Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

James Dobson further down the insanity trail?

On James Dobson's weekly "Focus on the Family" radio show, he accused Barack Obama, Democratic candidate for President, of "distorting" the bible in comments Obama had made. Dobson went so far as to state that Obama's former comments or beliefs were "fruitcake." Let's examine who the real fruitcake is here.

Dobson was referring to a speech Obama had given in 2006. In the speech, Obama said religious people don't have a monopoly on morality and should couch their arguments in universal, rather than religious terms. Obama also said in the speech that certain passages of the Bible, if interpreted literally, could allow parents to stone their children and require that the Defense Department be abolished.

If one reads the bible - well, where was Obama wrong here? He was simply pointing out that the religious don't have a corner on morality, and needed to stop dictating to the rest of the country what their brand of morality is, and discounting other faiths as well as people who are non-religious.

Dobson's response?

"That is a fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution," Dobson said. "What he's trying to say here is, unless everybody agrees, we have no right to fight for what we believe."

Dobson goes on to say, "He's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own world view, his own confused theology."

I think that Mr. Dobson hasn't read his Old Testament - or the New, for that matter. Dobson went on to say in statements that old adage made by fundamentalist christians, that the "Old Testament Law" has passed away in favor of Jesus' teachings of love, non-judgment, etc.

Interesting, since Dobson is one of the very worst at judging non-christians, and even christians that are different from his brand. Homosexuals are a case in point. Dobson, who accuses Obama of distorting scripture, has numerous times not only distorted scripture, but also flat out lied about scientific findings regarding homosexuality.

Check out www.respectmyresearch.org if you'd like to see how many scientists and researchers have countered Dobson's falsehoods and misquotes regarding their research so that he can distort people's views of homosexuality.

One of the more interesting things I've seen, though, is that Dobson has mentioned that while he will vote in the 2008 elections, he might refrain from voting for President, as he has also criticized Republican Candidate John McCain for his views on stem cell research and abortion rights. We can only hope that he's serious - and that all of the people who listen to Dobson's weekly program will follow suit.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Invoking God for the Candidacy Part 2

Article VI of the U.S. Constitution:

"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

More than any election in my memory, it seems that religion is playing a huge role in this particular election season. The candidates ALL appear to be pandering as much as they can to the religious crowd, talking about their love of God, their faiths, etc. It really makes one wonder how very few people have actually read the Constitution, including the above Article. It appears that we are certainly testing our candidates. From conservative republican to the most liberal of democrats, each appears to be trying to "pass the religious test" in order to garner the votes of those who will, invariably, vote based on their religion rather than on their stands on political issues.

Apparently, God forbid one day someone who is NON-religious, or who refuses to speak about their religion to attain office runs. They'll never see the light of the campaign trail.

Invoking God for the Candidacy

All through this particular primary campaign for the next US President, it has become apparent just how polarized this nation has become regarding religion in the White House. Take a look at Republican Candidate Mike Huckaby, who has stated that he wants to amend the United States Constitution in order to meet "God's standards" for the family.

I wonder what, to Mr. Huckabee, would be "God's standards"? Are they as Huckabee said in 1992:
If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague.
Source: Responses to Associated Press Questionnaire for AR Senate Nov 1, 1992

Who else would Mr. Huckabee think should be isolated from the rest of society, according to "God's Standards"? The thing is, any time a person claims to want to change the Constitution to fit "God's Standards," people (including fundamentalist Christians) should be lining up to vote against that particular candidate. Imagine, if you will, Christians, what you would do if a fellow Christian got in office and proceeded to get legislation passed to support his theory of "God's standards" - but he is from a denomination of Christianity that you find abhorrent - or crazy - or deluded. What if his brand of God's standards are in oppostion to your own brand?

How many denominations of Christianity are in this country? Which of those would you want to envorce their religious views on you and your family? What if, for example, Conservative Christians, Mitt Romney, a mormon and a leader in the Republican race for president, attained office? Would you want him to work on rewriting the Constitution to his brand of Christianity? Most conservative Christians think that Mormonism is a cult.

