The Two Spies Report

The "Minority Report" from J. Michael Bennett, Ph.D, Emeritus Producer of the Future Quake Radio Show, and Author of the soon-to-be-released book series The Holy War Chronicles – A Spiritual View of the War on Terror

Category: Christian Ethics

The Religious Right and White Supremacists: A “Match Made in Valhalla”

PerkinsCCC

 

In the draft manuscript of Volume 6 of my book series, The Holy War Chronicles – A Spiritual View of the War on Terror, I wrote at some length about what was arguably the most powerful and influential Christian political activism and “cultural warrior” organization of the early Twentieth Century, whose central tenets are still being actively championed by most American conservative Christians today.

In their heyday millions of American men were members of it – 15% of the entire eligible American male populace (predominantly in the West and Midwest), all organized under a central banner.  Its widely respected leader wrote that his organization “embodies the group mind of America.  It is representative of complete nationalism”, with his organization claiming, “I am the soul of America”.

A large proportion of their founding and subsequent members were Protestant pastors, who were concerned about the rise of new immigrants and rival religions controlled by theocracies overseas.  At their meetings they sang hymns, while their members distributed Bibles at schools, and joined (and eventually took over) school boards to ease out un-American teachers of other faiths, with its members eventually becoming governors and Supreme Court justices.  Most of the membership was firmly of the middle class and had access to education, including Quakers, Baptists, Methodists, Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, and United Brethren, with a large portion of bankers, lawyers, dentists, doctor, ministers, businessmen and teachers.  A historian of their group said that “They were critical of liberal Protestant theologians who used historical criticism and science in biblical interpretation”, but were “more evangelical than fundamentalist”.  One of its members at the time wrote that it got many ministers involved in the group by “donating to the preacher”, as its organization “bound Christianity with Americanism”, and whose members formally dedicated themselves to the Constitution, “American ideals and institutions” and “the tenets of the Christian religion”, and wrote of themselves as the “successors of the Reformation” who would “cleanse” the church with Protestantism as “a foundation for both democracy and religious freedom”; in others word, “make America great again“.  They also claimed to model themselves after the early Church.

They not only donated food and started charities (to garner community support), as an organization intended to unite across denominational lines with the Bible as their “keystone”, and were expected to be regular church attenders with their families and supporters of their Sunday Schools (certainly being many teachers there).  Their logo included the blood of Christ, “shed for all humanity”.  Their stated model was the Christian Crusaders who rescued the Holy Land from the “heathen Turks”, and now sought to conquer the “enemies of Americanism”.

Its members had to profess loyalty to the American flag, it having been “purchased by blood and suffering of American heroes”, as the “price paid for American liberties”.  Their publications further confessed that “we must admit that the bases of America’s laws are the great moral laws of God”, as their goals were the “maintaining a Christian civilization in America”, as “Their nation was in danger, and the only way to save it was to reconnect with the nation’s religious foundations”.  Their leader stated that “real, true Americanism unadulterated, [included] a dogged devotedness to our country, its government, its ideals and its institutions”.

He warned that “We must look first at the crisis in our civilization, now near its height.  Americans find today that aliens…instead of joining, challenged and attacked us. They seek to destroy Americanism”; however, he took solace that his group “embodies the group mind of America. It is representative of complete nationalism”, and “That understanding of nationalism uplifted patriotism, uniformity, common language, common religion, respect for the government, and common tradition as well as history”, because “True nationhood is essentially oneness of mind, and it recognizes certain beliefs held in common by its citizens…no person who lacks them can be in harmony with the nation”, whereas the original Puritans had a “divinely-appointed…mission” which was now required to “realign with their destiny”.

The group’s periodicals stated that “America’s idealism, institutions, destiny and affluence are written in the Bible, and upon this Book, the Work of God, America is founded”, noting that all of the “great” documents (Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and the Monroe Doctrine) originated in the Bible, and “therefore these documents are the basis of the logic and demonstration of every American problem”, with the nation being exceptional in origin, doctrine, and even physical space.  It adds that “the lives of the early fathers and their writings reveal that America was established by Christ…to put an end to ‘their System’”, while America was not for “refuse populations of other lands” who had not civilized the nation, but only wanted to exploit the toil of the forefathers and pioneers.  Most importantly, the organization wanted the Bible taught in public schools, and called Americans to a “culture war” to “arouse themselves” and “don’t be cowards, for God hates nothing more than cowardice”, appealing to a masculine Christ and aggressive American Christian male.

Their creed professed devotion to included the following tenets: a) “I believe in God and in the tenets of Christian religion and that a Godless nation cannot long prosper”, b) “I believe in the eternal separation of Church and State”, c) “I hold my allegiance to the Stars and Stripes next to my allegiance of God alone”, d) “I believe in the protection of pure womanhood”, e) “I believe in the limitation of foreign immigration”, and f) “I am a native born American citizen and I believe my rights in this country are superior to those of foreigners”.

