How the Religious Right Brainwashes Its Followers With a False Narrative of History


Why Is Christian America Supporting Donald Trump?

John Fea teaches American history at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. He is the author of the new book, Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump (Eerdmans Publishing, June 2018).

 

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A week ago Sunday, June 24, 2018, First Baptist Church of Dallas held its annual “Freedom Sunday.” The church website described the special service this way: “Celebrate our freedom as Americans and our freedom in Christ with patriotic worship and a special message from Dr. Robert Jeffress, “America is a Christian Nation.”

Not everyone in Dallas was happy about it. Robert Wilonsky, an opinion writer at the Dallas Morning News, wrote that Jeffress and the First Baptist Church were “divisive” for claiming that America was a Christian nation. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings agreed. Atheists protested. Eventually, the billboard company contracting with the church removed signs advertising Freedom Sunday.

This, of course, did not stop the service from going forward. The people of First Baptist Church spent the morning of the 24th waving American flags, wearing red, white, and blue shirts, singing the Star-Spangled Banner, and celebrating the United States military. Vice-president Mike Pence sent a letter of encouragement.

Was this a religious service or a celebration of nationalism? What was the object of the congregation’s worship?

Jeffress has been preaching his “America is a Christian Nation” sermon for a long time. On Sunday he stuck with his usual script. He indicted the “secularists, atheists, and infidels” for “perverting” the Constitution. He chided the federal government’s failure to acknowledge God in the public square. He told his congregation that academics, historians, and teachers have been lying to them about the religious roots of the United States.

Jeffress made one problematic historical reference after another. He made the wildly exaggerated claim that fifty-two of the original fifty-five signers of the Constitution were “orthodox conservative Christians.” He peddled the false notion that the disestablishment clause in the First Amendment was meant to apply solely to Protestant denominations.

Near the end of the sermon, Jeffress suggested that spikes in violence, illegitimate births, divorce, and low SAT scores in America are the direct product of the Supreme Court’s decision to remove prayer and Bible-reading from public schools.

Jeffress concluded the service with an altar call. He asked people to come to the front of the church and profess their faith in Jesus Christ. I am sure Jeffress was sincere in his desire to lead people to Jesus, but after his message it was unclear whether he was inviting them to accept Jesus Christ as Savior or embrace the idea that the United States was founded, and continues to be, a Christian nation. Maybe both.

***

Robert Jeffress is best known as a Fox News religion commentator and one of the first evangelical leaders to support Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. He has called Trump “the most faith-friendly president in history.”

Within two weeks following the announcement of his candidacy, several polls had Trump leading among white evangelical GOP voters. In November 2016, 81% of these evangelicals cast their vote for Donald Trump for President of the United States. The reasons for this are complex, and we probably need to wait a generation or two before historians can begin to make sense of them, but three young sociologists have published a scholarly essay that suggests the most plausible explanation.

Andrew Whitehead of Clemson University, Sam Perry of the University of Oklahoma, and Joseph O. Baker of East Tennessee State University argue that “the more someone believed the United States is—and should be—a Christian nation, the more likely they were to vote for Trump.” They conclude that “no other religious factor influenced support for or against Trump.”

These sociologists found that the average Trump voter believes the federal government should: declare the United States a Christian nation, advocate for Christian values, oppose the “strict separation of church and state,” allow the “display of religious symbols in public spaces,” and return prayer to public schools. Likewise, Trump voters believe that whatever success the United States has had over the years is “part of God’s plan.”

This essay is revealing, and it confirms much of what I have written about since the 2011 release of my Was American Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction. But it does not address why and how Americans have come to believe these things. The answer to that question invites us to think historically.

Ever since the founding of the republic, a significant number of Americans have supposed that the United States is exceptional because it has a special place in God’s unfolding plan for the world. Since the early 17th century founding of the Massachusetts Bay colony by Puritans, evangelicals have relished in their perceived status as God’s new Israel—His chosen people. America, they argued, is in a covenant relationship with God. The defenders of this idea like to apply Chronicles 7:14 to the United States: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Though dissenters have always been present, the Christian culture of the United States remained intact well into the 20th century. But since World War II, the moorings of this culture have loosened, and evangelicals have responded with fear that their Christian nation is about to collapse. Robert Jeffress is correct about this.

During the 1960s, the Supreme Court removed prayer and Bible reading from public schools, the federal government cut federal funding to Christian academies and colleges that practiced segregation, the country grew more diverse through immigration, and the sexual revolution threatened evangelical patriarchy and gave women the right to choose to have an abortion.

The fear that America’s Christian civilization was falling apart translated into political action. In the late 1970s, conservative evangelicals such as Jerry Falwell, Tim LaHaye (the author of the popular Left Behind novels), and a group of politicians who had been closely affiliated with the 1964 Barry Goldwater presidential campaign, developed a political playbook to win back the culture from the forces of secularization. Most of the 81% of American evangelicals who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 understood, and continue to understand, the relationship between their faith and their politics through this playbook.

This playbook, which would eventual become the culture-war battle plan of the “Religious Right,” was tweaked occasionally over the years to address whatever moral issues seemed most important at the time, but it never lost its focus on “restoring,” “renewing,” and “reclaiming” America for Christ through the pursuit of political power.

When executed properly, the playbook teaches evangelicals to elect the right President and members of Congress who will pass laws privileging evangelical Christian views of the world. These elected officials will then appoint and confirm conservative Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade, defend life in the womb, and uphold religious liberty for those who believe in traditional views of marriage.

The playbook rests firmly on the Religious Right’s understanding of American identity as rooted in its view of the American past. If America was not founded as a Christian nation, the Religious Right’s political agenda collapses or, at the very least, is weakened severely.

To indoctrinate its followers in the dubious claim that America was founded as a Christian nation, the Religious Right has turned to political activists, many of whom claim to be historians, to propagate the idea that the founding fathers of the United States were in the business of building a Christian nation.

The most prominent of these Christian nationalist purveyors of the past is David Barton, the founder of Wallbuilders, an organization in Aledo, Texas that claims to be “dedicated to presenting America’s forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on the moral, religious, and constitutional foundation on which America was built—a foundation which, in recent years, has been seriously attacked and undermined.” Barton and Wallbuilders were the source of most of the historical information Jeffress presented in his Freedom Sunday sermon on June 24th.

For the past thirty years, Barton has provided pastors and conservative politicians with inaccurate or misinterpreted facts used to fuel the Religious Right’s nostalgic longings for an American Christian golden age. American historians, including those who teach at the most conservative Christian colleges, have debunked Barton’s use of the past, but he continues to maintain a large following in the evangelical community.

David Barton peddles fake news about the American past. Yet, if Andrew Whitehead, Sam Perry, and Joseph Baker are correct, his work is essential to the success of the Trump presidency in a way that I imagine even Donald Trump and his staff do not fully understand or appreciate.

Trump does not talk very much about America’s supposedly Christian origins. His grasp of history is not very strong. But his evangelical supporters see him as a gift of God—a divinely appointed figure who has emerged on the scene for such a time as this. He is in the White House to preserve God’s covenant with America, to make America Christian again.

The support for the President is a sign of intellectual laziness in the evangelical community. Rather than thinking creatively about how to move forward in hope, Trump evangelicals prefer to respond to cultural change by trying to reclaim a Christian world that is rapidly disappearing, has little chance of ever coming back, and may never have existed in the first place.

The American founding fathers lived in a world that was very different from our own. In the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth century, America was a nation of Christians—mostly Protestants—who put their stamp on the culture.

Yet, amid this Christian culture, the founders differed about the relationship between Christianity and their new nation. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison defended the separation of church and state. John Adams and George Washington also opposed mixing church and state, while at the same time suggesting that Christians, because Christianity taught an ethic of selflessness, could be useful in the creation of a virtuous republic in which citizens sacrificed self-interest for the common good.

The founding fathers believed in God, but most of them did not believe that God inspired the Old and New Testaments or sent His son to die and rise from the dead as the ultimate payment for human sin. The God of the Declaration of Independence is a providential deity who created the world and the people in it, but there is nothing in this important American document that defines this God in terms of the Incarnation or the Trinity.

