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Reposted from Operation American Jesus by Galtisalie
Take Back the Land by Rick Boyer
No doubt the Duggar debacle's saturation of media is causing Duggar burnout, but let's take a peek at another delightful Duggar defense, this time by a fellow quiverfull mob boss.

Rick Boyer, author of Take Back the Land, a book endorsed of course by Pa Duggar himself, has deigned to 'splain to us mere mortals how accusations of hypocrisy against the Duggars is actually terrible horrible Christian persecution by godless pagans who are probably dirty commies that Hate America.  

Boyer begs to know if you just expect the victims "to be turned over to a godless psychologist" because that's never gonna happen since he's "taking a stand here and now."  Furthermore, he wants you to know that Josh Duggar has "lived an exemplary life for 12 years" even though he has no possible way of knowing if/when Josh may have sexually offended again, as sex offenders are wont to do.

Oh and in case you're still wrong-thinking with your godless heathen-brain, Boyer also wants to disabuse you of the fact that now-resigned Bill Gothard...former captain of the ATI  home-schooling empire which still teaches girls that silence and submission to men is required to be worthy of God's love because that's what God personally told him...was and is innocent of the charges that he sexually harassed over 30 women.  IN-NO-CENT, he says!  I mean what office-working lady hasn't thrilled to the boss stroking their hair for a really, really, really long time and doing old-man fetish things to their feet whilst claiming it's God's will, amirite??

Coming from a Christian dominionist whose income is dependent on cherry-picking bible literalists, Boyer's defense of beyond-creepy and even sex-criming quiverfull men is not surprising.  In fact the title of his book Take Back the Land may be the only honest statement in that entire book, for that is Christian dominonism's intent: To rule America as a Christian nationalist theocracy. Please let's be clear: Biblical dominionism it's NOT to control America "for God" as these men claim but to be the Boss of America for themselves, period.

Boyer's defense of Duggar and Gothard's sexual offenses against women and children is of course a textbook quiverfull power-play. Men are not to be questioned under any circumstances, especially by women and certainly not by victims who, if trained to be sufficiently "biblically" submissive to men, wouldn't dare question their abuser in the first place because that would be "immodest" now wouldn't it?  But wait! There's more!

Challenging and demanding male accountability is not only immodest, many fundamentalist girls are taught that such rebellious thoughts and deeds are of a Jezebel spirit, thus risking their and their family's eternal salvation by God.  But hey no pressure; just do as The Lord "puts it on your heart" knowing that you could be personally responsible for sending your entire family to hellfire for all eternity.

Boyer supports Gothard's claims of total precious godly innocence and Josh's ludicrous claims of never having molested again because Boyer might actually believe their acts weren't or shouldn't be considered criminal. Besides, when you preach that women and girls are allowed no boundaries regarding sex with the men who manage them, then of course no was no crime.

Boyer is no less toxic than his dominionist brethren to the physical, intellectual and emotional strength of women and girls. Such self-anointed power of these men over women in their cult is destructive to joy and hope beyond all measure.

Self-excusing the shaming, shunning and silencing of women by claiming it's "for God" serves only to better illustrate the psychopathy of the very men who swear...with a totally straight face as if it's true...that they control women not for themselves but only "for the Lord."


Reposted from I ♥ Democratic Socialism by Galtisalie

Come let us fart around and celebrate our anywhere Saints. We may not win our quest for a new day in American politics and in our world. In fact, by experience we have learned that we probably won't. But we reject the gallows for humanity, even as we see everywhere very well the plutocratic master carpenters of our collective fate measuring twice and cutting once using our very own hands to do the work.

We embrace each other and our gallows humor. Trying times will not stop us from trying to prevail and, in our own authentic ways, trying to have a good time at least some of the time in ways that do not involve pharmacology.

Ten years ago, a couple of years before he died, a grim American socialist saw rays of hope in our past, present, and future, somehow having a positive worldwide influence on the left even as he confessed to profound pessimism. Kurt Vonnegut summed up the clumsy graceful ideals of that which we will not see our world deprived if we can help it:  

DAVID BRANCACCIO: There's a little sweet moment, I've got to say, in a very intense book-- your latest-- in which you're heading out the door and your wife says what are you doing? I think you say-- I'm getting-- I'm going to buy an envelope.


