When Slavery Won’t Die: The Oppressive Biblical Mentality America Can’t Shake

An interview with black theologian Kelly Brown Douglas on America’s greatest sins.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Valerie Tarico

Emphasis Mine

“You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.” So said white supremacist Dylann Roof to black members of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston as he systematically executed nine, leaving one woman and a five-year-old child to bear witness to the slaughter.

The horror of the mass murder defies rational analysis. And yet, if we have any hope of a better future, we must analyze it—not just the circumstances or persons or events that led to this particular slaughter on this particular day, but the root attitudes and assumptions—the ancient strands of brutality and inequality that are woven into the fabric of our society.

In her article, “The Lethal Gentleman: The ‘Benevolent Sexism’ Behind Dylann Roof’s Racism,” sociologist Lisa Wade outlines how racism and sexism intersect in Roof’s comments. The phrase “benevolent sexism” sounds jarring, but it is the term social scientists use when people attribute “positive traits to women that, nonetheless, justify their subordination to men:” Women are beautiful and fragile; women are good with children; women are emotionally weak; God made woman as the perfect ‘helpmeet’ for man. Roof’s implication that white women need protecting from rape falls into this category.

One striking aspect of sexism and racism in Roof’s statement is the sense of ownership it conveys: “Our women” in “our country” need to be protected from black men who either don’t know their place or won’t stay in it. White men can and should kill black men because they are having sex in our home territory with women who belong to us. We own America and we own the women who live here, and black men don’t because if all was right in the world we would own them too.

The idea that women and minorities (along with children and members of other species) at some level belong to men of the dominant tribe can be traced all the way back to the culture and laws of the Iron Age and the concept of chattel. The term chattel is related to the term cattle, and human chattel, like cows, exist to serve their owners and must stay where they belong. In this view, dominant men have a right or even responsibility to enforce social hierarchy. If women or slaves or children or ethnic and religious minorities or livestock step out of line, they must be punished to keep society in its proper order.

I have written in the past about how Iron Age chattel culture underlies Religious Right priorities that might otherwise seem at odds: Why do the same people who oppose abortion also oppose protections and rights for children once they are born? What do opposition to marriage equality and opposition to contraception have in common? Why is the line between marriage and slavery so blurry in the Bible? How was American slavery influenced by the Iron Age worldview? Why does biblical literalism so often incline people to embrace sexual and racial inequality?

From within Christianity, Episcopal theologian and author Kelly Brown Douglas has written extensively about some of these same questions, with a particular focus on sexuality and the Black body. After the Trayvon Martin killing, she channeled her grief into a book, Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of GodIn the interview that follows, Brown Douglas talks about the ancient concept of chattel, how it leads to the assumption that black bodies are “guilty, hypersexual, and dangerous,” and how it underlies the slaughter, from Florida to New York to Charleston, that has left America reeling.

Tarico: You are the mother of a black son, so the horrendous epidemic of shootings we all have witnessed in recent years strikes very close to your heart.

Brown Douglas: I just couldn’t shake the Trayvon Martin killing. At the time my son was 21 and I knew—as a 6’ tall young man with locks that people would perceive him as a threat. My husband and I have tried to help our son understand how others perceive him as a black male. As his mother, I find myself continually reminding him that, while I will defend him to his death I don’t want to defend him in his death. I have said, If you are ever stopped by the police, even if they tell you to get on your knees, do it. A moment of humiliation could save your life. When he’s out there’s not a moment that I don’t fear for him, not because of anything he would do—he is a very responsible person—but because of how people might perceive him. So I am passionate about what is going on now, what is going on with our children. Somehow we have to change this world to make it safe for our children.

Tarico: In Stand Your Ground, you explore cultural values and beliefs that contribute to America’s plague of racial violence including the sense of exceptionalism and manifest destiny—the idea that Anglo-Saxon European culture is fundamentally good, a light unto the world, something to be exported. When any of us has that kind of self-perception, it’s hard to see ourselves as the bad guy, hard to see when we’re doing harm.

Brown Douglas: To stop the harm, one of the first things that we have to understand is the complexity of violence. We have to understand that this Anglo-Saxon exceptionalism is inherently violent because it is unjust particularly as it suggests that certain people deserve the benefits of being treated with decency and dignity while others do not. Systems of injustice—racism, sexism, heterosexism—the ways that these systems manifest themselves systemically and structurally is violent. Anything that does harm to another is violent.

We seldom name the violence that is imbedded in the structures and systems of our society. We don’t ask, where is the violence behind the violence? Yes, there are too many guns, and we should change that. But I’m speaking about the violence of injustice. Inasmuch as we don’t begin to dismantle unjust discriminatory systems then we will consistently have violent eruptions that people respond to with more violence. Systemic and structural violence perpetuates a cycle of violence on all levels of society.

Tarico: Our handed-down cultural and religious traditions contain the concept of chattel, the idea that some people (and other species) exist for the benefit of others. Slavery is an extreme example of this. But even beyond overt slavery, you and I both write about how the residual of this concept continues to ripple down in our society.

Brown Douglas: When we talk about American slavery we have to talk about chattel slavery. Chattel doesn’t mean simply that one person serves another, it means that one belongs to another. Black people were property. They were never meant to own their own labor or their own bodies. While I truly appreciate the way that female and black bodies intersect, the black body came to this country as property. When we talk about chattel in U.S. history, the only people who were considered nonhuman were those of African descent.

