This is the one hundred seventy-eighth installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please send me an email.
Today’s Songs of Sacrilege is God is On Our Side by Roxanne Cote.
Can’t you see the starving child?
Can’t you see the corpses piled?
A comedy of dirt and blood
And God is on our side
Sex slaves and trafficking
Broken homes are for bidding
Love at a price to buy
And God is on our side
Day and night
I yearn for you
by the dimmest light
And I know
I’m bearing my greatest fight
Where religions were made to divide
My brother and I
For all the love we tried and
Prayers we lied and
God is on our side
Monks and kings are born heartless
Living in wild circus
But your myths are here to guide
And God is on our side
Governing a red madness
Fruiting a black sadness T
he faith in me has died
And God is on our side
Christopher Hitchens Monologue
Is it good for the world to appeal to our credulity and not to our skepticism? Is it good for the world to worship a deity that takes sides in wars and human affairs? To appeal to our fear and guilt, is it good for the world? To our terror, our terror of death, is it good to appeal? To preach guilt and shame about the sexual act and the sexual relationship, is this good for the world? And asking yourself all that while, are these really religious responsibilities, as I maintain they are? To terrify children with the image of hell and eternal punishment, not just of themselves, but of their parents and those they love Perhaps worst of all, to consider women an inferior creation, is that good for the world? And can you name me a religion that has not done that?
Are you gonna hide forever?
Are you gonna hide forever?
Are you gonna hide forever?
Are you gonna hide forever?
Are you gonna hide forever?
In 2018, human rights are neither a topic of public discussion nor an apparent interest of American government policy. Both the president and his secretary of state think that torture is an acceptable practice as a part of our global military endeavors everywhere. The president really seems to like the North Korean dictator, a killer of his own people and his own family. President Trump “sword dances” with the new leader in Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, while both give orders to dispatch warplane sorties that are destroying the poorest nation in the Middle East with bombs, blockades and ensuing famine.
Salman, the crown prince of oil, sand and a very decadent Saudi royal family, is on the offensive these days. Support for this effort comes from the United Arab Emirates and the United States. For the skeptical reader, yes, this war on Yemen was started by President Obama. The war is now three years old and being waged against a sect of Islam that is close to the Shia sect of Islam. The Saudis first tried to raise a pan-Arab coalition, but that melted away faster than ice cream in the sun. The Saudis next turned to the Americans, and with their help in the form of aerial fuel-tankers, Saudi warplanes were able to refuel and to do double duty on destruction of Yemeni targets.
For an historical perspective, Salman ought to read the Pentagon Papers. Relentless bombing in Vietnam and Cambodia did little to bring the USA a victory in Vietnam. Saudi supporters are looking for the light at the end of the tunnel just like President Johnson did, but there may be none. During the Vietnam War, the light at the end of the tunnel ended up being the Tet offensive by the North Vietnamese Army. Within a few years, the Americans were going home after losing billions and billions of dollars and losing at least 69,000 brave and wonderful young men and women. I believe that a similar quagmire could happen to Saudis in their war on Yemen. Not so much in terms of the pointless loss of young Saudi pilots’ lives, but in terms of lost capital and political embarrassment as killers of over 10,000 poor in Yemen.
Make no mistake. This war in Yemen is truly one of the rich against the poor. The combined resources of the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are almost beyond count. Yemen, on the other hand, has virtually no wealth and a currently dismal future because the country’s small resources are all practically leveled by now with the Saudis bombing mosques, hotels and factories. Famine has ridden in along with the Saudi onslaught. According to the United Nations, the only way to avoid the famine is to successfully move the “three amigos” of the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates into a peace agreement with the Yemeni Houthis.
What is religious fundamentalism? Typically, it is an unwavering and unapologetic belief in the absolute authority of a religious text or texts. Adherents believe their religion is the one true religion and that its precepts should govern all aspects of life. The ultimate goal is the governance of everyone’s lives under the rules and standards of the religion’s holy book(s). Rules are comprehensive, encompassing behavior, dress, gender roles, and access to information, media, and technology. Adherents believe that their religious beliefs and practices should be exempt from criticism, and any form of criticism is labeled as heresy or persecution. There are many types of religious fundamentalists throughout the world, but here in the United States we are most familiar with fundamentalist evangelical Christians, fundamentalist Muslims, orthodox and Hasidic Jews, and Old Order Amish (which are fundamentalist in their adherence to their religious text, but not with regard to forcing their beliefs on those outside their community).
As disparate as these groups may seem on the surface, they have much in common. Each group believes that its holy text is an absolute, inerrant authority for all aspects of life. It is not uncommon for these groups to separate themselves from their surrounding communities, focusing almost exclusively on staying within their religious communities with regard to their worship activities, leisure activities, and even employment. Orthodox and Hasidic Jews, for example, must be work for an employer that is flexible with regard to Jewish holy days and for leaving work early on Fridays for Shabbas. Not in all cases, but frequently children are sent to sect-approved/operated schools. In Amish communities, education is forbidden past 8th grade, and in communities that have their own schools, the teachers are young women within the community who have no education past 8th grade. For Hasidic Jews, girls and boys attend gender-segregated schools. Boys attend yeshivas where the focus of education is on studying the Talmud. Little attention is given to other subjects, and evolution is not taught. Among Evangelicals, it is popular to either home school one’s children or to send them to a fundamentalist Christian school, where, again, evolution is not taught to children. Fundamentalist Muslims often send their children to madrasas where the focus is on religious education. In some Muslim-controlled countries, girls are not educated.