All of you Christians out there who think you'd LIKE to live in a society that promotes a particular brand of Christianity might want to think again. The United States was colonized and later founded as a result of people settling who were afraid and tired of religious persecution. Their brand of Christian was the wrong brand in their respective countries. Now we hear people like Mike Huckaby promising to revise the United States Constitution, which specifically asked for no state interference in religion, and no religious interference in state, to fit his own wild brand of Christianity.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Protestors for more "family values" arrested from the senate floor

Recently, I was once again made aware by the "family values" types that our founding fathers were all Christians, and that they had every intention of founding this country based completely on Christianity. Really? Let's check this out.

This recently came back into my thoughts as a result of three arrests made on the congress floor during a prayer offered by a Hindu priest. Here is the full article with video:


Oddly enough, I had spoken to the man in the group on an online forum that I have frequented for years, and way back when I was a fundamentalist on the
Charisma Magazine message boards. He was always very extreme in his beliefs, and heavily emphasized the King James version of the bible as the ONLY "real" translation. So it was no real surprise to me that he and his wife, along with their adult daughter, were arrested for disrupting the floor.

What really got me was the following statement by a Christian press:

WASHINGTON, July 12 /Christian Newswire/ -- Ante Pavkovic, Kathy Pavkovic, and Kristen Sugar were all arrested in the chambers of the United States Senate as that chamber was violated by a false Hindu god. The Senate was opened with a Hindu prayer placing the false god of Hinduism on a level playing field with the One True God, Jesus Christ. This would never have been allowed by our Founding Fathers.

"Not one Senator had the backbone to stand as our Founding Fathers stood. They stood on the Gospel of Jesus Christ! There were three in the audience with the courage to stand and proclaim, 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me.' They were immediately removed from the chambers, arrested, and are in jail now. God bless those who stand for Jesus as we know that He stands for them." Rev. Flip Benham, Director, Operation Save America/Operation Rescue

So, according to the above quote, our founding fathers would have "stood on the gospel of Jesus Christ" and never allowed someone of another faith to pray on the senate floor. Another quote:

Thursday's Hindu prayer was a major departure from the "thoughts and plans" of America's founding fathers. "We sing the song My Country 'tis of Thee, [saying] 'to Thee we sing.' The faith of our fathers, is being left behind," he contends, "and we're opening up to a bunch of religious ideologies and groups that were not part of our founding documents, were not part of our heritage."

Bynum says the farther America gets away from the faith of its founding fathers, the more troubled and confused the country will become. "The big deal is that up until just a few years ago, our Christian heritage has been respected as a nation," he notes. "Our Judeo-Christian documents -- the Old and the New Testaments -- have been the foundation of our law."

According to both of these quotes, our founding fathers (those men who assisted in founding the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and many of whom became presidents themselves) were all Christians who believed that only the Christian God should be allowed into the halls of government. But - well, where did that whole "separation of church and state" thing come from? Is it mistranslated? Does it mean simply that the government can't persecute Christians? Or does it mean, as I have been made to understand, that it goes both ways? Not only can the government not force people to believe what it wants, but the church can also not take over and run the government.

But hey, I might be wrong. So, I have studied quotes directly from our country's founding fathers. I'll only place a couple here, though you can look huge amounts of them up for yourselves.

Let's start with Thomas Jefferson. I'd say he was certainly amongst the founding fathers, and also became one of our country's presidents. What did he think about the whole church/state issue?

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for is faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties."

What? He did mention separation of church and state? He wanted NO law to be made respecting ANY religion, or prohibiting the exercize of ANY religion? In fact, he went so far as to say that a proverbial WALL should be separating church and matters of state.

That's not what the Family Values folks would like for us to think. Oh, and by the way, Jefferson was a registered Episcopalian, but he was also a Deist - look it up. So was Ben Franklin.

So we have at least one of our founding fathers who apparently did NOT subscribe to the idea that ONLY fundamentalist christianity is allowable or acceptable in government.

When presented with the above, a Family Values type might say, "But the founders only meant that no DENOMINATION of Christianity should be put above another, but they still meant our country and government to be Christian."

Really? Let's take a look:

"Congress should not establish a religion and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience, or that one sect might obtain a pre-eminence, or two combined together, and establish a religion to which they would compel others to conform" (James Madison, Annals of Congress, 1789).

Did he say Christian? NO - he said that Congress should not establish a religion. Period.