DAVID BRANCACCIO: What happens then?

KURT VONNEGUT: Oh, she says well, you're not a poor man. You know, why don't you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I'm going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope.

I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don't know. The moral of the story is, is we're here on Earth to fart around.

And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don't realize, or they don't care, is we're dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we're not supposed to dance at all anymore.

DAVID BRANCACCIO: Well you wrote in the book about this. You write; What makes being alive almost worthwhile--


DAVID BRANCACCIO: --for me besides music, was all the Saints I met who could be anywhere. By 'Saints' I meant people who behaved decently, in a strikingly indecent society.

KURT VONNEGUT: Yes. Their acts of kindness and reason. On a very-- on a face-to-face. On a very local.

DAVID BRANCACCIO: On a human level.

KURT VONNEGUT: Yeah. On a human level. And, oh, I've also spoken about you, know you've heard of 'original sin.' Well, I also, I call attention to original virtue. Some people are born to be nice, and they're gonna be nice all their lives, no matter what.

From his days in World War II, both as a soldier and a POW in Dresden, to his last days, Vonnegut, no Saint himself, despite his depression, frustration, and crusty resentment of his own potential for obscurity learned to recognize original virtue where he saw it and to do his best to testify about its wondrous beauty even though he often could only peer at it from a caricatured otherworldly dimension.

An atheist and a leftist, he saw through the smoke of his Pall Malls original virtue in people and places that are not often linked in American culture and politics anymore--socialism and the Sermon on the Mount, Eugene V. Debs and Jesus.

It is sad that he is not around to see Bernie Sanders running for president.

With the eminent stubborn liveliness and creativity of regular people everywhere in imminent risk, let's raise a grim salute to Kurt Vonnegut as we join the hopelessly bold, but not crazy, effort to save our world already being undertaken by an anywhere Saint near us. His was not a fully crafted art of hope for the working class, but the working class still needs its crusty resentful champion as it sits down for breakfast.

We miss you Kurt, but we suspect that you don't know that. Things will not work out so well for us either. We have no sane alternative sometimes other than to clear our heads of all the junk in there, like the one about the:

extinct giant sea eagle called the Bermuda Ern. This allegorical species was later described in Vonnegut's book Timequake (1997) as a pelagic raptor, a "great blue bird", the looming extinction of whose population was being caused by its female members "kicking the eggs from the nest" prior to their hatching, rather than kicking the young fledglings from the nest at the appropriate time. In Breakfast of Champions their extinction is said to have been caused by a fungus, brought to the island by men (in the form of athlete's foot), which attacked the birds' eyes and brains.
How on earth do we come up with this stuff? So it goes.

Wed May 27, 2015 at 02:26 PM PDT

Nebraska abolishes the death penalty

by Wee Mama

Reposted from Wee Thoughts by Wee Mama

The legislature overrode the governor's veto.

Nebraska became the first conservative state in more than 40 years to abolish the death penalty on Wednesday when lawmakers boldly voted 30-19 to override the governor's veto.

There are 10 inmates on Nebraska's death row — the 11th died this week — but the state has not executed anyone since 1997 and only recently ordered the drugs necessary to carry out a lethal injection. It's the 19th state to abolish capital punishment.

Lawmakers across the political spectrum came together to pass a repeal bill three times. Gov. Pete Ricketts then vetoed the legislation on Tuesday and an override vote was quickly scheduled. Thirty votes were needed to push the repeal through. The vote was preceded by hours of debate — with opponents and proponents quoting Bible passages and reading emails from constituents to support their position.

…Nebraska is the first Republican controlled state in the U.S. to abolish capital punishment since North Dakota did so in 1973.

ABC News: Money on death drugs wasted, and the lesson to never, never, never give up!
Ricketts announced this month that the state has purchased two of the drugs that the state now lacks, but opponents have said they still aren't convinced Nebraska will be able to resume executions. On Tuesday, Republican Attorney General Doug Peterson implored lawmakers to give state officials more time to prepare.

The repeal bill was introduced by independent Sen. Ernie Chambers, who has fought for nearly four decades to repeal the death penalty.