Fundamentalists of all stripes give great authority to religious leaders who often dictate the rules of each separatist community. In Amish communities, there is a bishop, two or three ministers, and a deacon. Each must be nominated, but lots (similar to drawing straws) are drawn to determine which man receives which position. The leaders are responsible for the spiritual education of their congregation as well as making sure the Ordnung — the set of rules specific to each community — is followed. Each church district’s leaders set specific rules for its community, which is why there can be slight differences from one Amish community to another. In Evangelical sects and churches, great authority is given to pastors. Bruce has spoken about this a number of times, so there’s no need for me to expound on the matter here. In Orthodox or Hasidic communities, the rebbe is the authority, and he sets the rules specific to that local community. Rules may include color of stockings women are required to wear or what books are allowed in the Hasidic libraries. In fundamentalist Muslim communities, the imam is the ultimate authority, and he may issue fatwas or rules specific to his community. (Please note that all leaders are male.)
In each of these fundamentalist religions, gender roles are specifically defined in traditional ways. Men are considered to be the leaders of the family, the breadwinners, the final authorities in the household; the ones who commune most closely with their deity. Women are considered to be the nurturers, the caretakers of children, submissive to the authority of their husbands. Typically, women are not allowed to work outside the home in many fundamentalist sects/churches. Amish women are, however, permitted to sell their goods at markets or operate roadside stands for home-grown and home-baked goods. Women are not allowed any positions of leadership beyond teaching women or young children. Marriage is considered to be between one man and one woman, and these communities are not known for acceptance of LBGTQ people.
Dress codes are important among these communities. The Amish are easily identified as their clothing styles have not changed in centuries. They are referred to as “Plain People” because their styles are simple, solid colors typically limited to black, brown, burgundy, blue, purple or green (though some communities may allow other colors). Women wear dresses and aprons secured with straight pins (no buttons, which are considered vain), and they wear a white kappe (head covering) so they may pray at any time. Men wear dark suits with hook & eye closures (no buttons and no fancy belt buckles), suspenders, and a black or straw hat.
For fundamentalist Christians, there is often no exact standard of dress other than “modesty” for women, though many fundamentalist Baptist churches have complex, exacting dress codes. Many fundamentalist Christian women wear skirts or dresses at least knee length, no low-cut tops, and they typically wear sleeves. Women will be shamed for showing too much skin or wearing something too tight.
Hasidic communities have strict hair and clothing rules as well. Married women must keep their hair short and wear a sheitel wig; women wear dresses or skirts; their sleeves must be at least three-quarter length; they must wear thick, opaque stockings (often black, occasionally flesh colored though that is forbidden in some communities); and a lot of black, loose clothing, though blouses or sweaters may be colorful. Married men must sport a beard and side curls (payot) which they can never cut. Most men wear a white button-down shirt and black pants and jacket. A yarmulke must be worn at all times, and when praying, men wear a tallit, or prayer shawl, with tzitzit, or fringe, to remind them of God’s commandments.
Fundamentalist Muslim women must be covered in mixed company, and the culture determines how much covering is required. The most extreme version is the burqa with the niqab (face covering). Men may wear a taqiyah or cap when praying.
Each of these fundamentalist religions believes secularism is the greatest threat to their sect, churches, and beliefs. Access to secular libraries or media may be prohibited, restricted, or discouraged. Often, only books approved by church leaders are permitted to be read. The Amish prohibit technology altogether, though they are allowed to check out elder-approved books at public libraries. Fundamentalist Christians are generally admonished to limit their media access to “G-rated” or Christian-published format. Many Hasidic communities forbid access to secular libraries. In fundamentalist Muslim-controlled countries, all media are controlled by the religious leaders, thus preventing people from accessing any non-approved content. Each of these groups limits media access for “moral” reasons, but they also want to prevent community members from accessing any knowledge that may contradict their sect’s teachings.
While some of Amish people vote, they do not seek public office, and their pacifism prevents them from joining the military. They also are not visibly active in campaigning. Myriads of articles have been written — particularly before and after the 2016 presidential election — concerning the political activism of evangelical Christians. Orthodox and Hasidic Jews are known for their political activism for candidates sympathetic to their communities, particularly as it is an “honor” for Jewish men to collect welfare and food stamps so they can exclusively focus their time on Talmudic studies. As far as fundamentalist Islam is concerned, there are many countries in which fundamentalist Islam controls government.
In Bruce’s recent post Life After Jesus: Moving from a God-Shaped Hole to a Knowledge-Shaped Hole he talks about restrictions that fundamentalist Christian authorities put on secular influences. Indeed, venturing beyond fundamentalist-bubble-approved media is considered a temptation by Satan and demonic forces, potentially leading someone to everlasting torment in hell. Pastors try to scare their flocks into not watching the latest season of “Cosmos” or “Game of Thrones”; that rock music leads to the “Highway to Hell”; that evolution is Satan’s greatest deception. Amish and Hasidic communities threaten members with excommunication if they do not adhere to community standards. For the skeptical or curious in these communities, fear of being cut off from family and friends is a real concern. In addition, many members (particularly women) are poorly educated and lack job skills, so escaping these communities is, at best, a risky venture. Mission to Amish People (MAP) and Charity Christian Fellowship are organizations that help Amish people leave their communities, and Footsteps is an organization that helps Hasidic Jews leave theirs. Organizations such as these offer practical and emotional support to deconverts. Those of us in the real world realize that knowledge is power, and fundamentalists do their best to limit knowledge, thus limiting the power of their flocks.
