Tag Archives: Christian

I’ll Never Understand How Some Christians Support Child Abusers

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Olympic athlete Aly Raisman may not have predicted being able to face down her abusive team physician and actually winning. Her moving speech, delivered at the trial of former team doctor Larry Nassar, has captured the world’s attention.

But even as Raisman was preparing to compete for gold, the story of another member of Team USA Gymnastics, Rachel Denhollander, was falling on deaf ears. Not in the Indianapolis Star, where Denhollander’s story would eventually be published, but inside the halls of an institution she thought would help her feel safe — her church.
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War On Christmas? Not Really…

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image of FOX news graphicLike the ubiquitous terror warnings we all enjoyed during the Bush administration, the “War on Christmas” is another conservative dog whistle meant to piss off conservatives and other believers who fall for the false warnings from conservative propaganda machines like FOX “news”. The latest “fire storm” was the lighting of the holiday tree in the capital building in Providence, Rhode Island. The incident shows that efforts to be inclusive in what is a religious holiday, is shouted down by conservative bigots trying to protect Christians privilege.
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Some Christians are so sweet and inclusive

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A recent Best Buy holiday ad that included a nod to the Muslim holiday Eid Al-Adha brought out some comments from the sweet and inclusive Christian community.

Instead of being praised for its inclusiveness, Best Buy is being attacked by some customers who have made their views known on the company’s message board. Some consumers are particularly irked because the home electronics retailer recently announced that it will no longer put “Merry Christmas” in its flyers.

But there seems to be a small and vocal group of Best Buy customers who don’t appreciate the flyer. Some of the colorful customer responses on Best Buy’s message board include (please note that these may not accurately reflect the nature of the holiday Eid Al-Adha):

“Makes sense. Stop saying Christmas because you don’t want to be associated with Jesus, and instead associate yourself with goat sacrifice. Truly noble. I think ill go to Best Buy with a dead goat.”

Or this response:

“Eid is not about “giving to the poor”, etc. It is about sacrifice. I live in a Muslim country and the streets literally run with blood during this holiday. That is not an exaggeration. Yes, they give some of the meat to the poor…but it is all about sacrifice.”

Best Buy Ad’s Mention Of Muslim Holiday Irks Some Customers

Gosh they are so inclusive and sweet – bigots. It amazes me that some Christians are so wimpy about their beliefs that they have to attack any other belief system that isn’t theirs.

Taming the “savages” of Iraq – the Christian way

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While surfing the net today I came across a blog post by David Hilfiker, a physician who has worked in the inner city of Washington DC and currently is Finance Director for Joseph’s House, a ten-bed home and community for formerly homeless men with AIDS.

In is essay, Onward Christian Organizers, he complains that all Christians get lumped in with the Religious Right as if they all are conservative and hate gays. Hilfiker says he is a Christian and a leftist and that many Christian groups help people. He says they take on social problems like AIDS and the poor. He says they do it not to proselytize but to get closer to Jesus and His teachings.

I don’t have much in common with Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Jr, or Cesar Chavez, except this: We all are (or were) Christian, and we’ve each spent much of our adult lives in the trenches of the movement for peace and justice. Most of those who have gone to prison for long sentences for hammering on nuclear warheads, or stopping nuclear trains, or crossing the line at military bases have been Christians, and they have often submitted to those long sentences because they believed their faith gave them no other option and would sustain them in the dark months of prison.

Onward Christian Organizers

Among the Christian charity work he mentions is the work of the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in Iraq who documented abuses of detainees before anyone ever heard of Abu Ghraib. Four members of CPT were kidnapped while working in Iraq.

I agree with Hilfiker that we shouldn’t paint with a wide brush and in my blog I make an extra effort not to do so, but his essay brings up an interesting point.

Missionaries have always followed the military into newly conquered areas. History is littered with the carcasses of stamped out religions and culture in the name of the Christian God.

While some groups like CPT aren’t there in Iraq to convert Muslims, other groups did move in, frothing at the mouth to convert the evil ones to Jesus.