The Washington Post: the consilient reasons that conservatives may oppose the death penalty:
Some lawmakers in Nebraska offered a conservative argument for repealing the death penalty there, painting it as an example of government waste.

“I’ve said frequently, if any other program was as inefficient and as costly as this has been, we would’ve gotten rid of it a long time ago,” State Sen. Colby Coash, a Republican who co-sponsored the repeal bill, said after the legislature approved it last week.

The Guardian with a proflie of heroic Ernie Chambers:
“White people, they don’t have a high opinion of me,” says Ernie Chambers, Nebraska’s long-serving legislator. “They thought I was uppity and arrogant – they didn’t like my attitude.”

They may not like Chambers’ attitude in the super-conservative cornhusker state, but they are certainly listening to him now. At his 38th attempt, the state senator this week saw his bill to abolish the death penalty pass the legislature, in a move that should it be enacted would make Nebraska the first dyed-in-the-wool conservative state in the country to scrap the ultimate punishment.

It’s an extraordinary turn of events, spearheaded by an extraordinary politician. For 38 years Chambers, 77, was the only African American member of Nebraska’s uni-chamber legislature (there are now two), and since he was first elected in 1970 to represent the north of Omaha he has been making it his business to take up causes that nobody else would champion.

Chambers has a resolute legislative career.

This map in the Wikipedia article on capital punishment shows how the death penalty is distributed.I am proud that Iowa abolished it decades ago, and look forward to the day that the federal death penalty is abolished.


Tue May 19, 2015 at 01:28 PM PDT

What's so funny about religion?

by Wee Mama

Reposted from Wee Thoughts by Wee Mama

A friend shared the "Yo Mama Jokes for Unitarian (Universalist)s" that Jack Killilea presented at a Coming of Age Service in Providence. Some made me giggle:

Yo mama so Unitarian, she feels guilty about her Prius

Yo mama so Unitarian, she brings vegan lasagna to a barbecue

Yo mama so Unitarian, she knows how to sing Shalom Haverim. IN ENGLISH

Which of course reminded me of the inimitable Unitarian Jihad.

Unitarians aren't the only folks who can laugh at themselves. Some good Jesuit jokes collected by  Felix Just, S.J.:

A Jesuit, a Dominican, and a Franciscan were walking along an old road, debating the greatness of their orders. Suddenly, an apparition of the Holy Family appeared in front of them, with Jesus in a manger and Mary and Joseph praying over him.

The Franciscan fell on his face, overcome with awe at the sight of God born in such poverty.
The Dominican fell to his knees, adoring the beautiful reflection of the Trinity and the Holy Family.
The Jesuit walked up to Joseph, put his arm around his shoulder, and said, "So, have you thought about where to send the boy to school?"

A man walked up to a Franciscan and a Jesuit and asked, "How many novenas must you say to get a Mercedes Benz?"

The Franciscan asked, "What's a Mercedes Benz?"
The Jesuit asked, "What's a novena?"

An Augustinian, a Franciscan, and a Jesuit all die and get to heaven. Jesus asks each one, "If you could go back, what would you change"?

The Augustinian ponders a while and says, "There's so much sin in the world. If I went back, I'd try and stop people from sinning so much."
The Franciscan thinks a bit and says, "There's so much poverty in the world. If I went back, I'd try and get people to share more of their wealth with the poor."
The Jesuit looks at Jesus and quickly replies, "If I went back, I'd change my doctor."

Lutherans can also laugh at themselves:
You Might Be a Lutheran If... only serve Jell-O in the proper liturgical color for the season. didn't know chow mein noodles were a Chinese food.

...when someone mentions red and green (in terms of Christmas), you immediately think of a battle over hymnals.

...during communion you hum the hymns so you can see who's at church that Sunday.

...rather than introducing yourself to a visitor at church, you check their name out in the guestbook. think Garrison Keillor's stories are totally factual. have your wedding reception in the fellowship hall and feel guilty about not staying to help clean up.

