Entertainment

Bruce, You Are Leading People People to HELL!

lucinda palestrantA Fundamentalist Christian woman by the name of Lucinda Palestrant sent me the above email earlier today. Palestrant came to this site via a Google search for Darwin Fish. Eighteen months ago I wrote a post about Fish titled, Darwin Fish, A True Prophet of God.  In this post I described Fish this way: Darwin Fish, the truest Christian on earth, a fundamentalist on steroids. Evidently, Palestrant is also a member of that elite, super-sanctified, elect remnant of Christians who supposedly will someday be rewarded by Jesus for their mind-numbing devotion to what they believe are the TRUE teachings of the Bible. Heaven awaits them, their reward for stoutly standing for true Christianity®, while the illimitable sea of humans past, present, and future will be cast into outer darkness, facing eternal torture and suffering because they were born in the wrong country, raised in the wrong home, or had the wrong beliefs. (See Why Most Americans are Christian ) And for people such as myself, those who have full knowledge of the truth, yet reject it and lead others astray? Hell, fueled by God’s hatred of sin, awaits.

Palestrant warns me: The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity. (Psalm 94:11) Evidently, this verse is supposed to scare me. God knows what you are thinking, Bruce, Palestrant admonishes, thinking that I will quake in my Sketchers over the very thought of her God reading my mind. Here’s what Palestrant fails to understand: I think her God is fiction, no more able to read my mind than Leonard Nimoy — of Star Trek fame — is able to do a mind meld and read my innermost thoughts.

As a writer, public figure, and a well-known atheist, I understand that my written and spoken words matter. Virtually every day that I am physically able, I send out my words to be read by thousands of people. For almost a year now, my editor — Grammar Gramma — has edited my writing, helping me to hone my writing skills, saving me from countless careless, imprecise errors. My goal has always the same: to passionately and effectively tell my story in such a way that it infuriates Fundamentalists, helps those who have been harmed by Fundamentalism, and provide a voice for those who have been psychologically savaged by Evangelical Christianity. (See Are Evangelicals Fundamentalists? )

I consider it a great honor to have the Lucinda Palestrants of the world tell me that I am leading people to hell. Since the Biblical hell is about as real as Donald Trump’s Christianity, the only “hell” I am leading readers to is the one filled with reason and freedom. It is in this “hell” people find that they are free to follow the path of life wherever it leads. No longer shackled by Fundamentalist dogma, former Evangelicals are free to embrace the wild, wonderful (and dangerous) world on their own terms. I can only hope that Lucinda Palestrant will someday experience the wonders of an intellect liberated from the bondage of the Christian Bible.

Father John Misty: I Was Promised Redemption, Forgiveness, and Salvation

father john misty

I subscribe to Rolling Stone magazine. I love reading the feature articles, interviews, and movie reviews. In the April 21, 2016 issue there as a short interview of Father John Misty (Joshua Tillman) — an American singer and songwriter. Tillman was raised in a strict Evangelical home. When asked, Was there anything valuable about your Evangelical upbringing?, Tillman replied:

I was promised redemption and forgiveness and salvation over and over, but it never manifested in any meaningful way. It was like Charlie Brown and Lucy with the football.

As  I read Tillman’s answer, I thought, what a great analogy, one that describes the experiences many of us had with Evangelicalism. For those of us who are now atheists and agnostics, Lucy pulled the football away from us one too many times.

In a 2015 The Guardian story, Tillman had this to say about his religious upbringing:

“I went to a Pentecostal messianic Jewish cult school where I was taught to exorcise demons from my classmates and speak in tongues, and had these insane engineered psychedelic experiences,” he elaborates. “People were lifting my arms up to worship while kids lay convulsing on the floor, talking about seeing their dead grandparents. It was flat-out insanity, and I should have been writing about that.” Why wasn’t he? “I didn’t want anyone to know about my upbringing. It’s still a major source of pain and confusion. I didn’t get to choose my childhood, and I felt doomed. The further I get from those experiences, the more of a sense of humour about it I have. In a broad sense, I mean. I don’t think it’s hilarious or anything.”

In a February 2015 Rolling Stone feature article, Jonah Weiner had this to say about Tillman and his Evangelical upbringing:

It’s pretty intense conversation for midafternoon, but Tillman has always been, by his own account, an intense guy. He grew up in Maryland the eldest son of devout evangelical Christians. “It was the most suburban, bleached-flour kind of scenario you can imagine — aside from the Messianic-Judaism, Pentecostal, speaking-in-tongues, getting-slain-in-the-spirit, having-demons-cast-out-of-you stuff,” he says. “For my parents, heaven and hell were real. It’s bizarre to contemplate eternal damnation as an eight-year-old.” A born skeptic, he never fully bought into his parents’ religion. Instead, he got heavily into comics with skewed perspectives, like The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes, and for a time he wanted to be a cartoonist. That dream gave way, when he got wind of Bob Dylan, to a musical fantasy, and at 19 he dropped out of New York’s Nyack College — a Christian school he’d enrolled in mostly to appease his parents — and moved upstate, where a buddy was building a recording studio in a farmhouse. (Tillman’s relationship with his parents, long turbulent, has lately improved — “They’ve recently begun acknowledging that I’m an artist” — but it’s not a subject he enjoys discussing.)

