Domestic Politics, Faith and Religion: Is Militant Christianity Placing Christ in The Crosshairs?

christ_chrosshairs     Once again, it’s Sunday, and a fitting day for another “Dies Solis” post with regards to topics concerning religion and faith. In addition, it has been two days since the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination, and I find myself troubled at what I’m seeing in places like Facebook, WordPress, Twitter and even on the news. Please allow me to elaborate, my fine young readers…

     On Friday, an article came across my newsfeed on Facebook, pertaining to the statements of one Everest Wilhelmsen, administrator of the group “Christian American Patriots Militia.” It seems that the head of this group, consisting of over 1,400 members, posted a status update on his Facebook account, (which has since been removed,) advocating for the assassination of our current president, Barack Obama. The following is a screen shot of that post:

Clear and Present Danger - 18 USC § 871 – Threats against President and successors to the Presidency

Clear and Present Danger – 18 USC § 871 – Threats against President and successors to the Presidency

     In addition, in the days surrounding the 50th anniversary of the tragic events at Dealey Plaza, there have been at least two other incidences of threats to the president which have also made headlines. (1) (2) I find myself aghast at the sheer audacity of these and others, who would blatantly flout the law in the process of their IRL and online shenanigans.

Palin takes aim.

Palin takes aim.

     Even more so, however, I stand dismayed at evangelical Christendom’s seeming acquiescence to this type of message. Speaking specifically with regard to the Wilhelmsen / CAPM post, I fail to see how Christendom’s embrace of such notables as the gun-toting, former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, the torture-endorsing, former 2012 GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann, or anyone like them, can be doing the mission or the message of Christ and Christianity any favors. I don’t see anyone from that camp taking a definitive stand against Wilhelmsen et al., or their brand of evangelistic hatred and vitriol. On the contrary, all of this seems to indeed be placing the revered “Son of Man,” the faith’s savior, right in the crosshairs of the very same guns that these people hold nearer and dearer. In short, these things are killing Biblical Christianity.

     When I was a child, I was told that the “mission directives” that Christ handed to the disciples, consisted of things like rendering love, even to those who you would consider your enemy, and spreading the Gospel message. Contrary to the appending of the word, “Christian” on Mr. Wilhelmsen’s group title, it appears that he hasn’t exactly taken the time to examine and digest what that word is actually supposed to entail. Oh, but Everest Wilhelmsen’s vitriol isn’t limited to just Facebook; I’m ashamed to say that he also hosts a weblog on the very same venue as my own, WordPress. (Mr. Wilhelmsen’s blog features a decidedly “Germany-centric” amount of imagery and content.)

     What gives Mr. Wilhelmsen, or anyone else, the right to threaten the very life of Barack Obama, the man? This is a man with a wife and two growing daughters, who love him dearly. What, may I ask, if anything at all, is “Christian” about wanting to see him killed? It is high time that the church leadership in America, and the rest of the world, takes a more active stance against rhetoric and threats of this kind. Pastors need to stop “politicking” from the pulpit. Christians need to start distancing themselves from those like Palin, Bachmann, Cruz and others, who only reinforce these hateful ends.

     Fifty years ago, Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed president Kennedy. Now, militant Christians are calling for the same thing for president Obama. Around 2000 years ago, Christ was crucified by his people. Now, 2k years later, it’s happening all over again.

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Faith and Religion: Under Siege III – Soft Targets

Todd Starnes: Defender of His faith...

Todd Starnes: Defender of His faith…

TLDR ADVISORY: This article exceeds 1,000 words, and may be lengthy for some readers, including Todd Starnes.

     A few articles back, I mused about how some people “of faith” insist on whipping out the victim card whenever their faith, or their actions performed in the name of their faith are questioned. In “Of Faith and Friendship“, I opined that;

It saddens me, more than anything else, that so many people of faith these days insist on wearing the “victim here!” shirt. (Then again, the constant shaming and ridicule by some of the atheistic factions of society can’t be helping that situation either, can it?)