Many collections of jokes by Episcopalians to choose from, but this one's from a young person:
An old Episcopal grandmother finally decided to read the Bible. She purchased a large-print edition and read it cover-to-cover. When she finished, she pulled the rector aside at coffee hour and confided, “I really enjoyed reading the Bible, but I was surprised how much it quotes the Book of Common Prayer!”
Q: How many Episcopalians does it take to change a lightbulb? (in ascending order)
A: Two. One to mix the martinis, and one to call the electrician.
A: Ten. One to change the bulb, and nine to say how much they liked the old one better.
A: Twelve. One to do the work and eleven to serve on the committee.
A: Change the lightbulb?! My grandmother gave that lightbulb!
And lots of multidenominational joke collections, too. If anyone knows of a good collection of atheist jokes on themselves, I'm happy to update the diary.
Reposted from Devil's Tower by Wee Mama
Chart showing relationship of science and religious groups by Josh Rosenau
Religious Groups vs. Environment and Evolution from Josh Rosenau at NCSE
Last year, Tobin Grant at Religious News Service put together a single spiffy chart for the interplay of politics and religion in the United States. In one image, the chart encodes the relative size of different religious groups along with the political positions of those groups (or organizations associated with those groups), as reflected along the axes of more or less government services and more or less government enforcement of moral positions. It's a very nice bit of work, one that would make Edward Tufte proud.

But there's another dimension that isn't cleanly reflected in the chart. How do these organizations fall when it comes to issues of science? In particular, how does religious affiliation relate to support of evolution and environmental issues? Is being religious the same as dismissing evolution? Is the Bible Belt automatically against the EPA?

Josh Rosenau of the National Center for Science Education has charted exactly that relationship, which is shown in the image at the top of this post.

For more on what this chart, and the one by Grant, revealed... come on in.

Continue Reading
Reposted from Leslie Salzillo by Galtisalie
Rev. Dr. William Barber II, former Netroots speaker and founder of Moral Mondays, along with Forward Together and the NC NAACP, released a new date for the NC NAACP v. McCrory trial. The lawsuit alleges voter suppression in North Carolina, and the trial is now slated for July 13, 2015, in Winston Salem. There is also a massive 'North Carolina Is Our Selma' march scheduled on that same day that will most likely become historic. So if you're in the neighborhood…

Here is an excerpt from the latest email from Rev. Barber, followed by a timeline of informative past events leading up to the pending trial.

From Rev. Barber and Forward Together/NC NAACP:
May 16, 2015
NC NAACP v. McCrory (New) Trial Date Set for July 13

The historic trial of our lawsuit against the McCrory-Tillis-Berger law designed to disenfranchise African American and other anti-racism voters has been postponed a week. The federal judge notified us that he wants the trial to begin on on July 13 in his court in Winston-Salem. "It gives us a week more to spread the word," Rev. Dr. Barber said. "Tell everyone. Monday, July 13, Winston-Salem! We march across our Edmund Pettus Bridge in Winston-Salem to expose and reverse the Tea Party's unconstitutional attack on the voting rights our parents and grandparents won with their lives and blood. North Carolina is our Selma!"

This Week We Called on Gov. McCrory to Explain the Substantial Drop in Voter Registrations at Public Assistance Agencies

The NC NAACP and Forward Together Moral Movement handed a request for e-mails between the Governor, Dr. Wos, who runs the Department of Health and Human Services, and the 100 county DSS Directors, trying to get evidence about why the voter registrations of people applying for public assistance had dropped 66% from the day Gov. McCrory took office in January 2013. We asked Gov. McCrory for an immediate public statement about this suspicious drop off in registration of welfare recipients, which is required by the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. Dr. Wos' staff has said we can get some e-mails, but we have to pay for them. Stay tuned.

On Thursday, May 7, the Daily Kos published a troubling report that showed a substantial drop in voter registrations submitted from public assistance agencies since the beginning of 2013. According to the State Board of Elections, in 2012, 41,162 registration applications were submitted from pubic assistance agencies . In 2013, this number dropped to 18,758 and in 2014, it dropped even further to 13,340.

You can watch the news conference by clicking HERE or on the image below. You can also read our letter to Governor McCrory by clicking HERE.

