faithless

Tennessee as a Comedic and Allegorical Reflection on What It Really Means to Be a Christian in the American Political Discourse (Smitastic Sanctity Mix)

The Blount County Courthouse, Blount County, Tennessee.

Okay, and then there is this:

A Tennessee county plans to take up a resolution begging God for mercy and asking that the deity not smite their community “like Sodom and Gomorrah” because of the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing gay marriage.Serrano, Piss Christ (detail)

The “resolution condemning judicial tyranny and petitioning God’s mercy” was written by Blount County commissioner Karen Miller and will come up for consideration at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Miller’s resolution claims the “so help me God” part of the oath taken by lawmakers means they are committed not only to upholding the U.S. Constitution but also “higher Natural Law.”

As such, the resolution calls on lawmakers throughout the state “to protect Natural Marriage, from lawless court opinions, AND THE financial schemes of the enemies of righteousness wherever the source AND defend the Moral Standards of Tennessee.”

(Mazza)

So, truth told, I really thought the religious right would have moved on by now; I have no idea what made me think that, other than maybe they saw an easy target in transgender youth, or something.

More fool me, to the one. To the other, they’re handing out rewards for public displays of piety for the sake of being seen by others, which is well and fine since these are the rewards they seek.

And Tennessee? Let us be honest; if God is going to smite the Volunteer State or not, there are plenty of things on His list before He gets around to the homophobia, and all things considered―you know, since these are allegedly Christians we’re talking about, and Christ Himself is generally absent from their hatred―it seems a dubious proposition that being terrified by queers is going to help the Volunteer State’s case for mercy.

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Mazza, Ed. “Tennessee County May Ask God To Spare Them And Smite Someone Else”. The Huffington Post. 5 October 2015.

A Joke That Isn’t Funny

Inside New Orleans Planned Parenthood clinic. (Detail of photo by Bryan Tarnowski for The New York Times)

“It strikes me as extremely odd that you have a dermatologist, an audiologist, a dentist who are billing for family planning services.”

Judge John DeGravelles

And, yet, the hidden jewel is one you might overlook if you’re not careful. Molly Redden of Mother Jones tops His Honor, wondering the obvious: “They know vagina dentata is a myth, right?”

It’s a fair question, given the Louisiana proposal to do away with Planned Parenthood in the Pelican State and expect other providers to pick up the load.

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The Not-So-Gay Divorceé

VIII. Adjustment.

The question of a divorceé has long plagued Christian supremacists who denounce marriage equality and gay rights, but, you know, really? Not only has Kim Davis already licensed transgender man and his pansexual wife, and most likely also issued plenty of marriage licenses to divorceés, but it also turns out that Ms. Davis is herself a serial adulterer.

On this point, Travis Gettys of Raw Story considers an appearance by Dan Savage on msnbc; the author, advice columnist, and editor of The Stranger, Mr. Savage spared no punches:

“I think Kim Davis is waiting to cash in,” Savage told MSNBC. “I predicted from the beginning that she would defy all the court orders, defy the Supreme Court, she would ultimately be held in contempt of court, lose her job, perhaps go to prison for a short amount of time. And then she will have written for her, ghost written books. She will go on the right-wing lecture circuit and she’ll never have to do an honest day’s work ever again in her life.”

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, in a mugshot, 3 September 2015, after being held in contempt of court by U.S. District Judge David Bunning, after she refused to comply with the law and issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples.“This is about someone hypocritically cashing in, and she is a hypocrite,” he added.

Savage referred to the defiant clerk’s statement complaining that courts were asking her to “violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage” — which the columnist dismissed as ridiculous.

“This is a woman who’s been divorced three times and married four times,” he said, reading from the US News & World Report article that pointed out Davis “gave birth to twins five months after divorcing her first husband, (and) they were fathered by her third husband but adopted by her second husband.”

“She’s now onto her fourth husband,” Savage said. “Jesus Christ himself in scripture condemned divorce, called it adultery and forbids it. Jesus Christ himself in scripture says not one word about same-sex marriage.”

Savage said the U.S. Supreme Court had already decided the issue of same-sex marriage, and he said Davis clearly should have followed the law all along.

