Moral Contradictions

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The 54th needs debate, not spouting

...or knee-jerk reactions either.

I've been following the FredTalk politics board for quite some time now. Currently 7 of the 35 threads deal with Shaun Kenney, the primary challenger to Bobby Orrock.

Kenney's blog states that he is embarking on a "two-week push on conservative issues". Let's consider how he began his campaign blog and then follow the defense and critiques over at FredTalk.

On March 30 Kenney posted Family Foundation Reports, where he slams his opponent for supporting SB 1338. The General Assembly site describes the bill as "relating to group accident and sickness insurance coverage", yet Kenney charges it as "anti-family".

I'll summarize only some of what's being said over there and leave the rest to personal investigation.

Discomike on FredTalk tries to argue the line given by the Times-Dispatch and Kenney that the bill's true intention is to allow benefits be extended to gay partners. He asks why the bill doesn't specify blood relatives in its wording and that if the bill was meant for non-immediate relatives, why didn't it state that? He then accuses the bill as being the product of "back door politics". (If you don't like my summary, read through all of the threads and only then comment)

Rational comes to common sense's defense and answers the questions with "Because your family is not just blood relatives. There is no way to define relatives that does not leave out someone. As I noted before, I've SEEN 'disabled former spouse' as a covered relative." His followup post is a good read as well. Rational is the same person who wrote "...as a conservative, I am pretty uncomfortable with Shaun's candidacy... I don't think District 54 needs an inexperienced delegate who needs to do some serious learning on the job."

Rational claims to have worked in the insurance industry for 5 years in the underwriting department. In earlier posts he says the bill brings Virginia into line with the 49 other states that allow companies to extend benefits to members outside the immediate family, like nieces/grandparents/etc. (More FredTalk debate about this)

Rational concludes the second post with:

Whoever is making up "gay rights" fantasies about it ought to be ashamed. There are so many real families that are "collateral damage" when politicians demagogue these issues. I'll say it again - whoever is doing this should be ashamed of themselves. This was a family-friendly bill, NOT a gay rights bill.


If you live in the 54th district and are looking for information about the candidates, please read the material here on this blog (search "Shaun Kenney" or "Bobby Orrock") or go to the FredTalk political forum and spend some time there. Shaun Kenney posted 8,688 times there over 2 years and had his posts deleted 6 weeks before his campaign began. He is the last person the FredTalk admins allowed this luxury. He lied to me, saying that "When you suspend your account at FredTalk, your posts are deleted. Simple as that. Not much else to add." That's not true. He specifically had to ask to have his posts deleted. If I started an account, posted 8,688 times, and then wanted to delete my account, my posts would still remain.

He has a long history over there. I personally believe someone who wants to go into an "open-government" environment as a public official should welcome honest and truthful examination of all his records. How else to judge their character? The deletion of the posts, the lying, and the criticism of those folks on FredTalk who debated him in the past 2 years all raised my suspicion. He argued what the big deal was over deleting the posts. I argue what's the big deal with letting them be?

Does the 54th need change? Maybe. Should it be Shaun Kenney? Only if you want a candidate that has been criticized for misinterpreting bills, hiding his past, and lying
. Bobby Orrock may deserve to be criticized, but pulling the "anti-family/gay rights supporter" rhetoric doesn't fly, especially when it misses the truth. If you want to criticize someone and attack their record, don't delete yours and hit below the belt!!! People, how hard is this to understand?

Bobby Orrock is a Christian. He even has his own Christian radio show. Shaun Kenney is Catholic. Kenney and his supporter's accusations over the last few months smack of hypocrisy with a strong dose of mis-characterization. Standing as a holier-than-thou judge and smearing one's record for being "too-liberal" and "anti-family" is wrong. Which is why I'm covering this primary and you need to follow up on these links and make your own decision.

Again, say what you want, but please thoroughly read through all these posts before commenting. I welcome those who wish to debate and not spout the typical anti-Orrock rhetoric. My brain is tired of hurting.

Slight Blogging Blip

I'm currently in the midst of changing jobs. As I adjust to my new schedule, my posts will most likely be less frequent for awhile.

As this job will be more challenging and carry more responsibility, I'll have less time to cruise the net and find articles of import.

I may use this time to post some of my research regarding the Baptist Heritage. I'm eager to see if the Southern Baptist Convention is on the path of regression against principles it fought for at its beginning.

Yup.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Welcome to the Fuggers

I noticed my traffic spiked up today... as someone who's been reading the FredTalk Politics forum for some time now, I am (I think) honored to have a thread started on this site and others.

So anyways, welcome!

And Burgajoint... there are many differences between Mr. Kenney and myself, and you can be assured that is one of them... :P

Also may I ask if you wish to post any more pictures... could you not hotlink them? :) Bandwidth costs yada yada yada... you know the drill.

Seriously, thanks for of all your comments so far, thanks for your input, and thanks for wanting to have a discussion instead of a yelling match.

All this state needs is another Dick Black or Bob Marshall in the House. Oy.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Shaun Kenney: Whaaa?

This is slightly late but I've been scratching my head the past day or so. During the debate between the incumbent Bobby Orrock and Shaun Kenney for the Republican nomination in the 54th Virginia district, Shaun explained his decision to drop out of college and marry his pregnant girlfriend with this:

I made sure my wife had enough money to be able to go to college... We could have taken the easy way out and had an abortion, but we didn’t and we have a beautiful boy over there because of that experience.


Can someone say knee-jerk?

"We loved you so much that we decided not to abort you... you're special."

That kind of defensive debating style doesn't sit well with me, especially for someone running for public office. Each to his own, I guess.

They're not corrupt politicians... they have morals!

Our favorite Senator, Rick Santorum, who's PAC received $2,000 (making the total $11,000) from AccuWeather 2 days after filing the anti-National Weather Service bill, has outdone himself. (head needs a wall... needs a wall... wall... BAM!!!!)

Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., one of the Senate's staunchest opponents of abortion, said he was "disheartened" by the House's approval but pleased by Bush's veto threat.

"Government should encourage lifesaving research, but should focus on science that both works and is ethical," he said.


Okay, ethics. You wanna talk ethics? Let's go. How about accepting $55,000 from companies that conduct stem cell research?

Yes, I am condemning him for taking money from Accuweather immediately after introducing legislation that will directly benefit them while not supporting legislation that would benefit the stem-cell business donors.

My criticism is two-fold: 1. I'm blaming the establishment for allowing huge amounts of money to flow into politics, and then 2: blaming Senator Santorum for having his cake and eating it too (or having it both ways, whatever cliche you like).

Accepting money for helping a company and then accepting money and coming out against those companies raises ethical flags beyond the lack of ethics regarding campaign money in general.

Pictures are worth millions of my ramblings...



Source

As a nation, we must accept the consequences of our actions. As more reports come out confirming that the intelligence leading us to war was "cooked" along with President Bush's subtle suggestions that Iraq played a part of 9/11, we need to look at these pictures and re-examine ourselves.

Is this a just war? Were we "invited" like the President's spokesman would have you believe? Have we really accomplished our mission? Do we really have an exit strategy? If the answer to all of these is yes, then I'll be quiet. However, if there's any doubt, I reserve my democratic freedom of speech to ask questions.

Additionally we must make policies that make this country something worth fighting for. Folks trying to use the government to force their narrow and extreme beliefs on me does not make me love my country any more. Laws that are passed that systematically hurt lower income folks don't allow me to love it anymore than I do. Torturing detainees yet still claiming moral superiority does not sit well with me or my faith.

Shrinking the Veteran's Affairs budget to strip away benefits from our retired military personnel doesn't seem like the right thing to do.

We can't just focus on foreign policy, else it's used as a diversion and smoke screen to distract us from our internal problems and realities.

God, please be with our country and our troops.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Another article on Rev. Creighton Lovelace

Rev. Creighton Lovelace of Danieltown Baptist Church of Forest City, NC, is unapologetic for the sign outside his church stating that the Koran needs to be flushed.

From the NC Baptist News:

The Daily Courier, which serves Rutherford County, quoted Lovelace as saying Baptists have no creed but the Bible, but "we do have the Baptist Faith and Message that says that we should cling to the 66 books of the Holy Bible and any other book outside of that claiming to know the way of God or claiming to be God's word is automatically written off and is trying to defeat people from the way of true righteousness inside of our viewpoint in how we view the word of God."