Tarico: Yes! Mercifully, by the time this country was founded, outright ownership of women was no longer the overt norm. In the Old Testament, women were literally governed by property law rather than personhood rights. A man, a father, essentially sold his daughter to another man to be a wife or slave. She was a valuable reproductive technology that produced economically valuable offspring that also belonged to the patriarch, who could beat or sell them or send them into war or even sacrifice them.

The notion of women as fully autonomous persons rather than property has taken centuries to emerge. During the American colonial era, single women could own real estate and other assets, but thanks to a legal concept called coverture, married women couldn’t. “All men are created equal” really meant men, well, men who were white. A woman couldn’t get a credit card on her own in the U.S. until 1974! When I was young, a woman couldn’t obtain birth control without her husband’s permission because her reproductive capacity belonged to him. Women in the South, including black women, have been of the last to get rights to control their own property and bodies. But that is a long way from literally being bought and sold in chains, as in the slave trade!

So this idea of people owning people is changing. But, damn, the process is slow. From your point of view, where do you see the residual of chattel culture in America today?

Brown Douglas: What we see is that some people have certain privileges because of who they are while other people are penalized because of who they are. Clearly the white male heterosexual body is the most privileged body and in as much as you lose one of those attributes you lose certain privileges. In your person you have less freedom, less right to the wages of freedom in your body. That is what we are struggling through in this country.

Tarico: The rape culture that we are struggling with on college campuses is rooted in the idea that men are entitled to women’s bodies. Economic exploitation is rooted in the idea that might makes right, that powerful people have a right to exploit and consume the time, energy, productive capacity and reproductive capacity of the less powerful. The same could be said about environmental exploitation, that those who are most powerful have the right to exploit, consume, and take what they can; that other beings and their desires are secondary, if they matter at all.

As a theologian, you say that one way chattel culture gets justified is via “natural law” theology. What is that?

Brown Douglas: Natural law theology is a way of sanctifying this hierarchy of exploitation. It suggests that this wasn’t just a human creation, but divine law. This was the way God designed things to be. For example, the whole idea was that God created black people as slaves not as full human beings. Slavery was legitimated specifically through Christianity.

Tarico: What are some echoes of natural law theology in the way that conservatives think today? How does it get translated into the modern language of the Religious Right?

Brown Douglas: We know that the discourse around women has been that God created women to serve men and to reproduce. Women have had to fight that battle for years, and continue to fight the battle that they were indeed not created to be subservient to men or to be reproductive machines. That is about natural law. The other way you see it is that marriage is supposed to be between a man and a woman—that’s God’s law according to various religious communities. Those are ways that we see “natural law” functioning in our culture today.

In racial relations, if one scanned some of the white supremacy rhetoric you see that too. Historically it is part of the rhetoric of the Klan. Today most people don’t argue that in polite conversation, but we see it all the time when we place this religious canopy over discrimination. We sanctify discriminatory patternsIf God wanted men and women to be equal, God would have created women to be different –not to be the bearers of children. Or, God created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve. Those are remnants of natural law. It functions in those places where people attempt to elevate social constructs and human laws so that they seem as if they are divine laws.

Tarico: I write mostly about women—about reproductive freedom and empowerment, and in our fight to create a new norm of chosen childbearing, this notion of women as chattel is hugely problematic. Specific verses from the Bible get cited to justify the GOP’s assault on women. “Women will be saved through childbearing,” for example. In the sphere of racial relations and justice, this notion of human chattel also gets tied in with sexuality—how black sexuality is seen, why blacks are seen as dangerous.

Brown Douglas: One thing that you’ll notice is that marginalized oppressed people often are sexualized by the dominant narrative. You see that with LGBT people—the rhetoric is that they are indiscriminately promiscuous—as with black people and women. A couple of traditional cultural narratives come together here. In the conservative religious mindset, the only good sex is procreative sex. If you suggest that people are engaging in sexual activity for non-procreative reasons that’s sinful and lustful—that’s the Apostle Paul.

On top of that is this oppression narrative in which identity and sexuality get bound together. The late French philosopher Michel Foucault asked, Why is it that sexuality has become so significant in Western society that it becomes the source not just of reproduction but of truth? Why has it become the way the way people think of themselves and others? Foucalt suggests that it is because sexuality is where the body and identity come together. If you can control the sexuality of a group of people, then you can control that

Women are said to be driven by their passions and women’s sexuality has to be controlled, and is only acceptable if it’s procreative, which means men are controlling it. Sexualizing black people allowed black women to be used as breeders. It became a rationale for a black man to be lynched—because he was preying on white women. This is one way we have an overlap in how all women and black men are perceived as well as other marginalized groups. I wrote a book, Sexuality and the Black Church, in which I discuss this in more depth.

Tarico: How does this all play into a presumption of guilt? At the opening to your chapter on the Black body, you echo L. Z. Granderson’s question, Why are black murder victims put on trial? Why are black murder victims put on trial?

Brown Douglas: Black people don’t have the presumption of innocence. The concept of black people as chattel, that black people are not meant to occupy a free space and are dangerous when doing so, has been transformed into a notion of black people as criminal. If a black person has been accused of something then people assume that he or she is probably guilty, and our media representations of black people continue to reinforce this in the collective unconscious. There have been various studies [for example, herehere] which reveal that people have visceral automatic reactions to black bodies in which they see them as threatening. In one study police officers who were shown pictures of white and black men with and without guns were more likely to perceive that a black male had a gun even when he didn’t and to miss a gun in the hands of a white male even when he had one. The stereotypes of the criminal black male and the angry black woman lead to the presumption of guilt.

