Politics

Why it is Impossible to Talk to Pro-Life Zealots About Abortion

right to life

In the post, Why I Hate Jesus, I wrote four sentences about abortion. Here’s what I said:

This Jesus, no matter the circumstance, demands that a woman carry her fetus to term. Child of a rapist, afflicted with a serious birth defect, the product of incest or a one night stand? It matters not. This Jesus is pro-life.

That’s it.

Yesterday, a man who I assume is a Christian left the following comment (which he later deleted) about these four sentences:

I would argue with you on only one point. You say this “Jesus” is pro-life and demands that a child be carried to full-term, regardless of handicap or disability of the child. Another man argued for only perfect babies being born. His name was Adolf Hitler. If you weren’t a “perfect” child, you were put in a hospital by your very own parents, and “caring” doctors would look over you, until it was time for you to get clean. They brought you to a shower room where you undressed, were hurded [sic] into a room full of shower heads and…. given the Nazi history…. You know the rest. “Loving” parents? “Caring” doctors? Throw away babies that are “damaged” goods, and what? Throw away children who are? Throw away teens who are? Throw away adults who are? After all, it’s for the “greater good” of society.

I’m sorry, but as an autistic child whose mother was told, “put him in the loony bin”, I take offense at that. My mother refused, and she raised me, gave me the best care, put me in the best special ed program she could find. Today I am a college graduate with a computer science degree, a successful career, a wife and two children who are honor students. “Damaged” goods? Some people would challenge you on that.

If you can argue for abortion on the argument that the child is “defective”, then who is safe? Are you? Could you crash your car tomorrow, put your head through the windshield and be brain dead for the rest of your life? (a la Terri Scheivo [sic]?) Should they kill you then? What if you “recover” to the point where you have the mind of a 3rd grader, but still have all of your feelings, emotions, likes, tastes and hurts? Should they still kill you because you’re not “perfect”? Should they kill people over 70 because they’re not “productive” members of society anymore? Where does it end? How “perfect” does society have to be? Where does the quest for a perfect society’s interference with the individual right to life, liberty and persuit [sic] of happiness end?

You can like or hate Jesus given the hypocrisy of modern Christianity, which is a stench! But please dispense with your utopian, perfect society model of Karl Marx or Lenin or Hitler or whoever your favorite “wordly” philosopher is. While I may agree with you about the “modern” Jesus, I acknowledge that there is a Devil, and this philosophy comes straight from him out of the pits of Hell.

All I could do is *sigh* and shake my head.

I’m In the Lord’s Army

the lords army

Yesterday, I caught up on back episodes of the TV show Tyrant. One episode featured a Muslim cleric telling a group of school children that they were soldiers in God’s Army. These children were later killed in a government attack on a terrorist training camp. This same cleric forgot to tell these children that they would be used as pawns in the war against America and the government of the fictional country Abuddin. Killed in an attack on the terrorist camp, the dead bodies of these children were filmed so they could be used in anti-government propaganda videos. A horrific scene to be sure, one that is played out time and again in the Middle East.

As I listened to the Muslim cleric tell the children that they were soldiers in God’s Army, my thought turned to the Evangelical Junior Church staple song, I’m in the Lord’s Army. Everyone now:

I may never march in the infantry,

Ride in the cavalry,

Shoot the artillery.

I may never fly o’er the enemy,

But I’m in the Lord’s army!

Yes Sir!
I’m in the Lord’s army!

Yes sir!

I’m in the Lord’s army!

Yes sir!
I may never march in the infantry,

Ride in the cavalry,

Shoot the artillery.

I may never fly o’er the enemy,

But I’m in the Lord’s army!

Yes sir!
I’m in the Lord’s army!

Yes sir!

I’m in the Lord’s army!

Yes sir!

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Harmless kid’s song? Sure, but consider for a moment how much time and money Evangelicals spend indoctrinating their children. (Please see Do Fundamentalist Christians Indoctrinate Their Children?) Throw in Christian nationalism, American exceptionalism, Bible literalism, and “Second Amendment remedies” — why, it is easy to see that, in the future, some Evangelical churches will become training camps for youthful recruits for The Lord’s Army. Preposterous? Perhaps, but consider how easily fascist Donald Trump has turned countless Evangelicals into supporters of policies that could plunge the United States into civil war.

Earlier this year, armed Christians took over a government building, believing that God wanted them to take a stand against tyranny and attacks on personal and religious freedom. So-called Patriot Pastors are now defiantly breaking federal and state laws, believing that freedom of religion is under attack by liberals, secularists, humanists, and atheists. Calling for more “Christian” laws, scores of Evangelicals, Catholics, and Mormons now believe that the Separation of Church and State is a myth. Many of the domestic terrorist attacks over the past thirty-five years have been committed by Christians who have turned to violence to right perceived wrongs. White power groups such as the KKK — once thought to be buried beneath the rubble of the race riots of the 1960s — are drawing new soldiers to their war against multiculturalism and non-whites. These groups are almost always Christian.