They supported the 1924 Johnson-Hartley Act, which favored northern Europeans for American immigration versus southern European “Mediterraneans”.  They were active in opposing the immigration to America of a rival faith that was taking American jobs, and the threat of their mass mobilization under a foreign religious leader, with their faith viewed as a political organization in religious clothing.  They eventually took part in violent conflicts in their marches on college campuses.

So – who is this organization, comprising 15% of American males and a large proportion of Protestant ministers nationwide at the time, who virtually invented the platform and agenda of today’s Religious Right?

 

The 1920’s Ku Klux Klan. 

 

At the time they were invited nationwide (not just in the South, as the biggest collection of Klansmen was in Indiana, where their governor and supreme court justices donned the hood) in our sacred churches, to do recruiting drives during church services on Sundays, just like a Gideon speaker might today, but speaking of American-Christian values and the need to “stand up” and get active.  The following are a few pictures of such “sacred Sundays”:

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Well – at least such associations by our dear Christian leaders are a thing of our ignorant past – right?

As per my recollection, in the early 1980s my older brother was licensed as a minister and served as an assistant pastor at a small rural Baptist church in Shepherdsville, KY, just outside of the city of Louisville. They experienced a tremendous revival and growth, and according to a recent conversation I had with him to spur his recollection, a choir came to sing at the church that featured several African-American members. The following Wednesday night during the prayer meeting service that my brother led, one of the “prominent” church members of several generations stated that his family had played a key role in the establishment of the church, and that the presence of Negroes would be unacceptable. My brother responded that they would always be welcome in the church, leading the man, known to be a Klan leader in the community (even having had his son expelled from the Klan for excessive behavior) to give a not-so-veiled threat as to the church. The following Saturday in 1983, the brand-new church, just finished by the congregation members, was burned to the ground, and later determined by authorities to be due to arson.

In fact, I uncovered a 1924 edition of their local community newspaper, the Pioneer News, which advertises a Klan meeting in town, explaining, “KU KLUX KLAN – And what it stands for, explained by a prominent minister.  Shepherdsville, Sunday, May 24 on the Public Square.  Big Klan Parade.  Klan Naturalization [induction ceremony].  Full ceremony open to the public.  Follow the parade.  Every man, woman and child interested in America and our civic problems is invited to hear this great American organization explained” [citation].  Elsewhere in the newsletter it noted that “The Ku Klux Klan made its first public demonstration here Saturday night, about 60 were in the parade which marched through town and returned to the field of Mr. O. H. Masden of Fair Haven.  A large crowd heard the speaker on the public square in front of Troutman’s Store, but at the field at 11 P.M., the cross was burned and new members initiated, the crowd was much larger. Many members from Jefferson, Spencer, Hardin and Barren Counties, from Indiana and Tennessee were here to take part in the meeting. The best of order prevailed with no disturbance of any kind”.

Well, its one thing to point out examples from backwoods locations like rural Kentucky (yet minutes from Louisville), but this does not have relevance to our urbane, sophisticated Christian leadership and community today – does it?

Bob Jones was one of the most prominent fundamentalist evangelists of the early Twentieth Century (possibly second only to Billy Sunday), and is the founder of the National Religious Broadcasters organization.  However, he is best known for founding (although he himself was not a college graduate) of the most iconic center of fundamentalist training in America, Bob Jones University, in the 1920s (to counter secular schools’ teaching of evolution in the aftermath of the Scopes “Monkey” Trial) as the eventual “ground zero” of fundamentalist culture, while graduating generations of prominent evangelical pastors and religious leaders.  One of them, Billy Graham, who had looked to Jones as a father figure (and was a board member of the school), split with him over the questionable allies Graham was associating with in his crusades, which led to the broader fundamentalist-evangelical split in the 1950s.  Numerous sources document that, like other fundamentalist religious figures such as Billy Sunday, Bob Jones accepted Ku Klux Klan donations at his services and endorsed known Klansmen for public office, such as his friend Alabama Governor Bibb Graves [citation].