Tarico: I write largely for an audience of non-theists and people who describe themselves as former Christians. Many of them look at the black community’s response to an incident like the mass murder in Charleston and say, I don’t get it. How can so many Black people be Christian when Christianity has been such a tool of racial oppression against blacks? How can oppressed racial minorities embrace a sacred text that talks about chosen people and privileged blood linesWhat do you say to that?

Brown Douglas: That is the very question that compelled another book of mine called, What’s Faith Got to Do with It? In the Black Christian tradition, the first time that Black people encountered God was not through their slaveholders. They knew God in freedom, as they encountered God through their African traditional religions. As black Christianity emerged during slavery, it emerged from an entirely different place than white Christianity. Black people understood that they were meant to be free, so God stood for freedom. Throughout history you see a black critique of White Christianity. The sum of the critique is this: If Christianity is used to oppress another that’s not Christianity. What I ask is, How can one embrace a culture of oppression and claim to be Christian?

Tarico: What do you say to your own son about all of this?

Brown Douglas: I always told my son every morning as he was growing up, There is no one greater than you but God and you are sacred. I’ve always tried to teach him that he is not greater than anyone, that we are equal. God created us all, and the very breath we breathe comes from God—that is what makes us all sacred. Even when someone treats you as less than human, you must still affirm their humanity. I am working overtime these last two years to help him understand that, yes, this nation is racist and people do racist things but not all people are like that. And so, I try to teach him to respect people as he would respect himself, to affirm his humanity and to finds ways to affirm that of others. Most of all, I try to teach him not to get trapped in the cycle of hate because in the end, hate is self-destructive.

 

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington and the founder of Wisdom Commons. She is the author of “Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light” and “Deas and Other Imaginings.” Her articles can be found at Awaypoint.Wordpress.com.

See: http://www.alternet.org/when-slavery-wont-die-oppressive-biblical-mentality-america-cant-shake?akid=13273.123424.fiRzJQ&rd=1&src=newsletter1038824&t=3

Uncoupling: Why the Right Feels Violated by Consent, Queers, Contraceptives, and Child Protection

Source: Valerie Talerico

Emphasis Mine

The conservative Christion obsession with sex and procreation can be traced back to a single Iron Age gender script.

Stories of patriarchal Christian leaders groping, fondling, masturbating on or otherwise harassing or assaulting women—and having clandestine sex with men–seem to be a media staple of late. At the same time, conservative Christian leaders are fixated on lording it over women, queers, and kids. Consider, the following sample from Spring 2015:

  1. The Vatican’s second in command pronounces Ireland’s 62% endorsement of marriage equality via national referendum  a “defeat for humanity.”
  2. Catholic priest and blogger Father Dwight Longenecker proclaims that transgender former Olympian, Caitlin Jenner, is a “man dressed up as a whore” who is “caught up in a huge publicity machine to sell himself and now to sell his sexual confusion.”
  3. The Seattle Archdiocese agrees to pay $1.2 million to a woman abused for five years by a priest who was a known pedophile shuffled between parishes by the Church hierarchy.
  4. Devout U.S. presidential wannabes Marco Rubio and Mike Huckabee warn the public that gay marriage proponents are a danger to Christianity, which is likely to be criminalized if the Supreme Court backs equality.
  5. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker calls forced vaginal ultrasound before abortion “a cool thing.”
  6. Former U.S. Speaker of the House, Republican Dennis Hastert (also a celebrated alumnus of my alma mater, the Evangelical Wheaton College), is indicted for stealing $1.7 million from his securities firm to pay hush money to a former male high school 
  7. student he coached in wrestling and sexually molested.
  8. The producers of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting stop counting dollars and start counting how many sisters Josh Duggar molested before becoming an anti-gay, anti-contraception, anti-kids-rights advocate. (Duggar’s celebrity father had previously advocated the death penalty for incest.) Conservative Christian politicians, bloggers, and religious leaders rush to defend Duggar who, as shown in a photo album at Wonkette.com has touched nearly every conservative presidential contender with “the same hands that touched his sister.”
  9. Bob Jones University suspends sexual abuse investigation, but then resumes after public outcry. A Protestant sex abuse scandal, focused on universities, orphanages, missionary schools and more heats up globally.
  10. Paraguay’s Catholic-dominated court denies a 10-year-old rape victim the right to terminate her forced pregnancy.
  11. Conservative Republicans kill funding for America’s most effective teen pregnancy prevention program, which provided IUD’s to young mothers in Colorado.
  12. Under the influence of Bible-quoting conservatives, the U.S. continues to stand with Somalia against the rest of the world, by refusing to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Idaho implements a bill, signed in April by Governor Butch Otter, protecting parents from prosecution in cases of religiously motivated child abuse and medical neglect.
  13. A Christian Gender Roles article titled, “8 Steps to Confront Your Wife’s Sexual Refusal,” goes viral as the sequel to, “Christian Husbands: You Don’t Pay for the Milk when You Own the Cow,” a biblical manifesto that stops just short of endorsing marital rape—or maybe doesn’t.Christianity’s Anti-Marketing Team?If you’re feeling disgusted, you’re not alone. From the standpoint of wooing converts or even inspiring the faithful to stay faithful, the sex-obsessed behavior of high profile patriarchal Christians is about as effective as the U.S. Army’s attempt to win hearts and minds with drone strikes. I’m not trying to be poetic here—in the last decade or so, the percent of Americans who self-identify as Christians has dropped from 85 percent to 70 percent, and young people point to the “culture wars” as a key reason that Christianity turns them off. Guess who’s leaving the fastest? Women. Moderate Christians find themselves apologizing for their co-religionists, trying desperately to overcome the perception (fostered largely by biblical literalists and conservative Catholics) that Christians are judgmental, control-freakish, sex-obsessed hypocrites.

