This is the one hundred and ninety-fifth 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 video clip of a prayer uttered by Pennsylvania Rep. Stephanie Borowicz before Movita Johnson-Harrell, a Muslim Representative from Philadelphia, was sworn into office. Borowicz’s husband, Jason, is an associate pastor at Crossroads Community Church in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania.
Now normally, the opening prayer is not a big deal, just some words intended to inspire our elected officials to grasp for the higher angels of their nature – which, considering the results, often doesn’t seem to take.
But Borowicz’s prayer was seen as being political, coming just moments after the House swore in its first Muslim member, Movita Johnson-Harrell, a Philadelphia Democrat who took the oath of office while resting her left hand on the Quran.
At one point, House Speaker Mike Turzai, an Allegheny County Republican, reached over and touched Borowicz’s arm, cutting her off in mid-prayer.
The prayer, some representatives said, was divisive and was seemingly intended, as House Minority Whip Jordan Harris, a Philadelphia Democrat, said, to weaponize her religion and “intimidate, demean and degrade” Johnson-Harrell.
Witness the interview between CNN’s Jake Tapper and Moore spokesman Ted Crockett on Tuesday afternoon. Crockett responded “probably” when Tapper pressed him on whether Moore believed homosexuality should be illegal. Then came this exchange between Tapper and Crockett over Muslims serving in Congress. I’m excerpting a big chunk of it because, well, you’ll see.
TAPPER: Judge Moore has also said that he doesn’t think a Muslim member of Congress should be allowed to be in Congress. Why? Under what provision of the Constitution?
CROCKETT: Because you have to swear on the Bible — when you are before — I had to do it. I’m an elected official, three terms, I had to swear on a Bible. You have to swear on a Bible to be an elected official in the United States of America. He alleges that a Muslim cannot do that, ethically, swearing on the Bible.
TAPPER: You don’t actually have to swear on a Christian bible, you can swear on anything, really. I don’t know if you knew that. You can swear on a Jewish Bible.
CROCKETT: Oh no. I swore on the Bible. I’ve done it three times.
TAPPER: I’m sure you have, I’m sure you’ve picked a Bible but the law is not that you have to swear on a Christian Bible. That is not the law. You don’t know that? All right. Ted Crockett with the Moore —
CROCKETT: I don’t know. I know that Donald Trump did it when he — when we made him President.
TAPPER: Because he’s Christian and he picked it. That’s what he wanted to swear in on. Ted Crockett with the Moore campaign. Good luck tonight. Thank you so much for being here. My panel will react when we get back
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.
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.