Tillman’s story is yet another illustration of the damage that Fundamentalism — with its strict social codes and rules — can do to impressionable young minds. (See Are Evangelicals Fundamentalists?) While Tillman’s music is certainly influenced by his Evangelical upbringing, I suspect he would advise people to avoid Evangelicalism as they would when coming in contact with a Walking Dead-style, brain-eating zombie. .

Father John Misty cover of Arcade Fire’s song, The Suburbs.

Video Link

Father John Misty cover of Taylor Swift’s song, Blank Spaces

Video Link

Is Game of Thrones Pornographic?

game of thrones sex scene 2

My wife and I are avid watchers of the HBO hit drama, Game of Thrones (GOT). In the most recent episode, Ramsay Bolton, a psychopath of epic proportions, was eaten alive by his dogs — a just reward for such a vile man. Every GOT episode has moments of violence and sex, as does virtually every TV drama. Viewers watch dramas such as GOT because of its edgy and provocative story lines.

This fact has posed a big problem for Evangelicals who see themselves as the judges and arbiters of what is good TV and what is moral or immoral. This problem arises for these keepers of national morality when their followers ignore their warnings and admonitions and tune in to shows such as GOT. Millions of God-fearing Christians watch each episode of GOT. Evangelical preachers, irritated by the failure of church members to pay attention to them, increase their GOT rhetoric, hoping to finally get through to Christians who love the violence and sex, not only on GOT, but also on numerous other pay-TV dramas.

In recent weeks, I have noticed that several Christian websites have labeled GOT pornographic. Ben Kayser, a writer for CHARISMA , had this to say about Game of Thrones:

The HBO series Game of Thrones has been quite comfortable with controversy for the six years its [sic] been airing. Beyond the graphic sex scenes frequently included in the show, the series also includes many storylines that include incest, extreme bloody violence and multiple graphic depictions of rape that are clearly gratuitous, even from the perspective of mainstream and liberal critics.

However, somehow the creators manage to convince viewers that what they’re watching isn’t pornography, meant to titillate and shock, but is instead “art.” Even many Christian viewers find ways to excuse the show so they can enjoy some entertainment they find compelling and exciting. That said, recent data from the X-rated site Pornhub, as reported in The Daily Mail, reveals that Game of Thrones not only is linked to pornography usage, but scenes from the show are being used as porn directly.

HBO is in a legal battle with the porn website over the sites use of sexually explicit clips from Game of Thrones, which HBO states breaches their copyright of the content. Additionally, Pornhub revealed that internet porn usage decreased when HBO was airing a new episode of Game of Thrones and only increased back to the average number of users four hours after a new episode had aired. According to The Daily Mail, the data “also found searches for Game of Thrones-related videos and pictures of characters also rocketed by nearly 370 percent on the day of the [episode] premiere.”

….

HBO is a premium subscription channel. Only those who subscribe to the channel can watch its programming. As with all pay TV channels, easily offended Christians are free to NOT subscribe. Don’t like a channel’s content? Don’t watch it. Personally, I am sick and tired of Christians whining and complaining about what’s on TV. Currently, there are a dozen Christian TV channels on DIRECTV. DISH, along with other pay TV providers, also have numerous Christian channels. If offended believers want to watch saved, sanctified programming, why not tune into one of these channels? I am sure there are plenty of Little House on the Prairie reruns for Christians to watch. Why spit and fume over what heathens are watching on channels such as HBO and Showtime?

game of thrones sex scene

Here’s the dirty little secret Christian moralizers don’t want you to know. MOST Christians don’t watch religious channels. That’s right, most Christians know the God-oriented channels have very little good programming. This is why they tune into shows such as GOT. Whatever one might think about GOT violence and sex, it is a superbly written, directed, and acted TV drama. I am of the opinion that we have entered a golden era of TV programming. There are so many good dramas on TV now that it is hard to decide which ones to watch. Channels such as AMC, FX, USA, Syfy, TNT, TBS, and BBC have, in recent years, produced numerous top-notch dramas. Even third tier channels are getting in on the act. This means that TV viewers have a plethora of programs to choose from. Christians and non-Christians alike have dozens of programs they can watch. There’s no need to bitch, moan, and complain about supposedly offensive programs. Viewers are free to change the channel until they find one that meets their personal preferences.

Is GOT pornographic? Of course not. Kayser and his fellow Puritans should spend some time on PORNHUB if they want to see what REAL pornography looks like. Better yet, since most Evangelical pastors have personally viewed porn, why not just ask them if GOT is pornographic. Even better, survey church members and ask them, compared to YOUPORN, REDTUBE, and other porn sites, if GOT is pornographic. If we-never-lie Christians are honest, they will say no, GOT is not pornographic.

Kayser  bases the premise of his post on Sunday PORNHUB viewer data. The Daily Mail reports:

Last month it was revealed online viewing of porn dropped by around four per cent – equating to millions of people – while the first episode of the new series aired.

Data from Pornhub showed the number of active users in the U.S. started decreasing in the hour before the show started and did not return back to average levels until four hours later.

It also found searches for Game of Thrones-related videos and pictures of characters also rocketed by nearly 370 per cent on the day of the premiere.

