Thursday, December 31, 2009

Opportunistic Unpatriotic Republicans Cross the Line

By Frank Schaeffer (with a little help from Rachel Maddow)

I am the father of a Marine who served his country with honor in Afghanistan and Iraq. In that role -- as part of the military family -- I call on anyone who cares about this country to speak out against the Republican Party, its leaders and followers and tell the truth: they are trying to cash in on the Detroit/terror attempt in a way that has clearly crossed a line. They are over the line of not just good taste, but into an area that has to be called what it is: unpatriotic, un-American cynicism on a new level.

I was going to write a post on this but Rachel Maddow said it better on MSNBC last night...



Please watch and pass on. One last thing: why is Rachel Maddow the only journalist who seems to be doing her job on this (and so many other matters!) of actually fact-checking?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Change Religion Before It Kills Us

By Frank Schaeffer


The media-labeled “New Atheists” such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have put forward what they regard as the answer to religion: grow up human race and abandon your myths!

Most Americans and maybe even most people around the world, have another answer to the extremes of religion that infect people like Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who (allegedly) tried to blow up an airplane over Detroit: hunt down and kill the extremists.

I think just about everyone has missed the real point: religion won’t go away because – like it or not—people are spiritual beings.

Telling religious people to be moderate is not going to solve anything once they are convinced everyone not like them is the enemy of “truth.” Killing more people just makes martyrs. That being the case the way to confront religious poison is to change religion, not try to win by eliminating it. And that change means we have to try and get to the next generation before the fundamentalists do.

The only real solution to religious extremism is to change the conversation about religion altogether.

We urgently need to make that conversation center on embracing paradox rather than seeking – then trying to impose by force and or “reason” – our pet certainties on others.

How do we change the conversation about religion, roll back the violence done in the name of God (be that by gay-hating American “Christian” fundamentalists or world-fearing “Islamic” radicals -- and while we’re at it end the culture war here at home that divides us on everything from the existence of God to abortion and gay rights?

How do we live together in a world where some people fervently believe that the earth is 6000 years old, that gay men and women choose to be gay and can “change” if they want to, that Jesus will soon return (and thus that war in the Middle East is a good thing because it is a “sign” of the much-hoped-for “End Times”) while other people just as fervently believe that people who hold such views are dumb, evil and dangerous?

Do the New Atheist really believe that “Reason” (whatever that is) will win the day after people are indoctrinated? Good luck with that! Do they see signs of that happening? Or do the evangelicals like Pastor Rick Warren really believe that they will convince the world to sign on for a dose of Jesus-induced American middle class-style “values” by following Warren’s trademark narrow minded “purpose driven” model of fundamentalist Christianity?

Does raising the volume help as we shout at each other, mock one another and ramp up our own self-fulfilling “prophecies” of doom? Or is there an alternative?

Put it this way; what might have helped the misguided and inept young man – Abdulmutallab -- who allegedly tried to blow up that plane? Say he’d run into you or me in London when he was living there and studying how could we have talked him into another frame of mind other than that of absolutism and aggrieved confrontation with the “other”?

Would he have changed his views if Rick Warren had handed him a copy of The Purpose Driven Life? And had he converted to Warren’s brand of Christianity would Abdulmutallab have also signed on – as did many of Warren’s followers in Africa -- to Warren’s homophobic campaign that (in Uganda) allegedly contributed to proposed legislation to impose the death penalty on gays? (Something that very belatedly Warren spoke out against when pressed by the media). What would have been the use of converting Abdulmutallab to the American moral equivalent of the Taliban’s brand of “Islam” -- a version of Christianity that excludes gays, Jews, atheists, and anyone else regarded as the “lost”?

Would Bill Maher have been able to mock the would-be bomber into a change of heart by making fun of his belief in “imaginary friends?”

Or could Christopher Hitchens have convinced Abdulmutallab to abandon religious belief based on a one-sided list of all of the evils in history ascribed to religion?

What if our radicalized and hate-filled American gun-loving, Obama-hating evangelicals with their gay bashing rhetoric could also have once been reached? If so how?

Evangelical/fundamentalists, Islamic fundamentalists and for that matter atheist fundamentalists who stick with their program are forced to try to reconcile the irreconcilable. That tends to piss them off! That tends to make them look for simple solutions from one line Maher-style punch lines to suicide bombs that will once and for all “answer” people with another point of view and shut them up!

Evangelical/fundamentalists and fundamentalist atheists have bought into an idea that my evangelical missionary mother used to phrase as a dire warning: “If you pick and choose between verses in the Bible, the whole thing will unravel! If it’s not all true, none of it is!”

Because picking and choosing is what thinking is, thinking becomes a threat to people who are certain they are right. Who knows where asking questions might lead?

What Islamic, Christian and/or atheist fundamentalists won’t admit is that all fundamentalists do pick and choose, by necessity, when interpreting their beliefs.


Seen any adulterers stoned to death in a church lately? Somewhat less dramatically, but just as tellingly, if you are an evangelical/ fundamentalist churchgoer, have you recently heard that Bible verse in Genesis about how “the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives” preached on? And if you are a Hitchens/Dawkins/Maher follower have you read any good essays by them on the weirdly symbiotic relationship between some bloodthirsty secular regimes (China anyone?) and atheist beliefs?

As I point out in my book Patience With God-- Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism) Christian fundamentalists having elevated the Bible (or at least the nicer bits that they like) to the status of a magic book in which God is trapped and kept somewhat like a tame pet, can’t admit that the Bible has flaws and is just plain crazy in places. And try criticizing Dawkins on his website and see how the word “infidel” can be resurrected in spirit if not literally by “open-minded” atheists!

Is there another way to look at “truth” issues that might not lead to hate? Yes. It’s called apophatic theology and can be applied to both secular and religious ideas.

Evagrius Ponticus (a fourth century monk) summed up this view, saying “Do not define the Deity: for it is only of things which are made or are composite that there can be definitions.” In fact, a whole anti-theology came to be called apophatic theology, or the theology of not knowing, or negative theology. It speaks only about what may not be said about God. And this way of perceiving God is found not just in Christianity but in other religions too.

This theology takes a mystical approach related to individual ex­periences of the Divine beyond ordinary perception. It teaches that the Divine is ineffable, something that can be recognized only when it is felt, then remembered. And therefore all descriptions of this sense will be false, because by definition the experience of God eludes description.

Apophatic descriptions of God acknowledge (1) that neither the existence of God nor nonexistence, as we understand these words in the material world, applies to God, (2) that God is divinely simple and that one should never claim God is “one” or “three” or any “type” of being, (3) that we can’t say that God is “wise,” because that implies knowledge of what wisdom is on a divine scale, and (4) that to say that God is “good” also limits God to what that word means in the context of human behavior.

If we want to change the religion debate the same could and should be applied to all philosophy and even to science. There is a difference between opinion and changing/evolving information and absolute and changeless fact. If we’d divide the practical everyday “facts” from making huge and out-sized cosmological “conclusions” we’d all be better off.

We’d also be closer to the truth that we can’t know anything conclusively because we are evolving and not “there” yet (wherever there is!) and also we are part of the paradox we’re seeking to unravel. In other words rather than strapping bombs on ourselves to eliminate the other, we might instead “strap” on a bit of humility be that atheist humility in the face of tenacious spirituality or religious humility in the face of the very apparent contradiction of some of religion’s fondest beliefs by science.

Recognizing that paradox is the way things are is about more than theological conflicts.

Science (grudgingly) embraces paradox too. Take, for example, what seems to be the contradiction between Ein­stein’s proven Theory of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. The first theory holds that if you know the initial conditions of a physical system with absolute certainty, then you can know the future outcome of the system you are modeling. Theoretically, then, everything in the universe is as predictable as the speed of light—if you have enough information.

The second theory (Quantum Mechanics) says that you can never know the initial conditions exactly and also that you can’t know what will happen in the future of any physical system. You can only know, to a greater or lesser extent, the probability of something happening because, for instance, some particles can be in two places at once. Quantum Mechanics might be described as the apophatic science of uncertainty.

The point is to agree on a better vision of where we want to evolve to, not just physically but also ethically.

That is a project that believers and agnostics and atheists can and should agree on. We don’t have to “fit” our ideas about how we perceive things together in order to work together. We can be the same “particle” but exist in two places at once.

If the Umar Farouk Abdulmutallabs of this world (of whatever religion or no religion at all) could be reached with an “evangelism” of paradox and blessed uncertainty before the people so certain that they are right get to them, we could change our world dramatically for the better.

Uncertainty is not to be “solved” it is to be embraced. That has to be our message as we press into the next decade of this so-far violent and disastrous century.

Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of PATIENCE WITH GOD: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Re Obama, responses to my pro-Obama piece, and responses to the responses.... etc. Note that Andrew Sullivan says it well in the Atlantic. So rather than go back through everything again and again for the Obama critics here it is from Sullivan. (The Atlantic Dec 23, 09).


http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/12/meep-meep.html#more

By Andrew Sullivan

My own view is that 2009 has been an extraordinarily successful year for Obama. Since this is currently a minority view and will prompt a chorus of "In The Tank!", allow me to explain.

