Why the Religious Right’s Love for the Donald Makes Total Sense

The religious right was formed to protect segregation, so it’s no surprise they’re drawn to Donald Trump.

Source:AlterNet

Author: Amanda Marcotte/Salon

Emphasis Mine

Donald Trump’s triumphant performance in the Nevada caucus, “a testament to his broad appeal among Republican primary voters” as Salon’s Sean Illing writes,  is causing another round of media handwringing about how the giant orange circus clown can possibly be doing so well. Of special interest is why Trump, who has been married three times and likes to brag about how many sex partners he’s had, is doing so well with evangelical voters, who vote for him at about the same rate as other Republicans.

One theory is that they are generically “angry,”  like all other Republicans, and that makes them willing to overlook his many flaws.

Or perhaps it’s because they are forgiving, as Ralph Reed told Lauren Fox of Talking Points Memo. “Evangelicals have a long history of accepting converts to the pro-life and pro family cause at their word,” Reed argued.

But really, this evangelical fervor for Trump isn’t all that surprising when you consider the history of the religious right in this country, a history which suggests these voters are less motivated by faith than they are motivated by conservative ideology. “Jesus” is just the word they apply to their beliefs to make otherwise repulsive reactionary politics seem moral and righteous. Evangelical voting behavior makes way more sense if you assume the politic views come first and the Bible is just the rationalization for them.

Trump’s campaign motto is “Make America Great Again!”, which ties into his campaign theme of a country that’s lost its way and needs to be returned to some halcyon days of yore. What that means is pleasantly vague enough for pundits to project all sorts of narratives onto it, but I would venture that the simplest interpretation is probably the one resonating with the voters: This used to be the sort of country that would never elect a black man (or a woman) to the White House, and Trump is going to get us back to those days again.

His pitch is convincing because he’s successfully painted the rest of the GOP as people are too cowed by the forces of “political correctness” to say what really needs to be said, which is evident to voters in the other candidates’ relative unwillingness (with an eye towards the general election) to race-bait as blatantly as Trump does.

That this racially provocative narrative appeals to evangelicals shouldn’t be surprising, because this particular narrative has always been the motivating, indeed formative narrative of the religious right. It’s forgotten all too often, but the religious right as we know it formed in the South as a direct reaction to the civil rights movement, and its purpose was to use “Jesus” as a cover story to resist desegregation. In 2014, historian Randall Balmer published a Politico article on this quickly fading but critically important history, where he laid out how much of the infrastructure of the religious right was established by racists who were trying to preserve segregation.

As Balmer explains, after Brown v Board of Education, huge swaths of the South reinstated segregation by creating an elaborate private school system, which were deemed “segregation academies.” Jerry Falwell got his start as a religious right leader founding and defending such schools.

But in 1971, the federal government ruled that private non-profit schools could not maintain a tax-exempt status if they banned black students, and the organized efforts to resist this, by using religion as a justification to resist race-mixing, turned into what we now understand as the modern religious right.

To be clear, the religious right was swift in turning away from overt racism to overt sexism as its defining feature, first by fighting the Equal Rights Amendment that would ban sex discrimination and then waging the war on legal abortion, sex ed, and contraception access. But the disappearance of overt claims that Jesus disapproves of race-mixing shouldn’t be mistaken for a total abandonment of white resentment as an organizing force for the Christian right.

Ronald Reagan gets a lot of credit, for understandable reasons, for helping shape the religious right into a definable and powerful Republican voting bloc. He did this in part by feeding them the anti-feminist rhetoric they wanted to hear, but he also did it by pumping out an endless stream of race-baiting that fed directly into the political style of the religious right, which leans heavily on urban legends and rejects empirical evidence.

Reagan loved to thrill his racist audiences by telling tales of a “welfare queen” who bought a Cadillac off welfare or the “strapping young buck” buying T-bones with food stamps. He argued that the Voting Rights Act was “humiliating to the South” and opposed the Civil Rights Act. He kicked off his 1980 campaign in a town where civil rights workers had famously been murdered, and his speech focused on his support for those resisting desegregation. And he won the religious right’s vote, despite being a former movie star and the first (and so far only) divorced President.

Sounds an awful lot like the current front-runner of the Republican race, a man who enjoys tickling his audience with racially loaded urban legends and bigoted insinuations, and whose past as a decadent tabloid fixture and TV star doesn’t seem to ruffle religious right feathers, so long as he keeps the bigoted rhetoric coming.

And yes, while Trump’s history on reproductive rights suggests he’s not as opposed to them as the other candidates, it’s also true that his misogyny is unquestionable. The sad fact of the matter is that he doesn’t have to be against reproductive rights to prove his disdain for female independence, because contempt for women drips off him.