Emilia Clarke, who plays blonde princess Daenerys Targaryen and who regularly appears naked in the show, was the top search.

She was followed by Natalie Dormer, as Margaery Tyrell, and Sibel Kekilli, who plays Shae.
….

Kayser thinks this data proves that GOT is pornographic. Does it? Of course not. First, GOT is not pornographic, so there is no correlation between GOT viewership and PORNHUB use. Kayser wants readers to think that there is connection between porn use and GOT. In Kayser’s mind, prior to tuning into GOT, viewers are watching internet porn. Once GOT comes on viewers switch from one porn source to another.

Second, there are other explanations for reduced PORNHUB traffic. The biggest reason for the reduced traffic numbers is the number of prime time dramas that are now scheduled for Sunday nights. As every avid TV watcher knows, there are numerous programs to choose from. Currently, Games of Thrones, Outlander, Hell on Wheels, Preacher, Ray Donovan, Roadies, Murder in the First, and Silicon Valley are scheduled for the 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM Sunday slot. In the Fall, broadcast networks will add eight or ten more programs to the Sunday night mix. And come September, Sunday Night Football will broadcast 17 weeks of NFL games. It seems to me, then, that PORNHUB traffic numbers drop, not because of GOT, but because viewers are switching to their favorite Sunday evening programs.

Kayser went looking for “proof” that GOT is pornographic and he found it in PORNHUB’s raw traffic data. Kayser finds correlations where there are none. Until a proper study is conducted, it is impossible to conclude that PORNHUB’s traffic drop is due to people switching to GOT. At this point, it is just as likely that the traffic reduction is due to Evangelicals attending Sunday evening church services, fellowships, and activities. Scandalous? Perhaps, but then so is the notion that GOT is pornographic.

Instead of blaming the Evangelicals who regularly watch GOT, the Keysers of the world blame programmers, casting them as tools of Satan used to bring down Christian America. These Fundamentalists refuse to understand that most Americans — including some of their fellow Christians —  reject “Biblically” based codes of morality and conduct. Keyser and others like him are free to NOT watch GOT. What others watch is none of their business. If viewers want to watch violence and sex scenes, they should be free to do so. Evangelicals tend to be capitalistic promoters of free markets, yet when it comes to TV programming, Christians demand the government step in and regulate what subscribers can watch.

Christians are free to produce programming that meets their moral standards. That they don’t reveals that Evangelicals are not interested in such programming. Like it or not, many Christians love Game of Thrones. And like it or not, many Christians are going to view pornography. Program viewing is quite personal. Each of us has programs we love and hate. And that’s the beauty of the free market system. We are free to watch whatever we want. Don’t like a program? Consider a program offensive? Change the channel. All Evangelicals have to do to avoid what they deem “pornographic” is to change the channel or not subscribe to HBO.

Freedom of Speech is a Two-Way Street

free speech

Guest post by Ian

Glenn Beck and the Dixie Chicks have something in common, though neither wants to admit it.

In 2003, Natalie Maines, the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, said that she was “ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.” This was said in London, during a concert. Word of this quickly made its way back to the United States and many radio stations pulled The Dixie Chicks from their play lists. Irate people threw away or burned their Dixie Chicks albums.

Maines’ statement resulted in a struggle for the Dixie Chicks, particularly in the country music world, where they were boycotted for several years. They made a video documentary which followed them for three years after the infamous London concert. In the documentary, Maines watched a video of President Bush, in which he said, ”They shouldn’t have their feelings hurt just because some people don’t want to buy their records when they speak out. You know, freedom is a two-way street.” Maines then says, “You’re a dumb fuck.”

Video Link

Last week, Glenn Beck had a guest on his radio show, Brad Thor, and they were talking about a Donald Trump presidency. Here is the transcript; it is long, to provide context.

THOR: BS, BS. Trump does not compromise. Trump has the ability to hire and fire people, to hire contractors, to fire contractors. People who work for Trump can work for him or stop working for him. If he gets into the White House, we have to deal with him.

And I’ll tell you, one of the best examples I have seen of who Trump really is – I have been mistakenly comparing him to a potential Mussolini. And about a week ago, Foreign Affairs did an amazing article about the Caudillos, the strong men of Latin America. And that is who Trump is. He is a Chavez. He is a Peron.

That is the type of guy he is and I guarantee you, Glenn, that during his presidency, during his reign if you will – he is going to petition the American people to allow a temporary suspension of the Constitution so he can help America get back on its feet again.

He is a danger to America and I got to ask you a question and this is serious and this could ring down incredible heat on me because I’m about to suggest something very bad. It is a hypothetical I am going to ask as a thriller writer.

With the feckless, spineless Congress we have, who will stand in the way of Donald Trump overstepping his constitutional authority as President? If Congress won’t remove him from office, what patriot will step up and do that if, if, he oversteps his mandate as president, his constitutional-granted authority, I should say, as president.

If he oversteps that, how do we get him out of office? And I don’t think there is a legal means available. I think it will be a terrible, terrible position the American people will be in to get Trump out of office because you won’t be able to do it through Congress.

BECK: I would agree with you on that and I don’t think you actually have the voices we’ve been talking about and we’ve been talking about this off-air for a while. I think the voices like ours go away. I don’t think we are allowed – especially if things, and I believe the economy is going to go to crap, even if Jesus was in office. It’s going to naturally reset. It has to.