The substantive record is clear enough. Torture is ended, if Gitmo remains enormously difficult to close and rendition extremely hard to police. The unitary executive, claiming vast, dictatorial powers over American citizens, has been unwound. The legal inquiries that may well convict former Bush officials for war crimes are underway, and the trial of KSM will reveal the lawless sadism of the Cheney regime that did so much to sabotage our war on Jihadism. Military force against al Qaeda in Pakistan has been ratcheted up considerably, even at a civilian cost that remains morally troubling. The US has given notice that it intends to leave Afghanistan with a bang - a big surge, a shift in tactics, and a heavy batch of new troops. Iraq remains dodgy in the extreme, but at least March elections have been finally nailed down.

Domestically, the new president has rescued the banks in a bail-out that has come in at $200 billion under budget; the economy has shifted from a tailspin to stablilization and some prospect of job growth next year; the Dow is at 10,500 a level no one would have predicted this time last year. A stimulus package has helped undergird infrastructure and probably did more to advance non-carbon energy than anything that might have emerged from Copenhagen. Universal health insurance (with promised deficit reduction!) is imminent - a goal sought by Democrats (and Nixon) for decades, impossible under the centrist Clinton, but won finally by a black liberal president. More progress has been made in unraveling the war on drugs this past year than in living memory. The transformation of California into a state where pot is now more available than in Amsterdam is as remarkable as the fact that such new sanity has spread across the country and is at historic highs, so to speak, in the opinion polls. On civil rights, civil marriage came to the nation's capital city, which has a 60 percent black population. If that doesn't help reverse some of the gloom from Prop 8 and Maine, what would? And, yes, the unspeakable ban on HIV-positive foreigners was finally lifted, bringing the US back to the center of the global effort to fight AIDS as it should be.

Relations with Russia have improved immensely and may yield real gains in non-proliferation; Netanyahu has moved, however insincerely, toward a two-state solution; Iran's coup regime remains far more vulnerable than a year ago, paralyzed in its diplomacy, terrified of its own people and constantly shaken by the ongoing revolution; Pakistan launched a major offensive against al Qaeda and the Taliban in its border area; global opinion of the US has been transformed; the Cairo speech and the Nobel acceptance speech helped explain exactly what Obama's blend of ruthless realism for conflict-management truly means.

The Beltway cannot handle all this. And that's why they continue to jump on every micro-talking-point and forget vast forests for a few failing saplings.

But when you consider the magnitude of shifting from one conservative era to one in which government simply has to be deployed to tackle deep structural problems, the achievement is as significant as his election year.

I remain, in other words, extremely bullish on the guy. There is a huge amount to come - finding a way to bring down long-term debt, ensuring health insurance reform stays on track and reformed constantly to control costs, turning the corner on non-carbon energy, reforming entitlements, finding a new revenue stream like a VAT, preventing Israel from attacking Iran, preventing Iran's coup regime from going even roguer, withdrawing from an Iraq still teetering on new sectarian conflict, avoiding a second downturn, closing Gitmo for good, ending the gay ban in the military ... well, you get the picture.

Change of this magnitude is extremely hard. That it is also frustrating, inadequate, compromised, flawed, and beset with bribes and trade-offs does not, in my mind, undermine it. Obama told us it would be like this - and it is. And those who backed him last year would do better, to my mind, if they appreciated the difficulty of this task and the diligence and civility that Obama has displayed in executing it.

Yes, we have. And yes, we still are the ones we've been waiting for - if we still care enough to swallow purism and pride and show up for the less emotionally satisfying grind of real, practical, incremental reform.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My NPR Interview on Faith v. Atheism

I think this interview worked out well. So much BS is on the web about what I'm supposed to believe these days or am saying -- written by people from all over the ideological/religious map. At least here I get to say what I think. Pass this on if you know anyone who might be interested. Here's the link, and below is how NPR describes the interview.

LINK

http://www.wbez.org/content.aspx?audioID=38958


Thanks,

Frank


PS Merry Christmas!

Atheism and Christian Fundamentalism Miss the Mark on Faith


When it comes to the role of religion in the public square, there's a big argument over what's too much and what's not enough. The so-called “New Atheist” thinkers like Christopher Hitchens believe religion is more than just a policy hindrance, it’s a danger to civilization itself. Others, like Evangelical Christian leader Rick Warren, say we need more faith in the public square and thinks atheism and secularism are the world’s big dangers.

Frank Schaeffer believes both sides of the argument miss the mark. Schaeffer is author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back. He’s also a novelist and contributor to The Huffington Post. Frank's new book is called, Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism).





http://www.wbez.org/content.aspx?audioID=38958

Monday, December 21, 2009

Obama Will Triumph — So Will America

By Frank Schaeffer

Before he’d served even one year President Obama lost the support of the easily distracted left and engendered the white hot rage of the hate-filled right. But some of us, from all walks of life and ideological backgrounds -- including this white, straight, 57-year-old, former religious right wing agitator, now progressive writer and (given my background as the son of a famous evangelical leader) this unlikely Obama supporter -- are sticking with our President. Why?-- because he is succeeding.

We faithful Obama supporters still trust our initial impression of him as a great, good and uniquely qualified man to lead us.

Obama’s steady supporters will be proved right. Obama’s critics will be remembered as easily panicked and prematurely discouraged at best and shriveled hate mongers at worst.

The Context of the Obama Presidency

Not since the days of the rise of fascism in Europe, the Second World War and the Depression has any president faced more adversity. Not since the Civil War has any president led a more bitterly divided country. Not since the introduction of racial integration has any president faced a more consistently short-sighted and willfully ignorant opposition – from both the right and left.

As the President’s poll numbers have fallen so has his support from some on the left that were hailing him as a Messiah not long ago; all those lefty websites and commentators that were falling all over themselves on behalf of our first black president during the 2008 election.

The left’s lack of faith has become a self-fulfilling “prophecy”-- snipe at the President and then watch the poll numbers fall and then pretend you didn’t have anything to do with it!

Here is what Obama faced when he took office-- none of which was his fault:

# An ideologically divided country to the point that America was really two countries

# Two wars; one that was mishandled from the start, the other that was unnecessary and immoral

# The worst economic crisis since the depression

# America’s standing in the world at the lowest point in history

# A country that had been misled into accepting the use of torture of prisoners of war

# A health care system in free fall

# An educational system in free fall

# A global environmental crisis of history-altering proportions (about which the Bush administration and the Republicans had done nothing)

# An impasse between culture warriors from the right and left

# A huge financial deficit inherited from the terminally irresponsible Bush administration…

And those were only some of the problems sitting on the President’s desk!

“Help” from the Right?

What did the Republicans and the religious right, libertarians and half-baked conspiracy theorists -- that is what the Republicans were reduced to by the time Obama took office -- do to “help” our new president (and our country) succeed? They claimed that he wasn’t a real American, didn’t have an American birth certificate, wasn’t born here, was secretly a Muslim, was white-hating "racist", was secretly a communist, was actually the Anti-Christ, (!) and was a reincarnation of Hitler and wanted “death panels” to kill the elderly!

They not-so-subtly called for his assassination through the not-so-subtle use of vile signs held at their rallies and even a bumper sticker quoting Psalm 109:8. They organized “tea parties” to sound off against imagined insults and all government in general and gathered to howl at the moon. They were led by insurance industry lobbyists and deranged (but well financed) “commentators” from Glenn Beck to Rush Limbaugh.

The utterly discredited Roman Catholic bishops teamed up with the utterly discredited evangelical leaders to denounce a president who was trying to actually do something about the poor, the environment, to diminish the number of abortions through compassionate programs to help women and to care for the sick! And in Congress the Republican leadership only knew one word: “No!”

In other words the reactionary white, rube, uneducated, crazy American far right,combined with the educated but obtuse neoconservative war mongers, religious right shills for big business, libertarian Fed Reserve-hating gold bug, gun-loving crazies, child-molesting acquiescent “bishops”, frontier loons and evangelical gay-hating flakes found one thing to briefly unite them: their desire to stop an uppity black man from succeeding at all costs!

“Help” from the Left?

What did the left do to help their newly elected president? Some of them excoriated the President because they disagreed with the bad choices he was being forced to make regarding a war in Afghanistan that he’d inherited from the worst president in modern history!

Others stood up and bravely proclaimed that the President’s economic policies had “failed” before the President even instituted them! Others said that since all gay rights battles had not been fully won within virtually minuets of the President taking office, they’d been “betrayed”! (Never mind that Obama’s vocal support to the gay community is stronger than any other president’s has been. Never that mind he signed a new hate crimes law!)

Those that had stood in transfixed legions weeping with beatific emotion on election night turned into an angry mob saying how "disappointed" they were that they’d not all immediately been translated to heaven the moment Obama stepped into the White House! Where was the “change”? Contrary to their expectations they were still mere mortals!