There’s been a lot of attention paid to the fact that Trump won the Latino vote at the Nevada caucus, but don’t believe the hype. Only 8% of the voters who turned out to the Republican caucus were Hispanic, compared to 19% in the Democratic caucus. Eighty-five percent of Republican voters in Nevada were white, compared to 59% of Democratic voters. If you want to understand Republican voters and why they thrill at Trump’s wink-and-nod race-baiting over the stylings of men named Marco Rubio and Rafael “Ted” Cruz, that might be the simplest answer. Yes, even for the ones who like to talk about how much they love Jesus, who they, after all, invariably portray as a white man.

Amanda Marcotte is a politics writer for Salon. She’s on Twitter @AmandaMarcotte. 

 

See:http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/why-religious-rights-love-donald-makes-total-sense?utm_source=Amanda+Marcotte%27s+Subscribers&utm_campaign=395339125c-RSS_AUTHOR_EMAIL&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f2b9a8ae81-395339125c-79824733

 

 

Why Millions of Christian Evangelicals Oppose Obamacare and Civil Rights

End Times theology is making your health care more expensive.

Source: Religion Dispatches

Author: Daniel Silliman

Emphasis Mine

 American evangelicals have been waiting for the world to end for a long time. But that’s not to say they’ve just been sitting around. Apocalypticism has inspired evangelistic crusades, moral reform movements, and generations of political activism.

In his latest book, Matthew Avery Sutton, a professor of history at Washington State University, traces this history of American evangelical apocalypticism from the end of the 19th century to the present day. In the process, he proposes a revised understanding of American evangelicalism, focused on the urgent expectations of the end of human history. If you want to understand modern evangelicalism, Sutton says, you have to understand their End Times theology.

Daniel Silliman spoke with Sutton at the Heidelberg Center for American Studies, in Heidelberg, Germany.

Why write about evangelical Christian apocalypticism?

The question that initially sparked this research was why were fundamentalists and their evangelical heirs skeptical of the state? Why were and are they critical of the federal government? I started thinking about this in the context of the health care debates over the last decade. Why were so many Christians so reluctant to support national health care? I could see why they were critical of the Democratic party on gay rights. I could see why they were critical on abortion. What I didn’t understand is why, as a conservative Bible believing Christian, you would be opposed expanding health care.

This book is a very long, 480-page answer to that question.

My argument in a nutshell is that the apocalyptic theology that developed in the 1880s and 1890s led radical evangelicals to the conclusion that all nations are going to concede their power in the End Times to a totalitarian political leader who is going to be the Antichrist. If you believe you’re living in the last days and you believe you’re moving towards that event, you’re going to be very suspicious and skeptical of anything that seems to undermine individual rights and individual liberties, and anything that is going to give more power to the state.

How significant is apocalypticism in the history of American evangelicalism?

The idea that Jesus is coming back soon was a fairly radical and unconventional idea in the 19th century, but by the 21st century it’s the air American Christians breathe. The most recent polls said something like 58 percent of white evangelicals believe Jesus is going to return by 2050. They simply take for granted that there is going to be a Rapture and Jesus is going to come back.  I took those statistics and others like them and moved backwards in time. What I found in my research was that apocalypticism was central to fundamentalists and evangelicals. What made them most distinct, what set them apart from liberal Protestants is not what we’ve traditionally thought. It’s not questions of the virgin birth or how you read the Bible or questions of the nature of the incarnation or the literal resurrection of Jesus or Jesus’s miracles. All those matter, all of those things do set them apart, but they don’t affect how they live their daily lives. The one thing that affects how they live their daily lives is that they believe we are moving towards the End Times, the rise of the Antichrist, towards a great tribulation and a horrific human holocaust.

In their minds, the imminent Second Coming would not be as important as getting people saved. Salvation, converting sinners, would be the most important thing driving them. But in terms of how they’re shaping and organizing their own lives, I think apocalypticism has been the driving force for much of the last century. It has fueled the movement and shaped it in fundamental ways.

If you haven’t been in the archives it’s really unbelievable to read these articles, these sermons and these letters, to realize how much apocalypticism saturated the minds of fundamentalists and evangelicals in the 20th century. The looming rise of the Antichrist was just the forefront of their thinking.

And they say that. Over and over again. They’re very clear.

This is significant because to believe the world is rapidly moving to its end effects how you vote, how you’re going to structure your education, how you understand the economy, how you’re going to treat global events, how you’re going to look at organizations like the United Nations.

Apocalypticism is central to understanding how fundamentalists and then evangelicals acted.

Can you give a broad outline of this theology?