“She’s not being asked to perform a sacrament, she is tasked with ascertaining that the people in front of her, the couple in front of her, have a legal right to get married and to provide them with that license,” he said. “She is not a minister. She actually thinks she works for God there in the county courthouse, when she actually works for Caesar — and someone needs to acquaint her with that fact.”

Or we might attend Mr. Savage himself, who recently blogged, among other notes:

I would say I can’t wait for a Muslim county clerk in, say, Dearborn, Michigan (which has a huge Muslim community), to refuse to issue a marriage license to a Christian couple on the grounds that the this kafir couple hasn’t been paying jizya… but that’s not going to happen. Religious minorities in this country intuitively understand that to empower religious bigots like Davis is to paint bullseyes on their own backs. So the Jesus-freak goons at the Liberty Counsel work to frame discrimination as a “religious freedom” because they’re confident that American Christians will be the ones doing the discriminating, not suffering from it.

This is an important point. Something about functional reality goes here.

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Faith, Juxtaposed

The front entrance of the Metropolitan Community Church of Our Redeemer in Augusta, Ga. that was vandalized overnight is seen Tuesday morning July 21, 2015. The Church's pastor, Rick Sosbe, and his fiancee, Michael Rhen, recently became the first same-sex couple to get a marriage license in Augusta-Richmond County following the recent decision by the US Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage. (Michael Holahan/Augusta Chronicle)

“To me, it seems so interesting that they’re saying on there that you’ll burn―in other words saying ‘You’ll burn in hell,’ I’m sure―and quoting scripture. Is that what Christianity―right-wing, fundamentalist Christianity―has come to?”

Pastor Rick Sosbe

‘Tis a fair question. And even the pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Our Redeemer must pause to check his tongue; quite clearly this is not what Christianity itself has come to. Still, though, Pastor Rick asks a fair question.

And here is another question: Many on the American political right wing rushed in the wake of the Mother Emanuel massacre to dismiss white supremacism and characterize the killings as an attack against Christianity. Would they be so kind as to condemn this attack against Christianity? Sure, nobody’s dead, and that’s all to the good. But in this case it’s a real, actual, genuine attack against Christianity, so … you know … Hello?

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Sieczkowski, Cavan. “Church With Openly Gay Pastor Vandalized With ‘You’ll Burn'”. The Huffington Post. 24 July 2015.

Benen, Steve. “The Charleston massacre wasn’t about ‘religious liberty'”. msnbc. 19 June 2015.

Clarkson, Frederick. “Charelston Massacre an Attack on Christianity? Yes, But Not How the Christian Right Says”. Political Research Associates. 24 June 2015.

Prosperity (Devil’s Dollar Edition)

Creflo Dollar, in undated, uncredited photograph.

The thing about Sam Stringer’s report for CNN is mostly the idea of what it takes to get people to pay attention. To wit, there really isn’t anything new about the idea that this is how it goes:

Prosperity gospel pastor Creflo Dollar responded recently to critics of his campaign to buy a very pricey Gulfstream G650.

Dollar noted in a recent address to his congregants that the devil was attempting to discredit him in regards to his campaign seeking $300 from 200,000 people globally to help buy the luxury jet.

In a newly posted five-minute clip on YouTube, the Atlanta-area pastor speaks to his followers at World Changers Church International, tackling his critics and allegations about tithes, his real name and reports alleging members of having to reveal their W2 statuses to come into the church’s sanctuary.

“(The devil thinks) I got to discredit that man before he starts showing people Jesus!” Dollar preaches to loud applause.

“I’m on my sabbatical, and the enemy’s trying to discredit me,” Dollar stated.

Dollar is focused in the video on getting his point across and slams critics of his original request by stating to the people gathered, “I never one time came to you and asked you for a dime for this airplane, did I?”

But in March, Dollar did appeal in a video to “friends from around the world,” soliciting donations to replace his current 1984 Gulfstream G-1159A.

This is not some new phenomenon. Prosperity gospel is the new Calvinism, by which blessed are the wealthy and the greedy.

Christianity Today explains prosperity gospel as―

An aberrant theology that teaches God rewards faith—and hefty tithing—with financial blessings, the prosperity gospel was closely associated with prominent 1980s televangelists Jimmy Swaggart and Jim and Tammy Bakker, and is part and parcel of many of today’s charismatic movements in the Global South. Orthodox Christians wary of prosperity doctrine found a friend in Senator Chuck Grassley, who in 2008 began a thorough vetting of the tax-exempt status of six prominent “health and wealth” leaders, including Kenneth Copeland, Bishop Eddie Long, and Paula White.

