Tuesday, September 29, 2009

When the GOP Left Me

I grew up a Reagan Republican --- a teenager disillusioned with a weak foreign policy, an economy that had been in the tank for the decade of the 70s, & a glimmer of hope from an actor-turned-politician who made patriotism a good thing again. So, yeah, I began my years as a Republican & was proud of it.

And then reality set in. I began to see that the GOP stood for God's Own Party & that God was defined with a very narrow theological slant, i.e., Fundamentalism, that left many believers to be cast into outer darkness.

While college mellowed my rigidity (thank God for the Good Ol' Days of Shorter College before the Neocons in GA took over the GA Baptist Convention & the Republican Party) it was in seminary that I was forced to examine where theology meets the real world. It was there I had to step back, take inventory, & admit that many of the things I had always heard were true were, in fact, not, but were really either politics in religious disguise or a narrow theology masquerading as conservative politics.

All that means little to the intent of this post except that the last five years or so have caused me to pause & examine the principles instead of the party. I don't like what I see happening in Baptist circles, & it is even worse in the national political sphere.

Frankly, the Brown Shirts have re-emerged in America. Oh, yes, they are more respectable, but they are just as real in the danger they bring.

Such is the case made by Max Blumenthal in his new book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party. (Here's the NPR link.) Catch this quote:

This was a portrait of the Republican Party fully in the grip of its right wing: almost exclusively white, overwhelmingly evangelical, fixated on abortion, homosexuality, and abstinence education; resentful and angry; and unable to discuss how and why it had become this way ... Eisenhower observed the early development of the modern American right with anxiety. His experience in Europe had taught him that the rise of extreme movements could be explained only by the psychological yearnings and social needs of their supporters. He understood that these movements were not unique to any place or time. Authoritarianism could take root anywhere, even in America. Eisenhower did not believe that an American exceptionalism immunized the country against the spores of extremism.

Interesting analysis. If true, the analysis would make Sinclair Lewis' 1935 quote in It Can't Happen Here a prophetic voice:

When fascism comes to America, it will be draped in the flag and carrying a bible.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Judge Rules In Favor of Santa Rosa, FL, Principal & Athletic Director

Sorry I've been late on this but the flooding in my area has kinda hindered me from doing much.

The Federal District judge in FLA that heard the case regarding the contempt charges against (FLA) Santa Rosa High School's principal & athletic director ruled there was no violation of the order, saying the prayers offered were "spontaneous" & were not intended to violate the order. According to the Pensacola News-Journal: "[Judge] Rodgers said the prayer at a field house dedication during the school day that was held on church property was spontaneous, and there was seemingly no intent to violate the order."

OK. So the judge decided it was "spontaneous." The answer to the charge was that the building dedication was on church property, during the school day, with students present, & when asked to give a prayer, it was just done out of habit. Now I'm certain everyone believes that the prayer was purely reflex & these two guys just had a brain cramp & forgot all about the court order. I'm sure. Sure. Right. Uh huh.

The verdict was met in the court room with a Hallelujah Chorus of cheers, hymns, prayer chants & angelic high fives. 

Outside the court room where I'm sitting, the verdict is met with skepticism, bewilderment & a jaw drop that wonders what planet this judge is on --- or church roll.

Still, that is the ruling. Fine. Chalk this up to another example where the church in the US is acting very similarly to the Taliban in Afghanistan. When the Tali-Christians take over & impose their narrow version of faith on everyone else, there will be no do-over to protect the guarantees of religious liberty in the Constitution. 

God protect us from the Godslingers.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Liberty Council Spinning Like a Weaver Again

I find it quite amusing when my fellow believers resort to fabrications, falsehoods & free-style wording in an effort to take the Message to the masses. While I applaud the goal to share the Good News, I abhor the tactic of lying to do that. Somehow, it just doesn't seem right.

Such is the case with Liberty Council, a group that has the audacity to say it contends for the declaration of American values. Funny thing: their definition of American Values is that those are only Christian Values, for Christian People & then narrowly defines who is Christian, i.e., only those who agree with them. Quite a racket there.

Liberty Council has issued a press release concerning the criminal contempt trial of the principal and athletic coach of Pace High School in Santa Rosa County, FLA, who ignored a court injunction against faculty-led prayer. (See prior posting.)

Liberty Counsel's founder, Matthew Staver, commented: "What a sad state of affairs, when on the day we celebrate the oldest and most enduring Constitution in the world, that honorable public servants are tried as criminals for praying over a meal."

I'm sorry, Mr. Staver, but that is a flat out falsehood & you should be ashamed of even saying such. The trial is not over public servants praying over a meal --- not at all. The trial is because the principal & athletic director have been abusing their position of authority & coercing students & faculty into a certain religious dogma on the taxpayers' dime. The court said these two were acting in violation of the first amendment & it had to stop. These two men didn't stop & now they must face the court on the charges.

If these two men were Muslim & were encouraging students/teachers to worship Allah, I'm sure Liberty Council would have a different view of things. Then again, the whole Golden Rule ethic has escaped them, I'm sure.