I look at all these groups and think, there’s no way I could live in one of those communities. After I graduated from high school, I did my best to escape the clutches of fundamentalist Christianity. Fortunately, I possessed a college degree from a highly ranked secular university and developed marketable skills, so I was able to support myself financially. Many in these communities, particularly women, are purposely raised without these skills, ensuring reliance on the community. It is my firm conviction that any group that purposefully restricts access to knowledge and education and discourages contact with outsiders is inherently harmful and potentially abusive. Those in power may thrive within these systems, but the systems themselves are designed to benefit those in power at the expense of the powerless.
(If you are interested in finding out more about the Old Order Amish, I recommend the book Amish Society by John A. Hostetler for a comprehensive examination. For those who have access to Netflix and are interested in deconverts from Hasidic Judaism, I recommend the documentary One of Us regarding the Hasidic community in Brooklyn and in Rockland County, New York. Both are communities with which I am familiar as I live in proximity to both).
Now, for a bit of levity: Amish Paradise by Weird Al Yankovic
One of the more bizarre beliefs found within the confines of the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church movement is that there will be no women in Heaven. That’s right, ladies, there will be NO females in Heaven. The thinking goes something like this: God, the father is male and Jesus is male. In Heaven, Christians will receive perfect resurrected bodies just like Jesus’. Thus, everyone in Heaven will be a thirty-three-year-old male. This means, of course, that God promotes and supports Transgenderism for women. Time to get your male on, ladies. Prepare now for eternity in Heaven as a m-a-n.
The late Peter Ruckman, a noted IFB preacher and defender of the King James Bible, had this to say about women in Heaven:
This means that every saved woman in the body of Christ is indwelt by a MAN, at least as far as sexual designations are concerned. Someday, the saved woman will be fashioned “LIKE UNTO HIS GLORIOUS BODY” (Philippians 3:21). (Bible Believers’ Bulletin. May 1986, page 3)
This would mean that every saved woman in the body of Christ will eventually become a THIRTY-THREE AND ONE-HALF YEAR OLD, SINLESS MALE (Phil. 3:20-21). She would be a perfect replica of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). (Bible Believers’ Bulletin. May 1986, page 3)So up in Heaven, ladies, you are going to be a 33 1/2-year-old male just
like your Saviour. If that seems odd or peculiar or distasteful to you Christian ladies, just remember that you have a man living inside of you (1 Tim. 2:5 cf. Col. 1:27), and that your destiny as a child of God is to be conformed to that man’s image (Romans 8:29). (The Book of Luke: The Bible Believer’s Commentary Series, page 636)
Since every Christian in the Body of Christ has a MAN inside him (or her) (Colossians 1:27; John 1:12) and is PREDESTINED to be conformed to the image of that man (2 Corinthians 4:4; Romans 8:29; 1 John 3:1-4; Philippians 3:21), there is no question at all about the future state of every Christian in the Body of Christ, except in the minds of Hebrew and Greek professors and the “vast majority of conservative, Bible-rejecting blockheads.” The believer will appear in glory as a 33-year old sinless male. (22 Years of the Bible Believer’s Bulletin Vol. 1 “The AV Holy Bible” page 110)
Moreover, everyone in heaven is a male…The woman is a “womb-man,” a man with a womb.
(The Books of First and Second Corinthians: The Bible Believer’s Commentary Series, page 343)
The indication is that the only people who get a glorified body like Jesus Christ are people in the Church Age. The only people who get a 33-year-old sinless [male, see p. 596] body are people saved in the dispensation of grace. All others get their eternal life by partaking of a tree, and they go into eternity male and female, exactly like Adam and Eve were before they fell. (The Book of Revelation: The Bible Believer’s Commentary Series page 587)
Is it any wonder then, that in IFB churches who hold such views, women are lorded over by misogynistic men who think God has given them the right, duty, and responsibility to lord over the fairer sex?
My question is whether there will be women in Hell? I wasn’t able to find any IFB preacher taking up this subject, but I did find a few words from their fellow misogynists in Islam. The Islam Question and Answer site says:
Praise be to Allah.
It was narrated from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that women will form the majority of the people of Hell. It was narrated from ‘Imran ibn Husayn that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “I looked into Paradise and I saw that the majority of its people were the poor. And I looked into Hell and I saw that the majority of its people are women.”
(Narrated by al-Bukhari, 3241; Muslim, 2737)
With regard to the reason for this, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was asked about it and he explained the reason.