    So, why don’t the anti-marketers back off? After all, Evangelicals center their faith around a verse known as the “Great Commission” – Go into the world and make disciples of every creature. And the word “catholic” means universal, literally. The Catholic Church has spent centuries sending a sales force of missionaries into countries and cultures around the world to promote their product. If your prime directive is win converts, it seems obvious that you should lead with universal feel-good platitudes, not some archaic version of Machos rule! Females, fags, and five-year-olds drool!

    Some people say that the best evidence against the Bible’s God is that his public relations team is so inept. But I don’t think the problem is incompetence on the part of God’s spokesmen. I think they are stuck.

    Caught in an Iron Age Trap

    Many moderate Christians see the Bible not as the literally perfect Word of God, but as a record of humanity’s struggle to understand what is real and what is good. They find unique value in the Christian tradition and the model of Jesus but may also acknowledge value in other spiritual traditions while recognizing the human handprints on the biblical texts

    By contrast, biblical literalists declare the Good Book to be the complete and timeless Word of God, essentially dictated to God by the authors. Having made an idol out of the Bible, they have little choice but to promote the Iron Age worldview of the Bible writers. And in this worldview–childish taunts aside–machos do rule. God gave Adam a “helpmeet” named Eve-not-Steve, and to punish her for seeking independent knowledge swore that Adam would rule over her and she would bear his children and it would hurt like hell. As later Bible texts encode in law and illustrate in story, those children are Man’s property—assets that he can use for labor, send to war, sell into slavery, trade for political alliance, or even sacrifice as a burnt offering. In this view, consent is not a thing. Nowhere does the Bible, Old Testament or New, suggest that a woman’s consent is needed or even desired prior to intercourse. And for a man to have sex with another man violates the whole procreative hierarchy.

    In other words, patriarchal Christian men are obsessed with lording it over women, queers, and kids because in the view of the Bible writers (and true Bible believers) that is the right and proper order of things, ordained by Yahweh Himself—who, by the way, gets really mean when people don’t do things his way.

    Josh Duggar from TLC’s reality show 19 Kids and Counting, recently resigned as Executive Director of the anti-gay, anti-female Family Research Council after his history of teen sex offenses came to light. When Duggar’s parents first learned years ago that he was molesting his younger sisters, they sent him to get counseling from a guiding light of patriarchal misogyny, the Institute of Basic Life Principles (IBLP), founded by Bill Gothard, who has since been accused of molesting or sexually harassing at least 30 women himself. IBLP teaches a strict hierarchy of God—Man—Woman—Child. When I attended one of their traveling seminars as an evangelical teen, this hierarchy was represented visually by the image of God’s hand holding a hammer (the father), striking a chisel (the mother) shaping a diamond (the Christian teen). A key message was that teens needed to hear the words of those in authority over them as the voice of God.

    This model of man as God’s representative here on Earth, is fundamental throughout the Bible. The texts assembled in the Bible were written during a time spanning hundreds of years, and much cultural evolution took place during that time. Even so, women and children remained chattel (property of men) clear through the New Testament, along with slaves and livestock. In the biblical view, all sentient beings including female humans were created by God for man’s pleasure and use, and man was granted dominion over them.

    All of this makes male control of female sexuality exceedingly important—because without male “headship” and (lots of) reproduction, the whole religious-cultural-economic model breaks down.

    Modernity Uncouples Family Formation, Sex, and Parenthood

    The values of modern secular society: individual freedom and bodily autonomy, equality, and the right to wellbeing and “pursuit of happiness” are fundamentally at odds with this model. Consider three incredibly cherished and important dimensions of human life: family formation; sexual pleasure/intimacy; and parenthood. Liberals and moderates today believe that individuals should have the freedom to choose each of these dimensions of life independent of the others.

    We view these freedoms as positive social and moral goods:

    • People should be free to form loving, mutually supportive, legally recognized families with each other regardless of their sexual orientation or desire to have children. Legitimate families or “extended family” households can take of a wide variety of unconventional and fluid forms: an aunt raising her sister’s child; an unmarried elderly couple living together, a queer married couple, a co-housing community that includes single parents and kids.
    • The cherished experiences of sexual pleasure and intimacy should be broadly available to people regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, stage of life, legal partnership status, ethnicity, religion, or financial status—including those whose values or life circumstances mean they don’t want to bring a new child into the world. This includes college students, impoverished refugees, the elderly, queer people, and many others who may not be in a position to form an enduring intimate partnership.
    • Becoming a parent, as one of life’s most sacred commitments, is a matter of personal intention and choice, free from coercion either for or against, chosen by couples or individuals themselves; couples who are empowered by family planning and fertility assistance and supportive care systems to bring babies into the world when they feel ready, or adopt children who need parents. Conservative patriarchs are horrified at the thought of empowered, autonomous people freely choosing each of these dimensions of life. They are intent on forcing all of us back into a Bible-shaped box, one that establishes the proper Iron Age hierarchy of man over woman and child, that allows sex only within socially sanctioned legal structures governing property ownership and inheritance, and that ensures powerful men retain control of the economic and social assets that are rightfully theirs, including their women and their children. (See Captive Virgins, Polygamy, Sex Slaves: What Marriage Would Look Like if We Actually Followed the Bible.)Freely chosen relationships that make sex about mutual desire or love violate this model; legally recognizing children as wholly persons rather than property violates this model; women actively managing their fertility via contraception or abortion violates this model. The mere existence of queer folks violates this model.