Madison even became angry when a chaplain was assigned to Congress (a chaplain from the "majority" regarding Christian belief):

"The establishment of the chaplainship to Congress is a palpable violation of equal rights, as well as of Constitutional principles: The tenets of the chaplains elected [by the majority shut the door of worship against the members whose creeds & consciences forbid a participation in that of the majority. To say nothing of other sects, this is the case with that of Roman Catholics & Quakers who have always had members in one or both of the Legislative branches. Could a Catholic clergyman ever hope to be appointed a Chaplain! To say that his religious principles are obnoxious or that his sect is small, is to lift the evil at once and exhibit in its naked deformity the doctrine that religious truth is to be tested by numbers or that the major sects have a right to govern the minor. " (Memorial and Remonstrance)

To put it simply, he was angry that they would assign a chaplain to Congress at all - because though that chaplain might represent the "majority" of people in congress, he did not represent the religious minorities, which would give the majority more clout to lord it over the smaller groups. He said it was a palpable violation of equal rights, as well as of Constitutional principles. He called it evil. He said that this act itself would "lift the evil at once and exhibit in its naked deformity..."

Pretty strong language for someone who supposedly wanted this nation to be ruled by a Theocratic government.

There are myriads of quotes from our Founding Fathers that directly come against the Family Values folks of today and their insistence that this nation was supposed to be governed by Christian rules and principles. Google them - you'll be enlightened.

In the meantime, if any of you folks happen to read this and believe what those protesters did was right, and was the way our founding fathers would have it, let me ask you this.

What particular denomination of Christianity should Congress follow if it is going to be ruled on Christian principles? Catholicism? "Oh dear God NO!" say the Baptists, who think those Catholics are idolaters. How about Mormonism? "No again! They're a cult!" say several hundred other denominations. Methodists? Too liberal! Baptists? Too conservative! Since there are well over 500 denominations of Christianity out there, this could go on forever.

Before you consider a theocracy rather than the Republic/Democracy we have today (or at least had before the Family Values/Moral Majority groups got ahold of it), consider - do you REALLY want to have a majority denomination of Christianity setting the rules and standards for you and your church? Do you want their beliefs forced upon you and your children because Congress deems it correct to "found our nation on Christian principles," and therefore picks the dominant Christian denomination to rule?

If you're really thinking, you'll be terrified by the prospect. Good grief, what if Pat Robertson got to call the shots? We'd have blown up half of the rest of the world by now, and would not provide relief for any natural disasters because "well, they deserved it - it was God's punishment because of their sin."

Any THINKING Christian would be absolutely mortified by the thought of having a dominant religious body - even a Christian one - in control. That's what most of the immigrants to the New World were trying to get AWAY from, if you'll recall. Much better to be allowed to worship as you please, in whatever way you please, without government interference, I would think.

In fact, it is more of a concern, as Madison felt as well, that anyone at ALL prays to open Congress. Government practices should be free of religious trappings of any kind, lest the sect with the majority will gain control. NO religion or denomination should be pandered to. To be truly politically correct, not one single meeting of the government should have a prayer on the agenda. Not one single branch of government should be displaying religious sayings (such as the 10 commandments) on their walls. That is the ONLY way to make sure that each of us is truly able to worship (or not worship) in any way we choose.

Religion in government is a BAD IDEA. If you're still not sure of that, check out the history of any government ruled by a particular religious sect - see the kinds of atrocities performed in the name of whatever god rules that neck of the woods. It ain't pretty.

I haven't posted a blog in awhile. Seems that life, and work,

I haven't posted a blog in awhile. Seems that life, and work, and artwork have gotten in the way. I'll try to do something about that, as exposing the "family values" ilk for what it is - well, it's important.

Side comment, before the "real" post though. Tammy Faye Messner (formerly Bakker of the PTL/Jim Bakker debacle in the 80s) died a few hours ago. Of all the televangelists (or former ones), she was probably the only one I ever saw a genuineness of love in. She loved and did not judge. The woman, in the last ten years of speaking engagements, never once told the homosexual community anything but that God loved them. Period. Never spouted how they were sinners in the hands of an angry God, or that they should change or face hell fire. She just loved them.

I recently saw her on Larry King Live. She looked terrible (and I'm not talking about make-up). She was down to sixty-five pounds, and one could tell that she was in visible pain. Yet she kept her sense of humor and her love for people. If there is a heaven, I'm pretty sure she's there. She'll be the greeter, one can be certain.