The United States Constitution never mentions God or Christianity but does forbid religious tests for office. The First Amendment rejects a state-sponsored church and celebrates the free-exercise of religion. This is hardly the kind of stuff by which Christian nations are made. Yet Barton and Jeffress invoke these founders and these documents to defend the idea that the United States was founded as a distinctly Christian nation.

***

If the Christian Right, and by extension the 81% of evangelical voters who use its political playbook, are operating on such a weak historical foundation, why doesn’t someone correct their faulty views and dubious claims?

We do.

We have.

But countering bad history with good history is not as easy as it sounds. David Barton and his fellow Christian nationalist purveyors of the past are well-funded by Christian conservatives who know that the views of the past they are peddling serve their political agenda. Barton has demonized Christian intellectuals and historians as sheep in wolves’ clothing. They may call themselves Christians on Sunday morning, but, according to Barton, their “world view” has been shaped by the secular universities where they earned their Ph.Ds. Thanks to Barton, many conservative evangelicals do not trust academic and professional historians—even academic and professional historians with whom they share a pew on Sunday mornings.

I know this first-hand from some of the negative emails and course evaluation forms I received after teaching a Sunday School course on the history of religion and politics at the Evangelical Free Church congregation where my family worship every Sunday. Because I was a college history professor—even a college history professor at a Christian college with strong evangelical roots—I could not be trusted.

What David Barton does not understand is that there are hundreds of evangelical historians who see their work as part of their Christian identity and vocation. These historians are women and men who pursue truth about the past wherever it leads. This pursuit of truth is a deeply Christian pursuit, as is the case with all efforts to distinguish truth from error.

When people like David Barton cherry-pick from the past to promote political agendas, they do a disservice to the past, fail to treat it with integrity, and ultimately harm their Christian witness in the world. They make evangelicals look foolish. This is not what Paul described in 1 Corinthians 1:18 as the “foolishness of the cross,” it is just good old-fashioned foolishness. It is a product of what evangelical historian Mark Noll has described as the “Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.”

Many of us engaged in trying to bring good history to the evangelical church need the support of Christians who are concerned about the direction Donald Trump, the Christian Right, and the pseudo-historians who prop-up their political agenda are trying to take the country and the church. Good history is complex. It is nuanced. And it is an essential part of truly worshipping God with our minds (Luke 10:27). Unfortunately, complexity, nuance, and intellectual discipleship are not the kinds of subjects that inspire Christians to dig into their pocketbooks.

What would it take to fund evangelical historians to travel to receptive churches around the country and spend some concentrated time teaching American religious history, and American history more broadly, to lay men and women? Perhaps such visits could also include times of worship and prayer?

It is unlikely that such an effort would reach the Robert Jeffress’ of the world. but there are many evangelicals who are open and willing to listen and learn. This was another lesson I took away from my Sunday School class. In fact, the criticism I received paled in comparison with the positive comments I got from those who had never heard a fellow evangelical offer a different, more accurate, view of American history.

American evangelical political engagement is built on a very weak historical foundation. It is time that Christian philanthropists, motivated by an entrepreneurial spirit informed by the pursuit of truth and a concern for the testimony of the Gospel in the world, take the long view and invest in responsible Christian thinking about the American past. The American republic, and more importantly, the witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, depends on it.

 

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American Christian Fascist Lawmaker: Convert To Christianity Or Be ‘Destroyed’


Wisconsin Lawmaker: Convert To Christianity Or Be ‘Destroyed’

 

Wisconsin state Rep. Scott Allen (Image via Screen Grab)

 Convert or be destroyed: A Wisconsin lawmaker tells constituents who are “not Christian” to join him and his fellow Christians and convert to Christianity or be “destroyed.”

Wisconsin state Rep. Scott Allen (R) speaks of Christian love while telling non-Christians they will be destroyed in an obnoxious and condescending YouTube video posted on the official “Wisconsin Assembly Republicans” YouTube channel earlier this month.

In the video a patronizing and smug Allen uses a Bible verse to suggest non-Christians will be “destroyed” –

Merry Christmas. To me and my fellow Christians, celebrating the birth of our Savior, our Emanuel, well, it is one of the most important celebrations of the year. For those who may watch this who are not Christians, I invite you to consider the hope offered by the Prince of Peace.

For all who watch this, I hope that you are filled with joy and high spirits and that your life is full of festivity and rejoicing. If, like me, you celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, I ask you this holiday season to consider the words found in Hebrews 10: 24-25: “Let us consider how we may spur one another one in word and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.”

My friends, we attain peace through love. This season, think of how you can love the people in your life: Family, friends, neighbors, just a little bit more. Encourage them. Fellowship with them. Our world needs more love and more peace. We do our part to make this world a more peaceful place by being more loving in our relationships. We gain strength through love. Hebrews 10 concludes: “We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.”

Merry Christmas.

For a government official to use his official position to proselytize and threaten non-Christians with “destruction” is abhorrent, and signals a profound disrespect for the U.S. Constitution and the secular values upon which this nation was founded.

Commenting on the obnoxious video, Hemant Mehta, writing for Friendly Atheist, notes:

There’s a pleasant message from a politician: I invite you to join my religion before you’re destroyed. The subtext, of course, is that he believes there’s something wrong with non-Christians.

The Associated Press reports the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos complaining that Allen is overtly proselytizing. The letter includes a request for all documents related to the video to determine whether state resources were used in its production or distribution and notes the U.S. Constitution prohibits government sponsorship of religious messages. The letter states, in part:

While Allen is free to promote his personal religious beliefs on his own time, it is inappropriate to do so when he is afforded a special platform due to his elected position. Using state resources to promote one particular religion, and suggesting that people should convert or even consider converting to that religion, is unconstitutional.

Allen’s message is inappropriate if not unconstitutional, and a direct insult to all non-Christians. More than this, by releasing such a message Allen is engaged in and promoting bigotry against atheists, agnostics and other freethinkers who reject his religious superstition.

Bottom line: Elected officials should not use their position to proselytize. Full stop.

(H/T Friendly Atheist) – Watch the unethical video below –

 

Continue reading “American Christian Fascist Lawmaker: Convert To Christianity Or Be ‘Destroyed’”

ANZAC Day Not for Faggots and Towelheads


ANZAC Day Not for Faggots and Towelheads

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by Geoff Lemon

[This piece is a few years old, but age has not wearied its sentiment.]

At least, not according to the Australian Christian Lobby. Sure, their main man Jim Wallace used slightly more careful language, but that was the sentiment of what he said. “Just hope that as we remember Servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for – wasn’t gay marriage and Islamic!” was the thoughtful missive he left via Twitter on the 25th.

I generally couldn’t give two shits in a waffle cone what people have to say on Twitter, the place where relevance goes to pick out its funeral clothes in pale blue. But once in a while you get something juicy, someone reposts it, and suddenly giant kerfuffles are exploding over everyone. (They’re kind of like soufflés.)

Generally, also like soufflés, these are massive beat-ups: think Nir Rosen, Catherine Deveny, that poor bloody lady with the horse. But Wallace has more reason for contrition than most. Aside from the fact that most of the towelheads and faggots could demolish him in a grammar challenge, his opinions (which he may have extensively pondered) only reinforce the ill-thought-out prejudices of thousands of other people. At least, they do once they make it onto the evening news.

Wallace said he would stand by his comment “if people read it in the right context and realise I’m not slurring gays. I have a lot of friends and associates who are gays, in fact one even tweeted me last night…” That must’ve been an illicit thrill, Jim. So, not slurring gays, you just don’t think they should have the same rights as proper normal people. Ok, check.

He went on to explain that this revelation of his came about after sitting with his father, a veteran of Tobruk and Milne Bay, who said that he didn’t recognise this Australia as being the one he fought for. Thought Jim, it was a good time to make a statement about our Judeo-Christian heritage, despite the fact that most of Australia these days is about as Christian as a bag of wet socks.

The extra-bad taste in the mouth from all this, though, is his invocation of the ANZACs to back up his point. We shouldn’t have gay marriage because ‘the ANZACs’ didn’t fight for that. We should keep an eye on dodgy Muslims because ‘the ANZACs’ sure as hell didn’t fight for them either. It was in the same vein as a particularly lunk-headed individual named Mick (natch), commenting on my pokies article, that restrictions on people’s gambling meant “the anzacs would be turning in their graves.”