It’s a relatively complicated theology that fundamentalists and then evangelicals drew from a lot of different influences, a lot of different impulses. The key to unlocking their theology is to see some fairly obscure passages from the books of Daniel, Ezekiel, Revelation, and Jesus’s sermon in Matthew 24 through their eyes.

But their conlusions, broken down to their simplest form are these: We’re living in the church age and we’re moving towards the Rapture. Jesus will Rapture all true believers out of this world, they’ll just disappear, they’ll go up to heaven with Jesus, and then with the loss of Christian influence in the world, Satan will have free rein to take power through a political leader, called the Antichrist, who is then going to rule over the world for seven years. This period is called the Tribulation. Antichrist rule will lead to a series of wars, which will then culminate with Jesus coming with an army of saints and fighting the battle of Armageddon, in the literal land of Palestine. Jesus will defeat the Antichrist, vanquish evil and then establish a new kingdom.

There’s been a long debate in Christian history about the timing of Jesus’s Second Coming. Would he come to initiate the start of a new millennium, a 1,000 years of peace and prosperity, or would he come at its conclusion? Fundamentalists and most evangelicals believed that Jesus is going to come back before the millennium. From there they determined that there will be signs or indications that tell us we’re approaching the Second Coming. They believe the Bible had laid out these signs, the sequence of events that would happen, as they understood it, as we get closer and closer and closer to the Second Coming of Christ.

The rough picture is that we’re moving towards the End Times. Instead of the idea that Christians are building the kingdom of God on earth, the earth is on a quick, slippery slope descending to hell.

What is the practical effect of this expectation?

Traditionally, people have believed that this expectation that Jesus is coming back would lead to indifference, that people would focus on the next world, they would invest very little in this world. In fact, they’ve done just the opposite. This is a central argument in the book.

D.L. Moody is often used to illustrate the idea of indifference. He famously said that the world is a sinking ship and God has given him a lifeboat and told him to save as many as he could. That’s the idea, that there’s not anything you can do but save those who are sinking. At the same time, Moody turned around and established what were later known at the Moody Church and the Moody Bible Institute, which were extremely active in reform movements during the progressive era. They were focused on issues of crime in Chicago, sanitation, temperance, and in all kinds of moral reform efforts.

It’s clear from Moody to Billy Sunday to Aimee Semple McPherson to Billy Graham to Jerry Falwell, that to believe that Jesus is coming at any moment does not make you less active or less involved in your culture. They say over and over and over again that this is not the case. We just haven’t heard them. Every generation of evangelicals and fundamentalists says it. Their apocalyptic theology makes them more active not less.

There is a biblical argument for this that they use. It’s the parable of the talents. In this story a ruler invests in his servants, giving each of them a number of talents, or money. He then goes away to another kingdom. When he comes back he wants to know what they’ve done with their talents. Some had buried their talents, afraid of losing it. Some had lost the money, wasting their talents. But some had invested wisely and made more money. So the returning ruler rewarded those who had invested wisely and maximized their talents and used them for greater good. For fundamentalists and evangelicals, the point here is that God has given them talents. He’s gone away, he’s coming back, he’s coming back soon, and he’s going to ask what you’ve done with your talents. Jesus ended the parable by instructing the disciples to “occupy” until I come. And that’s what fundamentalists and evangelicals have done.

That means that, far more than many other Christians, they believe they have a responsibility to act as vehemently, as radically, as urgently as possible.

What I’m arguing is that in fact the conviction that Jesus is coming back very very soon creates a sense of urgency, or anxiety or excitement that means there is no time to spare, because the clock is ticking and they’re almost out of time.

The standard narrative of white evangelical history is a great withdrawal from culture in the 1920s and then a reengagement in the 1950s, leading to the religious right in 1980s. Do you want to revise that?

Yes. That’s one of the historiographical arguments I’m making in the book. The traditional argument is that fundamentalists were active and engaged in American society until the Scopes trial, the anti-evolution trial, in 1925. They were humiliated and defeated in the Scopes trial, they withdrew and focused on building their churches, their institutions, but they weren’t engaged in mainstream culture until the rise of Billy Graham who helped turn them around. Then it’s a few quick steps to the rise of the religious right.

That’s incorrect. They never gave up. They never withdrew or disengaged from culture. In the 1930s, for example, most of these fundamentalists were very critical of the New Deal. For Americans who were actively looking for signs of the coming Antichrist in the context of the 1930s, in the context of Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini, Roosevelt had all the markings of someone setting the stage for the end times. He was concolidating power. Government was growing.

I found a letter from one of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s operatives. He had gone out to survey the country and look for areas of strength and weakness before the 1936 election and what he told FDR is that the greatest threat was not from the economic reactionaries, that was his term, but from the religious reactionaries. He said the “so-called evangelical churches are strongly against you.” It was shortly after that that FDR issued a letter to all the churches of the nation, asking for their support, and asking what he could do to better meet their needs.