Cathleen Falsani, explaining “The Worst Ideas of the Decade” for the Washington Post several years ago, called prosperity gospel―

an insipid heresy whose popularity among American Christians has boomed in recent years, teaches that God blesses those God favors most with material wealth.

The ministries of three televangelists commonly viewed as founders of the prosperity gospel movement – Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland and Frederick K.C. Price – took hold in the 1970s and 1980s. One of the oldest and best-known proponents of prosperity theology, Oral Roberts – the television faith-healer who in 1987 told his flock that God would call him home if he didn’t raise $8 million in a matter of weeks – died at 91 last week.

But the past decade has seen this pernicious doctrine proliferate in more mainstream circles. Joel Osteen, the 46-year-old head of Lakewood Church in Houston, has a TV ministry that reaches more than 7 million viewers, and his 2004 book “Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential,” has sold millions of copies. “God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us,” Osteen wrote in a 2005 letter to his flock.

As crass as that may sound, Osteen’s version of the prosperity gospel is more gentle (and decidedly less sweaty) than those preached by such co-religionists as Benny Hinn, T.D. Jakes and the appropriately named Creflo Dollar.

Few theological ideas ring more dissonant with the harmony of orthodox Christianity than a focus on storing up treasures on Earth as a primary goal of faithful living. The gospel of prosperity turns Christianity into a vapid bless-me club, with a doctrine that amounts to little more than spiritual magical thinking: If you pray the right way, God will make you rich.

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A Note on Faith Versus a Lack Thereof

The catalogue number found at the bottom of the canvas allowed to identify this painting as the Cain and Abel that was in the Barberini collection in the nineteenth century. This canvas was attributed to Vouet. The old attribution held even after the acquisition of the painting by the state in 1981. A check of the seventeenth-century inventories of the Barberini collection reveals four pictures of the same subject: among these, the National Gallery painting can be identified with a canvas cited (without the name of its author) in a 1655 inventory. The same inventory lists a pendant depicting Saint Sebastian cured by the Pious Women. As this painting has been convincingly attributed to Pietro Novelli, known as Il Monrealese, the discovery of the relationship between the two paintings has led to the attribution of the National Gallery picture to the same artist. (Web Gallery of Art)“It is clear that in America personal religious beliefs are protected. You don’t have to welcome a black, gay or Jewish person into your home. That is your right. When it comes to the public square, your personal beliefs have limits.”

Stampp Corbin

While Stampp Corbin has a point in his own right, it is worth taking a moment to consider just how strange this assertion of Christianity is. Nobody ought be surprised that we might take the occasion to reassert the thesis regarding how this is a faithless ego defense, a panicked usurpation of God’s authority in defense of earthly desires, but neither does Corbin’s discussion invalidate that thesis.

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Corbin, Stampp. “The Mark of Cain”. The Huffington Post. 9 April 2015.

A Disturbing Lack of Faith

Bishop Richard Pates of the Des Moines diocese is faithless.

Tyler McCubbin said the Dowling Catholic High School president made him an offer for a full-time teaching position, but later revoked it based on his sexual orientation.

Bishop Richard Pates is the leader of the Des Moines diocese. He said that McCubbin wasn’t denied the job because he’s gay, but due to the openness of his sexual orientation.

(Smith)

This is what we call a distinction without a difference.

Bishop Richard Pates of the Des Moines diocese, a faithless usurper seeking an excuse to be cruel unto his fellow human beings.Bishop Pates apparently believes God’s judgment is his own, and generally speaking the idea is that these fake Christians are afraid God won’t be mean enough to the people they don’t like, so they want His authority and judgment for their own earthly pleasures.

A faithless usurper, Bishop Pates.

Back in the closet with you! Hide! Pretend! Lie to us for our sake! This is the face of love, in Jesus’ name! Amen!

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Smith, Ryan. “Diocese leader speaks out on gay man’s job denial”. KCCI. 7 April 2015.

Hatred, in Jesus’ Name

Not a mythical centaur, but, rather, a determined preacher and his horse.  Pastor Edward James protests marriage equality in Mississippi, 12 December 2014, comparing homosexuals to non-human animals outside a federal courthouse in Jackson.  (Image: WAPT News)

A question for Pastor Edward James: Just how much do you think about marrying a horse?

