Tag Archives: schadenfreude

The YUCK Factor: Religious Freedom & Kim Davis

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Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I am getting so tired of people who decide that their religious freedom trumps everyone else’s freedoms as well as the law. The example of the Recalcitrant County Clerk of Rowan County Kentucky, Mrs. Kim Davis provides us a shining example of this from the Christian side of the house; and I can only say YUCK! So today I am taking a certain amount of delight that she is now in jail, the German word for my feeling of joy is schadenfreude. It’s a great word that we don’t use often enough.

I cannot speak authoritatively about non-Christians who decide that they can disobey law based on their religious freedom, and frankly I haven’t heard about too many of those cases;. However, as a Christian, a historian, a theologian, and a military officer charged with upholding the law; I can comment on Christians who decide to disobey the law in the name of their faith.

Freedom of religion is the most abused freedom that we have in this country. For the most part it is we can blame politically powerful conservative Christians abusing it. For them their religious freedom is a constitutional absolute which allows them to pick and choose what laws they do not want to obey; of course should a Moslem public official attempt this these same people will scream about Moslems trying to impose Sharia law on non-Moslems.

The fact that there are thousands of Christian denominations and split offs makes this messy. It is messy because while most of these Christians claim to believe in Jesus and the Bible, most cannot agree on any doctrine; except that they hate Gays. Other than that there is there is almost no consensus of belief. American Christianity is a pick-and-choose smorgasbord of beliefs, in which the individual’s right to choose what they want to believe about God is now spilling out of the church, and over into society at large. They chose what laws they will obey, and the religious beliefs that they want the government to enforce against others based on their “sincerely held religious views.” 

To that I say YUCK! As Attorney Alan Shore played by James Spader said in Boston Legal “Enough with this freedom of religion crap. Yuck. Yuck, yuck.”

But this is the latest “in-thing” for Christian bullies to do. In fact, the failing Presidential Candidate and seminary drop-out Mike Huckabee, got in on the act today. He commended Mrs. Davis today, saying that he called her and “let her know how proud I am of her for not abandoning her religious convictions and standing strong for religious liberty…” Likewise Senators Rand Paul and Marco Rubio are conniving to find a way to legislate ways for Christians to do this, while forgetting the legal precedent that would allow others to do the same in the name of their religion, and they will cry foul when a Moslem uses that precedent.

The fact is that this pompous attempt to make Evangelical Christianity a State Religion, is positively abusive toward all other citizens.  To be fair the attempts by Mrs. Davis and her political and legal supports needs to be called out by Christians, if we want to be taken seriously. If we don’t we as will denigrate our witness in the community and if the time ever comes, will forfeit our rights if someone wants to use the legal precedent that we set against us.

Dr. Mark Silk, Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college’s Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life, calls this “Spiritual Libertarianism” and it is dangerous both to society, as well as the church. Or should I say churches, since given the chance and the backing of the government, a big church with the majority of adherents in an area will always oppress smaller churches, non-Christian religions and unbelievers. Since I have written a lot about this facet of religious liberty I will not go into that in depth here. Just put “religious liberty” or “freedom of religion” in the little search box on this site, and you will see my long list of articles on the subject, most dealing with our religious history.

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But I digress… These people, including the Recalcitrant County Clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, Mrs. Kim Davis, all claim to be obey the Bible, but they totally ignore other parts of the Bible. Jesus said to “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” and the Apostle Paul commanded Christians in his letter to the Romans, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

So, this absolute right that Davis and so many others a championing is overplayed and dangerous. To quote attorney Alan Shore:

“Ugh, please. It’s a dumb freedom….And I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a little tired of this freedom of religion thing. When did religion get such a good name, anyway? Be it the Crusades, the Reformation genocides, the “troubles” in Northern Ireland, the Middle East, mass slaughters supposedly in the name of Allah, and then, of course, the obligatory reciprocal retribution. Hundreds of millions of people have died in religious conflicts. Hitler did his business in the name of his Creator. 9/11 was an act of religious extremism. It’s our greatest threat today—a Holy Jihad. If we’re not ready to strip religion of its sacred cow status, how ‘bout we at least scale back a little on the constitutional dogma exalting it as all get-out?” (Boston Legal “Whose God is it Anyway” Season 3 episode 5)

I am beginning to believe, like Alan Shore that religious freedom is a dumb freedom. This is not because I do not value it, but because it is so abused by people who want to establish a theocracy. This is something that our founders and even influential religious leaders of their day, did their best to avoid.

The fact is that these true believers, like Mrs. Davis, who desire to have their religious beliefs exalted over law and the rights of others are dangerous. Eric Hoffer wrote, that true believers, especially the religious type were likely to see themselves as “as one of the chosen, the salt of the earth, the light of the world, a prince disguised in meekness, who is destined to inherit the earth and the kingdom of heaven too. He who is not of his faith is evil; he who will not listen will perish.”