SiriusXM decided to pull Glenn Beck’s program for the rest of the week and were reviewing his future with the company, saying, “…comments recently made by a guest on the independently produced Glenn Beck Program, in our judgement, may be reasonably construed by some to have been advocating harm against an individual currently running for office, which we cannot and will not condone.”  Beck is being classy and calling Matt Drudge, who broke the story, a “despicable lying scumbag.”  Now, Beck’s spokespeople are crying foul and saying they are being bullied.

So all of that to say this: both made statements that were considered outrageous. The companies who sell their voices had to make a decision. The decision came down to how much risk were these companies willing to take. Obviously, not much. For The Dixie Chicks, people on the left complained that this was a clear violation of their First Amendment rights. For the people on the Beck right (because the Beck right is different from the normal right, or the Palin right or the Cruz right), they are saying that things were taken out of context and everyone but them is a shill for Obama.

I say to them, grow up. This has nothing to do with protected speech, being persecuted or loving President Obama. This had to do with money. Period. The First Amendment stops the government from telling you what to say, not whether private companies can hire and fire you, based on what you say. Both were able to exercise their First Amendment rights and say what they wanted. The Dixie Chicks, or at least Natalie Maines, never had to apologize for what she said and she isn’t in jail. Beck isn’t being carted away by a shadowy government agency for agreeing with Brad Thor. (Thor is backtracking on his statement, too. He said he was talking about a “hypothetical America under a dictator” and not referring to an assassination.)

Glenn Beck has had many years to say whatever he wanted. He makes outrageous claims and has guests who do the same. Now, he is going to pay the price, just like the Dixie Chicks did. They have been allowed to say whatever they want. They just need to remember that other people can say what they want, too. And, people with speak with their wallets as well as their mouths. As George Bush said, “You know, freedom is a two-way street.”

News Anchor Forces Weather Reporter to Cover Up Her Dress

liberte chanKTLA meteorologist Liberté Chan was recently forced to cover up her “inappropriate” dress after news anchor Chris Burrous received emails complaining about it. At first, I thought, surely this is a news channel somewhere in the Bible Belt. Nope, Los Angeles, California.

Video Link

Crooks and Liars reports:

KTLA meteorologist Liberté Chan appeared shocked over the weekend when morning news anchor Chris Burrous interrupted her weather report to ask her to cover up her sleeveless dress.

As Chan was delivering a wind report during the a 8 a.m. hour, a hand dangling a gray sweater appeared on the screen.

“What’s going on?” Chan asked. “You want me to put this on? Why? Because it’s cold?”

“We’re getting a lot of emails,” Burrous quipped.

“What!” Chan exclaimed, reluctantly accepting the sweater. “Really?”

“There you go,” a satisfied Burrous replied.

“I look like a librarian,” Chan complained.

“That works,” the anchor insisted. “It’s a librarian who’s gone to a cocktail party. Everyone’s got an opinion about your dress this morning.”

The incident left Chan stuttering through the remainder of her weather report.

“I’m trying to hold it together in my little sweater,” she explained.

News anchor Chris Burrous should have told complainers, tough shit. Instead, he bowed to their demands, embarrassed Chan, and made himself look like a sexist pig.

The Independent reported:

Since the incident went viral, Ms Chan says she has been on the receiving end of inappropriate comments about her appearance and body size.

“I’ve gotten emails that say, ‘She has fatty arms. She has this. She has that,’” Ms Chan told Time.

“As a meteorologist, you’re in a very vulnerable situation. You’re showing your entire body. It became much more about my body than my brain. This has turned into a much bigger issue than just a sweater.”

Ms Chan said she would not change her choice of clothing in the future. “I’ll just be me and being me has not caused me any issues until Saturday morning. It is what it is. I’m not crying over it.”

Although Ms Chan has received a number of negative body shaming emails in the aftermath of the incident, she explained there had also been a supportive response from other viewers.

“I’ve gotten emails saying, ‘We fought for equality.’ And the older generation is thinking, ‘Why is she being told what she should wear or what she shouldn’t wear? We’ve lived through a generation, a time when men told us what we should wear,’. Are we going backwards? It’s 2016.”

Sadly, Chan said she didn’t consider Burrous’ action sexist. She even went so far as to “defend” the TV station. Whether her response was due to job security is unknown. Regardless, Burrous’ sexist behavior should be roundly condemned by WTLA. It’s 2016, not 1910.

 

J. Lee Grady’s Good Friday Porn

passion of the christ

This is the time of year when Evangelicals love to emphasize the bloody, brutal, violent death of Jesus. Many Evangelical preachers, evangelists, and writers will go to great lengths to turn Christ’s death into a Criminal Minds episode or a Christian version of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Take J.Lee Grady, a writer for CHARISMA. Yesterday, CHARISMA published an article by Grady that is best described as Good Friday Porn. Here’s part of what Grady had to say:

When the movie The Passion of the Christ was released 12 years ago, Hollywood insiders mocked it because it offered a realistic—and extremely bloody—depiction of Jesus’ torture and death. Regardless of what you think of controversial director Mel Gibson, he did a masterful job of capturing the brutality of a first-century Roman execution.