To quote another commenter’s rejoinder, “Everyone loves making the ANZACs say what they want them to. They’re kind of like Jesus like that.”

And spot on. As recent years have ticked by, I’ve increasingly come to loathe ANZAC Day. Not the soldiers it honours, but the modern way of supposedly honouring them. Before you get all down on me for my disrespect, check my credentials. Through high school, my uni major, and my honours year, I specialised in Australian First and Second World War history. I’ve read dozens of biographies and memoirs by servicemen, interviewed WWII vets, and spent countless hours in archives here, in Canberra, and in Singapore. I spent a year in Thailand and Borneo researching prisoner-of-war camps, walked across northern Borneo to retrace a forced march of Aussie soldiers, then drove back and forth several more times to follow up on leads. I wrote a book of poems based on the stories I found, and I’ve done readings from it in all kinds of places to try and make sure those stories are heard. My best mate since primary school is an infantry corporal. I probably have a more direct emotional connection to that history than just about anyone who now chooses to invoke its name when April rolls around.

The fact that I do care so much is why ANZAC Days have increasingly become a time to cringe. It’s the resurgent nationalism and mythologising championed by Keating and Howard. Sentimental crud like ‘the ANZAC spirit’, gets thrown around by every chump with a lectern. People get tagged with it for playing football. The modern understanding of the phrase makes it more and more synonymous with a kind of Aussie boganeering. Thousands of young Australians go to Gallipoli to pay their respects by getting shitfaced, watching rock concerts, unrolling their sleeping bags on the graves of the dead, and fucking off the next day leaving the place completely trashed for the Turks to clean up. Much like 1915, but with a bit more piss. It’s a short step from this ‘spirit’ to the Aussie pride that saw flags tied on as capes down at Cronulla a few years ago. It seems to appeal to the same demographic that have made “Fuck off, we’re full” such a big seller down at Bumper Sticker Bonanza.

The most recent dawn service I went to sounded more like a school assembly, with the officially-voted Most Boring Prick on Earth conducting the service, then the tokenism of some Year 12 from an all-girl private school reading us her revelations after a trip to Gallipoli. The same myth-heavy sacred-worship shite. The ANZACs were this, the ANZACs were that. No, Hannah Montana. The ANZACs were a bunch of different people. The ANZACs weren’t one thing. ‘They’ didn’t believe in this or that, ‘they’ didn’t have these characteristics. They were a group of individuals.

The sanctity shtick is also popular with politicians who want to push a particular view. But the use and misuse of that history is the topic of my next post, which is an actual essay (as opposed to rant) on that subject. Yes, an essay. The internet will fall over when someone posts more than 500 words in one hit. Mind you, the 5000-worder I wrote on Balibo is one of the most popular entries on this site, so, give this a shake. I promise it’s interesting.

All of which brings us, bereft of a segue, back to Mr Wallace. His Twitter post, he said, “was a comment on the nature of the Australia [his father] had fought for, and the need to honour that in the way we preserve it into the future.”

So let me just make sure I’ve got this, Jim. Because soldiers fought and died in 1943, we need to maintain the values they had in 1943. Or do we maintain the values of the ones who fought in 1945? But hang on, they fought and died in 1915 as well… and 1914. So do we wind our values back to then? Do we bring back the Australia Party and the Northern Territory Chief Protector of Aborigines?

Let’s settle on the 1940s in general – Milne Bay and all that. And look at the values of the 1940s. This was an era when it was ok to smack your wife around a bit if she gave you lip. If you went too hard on her too often, then people might tut disapprovingly, like they did with a bloke who kicked his dog. But the odd puffy cheek was nothing to be remarked upon.

This was an era when women were supposed to show respect to men as the heads of the households and their natural superiors.

This was an era when you could pretty casually rape a girl who ended up somewhere alone with you, because if she’d got herself into that situation she was probably asking for it. Girls who said no or changed their minds were just playing hard to get. You know women, right? So fickle, so flighty. It was an era when the Australian occupation troops sent to Japan post-war were involved in the consistent rapes of Japanese women. Not traumatised vengeful former combatants, mind you, but fresh recruits, straight out of training.

This was an era when capital punishment was legal, and conscription was encouraged. This was an era when dodgy foreigners were kept out of the country by being made to sit a test in a language of the examiner’s choosing. Oh, you don’t speak Aramaic? Sorry, you failed. This was an era when Aboriginals weren’t recognised as people. Despite having been here when everyone else rocked up, they weren’t even given citizenship till 1967. Twenty-two years after the war had ended.

Were these the values that our Aussie heroes fought and died for too? Or were these not-so-good values, ones that we can discard? Where’s the distinction, Jim? Where do your values end and your values begin?

Well, guess what. I don’t want to live in the 1940s. I don’t want to live in 1918. I don’t want to brush off Vietnam, Korea, Malaya, because they were morally ambiguous. I don’t want to be part of a culture that makes people saints. I want to respect them for being people. I don’t want to live in a society where people are encouraged to hate each other, either. That kind of hatred is one of the most corrosive things in existence.

When I was in Year 9, I went to a boarding school for a year with this kid named Chris Millet. Word on the street was that he was gay. It was never clear why – I don’t think he even was. The story was along the lines of him being dared to touch another kid’s dick in the change room, and doing it to impress the tougher kids daring him. Presumably it was a set-up, and from that moment on he was branded “faggot”. I don’t mean that kids called him a faggot. I mean that they flat out swore that he was a faggot. And to 14-year-old boys there was nothing more terrifying in the world, nor so potentially destructive to one’s social standing. Millet was a fag, the lowest of the low, and in all my years I have yet to witness anyone treated in such a consistently awful fashion.

Chris Millet was bastardised and ostracised for that entire year. He was mocked, reviled, heckled, and spat at as a matter of course, the mere sight of him passing by enough to prompt a volley of abuse. Some of it was the comic genius of teenage boys (“Bums to the wall, Millet’s on the crawl!”), but usually it was just plain old invective. A big country kid, quiet and thoughtful, he just bowed his broad shoulders and kept on walking. We lived in small dorms of sixteen kids apiece; he was socially frozen out of his. His size meant not many would risk straight-out assaults, but he was routinely pushed and whacked and scuffled with; his belongings stolen, broken, or sabotaged; clothes and bed dirtied or thrown around the dorm; fair game for anyone, anytime. He ate alone, sat in class alone, walked the paths of the school alone. Even the nerdiest of the nerds only associated with him by default. He had no recourse, beyond reach and beyond help.

Even then, I was sickened by it. Even then, I could see that the fear was irrational, like being scared of catching AIDS from a handshake. Even then, I wanted to reject it. But I rarely had contact with Chris. He was in a different dorm, different activities, different classes. It was impossible not to know who he was, but our paths seldom crossed. Whenever they did, walking around school, I would smile and say hello. It was nothing, but more than he got from most people. It still felt so useless, though, that all I could offer was “Hey, Chris.” An actual smile and the sound of his real name. I don’t know if he ever noticed, but I did.

And while I wanted to do more, it was dangerous. I was a new kid that year, only just managing to fit in. Awkward, strange, providing the kind of comic relief that was mostly jester or dancing chimp. Even though I was sickened, I couldn’t seek him out to talk to, or it would have been obvious. There was the risk his personal opprobrium could have deflected onto me. I felt like a coward, but couldn’t see a way out. Even talking was dicey. One day I said hello to Chris while a kid from my dorm was walking with me. “What’s going on there?” said Will as we continued up the road. “Are you and Millet special friends?” And while he was mostly taking the piss there was still an edge to it; I could still sense that moment balancing, the risk that if he decided to push the topic with others around, it could easily tip the wrong way.

That school was tough. We spent three days a week hiking – proper stuff, 30-kilo packs, heavy old gear, 30-kilometre days through the Vic Alps. More than one stretch of mountains I crossed crying, or trying not to, or bent double, crawling up slopes with hands as well as feet. Other times I was painfully homesick, weeks spent with just the indifference of other kids and the professional distance of teachers. No phones, no internet, no way home. Physical exhaustion and isolation.