However, Bob Jones University is best known, beyond it being the breeding ground for generations of Christian fundamentalist leaders, for its racist policies, racial segregation and other inter-race restrictions, even until recent years.  This “Christian” school refused to accept blacks to go to the school until 1971, and then only married blacks until 1975, even though the IRS had ruled that such schools with discriminatory admission policies were not entitled to tax exemption, eventually losing it in 1976 due to its refusal to change its policies. They continued to prohibit interracial marriage and dating, losing a court case in 1982 in the U.S. Supreme Court, and still maintained the policy by paying a million dollars in back taxes.  It was not until the year 2000 that the school dropped their interracial dating ban.  In 2000 the Baltimore Sun quoted Jonathan Pait, the university’s community relations coordinator, whose statement in 1998 declared that “God has separated people for his own purpose. He has erected barriers between the nations, not only land and sea barriers, but also ethnic, cultural and language barriers. Bob Jones University is opposed to the intermarriage of the races because it breaks down the barriers God has established. It mixes that which God separated and intends to keep separated” [citation].  They also note that while Republican candidates routinely flock to the University to seek endorsements or hold speaking events (such as George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and Dan Quayle), while Reps. Lindsey Graham and Asa Hutchinson (a graduate), and Senator John Ashcroft were conferred honorary degrees.

The other major fundamentalist and “Religious Right” leader of this era which had the most profound impact in my circles and household was the Rev. Jerry Falwell – radio and television preacher, founder and pastor of the Thomas Road Baptist Church mega-church, founder of Liberty University (arguably the most influential trainer of conservative Christian leaders, and frequent stop of political candidates), the Moral Majority and many other organizations, and the movement’s most iconic and famous “face”.  For the purposes of our discussion, we will briefly cite what many of his followers over the decades are not aware of – his long-standing support of segregation and resistance to racial progress. This record was documented by Max Blumenthal in his article [citation] for The Nation magazine. He notes that Falwell preached a sermon four years after the 1954 Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education ruling outlawing racially segregated public schools entitled, “Segregation of Integration: Which?”, from which he is quoted as saying that “If Chief Justice Warren and his associates had known God’s word and had desired to do the Lord’s will, I am quite confident that the 1954 decision would never have been made. The facilities should be separate. When God has drawn a line of distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line…The true Negro does not want integration…He realizes his potential is far better among his own race.” He went on to add that integration “will destroy our race eventually.  In one northern city, a pastor friend of mine tells me that a couple of opposite race live next door to his church as man and wife”. As per my own research, it appears to me that the curious title to this sermon came from the 1956 pro-segregation book, Segregation or integration which? With the Negro in our midst, by fellow Fundamentalist Baptist pastor Gerald O. Fleming, a long-time pastor of the fundamentalist Dayton Baptist Temple (near my personal residence for many years); Falwell’s own Liberty University cites Fleming’s church-planting efforts as a role model in their own church=planting manual for students [citation].

Blumenthal continues by noting that Falwell distributed FBI-manufactured propaganda against Martin Luther King in support of J. Edgar Hoover, and referred to the 1964 Civil Rights Act as “civil wrongs”. He added that in his 1964 sermon “Ministers and Marchers”, Falwell identified King as a Communist subversive and having “left wing associations” as the Communists wanted to bring “violence and bloodshed” to America, further reproving King by saying that “Preachers are not called to be politicians, but soul winners” (I’m sure the reader can detect the irony in that statement). He was then noted as having found Lynchburg Christian Academy, described by the Lynchburg News in 1966 as a “private school for white students” – reflecting a trend to start private Christian schools to avoid the racial integration requirements in public schools. Blumenthal quotes Religious Right co-architect Paul Weyrich that he could not stimulate Falwell and his ilk to become politically active originally in support of the unborn, but rather when President Carter started efforts to remove tax exempt status from Christian schools that were still segregated, leading Falwell to then start the Moral Majority in 1979.  This and other data I have found provided me a revelation that groups like the Moral Majority and others that my folks and our peers supported that formed the genesis of the Religious Right was not based on protecting the unborn, but rather to protect tax breaks for their race-segregated “Christian’ schools.

Since his death, his legacy and agenda has been continued by the current Chancellor of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr. (while his other son Jonathan inherited his father’s other position as senior Pastor at his Thomas Road Baptist Church mega-church).  Jerry Falwell, Jr. had just publicly endorsed Donald Trump after inviting him to speak at Liberty University during the 2016 presidential campaign, Falwell announcing afterwards that “I am proud to offer my endorsement of Donald J. Trump for president of the United States…In my opinion, Mr. Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught in the Great Commandment” [citation].  During Trump’s visit, Falwell Jr. said that “I see a lot of parallels between my father and Mr. Trump”, also comparing Trump to Martin Luther King on the day commemorating him, and to Jesus Christ Himself [citation]. In turn, at an earlier Liberty convocation in September 2012 Trump told the Christian students to “get even” to get ahead, rather than turning the other cheek, later backed up by Liberty’s media spokesperson Vice President Johnnie Moore who concurred that Jesus also “would and he did” get even with others, saying that “the Bible is filled with stories of God getting even with his enemies, Jesus got even with the Pharisees” [citation].