People are looking for something different than this and they are fleeing the church in droves. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was killed by the Nazis in 1945 wrote something about German Christians of his time that more American Christians should take to heart:

“Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God, either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God, too. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end there will be nothing left but spiritual chatter and clerical condescension arrayed in pious words… never really speaking to others.”

Christians no longer have a good name in this country because we act like we are better than everyone else. What Mrs. Davis and her supporters are doing is to make that even worse. A pox on them.

Davis told Fox News before the ruling, “This is a heaven or hell issue for me and for every other Christian that believes…This is a fight worth fighting.” In other words, she is a Christian that believes and Christians who do not agree with her are not.

If you wonder why people are fleeing Christianity look no farther than Mrs. Davis’s and her supporters. Their perverted and insidiously malignant “Christianity” is the cause of this. As I said yesterday by the standards of Christian orthodoxy she is not even a Christian based on her beliefs about the Godhead. In Calvin’s Geneva and almost all countries with state churches in Europe, as well as the Massachusetts Bay Colony, she would have been burned at the stake for her beliefs; beliefs that she now presumes to hold as the standard for all other people. Basically, she has just had the nerve to say, in so many words, that the rest of us are going to hell. Of course in Jesus Name, Amen.

As to the ruling of Federal District Judge David Bunning which sent Mrs. Davis to jail until she complies with the law: it also requires her deputies to carry out their duties and authorizing county judges to issue marriage licenses. Five of the six deputies have agreed to follow the law. 

Now the Kentucky legislature which has tried to avoid the issue, and to kick the can down the road until next year might actually have to get off their asses and do something to amend their laws regarding marriage as well as what officials can issue a marriage certificate. That is if they want Mrs. Davis to keep her job and get out of jail before the next legislative session in 2016.

Davis and her followers, including the crass politicians trying to carve out exemptions for people like her to disobey the law have poisoned the water for anyone wanting to actually be a positive influence on society as Christians, and I include conservative “pro-life” Christians, as well as progressive Christians who advocate a more inclusive faith and relationship to society.

But, as more people flee the church and the Christian faith, the leaders of this movement to impose Christian beliefs on others through the power of the state, will have no one else to blame. They are the cause of this. The Barna group did a scientific survey of the attitudes of 18-29 year-olds on what phrases best described Christians. The top answers were “Anti-homosexual, judgmental, hypocritical and too involved in politics.” This view was held by 91% of non-Christians and a staggering 80% of young churchgoers. Another Barna survey mentioned Hypocritical, anti-homosexual, insincere, sheltered and too political. Another Barna survey of Evangelical Christians of the same demographic found that they believed that, “Christians demonize everything outside of the church” while 20% said that “God seems missing from my experience of church” while 22% said that “church is like a country club, only for insiders” and 36% said that they were unable “to ask my most pressing life questions in church.” 

As for now I am glad that she is in jail. The sad thing for her though is that the people who helped get her to jail at Liberty Counsel, will jettison her as soon as they can no longer make money off of her cause; and that will not be very long from now. They will move along and find some other dupe to do their bidding. By dupe, I do not mean a devout Christian, but rather one stupid enough to trust the judgement of politically motivated lawyers like Liberty Counsel who get them tossed in jail, and pocket vast amounts of money for their next legal crusade.

But then there seems to be an unending supply of dupes who think they are doing God’s will, and sadly, not just in this country. The Middle East is full of them.

God help us all.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under christian life, faith, History, laws and legislation, LGBT issues, News and current events, Political Commentary, Religion

Ecumenical Jihadists and Hurricane Sandy: At Last Something that Christian, Moslem and Jewish Extremists can Agree On

While much of New York, New Jersey and West Virginia struggle under the effects of the damage of Hurricane Sandy and millions of people are either homeless, without power or transportation there are those that know why this happened. Close to 60 million Americans have been affected as well as people in Jamaica and Cuba.

While men like President Obama and Governor Chris Christie, elected officials from opposite sides of our partisan chasm work together to coordinate the assistance needed for the millions of people now homeless or without power there are some people that know why this happened.   I don’t know about you but I was impressed by how well Governor Christie and President Obama laid aside the partisanship and worked together to fulfill their respective Oath’s of Office and responsibility to the people that they were elected to serve. That is how real leaders deal with crisis, be it natural or manmade disasters, economic crisis or something like war.

However there are people out there that do not agree. To them the current crisis has nothing to do with global warming or climate change. No it has nothing to do with the fact that like most major metropolitan regions worldwide New York and New Jersey are maritime areas, what we in the Navy like to call the littorals. Over 70% of the worlds population lives on the littorals. The major trade, banking and industrial cities of the world, those on which the world economy depends sit alongside the oceans of the world.