     Last night, I came across an article by Todd Starnes, a contributor to the conservative Fox News site. The title of the piece, “NBC Declares War on Christians” should give you a good idea of what the crux of the article is about, and what one should expect to be reading in the 571 words that follow the title. (Only 571 words, Todd? I dedicated over 1k words to my assail of Faizan Syed and Sharia! You’re dozing on the job, Todd!) Todd’s sensibilities were offended evidently, by a recently aired SNL skit entitled “Djesus Uncrossed”, in which a resurrected Christ equipped with guns, takes bloody revenge on his Roman-era detractors and assailants. He (Starnes) even takes a quick-op to ensnare Catholic readers in particular into his mindset, by noting that the brazenly sacrilegious skit aired a mere “three days after Ash Wednesday.” Starnes goes on to explain the reasons why he feels that the offense of Christians and Christianity “is apparently what passes for entertainment these days.” (1)

     Ladies and gentlemen, I find myself in a number of quandaries over this one, not only due to my own closely-held beliefs, but also due to the myriad of statements and actions of those who claim to be “Christians” that have caused justifiable scorn and ridicule in the media. So, what I’m going to attempt to do here is to refute Starnes ammodum, while at the same time explaining just why it is that not only Atheists, but also many of us who still believe yet no longer identify as “Christians”, are so utterly disgusted with what evangelical and fundamental Christians are doing to discredit the name and outward image of Christianity. Therefore, I open my salvo with a question; would Todd enjoy some cheese with his cup of whine? Perhaps a nice brie, or a tasty gouda?

     ~ Todd Starnes is the author of a book entitled, “Dispatches from Bitter America: A Gun Toting, Chicken Eating Son of a Baptist’s Culture War Stories”. (2) Since Starnes is a self-avowed carrier of a weapon primarily purposed to inflict bodily injury and death, I fail to understand just why he should be so incensed at the image of his chosen deity, armed with and using the same types of devices. Sauce for the goose, Todd. Sauce for the goose.

     ~ Starnes makes mention of a recent article by Rick Chandler, a blogger in the employ of NBC Sports. Chandler’s article, which Todd refers to as a “scathing smear” and a “hit piece”, was critical of New York Jets QB Tim Tebow’s planned speaking engagement at the First Baptist Church, of Dallas, Texas. (3) It seems that the pastor of the Dallas area megachurch, one Robert Jeffress, has been using his pulpit to attack everything from marriage equality and homosexuality, to Mormonism, Buddhism, Catholicism and Islam. For example, during a 2008 series of sermons entitled “Gay Is Not OK”, he made the statement that;

“What they [homosexuals] do is filthy. It is so degrading that it is beyond description. And it is their filthy behavior that explains why they are so much more prone to disease.” (4)

     Evidently, Starnes agrees with these types of statements against the LGBT community, otherwise why would he jump so quickly to the defense of the megachurch and its pastor? What Jeffress, and by extension Starnes fail to understand is that it is possible to be gay, and not engage in sexual activity. In addition, why is it that evangelicals and fundamentalists are so focused on gay sex? Are their own sex lives so uneventful or “plain brown wrapper” that they have to concentrate their mental energies on the nookie that gay people are having? Oh, and one more thing; gay people are no more or less prone to infectious diseases worldwide than straight people. (It’s important to note also, that Tebow cancelled his speaking engagement at First Baptist Dallas after being informed of the nature of the pastor’s and the church’s beliefs and recent declarations. (5))

     ~ Starnes quotes Southern Baptist Convention spokesman Sing Oldham, who expressed the following sentiment;

“It’s open season on those who profess personal faith in Jesus Christ and pattern their lives by biblical morality,” he said. “Evangelical Christians are treated with contempt and targeted for ridicule.”

     Ugh, open season. No Sing, it’s “open season” on those who would seek to deny equal rights under law to every single American, regardless of race, creed, religion, sexual preference or gender identification. It’s “open season” on people like Trinity Broadcasting Network’s Pat Robertson, who “profess personal faith in Jesus Christ”, and then suggest things like leaving a spouse with Alzheimer’s. It’s “open season” on institutions like San Diego Christian College, who profess those high Christian values, but then fail miserably at such basic Christian things as forgiveness. (6) In other words, it’s open season on religious hypocrisy. The folks at NBC realise that people are fed up with the seeming “double standard” that the evangelicals and fundies have continued to display, again and again, and again, and again…ad nauseum.

     ~ Todd goes on to mention that NBC medical editor Nancy Snyderman, while appearing on the “Today” show, denounced religion as being a part of Christmas. He quotes Snyderman as having stated;

“I don’t like the religion part,” said Snyderman. “I think religion is what mucks the whole thing up.”

     Todd then makes the assumption that “The “religion” she was referring to is celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.” I however, don’t think so. I think what Snyderman was trying to convey was the same idea that I have expressed time and again; that while faith is a good thing, “religion” has throughout the course of history, mucked things up more often than not. It has caused deep divisions in society, pitted brother against brother and son against father. Religion has the propensity to be taken to extremes rather easily, as evinced by events such as 9-11 in the case of Islam, the tumultuous reign of “Bloody Mary” in 1550’s England and the “Rule of The Saints” in Covenanter-era Scotland.