It was one of the hardest years of my life. The small group of friends I made were the one blessing that meant it could be borne. And that was exactly the thing that Chris Millet didn’t have. I cannot imagine how he made it through that year alone. Not just alone, but in the face of constant and targeted aggression. I would have buckled and gone home broken.

The last night of that year, there was a big get-together in the dining hall. When it was over I left the building looking for one person. I wandered around till I spotted him, that round-shouldered trudge, a fair way off up the hill towards his dorm. I don’t know if he was a great guy underneath it all. We never even had a proper conversation. He was just a big, quiet kid, brutalised into shyness. But I did know he didn’t deserve what he’d got. I ran up the hill after him and called out, and when he stopped, looking back a little hesitantly, I jogged up and shook his hand. “Congratulations on surviving the year,” I said. And I hope he understood how much I meant it.

That wasn’t the 1940s. That was the 1990s. And I don’t doubt you could find similar instances today. It’s attitudes like Jim Wallace’s that give legitimacy to the kind of reflex hatred that was thrown at that kid all those years ago. It’s attitudes like Wallace’s that legitimise dudes throwing molotovs at mosques in Sydney because something blew up in Bali.

And that shit doesn’t just go away. Dealing with homophobia isn’t a matter of surviving your awkward adolescence to find the inner-urban Greens-voting world has become yours to enjoy. Not every gay man gets to flower into Benjamin Law’s dashing-young-homosexual-about-town persona. Some are awkward and nervous and clumsy and just plain uncharismatic. And the kind of damage done by that early hatred will stay with them for good.

Memo: Jim Wallace. Relax. Gay marriage does not entitle hordes of faggots to come round to your house and fuck you in the mouth. At least, not without your express consent. I kinda wish they would, because at least that might shut you up, but it’s not going to happen. So what exactly is your problem? None of this legislation has any effect on your life whatsoever. Your only connection is that it makes you uncomfortable from a distance. And guess what, champ? That doesn’t give you the right to have a say. Take a pew, Jim.

As for citing ‘Anzac values’, or however you want to phrase it, it’s a rolled-gold furphy. There was no charter of mutual ideology at the recruitment office, in any of our wars. Reasons for joining up were as varied and individual as the men themselves. You have no right to start designating what those men believed.

But if you want to boil things down to the basic principle on which the war was fought – the national political principle – it was that smaller and weaker powers should not be dominated by larger ones. It was that men (and yes, it was men) should have the right to determine their own form of government, and reap the rewards of their own lands. It was (putting aside the attendant hypocrisy of the Allies’ colonial pasts) that Germany had no right to push around Poland or Czechoslovakia, and Japan no right to stand over China or Korea. It was that those people should live free, and free from fear.

Australians deserve to live free from fear too. There were nearly a million Aussie servicemen and women in WWII. Stands to reason more than a few of them were gay, even if they didn’t admit it. How could they have, when most of the population would have regarded them as either criminal, deviant, disgusting, or mentally ill? How about the 70s or 80s, when gays starting to live more openly were bashed and killed in parks and streets? Or the Sudanese kid bashed to death in Melbourne a couple of years ago? How do you feel being a Lakemba Muslim when racial tensions start heating up? Living your life in fear doesn’t only apply to warzones.

Australian soldiers fought and died in 1943. Australian soldiers fought and died in 2011, too. And in 2010, and in 2009. So what about protecting the values they represented? Like the freedom to be yourself and love you who want. The freedom to practice your religion in peace. Values like a tolerance of difference. What about protecting a society where warmth and kindness and generosity of spirit are promoted ahead of distrust, segregation and disapproval? I’d like to live in a society like that. I might even be prepared to fight for it.

Because guess what, Jim? Faggots and towelheads are people too. And in a society that still calls them faggots and towelheads, they’re some of the most vulnerable people we’ve got.

If you want to talk to me about values worth dying for, protecting the vulnerable would be a good place to start.

RELIGIO-FASCIST ALERT! The Truth about “Reclaim Australia Rallies”


Anti-Nazi-Symbol_svg

RELIGIO-FASCIST ALERT! The Truth about “Reclaim Australia Rallies”

Anonymous – Truth about “Reclaim Australia Rallies”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_NJv09Hj54

Anonymous would like to highlight the truth about the so called “Reclaim Australia Rallies” and their Neo Nazi ties.

FOR INFORMATION ON THE NAZI FASCIST ELEMENTS ORGANISING THIS RALLY AND DEBUNKING THE ISLAMOPHOBIC MYTHS PLEASE VISIT – http://www.reclaimwhat.net/

BRISBANE COUNTER RALLY – https://www.facebook.com/events/494287630709966/

MELBOURNE COUNTER RALLY – https://www.facebook.com/events/494287630709966/

SYDNEY COUNTER RALLY – https://www.facebook.com/events/1559805754258488/

GOLD COAST COUNTER RALLY – https://www.facebook.com/events/1533221720290510/

ADELAIDE – https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=823458121023854&ref=ts&fref=ts

ACT COUNTER RALLY – https://www.facebook.com/events/823458121023854/

ANONYMOUS IS AGAINST RACISM, BIGOTRY & FASCISM. Video of The Great Aussie Patriot making up lies to incite hatred. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8spPxoE7ncA&feature=youtu.be

The Rise of Christian Fascism | Poll: 57% Of GOPers Support Making Christianity The National Religion


Poll: 57% Of GOPers Support Making Christianity The National Religion
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AP Photo / Frank Franklin II

The poll by the Democratic-leaning firm found that 57 percent of Republicans “support establishing Christianity as the national religion” while 30 percent are opposed. Another 13 percent said they were not sure.

It almost goes without saying that the Establishment Clause of the Constitution prohibits establishing of a national religion.

The poll was conducted among 316 Republicans from Feb. 20-22. The margin of error was plus or minus 5.5 percentage points.

About The Author

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Daniel Strauss is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He was previously a breaking news reporter for The Hill newspaper and has written for Politico, Roll Call, The American Prospect, and Gaper’s Block. He has also interned at Democracy: A Journal of Ideas and The New Yorker. Daniel grew up in Chicago and graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in History. At Michigan he helped edit Consider, a weekly opinion magazine. He can be reached at daniel@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Suicide rates go up under conservative governments


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Suicide rates go up under conservative governments

Too many know at the deepest level, the black hopelessness of suicide: its words and feelings. It is the most profound expression of despair that can be enacted by an individual. I have heard the testimonies from people contemplating suicide and from those left behind after suicide; the aptly named survivors. Around six people suicide every day in Australia. Males, outnumber females, [in this sad statistic], by approximately three times as many. The numbers of those effected by a single suicide can be modestly estimated as at least five more for each death. This does not even encompass the toll exacted from suicide attempts and linked depression.

After eleven years working in suicide prevention, and responding to the desperation of those who saw no way out including, those who have tried and been supported to continue to live,I needed out myself. It became too hard to defend the worth of living against the torrent and outpouring of despair

So often I had focused on interconnectedness, the reduction of social isolation and affirmation of the worth of each single life. But this may be only part of the greater picture.

It seems that what governments do, or fail to do, to protect their citizens, does matter.

Studies of suicide rates under conservative governments compared to what I shall term, socially responsible governments, have shown that suicide rates go up under conservative governments.

Not only has this been linked recently in the US to austerity measures but also to Australian and British statistics on suicide. According to an article in the New York Times it’s not just the relationship between unemployment and poverty that kills, it’s the removal of safety nets .

Suicide rates in Greece soared under austerity, rising by eighteen per cent in 2010 to twenty five per cent higher in 2011. Cost cutting sackings,and pension losses, are sited as causal.

Researchers David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu report that:

Iceland avoided a public health disaster even though it experienced, in 2008, the largest banking crisis in history, relative to the size of its economy. After three main commercial banks failed, total debt soared, unemployment increased ninefold, and the value of its currency, the krona, collapsed.

Iceland opted to not implement austerity measures, instead to slowly pay off the debt. Its suicide rate did not increase.

At the time that I was working at Lifeline Melbourne, both conservative governments, in Victoria under Premier Jeff Kennett and Federally under Prime Minister John Howard bequeathed funding for suicide prevention programs. Incidentally, the Kennet program for youth suicide prevention, was axed by the next conservative government of Ted Baillieu. But the original funding, by wiser conservatives may have been in response to the increase in suicide rates in the late 1990’s. Or perhaps to an awareness of the rumoured ‘curse of conservatism’ that spikes the suicide rates?