Given the right circumstances and motivations, I can envision Christian churches, pastors, and parents encouraging children to be soldiers in the Christian God’s Army. One need only to watch how Westboro Baptist Church uses children to promote bigotry and hatred. Is it really a stretch to think that rabid Christians could turn to violence to advance their agendas? And even if you think I am out of my mind to think that such thing are possible, consider the fact that millions of American children are taught that there is no greater privilege than to give one’s life for Jesus. Be it in a life devoted to servitude or being martyred, these children are taught, “only one life, twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will pass” – Only One Life by C.T. Studd. (Please see The Myth of Persecution by Candida Moss, A Book Review) Martyrdom is very much a part of the many Christian sects. What better way to prove one’s faith than to die for it?

The Johnson Amendment: I Agree With Donald Trump

501c3

In the 1950s, thanks to men such as there’s-a-red-under-every-bed Catholic Congressman Joseph McCarthy, American Christianity’s God found a home in the Pledge of Allegiance and on the back of our paper money. Under God was added to the Pledge (1954) and In God we Trust was added to American paper currency (1957). In 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill into law that stated the national motto was In God we Trust. These blatantly unconstitutional acts are still with us today. In 1954, then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson proposed an amendment to U.S. tax code that would forbid churches and other non-profit, tax exempt institutions (501(c)(3)) from endorsing and campaigning for political candidates. This amendment is currently part of the tax code.

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain taxes.

Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner.

On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.

The Internal Revenue Service provides resources to exempt organizations and the public to help them understand the prohibition. As part of its examination program, the IRS also monitors whether organizations are complying with the prohibition.

Churches and their pastors KNOW that U.S. law forbids directly endorsing or campaigning for political candidates. They also know that they are free to ignore the law because the IRS has shown that it has no appetite for going after churches and pastors who spend time and money whoring for political candidates. Evangelicals, sensing that the Obama Administration will not revoke their tax exemption, now want Congress to overturn the Johnson Amendment, giving churches and pastors the right to keep their blanket tax exemption AND endorse, work for, and financially support political candidates.

In recent days, Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump has said that, if elected, he would work to repeal the Johnson Amendment. I agree. I hope Congress will remove this amendment from the U.S. Tax Code. I also hope they will strip from the tax code the clergy housing allowance and any/all preferences churches and religious institutions currently receive. It is time for poor, helpless churches and their pastors to be cast out into the world to live by the same rules and laws that govern other businesses. Yes, other businesses, because churches are, above all else, profit-driven businesses. The charitable, public service parts of what churches do is minuscule. Churches exist, for the most part, to serve their customers — members and prospective members. If churches wish to remain tax-exempt, then the bulk of their income should be spent on charitable works. As it stands now, churches spend most of their money on buildings, salaries, benefits, and programs that only serve congregants.

If, as Donald Trump and many Evangelicals/Catholics want, the Johnson Amendment is overturned, churches and religious institutions should then be required to file business income tax returns and govern themselves according to current business law. This means churches and religious groups should also be required to pay sales tax, real estate tax, and every other tax businesses pay. Imagine the trillions of dollars that will make its way into local, state, and federal government coffers.

Churches and pastors should be careful about what they wish for. If churches are required to play by the same rules as businesses, I suspect that there would be a lot of church bankruptcies and mergers. Good news, to be sure, for those of us who are tired of churches receiving unconstitutional favoritism and financial support via tax exemptions, tuition payments, reduced postage charges, and other tax benefits that are only available to churches and religious institutions. But, bad news for those few churches and pastors who really do care about the social welfare of others.

Notes

Churches have always been permitted to support ballot initiatives and issues.

Pastors, outside of their official capacity, are free to endorse candidates. Unfortunately, this line has become blurred, and an increasing number of pastors and parachurch leaders now think they can endorse candidates without restriction. Realizing that they are breaking the law, these so-called men of God often add to their pronouncements, I say this as an individual, not in my official capacity as a pastor. And then they smile and wink.

Churches, by the way, do not have to file for 501(c)(3) tax status. They are, by default, considered tax exempt. Churches do not have to file any documents in order to be exempt.

Franklin Graham “Preys” on Vulnerable, Hurting People

billy graham rapid response team

When major disasters and tragedies occur, it is not uncommon for Franklin Graham’s Billy Graham Rapid Response Teams to be dispatched to the scene. While these teams certainly do a great job helping with the temporal needs of those who are suffering, make no mistake about it, their goal is to preach the Evangelical gospel, evangelize, and save lost sinners.