For those still learning about Moral Mondays and the North Carolina citizen protest, I have compiled a timeline of events, including links to various mainstream and social media articles:

Here are some of the events from 2013:

January 2013
Republican Governor Pat McCrory takes office along with Republicans who won the House and Senate seats in 2012. The election gave Republicans control of both the legislative and executive branch for the first time since 1870. The Republicans began passing bills that many believe negatively affect education, voting rights, women's rights, the environment, racial justice and many social programs.

April 2013
A weekly grassroots protest led by Rev. Dr. William Barber II begins in Raleigh, North Carolina, called, Moral Mondays. It's reported that 924 protestors were arrested for peaceful 'civil disobedience' in 2013.

June 2013
The Supreme Court decision for Shelby v. Holder includes gutting a major part of the of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, giving states and many counties/municipalities, with the propensity for voter suppression, to have the right to change their election laws - without federal approval.

August 2013 
Governor McCrory signs new voting laws allegedly meant to suppress and discourage the votes of blacks, minorities, the elderly, the poor, many whom are known to vote Democrat.  

August 2013
NC NAAP and ACLU file lawsuit against Governor McCrory (NC NAACP v. McCrory).

September 2013
Attorney General Eric Holder with the Department of Justice files a lawsuit against the state of North Carolina over the new voting laws.

Here are some of the events from 2014:
February 2014
Tens of thousands show up for Moral March (aka Moral Mondays/Forward Together - Not One Step Back) in Raleigh.

June 2014
After watching the NC Moral Mondays/Forward Together grow by the thousands, NC Senator Thom Goolsby writes op-ed calling the Moral Monday citizens, 'Moral Morons.'

September 2014
 Over 100,000 erroneous voter packages are sent out by Koch brothers' Americans For Prosperity reportedly to mislead and misinform NC voters.

October 2014
After the League of Women Voters and others file a lawsuit against Governor McCrory and members of the NC Board of Elections leading to an Appeals court panel to blocks two key voter suppression provisions of new North Carolina voting laws

October 8, 2014
Supreme Court overrides the Appeals Court decision.

November  2014
Midterms lead to overwhelming Republican victories causing Republicans to maintain majority in the House, Senate, NC Supreme Court, and Governor's Office.

Here are some of the events from 2015, as well as some important upcoming events:
February 2015
Once again, tens of thousands show up for a 2015 Forward Together Moral March in downtown Raleigh.

May 7, 2015
Daily Kos writer, DocDawg, reveals large drop in voter registration drops and discrepancies in a Daily Kos breaking story.

May 11, 2015
Rev Barber calls emergency press conference where Rev. Barber discusses the disturbing evidence from the aforementioned Daily Kos breaking story and the NC NAACP demand official records from Governor McCrory. Here is the youtube video of the May 11th press conference.

May 12, 2015
Daily Kos diarist, DocDawg, updates the North Carolina voter registration meltdown.

May 16, 2015
Rev. Barber announces new court date for lawsuit, NC NAACP v. McCrory against Governor Pat McCrory, Senator Thom Tillis, and Senator Philip Berger is now July 13, 2015 in Winston Salem.


July 13, 2015
Court date scheduled for the NC NAAP v. McCrory trial, and a historic march in Winston-Salem, NC.

The results of this North Carolina lawsuit may be an incredible game changer for this country. At minimum, we hope to see these messages resonate to other states that are accused of voter suppression. Cheers to the Rev. Barber, the NC NAACP, and most of all to the thousands of Moral Monday protestors and supporters of 'justice for all.' Stay tuned for more updates.

This movement is amazing. Here are some photos I took on my iPhone while participating in Moral Monday rallies last summer. The photos don't show the huge crowds, but show the beauty of everyday Americans, both genders, all ages, colors, religions, economic statuses, political parties, and all walks of life coming together in joyful and peaceful spirit to protest injustice. It was life-changing for me. These images were also published in a Daily Kos diary from last September. See more photos below the fold.

Continue Reading
Reposted from BobboSphere by phillybluesfan

"The despot's heel is on thy shore,
His torch is at thy temple door,
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore,
And be the battle queen of yore,
Maryland! My Maryland!