Rest in peace, Tammy Faye.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

What I learned at the Southwest Believer's Convention

I've been pondering for some years. This is a very dangerous thing, because when I ponder, my mind goes down little rabbit trails, and I often end up really, really angry. This time I decided to share my madness with a few other people besides my longsuffering former husband; I'm sure he'll thank you later. I began my pondering several years ago while reading my Bible. I was once a very conservative Christian fundamentalist. I got over it, so now I'm a church dropout. I'm fine with God, but the rest? Not so much. That was a rabbit trail. Back to topic: I was reading a scripture that told me how I needed to store up my treasure in heaven, and not on this earth, and that God would take care of my needs (my simplistic paraphrase of Matthew 6:19-21).

I began thinking about some of the messages being preached from many of our pulpits – especially the television ones, but some not-so-famous ones as well. I pondered the myriads of preachers I had heard telling me that if I gave into their ministry, I would reap a 100-fold return. I just had to "buh-LIEVE!" I think to myself, well, that's a bit self-serving, don't you think? I've heard many ministers saying, "If your bank account doesn't have enough to meet the need, then it's a SEED, so plant it into this ministry and reap your return," as if God was some heavenly bank manager.

Then I asked myself the tough question: If those ministers believe what they are telling us to believe, that they can get a 100-fold return for their giving, then why are they not giving all they have to some other worthy ministry "in faith believing" that they will reap that return? If they did that, they would never need a praise-a-thon to raise money to keep that ministry (not to mention their Mercedes, mansions in gated communities, and private jets) up and running. So, if Christian program networks such as Trinity Broadcasting Network, and all of their prosperity doctrine ministers really believe it, let them put their money where their mouths are, and plant that seed!

Otherwise, all their talk is just another large pile of bovine fecal matter.

There. I feel better.

No, wait; I don't quite feel better yet.

We were wrapped up in that stuff for years - from the time my husband and I married at age 20, until the time several years ago when we said to one another, "Wait a minute - where did he get that from in the Bible?" we were wrapped up in it. We were self-professed "Word of Faith-ites." We went to a hard-line fundamentalist prosperity doctrine-type church. We ate, slept, read, and regurgitated fundamentalism, Family Values, Word of Faith, and prosperity doctrine. We were ministers. We taught it.

Then, when the dam started to break for us, we were at a the Southwest Believer's Convention in Texas. That's Kenneth Copeland's biggest convention, if you're not "in the know." All his buddies are there, like Jesse DuPlantis, Jerry Savelle, Creflo Dollar, and that year, it was also Oral and Richard Roberts, Kenneth Hagin, etc. - some kind of "honor the great Dr. Roberts" thing.

I do not regret going, because I believe that the real God – one not manufactured by politicos and preachers - used that convention to teach me something about what was really coming from those microphones. Here are some of the things I was taught by the ministers and practices there:

1. If you are still sick or disabled (or struggling financially, or gay), you are either still in some kind of hidden sin, or your faith is just not big enough yet.

2. If you don't give your money (in every meeting, even though there are three meetings a day for a week), a large usher will look at you down his nose and pause the white cardboard bucket under your chin just a little longer. You will also not get your 100-fold return, you selfish, faithless slacker.

3. When you're standing in line waiting for the doors to open on the arena, be prepared to run; otherwise, you will be run OVER by the people who want to get as close to the "anointed ones" as possible. Never mind that this stampede behavior might be rude, and sometimes actually hurts (I literally had bruises on my arms); all's fair to make it to the good seats. Ah, such Christian love.

4. If you miss a meeting to stay at the hotel and swim, take a break, get your own quiet time - you are not as holy as the others are, and later will be told by others that you missed the most "anointed" of all the lessons.

5. If you run down and throw your money (literally, this happened) at Jesse DuPlantis' feet because another minister wanted to bless him, you will be blessed. If you don't run down there and throw your money at his feet, you will, in effect, NOT be blessed.

6. When you leave the giant coliseum in 7000-person droves and spread into downtown looking for lunch, give any homeless people a very wide berth and try not to look at them. If you look at them, they exist, and they might actually notice you looking at them and then you might be obligated to do or say something.

This really took place, if you were wondering. We poured out of that place to rush and get lunch so we could be back to see another prosperity minister - whose last name (Dollar) is appropriately akin to the money being bilked from the masses - and headed downtown. We were with a small group of people from our church, including the pastor. I saw ahead what looked like a swarm of bodies all pressing against the building wall to avoid something - you could actually SEE the tide of people moving over.