It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “I was shown Hell and I have never seen anything more terrifying than it. And I saw that the majority of its people are women.” They said, “Why, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “Because of their ingratitude (kufr).” It was said, “Are they ungrateful to Allah?” He said, “They are ungrateful to their companions (husbands) and ungrateful for good treatment. If you are kind to one of them for a lifetime then she sees one (undesirable) thing in you, she will say, ‘I have never had anything good from you.’” (Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1052)
It was narrated that Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
“The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) went out to the musalla (prayer place) on the day of Eid al-Adha or Eid al-Fitr. He passed by the women and said, ‘O women! Give charity, for I have seen that you form the majority of the people of Hell.’ They asked, ‘Why is that, O Messenger of Allah?’ He replied, ‘You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religious commitment than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you.’ The women asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah, what is deficient in our intelligence and religious commitment?’ He said, ‘Is not the testimony of two women equal to the testimony of one man?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Is it not true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?’ The women said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘This is the deficiency in her religious commitment.’”
And Allah knows best.
For Fundamentalist Baptist and Muslim women alike, Hell is their religion, and Heaven is getting as far away from it as possible.
No matter what women say or do in IFB churches, they will always be considered second-class citizens; inferior to men because the Bible says that women are weaker than men and more prone to emotional silliness. Women can’t be preachers, teachers of adults, elders, deacons, or political leaders. According to some IFB preachers, women just aren’t suited for such jobs. God wants women to submit to their husbands and pastors, and busy themselves with house-cleaning, cooking, raising children, and working in the church nursery. For these women, their husbands are their bosses, and it’s their duty to submit to them as unto the Lord. Ponder that thought for a moment. How does Jesus want you to submit to him? With love, commitment, and strict obedience. In patriarchal homes there is a strict order: Jesus, pastor, husband, wife, children, and dog. Upsetting this order, according to preachers of complementarianism, brings God’s judgment. No marriage is a good one without it being perfectly aligned with God’s order for the church and home. Or so preachers say, anyway.
Some IFB women endure such treatment for the sake of their children. It is not uncommon to see such women divorce their husbands once their children are out of the house. I suspect other women take the he that endureth to the end shall be saved approach. They willingly suffer being misused and abused, believing that God will reward them in Heaven for their sacrificial obedience.
But what if Peter Ruckman and his fellow misogynists are right; that women will be turned into men once they arrive at the pearly gates? Think about that fact for a moment, ladies! Imagine spending your life putting up with shit from men, only to find out when you get to Heaven that God hates you too and plans to turn you into a thirty-three-year-old man. Isn’t God’s plan wondrous?
My advice to IFB women is this: RUN! Flee the mind-numbing, psychologically damaging preaching of IFB pastors. If need be, tell your IFB husband that he has two choices: FLEE or separation/divorce. Life is too short for women to give it all up to the wants, whims, needs, and desires of religiously motivated men. There’s no Christian Hell or Heaven awaiting, ladies, so now is the time to make for yourselves your own heaven and hell on earth; hell for the men who demean you and heaven for yourself and those value you as people.
I shall wait for God’s anointed ones to show up and object to what I have written here. The BIBLE says ___________, they will say, and in doing so they will prove, yet again, that the Bible can be used to prove almost anything; that Peter Ruckman with his belief that there will be no women in Heaven is just as credible and believable as Christians who suggest otherwise. Evangelical Christianity is, in effect, a paint-by-number board without numbers. Believers can freely use — thanks to the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God — whatever colors they want to paint their picture. How dare anyone suggest that their particular picture is not a representation of True Christianity®.
Mrs. C: Recently, you posted on social media a statement to which I really wanted to respond, but I chose to refrain. Why? Because I know that social media is a poor place to debate political, religious, or social issues, so I remained silent. Your post is as follows: “How to fix America….put Jesus back in all the places you asked Him to leave: Home, School, Government, Church and Your Heart.”
For four years, you were my high school math teacher at a K-12 fundamentalist Christian school. Starting my senior year, you had just retired, yet when your replacement — a former student with a master’s degree in math — could not handle five preparatory classes and quit after six weeks, you came back to finish the school year. In fact, I heard that you continued to teach for fifteen years after your originally planned retirement date. You were committed to teaching students, and I’m sure you could have told us a lot about your religious beliefs had women been allowed to speak in chapel services at school. As it was, all teachers were required to be Christian and to follow certain rules of conduct even outside school (like not going to movie theaters), so there was no doubt that the “witness” of the teachers for Jesus was apparent to students both inside and outside campus boundaries.
With regard to your post, I’m sure that the sentiment makes complete sense to you, living in a suburb of Nashville where the majority of your neighbors identify as some sort of Christian – specifically Evangelical Christian. Sure, you may disagree on finer points of doctrine such as whether musical instruments should be used in worship service, or whether women should wear skirts/dresses to worship services, but I suspect that the vast majority of your neighbors would agree (or at least state that they agree) that Jesus should be present in all aspects of private and public life, and that America is going to hell in a handbasket because the Evangelical God is not a mandatory part of public life.
I would like you to think about other areas of the country, areas which are more diverse in population. For example, I live in a town in New Jersey, just 20 minutes from Manhattan. Our town was settled by mostly Italian Catholic families. As time went on, more and more residents moved in with names like Torres, Patel, Silverstein, and Qureshi. Today, about thirty percent of the town is populated by families with names like Kim, Takahashi, and Chang. While the majority of residents are still Catholic, there is a large demographic of protestant Asians, a smaller demographic of Jewish residents, and a handful of Hindus and Muslims, as well as a few non-religious or atheists like my family. Our elementary school used to start teaching Italian to students beginning in third grade, but parents petitioned the school to begin teaching the arguably more useful Spanish instead. Our school district is made up of seven towns with demographics similar to our town, and we have a large enough Jewish population that the school district is closed on Jewish holidays.