So why might this be happening under a conservative government and less so under non conservative governments. As someone who worked for years in the not for profit sector and health industry, I recall the expectant angst of cuts in relation to welfare health and support services. These were dreaded, with the change to a conservative government Invariably the cuts came, with the cries of justification and of saving the economy. The tough measures were mostly directed at the poor and powerless, and at hapless public servants

This was all done in the name of fiscal responsibility. However oddly less often directed at the upper echelons. The battle for the domestic dollar is usually waged in lower socioeconomic fields. For example the rumoured raising of the tax free threshold from $6000 to $18000

Or Joe Hockey’s menacing denouncement of the ‘age of entitlement.’ In his sights were

“Government spending on a range of social programs including education, health, housing, subsidized transport, social safety nets and retirement benefits that have reached extraordinary levels as a percentage of GDP.” Now we may also add to this list, programs for sustainable living and reduction adaptation and mitigation of climate change.

I add this as a failing of the state to assume any responsibility for the most vulnerable of all: future generations who have no vote.

The current Australian government has signaled its priorities in the removal of mentions from new ministerial portfolios. No mention of mental health, aging, or disability.

The trimming of this nomenclature is not merely semantic or an economy of words. When you take words from Government Ministerial Portfolios, the lines of accountability and responsibility become blurred. To whom do interest groups appeal? How will the new National Disability Insurance Scheme [NDIS] be administered without a dedicated ministry.

When issues arise as they must, who is the go to person?

Glaringly there is no Science Minister and no Climate Change Minister. Because the official stance of this government is that climate change is not worthy of its concern. There is however a Sports Minister. Nor is there a designated person to reduce homelessness. Tony Abbott has said that homelessness is a lifestyle choice and that if elected he would not support the current homelessness program.

The Climate Commission that empowered the public with information on the science of climate change, has been dismantled. Foreign Aid has been cut by over $4 billion. Thus reducing our help as a rich nation, to the poorer nations.

So why might suicide rates rise, under a conservative austerity geared government?

Edwin Shneidman, who analyzed hundreds of suicide notes found the following themes were expressed. There is unbearable pain and the desire to escape form the pain, not necessarily a wish to die. Thinking becomes constricted and problems appear insurmountable. The suicidal person feels despair about the future combined with feelings of helplessness, worthlessness hopelessness and of isolation.

If the community and the state do not offer a helping hand, to the vulnerable, we leave them to grapple alone with a sense of worthlessness. We in effect say that they are not worth much. Suicide is strongly linked to depression, mental illness, trauma, grief, loss, substance abuse and gambling. Ironically we are all vulnerable to the vicissitudes of life; but in the brave new world of neo conservative philosophy, individuals are seen as solely.

responsible for their own misfortune. Government is to be kept small with regard to the so called welfare state. But as Tony Abbott has declared,Australia is under new management and is now open for business.

This conjures up a metaphor of the state as big business, not as a guardian of its citizen’s well being.

What will happen to the twelve thousand public servants Abbott has threatened to sack, as though hitherto they have been a useless drain on the budget? As though their lives, families, careers and well being were of no account. Why have they been treated so appallingly as to have their intended axing trumpeted on the air waves, as though their employment was abusing Australia’s economy?

Ultimately governments that lack compassion, set the bar very low for the entire community and the wider world we all inhabit. They model that this is a world where the so called strongest and the bullies survive and flourish, while the poor and vulnerable of our community and the world are to be abandoned.

I for one would find this an exceedingly depressing place to inhabit, so perhaps for some it does become an impossible place, in which to go on living.

 Lyn Bender is a psychologist in private practice. She is a former manager of Lifeline Melbourne and is working on her first novel.


American Pastor: Christian Children Should Be Taught To Be ‘Extremists’ Like Hitler Youth, ISIS


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American Pastor: Christian Children Should Be Taught To Be ‘Extremists’ Like Hitler Youth, ISIS

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Bert Farias is a Christian minister, a columnist, and perhaps the only person in the world who took one look at the Nazis and ISIS and thought “Now, that’s who we should be emulating!”

In an article he wrote for Charisma News, Farias argues that Christianity needs more “soldiers” for Christ and the only way to achieve that is radicalizing the youth. Hey, it worked for Hitler.

Years ago I was part of an apostolic team of fathers who mentored, equipped and empowered radical youth. We believed then and still do now that we are to help define and lead a countercultural movement. It is our passion to upset the sinful status quo of society and the church. Youth are key!

In 1933 Hitler said, “If I can separate the youth of Germany from their parents I will conquer this nation.” He started a movement called “The Brown Shirts” in which 100,000 youth stood in Berlin with their right hand raised and screaming. “Hitler, we are yours!” Imagine our youth pledging that kind of allegiance to King Jesus!

Extending the logic further, Farias looks at “revolutionary countries” where the “youth are trained in combat and weapons” and seethes with jealousy.

 

They are taught principles of Communism and the tenets of militant Islam. They give themselves wholeheartedly to the goal of world domination. Someone once said that Satan is preparing his army, but the church is entertaining her children. We need a radical departure from the standard method of training young men and women for ministry. We need a touch of wholesome extremism to launch a counterculture JESUS revolution!

Farias doesn’t seem to worry that along with all those guns in the hands of children comes some of the worst human rights atrocities being committed in the modern world. Nor did Hitler’s Youth represent a shinning example of humanity. In fact, one might argue that it was the very fanatical extremism being taught and assimilated into these groups that directly led to violence, intolerance and, in the case of both the Nazis and ISIS, genocide.

Equally disturbing is the fact that Farias seems singularly focused on the disturbing maxim “Get them while they’re young.” His entire goal appears to be to start training kids at a young age to be closed-minded. The more radical, the better. As Little Green Footballs points out, Farias’ ministry’s website is full of allusions to warfare, soldiers and fighters. One section reads:

The Training of a New Breed

For a new breed of troops to arise, there must be given a new breed of training. For many of my past trainees have only been trained for the easy and the soft and not for the rigorous and the hard. Many have been trained of the letter but not of the Spirit and so they stand unequipped for the battle and an easy target for the enemy. Sow to the spirit and so shall their swords be sharpened for the flesh has made them dull. For in the flesh is weariness and hands that hang down with the shield of faith. Prepare them to march to a different spirit. Root out the flesh, selfish ambition, and pride and train them to walk by the Lord’s side for the Lord resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

He insists that his little “extremists” will fight not with “earthly weapons” but with the “love of God,” but seems to forget that extremism – whether it be in the name of Allah, Jesus, or German ethnic supremacy – inevitably leads to dehumanization and intolerance of those whom disagree with the “true believers.” It marks the very first step towards oppression and violence.

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The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity


The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945, by Richard Steigmann-Gall

The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945, by Richard Steigmann-Gall

A popular belief is that Nazism was the polar opposite of Christianity: in Germany, the Nazis planned to eliminate Christian churches while devout Christians opposed the Nazi agenda. Is this perception accurate? No. Some Nazis were anti-Christian and some Christians were anti-Nazi, but the majority were equally at home in both camps.

Book Review

Traditional evaluation of Christian complicity in the Holocaust and other Nazi crimes focuses on the degree to which Christians allowed themselves to be used for Nazi purposes, but this presupposes a distinction between Nazis and Christians which did not entirely exist. Many Christians actively supported the Nazi agenda. Many Nazis were not only devout Christians, but also believed that Nazi philosophy was animated by Christian doctrine.

The Christianity promoted by the Nazis was labeled “positive Christianity,” a perspective that focused on the relationship between Christian promises of salvation and the German Volk as a special race of people. Point 24 of the NSDAP Party Program, created in 1920 and never rescinded, reads:

“We demand freedom for all religious confessions in the state, insofar as they do not endanger its existence or conflict with the customs and moral sentiments of the Germanic race. The party as such represents the standpoint of a positive Christianity, without owing itself to a particular confession. It fights the spirit of Jewish materialism within us and without us, and is convinced that a lasting recovery of our Volk can only take place from within, on the basis of the principle: public need comes before private greed.”How is all of this possible? How can the reality of the relationship between Nazism and Christianity be so far removed from popular perception? The truth about all this is detailed in Richard Steigmann-Gall’s book The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945.

