Why Little Will Change At the UMC General Conference

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May 182016
 

As some of you may know, the United Methodist Church is holding their quadrennial General Conference in Portland, Oregon this week. As has been the case for the past several General Conference’s (GC), a major topic is the  full inclusion of LGBT people (or as the conservatives call us, “the self-avowed practicing homosexuals”) in the life of the church. My prediction is that little will change in regard to those issues.

There are several things at issue. One is some hateful language in the United Methodist Book of Discipline (BoD) which says that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. The others are the ordination of openly gay clergy, and of course; marriage is a topic, but not at the top of the list.

If anything changes in regard to these issues, it will be for the worse, and we’ve seen some of that already with the election of all conservative members to the Church’s Judicial Council, or the UMC Supreme Court if you will. Continue reading »

Satan’s demons of hell have destroyed…God’s Gentle Loving People

 Crack Pots, Religion, Right Wingnuts, Society  Comments Off on Satan’s demons of hell have destroyed…God’s Gentle Loving People
Feb 112016
 
This entry is part of 1 in the series God's Gentle Loving People

do_justiceI’m starting a new series of short posts just to call out of the xtian craziness that I see. I’ll try to avoid stupid stuff from ill-informed and people poorly taught by their religious leaders, but I will make it a special point to call out those who are religious leaders. And probably happy to have the distinction of being the first post in the series is Pastor Dave. I’ll leave his name in, since he actually put in his post on a Facebook page I follow in the Opening Post (which he authored), so I suspect he was rather proud of his statement.

“Satan’s demons of hell have destroyed the UCC, the Disciples of Christ, the Lutheran Church in America, the Episcopal Church USA, one branch at least of the Moravian Church, and the Presbyterian Church in the USA through these evil people in the LGBTQI Movement. We MUST NOT LET THEM do so to the United Methodist denomination. When the UM denomination liberalizes our standard principle that the homosexual life style is a sin and sanctions LGBTQI ordination, that is the day I WILL LEAVE THE DENOMINATION in which I found JESUS and in which I faithfully served as a Biblical, orthodox, evangelical pastor in active ministry for 41 years. MAY GOD HELP AND REDEEM US FROM THIS EVIL. —David Reynolds (“Pastor Dave”)”

Continue reading »

Why the Christian Church May Never Crawl Out of Its Hole

 Featured, Methodism, Religion, Right Wingnuts, Right Wingnuts, Society  Comments Off on Why the Christian Church May Never Crawl Out of Its Hole
Jan 182016
 

In the western world, churches, in particular Christian churches, are showing a general decline in attendance and membership. There’s much hand wringing within those denominations most affected; reports are being prepared, and great plans are being made to try to stem the tide, but I am not yet convinced the people in these organizations have the self-awareness to overcome the trend.

The Facebook response to a recent article I posted in a conservative United Methodist discussion group really brought this home for me, and helped me congeal my thoughts on this subject.

Background Statistics

Stats aren’t all that fun, but I think it is necessary to give some background on what is happening that’s causing this concern. The overall number of people who are religiously affiliated has, according to Pew Research, not changed all that much between 2007 and 2015. ((“U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious,” Pew Research Center, Nov. 3, 2015)) However, according to their most recent “Religious Landscape Study, “A growing share of Americans are religiously unaffiliated, including some who self-identify as atheists or agnostics as well as many who describe their religion as “nothing in particular.” Altogether, the religiously unaffiliated (also called the “nones”) now account for 23% of the adult population, up from 16% in 2007.” ((Ibid))

Continue reading »

The Literal Inerrant Bible

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Jul 222015
 

As the teacher of an Adult Sunday School for a few years now, I’ve had to do a lot of study, and while I’m not biblical scholar, there is one things I am absolutely certain about…the Bible is not literal nor is it inerrant. There, I said it. It doesn’t mean I don’t respect the Bible as Holy Canon, but it could not be applied to our lives today were it to be taken literally. A video by Mike Huckabee (hereinafter referred to as “the Hukster”) makes that point.

Let’s start with the video (don’t worry, it’s short):

Now let’s look at the verse he’s using here. He quotes from 2 Chronicles 7:14, but I think you have to include verse 13 as well. Here are the verses from the New International Version (NIV): Continue reading »

Robert Jeffress – Foul Pharisee

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Jul 142014
 
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This entry is part 14 of 31 in the series Daily Douche-Bag
Robert Jeffress (R Pharisee)

Robert Jeffress (R Pharisee)

Perhaps nothing is more troubling to me at this time in my life than the insertion of religion into politics. Mega-Church pastors become political pundits, and it never comes to a good end.  Thomas Jefferson himself wrote in 1813, “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.” Robert Jeffres, appearing on Fox News, suddenly decides he’s a border security expert, and that whole thing about “suffer the children to come unto me,” well, that’s just for white protestant children.