Mrs. C, you speak of bringing Jesus back to the schools, and I assume you mean you would like to see mandatory prayer in the schools. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that mandatory prayers would occur during homeroom, and the prayers are supposed to be prayed to generic “God” and not specifically to Jesus. Under this scenario, Mrs. Shapiro or Mr. Elqariani could lead prayers to a generic “God” and not necessarily feel offended. However, I’m not sure to whom Ms. Patel would pray as Hindus have many gods. Would she just pray to a generic “God” even though her gods have many names? Maybe I’m overthinking this. Maybe just a generic prayer over the loudspeaker system each morning would suffice. But, I’m not sure that solves your issue of putting Jesus specifically back into schools.
Definitely, I AM overthinking this. Since I’ve been out of Evangelical Christianity for twenty-five years, I almost forgot the number one rule of Fundamentalist l Christianity: that it is imperative to proselytize anyone who doesn’t believe in the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. That is, no matter how devout or moral people of another religion or no religion might be, if they have not made a confession of sin and profession of faith in the life, substitutionary atonement of Jesus and his resurrection three days later, they are lost and require evangelistic intervention from believers. Without Jesus, they are destined for eternal torment in hell. I was going through different scenarios where prayers could be given in public schools, thinking of allowing Muslim students to pray to Allah, allowing Buddhist students to offer prayers as they wish, and for Hindu students to pray as their belief allows. But that isn’t what you want, is it, Mrs. C? When you say that Jesus should be put back into schools, that is LITERALLY what you mean. Not that students of other religions should be mandated to pray, either in general or to the deity of their choosing. Not that volunteer imams or priests or rabbis should visit the school and offer prayers. No, those clerics are unsaved or apostates. You believe that the number one priority of Evangelical Christians is to witness to the “lost.” And while you may grudgingly permit those of other faiths to pray in an occasional gesture of ecumenicism, what you really want is your version of Christianity to be the one faith to which everyone is exposed. Most of all, you want public school students to hear prayers to YOUR deity –the Evangelical Christian God.
How about we look at a different scenario, Mrs. C? Let’s say your grandson goes to my district’s high school. He plays soccer and really wants to make the varsity team. He goes to tryouts and notices before practice that most of the boys who were on the team last year are kneeling on prayer rugs and praying to Allah with Mr. Assad, the coach. Your grandson notices this happens every day. He and the other boys really want to be favorably noticed by Mr. Assad in order to secure a spot on the team, so your grandson goes home and asks his parents to buy him a prayer rug. I suspect, Mrs. C, that you would have a fit.
Maybe these questions are part of the reason why judges saw the merit in upholding the establishment clause in our Constitution. Why don’t we leave Jesus where he belongs — in the privacy of your home, heart, and church — and let our public spaces be free of religion.
It’s only Tuesday and it already has been one whale of a week. I have lots of “good” stuff to share with readers, so I hope fattening up on turkey, pumpkin pie, and dressing doesn’t get in the way of me sharing the wealth. What follows is a screenshot of a message I received on Facebook from a racist, bigoted, Trump-loving man who thinks I am a sick, fat fuck. His words are typical of Trump’s hardcore devotees. No need for me to comment further. I will let his word speak for themselves.
The Facebook page of First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas has comments below many posts made by people with Muslim names. Some were comments with no message, just a name.
The US Government crime investigating agencies will see these Muslim names, but the official word will be that there is no connection to Islamic terrorists. The US Government is desperate to convince Americans that terrorist acts are only one off generic crimes.
The moral we must take away from this information is that churches need to watch their Facebook pages carefully. If you see Middle Eastern names coming up in the Comment section of articles, you need to double security around your church.
You cannot expect the US Government, or even your local law enforcement, to take Islamic terrorism seriously. The common attitude of national leaders toward Islamic terrorists is that it will not get any worse than it is now. Furthermore, there really is nothing the US Government can do to prevent acts of terror by ISIS, ANTIFA, and other such terrorist groups. They have a wide open nation in the USA in which to choose targets and attack.
YOU ARE THE ONE, PASTOR. Either you will take aggressive measures in security for your church, or you could be the next target.
I have a couple of suggestions which 99% of you Baptist pastors will tell me are heresy. You are a jack ass if you wait until over half your people are in the morgue before you take this seriously. And, as usual, I say that in all good Christian charity.
4. Preacher, YOU must have a permit to carry, and carry everywhere you go. Have your handgun in the pulpit when you preach. You have the best shot at a gunman, and he will be looking to kill you first. If you want to stay alive and protect your people, you will be prepared. Just do not leave your gun laying around carelessly. Also, go to a shooting range, and set a target at the distance of you pulpit from the front door. Do not stop practicing until you can put a group the size of your hand in the heart of the target image. Also, learn to shoot for the head. These creeps wear body armor.
5. Wear body armor when you are having services at the church house. Keep the doors locked when you are in the church house alone in your study. When any group meets at the church house, like the youth, or the ladies fellowship, you or some other man MUST be on hand carrying to do security duty. Tell anyone carrying not to bow and close their eyes when the people pray together. Watch and pray.