Fundamentalists were involved in politics, they were involved in social reform. A few of them were talking about abortion and same-sex relations in the 1930s. They were very much active and involved with what was going on around them. There’s just no evidence to show that they retreated.

I’m trying to decenter the Scopes trial as not that substantial of a moment in the history of evangelicalism.

What about African-American evangelicals? How were they apocalyptic?

This was one of my favorite parts of doing this book. I wanted to take seriously how African-American evangelicals compared and contrasted with white evangelicals. They started from the same theological premises, but came to very different political and social conclusions.

They had that sense of fever and anxiety and hope for Jesus’s Second Coming, but for them, the signs of the times and the method of occupying until he comes were very, very different.

There were a number of important and substantial issues that were not on white evangelicals’ radar screens, but for black evangelicals, they were absolutely central to what it meant to be living in an apocalyptic age. For them a sign of the End Times was not the supposed lawlessness of Martin Luther King, Jr., a claim made by some white evangelicals. No, for African Americans a sign of the coming tribulation was lynching. They didn’t see the Antichrist coming out of the New Deal, they saw the Antichrist as an extension of state governments that were racist and had Jim Crowed them for generations. They too had a very strong sense that Jesus was coming back, but he was coming back for different reasons, he was going to right different wrongs, and he was going to bring a different kind of peace and a different kind of justice. A different kind of millennium.

While African Americans were having their own theological discussions among themselves, they were also aware of developments in the white evangelical community, but they were not engaging directly with white theologians. For them it was a different kind of discussion. For them, thinking through apocalyptic theology was happening in the context of a long black liberation tradition, so they put a lot of emphasis, for instance, on a verse in Psalms that talks about a great leader coming out of Abyssinia or Ethiopia. There was a sense in which Jesus’s return was the coming of a black liberator.

White fundamentalists and evangelicals were very clear that they didn’t want anything to do with African Americans for most of the twentieth century. They didn’t see African Americans as able to contribute to their movement. The racial assumptions were built into who evangelicals and fundamentalists were as people, just like the vast majority of white Americans right alongside them. They were no different.

But what apocalypticism did was give white evangelicals a framework and a rationale for fighting the Civil Rights movement, for example. In the last days, they insisted, there will be lawlessness. So they saw the Civil Rights movement as an example of people who break the law. Whiteness influenced these evangelical theologians, and when we compare them with African American theologians we can see how their sensitivities influenced the way they read, understood, and applied the Bible.

How does apocalypticism shape someone like Billy Graham and, by extension, modern evangelicalism?

Billy Graham gets a pass from a lot of scholars who pay very little attenion to his apocalypticism. I think that’s wrong. I think it’s been a core of his ministry. In 1949, when Graham had his first major revival in Los Angeles, the famous one that put him on the map, the revival began just days after Harry Truman announced that the Soviets had tested an atomic bomb. So Graham used this to say, the end is near, the time is close. You have to get saved today because Jesus is coming back.

He would say getting people saved is the engine driving him, but the reason there’s an urgency to getting people saved is that Jesus may be coming back before we wake up in the morning. And he would say that at every revival campaign. That was his message.

He wrote about it more than just about any other topic. He published books on apocalypticism in the 1960s and the 80s and the 90s and 2010. In 2010, writing as a 91-year-old, he believed this message was one of the most important things he could leave behind on this earth. In this book he says the signs are now clearer than ever. He’s written a lot of books, but five on apocalypticism? I don’t know that he’s covered any other topic in five books.

At the same time, I want to be very clear: postwar evangelicalism grew far more diverse than interwar fundamentalism. After the war, the movement got bigger, broader, more inclusive and less tied to apocalypticism. What happens is essentially evangelicalism divides, and you have these more respectable people like Graham and Carl F. H. Henry and Harold John Ockenga, and others on one track preaching a respectable, moderate apocalypticism. Then you have populist apocalyptics who become incredibly popular, like Hal Lindsey in the 1970s, Tim LaHaye in the 1990s and into the 2000s. Then, you have growing numbers of self-proclaimed evangelicals completely rejecting the apocalypticism that had for so long given their movement its distinctive identity. The story of postwar evangelicals is this tension between the more respectable, more careful, more savvy, leaders and those who preached a radical populist apocalypticism that harkened back to the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s.

And yet the apocalyptic never leaves. It’s still there, that’s where the polls come back. It’s now assumed by hundreds of millions of Americans that the rapture is a real thing and that Jesus is coming back.