I'll go ahead and quote the part of the article summarizing Lovelace's bio:

Lovelace, who graduated from high school in 2000, claims four degrees, including a doctor of theology degree, from "Slidell Baptist Seminary" in Slidell, La. The unaccredited correspondence school offers degrees ranging from $500 for an "Associate of Theology" to $900 for a "Doctor of Divinity," with "all lectures on cassette" and the King James Bible as the only textbook. Lovelace obtained the four degrees in less than 15 months, according to school records.

An active member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Lovelace posted a petition in 2001, proposing a constitutional amendment that would allow North Carolina to secede from the United States. In the petition, Lovelace expressed concern that the U.S. might allow homosexual unions and abolish churches, necessitating secession to preserve Christian principles in the state.

In 2004, Lovelace was listed as a state sponsor of a resolution authored by T.C. Pinckney and Bruce Shortt. The resolution called for the Southern Baptists to pull their children out of public schools, which it said were "run by the enemies of God," and to give them a "thoroughly Christian education." The resolution was not adopted by the SBC. It was also proposed to the BSC resolutions committee, which did not recommend it for adoption.



Wow. Along with a couple of facts of the church, let's summarize that, shall we?:

  • He's incredibly young for a pastor
  • The church averages 15 for Sunday School and only 52 resident members (271 are on the rolls as of 2004).
  • He wants North Carolina to secede from the United States (again)
  • He rambles more than me
  • He "completed" 4 degress from "seminary" in 15 months. My wife has been in seminary for 8 months and still has at least 25 to go, for one degree.
  • He's against public schools because they're run by "enemies of God", yet ostensibly a "thoroughly Christian education" can be bought for less than $900.

Alrighty then.

Don't miss my post concerning this subject and moral contradictions in the condemnation of Rev. Lovelace or the post summarizing the damage he's inflicted.

Updated: (1:15pm EDT) - Rev. Lovelace has apologized and taken down the sign

Cross burning in God's name

Ladies and gentleman: Beware the actions people do in God's name. I personally believe the greatest threat to Christianity is from within, not without.

But Nathan, how can you say that? Aren't all Christians God-fearing sinners who follow Jesus' commandments to love God and love one another? Don't all Christians follow Jesus' examples of hanging out with the outcasts of our society and lifting them up and telling them they'll be first at God's table? Don't all of us go pray in a closet and seek to know and understand God everyday through our faith?

Folks, Exhibit A, from DailyKos:



Can someone say "Christian Terrorists"?

Three crosses burned last night in Durham, NC. Rev. Fred Phelps and his family from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS were in town to show God's love by protesting the presentation of the Laramie Project. He does this through websites such as GodHatesFags.com and coincidentally one cross was near a "gay-friendly" church.

What is it about North Carolina and Baptists these days? First alienate church members opposed to the advocation of politics in church, then alienate Muslims, and then bring back haunted symbols of civil rights to persecute homosexuals.

That's love if I've ever seen it. [/sarcasm]

Southern Baptist and a (gasp!) moral contradiction?

I was surprised when Richard Land of the Southern Baptists' Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) came out against Rev. Creighton Lovelace and his sign "The Koran needs to be flushed!" in front of his church, Danieltown Baptist in Forest City, NC.

Ethics Daily has pointed out that Morris Chapman, president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee also condemns the sign. Great.

“Of course, the Quran does not support the beliefs of Southern Baptists, but we recognize and respect the rights of Muslims to believe as they choose,” Chapman said. “Furthermore, Southern Baptists wish to relate to our Muslim neighbors in a respectful manner that allows mutual sharing of our beliefs.”


But... there's more. Rewind to the 2002 SBC Pastors Conference and a statement made by Dr. Jerry Vines:

“Christianity was founded by the virgin-born son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ,” Vines said. “Islam was founded by Muhammad, a demon-possessed pedophile who had 12 wives, and his last one was a 9-year-old girl. And I will tell you, Allah is not Jehovah, either. Jehovah’s not going to turn you into a terrorist that’ll try to bomb people and take the lives of thousands and thousands of people.” (*cough*CRUSADES*cough*)


Alex, can I have Moral Contradiction by Morris Chapman for $400?

“Dr. Jerry Vines is known universally to be one of Southern Baptists’ finest pulpiteers and most effective and compassionate pastors, those who know him well also acknowledge him as one of our most studious and careful pastor-scholars. His remarks about Muhammad’s history and character would have been made only after thorough reflection on the Islamic sources. Those who have attacked him and his statements have yet to answer that documentation. The evidence is overwhelming and consistent--leading to only one conclusion: Dr. Vines is right in his assertions....”

“...Dr. Vines’ courage and candor are grounded in his integrity as a man of God, and we fully support his leadership among Southern Baptists and the evangelical community."


And the SBC leaders wonder why they get attacked by many Christians and non-Christians alike.

Also, Rev. Creighton Lovelace apparently couldn't take the heat from Alan Colmes and hung up in the middle of the interview.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

More on the "Koran needs to be flushed" church

According to the First Amendment, we have the freedom of speech. (As an aside, the First Amendment states that Congress should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, but that's another story.)

According to Jesus, we should love our neighbor and our enemy.

Rev. Creighton Lovelace of Danieltown Baptist Church in Forest City, North Carolina, has placed his American patriotism ahead of his Christianity, or at the very least horribly mixed the two by placing the "Koran should be flushed" sign outside his church.

First of all, does he speak for the entire church or Baptist convention, or for that matter, all Christians? I'm going to go with a "no", since there are rarely such absolutes.

Does he give that impression? Yes.

Additionally, acknowledging the right to free speech, is this morally right? Did Jesus condemn others? Um... I'm going with a "no" on that one.

If the pastor felt called to state this loving message of acceptance and compassion, would it have been better off as a sticker on his bumper or a sign in his yard? Yes.

Would it still make him a bigot who's casting his sins at a lower importance than others by judging them? All "signs" seemingly point in the positive direction for that one.

Surprisingly Richard Land gets it right:

"If we want other people to respect our religious symbols and documents we need to respect the symbols and documents that they believe are sacred... What positive purpose does this serve? None. It's not going to make it easier to evangelize Muslims or foster respect for our religious beliefs."


And sadly Rev. Lovelace doesn't:

"We are all told to be tolerant...You can be tolerant of other people, but that doesn't mean you have to accept anything that teaches against what is in the Bible."


It doesn't mean you have to wholesale condemn others either. That'll win 'em to the Lord!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

What is wrong with North Carolina Baptists?



Rev. Creighton Lovelace of Danieltown Baptist Church in Forest City, NC is defiant amid calls to change the church's sign. According to the AP:

he believes it's a statement that the Bible is above any other religious book "that does not teach Christ as savior and lord."


Interesting thing to note: only 75 miles southeast of Waynesville, home of the East Waynesville Baptist Church Excommunication saga.

As Jesus says in the gospel of Mark, "Being a bigot will reveal the true nature of the Kingdom of God".

Onward Christian Soldiers...

... uh... scratch that one, Jethro, those dark skinned people don't seem to like the song or the tank... "Onward American Soliders..."

And people are worried about images of Saddam in his underwear? What about a tank dubbed "the New Testament" in Muslim dominated Iraq? Yeah, that'll keep the insurgents from fighting back, because the harder they fight, the more desperate they are. A-yup. That's what the President said so it must be true!



Original picture with link to story.

Fundy Watch: Tony Perkins lie-and-bluster

Thanks to the People for the American Way for pointing out this moral contradiction: Tony Perkins claims that his group never made the filibuster a religious issue.

Yes, this is the same Tony Perkins who was at the forefront of the April 24th Justice Sunday telecast. With that implication many can see he's lying.

However, for the more skeptical, which I like to count myself apart of, the PFAW found some more proof straight from the horse's mouth to show without a doubt that he is simply spewing bunk.

From an April 2005 letter to supporters titled "Justice Sunday: Stop the Filibuster Against People of Faith", Perkins states:

...As the liberal, anti-Christian dogma of the left has been repudiated in almost every recent election, the courts have become the last great bastion for liberalism.

For years activist courts, aided by liberal interest groups like the ACLU, have been quietly working under the veil of the judiciary, like thieves in the night, to rob us of our Christian heritage and our religious freedoms...

