Alexander Sidyakin."


In America we have many freedoms, but one freedom is still developing: freedom from right-wing religion and its wingnuts.  Russia, sadly, does not have that freedom. Russia is held in a stranglehold by a Christian religious power not seen since Constantine made Christianity Rome's "official" religion.* It is certainly more powerful than the Anglican Church during America's colonial period. It is even more powerful than the revivalist religion of the antebellum South.

“Which president is the lion of Christianity, the defender of Christian values, the president that’s calling his nation back to embracing its identity as a nation founded on Christian values?” [Bryan] Fischer asked. “Those, ladies and gentlemen, are quotes from Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia.”

It is a power-hold today's Southern Baptists certainly envy:

But for the Christian Right, the possibility that Russia is embracing America's hate groups, homophobes and scientific frauds to legitimize its own intolerance does not enter into the picture: eager to proselytize and convey the evils of its chief candidate for hell, the Christian Right's leaders (e.g. Bryan Fischer and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council) don't question Russian motives. Anti-gay Russian sentiment is a gift horse.

Back To Hawaii

After 5 grueling days of testimony, the Hawaii House judiciary and finance committees will likely broaden the religious exemptions of the controversial bill. That, however, is not what Christian Right opponents wanted, and they are is angered by the possibility of the bill's passage. Last ditch efforts (like the testimony of one police chief who vowed never to enforce the law) were muddled by the sheer volume of "testimonies" (over 1000!) and Dr. Dean Hamer's was perhaps the only clear-cut and authoritative voice heard. Moreover, same-sex marriage was not on trial - homosexuality was, and the debate degenerated into a boring hodgepodge that made Hawaii's state congress look ridiculous in its confusion.

No, the debate did not go well for opponents of marriage equality.

The Other Debate

While Dr. Hamer's testimony may not considered absolutely definitive (it will certainly be contested by the "ex-gay" movement and various hate groups pushing for conversion), it has solidified the "born that way" meme in scientific terms. Any counter-attempts to prove "it's a choice" will look weak and the Christian Right will have one less homophobic left to stand on.

In America. 

Other countries such as Russia are fair game for crackpots like the Christian Right's Paul Cameron: America's sage institutions like the American Psychological Association and the American Sociological Association must be political pawns of the radical "homosexual agenda." Russia maust be made to know about the "homosexual menace."

“He cited statistics of a survey of homosexualists: 27% engage in sex with children from 15 to 18, 15% with children under 15; 32% think such sex is OK”
“Such interesting statistics. The question is, should we give children away to be adopted by single-sex families? For me the answer’s obvious. Comrade Cameron…is even harsher. He says we should ban those who openly promote their homosexual orientation from teaching children in schools. A hawk.”

Actually, more like a fox - in a Christian Right hen house.

*When pagans were imprisoned and temples burned.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Next Anti-Christ Is 16 Years Old, A Brilliant Scientist, A Mountain Of Compassion, And ... Gay.

Bryan Fischer will be taking tickets to the auto de fe.

Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Pope Francis I move over, there's a new Anti-Christ in town and he's sure to be the devil's favorite for a while: he's 16 year-old Jack Andraka and he's adorable. At fifteen, he developed an inexpensive test to detect early signs of pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancers because a close family friend had died of pancreatic cancer. He's also a Life Scout with the Boy Scouts of America (but not a member of the Boy Sodomizers of America ala Bryan Fischer), and he's butch enough to love kayaking. 

I’m openly gay and one of my biggest hopes is that I can help inspire other LGBT youth to get involved in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics]. I didn’t have many [gay] role models [in science] besides Alan Turing." 

Yes, he's gay. But that's only part of the reason he might be the next Anti-Christ.

In the world of the Christian Right, there are enemies and ENEMIES, and one of the worst, most, insidious enemies it has been battling for decades (centuries, really), is science. 

"Science Shouldn't Be A Luxury"

One more reason to think Jack is an abomination to mankind: he is a scientist dedicated to making scientific knowledge more available to the world - especially to youth. In trying to roll back strides in science as the horrendous results of anti-God belief or playing God, the Christian Right has been trying to twist science to do its bidding (e.g. pseudo-historian David Barton stated unequivocally that science would eventually prove that everything in the Bible was true, or the ridiculous junk scientists of the Creation Museum).
"Science shouldn't be a luxury, and knowledge shouldn't be a commodity," he said Monday at the 2013 Social Good Summit.
"We're living in a knowledge aristocracy. We have a knowledge elite," he said, explaining that less than 1% of the world controls scientific, academic research.
"If a 15-year-old who didn't even know what a pancreas was could find a new way to detect pancreatic cancer, then just imagine what we all can do," he said.
"Just imagine" is what the Christian Right is afraid of: a world of young, progressive, compassionate, (and possibly gay) scientists. They might prove conclusively that God's Word (The Bible) is more metaphorical than real. They might find cures to God's plagues. They might encourage humanity to question more and make blind belief a thing of the past. 