     Wow, we’re already over 1,000 words into it here, so I’d better make my point, huh? My point is that evangelicals and fundies are making themselves soft targets, by engaging in behaviors that are widely viewed as antithetical to what being a “Christian” is all about. It’s laughable to the point of sheer irony, that Todd has the temerity to play on the sympathies of Catholics, then jump to the defense of a pastor that has referred to Catholicism as the result of “the Babylonian mystery religion” and being representative of “the genius of Satan.” (7) Todd Starnes is trying to play as multiple pieces on the chessboard, when in actuality he’s just another pawn.

     Todd would definitely refer to this article as yet another “hit piece”. Okay, sure. Yabetcha.

American Rhetoric: The (Long Island Iced) Tea Party Patriots – Part Deux

Evil behind the agenda

     Since I started this blog a few months back, I’ve always endeavoured to do something meaningful with it. From taking on parenting ignorance with the series on Michael Pearl and TTUAC, to calling attention to various attacks on our freedoms to simple conveyance of light-hearted humor, I’m trying to do my part, my level best to make this world (or at least my little corner of it) a better place for us.

     I just read something that has been making the rounds of Tea Party websites and Facebook walls in the past few months. It’s something that runs contrary to our very freedoms, and it is a stark and scary insight into the mindset behind the Tea Party movement. My fine young readers, there are those within the Tea Party movement that wish to rob Americans of their freedoms, and bring under their subjection those currently on shaky financial footing. These elements within the Tea Party are enemies of everything the U.S. constitution stands for, and there is PROOF.

     The following is the fax blast that I have personally seen circulated, along with my counterpoint arguments interspersed. Since the original publication of this article, I have also been made aware that there are (thankfully!) Tea Partiers out there who disagree with this radicalist approach. I have since done some post-editing, and am now better prepared to submit this for your perusal and consideration:

______________________________

Put Me In Charge

Put me in charge of food stamps. I would ban Ding Dongs; Ho Ho’s and only allow money for staples and basics, and even then only from discount grocery stores that I approve.  If you want expensive steaks, frozen pizza, or Trader Joe’s then figure out a way to earn your own money to pay for it (hint: if you can do that then you do not need my charity, so maybe work on meeting your needs before hitting me up for wants.)

     So, what these Tea Partiers are basically saying is that those receiving food aid would no longer have the right to make their own nutrition decisions,  or nutritional decisions for their families.

Put me in charge of health care. The first thing I’d do is to require women of child-bearing age who are not medically disqualified to be on Norplant birth control implants or tubal ligations. Then, we’ll test recipients for drugs, alcohol, and nicotine and document all tattoos and piercings. If you want to reproduce or use, alcohol, smoke or get tats and piercings or get a Prop 215, then you are on your own.

     In other words, some Tea Partiers would seek to forcibly sterilise all medically-eligible women (notice that it’s always the WOMEN that get the raw end of the deal, which means that those espousing this agenda are SEXISTS and MISOGYNISTS as well!) on state medical programs. In addition, all identifying marks get inventoried. Personally, I’d like to know what getting one’s ear pierced has to do with eligibility for medical coverage. Oh also, you can’t engage in other PERFECTLY LEGAL activities, such as smoking or having that occasional beer with friends, if backers of this have their way.

Put me in charge of government housing. You will maintain our property in a clean and good state of repair. Your “home” will be subject to inspections anytime and possessions will be inventoried. If you want a plasma TV or Xbox 360, then get a job and your own place.

     Ah, so there are Tea Partiers that desire the ability to inventory people’s possessions, invade their privacy and dictate how people on programs such as Section 8 run their households.

Your transportation will be basic;  you will be housed near public transportation (so if you live in the country you will be moved) and as you progress we’ll talk about letting you buy a car,  but then only to facilitate earning a better living so that you can go off of my tab.

     People receiving monetary aid from programs such as TANF, CalWorks and SSI would no longer be allowed to own their own vehicles, according to this. Any of them that already owned vehicles would lose them, and anyone living in rural areas would be subject to forced relocation. (Getting scarier, isn’t it?)

The whole time, you will either present a check stub from a job or records of a legitimate job search each week or you will report to a “government” job… in other words, if you can’t find something to do then I will find something for you to do. It may be cleaning the roadways of trash, painting and repairing public housing, whatever we find for you.  You WILL pull your pants up, remove the tats and piercings, cut your hair, bathe, and dress and present yourself in an acceptable manner conducive to impressing a potential employer.  We will sell your 22 inch rims and low profile tires and your blasting stereo and speakers and put that money into an interest bearing escrow account that you may withdraw upon leaving the public dole.