Many of these nominees to the all-important appellate court level are being blocked...because they are people of faith and moral conviction....

We must stop this unprecedented filibuster of people of faith. Join us on Sunday, April 24, as we observe Justice Sunday.


May 19, 2005 email:

Senate Democrats, upset that most Americans feel Republicans can run this country better than they (the Democrats) can, are now shutting down most business in the Senate...

...The ferocious attacks by Senate Democrats and their allies have increased since debate has begun. A graphic posted on the web site MoveOn.org, the same group that played "Bush is Hitler" ads in the 2004 elections, attacks the new Catholic Pope. I reiterate, our side never made this about religion. However MoveOn.org continues the religious intolerance promoted by groups like People for the American Way and the National Organization of Women. I condemn religious bigotry when it appears on either side of the aisle, where is the outrage from the left? (emphasis mine)


Oh, there's outrage all right, but not just from the left. There's outrage from the center and some of the right at the lies and hypocrisy you espouse. How can you host a political rally in a church, call upon religious themes, and condemn those who support upholding the Constitutional authority of the Senate as being against people of faith, and still say your side never made it a religious issue?

How do you sleep at night?

Why don't you go buy another mailing list from David Duke and give another speech to the white-supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens, then try to hide the money and get fined again? Maybe you'll do less damage that way.

Indeed, where is the outrage?

Monday, May 23, 2005

Extremists can't compromise but adults can

And adults won the day.

General consensus is that Democrats and moderate Republicans stand to gain the most. Personally, I'm waiting for some "surprise"... whether it's discovered in the next day or over the course of the next few months. Some benefit that the far-right will gain as a result that no one saw coming. It could be a chicken-little concern, but remember... it's all a game, and as they say - "it's not over until it's over.

I just pray this is the first step to insure that the next SCOTUS judge doesn't have puppet strings connected to Dobson, Kennedy, Perkins, et al.

Jesus said: Build a museum that proves Creation...

...for that's what the focus of the gospel is...

By now many of you have heard that Ken Ham has spent 11 years and $25 million dollars to help the poor and feed the homeless... oh, what's that? Oh right. Let me start that over...

*Ahem.*

By now many of you have heard that Ken Ham has spent 11 years and $25 million dollars to build a museum dedicated to proving Creation.

"People will get saved here," Ham said of the museum. "It's going to fire people up. If nothing else, it's going to get them to question their own position of what they believe."

Ham is ready for a fight over his beliefs - based on a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament.

"It's a foundational battle," said Ham, a native of Australia who still speaks with an accent. "You've got to get people believing the right history - and believing that you can trust the Bible."

Among Ham's beliefs are that the Earth is about 6,000 years old, a figure arrived at by tracing the biblical genealogies, and not 4.5 billion years, as mainstream scientists say; the Grand Canyon was formed not by erosion over millions of years, but by floodwaters in a matter of days or weeks and that dinosaurs and man once coexisted, and dozens of the creatures - including Tyrannosaurus Rex - were passengers on the ark built by Noah, who was a real man, not a myth.


That's great, but again, let me ask: Were you there? No. Neither was I. Neither were scientists. Isn't that enough to maybe reconcile your beliefs with the fact that maybe God used evolution to create us? What about the 2 accounts of Creation in Genesis? Will your faith crumble if you found out for instance that Creation didn't happen exactly as it said in the Bible?

Mine won't. The Bible doesn't have to be 100% inerrant in order for me to believe. I'll stick with the more clearer and relevant statements, such as "Blessed are the meek" and "Love thy neighbor as thyself" and follow Jesus example of humbly serving others.

Maybe I'm wrong... but I'm not going to spend $25 million to find out.

On a side note, anyone find it funny that Rev. Jerry Falwell compared the museum, when open, will be "a mini-Disney World"? Does that mean Southern Baptists shouldn't go?

Thou shalt love thyself and reject others...

...that's how I interpret the rhetoric of prominent Southern Baptist leaders and other hard-right Christian organizers. After reading the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message (or the Baptist Creed) my wife pointed out that they're trying. 95% of the text is fairly scripturally sound.

My opinion, while not disagreeing with her, is that between denominations and groups within denominations, most everyone probably agrees on 90-95% of what the Bible says. Yet that last little bit of difference can produce some ugly splits. Additionally, one has to examine the attitude behind the differences and how they can be misused to coerce people too choose to believe everything they are told without question or be told they 'don't believe the Bible'. (You think this stuff doesn't happen?)

The above rambling drivel is inspired from the article "World Baptists more interested in unity than U.S. squabbles, BWA head says". The article says some good things that are applicable to all Christians, not just Baptists.

“It’s a lot better to hand out Bibles than to fight about the Bible,” said Lotz, citing BWA’s Scripture distribution efforts in Cuba and other ministry projects around the globe. “Baptists of the world don’t want to get involved in all of our national conflicts. They want to concentrate on missions. They want to concentrate on Jesus Christ.


The head of the Baptist World Alliance also states there are three challenges to all Baptists and Christians:

  1. The charismatic movement. Christians must not let the fringe leaders of the charismatic movement keep them from embracing the Holy Spirit, he said. “We as Baptists are going to hurt ourselves if we become Binitarian” rather than Trinitarian.
  2. AIDS/HIV. The disease has killed 40 million people in Africa and left 6 million children orphaned, Lotz noted. “Who’s going to take care of their children?”
  3. Laity involvement. Many churches have become too pastor focused, Lotz said. “We don’t want bishops or cardinals, but we’ve got a 100,000 little popes we call pastors.”

On that last challenge, here's an anecdote where if they believed that pickles had souls, the fundamentalists leaders would force the seminary professors to teach that, no questions asked.

Again, here is why the last 25 years are important (from what I've gathered so far...):

  • Step 1: Take over Presidency and top Southern Baptist posts by bringing like-minded Baptists to the Convention.
  • Step 2: Appoint like-minded fundmentalist preachers to Boards of Trustees of SBC agencies and institutions
  • Step 3: Upon control, force out seminary presidents and professors that don't agree with agenda and install ones that do.
  • Step 4: Fire all women professors and others who don't agree with agenda.
  • Step 5: Hire professors that do agree with you.
  • Step 6: Tell professors that they must impress the fact on new pastors that they know the right answers and that they are in charge of the truth.
  • Step 7: As these pastors are trained and spread out throughout the land at various churches, use this new network to gather resources to push for political clout in Washington.
  • Step 8: Pass laws where pastors can preach politics and endorse candidates without risking their tax-exempt status.
  • Step 9: Focus on salvation, homosexuality, and abortion at the expense of living for Christ with daily actions to help the poor, homeless, un-insured, hungry, down and out.
  • Step 10: Establish Christianity as official religion in the country and condemn others for being "CINOs" - Christians in Name Only.
Ask for more links if you don't agree... most of my information is from books and Google isn't cooperating with me at the moment.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Operation Hands on Ear - Refuse to Listen

I've been out of the loop in regards to the bruhaha surrounding President Bush's visit to Calvin College, so I apologize for being late.

President Bush - the President who has refused to admit mistakes and go against his church's official stance on Iraq, recently got a surprise. He spoke at Calvin College, a liberal-arts Christian school, for their graduation.

Let's just say the red carpet had a few stains. Not everyone there agrees with his policies in regards to the poor, the war, and more. (hehe) Not everyone agrees with tying his Christian faith and stating that it undergirds his decisions on these policies. Many are smart enough to understand that he is neither divine nor speaks for God, even if he feels that he must have a perfect judicial nomination record and never admit error.

I applaud those at the school for calling the President out on the hypocritical nature of his Adminstration's actions and priorities. I applaud people speaking out for their opinions, even if they are different or unwelcome. Hey, this is a democracy, right?

Why did he go to this small college? Has he stereotyped the Christian community as Dobson-ites and felt he would be comfortable? Did he wish to branch out from visiting fundamentalist schools like Bob (no inter-racial dating!) Jones University? Or was it simply because Karl Rove's grandmother and her two sisters attended the school?

I'm going with the second choice in that he wishes to move toward the center to garner support for his upcoming goals. I believe he's smart enough to realize that the Christian community is deeply divided and the hard-right Christians, while vocal, are a distinct minority. I think he realizes that not everyone who supported "moral values" in this past election agree with Dobson, Robertson, et al, and he needs to attend to their needs.