We have an influx of children making their way to the U.S. from a number of embattled Central American countries. These are countries with grinding poverty and raging drug wars in which it is nearly impossible for children to hide from. In most of these cases, the parents are sending these children, knowing the dangers of the journey, but believing that what lies on the other side is better enough to be worth the risk.

It is stunning how today’s “godly folk” use the Christian moniker yet act in a ways diametrically the opposite of the principles announced by Christ and the behavior he exhibited if one believes the Gospel narratives.  Christ’s focus was the poor and down trodden and he socialized with the outcasts of the society of his day.  The main targets of Christ’s condemnation?  The Pharisees who we see reincarnated in today’s conservative Christians who are best known for their hypocrisy and utter hatred towards anyone who doesn’t think, look and love like they do.  Continue reading »

The 22nd Street Santas

 Culture, Featured, Holidays  Comments Off on The 22nd Street Santas
Dec 282010
 

It’s been called Miracle on 22nd Street. A gay couple started getting hundreds of letters addressed to Santa Claus at their address on 22nd Street in New York City. They’ve been unable to figure how it was their address that got circulated as Santa’s address, but the miracle of it grew. While many so-called Christian organizations spent millions of dollars to defeat gay marriage initiatives and support themselves…FRC, AFA, Christian Family Coalition of Florida, Catholic Diocese of Minnesota, Bill Donahue of Catholic League who pays himself $400k per year, just to name a few…these two guys enlisted the help of friends and co-workers and went to work answering letters and helping children.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t71til7wVn4]

Ghees, sounds like what that left-wing liberal hippy for 2000 years ago told us to do, doesn’t it:

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Scaring People to Christianity

 Culture, Featured, Religion  Comments Off on Scaring People to Christianity
Apr 072010
 

Easter Sunday afternoon me and Lay went to his parent’s farm down in Ruskin to hide Easter eggs and eat. At one point, I was running to a nearby Walgreens to pickup a couple of items. I was stopped at the traffic waiting to turn in and noticed a young man on the corner holding a large sign and his Bible.

He had a nice PVC frame and the sign must have been about five feet wide by four feet high. On it was a gruesome picture of a person in tattered and burned clothing standing in a pool of blood dripping from all over him. Sitting in the foreground of the picture on a raised seat was an image of Jesus, a stern look on his face with an outstretched finger pointed accusingly at the other figure.

There were, as you can imagine, some words about hell and damnation, but I can’t remember them specifically. Having grown up in the funeral business (and having been a funeral director in the past), I spent my fair share of time in churches of every description, and I’ve certainly heard hell-fire and brimstone sermons. I even remember some “revivals” in my day with some pretty strong and damning language.

For some reason I was really struck on this day by this man’s sign. I realized I felt sorry for him. Sorry that his experience was one where one becomes a Christian (is saved) out of fear…where Jesus is the Grand Inquisitor. Unfortunately, that is the experience of so many people, especially those on the extreme Christian right. If you listen to their theology and their sermons, and get them to admit their real reasons for professing Christianity, it’s not because they want to live a better life. It’s not because they believe it’s a way to help them be better more caring people. It’s because they have been scared into believing that not believing sends one to a hellish afterlife, sentenced by an angry God.

The Prophet MicahThey have this apocalyptic theology based primarily in the book of Revelation, but it is also in that book we find in Chapter 3 Verse 20 these words, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (New Living Translation) My personal favorite verse is Micah 6:8, “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” And this from a book in which the prophet warms of the wrath of God on the Jewish people.

Where was God’s anger directed in Micah? The prophet sums it up for us in chapter 3, verse 11: “Its heads [its rulers] give judgment for a bribe, its priests teach for hire, its prophets divine for money; {Mic 3:11a RSV}..” Throughout the Bible, God’s anger was directed at leaders who fail to care for their people, and see to their well-being. And his condemnation for the rest of us is directed at those of us who turn a blind eye to “the least of us.”

Read the two verses above. The angry God of the Old Testament invites us to walk with him, and the Jesus of the New Testament gently knocks, and asks to share a meal as a friend. This is not the God of the ultra-conservative right-wing Christians. They live in fear of God and possible condemnation, and soothe themselves not by caring and sharing, but by trying to make everyone else appear even less worthy than they.

What a sad state of affairs for those people, and what a sad state they create in our world with that view. Me, I prefer the idea of a Jesus who is a friend. Someone who cares about others, and calls us, as he did, to take care of one another. It is the piousness that usually brought about the wrath of God.