This is the opening stanza of “Maryland, My Maryland", the official state song. You can view  the complete lyrics here. The song refers to an 1861 riot in Baltimore when Union troops traveling through the city to defend Washington DC from a possible Confederate attack were assaulted by a pro-slavery mob. The "despot" referred to was President Lincoln.

This song celebrating a riot by white racists goes on for 8 more stanzas exhorting Maryland to secede from the Union. The words were written by James Ryder Randall and set to the tune of “Oh Tannebaum” by two sisters, Hetty and Jennie Cary. The song became a hit throughout the Confederacy and the two sisters joined the high society of the Confederate aristocracy.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee had his army play the song during the 1862 invasion of Maryland which led to the Battle of Antietam and the single bloodiest day in US history. The song had such an emotional impact on the Confederacy that several pro-Union versions were penned in the North, though none achieved the popularity of the original.

Continue Reading
Reposted from librarisingnsf by Wee Mama
While the number of Americans who identify as Christian has declined in recent years, the recent Pew poll has found another interesting statistic. The number of LGB Americans who identify as Christian is up to forty-eight percent in the latest poll, up from forty-two percent in 2013. That's quite an increase in just that short period of time.

From The New Civil Rights Movement:

One of the top stories this week is the huge drop in the number of Americans who are willing to identify as Christian. From 2007 to 2014, that number dropped from 78.4 percent to just 70.6 percent, according to an extensive new survey just released by the Pew Research Center.

That drop applies across many demographics, including age and geography.

But one hidden portion of the survey reveals a staggering increase in the number of gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans who now say they identify as Christian.

Nearly half of the LGB community, 48 percent, say they are Christian.

That's a dramatic jump from a separate 2013 Pew survey, which placed the number at 42 percent, according to The Advocate.

Matthew Vines, author of God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships, tells The Advocate, "it's the 48 percent of LGBT Americans who are Christians who are best positioned to change both religious attitudes about same-sex marriage and secular attitudes about religion. As LGBT Christians continue to find their voice, they'll be changing both their churches and the LGBT community for the better."

I'm not sure why they did not poll trans persons. It could be that they did not find a large enough number of persons who identify as transgender to make any realistic or accurate conclusions/statistics.
The survey consisted of 35,071 adults, 1,604 of them identifying as LGB. The survey was conducted by telephone, from June 4 to September 30, 2014.
via The Advocate

Is this good news for the GOP? Not likely. LGBT folks are returning to their faith traditions because they have figured out that it is no longer an either/or situation. Mainline Christian denominations have become far more inclusive and welcoming for LGBT folks.

Meanwhile, another recent poll found that forty-seven percent of religious Americans favor marriage equality, and forty-five percent oppose.

From On Top Magazine:

The poll, called The American Values Atlas and released last month, found that 47 percent of religious Americans favor legalizing same-sex marriage, while 45 percent remain opposed.

Writing at The Atlantic, Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), the group behind the survey, notes that support has increased dramatically over the past dozen years.

“Many religious conservatives continue to insist that the same-sex marriage debate pits religious Americans against non-religious Americans,” Jones wrote. “That was largely true even as recently as 2003, when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage.”

“Over the last decade, though, the debate has shifted from one between religious and non-religious Americans to one that primarily pits older, conservative Christians against moderate, progressive, or younger Christians, Jews and the religiously unaffiliated.”

Catholic support for marriage equality is at sixty percent in that poll. Mainline Protestant support is up to sixty-two percent now. Evangelical Protestant support is now at twenty-eight percent

Mon May 11, 2015 at 04:29 AM PDT

Whose Faith is it Anyway?

by vuzvilla

Reposted from News From The Plains. All This Red Can Make You Blue by Wee Mama
Whose Faith is it Anyway?
by Barry Friedman

(First Appeared in The Tulsa Voice)

Just when we think we’re out, they pull us back in. But it wasn’t politics this time; it was faith. Two stories before we begin.

1) What seems like a million years ago, I was flipping through the cable channels and heard Jim Bakker—yes, that Jim Bakker—preaching about a Baptist pastor who had humiliated a young girl for dancing.  

He was incensed.

Fundamentalist Baptists frown on such things, something Bakker wasn’t backing away from; yet, this incident bothered him because the pastor had the girl in tears.

“If that’s Christ,” screamed Bakker, “I don’t want Him!”