Will it work? With 1/3 of the school's faculty introducing politics to a typical happy-go-lucky graduation ceremony along with hundreds of protestors turning out against him, it could be too little too late.

And we will watch.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

James Watts bone of contention with the "Religious Left"

Former Reagan Administration Secretary of the Interior James Watt has a real bone to pick with the "Religious Left" in today's Washington Post. The title "The Religious Left's Lies" says it all. He focuses on the Religious Left's alliance with environmental groups.

I'm disappointed in the article because he seems to be lashing out at folks who have attacked him instead of seriously fulfilling his column's title. I believe it should've been called "How I was burned by the Religious Left and this is why I dislike them".

I'll use this opportunity to state that I feel like I do not fall under the "Religious Left". Certainly in comparison, many in the so-called Religious Right might characterize me as "the left" because that helps fit me in their "black and white" box of comprehending what I'm writing. When facts are presented and the entire political spectrum acknowledged, I'm not that far off.

I appreciate those who have acknowledged where I am coming from: the middle. From reason. From moderation.

Moral Contradictions really does defy convention as I feel like my personal political beliefs do. I've voted Republican in the past and I've voted Democrat. I'll probably always bash the majority party simply because they are the ones in control.

I'll always bash the Religous Right as long as they seem fixated on taking over the government and repealing "the homosexual agenda" and abortion. I do this with the thought in mind that I believe we as Christians answer to a higher calling... a more purposeful and spiritual mission. There's more to Christianity than writing your Senator and going to church.

Are we here to save souls or condemn them? If we are here to save them, then lets meet people where they are at. We show them how we live, what we believe, and then combine the Holy Spirit with their own "free will" and pray they make the correct decision. If they do not, we respect that and continue praying for them.

We need to lead by example and not coercion. Telling people how to live is worthless the first time a "Religious Right" politician has an affair or "comes out of the closet" or some other sin is revealed. People see and understand hypocrisy and rebel at its first sign. Making government holier-than-thou denies that we are all equal sinners in the eyes of the Lord, our real and only judge.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Bush and his propaganda

You think President Bush's town hall meetings feature a random assortment of people who look to honestly debate issues, such as Social Security? The LA Times reports otherwise.

Before President Bush went to Rochester, NY to speak on Social Security, the White House sent out a memo to local organizations to solicit

several types of people "who he would like to visit with" — including a young worker who "knows that [Social Security] could run out before they retire," a young couple with children who like "the idea of leaving something behind to the family" and a single parent who believes Bush's proposal for individual investment accounts "would provide more retirement options and security" than the current system.


I don't mind the use of the "bully pulpit", yet I equate carefully orchestrated choreography as disingenuous at least and pure propaganda at its worst. Honest debate and careful consideration of alternative plans are left out.

I don't believe the word "partisanship" is found in the Constitution.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Nazis do not belong in America

God bless my wife because she just got to hear me rant and rave what I'm now writing about. Can public figures from the hard-right party stop using Nazi references?

D. James Kennedy compared Democratic actions to Hitler and Nazis in his NPR interview the other day. Sen. Rick Santorum said that what the Democrats are doing is "the equivalent of Adolf Hitler in 1942 saying, 'I'm in Paris. How dare you invade me. How dare you bomb my city? It's mine.'"

Comparing a political party which millions of people voted for in the 2004 election (49% of the Presidential vote) to the Third Reich is absolutely reprehensible. That kind of political rhetoric cheapens the horrors that occured under Hitler's watch. As an American and Christian, I abhor such accusations and demand that these public persons retract their statements.

Christian Right = Driver Seat of America

Some dispute the "Dominionist" groups as nothing to worry about, but yet again reports reveal just how intertwined the Bush Administration and Christian political advocacy groups are.

The Village Voice got its hands on an email from the National Security Council's top Middle East aide to an apocalyptic group called "Apostolic Congress". The email reveals consultations between the two entities over Israeli policy.

Just like Richard Land, this group enjoys a weekly conference call with top aides.

Oh, and to prove to my Christian brethren that there isn't a theocratical movement afoot, I give you these two paragraphs from the article:

When Pastor Upton was asked to explain why the group's website describes the Apostolic Congress as "the Christian Voice in the nation's capital," instead of simply a Christian voice in the nation's capital, he responded, "There has been a real lack of leadership in having someone emerge as a Christian voice, someone who doesn't speak for the right, someone who doesn't speak for the left, but someone who speaks for the people, and someone who speaks from a theocratical perspective."

When his words were repeated back to him to make sure he had said a "theocratical" perspective, not a "theological" perspective, he said, "Exactly. Exactly. We want to know what God would have us say or what God would have us do in every issue."

I feel good... how about you?

My tin-foil hat

I've been accused of wearing a tin-foil hat when it comes to Dominionists. The person didn't explain exactly in what regard he meant this in, for I'm well aware of the Dominionists existence, their funding, and their agenda. To deny their existence or their power is like believing 40 midgets can beat a lion in a deathmatch. (I'll let you think on that one) Will they succeed fully in their theocratic agenda? I pray not.

Mainstream Baptist has a post that discusses an interview with D. James Kennedy and Frederick Clarkson on NPR's Fresh Air. Dr. Bruce Prescott rightfully observes that after denying he wanted a theocracy for this nation, he then claimed that Christians need to create a culture "in which civil institutions (i.e. the government, the courts, and public schools) are involved in 'teaching' all nations 'to observe all' that Jesus commanded." That sounds like a theocracy to me!

Whatever happened to churches playing this role? Christianity is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, yet Kennedy refers to it quite a bit. We can debate all day about "the intentions of the Founding Fathers", yet in the eyes of the law, printed words matter over intention.

He then charges that legislators have added so many "foriegn" things or concepts to the Constitution that America is now unrecognizable compared to 1776. Mr Kennedy: Where in the Constitution does it guarantee prayer in school or the explicit reference that this is a Christian nation? The only reference to religion is the words "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion".

Yet 33% of adults believe that Christianity should be the official religion of this nation. If that isn't a call for theocracy I don't know what is. Again, with these simple statements in our body of law guiding us over the last 200 years, why do we now need to legislate Christianity into our culture? If Christianity was such a part of our society then, why did it suddenly go away?

Oh that's right, it's not the church's fault, it's the secularists and atheists who have led us astray. Has any thought been put into how the church might have failed society? Could it be its past advocation that racial segregation is God's will? Or how about justifying slavery with the Bible to further economic gain on the back of an entire group of people? To assume that the church hasn't made mistakes and may be at least partially to blame for the "ills" of our society is ignorant and judgemental. Some introspection is needed.

The American church is not perfect and I believe fundamentalist's obsession with reforming society should originate there. Instead of forcing people to adhere to Christian principles, why not willingly invite them? Instead of telling people how to live, why not show them? If you don't agree with evolution, teach what you believe at church. If people are interested in what you have to say, they'll come all by themselves. It's amazing.

They'll see us Christians living the way Jesus called us to, no matter what type of government we have, and might be interested to know why we act in the way we do. If they're not interested, that's their choice. I believe we call it "free will". Folks, the simple fact is that creating a "Christian Nation" is the same as the "Islamic nations" of Iran and the former Afganistan.

Jesus didn't pass a single law, yet changed the world with His death at the hands of the theocrats of His time.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Judging others is fun and guilt-free!!

A Catholic school in Alabama denied Alysha Cosby from participating in graduation ceremonies because she was pregnant.

Not to justify what she did, but let's put it in perspective:

1. She still finished school.
2. More importantly, she's having the baby and didn't get an abortion.

Oh yeah, did I mention that the father was allowed to attend?

Integrity is dead.

Today on the Senate floor: (via Think Progress)

SEN. SCHUMER: Isn’t it correct that on March 8, 2000, my colleague [Sen. Frist] voted to uphold the filibuster of Judge Richard Paez?

SEN. FRIST: The president, the um, in response, uh, the Paez nomination - we’ll come back and discuss this further. … Actually I’d like to, and it really brings to what I believe - a point - and it really brings to, oddly, a point, what is the issue. The issue is we have leadership-led partisan filibusters that have, um, obstructed, not one nominee, but two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, in a routine way.