     This jobs thing has some merits, but then goes clear off of the deep end. Removal of tattoos is a medical procedure. Also, supporters of this agenda are talking about taking away every luxury item you may have acquired before even being in a position to where you needed help. Theft, sanctioned by the state. Keep in mind that these are the same hypocrites that complain about things like “eminent domain”!

All of this would be totally voluntary.  You are asking for the money that the rest of us worked very hard to earn and are living under our roof; we are feeding and clothing you and seeing to your health needs.  In short you are our ward and have the choice of accepting our rules or moving along.  Our money. our rules. In the process you will be doing something to get your act together and develop esteem and respect for both yourself and others.  There is nothing more demeaning than being a tapeworm on perpetual charity.

     More blatant and elitist ignorance. There are those now on government aid that at one time, were completely independent. They had good jobs, stable pay and decent homes. Then, our economy tanked. Businesses, which had merely a few years prior been lucrative, now closed by the droves. Chains such as Circuit City, Mervyn’s, CompUSA, Linens and Things and Border’s Books vanished. We are now in the midst of a double-dip recession, with record unemployment across the nation. According to this, even these newly economically disadvantaged are simply drains on society, and should be treated like the “tapeworms on perpetual charity” that the author and those that embrace this agenda see them as.

I would end the system of rewarding poor judgment, bad decisions and anti-social attitudes and use your life mistakes as teachable moments.  If I am expected to help you then you are obligated to help yourself, or, again, hop a Greyhound and move on to the next sucker. The government employees or private sector contractors who distribute my charity to you will be required to document constant positive results in the form of successfully transitioning recipients from being kept by me like a dog in a kennel to being productive members of society.  Those ratings will be reviewed periodically and employees or contractors who fail to meet my standards will be fired.

     Now this is where it gets hateful. This rant’s supporters now see the disadvantaged as being kept like “a dog in a kennel.” In addition, they fault the person for ending up on government aid. (Remember those people I mentioned before, who were displaced when their jobs disappeared and entire companies folded?)  Anyone caught in the storm of the recession is now sub-human, according to this.

AND, finally… for the duration of your dependence on me, you will not be allowed to VOTE! Yes that is correct. For you to vote would be a conflict of interest – to say the least. And by viture of the very fact that you cannot survive without my charity proves that you are not capable of making sound decisions, nor should you have the ability to access what I earn without my having veto power.  You will voluntarily remove yourself from voting while you are receiving my charity. If you want  different, then get a job.

     This last paragraph shows the true nature of the more radical Tea Party element; they are the enemies of freedom. They would seek to wreck the very foundations of our system of government, depriving entire sectors of the populous of even basic constitutional rights. They only desire freedoms…for themselves. The words “with liberty and justice, for all” have no meaning to them.

     (ADDENDUM) In light of a recent reader-submitted comment, I have been convinced of the prudence of including some source citations for this material. Therefore, I will provide not one or two, but seven:

1) The Veterans Voice website, attributes the material to one “Alfred W. Evans” of Gatesville, Texas.

2) The Conservative Daily News, where the material is attributed to an original article from 18 November, 2010 in the Waco Tribune Herald, by an unnamed 21-year-old female author.

3) Mark Williams, Talk Show Host website, where the host has re-purposed the material, appearing as if it is his own submission. (This link is key: Mark Williams has established ties in mainstream conservative media.(1) Mr. Williams includes a PostScript at the end, in which he voices his opposition to what has been presented.)

4) Persephone Magazine website, where the material is quoted as part of an article in vociferous opposition to its concepts.

5) Jokeroo website, which also attributes the material to have originated in the Waco Tribune Herald , by “Alfred W. Evans” of Gatesville, Texas.

6) The Mountain Democrat, in a letter to the editor from 09 January of this year, where one “R.E. Mohr” of Placerville, California has re-purposed part of the material.

7) …and finally, the Fellowship of the Minds weblog here on WordPress, which confirms the veracity of the “Alfred W. Evans” / Waco Tribune Herald source. The article mentions that indeed, the letter has “gone viral” as of July of this year.

______________________________

     Ladies and gentlemen, it was only a matter of time until these elements within the Tea Party provided us with proof of their true motivations. Now, I will concede the fact that there are people who are on aid, that have been on aid for quite some time and have abused the system. Those should definitely be addressed. But to engage in mass recriminations and punishment, to attack everyone at the same time is simply “bathwater and the baby” thinking, and it’s wrong-headed. In all actuality, it smacks of Fascism! With every painful paragraph above, I hear jackboots.