Christians avert their faces from the true relationship between their religion and Nazism in part because the truth is difficult to bear, but also in part because they simply don’t understand what Christianity was like in Germany at the time.

“Positive Christians may have said little or nothing about the Augsburg Confession or other signifiers of theological orthodoxy, but they nonetheless regarded Christian social theories — “practical Christianity” as it was also known — as a linchpin of their worldview. Although generally unconcerned with dogma, many of these Nazis nonetheless adhered to basic precepts of Christian doctrine — most importantly the divinity of Christ as the son of God. Although they clearly departed from conventional theology in their rejection of the Old Testament and insistence on Christ’s Aryanhood, they were not simply distorting Christianity for their own ends or engaging in idiosyncratic religious meandering. Only by ignoring the intellectual precedents for these ideas can we argue that positive Christianity was an “infection” of an otherwise pristine faith. Rather. These ideas found expression among bona fide voices of Kulturprotestantismus before the Nazi Party ever existed.”

The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945, by Richard Steigmann-GallThe Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945, by Richard Steigmann-Gall

Although Christians today may find it implausible that religion as they practice it could have anything in common with Nazism, they need to recognize that Christianity — including their own — is always conditioned by the culture where one finds it. For Germans at the beginning of the 20th century, this meant that Christianity was often profoundly anti-Semitic and nationalistic. This was the same ground which the Nazis found so fertile for their own ideology — it would have been amazing had the two systems not found a great deal in common and been unable to find a way to work together.

Germany after World War I was regarded as a godless, secular, materialistic republic which had betrayed all of Germany’s traditional morals, values, and religious beliefs. An important aspect of the Nazis’ appeal to the great mass of religiously conservative Germans was the fact that they said all the right things about the evils of atheism, materialism, greed, corruption, law and order, communism, and religious values.

Alongside the Christian Nazis were a number of anti-Christian Nazis who sought to create a new, neo-pagan religion for the German people. These were, however, relatively few in number and their views were never officially endorsed by the Party or by Hitler. Slightly more common were anti-clerical Nazis who continued to accept basic theistic and Christian doctrines, but who repudiated churches and priests. This seems to have been a view gradually adopted by Hitler himself.

Isn’t it true, though, that Hitler sought to eliminate churches and Christianity from Germany? It’s been said that Hitler only spoke positively about Christianity in public because he had to in order to maintain support from the German people; in private, he admitted to his true hatred of all things Christian. This view is based upon allegedly private comments recorded in the book Hitler Speaks, but Steigmann-Gall argues that the balance of evidence indicates that these statements are probably forgeries and are regarded as such by many scholars.

“The conspiratorial tone of this account of the “private” Hitler has convinced many church historians that Hitler was “a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” anti-Christian to the core and from the outset of his career. The caricature Rauschning presents of Hitler’s ranting should alone have raised questions as to its authenticity; but the more troubling fact remains that Rauschning’s book stands completely alone in handing down sayings of this nature from this period.”“It is not for nothing that these factors should raise questions: Hitler Speaks is now considered to be fraudulent. As a recent biographer has put it, “Especially the chapter ‘Hitler in private’ …‘is untrustworthy through and through — a product of war propaganda… [Rauschning’s] ‘conversations with Hitler’ are far-off fantasies.” Moreover…Rauschning was too peripheral to the movement to have been part of Hitler’s inner circle of confidants, as he consistently maintained.”

Sometimes people use passages from Hitler’s Table Talks to argue that Hitler was really anti-Christian, but even if the authenticity of this entire collection of reminiscences is acknowledged, there is far more ambiguity and pro-Christian commentary than is usually acknowledged. It would be surprising if Hitler had never said anything critical of churches, priests, and Christianity and so the existence of some negative quotes is expected. What matters most is the overall balance of his commentary — and that is indisputably pro-Christian and pro-religion.

The deliberate promotion of pagan beliefs was a minority within the Nazi Party. Alfred Rosenberg favored the creation of a new religion, but Hitler went so far as to threaten to take action against his book Mythus, and it was banned by some lower-ranking party organizations. Himmler was obsessed with ancient Germans, but Hitler dismissed this as ridiculous — and even Himmler insisted that Christian viewpoints be respected within the SS. At times he admitted that he was less anti-Christian than anti-clerical.

The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945, by Richard Steigmann-GallThe Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945, by Richard Steigmann-Gall

One important point about all this which may be missed is the fact that these and other pagan Nazis never pretended to be anything else — they never affected a pro-Christian stance in public in order to win over the approval of the German people. When Nazis were pagan, it appears that they were unabashedly and enthusiastically pagan, without apology.

This makes it difficult to argue that other leading Nazis, like Goebbels, Goering, and Hitler himself, only pretended to be pro-Christian for the sake of public relations. If they had wanted to endorse a new paganism in Germany, they had ample opportunity. Instead, what we have are a few Nazis publicly endorsing paganism, but most Nazis publicly endorsing Christianity and all official party organs endorsing Christianity, right up to the official party platform.

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America’s Christian Right Call for Military Takeover and Martial Law


Joyner: ‘Our Only Hope Is A Military Takeover’

by Kyle Mantyla

On yesterday’s episode of “Prophetic Perspective on Current Events,” Rick Joyner declared that democracy in America has failed and that the nation might not last even to the end of President Obama’s term, warning that we are heading for a tyranny from which we can only be saved by a military takeover.

“There’s no way our republic can last much longer,” Joyner said, adding that “we’re headed for serious tyranny” because the electoral system is so broken that the leaders we need who can save this nation will never win office.  That is why “our only hope is a military takeover; martial law”:

Catholic Pervert Remains Papal Knight


Child abuse suspect Savile still Vatican knight

This video from Britain is called Exposure – The Other Side of Jimmy Savile | 2012 | Full Documentary.

Via: -http://dearkitty1.wordpress.com/

From Associated Press:

Vatican says it cannot posthumously remove Jimmy Savile’s papal honor; condemns sexual abuse

Saturday, October 27, 6:24 PM

LONDON — The Vatican said Saturday it never would have given Jimmy Savile his papal knighthood had it known of allegations the British TV star was a child sex predator, but that it can’t rescind the honor now that he has died.

The Catholic Church of England wrote to the Holy See last week, asking it to consider whether it could posthumously remove the honor awarded to Savile because of the many recent child sex abuse allegations against him. Savile, a much-loved BBC children’s television host, died last year at age 84. …

Savile was made a Knight Commander of St. Gregory the Great by Pope John Paul II in 1990 for his charity work. He was also knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to charity and entertainment.

But police now believe Savile to be one of the most prolific sex offenders in Britain in recent history, with a “staggering number” of people reporting abuses by him after his death.

Some 300 potential victims have come forward with abuse allegations, police said. Most of them say they were abused by Savile, but some say they were abused by other people, Metropolitan Police said Friday.

See also here.

Related articles

 

South Park Blasphemy | Right Wing Fox News Cronie Seeks Government Inquisition


Fox News Host Wants Federal Investigation into ‘South Park‘ for Blasphemy

Fox News’s Todd Starnes is sick and tired of ‘South Park’ and Hollywood getting a free pass. The Fox News commentator participated in the Values Voter Summit panel on “Religious Hostility in America” over the weekend.

The panel featured the familiar argument that Christians in America are somehow a beleaguered minority that is under constant assault. Starnes claims to have a pile of stories stacked up on his desk about “instances of people who have been facing attack because of their faith in Jesus Christ.”
Speaking of the controversy surrounding the laughably bad “Innocence of Muslims,” Starnes asked why the federal government isn’t investigating “shows like ‘South Park,’ which has denigrated all faiths.” He also demanded to know why President Obama hasn’t denounced Hollywood.
We have the seen the administration come out and say, “we condemn anyone who denigrates religious faith.” And they come out in regards to this anti-Muslim film.
Well, that’s well and good, but my question is, when has the administration condemned the anti-Christian films that are coming out of Hollywood? Where are the federal investigations into shows like ‘South Park,’ which has denigrated all faiths?
Where is the outrage when people of the Christian faith are subjected to this humiliation that is coming out of Hollywood?
Religious Right activists have been the most vocal supporters of the filmmakers, if you can call them that, and have rightfully pointed out that the First Amendment protects their activities. Starnes, however, seems to have a double-standard when it comes to speech that he deems offensive to his religious views.
As it turns out, the only investigation going on around the “Innocence of Muslims” concerns whether one of the purported “filmmakers” violated the terms of his probation. Otherwise the government has no place policing speech, regardless of who is offended, and the president is not the film critic in chief. President Obama can be excused, however, for speaking out when Americans are being killed over an amateurish YouTube video.