6. When you see a man with a gun enter the door, or you hear “Allah u Akbar,” shoot to kill. If the man has a machete, order him to drop it or be killed. Make sure your security man in the entrance of foyer is not in the line of fire from the pulpit to the front door so that you can shoot without worrying about hitting your own man. Keep one man outside the church house moving about watching anyone approaching the church. Strangers need to be sent away, even if the security man must pull his gun to stop the stranger. Require your security people to go to a rifle range and do target practice regularly. Discuss your plan if a car comes at the church trying to run over people. Every gun should be out and firing at the driver through the windshield. You may want to have large stone blocks brought in and placed around the entrance.
Religion is a tradition and a part of life across the entire globe, appearing in virtually all cultures. It comes in many shapes, sizes, and flavors, and advocates both peace and violence. People may change their religious ideas over time. Across all of these variations, a single variable is shared: faith based not on objective fact, but on belief.
By itself, that isn’t a problem per se—religious beliefs don’t necessarily need to conflict or interact with secular ideas. But when they do, we get problems. Historically, civilizations ruled by religious ideology inevitably face challenges when it comes to making rational decisions about the greater good of society.
At the center of America’s founding principles, we have the separation of church and state. There’s a very good reason for that foundation and it isn’t because the founders were faithless heathens or that they hated religion. It was because, in their time, religious institutions wielded tremendous power over governments and interfered with progress and prosperity.
Fast forward to today, and there are a number of fascinating examples of yesterday’s problems causing today’s problems. Where then do schools fall into this argument?
Our schools teach us many things—the liberal arts, sciences, arithmetic, and sometimes even life skills such as those taught in the rapidly disappearing home economics classes. Yet regardless of the grade level or subject, the central tenant of all schools is socializing our children.
Socialization teaches them how to interact with others, what’s expected of them in the world, and how they must interact with rules and authority. Foundations begin at home but are molded by the social experience.
What then for students who are taught that it’s expected of them to follow certain religious tenets? Even if we ignore that religious ideas taught at schools can conflict with the beliefs acquired at home, we must acknowledge that institutional teaching of religious ideas limits the freedom of choice. It robs individuals of the privilege to choose their own beliefs, by spiking the proverbial thought pool with predispositions.
Furthermore, schools that push religion absolutely influence how tomorrow’s adults will interact with the rest of the world. Being taught that a single idea is right and familiar makes foreign religions and ideologies appear strange and at times threatening. It plays perfectly into fear-mongering of the “other” where one religious belief is backed by the power of the state.
Religion becomes an issue in schools not when attendees practice their own beliefs, but when the institution itself favors any form of “belief.” Schools must be objective; they need to teach skills and facts based on the best available evidence, and religion simply doesn’t fit into that category because it is inherently not evidence-based.
That doesn’t mean religion is inherently good or bad; it simply falls into a different category from what schools are intended to teach. Truthfully, there should never be room to argue about material taught in schools because the information ought to be undeniable.
For instance, one can argue whether stories in the Bible, Quran, etc. are true, but absolutely no one will disprove grammatical rules, mathematical formulas or basic scientific laws. The last comes with some caveat, as scientific theories are continually rewritten based on new information.
Admittedly one might argue that cultural identity and historic events are open to interpretation, but the underlying facts don’t change. The president during World War II is not a point of debate any more than whether or not the Civil Rights Movement actually happened.
A Balanced Viewpoint
Most information we’re given as adults comes with a major slant or agenda. Even this piece has an agenda, which you’ve no doubt assumed at some point from the title. Pushing a single religious ideology as “right” is simply not something that belongs in our schools.
Yet we see it all the time. It’s not the little vestiges such as the pledge of allegiance, but the general favoring of certain religious ideas as being more correct. For instance, the ancient religion of the Greeks is taught in most schools as “mythology.” That title assumes the ideas and stories are fictitious—something never directly linked with the world’s major religions.
Think to yourself and ask if you’ve ever seen primary or secondary school offering a class on “Islamic Mythology.” You won’t ever see this class title because it pre-supposes that one of the world’s current “top” religions is based on fiction. It becomes inappropriate to do so because it might offend someone, yet the former class on the Greeks is acceptable because there’s scarcely anyone left to be offended.
This is a double standard and truly violates the spirit of an institution built on fostering creative free thinkers, though the former point is somewhat of a “liberty” to be taken with modern schools.
But inevitably, balance would dictate that schools either teach all religions or none. The sheer number of beliefs makes the first option unreasonable, leaving only one serious choice.
For a moment, however, we need to return to reality from the land of fair and hypothetical ideas, because the real world works quite the opposite in practice.
Politics and Religion
Returning to one of our original points, we have the idea that religion and politics should be separated. It’s a founding principle in America, but that doesn’t mean it’s practiced or accepted by everyone everywhere.
Even in the United States, where religion is legally separate from the state, we constantly see the use of religion to steer politics one way or the other. Pastors, priests, rabbis, and all other sorts of religious leaders seek to use their influence to steer voters or public policy.
Those raised on an education where religion is omnipresent are far less likely to object to making decisions based on religion because such a thing is already a standard in their lives since childhood. And it wasn’t just mom or dad pushing those ideas.