Getting closer, I noticed why. They were getting as far away from a homeless man as they could. I began to move with them - after all, I wasn't a spiritual giant - I was still young, and was with people I thought were much more spiritual than me. My pastor even moved over to the wall and looked straight ahead. I know, because I admired the man, and watched to see what he would do. I did the same as he; and paid the price in heavy constrictions somewhere in my heart and stomach area.

Then I remembered - The Gospels, which said that when we helped someone in need, we were helping God. I had passed up an opportunity to just love on someone, and had just spent my last penny on a meal that wasn't even worth eating while that guy outside had nothing.

On the way back, there he was again, and there all those people were again avoiding him. I looked more closely at him. He had scraggly hair, and was carrying a tattered wool blanket over his shoulder (in August, in Texas); it was all he owned. I looked down - he had no shoes, and his toes had blackened and rotting off. I made eye contact. I didn't have anything to give, but just smiled weakly and said "Hello, sir." He grinned and tears welled up in his eyes, and he said, "Thanks for noticing me."

I didn't tell anyone else about the exchange, as they were busy not looking, and I didn't want to rock the boat with these people I considered ever so much more spiritual than me. But I have never been the same since. My husband and I began to see the outright arrogance and selfishness of what we were involved in. The harassment for "mo money, mo money" - the sermons that said "You should be rich; you should drive a Mercedes; if you're not prosperous, there's something wrong with you. If you're not like US there is something wrong with you."

All around us people die in poverty. And they see the gaudy gold cherubs on the sets of Christian television where many of these "family values" are being preached, and they see the evident riches in the diamond rings of the people who preach with their Nehru suit collars, and they say to themselves, "What's wrong with me? Why am I being punished? Why are my children hungry, Lord? Is my faith not big enough? I sent all I had to that preacher; I really believed I'd receive the return on my investment just like he said. But my cupboards are still empty, and my children are still sick, and I still can't pay for my junker of a car to get fixed. I just must not be good enough for God."

I cringe every time I hear the head glitzy-guy, Paul Crouch of TBN, arguably the most popular Christian television network since Jim Bakker's PTL club folded, saying they have yet another satellite connection in a third world country. Why? Because I don't want poverty-stricken people to see the excess and say, "That God is a God for the rich, not for me."

I thank whomever God might be every day that my eyes were opened, and my husband and I saw what was really going on, and we got out.

I'm still not finished. My pondering seems to be heading down slope and picking up speed fast. One more thing (if I can stop at one more):

I am sick to death of underhanded threats of "touch not God's anointed," and "better be careful when you mock men of God." I've even heard some of these big ministers (all of them, but Joyce Meyer said it in a meeting I was at personally) say that when someone spoke out against a big-name minister, they got cancer, or died a horrible death shortly afterward.

That is nothing but spiritual abuse and strong-arm tactics, and instilling fear into the hearts of people so they won't question your methods or your biblical soundness. Convenient, isn't it? Bordering on...dare I say it? Cult-like.

I have seen it done over and over and over again by people who do not want to be questioned - so, rather than responding to questions with "Biblically sound" answers, they cryptically throw out scare tactics and veiled threats about how if someone speaks against their sermons, they will be cursed by God.

Quote from Kenneth Copeland:
There are people attempting to sit in judgement right today over the ministry that I am responsible for, and the ministry that Kenneth E. Hagin is responsible for. ... Several people that I know of called that faith bunch out of Tulsa a cult, And some of them are dead right today in an early grave because of it, and there's more than one of them got cancer.

Well, I've found that I can speak out against ungodly things, and guess what? I'm not dead yet. And until I do die, I will speak out against charlatans and money-hungry ministers of the prosperity gospel, and strong-arm spiritual abuse. I will also pray for those ministers who are preaching this garbage; I will pray that they will be exposed for the frauds they are.

I pray for the people who have been inexorably harmed by the psychological manipulation of these high-pressure sales pitches from the pulpit. I have worked in a counseling capacity, and you would not believe the people who come to me simply because they have been harmed by these so-called "men of God." My husband and I were harmed as well, to the point that my husband was suicidal for self-condemnation. That, again, is another story, which you can see in the first post on this blog.

So, before my pondering comes to a stop, a message to all of you well-meaning folks out there who feel they need to warn me about what horrible curse may befall me for speaking out against false doctrines and false preachers: Save your breath. I don't buy it.