The Falwells and their followers are not the only Religious Right leaders with a curious position of history on the issues of race and slavery. In February 2016, David Barton, director of Ted Cruz’s super-PAC and known as Christian historian extraordinaire, told one his his primary supporters, Glenn Beck on his show during Black History Month that in reality white slaveholders treated their slaves like family, and then praised the white peoples of that era for passing amendments to the Constitution that allowed them to be finally recognized as full persons.  He quoted a slave diary that said that “so much of the credit that blacks owed was for whites having gone to bat and doing things for them”, because “blacks were not able to free themselves, whites did” [citation].  Richard Land, formerly the primary spokesperson for the Southern Baptist Convention, spoke on the radio in the summer of 2014, commenting on Dinesh D’Souza’s research and noting that his point about the “lie about America being a colonial power”, and assenting to his point that “we ended slavery, we didn’t bring slavery to North America. Slavery was there, the Native Americans were enslaving each other before we got here.  Eventually, we ended slavery.  We have been a civilizing influence in the world” [citation].

One of the central figures of today’s Religious Right and its political activism, Tony Perkins, President of the influential Family Research Council (having picked Gen. Jerry Boykin to be his second in command, and a person I explore in depth in one of my book volumes) and, according to their website [citation], serves as President of the Council for National Policy (an invitation-only group of “whos who” in the Religious Right religious and conservative leader community who meet in secret, founded in 1981 by Tim Lahaye, Woody Jenkins (its first director and Perkins’ mentor) and others, and often cited as “the conservative version of the Council on foreign relations” [citation], has a few skeletons in his closet regarding this issue.  His organization’s website also notes that he received a Bachelor in Science degree from Liberty University, as well as an honorary doctorate of divinity from the school as well, and is a licensed minister that fills many pulpits nationwide.  A Marine and former police officer, he began working for a television station owned by Rep. Woody Jenkins.  In 2005 Max Blumenthal reported in The Nation that

“Four years ago, Perkins addressed the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), America’s premier white supremacist organization, the successor to the White Citizens Councils, which battled integration in the South. In 1996 Perkins paid former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke $82,500 for his mailing list. At the time, Perkins was the campaign manager for a right-wing candidate for the U.S. Senate in Louisiana. The Federal Election Commission fined the campaign Perkins ran $3,000 for attempting to hide the money paid to Duke.” [citation]

Blumenthal added that though Perkins denied having anything to do with Duke, “Perkin’s signature was on the document authorizing the purchase of Duke’s list”. The fine levied by the Federal Elections Committee was for “knowingly and willfully fil[ing] false disclosure reports showing Courtney Communications as the vendor”; a July 24, 2002 article in the Times-Picayune (Rep. Perkin’s local newspaper) added that when Perkins found out about Duke’s connection to the phone list, “he and Jenkins decided to route the payments through Courtney Communications, the campaign’s media firm, because ‘politically, we didn’t want to be connected with Duke’” [citation]. In a July 30, 2005 Vancouver Sun article, Perkins said regarding his May 17, 2001 Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) speaking engagement that “he wasn’t aware of its history” and its segregationist ideology, although it had been reported in his local town and state newspapers since 1998, calling it a “racist group” [Ibid.]. In fact, a January 18, 1999 article in the New York Times reported Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott’s association with the “white separatist group called the Council of Conservative Citizens” for “giving speeches to a racist organization”, and was an “honorary member” of the group, also frequented by Senator Jess Helms [citation].  At the top of this post you can see an online newspaper-published photo of State Rep. Perkins at the CCC podium on that day, standing in front of a big Confederate flag [citation].

Barbara Perry, in her book Hate Crimes, Vol. 2, asserts that the original mailing lists of the earlier Whites Citizens Council, formed to bolster white separation and supremacy in the advent of the Brown v. The Board of Education desegregation ruling, was used to begin the Council of Conservative Citizens, which by 2006 had 42 chapters in 19 states, both north and south, with as many as 15,000 members, and having described blacks as a “retrograde species of humanity”, as well as being anti-immigrant [citation]. She adds that their Confederate Flag-draped meetings featured regular speakers such as Trent Lott (several times, and also a member), who said they “stand for the right principles and the right philosophy” (p. 111). Max Blumenthal also notes in the Huffington Post that Mike Huckabee “eagerly accepted” an invitation to speak at the CCC 1993 national convention, according to its founder Gordon Lee Baum, but a governmental scheduling issue requiring him to temporarily serve as governor (he was Arkansas’ Lt. Governor at the time) necessitated his submission of a video address; the next year they used former Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Jim Johnson, who had organized the mob that rioted to stop the integration of Little Rock High School, and served as narrator of Rev. Jerry Falwell’s film, “The Clinton Chronicles” [citation].  Popular Alabama judge (and Ten Commandments public display defender) Roy Moore also spoke at the CCC in 1995 [citation].  Conservative write Ann Coulter stated in her 2009 book Guilty: Liberal “Victims” and Their Assault on America that the CCC had been unfairly branded as racist only “because some of the directors of the CCC had, decades earlier, been leaders of a segregationist group…There is no evidence on its Web page that the modern incarnation of the CCC supports segregation” [citation].   To let them speak for themselves, let’s see what the Council of Conservative Citizens says in their own online “Statement of Principles”, which was unanimously adopted at their 2005 Spring National Board Meeting:

“We believe the United States is a Christian country…We therefore oppose all efforts to deny or weaken the Christian heritage of the United States, including the unconstitutional prohibitions of prayers and other religious expression in schools and other public institutions. We believe the United States is a European country and that Americas are part of the European people…the American people and government should remain European in their composition and character. We therefore oppose the massive immigration of non-European and non-Western peoples into the United States that threatens to transform our nation into a non-European majority in our lifetime. We believe that illegal immigration must be stopped, if necessary by military force…We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called ‘affirmative action’ and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races.” [citation]

The CCC entered the news again recently when it was discovered that Dylann Roof, the mass assassin against the predominantly African-American members of a Charleston church in 2015 (killing nine), was heavily influenced by CCC publications on black violence against white people in his justification for his attack. The Los Angeles Times reported [citation] that his manifesto writing “reflects the strong influence of a white nationalist group called the Council of Conservative Citizens”. On his online manifesto webpage, Roof writes, “this [the Trayvon Martin incident] prompted me to type in the words ‘black on white crime’ into Google, and I have never been the same since that day. The first website I came to was the Council of Conservative Citizens. There were pages upon pages of these brutal black on white murders. I was in disbelief” [citation].

The current board member and national spokseman today for the Council of Conservative Citizens is Jared Taylor, who along with Matthew Heimbach and Richard Spencer (co-organizers of the recent Charlottesville ‘Unite the Right” Nazi rally) form the key triumvirate of America’s current white supremacist movement.  Concerning the deadly rally itself, Taylor, who describes himself as a “racialist” [citation] who said that Trump’s election signals the “sign of rising white consciousness” [citation], said afterwords that

“If you get your news from NBC, this is what you learned about yesterday’s Unite the Right rally:…The problem was white nationalist violence…Of course, what caused the violence was hostile counter-demonstrators…If they had not been there, there would have been no violence, and the rally would have taken place as planned.  Of all people, it was Donald Trump who came the closest to getting it right, condemning “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides”…(Swastikas were extremely rare in Charlottesville, but they make for better “anti-racist” graphics than Confederate flags.)…There is confrontation only when anti-whites harass and try to stop pro-white events…Jason Kessler [the demonstration organizer] is scheduled to make a statement to the press today at 2:00 p.m. He is smart man and a brave man. I’m sure we can trust him to make an excellent case for our side.”

 

It’s a funny thing; I noticed some young people in the news video of the event that were confronting these Nuremberg torch-carrying, card-carrying Nazis in their regalia, but I wondered: Where is the American Legion?  the other veterans organizations who fought Nazis, and whose buddies died fighting them?  The Holocaust survivors?

And most of all – where are the preachers, and other people of faith?  There may have been some brave “liberal” pastors (gasp – possibly even women!) and some non-religious ethicists, but not a conservative evangelical pastor I can find (or heard anything about).  At least the young women there were brave enough to confront evil, even if the “cowards” did stay away.

At least the brave Religious Right leaders did express their outrage later, or in support over Trumps adamant and vehement equating of the world-reviled Nazis (responsible for killing millions) and those who confronted them.  In an article in The New American [ciation], Franklin Graham writes, “Shame on the politicians who are trying to push blame on President Trump for what happened in #Charlottesville, VA…Because the president failed to attack the “white nationalists” and the “alt-right movement” by name in his remarks, politicians and activists looking for a way to slur Trump implied that all the responsibility for the violence was on one side….Another Republican and frequent antagonist of Trump, Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), had harsh words for the “Unite the Right” rally (but not for the counter-protesters, without whose presence there would have been no violence), calling it an example of “hate and bigotry”…From the statements by the various politicians, one would have almost thought that Trump had shouted “Sieg Heil!”…What about the politicians such as the city council who voted to remove a memorial that had been in place since 1924, regardless of the possible repercussions?…they want to blame President Donald J. Trump for everything.”  On his Twitter account [citation], Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. wrote, “Finally a leader in WH. Jobs returning, N Korea backing down, bold truthful stmt about tragedy.  So proud of