      One New Testament writer puts these words in the mouth of Jesus, “What God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:6 NRSV). While the passage refers explicitly to divorce, members of the Christian patriarchy movement apply the concept more broadly to the entire arena of family formation, sexuality, and childbearing.

      Freudian psychological concepts like denial, projection, repression, and reaction formation may explain why red states are the biggest consumers of online porn, or why Evangelical leaders keep getting caught with their pants down. But if you’ve ever wondered why patriarchal Christians are so obsessed with controlling sex—who gets it and how, who’s on top and why, whether it leads to childbearing, and who gets to hit the kids it produces—the answer lies in this Iron Age script. Be fruitful and multiply; if you beat your son with a rod he will not die; men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; women will be saved through childbearing; and God made man in his own image—in the image of God created He him. It’s all in the Book.

      _____________________

      Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of www.WisdomCommons.org.  Her articles about religion, reproductive health, and the role of women in society have been featured at sites including AlterNet, Salon, the Huffington Post, Grist, and Jezebel.  Subscribe at ValerieTarico.com.

See: http://valerietarico.com/2015/06/11/uncoupling-why-the-right-feels-violated-by-consent-queers-contraceptives-and-child-protection/

5 of the Most Dangerous Delusions of the Far Right

Conservatives are outdoing themselves with the crazy on issues like climate change and abortion.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Amanda Marcotte

That the conservative movement is built on a bunch of misinformation, strange fantasies and outright lies has been the subject of thorough documentation, particularly in the past few decades. Conservative leaders deny inconvenient facts, make up lurid tales to justify their beliefs, and outright lie, if it suits their agenda. But these lies and myths rarely just sit in amber. They tend to evolve and get stranger and more baroque over time. Just when you think conservative misinformation can’t get any weirder, it does. Here’s four topics where conservatives are taking the lies and denialism to the next level.

1) Climate change.The White House recently released a report on climate change outlining how climate change is no longer a “future” issue since it’s having an impact on the environment right now. Conservatives responded by abandoning all restraint. No longer content with the line that they are simply “skeptical” of the science, George Will and Charles Krauthammer (neither of whom are scientists) went on Fox News to “explain” how all this science stuff is hokum. Will basically accused scientists of making it all up for mercenary reasons, saying, “If you want money from the biggest source of direct research in this country, the federal government, don’t question its orthodoxy.” Why the federal government would make up climate change and then bribe scientists to lie about it was left unexplained.

 

But Michael Bresciani of the Christian Post may have come up with an even more entertaining, if still chilling way for conservatives to simply wave off the overwhelming evidence about climate change. Bresciani seems to accept that climate change is happening, but claims it’s for biblical reasons. “All that the Bible reveals about climate changed is part of the pre-millennial prophetic message. It does say that earthquakes and violent storms, fires and other natural disasters will occur with greater intensity and frequency as the ‘last days’ approach, but it clearly says these are ‘birth pangs’ for a planet about to meet its creator.” Instead of blaming carbon emissions, he blames “everything perverted, liberal and dehumanizing.”

So those are the two choices facing a forward-thinking climate change denialist these days: Either claim science is a lie or say climate change is real, but it’s caused by all the sex you perverts are having.

2) Abortion.Abortion has always been a topic that causes conservatives to spin off into fantasyland, but lately it just seems to be getting worse. Unable to admit out loud that they want to ban abortion to punish women for having sex, conservatives have taken to spinning fantastical tales of how abortion is an “industry” that deliberately tricks women into having abortions in order to make money. (Never mind that many abortion clinics are non-profits.)

But even that lurid fantasy is apparently not satisfying enough. Carol Everett worked in abortion clinics three decades ago and now makes a living as an anti-choice activist, and there’s no tale too tall for her to tell. Recently, LifeSiteNews, without an ounce of skepticism, printed some of Everett’s claims about how the “industry” supposedly tricks young women into having sex, by letting them know that it exists. “We had a goal of 3-5 abortions from every girl between the ages of 13 and 18,” she told the unbelievably gullible audience at an anti-choice function. She then explained that abortion clinic workers supposedly sneak into schools and trick kids into getting abortions by teaching them the name of their genitals. Knowing your genitals have a name apparently puts them straight on the road to having sex, something she seemingly believes teenagers would otherwise have no interest in.

“My goal was to get them sexually active on a low-dose birth control pill that we knew they would get pregnant on,” she triumphantly concluded. There you have it: Anti-choicers have taken to practically arguing that feminists invented sex so they can trick women into having abortions. It makes perfect sense if you’ve been knocked on the head in the past five minutes. (Research shows that contraception use is linked to lower, not higher, abortion rates.)

3) Gun culture.The great myth the right has pushed for decades is that people need guns for personal safety, to protect against home intruders who are bent on raping and murdering them. It’s hard to deny the right to self-defense, but the tactic is fundamentally dishonest because having a gun in the home significantly raises the likelihood you’re going to be murdered. But no longer content simply to lie to people about guns, right-wing media has upped the ante, now arguing that a little pre-emptive murder of teenagers who are not actually out to murder you is good for overall safety and security.