American Taliban | Christian Fascist Calls For Extermination of Heretics


NC Pastor: Pen In ‘All The Lesbians And Queers’ With An Electrified Fence, Wait For Them To ‘Die Out’

The Pastor’s leper colony-esque proposal came in response to the president’s endorsement of same-sex marriage, which he said ‘anybody with any sense’ would be against. Worley explained that the idea of two men kissing makes him ‘pukin’ sick,’ so he developed a proposal to ‘get rid of all the lesbians and queers’:

WORLEY: I figured a way out — a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers. But I couldn’t get it passed through Congress. Build a great big large fence, 150 or 100 miles long. Put all the lesbians in there. Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals. Have that fence electrified so they can’t get out. Feed ‘em, and– And you know what? In a few years they’ll die out. You know why? They can’t reproduce.

Updated: Video clip of the comments

He claims to be a man of God, but I have serious questions about which God.

Religious Liberty | Deceptive Code for Oppressing Others


Doctrine of Religious Liberty Can Be Used to Deny the “Liberty of the Enemies of God”
Rachel Tabachnick

“So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy constructing a Bible-based social, political, and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.” –Gary NorthThere’s been a lot of talk about “religious liberty” in the last few weeks, so I’m reposting segments of a January article with quotes from Christianity and Civilization, a Christian Reconstructionist journal, also published as part of a multi-volume set of booklets. My original post was part of a series on the Ludwig von Mises Institute and the “Theocratic Libertarianism” promoted by Gary North. In this version of the article I emphasize North’s concept of manipulating the doctrine of religious liberty to advance a theocratic agenda, and the reasons why Theocratic Libertarianism is seductive to corporate interests and think tanks that might not otherwise promote a regressive social agenda or partner with theocrats.

The next article in this series will include other authors from this multi-volume set of 1980s Reconstructionist booklets including Rousas Rushdoony, Pat Robertson, Francis Schaeffer, Joseph Morecraft, Larry Pratt, Paul Weyrich, John W. Whitehead, George Grant, Connie Marshner, Tom Rose, and Peter Lillback. Many of these contributors cannot be dismissed as isolated or fringe.

The late Paul Weyrich is considered the architect of the New Right; Whitehead, founder of the Rutherford Institute is now a regular at Huffington Post; and Peter Lillback, president of Westminster Theological Seminary and founder of the Providence Forum, helped Glenn Beck promote his “social justice is Marxism, not Christianity” argument. Lillback is also author of a book on George Washington that zoomed to #1 bestseller on Amazon after being promoted by Beck.The partnership of corporate interests, right-wing think tanks, and the Religious Right has resulted in sophisticated attacks on secular democracy. The Theocratic Libertarian or biblical economics agenda merges a regressive social agenda with radical free market economics, seductive to both plutocrats and theocrats. North’s writings provide a window into what this brand of religious liberty and justice means. Years of financial support from the plutocratic end of the partnership has helped to sanitize and refine the message, but Christian Reconstructionism, with its biblical capitalism component, has provided the intellectual foundations for today’s Religious Right. The package is currently being marketed to Americans as the ultimate in ” religious liberty.” The quote at the beginning of the article is how North described this religious liberty as being used to bring about theocracy.

Throughout the United States, there is a centralized and well-funded “private school choice” movement to divert public tax dollars to private schools . Many of these schools are using A Beka Books and other fundamentalist texts that teach the same brand of biblical capitalism found in Christian Reconstructionism. As students are removed from the public education system and moved to private religious schools, many will be indoctrinated into the biblical economics worldview. This may help explain why hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent promoting “school reform” designed to shift students to private schools.

The corporate interests and right-wing foundations funding this effort may not be interested in stoning homosexuals, but the anti-labor, anti-regulatory, and anti-tax messages that are presented as part of a biblical worldview and education in these schools is obviously appealing. Previous articles at Talk2action.org have included quotes from these textbooks and information on schools in Pennsylvania, Florida, and other states, using tax dollars to fund scholarships for students in schools using these texts.

Christian Reconstructionism is often described as the movement that wants to execute adulterers, blasphemers, and homosexuals, by stoning. Since this is not likely to happen any time soon, the movement is often dismissed as fringe and inconsequential. The preoccupation with the stoning aspect has obscured the fact that many other foundational components of the movement have been mainstreamed in the Religious Right since the time when Gary North wrote the following words.

As you read the following quotes, consider how much of North’s philosophy is now commonplace, not only in the Christian Right but also in this year’s political campaigns. Also note that the current emphasis on the libertarian part of Theocratic Libertarianism has been developed over the decades since this volume was published and is now expressed in a veiled way that has proved to be appealing to many progressives.

One of the most revealing of Gary North’s writings is in the first volume of the journal Christianity and Civilization, published by the Geneva Divinity School in Spring, 1982. The entire issue was dedicated to a symposium on “The Failure of American Baptist Culture.” This would be the first in a series of booklets published on the failures of the early Religious Right and the need to “reconstruct” the church. Subsequent volumes were titled,

#2 The Theology of Christian Resistance
#3 Tactic of Christian Resistance
#4 Reconstruction of the Christian Church

PhotobucketThe first and fourth volumes were edited by James B. Jordan and the second and third in the series by Gary North. My next article in this series will describe the subsequent volumes and other authors in more detail. The following quotes are from the first volume.According to Jordan,

“The New Christian Right has indicated time and time again, that it does not know what it is doing, and its program is riddled with contradictions.”

The Calvinist contributors to the journal were coming to the rescue to help the New Christian Right find “sure footing” and argued that the movement would have to abandon its “Baptist individualism” and adopt the Christian Reconstructionist’s brand of “full-orbed Biblical and Reformed Theology” in order to survive.The following quotes are from North’s article in the first volume titled “The Intellectual Schizophrenia of the New Christian Right.” North begins by describing the 1980 Religious Roundtable-sponsored event in Washington, D.C., which drew 15,000 people. The “National Affairs Briefing Conference” featured New Christian Right leaders and was keynoted by Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan. North describes it as “watershed moment for American fundamentalism.”

“The rally was a political rally; more precisely, it was a rally for politics as such, and for Christian involvement in politics. It was a break from almost six decades of political inaction on the part of American fundamentalist religious leaders.[p. 2]

North continues,

“Bible principles” is a euphemism for Old Testament law. The leaders of the fundamentalist movement are generally premillennial dispensationalists. Some are believers in a pretribulation “rapture,” meaning that Christians will be secretly “called into the heavens” before the great tribulation of the nation of Israel. Others, a growing minority, are post-tribulationists, who think that Christians will go through the tribulation period before Christ comes to transform Christian believers into sinless, death-free people who will rule the world under Christ’s personal administration for a thousand years. All premillennialists believe that the world will become worse before Christ returns in person to set up his thousand-year reign, so that they have tended in the past to take a dim view of those who preached the moral necessity of social and political action. The campaign of 1980 changed this outlook. Now they are talking about restoring morality to politics by imposing “Bible principles” on the nation. Not Old Testament law exactly, yet “principles” based on Old Testament law. [p. 8]

North explains that the majority of American fundamentalists rejected Old Testament Law as valid because of their Dispensational theology and shunned political participation. He also explains how this began to change after the election of President Jimmy Carter, when the Christian Right was “stung” by the “self-proclaimed born again” Baptist who North described as “handpicked by David Rockefeller and the Trilateral Commission.”North credits Rousas Rushdoony, the founder of Christian Reconstructionism, as laying the foundation for political activism by the New Christian Right.