So, as Think Progress points out, did Sen. Frist just undercut his whole argument? If filibusters and denial of cloture are so unconstitutional, then why did he participate in this particular instance? Why did other Republicans use their minority muscle back in 1994 and 1995 to deny President Clinton his nominees?

If President Bush is allowed "to pick his team" and the Senate is just there to "advise and consent", I'd like an explanation of how the current filibuster fight does not provide a stark contradiction to past actions by top GOP Senators. Was President Clinton not qualified to pick his team? Was the Senate in the mid 1990s and 2000 over-reaching its Constitutional authority?

Are answers to these questions too much to ask?

Yet another article about the nuclear option

The Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg, Va printed an article that apparently was written some time back, since it references Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's visit to the Justice Sunday telecast. The tenets of the article are still applicable as it stresses the need for Democrats to fight back the religious right with, well, religion.

Basically, the religious right have succeeded in their goals with introducing religion back into politics. Now, normally religious spats previously argued in church have made their way into the political arena. This could backfire on Republicans as more and more moderate Christians realize that the brand of religion currently being preached runs counter to what they believe, myself included. (That whole exclusion of other faiths and denominations, vitrolic judging of others, no women pastors, interpret the Bible the same way I do or else you're not a Christian... all that).

The writer gives several historical examples of religion being used for political purposes, only they dealt with moral issues such as slavery and labor exploitation. As one who loves history, this article is a must-read for Christians and non-Christians alike.

A couple of paragraphs near the end of the article that I deemed the most important:

Instead of telling Republicans to leave their religion out of the judicial nomination battle, then, the Democrats should challenge the nominations on religious grounds. One of the nominees, Janice Rogers Brown, has suggested that minimum-wage laws might be unconstitutional; a second one, William G. Myers III, has cast doubt upon the constitutionality of the Endangered Species and Clean Water acts. All of these federal regulations interfere with the “right to property,” you see, which these jurists view as sacrosanct.

But there’s another view, derived from Scripture itself, that says they’re wrong; that poverty and pollution—like slavery—insult the majesty of Heaven; that God shall save the children of the needy; that the meek shall inherit the earth; and that Jesus was more than a utopian dreamer. It says that the Lord wants us to share our wealth, and to care for each other.

And if the Democrats can’t bring themselves to say that, God save us all.

2 must-reads

Numero uno: Hannity Persecutes Evangelical Christians. Basically Sean Hannity rants and raves that two Christian professors who had the gall to question the Bush Administration's policies would rather see Saddams torture rooms in place and dead babies in the street. I don't know about the babies, but America no longer has the moral authority over torture.

Numero dos: A Healthy Bit of ‘Gun-Shyness’. How Southern Baptists have ignored their heritage in practicing exclusion and isolation. Additionally, they seem to forget that the word "Baptists" are in their name and therefore implies that they follow traditional Baptist values... yet, they do not. All hail The Southern Baptist Church.

And da Senate go boom

For some further proof that Congress is full of hyprocrites on both side of the aisle, I direct you to this post over at Daily Kos which details how Republicans defeated several nominations by denying an "up-or-down" majority vote.

In 1995, because Republicans didn't like President Clinton's nominee for Surgeon General, Harry W. Foster, Jr, 43 Republicans denied the nomination.

Again Sam Brown was defeated for the rank of Ambassador by 42 Republicans.

How? They denied cloture... or the close of debate so they could proceed to a vote.

Among those still in the Senate who turned down these nominations despite a Democratic majority are John McCain, Trent Lott, Orrin Hatch, Rick Santorum, and Arlen Specter among others.

My point? Don't buy the rhetoric on either side? Do your own research and decide which group of hyprocrites you want to support.

In the end, President Bush's 95% approval rating for his judicial nominations is outstanding.

For a little more on the history of this issue, read "Where was the WSJ when Republicans were blocking Clinton nominees? On the side of obstruction"

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I think I'm going....

Faith and Life Sciences forum to explore race in context of faith and science

Monday, May 16, 2005

Difference between SBC and CBF

Ever wonder what the differences between the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Southern Baptist Convention are?

Walter B. Shurden wrote about the 3 main differences in Mercer University's Baptist Studies Bulletin. I'm going through these slowly and will post when I find something interesting.

Billy Graham - Oh how we will miss thee

USA Today has an article about Billy Graham as he prepares for his next crusade. The most striking part of the article is how he has stayed out of politics and focused more on inclusion. In an age where some refuse to worship together because they don't subscribe to the same exact set of beliefs or politics, we need to hear this:

There are a lot of groups that feel a little bit strange around me, because I am inclusive...Evangelism is when the Gospel, which is good news, is preached or presented to all people...If I took sides in all these different divisive areas, I would cut off a great part of the people that I really want to reach. So I've felt that the Lord would have me just present the Gospel.


Amen. Amen.

The Holy Spirit and the Baptist Creed

Rev. Sterling Severns delivered a compelling sermon yesterday at Tabernacle Baptist Church. Being that it was Pentecost, he read from Acts 2 and the world's introduction to the Holy Spirit. He stated that the day is the "Birth of the Church" and it should rank with Christmas or Easter. All too often It's not even mentioned. He also remarked that too often within the Baptist tradition, this pillar of the Trinity is often neglected in favor of God and Jesus. He went on and compared the Holy Spirit to a loud honking goose - It's not always welcome, but It can't be ignored.

Along those lines I found a column by Mainstream Baptist's Dr. Bruce Prescott entitled "Southern Baptists Turning Deaf Ear to God's Spirit". He charges that the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message (BFM) limits the way the Spirit can move. I urge everyone to read this as the 2000 BFM is completely different from the 1925 and 1963 versions. Southern Baptists are not what they used to be, and here is the proof.

Some highlights from the article about the BFM:

The most obvious restriction is the 2000 BFMs assertion that, “the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.” The truth is, there are more passages of Scripture that endorse slavery than passages prohibiting women from serving as pastors. There are also numerous passages of scripture in both the Old and New Testaments that speak of women being filled with the Spirit and leading God’s people.

I'd add to that Acts 2:17-18, when Peter addresses the crowd from Joel after the Holy Spirit descends:
17 'In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy. - NIV

Dr. Prescott also points out the deletion from earlier versions of the BFM of passages denying the document was a creed. Remember, being non-creedal people is one of the bigger bragging points among Baptists.

1963 statement:

“Such statements (confessions of faith) have never been regarded as complete, infallible statements of faith, nor as official creeds carrying mandatory authority.”


That was deleted in favor of a statement that said confessions of faith are adopted “as instruments of doctrinal accountability.” There's more there, so read the column if you're interested. (Links to the BFM are there too).

Lest I remind you, if upon reading this post and the column, you still believe that the SBC doesn't have a creed... all SBC missionaries had to sign this document or else resign their posts.

So much for "priesthood of the believer".

An oldie but a goodie

I've only recently started to seriously follow the Southern Baptist's rhetoric and follies, but I just learned something about last year's pull-out of the Baptist World Alliance.

When I originally heard the story last summer, I thought they were talking about some small fringe Baptist group that was "too liberal" for them... I didn't realize it was the CBF's inclusion that drove them out. Wow...

Paige Patterson told the Convention that "What you give your money and name to, you give tacit approval to."

So, do you give tacit approval to such atrocities as Enron/WorldCom/etc? Or how about approval of a global capitalistic system that has teenage girls working long hours in sweatshops all over Asia so we can buy Abercrombie and Fitch at somewhat affordable prices? Do you give tacit approval on measures that greatly benefit the rich while shortchanging the poor? Or how about politicians who want to tell workers who work 50 hours one week and 30 the next that it balances out to 40 hours and they aren't getting overtime? Do I even need to mention the Iraqi War and the civil war that is occuring?

When you start judging others in a wholesale way, you leave yourself to be judged in the same manner.

Besides, what's so offensive about the CBF? Is it that it continues to further the original goal of Baptists? Or is it because it doesn't tell churches what to believe through seminary-trained pastors? Or could it be because they realize that God is the ultimate judge and we should be concerned with our own salvation?

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Preview of posts to come

I'm thinking about starting a multi-part (read: multi multi) series of posts dealing with Baptist Heritage: also known as "Why are us Baptists so weird?". The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination and generates the most controversial news coverage. In addition, there are many other groups which label themselves Baptist. Thus, for me personally, I believe I need to understand the history of my beliefs.