2) In a homily at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1998, The Archbishop of New York, Cardinal John O’Connor said, “I categorically denounce the hypothesis that to kill an abortionist is justifiable in order to save babies. I have consistently denounced violence against persons based on their sexual orientation.”

Later, he told a New York City newspaper, “Let me make this clear: if anyone feels the need to kill an abortion doctor, kill me first.”

If that’s Christ…

Why bring this up?

As much as anything, what happened in Indiana last month—what is still happening there (and in other states, including Oklahoma)—is a battle for the parameters, language and meme of Christianity in America. Remember that pizza place at the center of the controversy?

“If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no,” Memories Pizza’s Crystal O’Connor said.

“We are a Christian establishment.”

“That lifestyle is something they choose. I choose to be heterosexual. They choose to be homosexual. Why should I be beat over the head to go along with something they choose?”

Let Elizabeth Loring of The Ripple Effect, a choir dedicated to bridging differences, pick up the story. When she first heard about Memories Pizza, Loring believed the O’Connors were cultural stereotypes, almost “cartoon characters,” she said.

“I like Rosie O’Donnell’s remark that even lesbians wouldn’t have pizza at a wedding—chili, maybe.”

Any other time, any other place, that’s funny.

The Ripple Effect founder Sherry Klinedinst—a church pianist at Southside Christian Church in South Bend, Indiana—decided, instead, the choir should go to Memories Pizza.

“I’ve been up all night thinking about these people,” Klinedinst wrote members, “and my heart goes out to them. Bottom line is that if we say we celebrate diversity and embrace our differences, then we should show them our support by showing them love. Who’s in?”

“My heart goes out to them”—? The group was in, including Loring, even after this news:

Fund Raises $840,000 for Memories Pizza After Attacks Over Gay Marriage Views

“My heart is slightly less heavy now,” Loring wrote Klinedinst. “I’m pretty sure they can stay in business if they choose to.”

“I can understand how you would feel that way,” Klinedinst responded. “I do, too. But if everyone could see the horror of the barrage of FB posts, it would be easier to see that those people would truly benefit from being shown that hate must be met with love. What would Jesus have done?”

The group went. Though the O’Connors weren’t there and Memories had closed down, the choir sang out front—hymns including, “In Christ There is No East or West” and, “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love.” A trucker drove by and yelled “God Bless America;” a retiree told them, “Get a job!” After about an hour, they headed back to South Bend for Good Friday services.

“By the time we got to town,” Loring said, “the hateful comments were starting to pile up.”

From every side.

“Most of them were initially from the right, thinking we were protesting,” she said. “Later, we also got angry comments from people from the left, incensed we would show sympathy to the restaurant owners.”

If it seems that no good deed goes unpunished, it might also ring true that no bad one goes unrewarded.

All told, Memories Pizza received almost $1 million in contributions; The Ripple Effect received this:

“Now I’m getting gay fatigue to go along with my race fatigue.”

“Everyone of these gay ‘Christian’ choir members are liars.”

“The place is shutdown because of death threats from gay Nazis. How about these idiots go sing to them?”

If that's Christ ...

Garrett Epps—author of To an Unknown God: Religious Freedom on Trial, Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore, and Supreme Court correspondent for The Atlantic, warns about oversimplifying:

“Listen, for heaven’s sake, let’s not fall for the hokum that ‘Christians’ are homophobes or that ‘Christians’ support discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, because you must know, if you think it through, how many Christians have taken risks and pushed their denominations in the name of equality for LGBT,” Epps said in email. “The claim that immunity from civil rights laws is ‘Christian’ is a trap, because the corollary is that favoring legal equality is ‘anti-Chrisitan.’ Don’t fall into it.”

“It’s the fall that’ll kill you”—Butch Cassidy  

Marlin Lavanhar, senior minister at Tulsa’s All Souls Unitarian Church, also sees the rhetorical traps.

“Who gets to define Christianity?” Lavanhar said. “That’s been a question for 2000 years. If someone were to say, ‘Christians or Christianity rejects LGBT people or lifestyles,’ they would have to explain why Evangelical Lutherans, Episcopalians, Congregationalists, Presbyterians and a number of other smaller Christian denominations accept them.”