You see it with the attempts to turn George Zimmerman into a hero, even though it’s indisputable that he chased down and shot an unarmed Trayvon Martin. Sean Hannity recently experimented with pushing the envelope even further, by championing the cause of a man who entrapped his victims with the intent to kill them for stealing from him. Byron Smith knew that his victims—Haile Kifer, 18, and Nick Brady, 17—had no intention of harming anyone with their admittedly stupid teenage stunt of breaking into houses to steal stuff. That’s why he set up an elaborate ruse to trick them into thinking his house was empty (including driving away and sneaking back into his dark house on foot) for the sole purpose of shooting them dead. Smith was found guilty of murder.

But Hannity couldn’t resist trying to turn him into a hero, claiming it was somehow self-defense because the kids “broke into the guy’s house.” This goes well beyond the lie that guns make you safe. The argument here is that pre-emptive vigilantism and the summary execution of people guilty of nothing more than petty crime is somehow “self-defense.”

4) Terrorism. Your average conservative is deeply committed to the idea that the Republicans are better on security issues than the Democrats. Of course, now they have to contend with the fact that President Obama presided over the killing of Osama Bin Laden. How better to go about this than just go big when rewriting history?

During a recent discussion of terrorism, Fox News host Eric Bolling said, “America was certainly safe between 2000 and 2008. I don’t remember any attacks on American soil during that period of time.” No one bothered to correct him, even though the biggest terrorist attack in American history happened during Bush’s presidency, on September 11, 2001. Perhaps you remember it.

5) Benghazi. Fox News and various conservative pundits are notorious for going on and on with this hazy conspiracy theory trying to blame Hillary Clinton for an attack on an embassy in Benghazi that led to the deaths of Americans. But now it’s gotten to the point where every news story imaginable is being somehow linked back to “Benghazi,” no matter how tenuous the connection.

Recently, this trend reached a new low: Trying to use the kidnapping of hundreds of school girls in Nigeria by an Islamist cult to push the Benghazi hoax. Benghazi is a city in Libya, and is nearly 3,000 miles away from Nigeria. This did not stop Laura Ingraham on Fox News from implying that the embassy incident in Benghazi somehow caused the kidnapping. “I think part of the problem here is that we have a dead American ambassador,” she said, going on to suggest that the ambassador’s death emboldened Boko Haram to kidnap the girls.

Allen West went in a different, though no less disgusting, direction. Calling the attention paid to the Nigeria story “fishy,” West argued that the story is just a distraction from “all the scandals facing the Obama administration, especially Benghazi and the Select Committee.” The possibility that people might actually care deeply about what happens to innocent young girls is clearly implausible to him.

None of this should be surprising. Once the right embraced dishonesty as a favorite tactic, there’s no reason not to give into the urge to make the lies more elaborate and fantastical, all of which gets them more attention and gins up more hatred for their opposition. The lies are just going to get nuttier, as there’s very little reason for conservative pundits not to keep pushing and seeing how far they can go.

Amanda Marcotte co-writes the blog Pandagon. She is the author of “It’s a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments.”

Emphasis Mine

See: http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/5-most-dangerous-delusions-far-right?akid=11815.123424.B9wocH&rd=1&src=newsletter993137&t=4

Dwindling Christian Right Turns Into Cornered Animal, Lashes Out at Civil Rights and Democracy

Like a cornered animal, which turns instinctively to confront pursuing predators, the Christian Right, knowing it represents the views of an ever shrinking number of Americans, is engaged in an existential fight to the death. Veto or no veto, Arizona’s anti-gay bill is just another of its many efforts to transform America’s secular democracy into a tyrannical theocracy.

Source: AlterNet

Author: CJ Werleman

Like a cornered animal, which turns instinctively to confront pursuing predators, the Christian Right, knowing it represents the views of an ever shrinking number of Americans, is engaged in an existential fight to the death. Veto or no veto, Arizona’s anti-gay bill is just another of its many efforts to transform America’s secular democracy into a tyrannical theocracy.

The Christian Right’s dirty little secret is they are acutely aware that changing demographics are running against them. While they may believe the earth is a mere few thousand years old, they’re not complete idiots. They can read polls, and the data tells them this: millennials are abandoning religious belief. According to a recent Pew survey, one in four Americans born after 1981 hold no religious belief, which is nearly double the national rate of atheism. Other studies confirm this trend, including a recent study by the Public Religion Research Institute showing more than half of non-religious Millennials have abandoned their childhood faith.

With this in mind, the nation’s radical religious fundamentalists see an ever-shrinking window to impose their Bronze Age worldview on the gay, atheist, liberal, immigrant, heathen, and science book-reading masses. The American Taliban is as deeply troubled by the thoughts of a gay man “sneaking a peak” of a heterosexual man in an NFL locker room as much as they’re freaked out over seeing Cam and Mitchell, the gay couple on “Modern Family,” adopt an Asian child. For the intellectual infants of the American species, progressive culture is nothing more than a 24/7 infomercial for gay sex and abortion. That frightens our unfriendly theocrats because biblical fundamentalists are more concerned with the goings on in the bedrooms of others than they are within the guilt-ridden, sexless confines of their own.

Salon columnist Brian Beutler writes that measures like Arizona’s SB1062 bill have emerged in a number of states out of “a wellspring of conservative panic about the country’s abrupt legal and cultural evolution into a society that’s broadly tolerant of gay people.” He adds, “Rather than deny the shift, or stop at trying to reverse it in legislatures, the courts and at ballot boxes, conservatives are instead attempting to erect a legal architecture that will wall them off from the growing portion of American society that supports equal rights for gay people.”