Where did we begin? How did our theology form? Who were the big figures of Baptist history and heritage? Those are only the beginning of questions I'll be exploring.

Why does this matter?

With a degree in history, I'm a firm believer that everything that occurs today is rooted in the past. Just as you look up at the sky and see a single thunderstorm roll by, seemingly going its own way, should you take a glance at the Weather Service satellite image you get a sense of the bigger picture.

Additionally, I hope to answer just what is to be a Baptist. Are Baptists the same as they were 200 years ago? 100 years ago? 15 years ago? I believe the answer is "no", but I want facts to support that.

Within this I seek to deepen my own understanding of my past and beliefs and how they apply to current situations. I invite anyone and everyone to read the posts and offer their input. I'm no great scholar... I'm somewhat flying by the seat of my pants. I do have the advantage of having a wife who just finished Cecil Sherman's "Baptist Heritage" class at BTSR, but I'll be incorporating other sources as well. Any comments or disagreements will serve to challenge myself to dig deeper, so again, I welcome any input.

I just came up with the idea tonight... I hope to have 3 posts a week and go from there. I'd like to give myself at least a week's head start, so bear with me (all 3 of you).

Friday, May 13, 2005

The gap widens and millions lose their voice

"George Bush...has chosen, for whatever reasons, to be president of half of America." He has allowed "the most radical voices on his side to dominate. So, what incentive is there for Democrats to work with Republicans and get things done?" - Will Marshall, president of the Progressive Policy Institute (Source)

Where have the moderates gone? What is happening in Congress? Why are so many, from James Dobson to Bill Frist, advocating extreme partisanship and claiming a moral mandate?

The White House feels it owes its existance to Christian Fundamentalists and have exerted extreme pressure on Senators who threaten to buck the party line.

Folks like James Dobson scream in horror at the idea of compromise, casting their bets on the 55 Republicans acting as a majority to ram his pet bills through.

However... even one-party/communist countries have legislatures. Their duty is to simply rubber-stamp the will of the executive. This is America. This is the epitome of democracy. The Republicans may owe their election to the Christian Fundamentalists (although Jim Wallis disputes that and I tend to agree), but that still doesn't make that group a majority or spokesman for the "people's will".

We now have such groups as the Dominionists led by folks like D. James Kennedy, founder of the Coral Ridge Ministries in Florida. Calling themselves "the vice regents of God" (literally, God's deputies or representatives), they feel their role is to:

exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors -- in short, over every aspect and institution of human society.


Richard Land, our favorite SBC fundy, enjoys a weekly telephone call with the President's top advisors, including Karl Rove. This "man of God" who virtually enjoys the President's ear decries the theme of John Lennon's "Imagine" and claims that it looks to a future of "clone plantations, child sacrifice, legalized polygamy and hard-core porn."

Can we say absurdist scare tactics?

Corrupt organizations and persons such as Amway's Rich DeVos and Michigan governor hopeful has given D. James Kennedy $5 million to help sell their Domionist utopia. He and other notables provide the funding while Kennedy and Land lead the ground work.

The ghostwriter of Jerry Falwell's autobiography the Rev. Mel White sums up what is going on the best. He says that:

Most people hear them talk about a 'Christian nation' and think, 'Well, that sounds like a good, moral thing,'...What they don't know -- what even most conservative Christians who voted for Bush don't know -- is that 'Christian nation' means something else entirely to these Dominionist leaders. This movement is no more about following the example of Christ than Bush's Clean Water Act is about clean water.


Commonwealth Commonsense has more on Dominionism

Thursday, May 12, 2005

A letter to Waylan Owens, vice president of planning and communications at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

(Here you go Chris) :)

Dear sir,

After reading your column, I would say that you probably believe that Christians voting for Democrats is a moral contradiction.

That's a fair argument, yet I cannot support a party that gives credence to policies that exploit foreign workers so we can wear Abercrombie and Fitch. I can't support the whole-sale raping of God's earth for pure economic gain. I don't understand how tax-cuts have benefitted the poor while gas prices and housing costs have soared the last few years. I'm not comfortable with millions of children and adults without access to adequate health care, even though many of them work hard for a living.

I contend that neither party is perfect and fits a true "Christian" party. One needs to look at what Jesus would focus on if he was walking around in today's world. If you feel Jesus would condemn gays and abortion all the live long day, vote Republican all you want. If you feel that Jesus would help the poor and the sick and work for justice (wait, he did do that, didn't he?), then vote Democrat.

Obviously that's a simplistic way to look at issues, but that's what you preach, isn't it? Black and white. Right and wrong. Us versus them. Yet, I've learned the age-old adage "the truth is usually found somewhere in the middle" and I reject the tenets of your arguments.

Do not...I repeat, do not tell me that if I voted Democrat I voted against God. Do not tell me that I "cannot call [myself] a member of a church that stands against abortion and then actively support abortion through [my] politics.”

That is a fundamental misrepresentation of people who voted for Democrats yet call themselves Christians. It probably pained most of them to do so in that regard, yet felt the greater good would be achieved through that party.

A further admonishment to all Christians and church leaders and one I hope you begin preaching: God's Kingdom will not pass through Washington DC. If everyone put as much effort into "Christian politics" as they did to "furthering God's kingdom" maybe we wouldn't have the problems we do.

Sincerely,
Nathan White

Let's set the record straight

fun·da·men·tal·ism (from Dictionary.com via Firefox)
  1. A usually religious movement or point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views and opposition to secularism.
    1. often Fundamentalism An organized, militant Evangelical movement originating in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century in opposition to Protestant Liberalism and secularism, insisting on the inerrancy of Scripture.
    2. Adherence to the theology of this movement.
Southwestern Baptist Seminary President and founding member of the Baptist Fundamentalist takeover Paige Patterson had some interesting words over the judicial filibusters.

There is no more critical issue facing America today than the unconscionable effort in Congress to block the appointment of judges solely because they are insufficiently liberal.


Mr. Patterson: The issue isn't that they aren't liberal, it's that they are too conservative. The reason you and Richard Land, Al Mohler, James Dobson, and all the others who signed a letter to Republican Senators in support of ending the filibuster is because the judges are just like you: fundamentalists. Judges must be open, must consider both sides of the argument and compare them to the Constitution. Period. They cannot do that when they subscribe to a theology based on the above definition.

However, introducing uncompromising and fundamentalist beliefs into the judiciary does not fit within Constitutional guidelines for judges. That, my friends, is why there is resistance. That is why 95% of President Bush's other nominees have been approved, a very high number, especially since Republicans blocked 62 nominees of President Clinton.

Yes this whole affair reeks of hypocrisy, but its on both sides.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Another "in case you haven't seen this"

Bush Fish. I kid you not. bushfish.org



First word that came to mind was idolatry.

Have I mentioned that this kind of stuff isn't going away? Oh yeah, I have.

What's at stake is the purpose of churches. Campaign stops or a place to teach the Bible and nourish the spirit within fellowship? Simple as that, folks.

Where I fail, let others take the lead...

Becky Johnson of Smokey Mountain News wrote an article titled "Faith and Politics" (come on folks, let's be a little more creative). I believe it's a fair and balanced look at the East Waynesville controversy and other denominations' take on it.

There is a difference between telling people how to vote versus teaching one how to analyize an issue... one must make up their own mind.

So-called "Christians" who love murder and "warm" and "damp" farm animals

In the past I have followed Jerry Falwell and Pat Roberston and the like. However, I am not alone in this. While in the future I hope to provide some more in-depth looks at this bunch, I'll take the time to introduce a few folks who make them look like sissies.

Welcome to the world of zealots who advocate the murder of abortion doctors, claim that Catholics are the meanest and most violent people on earth, and mule lovers. That's right. Mule lovers.

"News Hounds - We watch FOX so you don't have to", has three different entries on Randall Terry, Fred Phelps, and Neal Horsley from when they visited the Alan Colmes show.

Randall Terry: Outspoken advocate of killing abortion doctors, in the middle of a serious interview, jokes that he and Alan Colmes were once homosexual lovers. (Folks, click the links above to verify what I'm writing). He was pressed into a corner and forced to verify some uncomfortable quotes attributed to him and had to admit that he had a homosexual son ("Very heart-wrenching"). His cop-out?