An article, from 2003, in the Christian Science Monitor pointed out some of the issues concerning Iraq:

Iraq is particularly volatile, because it has just emerged from a dictatorship and is under military occupation. And those planning to proselytize are known in the region: the former leader of the Southern Baptist Convention has called the prophet Muhammad a “demon-possessed pedophile,” and Mr. Graham, head of Samaritan’s Purse, has termed Islam “an evil religion.”

Their remarks flew across the Muslim world with such effect that a group of Baptist missionaries working in 10 predominantly Muslim countries sent a letter home calling for restraint and saying such comments “heighten animosity toward Christians,” affecting their work and personal safety.

Graham’s close ties to the administration – he gave the prayer at Mr. Bush’s inauguration and is invited to give the Good Friday prayer at the Pentagon – give Muslims the impression, some say, that evangelization efforts are part of US plans to shape Iraqi society in a Western image.

and

During the first Gulf war, Franklin Graham sent thousands of Arabic-language New Testaments to US troops in Saudi Arabia to pass along to local people. This violated Saudi law and an agreement between the two governments that there would be no proselytizing. When Gen. Norman Swarzkopf had a chaplain call Graham to complain, Graham said he was under higher orders. He later told Newsday, however, that had he been explicitly asked, he would have desisted.

A greater concern of some people is that the administration may in fact support the effort, given the president’s beliefs and the import of conservative Christians as a political constituency.

A crusade after all? (4/13/2003)

After some missionaries were killed and 21 churches were bombed, foreign missionaries left Iraq.

Many evangelicals in the West think that places like Iraq are 100% Muslim and that is not the case. Just like in the flash point of Jerusalem, Iraq has a large Christian population and until the foreign evangelicals arrived they had a harmonious relationship with Iraq Muslim community. The reason being that each agreed not to proselytize to the other.

Some Iraqi Christians expressed fear that the evangelicals would undermine Christian-Muslim harmony here, which rests on a long-standing, tacit agreement not to proselytize each other. “There is an informal agreement that says we have nothing to do with your religion and faith,” said Yonadam Kanna, one of six Christians elected to Iraq’s parliament. “We are brothers but we don’t interfere in your religion.”

Delly said that “even if a Muslim comes to me and said, ‘I want to be Christian,’ I would not accept. I would tell him to go back and try to be a good Muslim and God will accept you.” Trying to convert Muslims to Christianity, he added, “is not acceptable.”

Sheik Fatih Kashif Ghitaa, a prominent Shiite Muslim leader in Baghdad, was among those who expressed alarm at the postwar influx of foreign missionaries. In a recent interview, he said he feared that Muslims misunderstand why many Christians talk about their faith.

“They have to talk about Jesus and what Jesus has done. This is one of the principles of believing in Christianity,” said Ghitaa. “But the problem is that the others don’t understand it, they think these people are coming to convert them.”

Evangelicals Building a Base in Iraq (6/23/2005)

But some Western evangelicals don’t get it:

Robert Fetherlin, vice president for international ministries at Colorado-based Christian and Missionary Alliance, which supports one of the new Baghdad evangelical churches, defended his denomination’s overseas work.

“We’re not trying to coerce people to follow Christ,” he said. “But we want to at least communicate to people who He is. We feel very encouraged by the possibility for people in Iraq to have the freedom to make choices about what belief system they want to buy into.”

Sara said that if Muslims approach him with “questions about Jesus and about the Bible,” he responds. But the white-haired pastor said there was plenty of evangelizing to be done among Christians because, in his view, many do not really know Jesus. “They know [Him] just in name,” he said, adding that they need a better understanding of “why He died for them.”

His church appeals to dissatisfied Christians, he said, adding, “If you go to a Catholic church, for example, there is no Bible in the church, there is no preaching, and just a little singing.”

People of faith are crazy… except when they aren’t… What?

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On Thursday January 5th, the news was filled with the comments made by evangelist Pat Robertson on his TV show the 700 Club. On the program Pat says that the stroke suffered by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was “divine retribution for the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.” He went on:

“He was dividing God’s land, and I would say, ‘Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the [European Union], the United Nations or the United States of America,'” Robertson told viewers of his long-running television show, “The 700 Club.”