Here is the Americans United press release that offers another view, one that actually demands the first amendment be followed & that government should never invade a citizen's conscience by advocating any religious dogma.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fundamentalist Designs in Washington, DC

I know many have made the claim there is no theocratic effort to take control of the US government. I also know that would be wrong.

Jeff Sharlet has penned The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power & details the connection of strict Fundamentalist theology, coupled with plenty of capitalistic thought. The result is an Americanized version of the Taliban Light.

Exceptional interview.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

GA Baptists Applaud Indoctrination at Baptist College

Shock. Absolute shock. A GA Baptist College is establishing a Creation Research Center at its campus.

That's right: science is no longer an academic subject at Truett McConnell College. Instead, a rigid, narrow theological view decides what is genuine science & what is not. According to the GA Baptist newspaper, The Christian Index, the college is establishing the creation research center with the view that the earth is only 6000 years old.

Good heavens. GA Baptist students will be cheated on an education & the school will be laughed at by all schools with any academics.

I knew this was coming. I even blogged about it last year when the editor of the Index bragged on the school's Biblical Worldview. Poppycock. Telling students to reject science & adopt a spiritual textbook as a scientific text is to shortchange our students. And when these bright young minds start examining the evidence --- overwhelming that the earth is not 6000 years old & there was not a spontaneous creation in 6 literal days --- these students will start to question the validity of all matters of faith.

The Godslingers have taken over the GA Baptist Convention & are now trying to indoctrinate our students to not only a certain, narrow theological slant, but also a political view & an anti-intellectualism.

And we wonder why our young people are leaving the faith & why the modern world refuses to hear our message. When we present ourselves --- no, relish in --- being backward & uninformed, we are hindering the message of hope. It is our own Baptist leadership that is grieving the Holy Spirit by not allowing Him to work in lives. Instead, our Baptist Witch Doctors are more concerned about indoctrination than changing lives; power, instead of people; control, instead of cooperation.

The Godslingers have another notch on their weapon. They now control another institution of higher used-to-be learning.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Leaving Fundamentalism

Dr. Bruce Prescott is doing a series of blog entries on why he left Fundamentalism. Well worth the read of his journey, one that is somewhat similar to mine. There may be more entries so check back on his blog to see any additional updates.

Step One
Step Two
Step Three
Step Four
Step Five
Step Six

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Forget the Politics & Let's Start Tending to Real Living

I realize I'm getting cynical. I realize I'm getting sentimental. I also realize that the what we've been doing for thousands of years just ain't working.

We fight for all sorts of ideologies. We are killing each other for peace. We wrap our prejudices in patriotism, & then tie it all together with some intentional theology that is more self serving than anything.

For what? What is the price we are willing to pay for our stubbornness?

This has all come home to me in the last few years when I realized the foolishness of ideology under the pretense of theology. Then I had to admit I was not honest with the history I spent all those years learning. I had let my training be used as a tool to advance my agenda instead of being truthful with everything.

Speaking of everything, I've had to admit some real honesty about myself this past week. I had to stare down my fears, inadequacies &, well, my own heart. It's not easy.

The point is that life is too short to waste a minute with unimportant things. People are more important. Life is to be lived, not wasted. And why we waste important time of fighting instead of living is just beyond me.

Still tryin’ to reach the future through the past ... Still tryin’ to carve tomorrow from a tombstone ... Witchdoctors praying for a mighty showdown ... No way our holy flag is gonna’ fall ... Up here we sacrifice our children ...To feed the worn-out dreams of yesterday ... And teach them dying will lead us into glory... And I guess these young boys dying in the ditches is just what being free is all about.

This is a great video by
Keith Harkin of Celtic Thunder. 'Bout time Paul Brady's song got the recognition it deserved.

Armed Church Members Defend Pastor's "I Hate Obama" Sermon

Arizona is not big enough to be its own country but it is way to big to be an insane asylum. Really. Get a load (pardon the pun) of this.

Evidently a few like-minded believers of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe began arming themselves in fear of death threats, threats that were in response to a sermon by the church's pastor entitled Why I Hate Barack Obama.

I'm thinking the whole Jesus thing about loving your enemies hasn't been covered in Sunday School yet.

The pastor, Steven Anderson, was at least kind in the Death Wish Homily when he said he wants this to occur by natural causes: I don't want him to be a martyr, we don't need another holiday. (Click here to get recording of the sermon.)

Well, well! What did The Good Reverend Anderson mean by another holiday, hmmm? And the whole natural causes thing --- mighty white of you, Pastor Anderson. He prefers something like brain cancer of the Ted Kennedy variety & the Reverend is praying for that end.

The local ABC News affiliate, ABC15News, is reporting that Pastor Anderson is just giddy that his parishioners are armed & dangerous in the church house, saying guns are a great deterrent though he didn't say what is deterred.

I'm guessing the whole thing about Jesus telling Peter to put the sword away whilst in the Garden, & the praying for your enemies lesson was left out so the pot luck could be extended with more dessert time.

The night after Anderson's Aug. 16 anti-Obama sermon, one of his parishioners, Christopher Broughton, carried an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle outside President Obama's speech to the VFW at the Phoenix Convention Center.

The Secret Service is investigating. Thank God.