Of course, there are other extremes that demonstrate our point much more clearly. Religious states such as Iran are the talk of the world, not because of their unbridled prosperity, but because of the threat they perceive to those with differing beliefs. The same could be said of Israel, who despite a secular slant, is dominated by a single religious faith system that very much impacts public policy.
One last form of state-sponsored religion is the unorthodox practice of a dictatorship backed by a “cult of personality.” Like the Hitler youth groups of World War II Germany, countries such as North Korea and China practice devotion not to an otherworldly deity, but to a person. These beliefs are communicated in school in a manner no different from in a devout Christian or Islamic state.
It should be noted that in either case — secular or spiritual religion — both institutions seek to repress information on a massive scale. Without the use of specialty programs such as VPNs, those in many of the aforementioned countries have severely limited access to information online, as their governments prevent access to the outside.
Obscuring dissenting ideas is just one of many tactics used by state-sponsored religion, and schools make it easier by issuing textbooks that only contain information in support of the dominating ideology.
The last point we’d like to discuss is with regards to the above points on what may as well be termed “atheist religions.” Though traditional spiritual religions have no place in schools, their absence shouldn’t be taken as permission for similar secular dogmas to step in.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in today’s cult of science. It quietly invades our classrooms, pushing singular ideas as being the one and only correct explanation for phenomenon when insufficient data exists to support a certain conclusion. And it can have dire consequences.
For the last half century, schools taught a generation of students that butter was somehow inferior to margarine. That in itself wasn’t a problem because the research seemed to support it; the problem is that today many institutions still teach these same, incorrect ideas because the established professors cling to old “facts” like a religious ideology.
These are the people – part of the “science is never wrong” group – who selectively ignore information that is detrimental to their own beliefs. These beliefs are the unintentional replacement for spiritual belief systems that need to be rooted out all the same.
If and when religion is removed from our schools, then we can truly create the most open and creative minds. These students will be the leaders of tomorrow who help to end meaningless conflicts based solely on beliefs.
Do you think religion has a place in school? Why or why not?
About the Author: Carla is a thinker and rational debater with a major focus on modern issues ranging from education to politics. With a background in cybersecurity and freedom of information activism, she brings a unique perspective into arguments, always with a hope of opening minds to new perspectives.
I’ve seen this graphic a handful of times recently on Facebook, always posted as a legal justification for Donald Trump-like bigotry towards Muslims. In every instance, this meme was posted by someone claiming to be an Evangelical Christian. As Polly and I were watching last night’s episode of The Trevor Noah Show, I mentioned that Donald Trump has exposed an ugly truth about the religious right; that bigotry and racism is flourishing among those who say they are followers Jesus, a man who had far more in common with Middle Eastern Muslims, Palestinians, and Jews than the white Americans who worship him today.
Last I knew, Evangelicals still consider lying a sin. Why then, do Christians continue to post falsities like those mentioned in this graphic? It took me all of 30 seconds to determine that this graphic is false. While this meme might express the wet-dream sentiment of white, redneck Evangelical bigots, there’s no truth to it.
Here’s what the venerable Snopes.com has to say on the matter:
The meme sharply escalated in popularity following an unprecedented statement from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who on 7 December 2015 suggested that the United States should bar all Muslims from entering the country until such time as lawmakers could “figure out what [was] going on” in the wake of a mass shooting in San Bernardino that had occurred five days earlier.
Simply put, the rumor maintained that Muslims as a group were ineligible for admission to the United States based upon a law that prohibited entry to any alien who “belongs to an organization seeking to overthrow the government of the United States by ‘force, violence, or other unconstitutional means.'” The meme didn’t directly reference the Islamic State (ISIS) as the organization in question, instead suggesting that Islam itself (particularly because of Sharia law and adherence to it by devout Muslims) was a prohibited group.
The law referenced was the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, also known as the McCarran–Walter Act. Its text is available in full at the U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Services (USCIS) web site, where a preface indicates that the law has “been amended many times over the years, but is still the basic body of immigration law.” The meme cited “Chapter 2 Section 212” of the Act, which is subtitled “INA: ACT 212 – GENERAL CLASSES OF ALIENS INELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE VISAS AND INELIGIBLE FOR ADMISSION; WAIVERS OF [INADMISSIBILITY].” Subsection (A) of that section pertains to “Classes of Aliens Ineligible for Visas or Admission,” subdivision (3) of which is titled “Security and related grounds.” Paragraph (a), subsection (iii) excludes as ineligible for admission the following persons:
In general any alien who a consular officer or the Attorney General knows, or has reasonable ground to believe, seeks to enter the United States to engage solely, principally, or incidentally in any activity a purpose of which is the opposition to, or the control or overthrow of, the Government of the United States by force, violence, or other unlawful means.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 was not without critics, among them President Harry S. Truman, who vetoed the bill on 25 June 1952. In a letter titled “Veto of Bill to Revise the Laws Relating to Immigration, Naturalization, and Nationality” and addressed to the House of Representatives, President Truman described the bill’s provisions as both antithetical to American values and discriminatory:
The greatest vice of the present quota system, however, is that it discriminates, deliberately and intentionally, against many of the peoples of the world … The desired effect [of selective admission of immigrants] was obtained … People from such countries as Greece, or Spain, or Latvia were virtually deprived of any opportunity to come here at all, simply because Greeks or Spaniards or Latvians had not come here before 1920 in any substantial numbers.
