judgmentalism

FOX News and Fear

Megyn Kelly of FOX News, left; career traitor and moron Morten Storm, right.  (Credit: FOX News via Salon.com)

It is a prediction both grim and petty. FOX News calls in a career gangbanger to predict terrorism:

Not that Fox News is committed to providing fuel for elderly white people’s nightmares or anything, but on “The Kelly File” last night, host [Megyn] Kelly spoke to a former al Qaeda terrorist who said that a terror attack on United States soil is immanent — likely within the next two weeks.

“The people who are on the run at the moment from ISIS in Europe are very desperate, and they know their time’s up, and they will need to do as much damage as possible,” ex-terrorist and CIA double-agent Morten Storm told Kelly.

“I believe that copycats in America will do their best to do what their brothers have done in Europe,” he added. “I believe that within the next two weeks, we will have an attack.”

“In these people’s mind,” Kelly said, “America is the real trophy.”

(Kaufman)

Note the essential lack of any useful detail. Here’s the thing: Certes, an attack in the next two weeks is possible; this is an easy suggestion to make when your job is fearmongering.

But what is the standard? To the one, we might look ahead eight days to Thanksgiving, acknowledge a long weekend, and pray―if one is inclined to prayer―for Chicago, where the Labor Day weekend saw nine dead and forty-six wounded, Independence Day weekend racked up another nine bodies and fifty-three wounded, and the Memorial day weekend counted twelve dead and forty-four injured. We certainly have reason to wonder what misery the Windy City will find while giving thanks. By Storm’s standard, if even one of the shooters decides to claim Daa’ish affiliation he is right and FOX News gets another feather in their cap.

To the other, we might consider Chicago and the basic idea of regular, terrifying violence. True, it’s not specifically relevant to Storm’s prediction, but the question demands: If we are so worried that Daa’ish can strike even one American in the homeland, why are we not coordinating a massive societal response to the terror and death of more traditional American violence?

Or is that the point? That guns and pride and murder are traditional American values?

Statistically speaking, in my lifetime, the people who are most dangerous to me are white Christian males.

Nor am I unique, or even unusual.

Nor do we treat Christians as so many Americans would have us treat Muslims.

And, you know, what the hell is the deal, here? How does being a career moron and traitor qualify Morton Storm as a terror expert? And what about his FOX News analysis isn’t lowering the bar for expertise?

Two weeks? This better be a hell of a spectacle.

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Image note: FOX News host Megyn Kelly, left; career traitor and terrorist washout Morten Storm, right. (Image: FOX News via Salon)

Kaufman, Scott Eric. “Be very, very afraid: Megyn Kelly talks to former terrorist who predicts attack on US soil within two weeks”. Salon. 18 November 2015.

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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.

The Mike Huckabee Experience (Christian Hatedown Remix)

In this April 18, 2015 file photo, former Arkansas Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks at the Republican Leadership Summit in Nashua, NH.  Huckabee is set to announce he will seek the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.  He has an event planned for May 5 in his hometown of Hope, Ark., where former President Bill Clinton was also born.  (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

This is a look ahead, toward some difficult times.

On Tuesday, Mike Huckabee made it official. The former Republican Arkansas governor and Fox News host launched his second bid for the White House in his hometown of Hope, Arkansas, vowing to stop the “slaughter” of abortion and calling for the protection of the “laws of nature” from the “the false God of judicial supremacy.”

Tim Murphy reports, for Mother Jones, the “Mike Huckabee you may not remember”, and it’s just as foul a history as you might imagine.

Huckabee, then a Baptist pastor who operated a small television station out of his Arkadelphia church, made sex and morality the centerpieces of his ’92 campaign—and he preached as fiery a message from the stump as he did from the pulpit. The novice politician let loose with eyebrow-raising tirades that occasionally put him to the right of the most fire-breathing conservatives. He endorsed quarantining AIDS patients, condemned efforts to shield homosexuals from discrimination, and called for the death penalty to be imposed on big-time drug dealers. He attacked Bumpers repeatedly as a libertine who supposedly supported giving condoms to 12-year-olds, sanctioned gay throuples, and voted to use taxpayer funds on “pornographic” art.

Serrano, Piss Christ (detail)Huckabee’s 1992 platform was an artifact of the Moral Majority’s high-water mark. In interviews and on the stump he explained that the nation had strayed toward “selfishness and sensuality” and had been “savaged by radical groups bent on a moral and social agenda” at odds with Judeo-Christian values. “When I was in school, they passed out Gideon Bibles—today, they pass out condoms,” he said at stop after stop on the trail. In the new liberal order, Huckabee warned his hometown paper, the Hope Star, a family would consist of “three homosexual men living together.”

The gay agenda, he believed, was influencing and restricting the nation’s response to the AIDS crisis. He endorsed quarantining AIDS patients from the rest of society—a radical view even among conservatives at the time—while arguing that the severity of the epidemic had been exaggerated because gay people wielded so much political clout. The federal government should spend less money on AIDS, he insisted, and more on diseases that the afflicted had not brought on themselves, such as cancer.

“I realize a lot of people have received AIDS through blood transfusions, but AIDS is basically a lifestyle disease, and when the lifestyle is changed, the disease risk goes significantly down,” Huckabee said in one interview. AIDS advocates themselves, not taxpayers, should pony up: “Elizabeth Taylor went before Congress and made a big pitch that we needed more federal funding for AIDS. If Elizabeth Taylor would take one of the rings off her finger and sell it, she could get more money for AIDS research than the average Arkansan will make in two years of hard work. If she’s really serious about it, she’s got assets that she could dispose of. Why should she make me take money from my children’s future, and take it right off my table when she needs to cough up some of her own coin for that.”

It is worth noting that in this time when American Christians lament that they are, in various ways, under some sort of siege―from gays, women, television, even basic reality―it probably won’t help anyone to have so many Republican candidates rushing to proclaim hatred in Jesus’ name.

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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 About Iowa

Joni Ernst

One might wonder, given the polling out of the Hawkeye State, what the hell is wrong with Iowa. The idea that cowardice, ignorance, and tinfoil paranoia are Iowa values might strike many as strange, but that’s the thing: It is a question for Iowans.

No, really. It is perfectly within the rights of Iowa voters to send to the United States Senate a candidate who is incapable of distinguishing fact from opinion.

Ben Terris opens his glimpse into the Ernst campaign with a brief description of something rather quite expected:

Depending on the time of year, Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst (R) either thinks President Obama is an president that who refuses to lead, or is an overzealous “dictator” who is constantly “overstepping his bounds.”

We’re at the part of the Goldilocks story where the president is too small.

“We have an apathetic president,” she told a crowd in Newton, Iowa, as part of her 24-hour get out the vote tour around the country. It’s a different message from the time in January when she suggested that the president should be impeached for enacting parts of his agenda without Congress’s approval.

After the event, Ernst elaborated without elucidating exactly what she meant.

“He is just standing back and letting things happen, he is reactive rather than proactive,” she said. “With Ebola, he’s been very hands off.”

Contradiction is one of Ernst’s talents, which in turn makes her sound as if she has no clue what she is talking about. In Iowa, this sort of cluelessness is apparently a virtue.

What follows, though, might seem a bit excessive, even for Iowa: (more…)