Terry: Are you drinking Red Bull... You're like on drugs... Are you snorting coke? I think that it's time that you and I just admit to the whole world that's listening that we used to be homosexual lovers, we had a fight and now you're...
Colmes: I know you're attracted to me, and I understand you're vehemently anti gay, you've spoken out against... and yet you have a gay son, from what I understand, don't you?

He left at the break and mused that he would like to have a beer with Colmes when he wasn't so "wired".

Fred Phelps: Owner and operator of godhatesfags.com, claims to actually love gays and that's why he's telling them "the truth" that they are damned.

Phelps: Faggots... are the most miserable people on earth, living on eating feces.

Colmes: Do you think gays ought to be killed?

Phelps: No I think the government ought to pass laws making it the death penalty... for engaging in sodomy... That's the Bible standard.

Colmes: You have such venom for gays, such hatred...

Phelps: Where did you get that idea? I'm the only one that loves these beasts... If you love somebody, you tell them the truth.

News Hound then reports that Alan Colmes pressed Phelps if he ever had a gay experience.

Phelps' response: "Alan get off of that. That's a filthy, impertinent question and you know the answer to it... and if you keep harping on it, you're gonna be talking to yourself."

I didn't see the word "No" in there... Did you?

Neal Horsley: The best for last. He posts abortion doctor's names on his website and thus far one has been killed. Colmes asked about his past and a quote from him where he apparently admitted to engaging in homosexual and bestiality sex. I'll post all of what News Hounds has on here:

At first, Horsley laughed and said, "Just because it's printed in the media, people jump to believe it."

"Is it true?" Colmes asked.

"Hey, Alan, if you want to accuse me of having sex when I was a fool, I did everything that crossed my mind that looked like I..."

AC: "You had sex with animals?"

NH: "Absolutely. I was a fool. When you grow up on a farm in Georgia, your first girlfriend is a mule."

AC: "I'm not so sure that that is so."

NH: "You didn't grow up on a farm in Georgia, did you?"

AC: "Are you suggesting that everybody who grows up on a farm in Georgia has a mule as a girlfriend?"

NH: "It has historically been the case. You people are so far removed from the reality... Welcome to domestic life on the farm..."

Colmes said he thought there were a lot of people in the audience who grew up on farms, are living on farms now, raising kids on farms and "and I don't think they are dating Elsie right now. You know what I'm saying?"

Horsley said, "You experiment with anything that moves when you are growing up sexually. You're naive. You know better than that... If it's warm and it's damp and it vibrates you might in fact have sex with it."

Wow. Wow. I'd just like to point out that as a Christian I am embarrassed to have folks like Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and the like share the same title. However, to quote Pastor John, in regards to these folks I'm more scared than being "locked in a basement for 44 days by his grandfather and pummelled with grapefruit every evening."

These folks are evil and hypocrites. That is all there is to it.

In case you missed it...

Pastor Chan Chandler resigned from the East Waynesville Baptist Church.

I wonder if Southeastern Baptist Seminary teaches the class "How to utterly destroy and split a church over politics 101". I wouldn't be surprised.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Sum-up and rant

Bailout has a good summary based on first hand interviews of the Excommunication saga at East Waynesville Baptist Church. Something I didn't realize was that the pastor didn't have communion served since October, not even during Easter. Ouch. Additionally, the 40 supporters of the targeted 11 are both Republicans and Democrats. They're against having a church where members sign cards stating that they go to a Republican church. It sounds like Pastor Chan Chandler got a little too caught up with the fiery rhetoric and irresponsibly used his pulpit to condemn and judge, not to save.

As a good friend says, "the power of the church to direct and advise people on their moral beliefs and actions is its greatest force for good and its most terrifying way to abuse."

How can you point at others, say they're evil, and then hope to minister and save them? What happened to "love your neighbors"? What happened to civility, respect, and honest and frank discussion?

The "Big 6" seminaries of the Southern Baptist Convention have impressed upon its male pastors-to-be that they are the authority in church and to preach only on political matters and salvation. What happened to serving the poor, widows, the elderly, the sick, the starving, the "sinners"?

Folks, you simply cannot go to church and then vote Republican and feel like you did your Christian duty. We answer to a higher calling... We answer to God. Nowhere in the Bible does it say "Vote Republican" yet as Jim Wallis says - poverty is mentioned over 3,000 times.

Jesus and his disciples did their work under an authoritarian and pagan Roman empire. Did they exert their efforts on winning school board elections, work for campaigns, try to prove Creation, and write letters to their politicians? No. They changed the world by working on the ground... with people, for people. They preached. They served. They loved.

Somehow the true meaning of Jesus' teachings and ministry gets lost in all this rhetoric... while potential Christians are turned off by the incessant shouting and denunciations flowing daily from the mouths of so-called evangelists.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Dr. Richard Land double-speak on Baptist Excommunication

I was waiting for this. Dr. Richard Land, the president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, commented on the controversy surrounding the East Waynesville Baptist Church in Waynesville, NC.
I don't know the particulars of the situation, but I certainly acknowledge the right of each local autonomous congregation to decide the requirements for membership in their church...However, I would also add that the right to determine membership does not always mean that it is exercised in a correct fashion. I believe it would never -- never -- be appropriate or acceptable for a local Baptist church to decide membership based upon how a person votes.

Okay, fair enough. Just your typical Baptist belief along with a strong condemnation of excising someone because of their beliefs.
I believe that preachers and pastors have a responsibility and an obligation to preach what the Bible says about moral, social public policy issues and to encourage people to vote, and when they vote, to vote their values, their beliefs and their convictions. But the decision about the candidate must remain part of the individual responsibility of the priesthood of all believers. A person's casting of a ballot should never be a cause for church discipline.

Okay, nothing too fantastic here that isn't out of place within the Southern Baptist Convention. We won't get into how SBC seminaries teach their students that as pastors they are the definite leader and authority within their church and their interpretation of the Bible is virtually infalliable... we'll save that for another day. However, at face value there isn't much here.

Dr. Land explains that even if someone voted against a constitutional marriage amendment that wouldn't be cause for a church to exercise discipline against that member. So far, so good... a church shouldn't punish their members for how they vote because that would be wrong! Right?

Nope.
They need to be at church more than anybody else to hear why they need to change their mind..If you remove them from membership then you've lost the opportunity to share with them and to help them understand that they need to strongly support traditional marriage.

He then draws a distinction between living a "lifestyle that is clearly contradictory to Scripture" and making a decision to vote "that may be erroneous or [display] poor judgement".

Dr. Richard Land, from his seat at the right hand of God, concludes that "erroneous and poor judgment should never lead to being removed from church membership."

Essentially, Dr. Land weakly condemns the decision to kick the members out, but also condemns people who vote in a way that he doesn't agree with, such as the people who were excommunicated. Nice.

Sigh...

Some facts on the "Baptist Ouster"

Fact: Oct. 3, 2004, Rev. Chan Chandler stated that "If you vote for John Kerry, you need to repent or resign."

Fact: This kicked off a 6 week series that ran through the election.

Fact: The sermons focused on John Kerry and why he was evil.

Fact: Last Sunday was the first Sunday in months Chandler did not preach on politics.

Fact: Chandler invited the entire church to a deacon's meeting with the intention of establishing a quorum to begin a business meeting.

Fact: Doing this, he broke the church's by-laws by not announcing the meeting from the pulpit 2 weeks in advance.

Fact: Not all of the "Original Nine" are Democrats... one is a Republican.

Fact: On why the one Republican was kicked out: "Our memberships were terminated because we did not agree to have a political church...I did not vote for Kerry."

Fact: The kicked out, for the most part, have attended the church for years and some were deacons.

Fact: 11 were targeted. It takes a 2/3 vote to kick out members... with 40 to 11 odds, 9 walked out before the vote.

Fact: They are in fact kicked out, as one member who left the meeting before the vote called the church clerk the next day and found his name stricken from the membership rolls.

Fact: As the 9 left, about 40 members clapped and "hooted" in celebration.

Fact: With the filibuster mess happening and the Bush Adminstration reportedly planning for two Supreme Court vacancies... this is only the beginning.

Sources:

Blogger's interview with East Waynesville Baptist Church members
Pastor puts politics aside in sermon
East Waynesville Baptist Church pastor says nobody ousted for political beliefs

What is going on?

