Fugitives from Fundamentalism

The Musings of Adult Missionary Kids (MKs) & Former Born-Again Believers

Archive for the ‘Religion in the News’ Category

Evangelical Hate & Politics

Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on July 9, 2011

“Hide it under a bushel. No! I’m going to let it shine,” goes the well-known gospel children’s song. Election season is well on its way, and this is the time when Evangelical politicians try to hide their light of hatred back under that bushel. Unfortunately for Michele Bachmann, she and her husband Marcus Bachmann (with his PhD in psychology from a mail-order university) have been letting that light shine so bright and for so long, that finding enough bushels to cover their bigotry is going to wipe out the entire gardening sections at Home Depots everywhere.

For my first example, here is an article from Mother Jones, Michele Bachmann’s Head-Banging, Gay-Bashing BFF. Remember how the FoxNews Channel tried to hang the preacher Jeremiah Wright around the neck of President Obama? Bradlee Dean is Michele Bachmann’s Jeremiah Wright. The only difference is that Michele Bachmann has been taped praying that Dean’s ministry would grow (and spread like a cancer, I presume). At the top of this article on the Huffington Post, you can see video of Bradlee Dean’s vile hate-spewing in action and hear Bachmann’s prayer for his success, Bradlee Dean Rants: Michele Bachmann-Linked Preacher’s Bigoted Tirades.

For my second example, here is an article on The Nation’s website about Marcus Bachmann’s counseling center, Bachmann & Associates: “‘God Has Created You for Heterosexuality’: Clinics Owned by Michele Bachmann’s Husband Practice Ex-Gay Therapy.” Once you read the descriptions of what goes on in this counseling center’s therapy sessions, it becomes very clear that this is not counseling at all. (Ann can back me up on this.) Counseling is a field started by the American psychologist Carl Rogers, who started a humanistic approach to therapy emphasizing empathetic, non-judgmental listening. This is the complete opposite of what occurs in Bachmann’s clinic, and it’s not surprising considering that Marcus Bachmann got his PhD in Clinical Psychology from Union Institute & University. The Wikipedia entry on this mail-order university reports:

the Union Institute’s Ph.D. program came under scrutiny by the Ohio Board of Regents in the late 1990s early 2000s, which scrutiny culminated in its 2002 Reauthorization Report. The report was critical of the Union Institute’s Ph.D. program, noting in particular that ” … expectations for student scholarship at the doctoral level were not as rigorous as is common for doctoral work … ” (OBR 2002 Reauthorization Report, page 13) The Union was put on probation. Later, the Union Graduate School was dissolved and the Ph.D. program was restructured.

Spread the word and the links folks! Don’t let Evangelicals get away with claiming their dogma and political views are good and pure. They aren’t. They’re hateful, and that’s why they try to downplay how strongly they hold to those controversial bigoted views or deny their connections to other believers who are more outspoken about their intolerant beliefs.

Posted in Evangelical bigots, Politics, Religion in the News | Leave a Comment »

Angel raping

Posted by Ann on June 27, 2011

If you rape angels God will destroy America. So don’t rape angels.

..and then I think he said something completely insane about Sodom and gay marriage, but I didn’t really hear it because I was thinking about angel raping and what that would entail, like how does one hold an angel down what with their wings, flight ability, special powers and all.

Posted in Humor, Religion in the News, Video | 1 Comment »

Charlotte’s Elevation Church & Their Disability-Free Worship

Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on June 19, 2011

In keeping with the conservative, right-wing tendency to make use of Orwellian doublethink in naming institutions or organizations (e.g. compassionate conservatism), the founders and leaders of a modern, warehouse-style church here in Charlotte, North Carolina named their church Elevation. When I first started seeing Elevation stickers stuck to SUVs all over Charlotte, their name alone gave me a precise picture of the style of church they are. Having grown up in the evangelical Christian culture, the word elevation connotes to me that rush of elation constructed by the merging of music crafted to elicit strong human emotions and the use of lyrics that feature heavy repetition (chant-like phrases that repeat things like “Oh Lord!” and “Jesus!”), till a trance-like state of sinner-wallowing is achieved by the congregation. I imagined they would have a large projector screen (it turns out they have several), a live rock band to play modern worship music that sounds suspiciously like the worst of popular soft rock, country and alternative radio music, and a congregation full of people who like to “feel” their God through a near-orgasmic experience of arm waving, closed eyes, open mouths, and other signs typically connected to sexual arousal. In other words, they like to chastely fuck Jesus in a crowd of several hundred other mystical Christ lovers. Here is a taste of what their worship services are like:

Although the name Elevation does a good job of communicating the format of the service you’ll encounter, it turns out it is also an indicator that they are capable of little else besides rousing, musical love-making to Christ. See, these folks like to “rock out” to Jesus, but they don’t like what they term “distractions.” And just what are these “distractions” that will get you removed from the fellowship of worshiping brothers and sisters in Christ? Well, worshiping while having cerebral palsy is a no-no. That’s right, these Christ-like folks at Elevation Church removed a boy with cerebral palsy for becoming a distraction when he said “Amen!” Here is the printed story, as told by the local Charlotte news, Special Needs Boy Removed from Church Service (click on the video link on the left-hand side to see the news report).

Really it goes without saying, but being a Christian doesn’t make you any more empathetic than anyone else. In fact, as I have argued on numerous occasions on this blog, being a Christian typically has the opposite effect: it makes you think you know absolute Truth and are an authority to declare what is universally good or evil. Regardless of what various passages in the NT say about reserving judgment, knowing Absolute Truth means you can’t help but judge people and behaviors based on criteria that are eternal and holy. Also, the Christian faith teaches that suffering exists due to sin, so it is inevitable that believers will connect human suffering (in the form of disabilities, disease, etc.) with sin. This boy with cerebral palsy thus becomes connected to the concept of sin in a Christian’s mind, and who wants to be reminded of evil on the holy ground of a worship service?

What I found most interesting about this scandal is the church’s defensive reaction to this news story. You’d think that people used to asking for forgiveness from God wouldn’t have a problem asking the mother of this boy to forgive them. Wrong! Instead, church spokespeople told the local news they “focus on worship, not ministries,” and they issued a press release saying, among other things, “It is our goal at Elevation Church to offer a distraction-free environment for all our guests.” Yes, this church is totally free from the “distraction” of humans with disabilities. How nice. Their lack of a focus on ministries is the clue to unlocking their missing empathy towards others different from themselves. On the “About Elevation Outreach” page of their website (which you have to get to by clicking on a tiny little “outreach” link at the bottom of the main page — the location of the link and size of the font is a hint to their lack of interest in community service) the church includes a paltry excuse for why their church doesn’t care about human suffering in the community:

Many churches have people who are passionate about feeding the hungry in their city, and they feel the need to start a food pantry. So they do. The youth group adopts a neighborhood, the seniors read to kids at school, the women’s ministry serves food at Thanksgiving, the men start a remodeling ministry and on and on it goes. All of these things are wonderful, but there is a problem: spreading out the leaders, resources and manpower results in maximized exertion but minimized impact.

At Elevation, we have decided to flip this model of church outreach on its head. Rather than spread everything out, we’re focusing! We concentrate all of our efforts on strategic outreach partners who are already having tremendous impact in our city and across the world. Currently, Elevation is partnering with 26 different organizations. Our goal is to continue to reach out through partnerships that are making a difference in our community and beyond.

Note how they list all of the good things other churches are doing as if it’s not that helpful to the community. They dismiss those things with the phrase “these things are wonderful, but there is a problem.” This is followed by the unsubstantiated claim that this community service work leads to: “spreading out the leaders, resources and manpower” resulting in “maximized exertion but minimized impact.” Essentially, this statement claims that the way community service work is being done by churches today is seriously flawed. Their solution to a problem they claim exists without evidence? Well, “Rather than spread everything out, we’re focusing!” they claim, by forming “partnerships” with 26 community service organizations. I looked at the list of organizations they are “partnered” with, one of which I work with (Urban Ministry Center), and I can tell you that this whole page of their website is smoke and mirrors. They want to give you the impression that they actually work closely in conjunction with these organizations and provide them with funds. However, note how careful they are to avoid saying precisely what role they play in these partnerships.