These “religious freedom” bills did not arrive here overnight; they are three decades in the making. Prior to the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976, no serious presidential candidate ever claimed to have been “born again,” and the emphasis of faith for a politician seeking high office was as rare then as a candidate declaring his atheism is today. When Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson established the Christian Right (aka the Moral Majority) in 1979, no serious political commentator believed they could play a significant role in electoral politics. The screenwriter Norman Lear joked, “The Moral Majority is neither the moral point of view, nor the majority.”

Long story short, the Christian Right swept Ronald Reagan into the White House in 1980. The Sarasota Journal wrote as much on Feb 9, 1981: “The merging of the political right with the religious right has taken the country by surprise.” It’s now 2014, and the most intellectually and morally stunted segment of American society continues to take this nation by surprise.

The Christian Right has not only moved from the fringes to become the main strain of the Republican Party; it is the Republican Party. These radicals continually surprise us for the fact casual political observers mistakenly believe they represent the far-right fringe. You cannot sugarcoat the fact that a majority of Republicans in Arizona’s House, and also a majority of Republicans in Arizona’s Senate voted for this anti-gay law. Likewise a majority of Republicans in Kansas’ House voted for a similar bill. They voted for it because they want the freedom to discriminate against individuals they claim the Bible finds abhorrent.

Worryingly, this act is a small part in a big pantomime to transform America into a theocratic nirvana—one that is absent gays, Muslims, immigrants, atheists, and science books. To achieve this, the instrument of choice is nullification. It is nullification of the federal government that weds theocrats together with libertarians and the neo-confederate movement. Since 2010, state legislatures have put forward nearly 200 bills challenging federal laws its sponsors deem unconstitutional. Typically, laws the nullifiers believe challenge “religious liberty,” the Affordable Care Act, and gun control.

In an editorial for Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall observes that since the election of Obama and the rise of the Tea Party, “there’s been more and more reaching back to the discredited ideas of nullification, interposition and even, at the truly fringe extreme, secession. They are each efforts to preserve power for disempowered minorities after they’ve lost battles in the standard majoritarian system. More simply, they’re workarounds to get out of the consequences of losing political fights. And by definition they are rearguard actions. American history and constitutional jurisprudence has consistently ruled against them.”

Marshall is right in part. But the point he misses is that elections are no longer determined by majority view, but rather by the availability of an endless pipeline of campaign cash, and on that social conservatives are no longer playing second fiddle to establishment Republicans. Thanks to Internet fundraising and changes to campaign finance laws, it’s now a case of the tail wagging the dog. According to the Federal Electoral Commission, Tea Party and social conservative groups raised nearly three times as much as GOP establishment groups in 2013, which is how you end up with a majority of Republicans in both houses of the Arizona congress voting for SB1062 in 2014.

Salon’s Beutler writes, “The bad news is that this phenomenon isn’t limited to homophobia, and doesn’t always masquerade as an exercise of religious freedom. As America grows more liberal, conservatives are retreating into a variety of interlinking, but isolated subcultures and, when necessary, making or manipulating law to insulate themselves from contact with the masses.”

The Christian Right’s ideology drives virtually all social policy debate within the Republican Party, whether it’s immigration, women’s reproductive rights, the death penalty, or same-sex marriage.

Chris Hedges says the Christian Right’s ideology calls for the “eradication of social ‘deviants,’ beginning with gay men and lesbians, whose sexual orientation, those in the movement say, is a curse and an illness, contaminating the American family and the country. Once these ‘deviants’ are removed, other ‘deviants,’ including Muslims, liberals, feminists, intellectuals, left-wing activists, undocumented workers, poor African-Americans and those dismissed as ‘nominal Christians’—meaning Christians who do not embrace this peculiar interpretation of the Bible—will also be ruthlessly repressed. The ‘deviant’ government bureaucrats, the ‘deviant’ media, the ‘deviant’ schools and the ‘deviant’ churches, all agents of Satan, will be crushed or radically reformed. The rights of these ‘deviants’ will be annulled. ‘Christian values’ and ‘family values’ will, in the new state, be propagated by all institutions. Education and social welfare will be handed over to the church. Facts and self-criticism will be replaced with relentless indoctrination.”While the Christian Right is becoming the dwindling minority, it remains an existential threat to civil rights, secularism and our democratic values. It’s a threat fueled by a seemingly unlimited supply of campaign finance, and a rabid base that believes it’s fighting for its place in a 21st-century world it can’t reconcile against an ancient book that says gays are an abomination. You know, like shellfish.

Emphasis Mine

See: http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/why-christian-right-behaving-cornered-animal-lashing-out-civil-rights-and-our?akid=11552.123424.mbaeLn&rd=1&src=newsletter964051&t=8

Crucifixion and Resurrection: The Republican Warping of Christ’s Moral Lessons

Whether or not one believes in a god, Jesus Christ, or the Christian bible is irrelevant to basic humanity and caring for those in need

From: Politics USA

By: Rmuse

“All around the world today, multitudes of Christians are celebrating their opportunity for salvation and everlasting life because of their savior’s sacrifice to benefit all human kind. America is no different, but there are indications that many American Christians cannot bring it upon themselves to sacrifice anything for their fellow Americans in the present and it diminishes Christ’s sacrifice and the alleged altruism inherent in the meaning of Easter. The crucifixion and resurrection story are moral lessons for Christians that the greatest expression of love for fellow humans is sacrificing oneself to benefit all people, but the sentiments being manifest by the religious right and their Republican political leaders is more akin to the sinful greed and hate Christ condemned than his commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