And the legion of young new supporters was too busy texting to pay attention for longer than a nanosecond… “Governing”?! What the hell does that world, uh, like mean?”

The President’s critics left and right all had one thing in common: impatience laced with little-to-no sense of history (let alone reality) thrown in for good measure. Then of course there were the white, snide know-it-all commentators/talking heads who just couldn’t imagine that maybe, just maybe they weren’t as smart as they thought they were and certainly not as smart as their president. He hadn’t consulted them, had he? So he must be wrong!

The Obama critics' ideological ideas defined their idea of reality rather than reality defining their ideas—say, about what is possible in one year in office after the hand that the President had been dealt by fate, or to be exact by the American idiot nation that voted Bush into office… twice!

Meanwhile back in the reality-based community – in just 12 short months -- President Obama:

#Continued the draw down the misbegotten war in Iraq
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

#Thoughtfully and decisively picked the best of several bad choices regarding the war in Afghanistan
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

#Gave a major precedent-setting speech supporting gay rights
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

#Restored America’s image around the globe
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

#Banned torture of American prisoners
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

#Stopped the free fall of the American economy
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

#Put the USA squarely back in the bilateral international community
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

#Put the USA squarely into the middle of the international effort to halt global warming
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

#Stood up for educational reform
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

#Won a Nobel peace prize
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

#Moved the trial of terrorists back into the American judicial system of checks and balances
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

#Did what had to be done to start the slow, torturous and almost impossible process of health care reform that 7 presidents had failed to even begin
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

#Responded to hatred from the right and left with measured good humor and patience
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

#Stopped the free fall of job losses
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

#Showed immense personal courage in the face of an armed and dangerous far right opposition that included the sort of disgusting people that show up at public meetings carrying loaded weapons and carrying Timothy McVeigh-inspired signs about the “blood of tyrants” needing to “water the tree of liberty”…
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

#Showed that he could not only make the tough military choices but explain and defend them brilliantly
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)


Other than those "disappointing" accomplishments -- IN ONE YEAR -- President Obama “failed”! Other than that he didn’t “live up to expectations”!

Who actually has failed...

...are the Americans that can’t see the beginning of a miracle of national rebirth right under their jaded noses. Who failed are the smart ass ideologues of the left and right who began rooting for this President to fail so that they could be proved right in their dire and morbid predictions. Who failed are the movers and shakers behind our obscenely dumb news cycles that have turned “news” into just more stupid entertainment for an entertainment-besotted infantile country.

Here’s the good news: President Obama is succeeding without the help of his lefty “supporters” or hate-filled Republican detractors!

The Future Looks Good

After Obama has served two full terms, (and he will), after his wisdom in moving deliberately and cautiously with great subtlety on all fronts -- with a canny and calculating eye to the possible succeeds, (it will), after the economy is booming and new industries are burgeoning, (they will be), after the doomsayers are all proved not just wrong but silly: let the record show that not all Americans were panicked into thinking the sky was falling.

Just because we didn’t get everything we wanted in the first short and fraught year Obama was in office not all of us gave up. Some of us stayed the course. And we will be proved right.

Merry Christmas (or Happy Holidays, depending on your point of view) to everyone!

PS. if you agree that Obama is shaping up to be a great president please pass this on and hang in there!

Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of “Patience With God – Faith For People Who Don’t Like Religion (Or Atheism).”

Frank may be contacted at Frankschaeffer.com

Friday, December 18, 2009

Why God Hates Republicans (Hint: "Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of the Lord thy God in Vain")

By Frank Schaeffer


"Herod care" anyone?

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference led last night's "prayercast" co-sponsored by the Family Research Council.

In the "prayercast," Rodriguez prayed:

Heavenly father, righteous God, in this season as we celebrate birth of our savior, the one who came to give us life, everlasting life abundant, we come in His name to intercede for that very gift of life. Father, the same spirit of Herod who 2000 years ago attempted to exterminate the life of the Messiah today lives even America. ...


If you're backing health care reform you're a new Herod. Obama (and presumably all Democrats and sane Republican voters, is (accordingly) trying to kill babies, the innocent, as did King Herod who did a preemptive strike against all male children after he decided to kill the baby Jesus.

So a big "Merry Christmas" from your friendly evangelicals, now using this holiday to quash a bill designed to help the poor. And another example of how some evangelicals on the right are willing to trivialize and demean their scriptures in their anti-Obama crusade.

Okay, there may or may not be a God. But if there is and he's the God the religious right claims to worship, then he is probably not pleased with them. I say this judging by their own oft-stated standards, not mine.

If the God described in the Bible exists and if the fundamentalists are correct that the Bible describes his likes and dislikes then the greatest sin is taking God's name in vain and using God for non-holy purposes -- say, grandstanding in the Senate against health care reform and dragging God into it.

Maybe God doesn't want to become a shill for the insurance industry -- as have the Republicans and the "preachers" who support them.

I was raised by an evangelical leader of the religious right and was his sidekick for a bit before coming to my senses. So this is home territory for me, the stuff I was literally taught at my mother's knee. Like Mom said: "Never take the Lord's name in vain!"

According to scripture humans may not call upon God to place a curse on any individual. To call on God to curse or damn a person or situation (say to call for Obama's death by quoting Psalm 109:8 on T-shirts), or for the defeat of health care reform is therefore a vain attempt at usurping God's power. In the Bible people get eaten by worms for stuff like this.

So when the Republican far right "pro-life" and pro-insurance industry lobbyists took a time out to be led by some of the nation's biggest religious flakes, paranoids and hysterics in "prayer" to delay and defeat health care reform they were playing with eternal damnation (if their theology is correct).

From the evangelical point of view, our words must be well pleasing to the Lord Jesus Christ who purchased us with His own blood "that He might redeem us from all iniquity [lawlessness] and purify unto Himself a peculiar people [a people of His own], zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14). May the fruit of our lips always honor "that worthy Name by the which ye are called" (James 2:7)

Religious Right leaders and their supporters in Congress attended a "prayercast" Wednesday night held by the Family Research Council. Attendees asked God to kill the bill.

James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, spoke to the group by phone hookup. According to Rachel Maddow, he said, "I just pray that you will frustrate the plans of the Evil One, and revive us again with conviction and forgiveness. Republicans Sen. Sam Brownback (Kansas) was there too with Rep. Todd Akin (Missouri) who spoke by video. He said the Pilgrims believed "that the Bible was a blueprint for all of mankind... to tell us about economics, to tell us about education, to tell us about government."

The Family Research Council held the one-hour webcast. Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN), Jim DeMint (SC), Sam Brownback (KS) and Rep. Randy Forbes were there. Tony Perkins (well known paranoid and delusional moralist leader of the Family Research Council) prayed:


"Life and death hinges on the Senate health care bill. We face significant threats to the God-given right to human life through government funding of abortions, our health from rationing, our family finances from higher taxes, and our general freedoms posed by the government plan to take over health care. There have been a number of critical hours in American history. Our nation has struggled mightily and, under God, always risen to the challenges before us. Tonight, we will face this moral crisis by taking action and obeying the Biblical mandate to pray for our nation and its leaders."


Dobson referred to President Obama as: "I just pray that you will frustrate the plans of the Evil One [Obama and/or Satan take your pick]." Pastor Jim Garlow made the case that the reform "violates nearly all Ten Commandments."

Bachmann's contribution? -- "And we say oh Lord we deserve your wrath. But would you yet give our nation mercy? We ask for your mercy. We cry out to you oh God this is our moment and this is our time Lord. We are at the end of ourselves and now we need you. We need you Lord."

All this to stand up for the insurance industry against the widows and orphans! Quite a stretch for "Christians" wouldn't you think?

I'd hate to still be an evangelist these days (as I used to be when -- sad to say -- as I young man I was my late religious right leader father's sidekick back in the 70s and 80s.) How could I ever tell anyone about Jesus now when the public image of Christ has been hijacked by the Republicans using religious language to defeat compassion?

Let's get one thing straight, and I say this as a former "pro-life" leader: I don't think that the Republicans using abortion funding in the health care bill as an excuse don't give a rat's ass about the unborn. If they did, and if their various presidents over the last 30 years plus had, they would have instituted massive health care reform for families, mothers and children rather than fighting it. Because the chief cause of abortion is economic hardship. How is a mom supposed to pay for health care? (For that matter how is a dad supposed to either?)

Anyone who cares about the unborn would want to go to a single payer universal system tomorrow no questions asked. Take away the economic uncertainty from millions of Americans -- and health care costs are the biggest worry of all -- and you've gone a long way to a family and child-friendly climate.

So no, the people who have encouraged Africans to burn condoms and practice abstinence only non-sex sex, (Hi Pastor Rick Warren are you listening?!) in other words the people who are stopping health care reform, are the same hypocrites using health care reform as a means to defeat the man they hate -- President Obama.

That is their real agenda: stop the uppity black man!