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin (who sent his children to the same Christian school I attended) stated in a radio interview [citation] that the removal of slave-holding Confederate statues (most of whom were erected during the Jim Crow ere) were a “sanitization of history” that he “absolutely” disagrees with, and that that removing these monuments sets “a dangerous precedent” that we’re “not allowed to talk about certain elements of our history” and amounts to “revisionist history”, and alludes to the injustice of removing the statue of Roger Taney, the Supreme Court justice who issued the Dred Scott decision as a “slippery slope”, saying: “At what point—If somebody happened to have been a judge and something was erected in their honor but they happened to have one ruling one time that somebody’s offended by, is that worthy of them being removed from pretending they ever existed?”  It is not surprising that he would not condemn those who march and threaten violent confrontation in a coming social civil war – At the 2016 Value Voter Summit in front of a Religious Right audience, he declared, “Do you think it’s possible, if Hillary Clinton were to win the election, do you think it’s possible that we’ll be able to survive?…Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren. I have nine children. It breaks my heart to think that it might be their blood that is needed to redeem something, to reclaim something”.

The argument that Trump and all the Religious Right leaders have made from the Charlottesville tragedy – that not just the Nazis, but both sides were equally guilty – explains why the Polish people and army are just as guilty as the Nazis for the start of World War II, and the French Resistance for the war in Western Europe – I mean, they did blow up railroad tracks and stuff, didn’t they, while the Nazis only wanted the tracks to take people away to safety in the rail cars.

I’ve noticed that since Trump’s apologetic remarks on behalf of the Nazis, the money grubbing business leaders have all resigned Trump’s business councils in disgust and shame on matters of principle, and the artists’ council as well.  One group has not seen fit to have any defections as of Friday – the Religious Right leader council for Trump.

And these pastors and para-church leaders cannot figure out why young people and the rest of the public won’t come to their churches anymore, or give them the respect they think they deserve.  I guess they’ll just chalk it up to “Christian persecution”.

One Bible passage that most perplexed and frightened me over the years was in Matthew 7, in which Jesus stated that “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:20-23).  All I ever heard growing up was that if you confess, “Jesus is Lord”, and mean it, “you are in”.  I also understood that at the Great White Throne many would acknowledge that they did not accept Christ, and thus they were guilty of Hell and damnation.  Then, in this passage we see someone who appears to be doing all the right things, in a very public and conspicuous way, with all the trappings of great faith and devotion, and evidently is even self-deluded as to their own salvation.  How horrible would it be to think that “you’re in” and then to your surprise to discover, “you’re out”!  How could this be, that God would let this happen?

At my age, I now believe that those who are the most conspicuous with their Christian piety and verbage are often the ones we discover were playing a game, steeped in sin and secrets, and sometimes seemingly self-deluded.  Probably most are not “smoked out” until the “other side”.  Politicians, like many other liars, seem to put on a false persona so well that they tend to believe it themselves.  And most Christians are the biggest fools, for taking these known liars and taking their very public statements of faith at face value, in defiance of their lifetime of “fruit”.  An honest politician who does not exploit his faith publicly doesn’t have a chance with the Religious Right.  On the other hand, all Trump had to do was to pay obesience at the Liberty University shrine, hold up his grandmother’s Bible, cite “Corinthians two” and that he “ate the little cracker”, and Falwell and his ilk were ready to literally compare him to King David and Jesus Christ, even after his recorded confessions of serial marital infidelity and forceful molestation of women – all for the mirage of insider power they thought he could give.

Many of our Christian leaders talk all about “fundamentalism”, but beyond the atonement and resurrection, it appears to me they have no idea what the real Gospel “fundamentals” are – the Golden Rule, love the poor, look out for the stranger and weak, etc.

How many more of our high-profile Christian leaders will hear those heart-stopping words from our Lord?  I am afraid that I may be starting to understand what He meant by them.

PS – Much of the above was excerpted from the draft manuscript of Volume 6 of my upcoming book series, so you can get a taste of what it’s like.  If any of this content is thought-provoking to you, please circulate its link online in your circles, and by word of mouth, to stimulate discussion.

 

 

 

Catch Me on “My American Mind” Podcast Now!

My American Mind

 

Friends,

If you would like to hear me rant in audio rather than print, please check out my recent interview by my good friend (and Futurian and Two Spies reader) Micah on his new podcast, My American Mind.  He interviews me about my most recent post here on “Conservative Role Models In The Bible”, along with related sundrie items.

You can check it out here.

Be prepared for an old-school marathon session, like the old Future Quake days, ’cause I get on quite a roll!

Shout out to the most excellent Micah, including his awesome kickoff show just before this, in his archives.  His show will be a new star and one to watch (or listen)!