The Madness of Genuine Respect for all People

 Politics, Presidency, Religion, Right Wingnuts  Comments Off on The Madness of Genuine Respect for all People
Jan 212009
 

The fine christians (Dr. Gary Cass) at the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission have their knickers all twisted because Bishop Gene Robinson had the nerve to pray to God to help us get past mere tolerance and to a place of genuine respect for all people. Obviously, according to these demented idiots, we can have none of that. I mean really, what would Jesus think if we went around actually respecting one another.

According to an article on their site, Obama’s inauguration was going to be, “the most perverse in Presidential history.” And what made it so perverse? Well, there’s a whole list of horrible things going on which includes:

  • America’s most radical homosexual minister (I suppose their referring to Bishop Robinson here, but I’m not exactly sure I’d call him radical);
  • A homosexual choir (and we all know what sins singing can lead to);
  • A homosexual marching band (I assume it’s the allure of the piccolo that has Cass wrapped up about this).

Well, actually that’s the entire list of perversions they could come up with…but I’m sure there were more somewhere.

Really you can’t make this shit up. In the article, Cass makes a huge deal of being happy that, due to a scheduling mishap Robinson’s prayer wasn’t part of the HBO broadcast, and that the PA system screwed up meaning a lot of people on the mall couldn’t hear his prayer. Then, they post the YouTube and the text of his prayer on their website (in case you missed all the perversity I guess).

But what really has their knickers in a wad is that Robinson Apparently had the gall to ask God to help us learn to respect one another. Directly from their website, here’s what have to say about that:

In a galling act of reckless boldness, Robinson prayed that tolerance be replaced with genuine respect for all people. This is madness. Some people rightly do not deserve to be respected because they act in wicked and disrespectful ways.

It’s madness, madness I say to expect us to respect one another. As I’ve said so many times, God must weep.

Jun 072008
 

Box Turtle Bulletin always has interesting articles, and this one, about Tivo doing a promotion with Focus on The Family was no different. This bothered me a bit, so I went to the Tivo website, got a number for their corporate headquarters and called. A very nice person named Alyson called me back, and we had a good discussion about the situation. I followed up my conversation with the following letter:

I’d like to thank you for calling me back today regarding my concerns about Tivo’s involvement in a promotion sponsored by Focus on The Family, an organization run by James Dobson.

I appreciate talking with you directly, but wanted to ensure that my position was clearly stated and understood by you and others at Tivo.

I am in the technology business, and happen to especially love gadgets. As I explained to you, I’ve found my Tivo to be one of the best pieces of technology I have ever owned. It does exactly what I expect it to do, and it does it well and simply. I applaud your efforts, and as I noted, I’ve recommended it to numerous friends…often unprompted. I have been considering one for my mother.

I am not so naïve as to believe I can not do business with every company that associates in some way with organizations that have political views different than my own. I doubt I’d be able to buy much of anything I use on a daily basis. Also, I’m not so presumptuous as to believe I have a right to demand that you not do business with a particular organization.

At the same time, your involvement with Focus On The Family and James Dobson creates an especially troubling situation for me. I am a gay man. I am also a Christian (Methodist if it matters), and teach an adult Sunday School class. Because of this, I frankly find James Dobson’s vitriolic rhetoric unacceptable. Dobson frequently makes statements that go far beyond mere political extremism. He often crosses the line to literal hate speech, especially in regards to gay and lesbian people. This organization particularly targets LGBT people by spreading information known to be scientifically inaccurate; he creates threats where there are none in order to appeal for financial support; and makes statements that provide some people all the license they need to direct violence at people perceived to be gay and lesbian. Continue reading »

Family Values Huckabee Squashes Charges His Son Killed a Dog

 Crime, Election, Politics, Society  Comments Off on Family Values Huckabee Squashes Charges His Son Killed a Dog
Dec 162007
 

Mike Huckabee FamilyFrom Crooks and Liars – Well, it seems that Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee has a little bit of a Michael Vick problem. He’s apparently worked to cover up the fact that his then 18 year old son and another teenager got fired from working at a Boy Scout Camp back in 1998. Seems they caught a stray dog, hung it, slit its throat, and stoned it for good measure.

You can read quotes from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette by going to Dogster’s. It seems he was never punished for it. I guess Mike Vick had the money but not influence that Daddy Huckabee has, so Junior was never charged, despite admitting to the crime. Actually though, as it turns out, David Huckabee actually didn’t kill the dog, he merely exposed it to some enhanced interrogation techniques, and then the dog committed suicide to embarrass him.

That’s just who we need running around Washington, DC under daddy’s protection.

72% of Us Not Going to Hell

 Culture, Religion  Comments Off on 72% of Us Not Going to Hell
Jun 212006
 

Here’s the link to an interesting MSNBC story about a Belief Net survey on people’s beliefs about hell. About 72% of us think we are not going. Only 3% of respondents think they are.

Interestingly, 56% of us think we know someone that is going.

You can read the whole story here. It’s pretty interesting.