No, geography, economics, or climatology have no answers. After all scientists are stupid political hacks dependent on the government who don’t believe in God anyway. According to those that really know the facts, you know, people that say that God talks to them and reveals things to them that non-believers don’t understand the issue is secular America, gays and abortion. In fact there is a broad ecumenical agreement among religious fundamentalists, Christians, Moslems and Jews that is almost taking a perverse Schadenfreude, or joy in the sufferings of others going on whenever a natural disaster occurs.

Yes my friends there are Christian ministers in the United States, Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Rabbis and Moslem Imams and Mullahs are all chiming in, all citing their Scriptures and their dark understanding of a God who hates his creation. Just google “Hurricane Sandy  God’s judgement” or “Katrina and God’s Judgement” or whatever disaster you want to name with “God’s judgement” and see what pops up. You’ll be surprised at the perverse joy that some religious people take in the sufferings of those that they believe to be God’s enemies.

The sad thing is that many of the people suffering are Christians, Jews and Moslems, which kind of makes me wonder about the people writing the screeds that say that God judging these people. I wonder if the shoe was on the other foot what they would be saying.

It is really amazing to me to see the amount of Ecumenical Jihad that a natural disaster inspires among the faithful. One would think that such zealots wouldn’t be able to agree about anything but but they are surprisingly in agreement when it comes to death and destruction of the people that they deem to be heretics, unbelievers or infidels. At least a leading Saudi Cleric has condemned the Moslem extremists comments but I don’t see many big name Christian leaders condemning the nutty and hateful views of Christians. Maybe it is just that they are too busy doing partisan campaigning for political candidates in states that are not affected by the storm to be bothered with caring about people in states that won’t vote for their candidate anyway. But then maybe I’m wrong and just have become cynical.

I wish that was so. However there is a reason that many if not most mainline Evangelical leaders won’t criticize the nut cases. That is because in their hearts many agree with them and actually say similar things year round and have said them for years but are smart enough not to say it during the storm because it might cut down on donations to their ministries, their market share in Christian broadcasting or their political influence before an election that they have gone all in for one party. Likewise almost all of the leaders of these ministries are have their headquarters in places far from any real danger of natural disaster other than blizzards, thunderstorms and tornados or drought. I hate to say but having lived through all of those disasters plus major hurricanes, floods and earthquakes I can say that those a child’s play compared to events such as Hurricane Sandy, Katrina, the Japanese Tsunami or a massive earthquake.

I don’t know about you but I have a hard time with those that decide that somehow they know all that is in God’s heart and are quite willing to throw other people that don’t believe like them under the wheels of their God’s bus. Well, c’est la vie.

Please pray and act to help the people in need. There is plenty of work to do and needs to be met. I posted information last night on how to give to the Red Cross and Salvation Army relief efforts. Those links are provided here again:

http://www.redcross.org/support

http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/www_usn_2.nsf

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under faith, leadership, natural disasters, Religion

Disaster in Japan: A Time to Act and Pray

A Woman sits amid the rubble in the town of Natori, Myagi Prefecture

It appears that we have crossed the line from cataclysm to absolute disaster as three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant appear to be melting down top one extent or another. Japanese government officials have increased the evacuation zone following the latest explosion at the number 2 reactor which may have had its containment vessel compromised. Additionally a fire has broken out in unit 4 which was not active but contains spent fuel rods and according to the government is probably releasing radiation into the atmosphere. Even without such a calamitous turn of events the tremendous devastation caused by the massive earthquake and tsunami were beyond compare in any first world nation. Japan has one of the largest economies in the world and despite a long term economic downturn has remained one of the key industrial nations in the world’s economic system. It also has probably the best civil defense and disaster relief systems in the world but even still this highly advanced country has been overwhelmed by the dual natural disasters and now a probable nuclear disaster.

Thousands have been confirmed dead and many thousands more are missing as the tsunami swept everything before it and probably has washed many thousands of victims out to sea. Whole cities lay in ruin and hundreds of thousands are in shelters or homeless many without power or water. Thousands more are critically injured are being cared for in an advanced but now highly stressed medical system. Transportation networks to include airports and military airfields, rail lines, seaports and highways are damaged to such an extent that relief agencies cannot use them.

There is little good news other than the tremendous grace that the Japanese people have shown under such terrible conditions. In conditions which would have sparked rioting and looting in most other nations including the United States and Western Europe the Japanese people are banding together to survive and respecting their neighbors even when such necessities as fresh water and food run out.

The Japanese power company TEPCO has evacuated all but 50 personnel from the compound and has admitted that the containment vessel for reactor number two may have been breached. Radiation levels are rising and no one knows what will happen to the reactors as they remain in such an uncontrolled state. For days Japanese engineers have worked feverishly to restore cooling systems and when that failed have attempted to cool the reactors by pumping in seawater and boric acid. Nothing appears to be working and with each news conference Japanese government and TEPCO officials seem to be preparing the Japanese public and the world for the worst.  Today people have been told to evacuate further or shelter in place as radiation levels have reached levels that could harm human beings.  Should all three reactors melt down and lose containment there will be a nuclear catastrophe that will make all previous nuclear incidents pale in significance.