I view Franklin Graham’s Billy Graham Rapid Response Teams in the same light as I do Adolph Hitler and his love for dogs. Yes, Hitler loved dogs. Yea, Hitler! But, he also was a murderous psychopath who systematically killed six million Jews, gypsies, and others deemed inferior. So then, Hitler’s love of dogs doesn’t negate his genocidal behavior.

Yes, Franklin Graham’s Billy Graham Rapid Response Teams do — in very small ways — provide help to people who are affected by disasters and tragedies. But, these teams are operated by Franklin Graham, a man noted for his racist, homophobic bigotry. Their primary goal is evangelization, not meeting the needs of those who are hurting and suffering.

The Rapid Response Teams website describes their mission this way:

From the ashes of 9/11, the Rapid Response Team ministry was developed to share Christ in the midst of crisis and disasters. BGEA currently has chaplains in the United States, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. These volunteer chaplains are carefully selected and trained to demonstrate the compassion of Jesus Christ and appropriately share God’s hope through the One who “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

The suffering and heartache of others is just a means to an end — the salvation of sinners.

Yesterday, I received a fundraising letter from The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Here’s an excerpt from the letter:

Dear Friend,

Our country is hurting. We’re in trouble racially, economically, politically, and spiritually—and day after day the news across our nation reminds us of that.

Dallas, Texas, recently endured the deadliest day for law enforcement officers in America since 9/11—a sniper ambushed and shot 12 police officers. Five of them died. The killings came soon after two widely publicized shootings by police in Louisiana and Minnesota. Protests—sometimes violent—erupted across the country.

These are just examples of how broken our nation and society have become. Government cannot fix this. Elections will not solve this. Our only hope is God, who changes hearts and nations. Pray for America.

A group of crisis-trained chaplains from our Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT), selected for this deployment because of their law enforcement backgrounds, headed to Dallas the morning after the attack to offer support, comfort, and emotional and spiritual care to people affected by the tragedy.

Only weeks before that, a chaplain team went to Orlando when the city suffered the most devastating terrorist-attack on American soil since 9/11. A Muslim gunman began shooting inside a gay nightclub during the early hours of a Sunday morning, massacring 49 people and injuring 53 more. He himself called 911 during the killings to proclaim his allegiance to ISIS.

Experienced Billy Graham chaplains (right) arrived there within hours and immediately started one-on-one ministry to family members, first responders, and others in the stunned community—listening, comforting, and sharing the love of Jesus Christ. The Bible says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3, NKJV), and over a period of two weeks, 40 of our chaplains participated in caring for hurting hearts in Orlando, encouraging and praying individually with more than 1,600 people affected by this huge tragedy.

A young man who personally knew some of the victims came with his family to a memorial site. His distress over the shooting had caused him to think more carefully about God, and he engaged two of our chaplains with questions about sin and forgiveness and about faith. The chaplains used Scripture to help answer the questions, explaining what God’s Son did for him on the cross and how he could be confident of forgiveness and eternal salvation through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. The young man then asked eagerly if he, his family, and the chaplains could gather next to the memorial and pray together. In his own words, he repented of sin, thanked God for loving him personally, and committed to live his life in faith with Jesus as his Savior.

During the deployment, the governor of Florida and the FBI agent in charge of the investigation each stopped to thank our Billy Graham chaplains for being there. Another FBI agent, a believer, came by our mobile ministry center and asked if he could pray for the chaplain team.

One day members of the team noticed a man at a memorial site who was taking deep breaths as if to calm himself. They quietly prayed for him before walking over to ask, “How are you holding up?” He immediately began to weep, saying how thankful he was that someone cared enough to ask. He was a professional photographer on assignment from a prominent media outlet, and the images of tragedy he was capturing had started to overwhelm him. Chaplains spent time with him, listening and encouraging. One of them asked if he would like to know how to find
peace in his heart. He replied that he was a secular humanist and not interested in matters of faith.

Nevertheless, for the next 20 minutes he poured out questions about the Bible, church, God, and especially why the chaplains would so willingly invest themselves in other people’s troubles. The chaplains had the opportunity to share the Gospel clearly. The young man readily accepted prayer for himself and his family but was not ready to make a decision. Pray for him and the many others in Orlando who received comfort and heard the Good News, and ask God to nurture the seeds that were planted.

I wonder if the “sinners” mentioned in this letter knew that they were going to be used for fundraising purposes?

Franklin Graham’s Billy Graham Rapid Response Teams are human vultures who swoop down whenever there are major disasters or tragedies. While they might hand out bottled water, coffee, and food, their primary objective is to pick clean the carcasses of hurting people. Instead of offering hope, compassion, and kindness, they offer the bastardized Evangelical version of these things, one that has as its ultimate goal the salvation of sinners. This is, by the way, the modus operandi of most Evangelical “ministries.” Disasters and tragedies are just the means to an end — the evangelization of non-Christians.