     It has been said that the pen is mightier than the sword. I can only hope that the same can be said for the keyboard, the mouse and the CPU. This is a fight that needs fought, against enemies of the constitution and of freedom. When I joined the Army in 1989, and again in 2000, I swore to defend that constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The radicals and Dominionists within the Tea Party certainly fall in to the “domestic” category, and my blog and I are now IN THEIR FACE.

     (I never considered myself a “leftist” before, more of a Centrist / Moderate instead. However, the increasing hypocrisy of many who identify as “Christians” and the hate displayed by the neo-conservative right seem to be pushing me in that direction. So be it.)

American Rhetoric: Anita Perry Sings The Blues

Anita Perry and husband, governor Rick Perry (R. TX)

     Leave it to a politician’s wife to generate good blog fodder. Earlier today, the wife of GOP candidate and current Texas governor Rick Perry stated that she could “empathize” with the trials and tribulations that the unemployed are going through. If that was indeed true, then the statement would be all well and good. But as the old advertising addage goes, “But wait! There’s MORE!”

     The reason behind Anita Perry’s “empathy” as she states it, is the assertion that their son, 28-year-old Griffin Perry had to quit his job at Deutsche Bank, so that he could take a more active role in his father’s presidential campaign. Mrs. Perry (née Thigpen) blames the government for Griffin’s “job quit.” (The following is an excerpt from a CNN article on the matter:)

     “My son had to resign his job because of federal regulations that Washington has put on us,” Mrs. Perry said while campaigning for her husband in South Carolina, after a voter shared the story of losing his job.

“He resigned his job two weeks ago because he can’t go out and campaign with his father because of SEC regulations,” she continued, referring to the Securities and Exchange Commission. “He has a wife… he’s trying to start a business. So I can empathize.”(1)

     So wait. Griffin Perry isn’t really unemployed. You’ve gotta figure that the son of the governor of Texas, out stumping with dear ol’ dad, has to be getting compensated in some way or another. Besides that fact, that family has money. Unlike a lot of unemployed people I know, the Perry’s don’t have to wonder where the next power bill or rent payment is coming from. Anita Perry doesn’t have to wonder if she has enough money in her checking account to buy a few more quarts of milk to get through to the end of the month.

     Anita Perry is a hypocrite. Griffin did not have to quit his job, he chose to. He could just as well have chosen to remain in the background, silently supporting his father’s presidential bid while “tending to his knittin’,” starting his business and taking care of his wife. As for Anita, she can take her lip-service platitudes and do whatever the pampered wife of a Texas governor does with things like that.

The Chaser: …And You Can Quote Me On That!

NOT tit for tat!

     There are a few thoughts that I have shared before about this whole “War on Terror.” I’ve shared these on Facebook, on MySpace and in e-mails to friends. I thought it might be pertinent to post them here, given the discussion about Anwar al-Awlaki and other related subjects. These are my personal opinions, and should be taken as such, except where direct quotes are used…

     In my opinion, the war in Afghanistan was a “clean shoot.” Usama bin Laden used the cover of the Taliban and the Afghani desert to mastermind and launch an attack against our country that claimed almost 3,000 lives. We gave the Taliban every opportunity to give bin Laden up, and they turned around, shrugged their shoulders and basically told us, “We don’t know what you’re talking about.” At that point, they became willingly complicit, so we had every right to go over and apply foot to arse. End of story.

     Conversely, I think that the war in Iraq was a hypocritical undertaking of global proportions. Here’s why: I (the U.S.) think you (Iraq) might have a gun (WMDs). Not only do I think you might have a gun, I think you might give that gun to someone (Usama bin Laden and Al Quaeda) who has already shot me (9/11). So, I’m going to shoot you first! If I do that here on the streets of America, it’s called “assault with a deadly weapon,” and I go to jail. If the U.S. does it to Iraq, it’s called “Preemptive Action” and is somehow justified. Again, this seems like hypocrisy to me.

Let's go, toe to toe: Christ and Muhammad

     When it comes down to radical Islam versus my take on Christianity, then my “invisible man” is better than your “invisible man.” Where mine says “Live and let live,” (Matthew 13) yours says “Live and let die.” (Qu’ran, Surah 9:5) At least my “invisible man” doesn’t require me to strap ten pounds of Semtex to my body and blow myself into oblivion to prove my faith in him. Where I might want to share a meal with you, you want to kill me, just because I don’t believe the way you do. Oh wait, even if I did believe in Islam and Allah and all that, you’d still kill me based upon geography and politics! Therefore, my “invisible man” is better!