They care about only one thing: the defeat and humiliation of the black man who has the temerity to be smarter than they are and/or they are dupes of the Dick Army-led insurance lobby.

In the process they have turned their hand against God, and, if he exists and if he's the God of the Bible (an even bigger if) he is being exploited by the Republicans today. By their own beliefs they stand condemned not by me or you but by their own double standards born of born-again hatred for our president.

Let's give Jesus the last word (as recorded in Matthew 7:15, 20-23)

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves... Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them... Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evil doers!'"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

To the Republicans Delaying and Obstructing

By Frank Schaeffer


Dear Republicans: I used to be one of you. In fact you’d have no “Tea Bag” movement if it hadn’t been for my dad and me, and many others who, back in the 1970s and 80s, instigated the rise of the religious right. Dad and I were leaders of that movement. Then after 1985 I got out, quit, left. But I hadn’t given up on the Republican Party altogether. As late as 2000 I worked to get McCain elected in the primaries instead of W Bush. (Later, as a "thank you" McCain wrote a long and wonderful endorsement of one of my books about the military family.) When I saw the lies told about McCain -- and others -- by the Bush people and my old buddies on the religious right I finally quit.

These days I’m an Obama supporter. I’m also horribly aware that what we did bringing the Republican Party together with the religious right is the root of one of the great American tragedies: the takeover of the Republican Party by very sick simple and religiously deluded fundamentalists. And now you are out of ideas to the extent that all Republicans stand for is, well, nothing but obstruction.

What you’ve been doing in the Senate to stall health care reform is just too sad for words. And I take it personally. Who should I send my rising impossible-to-pay health insurance premiums to? Dick Army?

To the Republican jokesters in the Senate spending hours reading amendments out loud while trying to quash my health care by stalling I add my voice to Senator Bernie Sanders who said from the floor of the Senate: “We have two wars, global warming, we have a twelve trillion national debt and the best the Republicans can do is try to bring the United States Government to a halt!”

After that stalling nonsense you Republicans turned to a “Prayer cast” to pray the health care reform to a halt. And in that we saw the absurdity of the convergence of all that is wrong with you. You are in bed with religious flakes from C-Street (The Family) to the whole evangelical amorally bankrupt and hate-driven anti-gay movement and cast of "characters". You are the people who like torture to be legal but not health care that’s affordable. So to stall action in the Senate you brought in a bunch of right wing flake preachers who’d pray for defeat of health care for the poor!

Well, it’s time to call it truthfully: the Republican Party is the enemy of America. You aren’t just another party; you are an insurrection against law, living and love. You trade in hate and fear and religious mumbo-jumbo. You trade in “death panel” lies. You do all this instead of the job you were elected to do, which is govern.

You are doing to our whole country what Bush did to New Orleans after Katrina: look the other way and play politics while the rest of us go down.

You Republicans are the ones who – to use your very own Sarah Palin’s words – are not the “real Americans.” You are members of a lie-based evangelical paranoid cult.

Enough! If prayer is what you call for now, here’s my prayer:

May the Republican Party with its lies, hate, stagnation and obstructionism be swept away by our first black president’s success against all odds!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fox 'News' Fans Flood Anti-U.S. Chamber Campaign With Death Threats, Racial Attacks

BY (guest blogger)
Brad Friedman

(Brad is an Investigative journalist and broadcaster
This was first posted on his site: December 14, 2009)


Those "conservative" Fox "News" fans sure do use a lot of F-words in their death threats.

We're used to various death threats by now, of course, even from Drudge's poodle, Andy "Big Government" Breitbart, but those socially "conservative", American "values"-lovin', Fox "News" viewers have really outdone themselves this time.

On Monday night, FoxNews.com featured a story on the latest announcement from VR's StopTheChamber.com campaign, concerning the offer of a $200,000 reward for insider information leading to the arrest and conviction of Tom Donohue, the CEO of the right-wing corporatist lobbying group, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. [Disclosure: The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder of VelvetRevolution.us]

Apart from his work at the Chamber, Donohue has run a number of major corporations into the ground, as his tenure as CEO at each was generally plagued by improprieties, plunging stock values (coupled with soaring executive pay), scandal, various forms of illegal behavior and SEC investigations. He was found by the FEC to have made millions of dollars in illegal corporate campaign contributions in 2004 and is now facing a criminal investigation by the DoJ about that, even while he runs the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in many ways, as nothing short of a criminal racket.

Unlike many similar campaigns VR has run in the past, offering such rewards for whistleblower information about wrong-doers over the years, this one caught the attention of the folks at Fox for some reason, and they decided to splash it on the front page of their website this week with a bold graphic shouting: "HUNTED BY THE LEFT: Bounty Put on Head of Chamber Boss". For good measure, in the story itself, they used the word "Liberal" a total of four times before they even finished the second graf. (An email to the story's author, Judson Berger, explaining that VR is a non-partisan group and works with folks of many different political bents, including Republicans, led them to change their headline from the wholly misleading "Liberal Group Puts Bounty on Head of Chamber of Commerce CEO" to the slightly-less misleading "Activist Group Puts Bounty on Head..." etc.)

Anyway, while there is no bounty on anybody's "head", and no one is being "HUNTED", the StopTheChamber.com campaign does feature a reward for information leading to Donohue's arrest and conviction. Roll Call also covered [$-only] VR's announcement on Monday, though much more responsibly (in a far less inflammatory way) than Fox did.

But this story is not about that, it's about the unbelievable amount of email that was sent from, presumably, those "socially conservative" Fox "News" fans in which a good 98% of those notes contained one or more of the following:

* Threats of death or violence;
* The F-Word (or similar);
* Accusations of Nazism and/or Communism (never mind that it's difficult to be both) or Marxism or Socialism;
* Racist slurs against Obama;
* Accusations that VR is working with or for the White House or the Democrats (which is somewhat amusing if you know anything about VR).

And, of course, many of them offer the cruelest cut of them all, they wish VR a "Merry Christmas". Ouch, that one hurts!

So here are just a few samples from some of those friendly emails from those good "conservatives" of Fox "News" willing to send out death threats, we'll guess, in support of the millionaire corporate lobbyists and billionaire corporations of the U.S. Chamber who've spent more money buying Congressmembers than anybody else in the country. These, apparently, are the Fox "News" "conservatives" -- Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly's "patriots" and Sean Hannity's "great Americans" -- as almost all of them came in at the same time that Fox's story on VR's reward offer was posted on the front page of FoxNews.com.

Out of an abundance of generosity, we're not posting the emailers names here (each bullet-point quote below comes from a different note) but the ones which include threats of violence have been given to the FBI [PDF] in D.C., along with a request for an investigation to find out if the Chamber itself might be behind the hit campaign.

Many of these are not safe for work, so watch your back at the office...
* * *

* "Leave the US Chamber of Commerce alone. This is the only warning you will receive."

* "You WILL be confronted and stopped ... I am quite probably a member of the fasting [sic] growing group that is your direct enemy..."

* "Your [sic] all on borrowed time. The real revolution will come to those soon"

* "You peices [sic] of shit should all be fucking burned at the stake"

* "I dont make threats. Only promises. You better back the hell off"

* "interesting site but this will be no velvet revolution people. Quite the contraire [sic] as you give the moniker a bad name. ... Now, if you want a revolution which it sounds as though you do, it most certainly wont be velvet."

* "Be careful what you ask for..."

* "Keep this $200,000 'tip' business going for the CEO of the Chamber and you will find yourself as the target.... You will only receive a limited number of warning --- this may be the only one --- before your punishment is delivered."

* "Bounty on your head. Beware"

* "All I can say is 'Go Fuck your Mother'....What a pathetic left wing org this is......run by...wait for it.......Mother Fuckers......."

* "FUCK YOU COMMUNIST MOTHERFUCKERS!!!!! GET READY. CIVIL WAR II IS COMING, AND IT WILL BE THE RIGHT VS. THE LEFT THIS TIME. THE RIGHT WILL WIN. FUCK YOU ASSHOLES!!!!!!!!!"

* "your low life president Barry Boy along with Reid and Pelosi should all be arrested and tried for treason."

* "Please let the world know who is behind this bounty offer so that they can be 'recognized' for their decision."

* "I will inform friends and family of your thoughts and movements"

* "Your group is a fascist front group. Why don't you and your band of traitors come to Texas and hold a big protest. We will 'welcome' you here."

* "Try yourselves for treason againsst [sic] the U.S. and then we can hang you for your crimes against this country."

* "Here is a tip -- eat shit you fucking liberal pussy faggots. if you nigger loving hippies ever succeed in anything to ruin this country, you will find me banging down your door to take it back. i cannot believe how far this country has fallen when fucks like you are allowed to roam free - go back to your ghettos and hide behind the food stamp, hand out line with all your other crack whore mothers"

* "If you haven't already figured this out, you work for a very corrupt organization that is sponsored by the anti-Christ--even Satan himself."

