Tag Archives: Pat Robertson

The religious irony on the ABC Family channel

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I was looking through the TV listings on Monday when I came across strange programing for the ABC Family channel. They had the “700 Club” on between a show that glorifies teen pregnancy.

At 10 was an episode of the show “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” which is a show about the life of a 16 year old girl dealing with an unexpected pregnancy.

At 11 PM was the “700 Club” (I hope I don’t need to explain what that is)

Then at 12 am was another episode “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”

This was funny for a couple of reasons.

ABC Family was established in 1977, as the Christian Broadcast Network, part of televangelist Pat Robertson’s ministry and was sold in 1998 to FOX. Under terms of the sale to FOX and to future owners like ABC, who bought the channel in 2001, the channel is required to have “Family” in the name and is required to air the “700 Club” twice a day.

“The Secret Life of the American Teenager” focuses on the relationships between families and friends and how they deal with the unexpected teenage pregnancy of character Amy Juergens, who is portrayed by Shailene Woodley. In the second season, Amy Juergens must deal with juggling motherhood and high school, while her family and friends experience relationship challenges of their own.

The Secret Life is one of the biggest hits on the channel.

The “problem” is that Secret Life deals more with the social struggle of teen pregnancy and glossing over the economic struggle. The show takes on a 7th Heaven tone to teen mothers. The girl never has to worry about paying the bills and someone is always there to watch the baby. It is basically a soap opera and offers nothing of real substance and for teens and pre-teens to see it without guidance from parents or other adults, they may get a false idea about what life really is like to be a teen mother.

Just seemed goofy ironic that the show bookends a religious show that bad mouths TV shows that glorify teen motherhood.

Et tu, Berlinerblau

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Jacques Berlinerblau writes in the column “Georgetown/On Faith” on the Washington Post-Newsweek website:

Query: Can an atheist or agnostic commentator discuss any aspect of religion for more than thirty seconds without referring to religious people as imbeciles, extremists, mental deficients, fascists, enemies of the common good, crypto-Nazis, conjure men, irrationalists, pedophiles, bearers of false consciousness, authoritarian despots, and so forth? Is that possible?

Nonbelievers of late have been churning out loud, unsubtle, anti-religious manifestos. The world would be a better place, they all seem to suggest, if religion and all of its associated personnel were simply to disappear. In this regards the new nonbelievers seem stuck in the ‘90s—and by this I mean the 1890s. This calls attention to one glaring problem with atheism and agnosticism today: it lacks new ideas. The movement abounds in polemicists, but has not produced a thinker of real substance since perhaps the days of Jean-Paul Sartre.

Secularism: Boring (Part I)

When I read something like that it’s easy for me to simply dismiss it as it almost always comes from some Christian fundamentalist with no clue about atheism or secularism.

In this case Berlinerblau is one of us – a nonbeliever. He is on the advisory panel of the Secular Web run by the Internet Infidels and he wrote the book “The Secular Bible: Why Nonbelievers Must Take Religion Seriously” (Cambridge:2005).

All beliefs have insider dissenters who for one reason or another would rather their comrades not be so “uppity”. It seems that people like Berlinerblau want nonbelievers to be meek and silent like a servant in a colonial household in the early part of the 20th century.

While I agree with Berlinerblau that there are some extreme views within the nonbeliever community, I think he paints with a too large a brush. Most of us don’t call believers imbeciles, pedophiles etc… (on a daily basis) and we don’t lump everyone into one large group as Berlinerblau appears to do to nonbelievers. Most nonbelievers will agree that the late Madalyn Murray O’Hair had far worse things to say about religion and even other nonbelievers that anything coming out of the books by Dawkins and Harris et al… and she got all the press she wanted.

However the nonbeliever commentaries that I have seen and read have dealt with specific views and specific actions of believers that might seem to be stupid or irrational. See practically any post of this blog for examples of that.

Yes, I did call Dennis Prager a turd but as Ann Coulter would say – I was just expressing an invective….

I have met some atheists and other nonbelievers who I didn’t personally like because they were buttheads socially, but doesn’t it seem every movement has buttheads leading the charge that opens the doors for the rest of us?

Now if we start seeing extremists on the other side being put in their place by more moderate voices, I might sign on to Berlinerblau’s ideas. It just seems that nonbelievers are the ones being asked to tone our criticism down or that we need to be silent so as not to offend those who might agree with us on church state separation.

It isn’t my job to make believers who agree with us on church and state issues to feel better about themselves and their silly beliefs especially as they remain silent when people like James Dobson or Pat Robertson have free reign for their stupid comments in the name of their religion.

I say lets see some compromise from their side.

Christian Coalition is shrinking

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The Washington Post published a story today that talked about the slow death of the Christian Coalition.

The group was founded, in 1989, by Rev. Pat Robertson as the political fundraising and lobbying engine of the Christian right. It was lead for many years by Ralph Reed and is still included in many meetings with the White House and Congress.

Money flowed to the coalition in the mid-1990s, when Bill Clinton was president. But, Michele Combs said, with a conservative president and a conservative Congress, things are different. “It’s harder to raise money when the agenda you’ve been working for all these years is moving forward and you have a place at the table,” she said.

After years of battling the IRS, the Christian Coalition reached a settlement a year ago that secures its status as a tax-exempt 501(c)(4) lobbying and educational institution.
But the settlement requires the Christian Coalition to allow candidates to write up to 25 words of explanation on each issue in the voter guides. In the past, the guides listed topics such as “unrestricted abortion on demand” or “adoption of children by homosexuals” and described the candidates’ positions simply as “supports” or “opposes.”

Christian Coalition Shrinks as Debt Grows

Please, someone hand me a tissue…..

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.