In the Christian bible, it says that “For god so loved the world that he gave his only son that everyone who believes in him might not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  However, the bible also says that belief or faith in Jesus and his sacrifice is not sufficient to earn everlasting life and that a devotee must show their faith in Christ by following his example of having love for all human beings and expressing that love through charity and care for the least among us. In the New Testament, James, the alleged brother of Jesus Christ wrote that, “faith, if it does not have deeds, is dead in itself” and “faith without works is dead” (James 2:17, 26). The implication is that no matter how great one claims their belief and faith in Christ’s sacrifice is, without following his explicit commandments and examples of love for all people, it is better to have never known Christ or his sacrifice.

Every Christian has heard the bible’s stories of Christ’s directives to care for the poor and infirm even if it means caring for a hated enemy, and yet here are alleged Christians, supporting Republicans’ Draconian cuts to programs that feed, house, and provide healthcare for the poor, children, seniors, and minorities under the guise of fiscal conservatism and austerity to control the nation’s deficit. Even if the notion of reducing the deficit was sincere, Christ made no allusion to an exception for caring for the poor if a government needed help to control its deficit in the present or for future generations as Republicans are wont to claim. And yet, here are Christian conservatives in Congress and state legislatures slashing spending on food stamps, housing assistance, and healthcare for the poorest Americans and they have garnered support from the same Christians who assert their faith and belief in Christ and his ultimate sacrifice as payment for their eternal life. Christ had strong words for these so-called “Christians” and it did not include granting them everlasting life or praise for their rank greed and selfishness. Christ may as well have been speaking to 21st century Republicans, conservative Christians, and the religious right when he said, “Hypocrites, This people honors me with the lips, but their hearts are remote from me, and they adore me vainly, inculcating teachings that are commands of men” (Matt. 15:7-9).

The commands of Republicans to their loyal followers is to reward the wealthy at the expense of the poor, and they have convinced their “good Christian” adherents that it is virtuous to reject Christ’s admonition to help the poor as a requirement for being a good American. The conservative Christians supporting Republican Paul Ryan and Willard Romney’s budgets and economic plans have taken to heart not Christ’s teachings, but those of Ayn Rand and wealthy industrialists such as the Koch brothers and their think tanks that inculcate the proposition that instead of helping the least advantaged, Americans are duty-bound to heap the nation’s assets on the wealthy that Christ claimed would have great difficulty in profiting from his life-giving sacrifice.

There are millions of Christians who do not subscribe to the Republicans’ teachings that the wealthy deserve more sacrifices from Americans, and poll after poll demonstrate that, indeed, the majority of Americans believe the wealthy should share in sacrificing by contributing more to assist the poor and pay down the deficit. There are Christian clergy who have spoken out against the Republican Draconian cuts to programs for poverty-stricken Americans, and yet they have had as much success influencing conservative Christians as Secular Humanists who are closer to following Christ’s teachings than so-called Christian conservatives.

This is not necessarily an indictment of the Christian faith or all Christians,  because if its devotees followed Christ’s teachings exclusively and ignored the hate-filled exhortations of the apostle Paul and the Hebrew Scriptures’ god, then commentaries such as this would be unnecessary. But there are very few Christians who bifurcate Christ’s teachings of charity and assistance for the poor from the discriminatory, racist, and anti-woman dogmata inherent in the rest of the Christian bible, and it is the latter group that deludes themselves that Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection has any relevance in aiding their eternal life as believers and faithful followers of the Christian religion. Instead, these conservative Christians are the epitome of hypocrisy that Jesus cited for their “showy display” of lip service while their hearts are intent on rewarding the wealthy with ill-gotten gains from the poor, children, and senior citizens, and no amount of adoration for their savior, his instrument of death, or their claim of faithful devotion will save them.

Whether or not one believes in a god, Jesus Christ, or the Christian bible is irrelevant to basic humanity and caring for those in need, but when alleged followers of Christ offer their supreme devotion to Republicans who claim to be Christians while elevating the wealthy to god-status and eliminate crucial safety nets such as food, housing, and healthcare for the poor, they besmirch the Christian faith and the sacrifice of their avatar of goodness and love. However, as long as they clutch their bible to their bosom, do obeisance to the cross, and proclaim their faith in Jesus Christ, they are able to justify any actions that are contrary to Christ’s teachings. It leads one to wonder to what extent they really believe in his sacrifice on their behalf, and what reward they aspire to as adversaries of Christian charity and love for their fellow man, because their works belie faith in Christ’s sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection.

Republicans will always punish the poor to enrich the wealthy and no amount of Christian posturing or reverence for the bible will change their greed and contempt for Americans who are not wealthy. The Christians who are devoted to helping Republicans punish the poor are in the same calamitous position as their Republican heroes and one would think that at Easter, they would reflect and re-evaluate the meaning of sacrifice, but obviously they are consumed with bunny rabbits, tax cuts for the wealthy, and hatred for an African American sitting in the Oval Office. The lesson for Christians is simple; if they think that dressing up on Easter Sunday, coloring eggs, and acknowledging their savior’s death and resurrection guarantees them everlasting life at the same time they support the policies and hateful agenda of Republicans, their everlasting existence is about as likely as a Jewish man coming back to life after decomposing for three days in a tomb.”

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.politicususa.com/easter-republican-christ/