I know some Christians who objected to the R-rated violence of Gibson’s movie, as if what happened to Jesus should be reduced to the sanitized charm of a Renaissance-era painting. But the truth is that what Jesus suffered on Good Friday was R-rated. It was spattered with blood and horrifying to watch.

Nobody performed an autopsy on Jesus’ mangled body after He was taken down from the cross. But doctors who have studied the Bible’s description of His death say the pain would have been beyond excruciating. In fact, the word excruciating means “out of the cross.” Jesus literally defined the worst pain anyone could feel.

His suffering began in Gethsemane, when God laid the sins of the world on His beloved Son. Hebrews 5:7 says Jesus offered up prayers “with loud crying and tears” during this moment of anguish. Luke’s Gospel says the agony was so strong that Jesus’ sweat “became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground” (Luke 22:44). The intense stress caused what physicians call hematidrosis, a condition in which blood seeps out of sweat glands.

After His arrest, Jesus was flogged so mercilessly that his skin was stripped off His back, exposing muscle and bone. The soldiers who tortured Jesus would have used a weapon called a flagellum—a whip that had several leather strands with lead balls or shards of bone attached to the ends.

The cuts inflicted by this whip could actually rip open the flesh and expose internal organs. Jesus would have lost a significant amount of blood after His scourging—and this would explain why He did not have the strength to carry His cross all the way to Calvary.

Matthew 27:28-29 says the Roman soldiers stripped Jesus naked and then twisted together a handmade crown made of thorns to mock His kingship. Bible scholars believe these thorns were extremely long and hard. When the thorns pierced the top and side of His head, Jesus would have most likely experienced what doctors call “trigeminal neuralgia”—piercing pain all over the head and face.

After this merciless abuse, Jesus was covered with a red robe and led to Golgotha. There, Roman soldiers drove seven-inch metal spikes into his wrists (most likely hitting the median nerve, causing more blinding pain) and then they rammed another spike into his feet.

At that point, doctors say, Jesus would have suffered dislocation of His shoulders, cramps and spasms, dehydration from severe blood loss, fluid in His lungs and eventual lung collapse and heart failure.

Yet Jesus refused to drink wine mixed with gall, a pain-killing solution offered to Him by his executioners (Matt. 27:34). He chose to endure the full impact of the pain.

He felt that pain for us.

Some victims of Roman crucifixion took as long as nine days to die, but Jesus’ death came in a matter of hours—probably because He had been flogged so cruelly before He was nailed to the rough wood. Victims of crucifixion typically developed serious dehydration because of a lack of blood and oxygen.

As Jesus took His last breath, He said: “It is finished.” He was actually quoting the last verse of Psalm 22, a psalm He recited throughout His torture. It is one of the most graphic prophecies about Christ’s suffering in the Old Testament—and Jesus knew it was about Him.

Jesus willingly poured out His blood on that cruel cross. It was an ugly, revolting, disgusting scene. We don’t have to downplay the violence or muffle the gut-wrenching cries. The Bible does not soften the impact or censor the cruelty of Jesus’s suffering. Isaiah 53:6 says: “But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”

Keep in mind that most of what Grady writes is personal opinion. He has no evidence for many of the claims he makes about the brutality of Christ’s crucifixion and death. Compare Luke 22,23 with what Grady has written and you will quickly see that he has turned the death of Christ into a Christian version of No Company for Old Men.

Why does Grady graphically depict Christ’s execution? Grady wants readers to know that Easter is not about fun, games, candy, and the Easter Bunny. Oh no, Easter is all about the brutalization of Jesus by God, the Father. Grady writes:

This Easter, please don’t settle for a G-rated, greeting-card version of the cross. Consider the depths of the agony Jesus experienced when He died for you. He took the pain we deserved.

There’s the reason — the substitutionary death of Jesus. Sinners need saving, can’t save themselves, so Jesus was brutally tortured, died, and rose again from the dead so sinners could have their sins forgiven and live in heaven after they die. Look at all that Jesus suffered for us! When Christians whine and complain about how hard it is to be a Christian in the most Christian nation on the face of the earth, they are often reminded of the Jesus’ gruesome death on their behalf. No one has ever suffered like Jesus, preachers say. Really? People face all sorts of horrible suffering, in every way as bad and as painful as that of Jesus. Of course, their suffering is due to sin. Jesus suffered because he was an awesome guy and wanted to start a cult. Jesus Suffering-1 Human Suffering-0

Grady wraps his bloody article in the clothes of Mel Gibson’s 2004 porno, The Passion of the Christ. I have not seen Gibson’s movie. By the time it arrived on the religious scene, I was on my way out the door of the Christian church. I do remember countless Christian luminaries saying that The Passion of Christ would be used by God to bring revival to America. According to Wikipedia:

The Passion of the Christ received enthusiastic support from the American evangelical community. Prior to the film’s release, Gibson actively reached out to evangelical leaders seeking their support and feedback. With their help, Gibson organized and attended a series of prerelease screenings for evangelical audiences and discussed the making of the film and his personal faith. In June 2003 he screened the film for 800 pastors attending a leadership conference at New Life Church, pastored by Ted Haggard, then president of the National Association of Evangelicals. Gibson gave similar showings at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church, Greg Laurie’s Harvest Christian Fellowship, and to 3,600 pastors at a conference at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in Lake Forest. From the summer of 2003 to the film’s release in February 2004, portions or rough cuts of the film were shown to over eighty audiences—many of which were evangelical audiences. Gibson received numerous public endorsements from evangelical leaders, including Billy Graham, Robert Schuller, Darrell Bock, and David Neff, editor of Christianity Today. In an open letter published prior to the film’s release, James Dobson, the founder and chairman of Focus on the Family, endorsed the film and defended it against its detractors. Similar public endorsements of the film were received from evangelical leaders Pat Robertson, Rick Warren, Lee Strobel, Jerry Falwell, Max Lucado, Tim LaHaye and Chuck Colson.