Emily Le Coz tries to explain for Reuters:

A Mississippi pastor brought a horse in a wedding dress to stand with him outside a federal courthouse on Friday in Jackson to protest a federal judge’s ruling, currently on hold, to overturn the socially conservative state’s ban on gay marriage.

The horse, complete with white flowers tucked into its harness and a bouquet at its feet, munched grass as the pastor, Edward James of Bertha Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, spoke and waved signs at passersby.

“Do you take this horse to be your unnatural wedded spouse to have and to hold?” one sign read.

Pastor James is protesting a ruling from U.S. District Court invalidating Mississippi’s heterosupremacist marriage law. Pretending to comprehend that his demonstration was somewhat silly, he justified himself with the usual excuse: “Although it’s ridiculous,” he told a local newspaper, “so is the same-sex marriage status”.

In the first place, reconciling his lack of faith in God is something Pastor James should probably carry out in private communion with God. Showing it off is not, by conventional understandings of Biblical guidance, among the most productive of paths. To put it lightly. You know, because he’s a Christian pastor, and therefore requires kid gloves; even when he’s punching with vice, he expects everyone else to turn the other cheek.

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A Quote: Good Ol’ Fashioned, Honest-to-God, Real Holy Sh*t

And TV preacher Pat Robertson heard from a viewer this week who asked why her ailing husband's condition hasn't improved despite intense prayer: "Robertson responded that the woman's husband probably isn't a faithful Christian and may actually want to be sick: 'There are some people, you know, they enjoy their sickness. That is terrible to say but that is their excuse not to compete, 'well I'd love to compete but my lumbago's got me so I can't do it.'"

Talk about a gem. That’s a real quote. Then again, of course it is. This is the Pat Robertson we’re talking about. Brian Tashman has the brief on Robertson and the faithless, as well as the mildly uncomfortable video. And Steve Benen has the weekly roundup of the goings-on at the intersection of God and State.

Now, if someone could only point us the way to the intersection of Pat Robertson and Reality. Or maybe not; there are some things and places in this world we just don’t need to see.

“There are some people, you know, they enjoy their sickness. That is terrible to say but that is their excuse not to compete, ‘well I’d love to compete but my lumbago’s got me so I can’t do it.'”

Of course, he’s Pat Robertson, so, yeah. He knows. Right? Right?

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A Lack of Faith

The Archbishop of Canterbury made his lack of faith in God known:

FaithlessAfrican Christians will be killed if the Church of England accepts gay marriage, the archbishop of Canterbury has suggested. Speaking on an LBC phone in, Justin Welby said he had stood by a mass grave in Nigeria of 330 Christians who had been massacred by neighbours who had justified the atrocity by saying: “If we leave a Christian community here we will all be made to become homosexual and so we will kill all the Christians.”

“I have stood by gravesides in Africa of a group of Christians who had been attacked because of something that had happened in America. We have to listen to that. We have to be aware of the fact,” Welby said. If the Church of England celebrated gay marriages, he added, “the impact of that on Christians far from here, in South Sudan, Pakistan, Nigeria and other places would be absolutely catastrophic. Everything we say here goes round the world.”

This reasoning has until now been kept private, although both Welby and his predecessor, Rowan Williams, anguished about it in private.

(Brown)

It is not that we should expect Christians to follow in the footsteps of their founding predecessors, suicidal megalomaniacs who looked forward to being murdered. To the other though, there is a phrase for the Archbishop’s stance: Giving over to bullies.

Still, though, there is a contrast of courage. Sort of. Again, screw the lions.

But think about the logic: If we do the right thing, it might upset some bad people who might do some bad things. Let us therefore honor God by not doing the right thing.

I have a proposition for the Archbishop: Since some would inevitably use Christ’s gift to harm, kill, and suppress people, perhaps He should have honored God by not doing the right thing, saving His own life, and leaving humanity to Sin.

Walking in the footsteps of Christ is not supposed to be easy. The Archbishop of Canterbury is faithless.

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Brown, Andrew. “African Christians will be killed if C of E accepts gay marriage, says Justin Welby”. The Guardian. April 4, 2014.