It’s a genius theology, because it allows people to look at very diverse, very troubling, very dark contemporary events and put them in a context; to say, “I know why this is happening, and it’s going to turn out OK. We are going to be OK.” It gives them peace, comfort and hope in a world that often offers none of those things.

Daniel Silliman is an instructor of American religion and culture at the University of Heidelberg. He is currently writing his dissertation at Heidelberg on secularity and faith in contemporary evangelical fiction. He worked as a crime reporter in metro Atlanta for several years before moving to Germany with his wife in 2008.

See: http://www.alternet.org/belief/why-millions-christian-evangelicals-oppose-obamacare-and-civil-rights?akid=12555.123424.O-lAlR&rd=1&src=newsletter1028372&t=13

Fox News’ 5 Worst Moments of 2013

It was another banner year for Rupert Murdoch’s propaganda shop. Here are the most cringeworthy moments.

Source: Salon, via AlterNet

Author: Elias Isquith

“Along with death and taxes, Fox News is one of the few things we can depend on in this world. Just as the sun rises and sets, it’s a given that, over the course of 12 months, many ridiculous, offensive, stupid and bewildering things will be said by persons seated in front of a Fox News studio camera. Whether it’s from the hosts, guests or mere contributors, you can be assured that someone is going to say something that was better left unsaid.

With that in mind, join us as we go through some of the lowest lows from Fox News, moments to remind us that when it comes to lizard-brained inanity, no one holds a candle to the guys and gals at Fox.

5. Bill O’Reilly says Asians aren’t liberals because they’re “industrious and hard-working.” 

O’Reilly may be considerably less relevant today than he was around 10 years ago — but he’s still totally racist! While this aside about Asian people isn’t quite so outlandishly bigoted as his infamous recollection of that one time he ate at a place with black people, it’s still a brain-dead comment founded entirely on a racial stereotype. And, in fact, it’s kind of doubly (or triply) racist because it implies that people who vote for liberal politicians are not industrious or hard-working. Other than that, though, it was a totally defensible thing to say.

4. Megyn Kelly insists Santa Claus is white.

As Salon’s Daniel D’Addario has argued, Kelly is basically a slicker version of Bill O’Reilly, so it shouldn’t come a surprise to find her world rocked by the possibility that a fictional character isn’t necessarily white. Yet there’s something remarkable about seeing a grown person, someone who is supposedly relatively sophisticated, so overcome with cultural panic. And while Kelly’s non-apology apology, in which she accused her critics of race-baiting, was arguably more offensive, the original meltdown makes this list for so deftly mixing the ridiculous with the absurd.

3. Ben Carson compares LBGTQ people to NAMBLA, bestiality supporters.

For Ben Carson — who, in another life, was a very respected and successful neurosurgeon — 2013 was a breakout year. With his anti-Obama speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, Carson became one of the right’s favorite new talking heads. At one point, the Wall Street Journal even urged him to run for president. Unfortunately, Carson soon revealed himself to be more paranoid than presidential, likening LGBTQ people to all manner of sexual criminals. Subsequent comments would make clear that this was not a one-off from Carson; when it comes to politics, he really is this terrible.

2. Geraldo Rivera says jurors would have shot Trayvon Martin sooner than Zimmerman did.

Geraldo Rivera is just the worst, and his coverage of the Trayvon Martin trial was him at this worst. Rarely has one man had such an extended freakout over one article of clothing as did Rivera concerning Martin’s hoodie. What makes this moment of Rivera’s life all the more regrettable, though, is the way he just blithely assumes everyone else (especially women, it seems) is as deathly terrified of young black men as he is. Extra cringe points to Steve Doocy’s “Wow!” in response to Rivera’s assertion.

1. Lauren Green interviews Reza Aslan, can’t figure out why a Muslim would write a book about Jesus.

With the possible exception of Megyn Kelly’s white Santa comments (delivered during a slow news day, not incidentally) no Fox News moment garnered more attention — and outrage — than Lauren Green’s brutally embarrassing and ignorant interview of Reza Aslan. Aslan was there to talk about his book “Zealot,” a historical work about the Jesus. The whole thing is just torturous to watch, but the absolute, no doubt, rock-bottom, worst-of-the-worst moment is probably when Green compares a Muslim writing about Jesus to a Democrat writing about Reagan. Say this much for the segment, though: It’s the kind of thing you only really get at Fox News. Thank god for that.”

Emphasis Mine

See: http://admin.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/fox-news-5-worst-moments-2013?akid=11355.123424.OgihRc&rd=1&src=newsletter942117&t=7

 

God Wants You to Have an Assault Rifle

From: RSN

By: Zack Beauchamp, ThinkProgress

“Legislation aimed at reducing gun violence is “a limitation on a God-given right of man that has existed throughout the history of civil society,” according to an article published in the leading conservative opinion journal National Review.