Today's Christian Right is cast from the same mold as the people who thought Gutenberg's new invention was evil, since reading and writing was limited to clergy and the church's aristocratic donors. 

Backing Off - For Now

The Christian Right needs a new Anti-Christ: Barack Obama is old hat, Hillary's close, but not nearly charismatic enough and the pope is not considered the effort since he won't be around long enough and Anti-Christs need to take root and grow for a while. It has also been determined that naming a new Anti-Christ every week is counterproductive - that strategy has no staying power. Yes, Jack Andraka fits the bill on so many levels.

To date, however, there has been no word from Christian Right powers-that-be. Not Bryan Fischer. Not Tony Perkins. Not even Linda Harvey.* Perhaps they are conjuring up a case against Jack's parents (obviously "exploiting" him and being too liberal). But perhaps they are wary of backlash, and not merely from the LGBT community: America does not take kindly to demonizing young people unless they are wild celebrities (like McCauley Culkin or Miley Cyrus), and Jack Andraka is as dedicated to social justice for humanity as they come. 

And yes, they're afraid of  that too. 

*Often characterized as America's most homophobic woman, Harvey (Mission America) has ranted against gay teachers and anti-bullying programs because she firmly believes that teens like Jack Andraka will be indoctrinated. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Legislating Compassion: Why Does The Right Hate It So Much?

In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of. - Confucius

Right Wing Watch:
     "Last month, the Family Research Council’s Kenneth Blackwell hailed House Republicans for passing a massive cut in food aid for low-income families, arguing that there is 'nothing more Christian' than kicking millions off the food stamp program."

A matter of "Dependency"
      Blackwell also suggested that there was "nothing more Christian" than "not locking people into a permanent dependency on government handouts, but making sure they are participants in their own upliftment and empowerment so that they in fact through the dignity of work and can break from the plantation of big government."

Using antebellum messaging has been the strategy of today's Right: people on welfare have been made slaves to government, their dependency locking them into a socialist system that is totally anti-capitalist and therefore un-American. It's the dependency that is destructive. It is the dependency they hate.

Or so they say.

However, whenever you take away something people have gotten dependent upon (or enjoy), you must replace it with something else, or else you invite insurrection, anarchy or ... heresy. Early Christians were wise in replacing pagan holidays with feast days and saint's days: Christmas, for example, replaced winter solstice festivities. So what should the poor become dependent upon?

Keep'em Poor And They'll Come To Jesus has been the strategy for the Right (OK, the Christian Right) for a very long time. Switch the dependency. Simple.
Luke 14:12-14 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

Although Tony Perkins' comments might might seem ridiculously hypocritical to "bleeding heart" liberals (the Christian Right crying for a theocracy - through Reconstructionism - for many years), it makes perfect sense to people trying to hang on to their money in a taxless and minimum-government world. “The government has a responsibility to care for the poor? That’s not what Scripture says.” Grover Norquist gets the point, so why not the rest of America?
Luke 11:42 "But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God."
Compassion Costs Money

Boiling down to money may seem too simple an answer for why so many on the Right seem to hate compassion and social justice, but it's unavoidable: Pope Francis I recently hit a nerve with his focus on it (capitalized by his new economical papal style). Money is not for the poor, but for rich people to dole out to the poor subjectively. Money is for large homes and Bentleys (see video) with which to demonstrate God's love. Money is for ministry administrative costs.

Yes, the contorted reasoning for not legislating compassion is based solely on money: the Puritan, bootstraps, God-helps-those-who-help-themselves mentality governs the Right and that form of self-government is driven by money. Everyone knows it, but the reasoning must be cloaked in compassionate terms or else no one buys it.

And certainly the most compassionate term today is "Christian." What Jesus would say to using His name in such a manner, is obvious:

From Andrew Sullivan:
In an interview with the novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson, Robert Long asked her about the too-frequent identification of Christianity with the religious right in America. She doesn’t hold back:
Well, what is a Christian, after all? Can we say that most of us are defined by the belief that Jesus Christ made the most gracious gift of his life and death for our redemption? Then what does he deserve from us? He said we are to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek. Granted, these are difficult teachings. But does our most gracious Lord deserve to have his name associated with concealed weapons and stand-your-ground laws, things that fly in the face of his teaching and example? Does he say anywhere that we exist primarily to drive an economy and flourish in it? He says precisely the opposite. Surely we all know this. I suspect that the association of Christianity with positions that would not survive a glance at the Gospels or the Epistles is opportunistic, and that if the actual Christians raised these questions those whose real commitments are to money and hostility and potential violence would drop the pretense and walk away.
Legislating Compassion

The ever-widening gap between rich and poor in America should be proof that of religious institutions have not been willing fill to the gap. Rep. Paul Ryan once remarked that faith-based charities would pick up the slack left from budget cuts.* That remark must have made those institutions shudder: soup kitchens for the poor are one thing, but expensive programs are quite another matter.

It's their money, after all.

*The comic moment of his remarks came when his tax returns were release, revealing the fact that he gave far less in charitable contributions than the national average.