The idea behind this discriminatory policy was, to put it baldly, that Americans with English or Irish names were better people and better citizens than Americans with Italian or Greek or Polish names. It was thought that people of West European origin made better citizens than Rumanians or Yugoslavs or Ukrainians or Hungarians or Baits or Austrians. Such a concept is utterly unworthy of our traditions and our ideals. It violates the great political doctrine of the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.” It denies the humanitarian creed inscribed beneath the Statue of Liberty proclaiming to all nations, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
It repudiates our basic religious concepts, our belief in the brotherhood of man, and in the words of St. Paul that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free …. for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”
The “ISLAM WAS BANNED FROM THE USA IN 1952” meme proved popular following a period of increasing rhetoric similar to that which Truman decried as discriminatory and outdated in 1952. The meme’s basic claim hinged on the tautological assertion that adherence to Islam alone constitutes participation in an “organization seeking to overthrow the government of the United States by ‘force, violence, or other unconstitutional means.'” Most major religions involve basic, agreed-upon sets of tenets by which their faithful live, and no widely-accepted understanding of Islam encompasses a prohibition on following the laws of any country or advocates the overthrow of government.
The meme “ISLAM WAS BANNED FROM THE USA IN 1952” claimed that adherence to Islam and/or Sharia law constituted definitive membership within an “organization seeking to overthrow the government of the United States by ‘force, violence, or other unconstitutional means.'” Multiple non-factual statements or implications were presented in the meme, including the notions that all Muslims strictly adhere to Sharia law, that Sharia law is a cohesive faith-based form of governance, that adherence to Sharia law is mutually exclusive with adherence to the laws of the United States, that Islam in some way demands the eventual overthrow of the United States government, or that any “organization” to which Muslims purportedly belong by merit of their faith somehow places them under the provisions of section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. Not one of those assertions or implications is supported by extant law, precedent, or any accepted interpretation of Islam, United States immigration policy, or the act in question.
Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Steve Van Nattan, the purveyor of a blog aptly named Balaam’s Ass, thinks Muslims can’t be “real” Americans. Van Nattan posed the question, Can a Muslim be a good American?, to a friend of his who worked in Saudi Arabia for 20 years. What follows is his response:
Theologically – no, because his allegiance is to Allah.
Religiously – no, because no other religion is accepted by His Allah except Islam (Qur’an 2:256).
Scripturally – no, because his allegiance is to the five Pillars of Islam and the Qur’an.
Geographically – no, because his allegiance is to Mecca, to which he turns in prayer five times a day.
Socially – no, because his allegiance to Islam forbids him to make friends with Christians or Jews.
Politically – no, because he must submit to the mullahs (spiritual leaders) who teach the annihilation of Israel and the destruction of America, the great Satan.
Domestically – no, because he is instructed to marry four Women and beat his wife when she disobeys him (Qur’an 4:34).
Intellectually – no, because he cannot accept the American Constitution since it is based on Biblical principles and he believes the Bible to be corrupt.
Philosophically – no, because Islam, Muhammad, and the Qur’an does not allow freedom of religion and expression. Democracy and Islam cannot co-exist! Every Muslim government is either dictatorial or autocratic.
Spiritually – no, because when we declare ‘one nation under God,’ we are referring to the Christian’s God and not Allah.Therefore, after much study and deliberation, perhaps we should be very suspicious of ALL MUSLIMS in this country. They obviously cannot be both ‘good’ Muslims and good Americans/Canadians; they cannot and will not integrate into the great melting pot of America.
The religious war is bigger than we know or understand. Muslims everywhere have said they will destroy us from within.
As I read this, I thought, are Fundamentalist Christians really this stupid? I know, that’s a rhetorical question. Let me show how easy it is to destroy Van Nattan’s position on American Muslims:
Let me pose this question to you, can a Fundamentalist Christian be a good American?
Theologically – no, because his allegiance is to Jesus.
Religiously – no, because no other religion is accepted by His God except Christianity.
Scripturally – no, because his allegiance is to the Bible.
Geographically – no, because his allegiance is to heaven, to which he turns in prayer without ceasing.
Socially – no, because his allegiance to Jesus forbids him from being unequally yoked together with unbelievers.
Politically – no, because he must submit to the pastor who teaches the protection of Israel and the destruction of the world.
Domestically – no, because he is instructed to marry one woman at a time and beat his children when they disobey him.
Intellectually – no, because he cannot accept the American Constitution unless it is properly interpreted through his fundamentalist worldview.
Philosophically – no, because Fundamentalist Christianity, Jesus, and the Bible does not allow freedom of religion and expression. Democracy and Fundamentalist Christianity cannot co-exist! Every Fundamentalist Christian government is either dictatorial or autocratic.
Spiritually – no, because when we declare ‘one nation under God,’ we are referring to a our particular version of the Christian God.
Therefore, after much study and deliberation, perhaps we should be very suspicious of ALL Fundamentalist Christians in this country. They obviously cannot be both ‘good’ Christians and good Americans/Canadians; they cannot and will not integrate into the great melting pot of America.
The religious war is bigger than we know or understand. Fundamentalist Christians everywhere have said they will take back America for God, using force if necessary.