Anthony Wade has an excellent column titled "Religion Gone Wrong, Be Ye Not Deceived". For the most part he sums up how I view the current situation in our nation as a progressive Christian. Here's a snippet:
The issue is not that Americans are frightened to have a President who speaks to God. It is having a President that assumes he can speak for God that is frightening. It is having a President who is seemingly without morals, who speaks of morality, that is worrisome. Most Americans believe in God and the teachings of Christ, so the fact that Bush is a self-avowed Christian is not the issue. It is the fact that his policies are decidedly un-Christian that is the problem.

Friday, May 06, 2005

The direction we're going

Fascism: 1. A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.
2. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government.

Theocracy: A government ruled by or subject to religious authority. (Dictionary.com)

Folks and fellow Christians - the greatest threat to Christianity is not from so-called reckless judges or Islam or whatever drivel spits out of popular fundamentalists' mouths.

The real danger to Christianity is from within. Should I be excommunicated and barred from worshiping God because I may vote a certain way? Do I need to pass a political litmus test before I'm baptized?

For a country with a president that claims to be a "uniter, not a divider" and claims to be under God, this Baptist Excommunication is distressing. As Jesus said:

Love your enemies...if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (Matthew 5:44, 47)


Read The War on Christians in America over at Patridiot Watch for a more in-depth look at this struggle.

Baptist Excommunication - The Saga Will Continue

Are political endorsements in churches a sign of the times, such as this one? Yes. Even though the Baptist Standard reports that the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission dropped its support for the Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act, don't be fooled. This bill has been introduced every year since 2001 by Rep. Walter Jones, (R-N.C.) and is designed to allow churches to endorse political candidates or parties without threatening their Section 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt status.

Why did they drop support? Was it because it's wrong, as we see in the East Waynesville Baptist Church's Excommuni-gate scandal? Nope. The bill was "gutted" and too narrowly defined for them.

Our favorite SBC'er, Richard Land, says that "Under the new bill, the government would permit churches to endorse a candidate but then would allow government investigators to come in and determine when the church has exceeded the government’s narrow parameters of permission."

Essentially they still want the freedom to endorse political candidates and excommunicate their own members with different political beliefs - but they're not willing to compromise.

Just wait - this isn't the last of these kind of shenanigans. Not at all.

Baptist excommunication?

I just saw this over at Daily Kos. I haven't read through it yet, but apparently Democrats were either told to repent at the altar or resign their membership from East Waynesville Baptist Church, NC. Read the thread here. Once I read it and it sinks in I'll blog more later.

edit - 1:53pm - WLOS ran the story.
East Waynesville Baptist asked nine members to leave. Now 40 more have left the church in protest. Former members say Pastor Chan Chandler gave them the ultimatum, saying if they didn't support George Bush, they should resign or repent. The minister declined an interview with News 13. But he did say "the actions were not politically motivated." There are questions about whether the bi-laws were followed when the members were thrown out.


edit - 2:14pm - Daily Kos has a second post with more links and details.

I urge anyone who stops by to go there and take a look. As they point out, this isn't just one rogue church. This is just the sign of the times - of what's to come. For my fellow Virginians, remember just how "fundy" this state is (Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell).

This is completely wrong - no matter what political/relgious stripe you are. At the very least this church completely jeopardized its tax-exempt status. At the very worst, this can happen anywhere.

Remember: God is not a Republican or a Democrat. Not all Christians are Republicans. One's political affiliation doesn't have to define them... for Christians, your faith should fundamentally define who you are - then vote according to how you feel and what you believe.

This. Is. Wrong.

Another history lesson

Dr. Bruce Prescott over at Mainstream Baptist posted last week an interesting quote about the abortion fight before Roe v. Wade was handed down.
If the pro-life people in the late 1960's and the early 1970's had been willing to compromise with the pro-choice people, we could have had an abortion law that provided for abortion only for the life of the mother, incest, rape, and defective child; that would have cut the abortions down to three percent of what they are today. But they had an all-or-nothing mentality. They wanted it all and they got nothing. (Quote Source)

He then explains that this occured at the time the Fundamentalists began their drive to take over the Southern Baptist Convention with the infamous "all-or-nothing" mentality. I have to quote him because he worded the resulting conclusion quite well.
The truth is, even if the Fundamentalists were correct about all abortions being murder, then Fundamentalist intransigence is responsible for 97% of the murders and compromising moderates are guilty of 3%. None of us will come out of this guiltless, but one percentage requires a lot less grace.

Wow. I've maintained all along that Christians need to possess a strong offense and come up with their own initiatives for pro-family options. Their continued focus on disagreeable agendas and their dogged defense is hurting Christianity's true message. I'm not saying that what they are doing is wrong per se, but at the same time (to prevent "moral contradictions"), work on advancing better solutions or (*gasp!) compromises and let those results be seen as what Christianity really means.

Politics have become incredibly polarized over Christianity's role, and I believe it's a zero-sum game. One way or the other, Christianity is going to lose with the current tactics and lack of an original agenda.

The Hammer on Humility?

Am I the only one scratching my head at this from Tom DeLay?
...[B]ecause the only way we can serve well is to serve humbly, as servants both to God and our nation. Just think what we could all accomplish, if we checked our pride at the door . . . if we spent less time ducking responsibility and more time welcoming it; if we spent less time at our soap boxes and more on our knees. (Source Article)

So, Tom... level with me. Are we supposed to do as you say, or do as you do?

//Wish I had a cool nickname (preferably not based on any arrogant qualities I may have)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

A needed history lesson

George Will has a column titled "The Christian Complex" and begins by stating that
The state of America's political discourse is such that the president has felt it necessary to declare that unbelievers can be good Americans. In last week's prime-time news conference, he said: "If you choose not to worship, you're equally as patriotic as somebody who does worship."


While separation of the church and state is not in the Constitution, this is (from Article VII):
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.


And yet another oldie but a goodie, Article 11 of the Treaty with Tripoli 1796-1797:
As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.


Hey Pat "I hate Muslims" Robertson, Jerry "religion doesn't belong in politics" Falwell, Bill "I'm a figure-head who's scared" Frist, James "I love and hate gays at the same time" Dobson, Tom "I'm the federal government and I'm evil" DeLay, and D. James "I'll be known pretty soon" Kennedy... under our law, we are Americans first. We may believe this nation is under God, but we must respect others who don't. If you believe they need to be judged, concentrate on loving them instead and leave the judging to God.

It's Re-Focus Time

Whenever I stray into posting about Shaun Kenney I feel like I need to slightly re-focus the blog. However, lately the shenanigans from the 54th are coming into line with the reasons I began the blog. However, that's a whole other story...

Last night as my wife and I were going through the book "Touchpoints for Couples", I was struck by a verse under the heading of "Faults". The book has a whole bunch of categories with relevant verses dealing with the corresponding subject.

"Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love." Ephesians 4:2

I think no matter where you stand, that is a great attitude to deal with people. I'm ashamed to say that many Christians (especially the ones quoted by the media), myself included, don't always follow this. It's easier to be short and to bluster about other's faults. Yet, we subscribe to a higher calling in regard to how we interact with our surrounding world. This message seems to fall through the cracks when the top fundy's get going on the evil of everything around them.

On a side note, I'm also inspired by Nathan the Prophet, the one who rebuked David after the Bathsheba affair. I can live with the adjective "fearless"...

Falwell Watch: Operation Target Warner

The Lynchburg News & Advance Reports that Jerry Falwell, despite stating twice that religion doesn't belong in politics, has Virginia's Senator John Warner in his sights. Why? You guessed it, the filibuster.

Falwell hopes to circle his wagons to fire off tens of thousands of emails to the US Senate in favor of the rule change.

Warner has repeatedly said that his vote on the so-called nuclear option will not be known until some sort of resolution is found, whether that be a compromise or floor-vote.

This isn't enough for Falwell: "We must create a nationwide groundswell of outrage immediately that will shake the stodgy U.S. Senate into action... The fact that John Warner is noncommittal at this point makes a lot of us concerned, I think he’s going to do the right thing.”

Luckily for Americans, Warner is old enough (and mature enough) to remember how Democrats were when they had power and how his party used those very same tactics they now advocate against them to rise to power.