Let me explain what the reality of these partnerships is. When I worked on a grant for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I had to obtain numerous letters of partnership from various local groups, such as colleges, non-profits, individuals with expertise related to the grant’s focus, etc. In order to obtain a letter of partnership, I would simply say to an organization, “I am applying for a U.S. government grant, and your organization has expertise we need. We’re not looking for any involved obligation from you or your organization, we are just looking for a letter from you stating that you support our efforts and will be available to answer questions or give advice should we feel like calling you up to get it.” My guess, based on Elevation’s blanket dismissal of other churches’ community service work, and their deliberate lack of information about the extent of their involvement in the 26 organizations they list, is that they called up these organizations and said the following: “We are a large church with four locations in the Charlotte area, and we have thousands of congregants we can point towards your organizations. We’d like permission to list you as partners on our website, and we’ll be sure to tell our congregants to go to you, if they’re looking for a place to volunteer for or give funds to.” Based on their webpage, there is no reason to believe their link to these groups go any deeper than that. My overall point is this: all the clues you need to recognize the self-centered nature of this “church” is right there on their website. Since they are all about getting their self-centered Jesus fix for the week, it’s not surprising they would immediately remove any “distraction” that might keep them from focusing intensely on themselves.

(Thanks to Stephanie at Stuff Christian Culture Likes for bringing this story to my attention.)

Posted in Morality/Ethics, Religion in the News, Video | 6 Comments »

The Fear, Hate, and Madness of Evangelicals

Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on March 22, 2011

Remember Victoria Jackson from Saturday Night Live? She’s the one with the high-pitched, air-head voice. She used to grate on my nerves for that reason, before I knew what a hateful, nasty human she was. Whenever I debate Christians, I always try to go to the root of their beliefs in sin. To me, that belief in the inherent evilness of all humans, and the equating of the “sinner” with Evil, is what makes Christianity rotten at the root. It is an ideology that hyperfocuses on the imaginary existence of Evil, and is therefore a mainly negative belief system. Talking about Jesus’ love is nice, but words are cheap.

Posted in Religion in the News, Video | 11 Comments »

Huffington Post Author Makes Weak Attempt to Understand Atheists

Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on January 23, 2011

I meant to post this article, “Why Do Atheists Read the Religion Section?” when it first appeared on The Huffington Post two weeks ago. The author, Shira Hirschman Weiss, offers several possible answers to the question in her title. None of her answers are very credible, and a few of them show a real lack of understanding, when it comes to the internal workings of the non-believer’s mind. Her underlying assumption–that atheists actually go to the religious section to read the articles–is a bit suspect. After all, I only read her article because it was featured on the front page of The Huffington Post and had the word “atheists” in it. I don’t want to belabor the point though, since I have read the religious section of the local paper numerous times.

My very simple answer to her question relates back to her statement that “Atheists want to be well-informed.” Exactly, but I don’t think it is for the same reason she assumes: “to keep up with all that they’re contesting.” And it most certainly isn’t her other explanation that “some self-professed atheists may actually be agnostics who are seeking answers to address internal doubts.” The real reason atheists will bother to read an essay written from a religious perspective, and have more knowledge about religion in general than even believers do, is probably due to the fact that we read more than believers. For the most part, believers just aren’t a very curious or intellectual bunch.

It wasn’t too surprising to see that the best explanations for why atheists read the religion section come from the atheists quoted in the article. An atheist who writes for The Huffington Post religion section, Alex Wilhelm, is quoted as saying, “I must admit that I read the religion section partially for a laugh,” Wilhelm wrote to me, “Why else? To keep an eye on things that I am wary of: anti-intellectualism, pseudo-science, lying to children, extremism, scriptural literalism, anti-blasphemy laws and the like. If you don’t know what you are up against, you can’t fight it as well as you could or should. I am for a free and secular society where the individual is protected from not just the majority, but from the moral laws of the religious. And so while I do read the oddest articles for a cheap chuckle, I tend to read to gird myself to protect individual liberty.” I love this explanation, but my reasons for reading articles on religion and by the religious are so much simpler! I just like to read. Period. If a headline catches my attention, I will read it, and there are no higher motives involved at all.

The thing about reading that really drew me in at a young age is the experience of living through the thoughts, feelings, and actions of someone other than myself. If you have ever tried to get a believer to place themselves in the shoes of another–just as a simple exercise to illustrate a point–I’m guessing you soon found yourself banging your head against a wall. I have heard believers insist they are capable of seeing outside of their belief system, but I don’t believe them for a second. They are never truly able to see outside of the believers’ paradigm, because to do so would feel like apostasy to them. At least, that’s what it was like for me when I was a believer. To be able to strip yourself of the idea of good and evil is what allows you to see others and their actions non judgmentally. If you can’t do that–if everything always looks like sin or goodness–you are still trapped within the labyrinth of irrationality with that minotaur named Faith. This is why the believers’ explanations for atheist-reading behavior in this article all point back to faith: atheists read religious articles because they are searching for God! No moron, that’s you. I read because I like to read and think. You read about religion (and practically nothing from a secular perspective, if you can avoid it), because you think it will provide you with more insider tips on how to grovel more effectively for your invisible deity.