“God says, ‘This land belongs to me, and you’d better leave it alone,'” he said.

Robertson suggests God smote Sharon

This isn’t the first time that Robertson has shot his mouth off. And like the other times, others were quick to criticize his remarks.

Daniel Ayalon, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, compared Robertson’s remarks to the overheated rhetoric of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (He had claimed the Holocaust was a myth back in December)

He called the comments “outrageous” and said they were not something to expect “from any of our friends.”

“He is a great friend of Israel and a great friend of Prime Minister Sharon himself, so I am very surprised,” Ayalon told CNN.

Robertson spokeswoman Angell Watts said of people who criticized the comments: “What they’re basically saying is, ‘How dare Pat Robertson quote the Bible?'”

“This is what the word of God says,” Watts told the AP. “This is nothing new to the Christian community.”

West Virginia Mine Tragedy

The day before Robertson made his remarks – sorry – quoting the Bible, 12 miners were found dead after an explosion on Monday the 3rd.

During the period of the search, friends, family, and the media appealed to God to help save the men and help the rescuers to find them.

“We still pray for miracles . . ,” Governor Joe Manchin said (01/03/06). “There is still a chance.”

Then when initial reports claimed that the12 miners had been found alive late on Tuesday night, church bells rang and people thanked God for a “miracle.” Then hours later it was learned that in fact all but one of the miners had been found dead.

John Casto was at a church where families had gathered when the false report arrived, and later when the terrible news was announced. After the first report, “they were praising God,” he said. After the second, “they were cursing.”

‘Sound of moans’ led rescuers to surviving miner

At least one family was quoted as saying they had a “miracle” taken away by the mine owners. Whatever that means?

Oklahoma Wildfires

Also happening recently in the news is the problem with wildfires in Oklahoma and nearby plains state. The weather continues to help fuel and spread the fires and fire fighters are struggling. What needs to be done to help?

A Day of Prayer.

Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry on Friday called for a day of prayer in Oklahoma.

“Our hearts go out to those whose lives have been affected by the wildfires,” Gov. Henry said. “Oklahomans are strong and resilient, but as people of deep faith in God who have always found solace and comfort in prayer, we understand our limits.”

The governor asked for Sunday to be set aside for special prayers aimed at fire victims and their loved ones, for exhausted firefighters and first responders and for rain.

Pray for rain first

Observations

One could read these observations about God and prayer and think, “Gee, God seems so inconsistent.”

Or….

“Gee, God is a nasty deity.”

Or…..

“Man just can’t know God’s will. It all happens for a reason.”

Well I reject all those explanations because none of them are logical or rational. Are we really to believe that the all knowing all powerful God either shows preference for specific members of the flocks in which case He is a nut job or this omnipresent deity can’t answer all the billions of prayers received at Prayer central.

If some people who pray still have a negative result for them then what does that say about one’s God?

I think most people “pray” or attribute results to God to make themselves feel better. Some may not be able to deal or think they can’t deal with negative results unless they think they had nothing to do with it or had no control.

Since I am not a believer, I subscribe to a simple philosophy – shit happens.

You can live your life perfectly – eat right, don’t drink or smoke, have a great job, and a perfect family and one day step off a curb downtown and get hit by a bus.

I’m not saying that since you could die tomorrow you should party like its your last day, but because something could happen anytime, praying isn’t going to help either way. No one can say that those 12 miners in West Virginia deserved to die or the one survivor deserves to live because of their religious beliefs or they went to church all the time. Or that we should “pray” for rain in Oklahoma. That would be crazy talk.

Like Pat Robertson’s claim God gave Sharon a stroke because he wanted peace in Israel. (Now some could make a case that peace is the last thing Sharon has wanted since the day he announced his intention to run for office, but that is a different story)

The ironic thing is that while many would indeed say, and have said, Robertson is crazy, no one seems to question the God talk when it is done at times of trouble even though it is not rational either.

Have a Merry Christmas… Or Else!