An Open Letter to the DNC

dnc

Cartoon by A.F. Branco

Dear Democratic National Committee,

I write to express my outrage over recent revelations detailing how DNC officials attempted to derail Bernie Sanders’ 2016 Presidential campaign. It is evident, based on released internal emails, that Deborah Wasserman Schultz and operatives within the DNC were working behind the scenes to marginalize Bernie Sanders, paving the way for Hillary Clinton to become the Democratic candidate for President. Earlier this year Bernie Sanders complained about attempts by Wasserman Schultz and the DNC to keep him from becoming the nominee. The DNC dismissed Sanders’ claims, categorically stating that both candidates were being treated fairly and equally. Thanks to Wikileaks, we now know better.

I am a diehard Bernie Sanders supporter. As a liberal, democratic socialist, I found Sanders’ policy positions to be the closest to my own. Sanders is the voice of progressivism; Hillary Clinton is the voice of centrist Democratic politics. Sanders is a man of principle; Hillary Clinton is a political opportunist. Bernie Sanders didn’t take a dime from Wall Street; Hillary Clinton made millions off of private Wall Street-sponsored speeches. Bernie Sanders opposes  war in the Middle East; Hillary Clinton will continue the blood-spilling policies of the Barack Obama. It is for these reasons (and others) that I support Bernie Sanders.

I am also an atheist. Offensive revelations that Wasserman Schultz and the DNC considered tarring Bernie Sanders with the atheist label suggests to me that the DNC doesn’t realize that most atheists are political liberals who most often vote Democrat. It is also clear that the DNC doesn’t understand that scores of millennials are non-religious. These millennials generally skew to the left — good news for Democrats. Good news, that is, if the DNC stops treating non-religious people as if they have some sort of communicable disease.

I am pleased that Wasserman Schultz has been removed as the head of the DNC. But that action is not enough. Every DNC operative who thought labeling Bernie Sanders an atheist was a good idea should immediately be fired. A failure to take such action shows that Democratic leaders don’t value fairness. The DNC should also publicly apologize to the atheist community for their shameful use of the word “atheist” as some sort of pejorative term. A full-page apology in the New York Times and personal letters to the major atheists groups will suffice.

I plan to vote for Hillary Clinton come November. I will do so for one reason and one reason alone — Donald Trump. I cannot in good conscience do anything that will increase the likelihood of a Trump presidency. These are perilous times, and I must do what is best for my country. Quite frankly, if a centrist Republican was running for President I would likely cast my vote for Jill Stein. In doing so, I would be telling the Democratic Party that until they value me as a voter, they have lost my vote. I want to do this now, but I can’t. I know that if Donald Trump is elected he will fundamentally and permanently harm our Republic. It’s Hillary Clinton’s lucky day. She will get my vote, not because I think she best represents my views, but because Donald Trump is a real threat to national security and social progress. If Clinton wins the election, the DNC might want to consider how to keep my vote come 2020. If liberal, democratic-socialist atheists aren’t welcome in the Democratic Party, then perhaps it is time to start seriously considering  third-parties that value people such as myself.

Sincerely,

Bruce Gerencser
A Former Right-Wing Evangelical Republican Turned Liberal, Democratic-Socialist Atheist

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Hillary Clinton Plans to Outlaw Christianity by Jim Bakker

jim and tammy faye bakker

This is the ninety-second  installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a clip taken from a discussion between convicted felon and con artist Jim Bakker and  Ramiro Peña, pastor of Christ the King Baptist Church in Waco, Texas. Please put on your tinfoil hat before watching this video. You have been warned!

Bakker and Peña shamelessly campaign for Donald Trump while warning that a non-Trump president — the unnamed Hillary Clinton — will likely make Christianity illegal and pack the Federal courts with justices who will do the non-Trump president’s evil bidding. Like I said, make sure you wear your tinfoil hat.

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The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Western Civilization is Crumbling by Dave Daubenmire

dave daubenmire

This is the ninety-first  installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a clip taken from a sermon preached by “Coach” Dave Daubenmire. Daubenmire thinks the that white, heterosexual, Christian American men are the only people who can “save” Western Civilization.

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The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Sissified Evangelical Men by Dave Daubenmire

dave daubenmire

This is the ninetieth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a clip taken from a sermon preached by “Coach” Dave Daubenmire. Daubenmire thinks Evangelical churches have been “sissified.” According to Daubenmire, REAL men watch Fox News, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly. Daubenmire subtly blames women for the sissification of churches. As with most “problems” in Evangelical churches, the blame rests  on women, their vaginas, and the mistaken notion that women should be treated as equals to those who have a penises between their legs.

if Dave Daubenmire is the definition of a real man, count me out. I know some sissified women who would/could kick Coach’s ass in a heartbeat. I am beginning to wonder if these “real” men have any idea about what such a label really means.

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