The author, David French, interprets the Christian Bible as granting everyone a right to self-defense. He suggests that this, if true, means that God’s will is that people have access to guns, as they are the means for self defense:

In fact, Jesus’s disciples carried swords, and Jesus even said in some contexts the unarmed should arm themselves… What does all this mean? Essentially that gun control represents not merely a limitation on a constitutional right but a limitation on a God-given right of man that has existed throughout the history of civil society. All rights – of course – are subject to some limits (the right of free speech is not unlimited, for example), and there is much room for debate on the extent of those limits, but state action against the right of self-defense is by default a violation of the natural rights of man, and the state’s political judgment about the limitations of that right should be viewed with extreme skepticism and must overcome a heavy burden of justification.

Even if French is right about the Christian view of self-defense (though Jesus did have choice words about “turning the other cheek“), it’s a logical fallacy to say this implies anything about restrictions on access to guns. Saying that people have a right to defend themselves if attacked isn’t the same thing as saying they should have a right to possess any conceivable means of defending themselves – presumably, French is fine with banning grenade launchers. The burden, instead, is on French to prove that universal background checks or limitations on assault weapon ownership somehow prevent people from defending themselves; to prove, in other words, that gun regulation is actually a restriction on the right of self-defense proper rather than a crime-prevention statute.

Moreover, French is wrong about the role of “self-defense” in a democracy. He cites John Locke, enlightenment philosopher and inspiration for the American Revolution, to suggest that gun rights are “fundamental rights of nature.” But as Ari Kohen, a professor of political theory at the University of Nebraska, points out, French radically misinterprets Locke:

But for people to establish a political community, Locke asserts that people must give up to the government their natural right to punish criminal behavior and agree to have the government settle grievances. This is why we have standing laws that are meant to be applied equally by independent officers of the law and by the courts.

Locke, as Kohen says, held that our right to use force was necessarily limited by the creation of legitimate government – that’s why we have police. This means that the government can limit access to certain weapons as means of discharging its responsibility to keep the peace. While the government may not be able to legitimately ban you from say, killing a home invader who’s brandishing a gun, it also can take reasonable steps to prevent criminals from being able to threaten you with arms in the first place without having to overcome a “heavy burden of justification.”

This isn’t the first questionable gun piece published in National Review. After the Newtown shooting, its editors suggested that mass school shootings were the price we pay for the Second Amendment. One of its writers, Charlotte Allen, infamously wrote that the Newtown massacre happened because there were too many female teachers.

Emphasis Mine

see: http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/436-2nd-amendment-rights/15774-god-wants-you-to-have-an-assault-rifle

As America Mourned a Shooting Tragedy, Cynical Christian Right Leaders Tried to Cash in by Blaming Atheism

What kind of Christianity is that?

From: AlterNet

By: Frank Schaeffer

All that was needed to make the national tragedy of the killing of 20 children and 6 adults into an anti-God kick in Jesus’ teeth fest was for the usual suspects who hate Jesus to step up to defame His Name again. Of course I’m talking about the “Christian” leaders who can be counted on to drag the name of Christ through the mud at every profitable fundraising importunity. Christian leaders say that the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut was the result of our national falling away from fundamentalist Protestant gullibility.

The idiots — religious village idiots that is — are at it again. I thought Dobson was dead but I guess not. He’s just retired. He’s still alive enough to act like the zombie-for-Jesus’-younger-dumber-brother he is.(I went on his show 3 times back in the day when I too was part of the religious idiots club.) Bryan Fischer, the American Family Association hate host talk-show host, and Franklin-sell-my-soul-to-the-Mormons-because -I-hate-Obama-so-much-Graham (of course), the president and CEO of the tax-exempt Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was not to be outdone.

Dobson commented [3] while speaking to listeners of his Dr. James Dobson‘s Family Talk program: “I mean millions of people have decided that God doesn’t exist… And a lot of these things are happening around us, and somebody is going to get mad at me for saying what I am about to say right now, but I am going to give you my honest opinion: I think we have turned our back on the scripture and on God almighty and I think he has allowed [this Newtown massacre] judgment to fall upon us. I think that’s what’s going on.”