Twelve years later, no revival. The movie — called by Roger Ebert the most violent movie he had ever seen — grossed over 600 million. Gibson, an anti-semitic, violent Catholic, made a killing off the movie, and everyone else moved on to the next big movie. Last week, Fox aired The Passion Live — a live two-hour show depicting the last hours of Jesus’ life. Surely, on a Sunday, tens of millions of Christians tuned into The Passion, right? Nope. According to TV Line:

Fox’s live-ish Sunday broadcast of The Passion drew 6.6 million total viewers and a 1.6 demo rating, down 46 and 63 percent from what the network’s Grease: Live delivered in January (albeit when there was no Walking Dead in the mix).

In fact, the Tyler Perry-hosted musical event placed even below NBC’s Peter Pan Live, which in December 2014 delivered 9.2 mil and a 2.4, on a Thursday.

Here’s what Grady and Fox need to understand: the death of Jesus is passé. Been there, done that — boring. In Grady’s case, he needs to understand that telling Bible stories filled with blood, gore, and violence no longer interests most Americans. We have The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. Jesus’ death, no matter how graphicly it is displayed, is no match for modern TV dramas. Bruce, you are sooo going to hell for saying this. Yeah, about the hell thing…

CHARISMA Writer Complains X-Men: Apocalypse Rips off the Bible and Calls Jesus a Mutant

apocalypse

Jessilyn Justice, assistant news editor for CHARISMA, is upset that the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse movie calls Jesus a mutant. Even worse, the movie rips off the BibleJustice writes:

The latest installment in the X-Men franchise stirs the water of blasphemy by claiming Jesus was the original mutant—and that the Son of God is one in the same with other major religious figures.

“I’ve been called many things over many lifetimes,” says the titular character known as Apocalypse. “Ra, Krishna, Yahweh.”

The fictional story follows the omnipotent En Sabah Nur, later known as Apocalypse, who terrorizes the globe for centuries with his four horsemen.

“You are all my children, and you’re lost because you follow blind leaders, but I am here now. I’m here for you,” Apocalypse says.

Sound familiar? That’s not the only rip-off from the Bible…

Video Link

Here’s the thing: Jesus WAS mutant. He was a man and a God. Seems quite mutant to me. And as far as ripping off the Bible. As the movie trailer suggests, the authors of the Bible likely ripped off  beliefs and practices from other cultures and religions. Perhaps Justice, a 20-something, ought to spend some time studying the history of Christianity and the development of Biblical texts and doctrines.

I wonder if Justice has thought about how similar En Sabah Nur (Apocalypse) is to the Christian God of the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation?  Born 5,000 years ago, around the time Abe and his fellow sheepherders were cooking up Jehovah, En Sabah Nur spent time ” traveling around planet Earth, convincing civilizations that he is a deity (inspiring different myths as a result) and manipulating them into fighting wars.” (Wikipedia)  According to Wikipedia, Apocalypse “awakens from hibernation of thousands of years and decides to end humanity and to take over the world.” Kind of sounds like the Book of Revelation, yes? For seven years, the Christian God rains judgment, violence, and death upon the inhabitants of the earth — slaughtering most of the human race. Perhaps X-Men: Apocalypse is actually an accurate depiction of Jehovah and his mutant son Jesus.

Rock Music is Evil

bob gray jacksonville florida preaching against elvis

Baptist pastor Bob Gray preaching against Elvis, 1956. Gray would later be accused of decades long sexual misconduct. Gray was a serial pedophile. He died before his trial.

Rock music has always been a problem for Evangelicals. Rock music is generally considered worldly, sinful, and satanic, and parents are told to keep their children away from its influences. Rock music is considered a gateway to a world filled with illicit sex, drugs, and satanism. Recently, a homeschooling mom by the name of Leslie published an article on her blog titled, The Truth About Rock Music. Here is some of what Leslie had to say:

Rock music has always had a satanic influence. It does not really take all that much research to figure that out. Just google the Beatles and Hinduism and you will see it almost immediately. They were very open about their Hindu activity and even secular websites confirm this. But, as wild as the 60s were, the society wasn’t quite ready for outright false religion and songs promoting open sex and drug use and so many of their song lyrics had double meanings and hidden agendas.

Of course, all the changes in the last 50 years have made hidden agendas and double meanings unnecessary. This has happened through a very systematic hardening of our consciences. And so evil and ungodly lyrics have been eagerly accepted by a fan base that doesn’t pay any attention at all to what they are filling their brains with.

….

I then moved on to the artists themselves. Who were these people that were coming into our homes and cars on a regular basis through their music?