Last year, after Gov. Mary Fallin said Oklahomans are religious and do not want gay marriage, All Souls hosted an engagement party of sorts.

“Twenty-seven clergy (Christian, Jewish and Unitarian) publicly stood with our LGBT neighbors,” Lavanhar said. “These kinds of efforts are needed to remind the country and those who think they define Christianity that theirs is not a Christian consensus on LGBT issues and ethics.”  

Loring says victory is incremental.

“We can’t change every heart, so why should we try?” she said. “The whole idea was to try to create a small space where there are no sides. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, ‘But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.’”

Memories Pizza has reopened, and the O’Connors say they will remodel and give the rest to charity.

There’s a story: Walking on a beach, a man and his grandson discover hundreds of starfish beached and dying. The boy starts throwing them back into the water, one by one. The man says gently, “You can’t save them all. There are just too many. You can’t throw enough back to make any difference.” But the boy continues, saying, “But grandpa, it makes a difference to this one, and this one, and this one.”

Reposted from librarisingnsf by Wee Mama
I and probably most Christians believe that Leviticus is not relevant to or at least is not very significant with regard to the Christian faith. There are a lot of rules and commandments in the book that simply do not make much sense to modern Christians, and the punishments prescribed or determined for violation of these laws seem barbaric and cruel. The book is (perhaps) far more useful to our Jewish brothers and sisters. After all, it IS their book. And, they have the Talmud and other tools to help them to interpret the book and make some sense of it in a modern society.

From Gay Christian 101:

Leviticus is written specifically for the children of Israel, containing laws and rules for Israel to obey as they prepare to occupy the land of Canaan.

“The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, [the Jewish nation] who are all of us here alive this day.” Deu 5:3.

The Holiness Code was not given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They lived hundreds of years before Moses.

The Holiness Code was not made with everyone living on earth. It was a specific covenant with a specific people, the Jews, at a specific time in history, for specific purposes related to the specific situation in Palestine at that time.

So, while I'd prefer not to worry about Leviticus, our Christian fundamentalist friends who insist on quoting a couple of passages in the book (or, at least trying to) while ignoring the rest of the book prevent me from ignoring its meaning or interpretation. I think they insist on quoting the two referenced verses because the English translations of these verses sound so condemning and clear (to them) about homosexuality. But, clarity is not something a modern day Christian actually finds in Leviticus. Even Rabbi and Professor Jacob Milgrom spent his whole life studying Leviticus and its meaning. He is/was a modern day scholar of the Leviticus text and has authored a three volume commentary on the book.

To my Jewish friends: If I make a mistake in the diary, it is not done with malicious intent. It is not my intent to offend or to denigrate Judaism or Jewish people. And, by all means, make corrections in the comments. Knowledge is power and it will help us to combat the ignorance of Christian fundamentalists. Having said that, much of my interpretation of these passages comes from a Jewish friend in Southern California who was in Rabbinical school (last year of it) until his passing.

Let's proceed below the fold for my interpretation of these passages.

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Wed May 06, 2015 at 09:48 AM PDT

Religion 101: Mystical Experiences

by Ojibwa

Reposted from Street Prophets by Wee Mama

One of the common features found in many—and perhaps most—religious traditions is the mystical experience in which the realities of time and space are suspended and there are feelings of awe and connectedness with the spiritual. In some mystical experiences, the person may feel as though their body or their spirit (soul) has been transported to another place, another time, or another dimension. In other mystical experiences the body feels the inner presence of a spirit or deity.

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Thu Apr 30, 2015 at 07:21 PM PDT


by Bill Day

Reposted from Bill Day by Wee Mama

I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I call myself that in order to distinguish myself from the dominant strain of North American Christianity. At the risk of sounding arrogant and judgmental, I am compelled to say that conservative Christians have adopted a very narrow and exclusionary reading of the Bible, thereby rendering static and dead a book I find dynamic and alive. It is not my purpose here to defend my faith or my reading of the Bible; neither needs defending. My purpose is simply to clarify what I believe. Before developing my own beliefs about Christ and the Bible, I think it appropriate to share a little of my personal history.

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