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The holiday season always causes a frenzy with the religious right. From installing Baby Jesus on courthouse lawns to chastising businesses for not expressing Merry Christmas, political and religious conservatives are hell bent to force everyone to remember why we have Christmas.

Two items show how serious they are.

Liberty Counsel, a religious right group, started a “Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign” to help Christians fight the “war” against Christmas. It provides a memo for concerned Christians to give to school and public officials that detail what is permissible and what is not. It also asks for people to report on stores that “refuse to recognize Christmas”.

Wal-Mart, the uber store, was forced to change its policy of expressing the more inclusive “Happy Holidays” after a threatened boycott by the Catholic League.

The e-mail response from a Wal-Mart customer service person (who was fired for the e-mail) actually described the truth behind many of the symbols Christians claim is Christmas. It included:

“Wal-Mart is a world wide organization and must remain conscious of this. The majority of the world still has different practices other than ‘Christmas’ which is an ancient tradition that has its roots in Siberian shamanism” and added that “Santa is also borrowed from the Caucuses, mistletoe from the Celts, yule log from the Goths, the time from the Visigoth and the tree from the worship of Baal.”

Not to mention that it has never been proven that Jesus was born on December 25th. Common stories have Christmas being created by Christians in order to get their new converts from worshiping Pagan gods like the Roman Saturnalia which had a celebration in December. The Christmas traditions we have today have roots in the old Pagan religion.

The History of Christmas

It is a fact that celebrating Christmas wasn’t a US Federal holiday until the 1870 when interest was revived by Washington Irving’s Christmas stories, German immigrants, and the homecomings of the Civil War years.

But the truth isn’t going to stop James Dobson, founder of “Focus on the Family”. He has a legal fund and lawyers ready to file lawsuits to combat “any improper attempts to censor the celebration of Christmas in schools and on public property,” through his Alliance Defense Fund.

Bill O’Reilly, the Fox News commentator, believes the greeting “Happy Holidays” offends Christians celebrating the Christmas season.

“It absolutely does. And I know that for a fact,” he declared on his program, “The O’Reilly Factor.”

According to the website “Media Matters”, O’Reilly is quoted as claiming there is “a very secret plan” by the “secular progressive” movement, which he said aims to “diminish Christian philosophy in the U.S.A.” and it starts with getting rid of “Merry Christmas”.

According to O’Reilly, the “secular progressive” movement has three elements:

* First, progressive financiers George Soros and Peter Lewis “pour money into the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union], they pour money into the smear websites, you know, they buy up a lot of media time.”
* Second, “the ACLU is their legal arm. … [T]he ACLU runs around the country suing everybody and intimidating people.”
* Third, “the smear websites are their media arm.”

O’Reilly said these three elements operate “in tandem”:

O’ REILLY: [Y]ou use your left-wing smear websites to go after anybody who stands up for Christmas. If you stand up for Christmas, they come after you. So the tandem intimidates. The tandem intimidates. Suing on one hand; smearing on the other hand.

The result? According to O’Reilly:

O’ REILLY: In every secular progressive country, they’ve wiped out religion … Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, all of them. That’s the first step. Get the religion out of there, so that we can impose our big-government, progressive agenda.

O’Reilly: “There’s a very secret plan … to diminish Christian philosophy in the U.S.A.”

Is there really a war against Christmas. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State says no. “They’re preparing a campaign to fight for Christmas in a war that in fact does not exist. This is just one more fund-raising gimmick for Jerry Falwell,” Lynn said.

And the ACLU?

The notion of a “war on Christmas” is “nonsense,” said Jeremy Gunn, director of the ACLU’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief.

Christians can put religious displays on church and personal property “and the ACLU will defend their right to do so,” said Gunn. “The issue is whether people want to have a political fight about putting religious displays on government property. We wonder why people are seeking such controversy. Is that the Christmas spirit?”

Holiday sayings stir war of words

December is month full of festive celebrations of many different faiths and for those who celebrate the Solstice and I thought it was a positive development when businesses moved to be more inclusive by expressing “Happy Holidays”. It is unfortunate that some political and religious conservatives want to force you to focus on the birth of Jesus – a primarily Christian celebration.

Talk about a buzz killer.