* (Subject: "Ingorance?" [sic]): "What is wrong with you slimy idiots? Just because someone or some group has more brains that [sic] your half white, half black, half assed, 100% bull shit leader you have to try and slander them? Must be part of the ACORN (A Conglomeration Of Racial Nuts (or whatever starts with N)."

* "your boys numbers are plummeting ... your boy goes even more lame than he will be after he doesn't get healthcare, and gets destroyed in 2012."

* "I am joining the Chamber just because of asshats like y'all and that Big-Eared Boy from Chicago. ... A Proud Texan"

* "bend over and spread em and I'll give you more than the tip"

* "I think he gave your mama a big tip up her ass, and the piece of shit that fell out was you!

* "FUCKING LOSERS!"

* "Douche Canoes! YOU SUCK! You liberal fucken [sic] asswipes."

* FUCK YOU DOUCHE BAGS

* "2 cents for the arrest and indictment of NAZI traitors who belong to this Leftard Fascist ANTI-AMERICAN bunch of pissant girlieboys. How's Hitler...you should know. You and your Islamic Nazi allies."

* "Where is your next get together in Miami, Fl...I'd like to go down to the rally and kick all your ass' for being a bunch of piece of crap communist !!! Let me know... You bunch of pigs"

* "Fuck off and die you leftist pricks. America is not a socialist country and never will be if I have to kick every one of your body odor smelling asses out of my country. So again FUCK OFF!!!!"

* "Any truth to the rumors that Obama likes men? Or, that he's a closet Muslim?"

* "Send Velvet Revolution NAZIs to Gitmo they should endure a dose of the so-called 'torture' they're crying like the queer girlieboys that they really are. ... The more torture of Islamohitlerite babykilling Fascist pigs, the better. You should be with them."

* May the islamic terrorists if they strike the U.S. again, aim at the White House West Wing and residence, the Congressional Office Buildings and Democratic lobbyists on K st. Maybe then we can get a government of the people.

And no, that's not all of them. Just a sampling from the good "conservatives" in America who watch Fox "News" and read their website "religiously".

If you'd like to "push back" against the thuggery, you can sign on in support of VR's "Stop The Chamber" campaign here.

Cross-posted at The BRAD BLOG...http://www.bradblog.com/?p=7568

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hammer Forum Church and State: The Role of Spirituality in Politics

I gave a talk and was interviewed at the Hammer/UCLA forum recently. Please watch and feel free to pass this on and/or comment, and/or post all or part on Youtube.



http://hammer.ucla.edu/watchlisten/watchlisten/show_id/206629/show_type/video?browse=none&category=0&search=

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Odds Facing Our President

By Frank Schaeffer

As I was watching the Nobel acceptance speech delivered by President Obama. Two thoughts crashed into my brain.

First, Obama is a better, smarter and wiser person than me and perhaps than most of us.

Second, he is certainly brighter than all his critics combined.

If you haven’t watched the speech please do! You can find it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/11/opinion/11fri1.html?ref=opinion

The Odds Facing Our President

I think of our President as “The Professor.” And you know how our culture rewards its best teachers! I think of Obama as a prophet. And you know what happens to prophets! I think of Obama as a good and righteous person. And you know what the reward for unselfish goodness is!

Obama is a quality individual leading a nation that is wallowing in trash. From the left he faces a barrage of half-baked idealism and smart-ass impatience. From the right he faces outright hate and willful ignorance.

Who Stands Up For Our President?

Who will stand up for this man who is quite obviously the best and most moral leader in politics today – here or anywhere in the world? If not Americans with a sense of proportion and history then who will facilitate the success of the Obama presidency?

Does this mean that I think Obama is perfect or above criticism? No. But look around. He’s the best we have or have had in our lifetimes. And there is a time and place for making a critique. This isn’t the time or place to rearrange the furniture. Our house is on fire.

America is fighting for its life; from the economy to Afghanistan, from a failed educational system to a failed public transport sector, from global warming to a continuing struggle for jobs. There are times when loyalty, trust and faith in our leader actually makes sense. This is that time.

Faith in Obama is not a blind faith. In his first year in office he is starting to stack up real accomplishments against all odds. But there is a long way to go.

My frustration is that I have no idea how to express my support for the President. Maybe there are others who share my strong feeling that the Obama presidency is our last best shot to get it right on so many issues, from justice to education, from spiritual values, to how and where we wage war.

Do Obama’s Critics Ever Stop to Ask Themselves What the Alternative Is?

The glib sound bite culture, the short attention spans, the impatience, the sophomoric immaturity of our nation, which Obama is trying to lead, is so evident in how cavalier Obama’s critics are. If Obama’s critics succeed (knowingly or unknowingly) in contributing to an Obama failure what’s next?

From the right come the false claims that Obama is driving our country to “socialism” or “communism.” And that’s the more “reasonable” of the crazy right’s lies! That doesn’t even scratch the surface of the rube Republican’s lies – that he’s the “Anti-Christ,” “not born in America”, on and on. In a pre-media age, pre-Fox News, pre-Rupert Murdoch age before fools were given megaphones and a national stage the impact of the outright nut cases and their “ideas” would be negligible. No more.

And from the left, what do we get? We get formerly promising websites that were once boldly claiming they’d soon replace traditional newspapers as sources of news now wallowing in tits and ass trash, celebrity gossip and “commentary” by such “thinkers” as critics who can’t get past punch line sneering at the real and complicated world. To such Obama critics, their impatience is the key to their restless lack of steady support for our president. They wanted change and they wanted it -- now! They wanted Obama to be Jesus and “fix” everything -- now! They wanted his presidency to feel like election night euphoria forever. They can’t stand the real sausage-making process of actual governance.

Meanwhile in the real world President Obama is trying to repair the damage done to America (and the planet) by George W. Bush; arguably the worst president in American history. Obama is also trying to lead an American public that has been failed by the right and the left and nowhere more glaringly than in the public’s lack of education. Obama leads a nation that, somewhere along the line, has lost its common sense too.

Which brings up a fatful point: President Obama is smart and a huge chunk of America is woefully (even gleefully!) dumb. Can an extra-bright president lead an essentially uneducated, worse, an anti-education country?

I don’t know.

I do know that the greatest threat to our national security is found in the textbook convergence of all that’s most wrong about the American left and the American right: education.

Saving Education: the Ultimate Presidential Test

On the right... we have Americans who don’t even believe in public schools and who have conducted a war against them, from their home school movement, to the “Christian” school movement, to their de-funding of any program they can de-fund on the weird anti-communitarian "principle" that all government is bad. And that doesn’t even begin to describe the anti-education “values” preached by fundamentalist Christians (Palin’s “Real Americans” who fear learning and sophistication) who are anti-science and anti-art and anti-facts and in favor of an evangelical mythology that ranges from creationism to lies about gays. (One lie: gays are choosing to be gay and are able to be “healed” and or “cured” of gayness if they would only love Jesus enough!)

On the left... we have a movement disgustingly co-opted by and in bed with, the teacher’s union. This union seems to come from some educational hell defined by its defense of -- and commitment to – mind-numbing mediocrity. And we have teacher training colleges that have churned out teachers “trained” in psychobabble yet who can barely speak the English language and are – like many Americans – a bland mix of anti-knowledge mediocrity, wherein everything is reduced to work sheets, books are replaced with computers on every desk (and other distractions welling from the heart of our entertainment-besotted “culture”) distracting students from the real business of education: the molding of human beings into creatures who love learning for its own sake because it’s beautiful.

One of the great things about President Obama is that he is serious about educational reform. But as with the rest of his agenda he seems to me to be more and more like that proverbial Dutch boy in the old story about the boy who stands alone with his finger plugging the leak in the sea wall while protecting a sleeping and blissfully unaware population.

The Question Is: Where are the President’s Reinforcements?

With the left and right united in their sniping at the President – though from differing angles – where is the America that cares about our future enough to speak up for him and thus for ourselves?

Americans that have the sense to understand just what is so great about Obama – say those of us that listened to what he said when accepting the Nobel and “get” it – need to be heard from. Who are we? We’re Americans that believe in maintaining and creating public spaces. We're people not too proud to follow the man we voted for loyally until such time as he's had a chance to give it his best.

We understand the value of community. We understand the unusual moment we’re in, when we are -- at last and maybe for the last time in the foreseeable future – being led by a great man who brings realism and idealism to his task in equal measure in everything from foreign policy to health care reform.

If we blow this chance we have only ourselves to blame for a very bleak future.

* * *


Frank Schaeffer is the author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back and Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism).

His previous articles at The BRAD BLOG can be read here...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Open Letter From Jesus to "Christian" America

Woe to you American Christians! You say I'm the "son of God" and yet you bully the defenseless in my name.

Do you understand the parable of the Good Samaritan?

Let me refresh your memory:

One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus then replied with a story:

“A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”



In case you missed the point of that parable as I'm quoted as telling it in the book of Luke it was that the theologically correct evangelical born-again "saved" passed by on the other side of the road when confronted with a human being in need. It was the "unsaved" theologically incorrect foreigner, today's equivalent of your atheists or Muslims or gay men and women, the unloved and the outcast, who stopped and did my Father's will and took care of the injured man.