 

Conservative Role Models in the Bible – Part 1

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[EDITOR’S NOTE:  Even though I have repeatedly said that my posts here will only be sporadic due to the priority of getting my last book volume drafted and the whole Holy War Chronicles series published, the delay has been longer than normal due to a health crisis within my parents that has required me to be available out of state for much of the time over the last few months, and the foreseeable future; I would appreciate the prayers of all the readers for both of them, and for my siblings and myself.]

This post topic came to mind the other day when I was reminded of a recent project I heard about that created a “Conservative Bible” (the fact that CPAC is going on and in the news as I write this has also contributed, I am sure).  It was overseen by Andrew Schlafly, the originator of the Wikipedia variant “Conservapedia” (which only features data supporting conservative worldviews), and the son of conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly.  As a “grand dame” of the conservative movement, she shook the political world in 1964 with her book A Choice Not an Echo, and is recognized by historians by almost singlehandedly defeating the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, after it had almost passed enough state legislations, by means of her aggressive organization and activism.  Her organization “The Eagle Forum” was a bastion of conservative family and moral issues and their political and legal defense, and a prototype for later conservative “family” organizations.  As a staunch religiously-conservative Roman Catholic and defender of traditional Christian family values and role models, she embraced Donald Trump as such a role model and his 2016 campaign (ironically her son was also eventually “outed” as a practicing homosexual).  Her work also promoted the conservative values of unbridled capitalism (aka the Social Darwinist credo of “each man for himself”) and privatization to corporate control of the public interest.  And true to these values of unregulated corporate behavior, Schlafly’s own beloved Eagle Forum organization was subject to some type of hostile takeover by members of her own board of directors, including her own daughter, shortly before her death in 2016.  The cited online reference from its Missouri branch wrote that “Word has come of a rogue board meeting and an upcoming hostile takeover of Eagle Forum’s board and its assets. Phyllis Schlafly’s endorsement of Trump is a likely catalyst. But you can be sure the real objective is to control the Eagle Forum bank accounts and that the Gang of 6 will present a carefully crafted excuse for public consumption”.  She told World Net Daily that the coup was real and that “this may be my Dobson moment (when the board of Focus on the Family similarly forced founder James Dobson out), was based upon her endorsement of Trump, and was led by her own daughter.

Her son, Andrew Schlafly, is a “chip of the old block” who has forged his own conservative venues, such as his online resource “Conservapedia”, which is intended to be a Wikipedia-like information source with only conservative-approved information.  A brilliant person himself with an engineering degree from Princeton and a doctorate from Harvard Law School, he founded Conservapedia in 2006 when he was alarmed to read a student assignment (as a homeschool teacher) using the now-accepted Common Era (C.E.) historical dating nomenclature, versus the Anno Domini (A.D.) earlier tradition.  Schlafly objectively explains on the “About” page on his Conservapedia site that “Conservapedia is a clean and concise resource for those seeking the truth.  We do not allow liberal bias to deceive and distort here.  Founded initially in November 2006 as a way to educate advanced, college-bound homeschoolers, this resource has grown into a marvelous source of information for students, adults and teachers alike”.   He adds that “We have received over 500 million page views!”, and notes that “A conservative approach to education is powerful and helpful in many ways. It equips students and adults to overcome inevitable obstacles, such as addiction and depression…There are few, if any, conservative schools…The truth shall set you free..No other encyclopedic resource on the internet is free of corruption by liberal untruths.”

To get a feel of the type of narrative and perspective provided on Conservapedia, a look at its front page on February 21, 2017 notes that its “popular articles” include those on “global warming”, “feminism”, “homeschooling”, “evolution”, “liberal claptrap”, “hollywood values”, “biblical scientific foreknowledge”, “Donald Trump”, “free market”, “George Patton”, “Globalism”, “Conservapedia proven right”, “Ex-homosexuals”, “Battle of Thermopylae”, “greatest conservative songs”, “counterexamples to relativity”, “liberal bias”, “liberal style”, “Chuck Norris”, “bias in Wikipedia”, “Mystery: Why do Non-Conservatives Exist?”, “Barack Hussein Obama” and “Professor Values”, to name a few.  It also features a late-breaking “In the News” segment, with story titles such as “White House Signals Reversal in Transgender Bathroom Policy, overturning another Leftist policy by Obama”, “Trump was Right: Riots Break Out in Rinkeby, Sweden”, “Conservapedia Proven Right, Again”, “More fake news by the lamestream media”, and “Melania Trump Recites the Lord’s Prayer at Melbourne Rally – CROWD GOES WILD!”, and many other such reference citations for academics and researchers.