It was only with the publications written by R.J. Rushdoony, beginning in the early 1960’s, that any theologian began to make a serious, systematic, exegetical attempt to link the Bible to principles of limited civil government and free-market economics. [p. 11]

North then describes a “black-out” of Rushdoony’s work during the 60s and 70s, when he was not able to get his books reviewed in the Westminster Theological Journal with the exception of his Institutes of Biblical Law.

Thus, the fundamentalists have had no intellectual leadership throughout the twentieth century. Only with the revival of interest in creationism, which was made possible by Rushdoony’s support and Presbyterian and Reformed initial investment for The Genesis Flood, did the fundamentalist movement begin to get involved in arguments outside theology narrowly defined. [p. 11]

The 1960 book referred to by North, The Genesis Flood, was authored by Henry Morris and John Whitcomb, and is credited as triggering the modern revival of creationism.

North continues,

In the speakers’ room at the National Affairs Briefing Conference, I spoke with Robert Billings, who had worked with Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority organization. (He was subsequently appointed to a high position in the Department of Education.) We were speaking of the conference, and what a remarkable event it was. We agreed that it was unfortunate that Rushdoony was not speaking. He said, If it weren’t for his books, none of us would be here.” I replied, “Nobody in the audience understands that.” His response: “True, but we do.” [p. 12]

The fundamentalist have picked up the phrase “secular humanism.” They do not know where they found it. It comes from Rushdoony’s writings throughout the 1960s. Rushdoony influenced lawyer John Whitehead, who helped popularize it in a new widely quoted article by Whitehead and former Congressman John Conlan. [p. 14]

Under the heading “State-Financed Education,” North writes,

Fundamentalists are still trying to win their battle for the public schools. Not all of them, perhaps, but enough of them, especially those who lead the creation science movement. In 1982, they were still trying to get the public schools of the state of Arkansas to adopt creationist materials to be taught as part of the schools’ curricula in science. They had already given away the case by arguing only that creationism is a legitimate theory and explanation of the origins of the universe and man, to be taught alongside of evolution. [p. 18]

The government schools are established as a humanist religion aimed at stamping out Christianity. This is what Rushdoony said in his pathbreaking scholarly study, The Messianic Character of American Education (1963) The creationists are still schizophrenic. They do not recognize the mythical nature of the objectivity hypothesis, and therefore they have chosen to do battle in terms of that mythical framework. They therefore have to grant the evolutionists, in advance, equal rights with God’s own revelation of Himself. If they refused to do this, they would have no legal case to get their materials into the public schools. Yet the public schools are a fraud; they are humanist schools that have had as their goal, since the days of Horace Mann, the express goal of wiping out Christianity. [p. 19]

Note that Gary North uses the term “government schools” in place of “public schools,” almost two decades before Dick DeVos recommended using the change as a way to promote school vouchers in his 2002 speechat the Heritage Foundation. Also note that Gary North is a signer of the Alliance for Separation of School and State mandate for the eradication of public schools. Other signers include Rep. Ron Paul and numerous Religious Right and free market think tank leaders, including Ed Crane, co-founder of the Koch-funded Cato Institute. Another little discussed component of the plutocratic and theocratic partnership is the role that Young Earth Creationism is playing politically. For example, if the earth is only a few thousand years old, then energy such as oil, gas, and coal, was formed rapidly and could be described as a renewable resource.North:

What is the proper argument? Simple: there is no neutrality, and since there is no neutrality, the present legal foundation of government-financed education is a fraud. Conclusion: close every government-financed school, tomorrow.Refund the taxes to the taxpayers. Let the taxpayers seek out their own schools for their children at their expense (or from privately financed scholarships or other donations).But the fundamentalist instinctively shy away from such a view. Why? Because they see where it necessarily leads: to a theocracy in which no public funds can be appropriated for anti-Christian activities, or to anarch, where there are no public funds to appropriate. It must lead to God’s civil government or no civil government. In short, it leads to either Rushdoony or Rothbard. Most fundamentalists have never heard of either man, but they instinctively recognize where the abandonment of the myth of neutrality could lead them. [p. 20]

Rothbard in the above quote is Murray Rothbard (1926 – 1995), the Austrian School economist who promoted “anarcho-capitalism.” He was a founder of the Cato Institute, one of several libertarian think tanks funded by Charles Koch. At LewRockwell.com, Rothbard is described as the dean of the Austrian School of economics, the founder of libertarianism, and an exemplar of the Old Right. Another LewRockwell.com articledescribes how Rothbard parted ways with the Cato Institute.North:

The Christians are caught in an intellectual bind. They use the doctrine of religious freedom to defend themselves, yet this involves, necessarily, the right of all other religious groups, including the satanic cults, to set up schools for their children and other people’s children. It means, in short, that Christians windy up giving “equal time” in society to the devil. [pp. 22-23]

In the next section, titled “The Christian School Movement,” North states that it is legitimate as a short term tactic for the movement to use the “doctrine of religious freedom” in order to buy some time. He argued previously that “religious liberty” is a trap because it allows rights to all religions and forms of belief. However, in the short term, it could be used strategically. This is where North makes the statement about religious liberty that I quoted in the beginning of this article, a quote worth repeating.

So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy constructing a Bible-based social, political, and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God. Murder, abortion, and pornography will be illegal. God’s law will be enforced. It will take time. A minority religion cannot do this. Theocracy must flow from the heart of a majority of citizens, just as compulsory education came only after most people had their children in schools of some sort. [p.25]

Rushdoony and North wrote extensively about changing the tax structure to align with biblical law. For instance, inheritance taxes would not be allowed. North writes in this article about taxes not exceeding the tithe.

The idea that the state has the right to get inside one’s mind or attempt to do so, is humanistic. It makes the state a pseudo-God. It also drains the resources of the state, which means that the state must collect taxes far above the tithe, yet the state’s taking a tithe was considered an affront to God…. A civil tax of 10% or more of one’s annual increase is satanic. [p.26]

North closes with advice to the New Christian Right on how to get out of the intellectual bind of the “doctrine of religious freedom” by pursuing their own definition of “religious liberty.”

In order to survive the onslaught of the humanists, Christians must oppose the humanists’ version of religious freedom, which is officially grounded in the myth of neutrality, and which is really being used to construct a temple of man, with tax revenues. We must argue that true religious liberty is exclusively for people to obey the social laws of the Bible. [p. 32]

We have to face up to the choice that must be made between God’s law or man’s law. We have to acknowledge the inescapable decision: God’s covenant or natural law? [pp. 37 -38]

North then spells out “The Tactics of Victory” for the New Christian Right.

The taste of political victory is sweet. The New Christian Right has had some victories. They have developed satellite television networks. They have created newsletter and mailing networks. In short, they have the means of achieving victory. What they lack is: 1) eschatological dynamism, 2) a program of social reconstruction, and 3) the willingness to abandon all traces of the myth of neutrality. When the taste of victory finally overcomes a century of pietistic retreat, the humanists will see their civilization salted over; a new society will replace the collapsing social order of today. If the New Christian Right abandons its schizophrenia – eschatological pessimism in the face of victories, antinomianism in the face of the power of biblical law, an outmoded “common ground” philosophy (neutrality doctrine) in the face of a consistent presuppositional biblical philosophy – then the humanists will at last have a real fight on their hands. [39 – 40]

In closing, I would argue that North’s advice has been taken very seriously over the last 30 years by much of the Christian Right, and that Christian Reconstructionism has been at least partially successful in redefining the meaning of “freedom” and “liberty” in a way that has escaped the notice of much of the American public.

Additional Notes:

For more information on the success of Gary North and other Dominionists in drawing large numbers of Charismatics and Pentecostals away from pre-Tribulation eschatology and into Dominionist belief, see Frederick Clarkson series on Theocratic Dominionism including Part Three, No Longer Without Sheep and my previous article The Rise of Charismatic Dominionism. Also see the following articles at Talk2action.org on “Biblical Capitalism” and the role it has played in the current war on unions and federal regulatory policy including:

The War on Unions, Regulatory System, and Social Safety Net – Examples from Fundamentalist Textbooks

Two Decades of Christian Nationalist Education Paved Way for Today’s War on Labor

Biblical Capitalism – The Sacralizing of Political and Economic Issues