Put it another way: Did you miss the point when I said that those who come to me saying "Lord, Lord we followed you and believed correctly" are the very ones that I will cast out of the Kingdom of Heaven, since they did not care for the least of these, the downtrodden, the poor and the oppressed?

Did you get it when I said that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the humble, and the outcasts; those who mourn and to the poor in spirit? Gay couples are who are being denied their civil rights are such as these. What are you doing to defend them?

Who do you think will inherit the earth: the wealthy leaders of your giant churches or the downtrodden gays scorned and mocked by society? Who's side do you think God is on: the bullied and outcast or the powerful religious leaders with their false smiles?

Who will qualify for calling themselves my sons and daughters: The meek who mourn or the proud who say: "Lord, I thank you that I'm not like these gay men and women and these illegal immigrants, and these lazy poor people who deserve no health care and these Muslims?"

You hypocrites! Don't you get it?

You say you take everything in the Bible seriously and yet you ignore all the many verses about divorce and somehow paper that over because a majority of America buys into divorce now and you don't want to lose your congregations. And half your pastors and religious leaders are divorced and remarried. But you stick it to gay men and women because they are a minority and easy to pick on! Why wax moralistic about one thing you call sin (though I have no problem with divorce per se) and yet stick it to a minority?

So you quote a few dumb passages about gay love while ignoring all the many more moral teachings you find inconvenient, say about greed and not caring for the poor or fighting unjust wars.

Look, I'm not against picking and choosing Bible verses! It's called thinking! I never stuck to everything the Bible myself either.

For instance I broke the biblical law when I said that the people who brought me the adulterous woman should not stone her to death. In other words I said: "forget what the Bible says, only kill her if you're perfect." Well, no one was so they quit picking on her and left her alone. Since then I've given my followers that as a reason to ignore the dumb harsh parts of the Bible. That is my message: pick the good, leave out the bad. The Bible is just a book, and words are just metaphors so get a life and worship the God of love not some imperfect book!

Did you get it when I said that if you lust in your heart it's the same as committing adultery? You twisted my words to make it seem as if I'm a moralistic "Church Lady" like you idiots, but I intended the exact opposite!

What I meant was that since everyone lusts; therefore the difference between how we think and feel and temptation and what we do is meaningless in terms of how God sees us. The whole point was that we're not to judge other people because we ourselves think the same thoughts. So no one is better than anyone else.

You judgmental holy rollers are like banks always making a mistake in their own favor! Why do religious so-called conservative Americans always pick on the little guy, the disenfranchised, blacks, Hispanics, immigrants, pregnant women, gay people? I'll tell you why!

Because you are bullies!

You are the Pharisees passing by on the other side of the road, those who are so sure you're saved because of some nonsense that you believe in my name.

Wrong!

You American Christians utterly defaced the name of Christianity with your racism, your slavery and your bigotry against women. And now you're doing it again in your war against gay men and women and in your war against the poor who have no health care. Some of you even have had it as part of your wicked program to reestablish the Biblical law demanding death to gay people that I clearly showed must be broken by the greater law of love. Well, as you judge so you will be judged. Good luck with that!

Do you think the Kingdom of God is more likely to belong to, a wealthy "Christian" leader who preaches hate and exclusion (even when saying "I love everyone and only hate the sin") or to the least of these, the disenfranchised who want nothing more than to enjoy the same rights of other citizens? Do you think God does not see that the poor have no care and die because your greedy (lying) insurance lobby has your so called congress in their pockets?

You hypocrites and liars! You say you're preaching my gospel when my gospel never was about correct belief or correct behavior. My gospel was about not judging others, making room for everyone at the table, loving your neighbor as you love yourself. If gay men and women are your enemy then as you know I commanded you to love them! And if they are asking to be allowed to marry I commanded you to give to him who asks of you! Besides, you don't own America. This is a democracy and yours is just one opinion.

How did it come to this?

How do those who claim that they serve and represent me misuse the Bible to the extent that they make bumper stickers and coffee mugs calling for the death of the President by misquoting Psalm 109.8? (By the way, in case you want to know he's doing his best to follow the law of love right now, even though its almost impossible to do that because the fool who ruled before him -- talk about a burning Bush! -- left the biggest mess since the fall of Jerusalem in the year AD 70!)

Do you think I am on the side of a those who want to make the First Lady of the United States (who happens to be a favorite daughter of mine!) a widow and the daughters of the President (very lovely children!) orphans as this Psalm is misconstrued to "call" for?

There is no Hell or Heaven other than that we create for ourselves here on this earth and in the next life. But I'm tempted to ask God to create a real hell for you damnable hate mongers!

You are like the Pharisees I used to know and who strained out the least gnat of others' so-called misbehavior while turning a blind eye to their own wickedness, hypocrisy and lies. Remember my sayings about taking the beam out of your own eye before removing the speck from your brother's?

Quit worrying about gay people and start to worry about your so-called churches, those ash heaps of stinking bigotry and hate. The way you hate your first black president is all I need to know about you. So stop worrying about other people's "sins" and start worrying about all the lies you are telling your children in my name!

And all your talk about patriotism will do you no good unless you love every American as you love yourself -- including gay Americans, poor people the disenfranchised and yes, women who have abortions and the illegal immigrants.

They ask mercy of you! Give to them! Or did you miss that part of my teaching too?

Do you really think I'm on the side of those who hate the "other"?


You are killing me again!

The point is to have a chance to sanctify love in every generation.

If I walked here on Earth again with you, you'd kill me again, just as you are going to kill all that is good in my name, just as some of you are praying for the death of your president who you even call "Anti-Christ."

Let me tell you who is Anti-Christ: Christian "saved" America. Depart from me!

Please come up with a new name for whatever you are. Drop the word "Christ" out of your name. You've destroyed my reputation.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Will Rick Warren Go to The Hanging (Killing Gays) Or Just Duck? (Again)

By Frank Schaeffer


Nothing illustrates the danger we face from our own Taliban better than the way American "Christians" are now tangled up with the homophobic—now potentially gay murdering – Ugandan Christian/political leadership.

The Ugandan Parliament is considering a bill that would impose the death penalty on gays. One American must be cheering from the grave. Here’s what the late R.J. Rushdoony, Reconstructionist theologian and founder of the modern movement of that name, wrote in a letter to gay rights activist Mel White: “God in His law requires the death penalty for homosexuals.”

Disclosure: Both Mel White and Rushdoony were friends of mine, back in the day I was a Religious Right leader and sidekick to my father – the late Francis Schaeffer – who is “credited” by many, including by Karen Armstrong and Max Blumenthal – with being a key father of the Religious Right… along with RJ Rushdoony. I quit the movement over its hate for the “other” and got out by the late 80s and started writing novels like Portofino, aimed at the heart of the movement through humor at fundamentalist’s expense.

Back in the day before Mel came out he was working with me on one of my father’s movie/book projects. We both left our far right “faith.” Mel acknowledged that he was gay and I said I’d had it with hate. These days I propose an anti-right progressive Christianity in my book PATIENCE WITH GOD: Faith for People Who Don’t Like Religion (or Atheism)

That said… The problem of American exceptionalism combined with a theocracy in which the “we” of evangelical faith finally destroy the “they” (everyone else) is growing. Who do you think Fox News rabid followers are? Who do you think calls Obama "Hitler" while using the tactics of fascism themeselves?

Rick Warren et al

Today Rick Warren under the guise of his benign smile, the C-Street religious gang and commune in Washington DC and Mike Huckabee, amongst many other American political and religious leaders, are carrying on my father's ideology of “taking back America” for Jesus, and forwarding the theocratic delusions and radical hate campaign of the late RJ Rushdoony.

Others with ties to violent groups are also striving to turn America into our version of a “Christian” Iran. Reconstructionism, otherwise known as Dominionist Christianity, and the Republican Party are one and the same thing these days.

Consider Erik Prince – founder of the nefarious Blackwater private “security” firm.


Prince is the son of Edgar Prince. His vast wealth funded Dominionist organizations including the Moral Majority and Focus on the Family. I was connected to both groups , speaking often for Jerry Falwell, and James Dobson gave away 150,000 copies of one of my right wing “books” (A Time For Anger) in which I called for revolution against the “Left” and the “liberals.”

Erik Prince grew up with powerful leaders in the Christian Right. Prince quit a White House internship with George H.W. Bush. He said Bush was too secular. As a converted Catholic Prince joined the Knights of Columbus. Today Prince sees himself as a Christian crusader, an armed one with a private army. Blackwater’s criminal torture of U.S. war prisoners has been documented so has employee intimidation, threats of violence. Prince sees his call to rid the world of Islam and make way for Christian hegemony.

Meanwhile...