Posted in Essays on Belief, Religion in the News | 3 Comments »

More God of the Gaps?

Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on January 8, 2011

Bill O’Reilly’s recent proof for the existence of God — that God must exist because the tides come in and go out — initially struck me as an example of the God of the Gaps argument. The only problem is that science has been able to explain the relationship between the tides and the Moon and Sun since Isaac Newton published Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematicain in 1687. So O’Reilly appears to have used a sub-category of the God of the Gaps argument. Now, Christians like O’Reilly don’t need to appeal to a gap in overall human knowledge, they can simply appeal to what they are ignorant of. Click on the link below to see Colbert’s hilarious mockery of Bill’s stupidity.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Bill O’Reilly Proves God’s Existence – Neil deGrasse Tyson
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

Posted in Faith vs. Evidence, Religion in the News, Video | 4 Comments »

New Gallup Poll Shows Christian Americans Are Overwhelmingly Idiots

Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on December 21, 2010

From a new Gallup Poll: “Four in 10 Americans, slightly fewer today than in years past, believe God created humans in their present form about 10,000 years ago. Thirty-eight percent believe God guided a process by which humans developed over millions of years from less advanced life forms, while 16%, up slightly from years past, believe humans developed over millions of years, without God’s involvement.”

Read more about the results of the poll here. Note that one’s education level is directly proportional to the likelihood of believing the falsehood that humans were created 10,000 years ago. Christians would probably argue, as I have heard them do, there is a liberal conspiracy in universities. This conspiracy–which must be very well organized to keep all universities in line across the country and world–has as its aim to spread the lies of evolution! At least, that’s what I’m told.

Posted in Faith vs. Evidence, Religion in the News | 3 Comments »

Christian research organization identified as a hate group

Posted by Ann on December 13, 2010

The Family Research Council has just been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In December 2010, the Family Research Council (FRC) was placed on Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) list of Hate Groups. In amongst 932 designated active hate groups in the United States which include:  neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan, White Supremacists, White Nationalists, Black Separatists, Racist Skinheads, Holocaust Deniers, Neo-Confederates, Anti-Immigrationists and Anti-Gay groups, there is listed the Family Research Council.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Family Research Council actively spreads myths and lies about the GLBT community. They aren’t the only Christian fundamentalist group identified as spreading hate. Also on the list, the American Family Association  (AFA), Concerned Women for America (CWA) and the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).

Read more, from a liberal Christian perspective (go you liberal almost rational person you!):

The Ten Lies about the GLBT Community

Posted in Religion in the News | 6 Comments »

If You Believe in Demons, You Are an Idiot

Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on November 13, 2010

There is an article in the New York Times titled “For Catholics, Interest in Exorcism Is Revived.” Whenever I do my best to focus on common ground in discussions I have with believers, I get a nice little reminder of the fact that these people are like undeveloped and naive children. It is hard to avoid applying a descriptor like “stupid” or “dumb” to people who willfully choose to ignore the discoveries of psychology to cling to their superstitious beliefs in evil spirits. Reading something like this makes me feel very justified in saying that if you believe in demons, you are an idiot.

Posted in Religion in the News | Leave a Comment »

Stephanie Drury on The Grapes of Rad podcast

Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on May 25, 2010

Stephanie Drury, of Stuff Christian Culture Likes fame, will be the guest on The Grapes of Rad podcast tonight at 6 pm pacific time. The program will be about religion and is broadcasting live, so check it out and call in to the show.

Posted in Religion in the News | Leave a Comment »

Atheist Attends Christian Gay-to-Straight Conversion Camp

Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on April 27, 2010

Check out this crazy article: What Happened When I Went Undercover at a Christian Gay-to-Straight Conversion Camp

Posted in Links, Religion in the News | 8 Comments »

The Atheist Agenda “Smut for Smut” Campaign

Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on March 5, 2010

A group of courageous students at the University of Texas at San Antonio, members of the student group Atheist Agenda, held their “Smut for Smut” campaign this week. The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness about the negative values espoused by holy scriptures. People are asked to hand over copies of their religious texts, and, in return, they are given pornographic magazines (gay or straight, depending on your preference). You can read a news report on it here:
Bibles-for-porn stunt draws crowd at UTSA

Also, here is a link to the Atheist Agenda blog. There are a few entries on the campaign that are worth reading, Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Religion in the News | Leave a Comment »