With the 80s influences of Madonna and Micheal (sic) Jackson– who were perhaps some of the first openly satanic artists to be played on the radio– the way was paved for many more to come. Recent rock stars such as Beyonce, Kesha, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Jay Z, Eminem, and Nicky (sic) Manaj (sic) (just to name a few), have filled the American culture with an abundance of ungodly, crude, and sexual lyrics and, even worse, very graphic music videos. This, of course, I suspected before I started doing my research. What rather stunned me however was the plethora of satanic symbols and images. As I studied, I found that many of these artists claim to have sold their soul to the devil or to be possessed by demons. This was by their own admission, recorded on video or found in reputable sources.

….

I write it here because I think most of us are absolutely clueless regarding the danger this music presents to our spiritual health. We just allow this music to play in our homes and in our cars and in the ears of our kids–never giving it a second thought. The tunes are catchy and for some reason that seems to be all we need for it to get our seal of approval.

….

But fast forward my life to just a few weeks ago when I found myself up to my eyeballs in the lewd depravity of the rock music industry. I just can’t even begin to describe how awful it all is. And maybe worst of all–how precious and beautiful young girls and boys, many of them Disney stars as youngsters, are morphed into larger-than-life rock musicians that promote everything God abhors and how so many of their fans–usually tweens and teens– just follow them down into the dark pit.

….

If this music is something that beckons you or someone you love, may I encourage you to do your own research? I think you will be more than a little alarmed and shocked at what you will find out. And may we pray for deliverance of ourselves and our families from the evil influence of this demonic music.

Leslie seems shocked to find out that rock music is filled with references to sex, drugs, and darkness. These elements have always been central themes of rock music. Leslie goes on to say that rock music is satanic and many musicians have sold their souls to the Devil or are possessed by demons. For people such as Leslie, such things are frightening. However, if there are no devil or demons, then the only thing that matters is the lyrics. While I agree with Leslie about the lyrical content of many rock songs, I think she greatly exaggerates the effect these lyrics have on people. While it is certainly appropriate to regulate what younger children see and hear, by the time children reach their teenage years they should be able to handle the lyrics Leslie finds so objectionable.

Those of us raised in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement vividly remember sermons about the evils of rock music. Sermons on sex, drugs, and rock and roll were common. Many IFB preachers would recite lyrics from popular songs, showing, in their minds, the satanic origin of rock music. Some preachers would warn parishioners of the dangers of the mesmerizing “jungle beat” in rock music. Laden with subtle racist overtones, these preachers told teenagers and parents that rock music had a hypnotizing effect. Once under its influence, people would do horrible, vile things.

bob larson rock music

In the 1960s and 1970s, men such as Bob Larson  traveled the country giving seminars on the evils of rock music. Larson purportedly had been a rock musician. He wrote several books about the evils of rock music: Rock and Roll: The Devil’s Diversion, Hippies, Hindus and Rock & Roll, The Day the Music Died, Larson’s Book of Rock. In his 1972 book, The Day the Music Died, Larson had this to say about rock music and its effect on listeners:

The basic rock rhythm is syncopation. …. this explains the erotic body movements of dancers to the accompaniment of the syncopated or pulsating rock beat. (page 15)

The origin of this Negro influence was, of course Africa.. These innovations were connected with heathen tribal and voodoo rites. The native dances to incessant, pulsating, syncopated rhythms until he enters a state of hypnotic monotony and loses active control over his conscious mind. The throb of the beat from the drums brings his mind to a state when the voodoo, which Christian missionaries know to be a demon, can enter him. This power then takes control of the dancer, usually resulting in sexual atrocities. Is there a legitimate connection between theses religious rites and today’s modern dances? (page 179)

I was aware of the connection between demons and dancing even before my conversion. I speak from experience as to the effect rock rhythms have on the mind. …As a minister, I know what it is like to feel the unction of the Holy Spirit. As a rock musician, I knew what it meant to feel the counterfeit anointing of Satan. I am not alone in my experimental knowledge of the influence of demonic powers present in rock music. (Page 181)

In his 1967 book, Rock and Roll: The Devil’s Diversion, Larson wrote:

There is no difference between the repetitive movements of witch doctors and tribal dancers and the dances of American teenagers. The same coarse bodily motions which lead such dancers into a state of uncontrollable frenzy are present in modern dances. It is only logical, then, that here must also be a correlation in the potentiality of demons gaining possessive control of a person through the medium of the beat. This is not entirely my own theory. It is the message that missionaries have urged me to bring to the American public. (Page 182)

On Friday and Saturday nights across America the devil is gaining demonic control over thousands of teenage lives. It is possible that any person who has danced for substantial lengths of time may have come under the oppressive, obsessive, or possessive influence of demons. Knowing this, churches and clergymen need to shed their cloak of compromise and firmly denounce rock dances. Dancing is no longer an artistic form of expression ( if it ever was) but a subtle instrument of Satan to morally and spiritually destroy youth. (page 184)

Evangelical preachers also began alerting church members about the subliminal messages (backmasking) rock groups were putting on their albums. Supposedly, if rock records were played backward, people would hear satanic messages. Led Zepplin’s Stairway to Heaven was supposedly one such song. When played forward the song said:

If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow
Don’t be alarmed now
It’s just a spring clean for the May Queen
Yes there are two paths you can go by
but in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on

Backwards, the words above were supposedly turned into:

Oh here’s to my sweet Satan.
The one whose little path would make me sad, whose power is Satan.
He will give those with him 666.
There was a little toolshed where he made us suffer, sad Satan.