Rushdoony who Prince, Huckabee and others follow said the Bible must replace civil laws and constitutions with the Old and New Testaments, including the revival of the death penalty for homosexuality, incest, adultery, losing virginity before marriage and apostasy. Rushdoony once told me: “Democracy is a heresy.”

These are core beliefs among several leading figures including Huckabee, Sarah Palin and the inner core of George W Bush’s far right "crusader" religious circle.

Others carried on where Rushdoony left off.

George Grant is one of the far right/thocratic mentors. He appeared with Rushdoony in the video, “God’s Law and Society.” Grant was the co-author for Huckabee’s 1998 book, Kids Who Kill: Confronting Our Culture of Violence. That was the book where Huckabee and Grant said homosexuality and pedophilia, sadomasochism and necrophilia were all “institutionally supported aberrations.”

George Grant wrote The Changing of the Guard: Biblical Principles for Political Action. He called on a “holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ – to have dominion in the civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness.”

“...It is dominion we are after. Not just influence. It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time. It is dominion we are after. World conquest. That’s what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel."

Gothard

Huckabee gave his friendship to Bill Gothard, who runs an outfit called the Institute In Basic Life Principles is also instructive. Gothard teaches that “character choices” result in societal “ills” : "homosexuality, divorce, contraception, crime."

Gothard runs “training institutes” that teach that families must be ruled by his Reconstructionist beliefs. Hundreds of thousands of American (mostly home schooled) children have been raised according to his ideas. He forbids dancing, dating, rock music and “wrong clothes.” Wives must submit to their husbands. Adults must submit to their fathers, and there must be no birth control.

Meanwhile over on C-Street…

The Family at C Street is allegedly backing proposed the anti-gay legislation in Uganda. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, and David Bahati, the Ugandan lawmaker, are both active members of the Family. The Family has poured millions of dollars into their “international outreach.”

Congressmen Bart Stupak and Joe Pitts, Senator John Ensign, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, and former Representative Chip Pickering of Mississippi, and, Senators Brownback and Inhofe are “Family” members amongst many others.

As Jeff Sharlet, author of the expose The Family, says the Ugandan bill's biggest supporter is a member of The Family. David Bahati, the lawmaker pushing for homosexuality crimes, "appears to be a core member of The Family. He works, he organizes their Ugandan National Prayer Breakfast and oversees a African sort of student leadership program designed to create future leaders for Africa, into which The Family has poured millions of dollars working through a very convoluted chain of linkages passing the money over to Uganda."

What unites all the Reconstructionists from Erik Prince to Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee?

The ideological link between the members of the Family on C-Street to the Ugandan fascists wanting to kill gays can be best summed up by looking at several quotes from RJ Rushdoony:

“The Bible is without reservation in its condemnation of homosexuality . . . If a man also lie with mankind . . . they shall be put to death. (Lev. 20:13) . . . This is certainly clear enough and there is not a single text in all of the New Testament to indicate that this penalty has been altered or removed. . . (pp 422-25). . . We find that St. Paul far from setting aside the law and its penalties appeals to the death penalty against homosexuals as an established and continuing fact.” (Rom 1:32) (p735) [R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law]

“Democracy is the great love of the failures and cowards of life.” [R.J. Rushdoony, Thy Kingdom Come 1978]

“One faith, one law and one standard of justice did not mean democracy. The heresy of democracy has since then worked havoc in church and state . . . Christianity and democracy are inevitably enemies.” (p 100) [R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law]

“The 'civil rights' revolutionary groups are a case in point. Their goal is not equality but power. The background of Negro culture is African and magic, and the purposes of magic are control and power. . . Voodoo or magic was the religion and life of American Negroes. Voodoo songs underlie jazz, and old voodoo, with its power goal, has been merely replaced with revolutionary voodoo, a modernized power drive." (p. 61) [R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law]

“Biblical law permits voluntary slavery because it recognizes that some people are not able to maintain a position of independence . . . The law is humane and also unsentimental. It recognizes that some people are by nature slaves and will always be so.” (pp. 286, 251) [R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law]

“All who are content with a humanistic law system and do not strive to replace it with Biblical law are guilty of idolatry. They have forsaken the covenant of their God, and they are asking us to serve other gods. They are thus idolaters, and are, in our generation, when our world is idolatrous and our states also, to be objects of missionary activity. They must be called out of their idolatry into the service of the living God. ….” [R.J. Rushdoony, Law and Society: Volume II of the Institutes of Biblical Law pp. 468, 316]

The goal is the developed Kingdom of God, the New Jerusalem, a world order under God's law.” [R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law p. 357]


Killing homosexuals? Why doesn't Rick Warren condemn the anti-gay legislation in Uganda?

In a piece for The Daily Beast Max Blumenthal wrote that Ssempa, the head of the Makerere Community Church -- "a rapidly growing congregation" -- was "Warren's man in Uganda." Blumenthal pointed out that Ssempa "enjoys close ties to his country's First Lady, Janet Museveni, and [was] a favorite of the Bush White House."

During a "Meet the Press" appearance on November 29, Warren said: "I'm not pro-life, I'm whole life, which means I don't just want to protect that little baby girl before she's born; I want to make sure she gets an education, she's not raised in poverty, she gets her vaccinations," he said. "And so this is what I call the whole life platform, which, beyond just pro-life of protecting that unborn child, goes on."

When asked about whether he would oppose gay marriage if the issue returned to the ballot in 2010, Warren said: "As a pastor, my job is to encourage, to support. I never take sides."

Why Rick Warren’s silence? Because under the mask of love he buys into Reconstructionism.

"The Christian goal for the world"?

"The Christian goal for the world," theologian David Chilton has explained, is "the universal development of Biblical theocratic republics." To which Erik Prince, George Bush Jr. rick Warren and C-Street all say a hearty Amen!

Prominent California philanthropist Howard F. Ahmanson Jr., (someone who once handed me a check for 150,000 dollars for one of my far right projects) who has given Rushdoony's operations more than $700,000 over the years is tired of this mess. According to the June 30, 1996, Orange County Register, Ahmanson departed the Rushdoony-founded “Chalcedon” board and says he "does not embrace all of Rushdoony's teachings."

But Howard is the exception. So am I.

More "respectable" leaders like Warren, Huckabee and Palin won’t admit it but they would like to do here what the Ugandans are doing there, and not just to gays, to all the "other" who are in the way of their taking America into the darkness of theocracy.

Pastor Rick is the epitome of the two-faced friendly evangelical leader today: say one thing for the public, believe another thing and work for it.

Reconstructionists persist and the movement is growing while key figures in Congress to big time pastors routinely deny they are part of this political/religious movement. Meanwhile they’re fixin’ to go to a hangnin’ in Uganda, with the blessing of the smiling nice guys like Rick Warren and and a wink and a nod from the Reconstructionist handmaid Sarah-Tea-Bagger-Palin.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Huckabee (My Latest Now On Huffington Post)

Mike Huckabee broke his silence on Monday and defended his decision to give clemency to a convict said to be responsible for the ambush murder of four Seattle police officers. I have an odd connection to Huckabee. He told Katie Couric, during the 2007 primary race, that the book by my Religious Right leader father, Francis Schaeffer, titled How Should We Then Live?, was his favorite book. The book is credited (along with others my father wrote) for starting the evangelical wing of the anti-abortion movement.

In Huckabee's more than 1000 pardons of criminals that prosecutors and victims objected to in Arkansas, Huckabee most often cited his belief in "redemption" as his "reason." This was a weird flip side to another born-again governor -- George Bush -- never pardoning anyone, of which more in a moment. (I have an odd connection with W. Bush too in that my parents were friends of President Bush Sr.)

Huckabee's extreme and literal born-again fundamentalist views about people's path to God led to tragic real world consequences. His religious views obviously trumped common sense. And this was a direct result of a theology known as "Dominionism" (or "Reconstructionism") where believers want to not just believe their religion privately but "take back America for God"; in other words, rule on the basis not of American law but the Bible. I explain this trend in my book Patience With God: Faith For People Who Don't Like Religion (Or Atheism).

Huckabee freely mixes his ideas about church and state and how religion should shape policy. That brings up a question: should any religious fundamentalists ever be elected president by Americans who want them to do a good, sensible, moderate job, not use their office for expression of their pet religious fanaticism? And another: wasn't one already more than enough?

It seems to me that Huckabee's absurd record of unwarranted pardons of dangerous criminals including killers and rapists is just another example proving that the heart of the Republican Party is now in the hands of religious extremists. (Jeff Sharlet makes the same point in his excellent book The Family, as does Max Blumenthal in his book Republican Gomorrah).

We have heard Sarah Palin saying that health care reform will lead to "death panels." We had George W. Bush saying that he felt God was leading him to go to war in Iraq. We have Christian Zionists like Rev. John Hagee rooting for Armageddon in the Middle East so Jesus will return all the sooner and then endorsing figures like John McCain who -- until called out on Hagee's crazy anti-Catholicism -- accepted the endorsement!

And now four police officers are dead because Huckabee (the not-so-covert Reconstructionist) takes every word of the Bible more seriously than the advice of prosecutors and victim rights groups.