Bryan Fischer of the American family Association said the victims at Sandy Hook had lost God’s protection because prayer has been prohibited from schools. “The question is going to come up, where was God?,” Fischer said [4]. “I thought God cared about the little children. God protects the little children. Where was God when all this went down. Here’s the bottom line, God is not going to go where he is not wanted… Now we have spent since 1962 — we’re 50 years into this now–we have spent 50 years telling God to get lost, telling God we do not want you in our schools, we don’t want to pray to you in our schools, we do not want to pray to your before football games, we don’t want to pray to you at graduations, we don’t want anybody talking about you in a graduation speech… In 1962 we kicked prayer out of the schools. In 1963 we kicked God’s word out of ours schools. In 1980 we kicked the Ten Commandments out of our schools. We’ve kicked God out of our public school system. And I think God would say to us, ‘Hey, I’ll be glad to protect your children, but you’ve got to invite me back into your world first. I’m not going to go where I’m not wanted. I am a gentlemen.”

(N.B.:Is prayer in fact banned in public schools?

The First Amendment to the Constitution begins: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…”. The first clause is known as the Establishment Clause, and the second the Free Exercise Clause. Employees who are paid by tax payer funds are banned from leading prayers or bible study groups, for example, as courts have ruled that using tax payer dollars for such activity violates the Establisment Clause. What is not banned is allowing an individual student to pray, as that would be a violation of the Free Exercise Clause. (Since disruptive activity is detrimental to the learning process, a school might ban a student from praying out loud, as they might also ban inappropriate clothing or conversation.))

Franklin Graham wrote a “response” to the Newtown Massacre and did not mention the word gun.

Graham said [5] more or less blamed the mdia and president Obama in a round about way: “’The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.’ He continued: “In fact, the Bible gives clear testimony to just how evil the human race became. ‘The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord ‘was grieved in His heart’ (Gen. 6:5-6).”Where do we go from here? We might start by looking at what we watch and listen to.” Graham — who has called President Obama a Muslim and not Christian at times — then took a cheap shot saying: “For example, South Korean rapper sensation Psy, who has gained worldwide acclaim by singing that Americans should be killed ‘slowly and painfully,’ including, ‘daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers’ was featured last weekend at ‘Christmas in Washington,’ a charity concert attended by President Obama. Parents and children are feeding on entertainment that portrays violence whether through lewd television programs, violent movies, offensive music, vulgar video games and anything- goes Internet gaming sites.”

Then Old Paths Baptist Church Pastor Sam Morris [6] (of Tennessee) said: “Why do you still send your kids to the governmental schools?” the pastor asked the congregation. “What’s behind this shooting that we saw on Dec. 14 in Newtown, Connecticut and the other one’s like it? What’s going on. Well, number one, deception… I got news for you, when you kicked God out of schools, you’re going to be judged for that. He added: “They think homeschoolers are a bunch of crazies, man. But I’m going to tell you something, I’ve never seen a police officer or a medal detector at a home school. Never. Amen. Now, there’s plenty of guns at my home school. Amen. I guarantee you we’re not going to have a mass shooting at any of the schools that are represented in this building today. I guarantee you, if there is a shooting, it won’t last very long. Amen. I guarantee you there’s at least six or seven guns in this place right now. Amen.“So, here you are, you’re an animal and you’re a god! So, what are we going to teach you about in school? Well, we can teach you about sex, we can teach you how to rebel to you parents, we can teach you how to be a homo!”

Who hates Jesus? It isn’t the so-called new atheists like Richard Dawkins. It’s the Christian leaders bent on taking Christianity down with them into their private hell of stupidity. With friends like these Jesus needs no enemies. The re-crucifixion of Jesus by his “followers” continues.

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/america-mourned-shooting-tragedy-cynical-christian-right-leaders-tried-cash?akid=9860.123424.eU7Zu5&rd=1&src=newsletter767157&t=3

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/

Why do (some) Christians LOVE War?

There are no “blessed wars”. Yet virtually all evangelical, conservative and many mainstream church leaders were active supporters of the Bush wars.

From Alternet: (By Gary G. Kohls, Consortium News)

There are no “blessed wars”. Yet virtually all evangelical, conservative and many mainstream church leaders were active supporters of the Bush wars.When Gulf War I ended (during George Bush the Elder’s presidency), General Norman Schwartzkopf, the field commander, triumphantly proclaimed, “God must have been on our side!”

Such statements aren’t unusual for glory-seeking dictators, kings, princes, presidents and generals, regardless of what religion justified their particular war, but I cringed when I heard this self-professed Christian warrior claim God’s blessings on the war that made him famous.

I cringed when I heard Schwartzkopf claim God’s blessings on the carnage that he helped orchestrate because similar claims have been used to rationalize killing throughout history, from ancient times to some of the darkest days of the modern era.  Jesus’s God would not be on the side of the war-makers, but on the side of the peacemakers, the compassionate and long-suffering ones who work to prevent killing and to relieve the suffering of the victims of war.

As the German Nazis went about their systematic purging of any and all leftist or anti-fascist groups – Jews, socialists, homosexuals, liberals, communists, trade unionists and conscientious objectors to war – they insisted that God was on their side, too.