While many Americans and others across the world are reaching out to provide aid and assistance to the victims of this tragedy others make pronouncements which are simply idiotic or even full of hatred and evil. On a YouTube posting of the tsunami I read posts that simply were hateful in response to the Japanese as well as those that would offer to help them. Unfortunately most of these comments were bundled into domestic American politics in which the people posting them were attacking President Obama and “the liberal media.” I wonder where the humanity of such people is when I see such lack of compassion for those affected by a catastrophe of this scale. I saw one post where the writer said that the “Japanese deserved it because he saw some Japanese cheer the 9-11 attacks.” Such Schadenfreude is simply are reflection of the darkness that inhabits the hearts of such people.

Conservative talk radio and Fox Television host Glenn Beck alluded that the earthquake might be “might be a message from God.” Now Beck has been known for putting his mouth around his foot without thinking for years and frequently apologizes and then tries to make amends so it is par for the course. However when CNBC financial host Lawrence Kudlow says “the human toll here looks to be much worse than the economic toll, and we can be grateful for that” it shows the depravity of our own financial elites who only look at the economic bottom line.  I guess the true morality of the economic Social Darwinism called Capitalism shows up in its starkest and most banal form in Kudlow’s words.  Not to be outdone Rapper 50 Cent tweeted crude jokes to his followers about the earthquake.

There are also a host of supposed Christians both Protestant and Catholic who supposedly are in the know about “God’s prophetic plan” that the earthquake and tsunami are God’s judgment against Japan for criticizing Israel or even “Demon worship” in Japan. When I read such nonsense I wonder how such people can call this the hand of God or blame it on the victims. I guess if such people get hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami that wipes them out it is also God’s judgment on them? What about all of those Bible believing churches in the tornado belt of the United States that get wiped out every year? Is that God’s judgment too?  I’m just asking.

While the situation in Japan is caused by unprecedented environmental factors which have overwhelmed nuclear plants, electronic grids and transportation systems and added to the misery the words of Larry Kudlow 50 Cent and the contributors to the YouTube video show a deeper problem in the United States. At its heart it is a moral and theological sickness that I think is beginning to overwhelm this country. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from his prison cell before his execution by the Nazis something that speaks volumes in reference to the crisis in the American spirit and among some that call themselves Christian:

We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds: we have been drenched by many storms; we have learnt the arts of equivocation and pretence; experience has made us suspicious of others and kept us from being truthful and open; intolerable conflicts have worn us down and even made us cynical. Are we still of any use?

Well I think that the question “are we still of any use?” is something that we as a people need to ponder before we go making such comments be they religious, economic or just plain evil or stupid.

Thankfully there are a great many American and other people around the world that do not think like this. Among them are the civilian rescue teams and military personnel who are now in harm’s way and those that contribute of their time, talent or treasure to contribute something to agencies providing relief efforts.  Some celebrities most notably Lady Gaga have encouraged prayer for Japan and provided ways to donate to relief efforts. For those that desire to donate many organizations are providing relief supplies and assistance. People can contribute to the Red Cross and Salvation Army by donating $10 via text message with the money being applied to your cellular bill. To donate to the Red Cross text “redcross” to 90999 and for the Salvation Army text either “japan” or “quake” to 80888.  The Christian relief agency Samaritan’s Purse which is part of the Billy Graham organization is taking donations online at https://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/Giving/Project_Donations/

Many other churches across the denomination spectrum and secular relief societies are helping. If you are connected to one particular charity that is helping to provide aid to Japan that is another way to help.

CNN published a list of organizations on its website as well as other pertinent information at http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/03/11/tsunami-aid-and-relief-how-you-can-help/

We can all pray for the people of Japan as well. This is a crisis which transcends national boundaries and political or religious divisions. I have modified a prayer issued by the Church of England here:

O loving Creator, bring healing and hope to those who, at this time, grieve, suffer pain, or who have been affected by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters in Japan.

We remember those who have died and we pray for those who mourn for them and those whose fates are not yet known.

May we all be aware of Your compassion, O God, which calms our troubled hearts and shelters our anxious souls that trusting in your grace that we will not lose heart and stretch forth our hands to help the victims of this disaster.

May we pray with humility with our troubled and struggling brothers and sisters on earth.

May we dare to hope that through the generosity of your people around the world that the destitute might glimpse hope, warmth and life again and that you will preserve the people of Japan from further harm and deliver them from all evil.

Grant this through our Savior Jesus Christ who lives with us, comforts us and soothes us. Amen.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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