According to Wikipedia:

In a January 1982 television program on the Trinity Broadcasting Network hosted by Paul Crouch, it was claimed that hidden messages were contained in many popular rock songs through a technique called backward masking. One example of such hidden messages that was prominently cited was in “Stairway to Heaven…

Following the claims made in the television program, California assemblyman Phil Wyman proposed a state law that would require warning labels on records containing backward masking. In April 1982, the Consumer Protection and Toxic Materials Committee of the California State Assembly held a hearing on backward masking in popular music, during which “Stairway to Heaven” was played backward. During the hearing, William Yarroll, a self-described “neuroscientific researcher,” claimed that backward messages could be deciphered by the human brain.

As with the satanic ritual abuse hysteria years later, the backmasking scare quickly faded into the pages of history. The last preacher I remember saying something about backmasking told church members that if you played the theme song of the TV show Mr. Ed backwards it contained a satanic message.

Leslie, the homeschooling mom I quoted at the start, will learn, as did the preachers of my youth, that all the preaching in the world won’t keep teenagers from listening to the popular music of the day. While parents might be able to keep them from listening to rock music at home, once they go to school they will be exposed to the music of their non-Evangelical peers. Once teenagers start driving or riding in automobiles with friends, the radio will be tuned to the local rock station. Unless parents are willing to lock their teenagers in their rooms, allow them no internet access, and remove radios from automobiles, it is impossible to keep teenagers from listening to rock music.

Polly and I grew up in homes where rock music was verboten. Despite these prohibitions, we somehow learned the lyrics of the popular songs of our day. In the mid-1970s, we attended Midwestern Baptist College, a strict Fundamentalist institution that banned students from listening to ANY secular music (except classical). Students were not permitted to play anything other than religious music in their dorm rooms. However, once in the safety of their automobiles, students turned on radios and listened to the rock, pop, and country music.

One spring day, Polly was sitting in the Midwestern parking lot listening to the radio. I walked from the dormitory out to her car to see what she was up to. Playing on the radio was Afternoon Delight, by Starland Vocal Band. Polly was singing away without a care in the world. I laughed and then I asked her if she knew what the song was about. She gave me an innocent (and clueless) interpretation of the lyrics. When I told her what the song was really about, she didn’t believe me. To this day, we joke about this story. Such is life in the IFB bubble. My favorite song, by the way, was December, 1963 (Oh What a Night) by the Four Seasons.

Video Link

Video Link

These days, many Evangelicals have taken a different approach to combating the evils of secular rock music. Instead of outright banning rock music — an approach that has proved to be a dismal failure — Evangelicals promote what is called the replacement theory. If church teenagers are drawn to secular bands that have what Evangelical consider bad, immoral, or satanic lyrics, churches and parents suggest that they listen to a Christian alternative. This approach has, for the most part, also failed to keep Evangelical teenagers from listening to secular rock music. First, many of the Christian alternatives are cheap rip-offs of secular bands. Bad music is bad music regardless of the lyrics. Second, many Evangelical teenagers quickly embraced what is now called contemporary Christian music (CCM). However, instead of abandoning their secular favorites, teenagers just added the CCM artists to the mix. Some Christian bands, such as P.O.D.Skillet, and Switchfoot, have been huge successes, both in the secular rock market and the CCM market.

Here is a recent video by P.O.D..

Video Link

Here is a video by Skillet.

Video Link

Some Evangelical churches have given up trying to keep church teenagers from listening to rock music. This is understandable, in part, because many Evangelical churches are now using rock music in their worship services. In the 1960s, few churches had drums. But today? Many churches have full-blown bands, complete with percussion sections.

If you are not familiar with what is going on with music in many Evangelical churches, I think the following video clip from a Hillsong New York worship service will prove instructive.

Video Link

Evangelicals, to some degree or the other, have been waging war against rock music for 60 years. Based on the videos above, I think I can safely say that rock music has won the war. Like all battles waged against popular culture, prohibition only makes what has been deemed sinful more enticing and popular. Teenagers will always be drawn to that which parents, pastors, and other authority figures say they can’t have. Teenagers are built to try the forbidden and test boundaries. We all did it, and here is the lesson that adults need to learn: we survived. Instead of treating teenagers like toddlers, how about teaching them to make responsible choices? Surely by now we have learned that telling teenagers to Just Say No doesn’t work. It is far better to equip them with the requisite skills necessary to navigate the world. Yes, there are real dangers they will face, but rock music is not one of them. I seriously doubt that there are many teenagers whose lives are destroyed because they listened to songs that have sexual or substance abuse references. I am sure there are some who take the lyrics to heart and make bad decisions, but most teenagers, as sixty years of history shows, can listen to rock music without being adversely affected.

Note

Bob Larson book quotes found here.

For more articles than you will ever want to read on the evils of rock music, please check out the Jesus is Savior website, operated by a disciple of the late Jack Hyles.