Adolf Hitler claimed that he was doing God’s will. German soldiers, both in WWI and WWII, went into battle with the words “Gott Mit Uns” (God With Us) inscribed on their belt buckles….

Though Hitler’s Nazi regime represented an exceptional form of horror in the industrialized slaughter committed during the Holocaust and related mass killings, it must be acknowledged that other countries, including the United States, have undertaken actions that have destroyed other populations and cultures, often with the blessings of religious leaders.

In the last two decades, the two Bush administrations mounted wars in the Persian Gulf region that had the consent (or acquiescence) of the majority of U.S. church leaders, with prayers from Billy Graham in the White House the night before the invasions began.

Virtually all Christian evangelical, conservative and many mainstream church leaders and their congregations were active supporters of the Bush wars.

Only four American Catholic bishops voted in opposition to Bush the Elder’s Gulf War I (at an annual conference of U.S. Catholic bishops). In Gulf War II, Pope John Paul II declared that the war was contrary to the teachings of Jesus, but most American Catholic leaders and parishioners ignored the pontiff’s warnings and supported the war. Most American Protestants did the same.

Yet, General Schwartzkopf and both Presidents Bush are in “good” company when it comes to believing that God is on their side in war. All U.S. presidents and presidential candidates in recent memory, even President Obama, end their speeches with “May God Bless the United States of America,” the equivalent of the German military’s “Gott Mit Uns.”  …

A major unasked question is “what should be the role of religion (specifically Christianity) in the starting and perpetuation of politically motivated wars?”

If war-makers mix religion and politics by invoking God’s blessings on the cannons and the cannon fodder, shouldn’t the churches, which are supposed to be the consciences of the nation, apply core Christian ethical principles to the war question and refuse to cooperate with the slaughter of fellow children of God?

(N.B.: What are “core Christian Ethics”?)

Sadly, for the past 1,700 years, Christian churches have not done so. They have largely failed in their moral obligation to teach and live the Golden Rule and the Sermon on the Mount.

(N.B.: The “Golden Rule” is older that Christ – see Lao Tzu, for example.)

One only has to read the gruesome history of the many “holy wars” and atrocities committed in the history of Christendom, including the Crusades, the Inquisitions, the wars of the Reformation and counter-Reformation, the various genocides including the Nazi Holocaust…

Recall how, when military spokesmen try to explain away the deaths of non-combatants in these wars, they invoke the term “collateral damage” (the euphemism for the unintended killing and maiming of innocents in wartime) and quickly dismiss those deaths by spouting the unconvincing phrase that Schwartzkopf and all other apologists for war use: “we regret the loss of innocent life.”

And they piously mouth these equally insincere words: “our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims.” The same rote phraseology too often comes from the lips of religious leaders…

How can the legalized mass slaughter of war, often progressing to the point of genocide, be a part of a Christian tradition that started out with a small group of inspired, oppressed and impoverished peasants who were trying to live by the highly ethical, nonviolent teachings of their pacifist leader?

Interestingly, the active pacifism of the early Christian church did prove to be successful – and even practical. During the first few centuries of Christianity, enmity and eye-for-an-eye retaliation were rejected. The Golden Rule and the refusal to kill the enemy were actually taught in the church.

Gospel non-violence was the norm, so the professed enemies of those communities of faith were not provoked to retaliation because there was nothing against which to retaliate. Rather, enemies were befriended, prayed for, fed, nourished and embraced as neighbors – potential friends who needed understanding and mercy.

The church survived the persecutions of those early years and thrived, largely because of its commitment to the nonviolence of Jesus. It was not until the church was co-opted by the Emperor Constantine in the early 4th Century that power and wealth changed the priorities of church leaders.

Today, American Christianity is at risk of going the way of the pro-war “Christianity” of pre-Nazi and Nazi Germany, which may in the long run discredit the faith much the way Christianity lost credibility among many Germans because their churches and church leaders facilitated those destructive wars.

The vast majority of Germans before World War II were baptized members of a Christian church, but since WWII ended church membership has fallen sharply and the number of Germans attending weekly worship services is now estimated to be in the single digits.

The psychological and spiritual wounding of the soldiers and their families in the two world wars stripped the German churches of their moral standing….The world would have been far better off if the Christian leaders of the world had been faithful to the ethical teachings of the gospels and quit making blasphemous appeals to God on behalf of war, whether with those “Gott Mit Uns” belt buckles or the “God Bless America” political sloganeering.”

Emphasis and notes mine.

see: http://www.alternet.org/story/144818/jesus_hated_war_–_why_do_christians_love_it_so_much