It is clear that Huckabee is unfit for any national office and was unfit to ever be a governor. It is also clear that his record of insane irresponsibility was well known by the evangelicals that supported him for theological reasons in the 2007 primaries leading up to the '08 race.

It's interesting to note that using the same Bible Huckabee and George Bush Jr (as governors) both fell into the same fallacy with opposite results while each was equally nuts in his own way. They put their religious ideas ahead of good sense and loyalty to the Constitution, let alone to the law. Church trumped state. The idiocy that followed produced mirror opposites from the same source: a fundamentalist literalistic interpretation of the Bible.

Born-again Bush took the harsh eye-for-an-eye Calvinist approach and never pardoned anyone on death row and was gleefully executing more people than any Texas governor in modern times. Conversely born-again Huckabee grabbed hold of his version of "redemptive" "biblical" incoherence by carrying his religious theories of redemption to a crazy level and thus pardoning just about anyone his Southern Baptist fellow pastor cronies recommended.

The Bush/Huckabee contradiction shows two things.

1) The Bible can "tell" you anything you want to believe...

and

2) the Bible is a terrible substitute for the rule of law.

What Bush and Huckabee did share however was the arrogance reserved to those convinced they and they alone are doing God's special work. Huckabee was known to actually mock those who questioned his descisions. And Bush took it a step farther and actually mocked a condemned death row inmate who pleaded for her life.

Clearly the evangelical crowd that gave us 8 years of George W. Bush doesn't vote on the basis of facts. Nor do they care about someone like Huckabee's dismal record. They vote for "correct" theology and damn the real world consequences.

Four thousand Americans were needlessly killed in Iraq because the born-again, born again's president was in control. More that 50,000 were wounded because of the way Bush thought he heard God's voice. Hundred's of thousands of Iraqis are dead because Bush thought God had chosen him to lead a holy war for American exceptionalism and "democracy." Sarah Palin is also hearing voices and waiting in the wings to "lead" according to what God is "telling" her.

Four officers in Seattle are dead today because of Huckabee's allegiance to his interpretation of the Bible rather than to the U.S. Constitution.

How many more godly goofs can this country afford?

The Afghanistan Speech: and a Prayer for Obama (Psalm 109:28 )

I watched the President's speech on Afghanistan troop deployments. Agree or disagree, it was a great speech by a great man.

I am literally praying that President Obama's gamble of sending more troops is vindicated because there is no way he or anyone else can really know how this will turn out. He's had to pick up the ball President Bush dropped by starting a war of choice (for no good reason) in Iraq that added years to the deadly "life" of the war in Afghanistan through near criminal neglect.

Had Bush done a better job we'd be out by now and bin Laden would be dead. As it is Obama faces bad choices he inherited but I believe that he's making the best of it and showing great courage.

Having said that I absolutely support our President, our troops and our country. It just saddens me immeasurably that what Obama laid out in his speech and what we are doing now, we should and could have done 8 years ago as a united country. Had we acted then, when bin Laden was cornered in Tora Bora, we would have gotten him.

I also remain proud of my son John for having volunteered to serve his country, when he joined the Marines (in 1999), and for having served in two deployments to Afghanistan. He, like all our troops, paid his own price.

On a very personal note I'd like to see my son's sacrifice vindicated by eventual American success. I wish the President well and have virtually unlimited admiration for this moderate, humble, brilliant and thoughtful leader.

It seems to me that it is time to pray for our troops and our president. Speaking of which... Here is a guest blog by Kurt Queller
(Departments of English and Foreign Languages University of Idaho)

A bible verse recently made Google’s “Trends” list of most-searched items. The reason was a new line of bumper stickers and other paraphernalia sporting the slogan “Pray for Obama—Psalm 109:8.”

That verse reads: “May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership.” [NIV]

Some portray this as a joke. But the very next verse continues: “May his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.”

There is a bitter irony here. Psalm 109 is a plea for vindication against attackers. The psalm begins and ends with the psalmist’s own prayers for protection (vv. 1-5, 20-31). The intervening passage (including v. 8) quotes the accusers’ slanders and curses.

Biblical Hebrew doesn’t expllcitly mark quotations, but here it signals one through shifting pronouns. The psalmist seeks defense against a “they” (plural) who falsely “accuse me” (singular). The hateful imprecations of vv. 6-19, meanwhile, are directed against a single man; their “may he…/ may his…” petitions reflect curses maliciously hurled against the psalmist. This is clearly marked in some translations (“They say:…” [v. 6 NRSV, NIV footnote…]).

To fellow Christians tempted to propagate this nasty “Pray for Obama” meme by hitting the “forward” button (let alone by displaying it on a bumper, laptop or T-shirt), I say: please reflect, and repent.

We might well pray Psalm 109 on Obama’s behalf. If so, let’s not stupidly and maliciously invoke the curses of the psalmist’s accusers. Instead, let’s recall his own final words of trust in a God who stands beside those wrongly vilified and threatened (vv. 28ff):

“They may curse, but you will bless; when they attack they will be put to shame, but your servant will rejoice. … For [the Lord] stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save his life from those who condemn him.”



To which I and my family add a simple Amen

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Rick Warren When Will You Stand Up?

On Sunday, November 29, NBC's "Meet the Press" flunked their interview with Pastor Rick Warren, world famous author of "The Purpose Driven Life." They didn't ask the one burning question with historic implications of national importance they should have asked: Pastor Rick, why haven't you and other prominent evangelical leaders taken the lead in strongly condemning the hate directed at President Obama by the Religious Right and so many evangelical Christians who form the base of the Republican Party?

A week before Warren was interviewed on NBC Franklin Graham -- another mainstream evangelical leader (son and heir to Billy Graham) -- stood next to Sarah Palin on her book tour having loaned her a plane belonging to an organization he heads up so that she could join him and his dad Billy for dinner. Then Billy Graham released an effusive statement of support for Palin after that meeting. Again, where was the Question from the Grahams: Governor Palin why did you lend your voice to the hateful lie that if the President's health care reform were to pass it would result in "death panels"?

There will always be hate-filled nuts on the fringe of any movement; left, right, religious or secular. No one in leadership should be blamed for their fringe -- unless they don't speak up. Post "Tea Parties", "Obama isn't a real American", and all the rest it is strange and disturbing to witness the silence of the evangelical leadership in the light of so much venom directed against our President by a largely evangelical Republican base.

This is shocking to me, given that for much of my life I was not just the son of a famous evangelical leader (Francis Schaeffer -- "credited" by Max Blumenthal and others as a founder of the religious right) but for a time I was also his sidekick and a leader in the evangelical world in my own right. I quit over the slide of the religious right into extremism. That said I'm still a believing Christian (non-evangelical and progressive) and to see the name of Christ used to promote hate outrages me. To see the Bible used as a political bumper sticker source (for whatever "side") is an affront.

You would have thought that evangelical leaders with their oft trumpeted respect for the Bible would have spoken out in one loud united voice against the misappropriation of the Bible when a verse from the Psalms (109:8) was used recently on T-shirts and bumper stickers in a way that seemed to call for the removal (at best) and the death (at worst) of Obama.

Here’s what is in the Psalm they quote as part of a "prayer" for Obama:

"May his days be few; may another take his office!"

Here are what the other verses in that Psalm call for (in case you didn't "get" verse 8:

Verse 9 "May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow!"

On "Meet the Press" Warren used the word "love" dozens of times. He talked about how he isn't really against gay men and women, just following the Bible, how he loves them all, even his enemies and so forth. But where were the specifics about this love when it comes to standing up against some members of his own constituency? What about loving our country enough to speak against the incivility not to mention the lack of patriotism, rampant in the Obama-hating Christian Right?

The Christian leadership that fails to denounce the hate of our President (not to mention the lies about him spouted by their co-religionists) is morally bankrupt. Why the silence? Have evangelical leaders renounced politics?

Not so.

The mainstream evangelical leadership recently showed again that they are happy to speak out when the issue suits them and -- more importantly -- cost them nothing with their supporters. For instance evangelicals and other conservative religious leaders released a deceleration against stem cell research just a few weeks ago called the "Manhattan Declaration" directed at Obama.The list that signed this document was a who's who of evangelicalism. So where were these same people's deceleration of conscience against their own followers when it came to praying for the President's removal or death?

It seems to me that the evangelical leaders, like Warren, who talk love but won't reign in their own people are like the moderate Muslim leaders that many of us condemn for rarely denouncing their extremists. And the media who don't ask people like Warren and Graham the tough questions about their silence and culpability in the face of the hate pouring out of religious people directed at our President is part of the problem.

The media need to ask tougher questions. The religious leadership needs to be put on the spot.

Is loving Jesus about hating our President? Is "respecting the Bible" using it as a mine from which to take prayers for death and destruction and bandy them about in the context of lies about our government? Is this moral leadership?

Pastor Rick and company stand up for love, don't just talk about it.