Regarding its rival Wikipedia, its Conservapedia page dedicated to it notes that “Most of Wikipedia’s articles can be edited publicly by both registered and anonymous editors, mostly consisting of teenagers and the unemployed.  As such it tends to project a liberal – and, in some cases, even socialist, Communist, and Nazi-sympathizing-worldview, which is totally at odds with conservative reality and rationality” (emphasis added).  It notes that Wikipedia founders Jimbo Wales and “atheist philosophy professor Larry Sanger’ are both atheists, and that “its articles are a mixture of truths, half-truths and falsehoods”, quoting World Net Daily editor Joseph Farah as saying that Wikipedia “is not only a provider of inaccuracy and bias.  It is wholesale purveyor of lies and slander unlike any other the world has ever seen”.  It does fairly point out that “Wikipedia has millions of entries on trivia and mundane topics”, but smacks of that “systemic liberal bias that dominates Wikipedia”.  They also perceptively point out that “the ‘hammer and sickle’ of the leftist ideology which murdered millions in the former Soviet Union – is featured prominently on the instruction page as well as the tags that mark each uploaded image”.  They are also known at Conservapedia for taking a strong stand against what they perceive to be one of the greatest threats to political conservatism – Einstein’s general theory of relativity in physics.  Their page on the “theory of relativity” begins by warning that “The theory of relativity is defended with religious-like zeal, such that no college faculty tenure, Ph.D degree, or Nobel Prize is ever awarded to anyone who dares criticize the theory”, and its article titles within this topic comprise those such as “Lack of Evidence for Relativity”, and “Experiments that Fail To Prove Relativity”.  They note that “Despite censorship of dissent about relativity, evidence contrary to the theory is discussed outside of liberal universities”.  They add that “some liberal politicians have extrapolated the theory of relativity to metaphorically justify their own political agendas…Applications of the theory of relativity to change morality have also been common”.   The article is associated at its conclusion with other wiki topics, such as “Liberal pseudoscience”, which includes “Black holes”, dark matter” and “moral relativism”.  On the dedicated Conservapedia page “Counterexamples to Relativity”, they begin by noting that “The theory of relativity is disproved by numerous counterexamples, but it promoted by liberals who like its encouragement of relativism and its tendency to pull people away from the Bible”.  This leads the prominent scientific magazine New Scientist to state, “In the end there is no liberal conspiracy at work.  Unfortunately, humanities scholars often confuse the issue by misusing the term ‘relativity’.  The theory in no way encourages relativism, regardless of what Conservapedia may think”.

Conservapedia does provide some pages with useful definitions of popular political terms today we can use for this post.  In their page on the topic “Liberal”, emblazoned with a picture of “Barack Hussein Obama” and stated to be the ‘least successful president in history”, states at the beginning that “A liberal is someone who craves an increase in government spending, power, and control, such as Obamacare.  Liberals also support the censorship and denial of Christianity.  Liberals who are a part of the secular left prefer the atheist religion over the Christian faith, as atheism has no objective morality to hinder their big government plans”.  They add that “Liberals favor a welfare state where people receive endless entitlements without working”, and that “All liberals support, in knee-jerk fashion, the oppositive of conservative principles, while lacking an actual ideology or values of their own.  Many of them cannot understand Christian language”.  They are also known for (a) “Denial of science (especially creation science)”, (b) “Hypocrisy”, (c) “The belief that terrorism is not a huge threat, and that the main reason for Muslim extremists’ hostility towards America is because of bad foreign policy”, (d) “Hedonism”, (e) “Rejection of Biblical standards”, (f) “Hatred”, (g) “Murder”, (h) “crying instead of accepting reality”, (i) “Cessation of teacher-led prayer in classrooms”, (h) “tyranny”, (i) “Treason”, (j) “pseudo-intellectualism”, (k) “genocide”, (l) “fascism”, (m) “Destroying conservative family values and replacing them with immoral Hollywood values”, (n) “High progressive taxes as a form of class warfare against wealthy business owners”, (o) “Sadism”, (p) “racism”, (q) “slander”, (r) “Obesity”, (s) “environmentalism”, (t) pedophilia”, (u) “mutilating corpses”, (v) “enforced homosexuality”, and many more unsavory attributes.  They add that, “In practical usage, the term ‘liberal’ is more closely synonymous with ‘radical’, ‘immoral’, ‘anti-freedom’, ‘elitist’, or ‘bad'”.  Their list of ‘Notable liberal ‘intellects'” includes “Barack Hussein Obama”, “Dracula”, “David Thorstad, a founding member of NAMBLA”, “Adolf Hitler”, “Karl Marx’, “Lee Harvey Oswald”, “Benito Mussolini”, “Margaret Thatcher” (for decriminalizing homosexuality), and “Osama Bin Laden”.  Their list of “Liberal Organizations” included AARP, AFL-CIO and others.

It also has a page dedicated to “Conservatism”. On it, it notes that “A conservative is someone who rises above his personal self-interest and promotes moral and economic values beneficial to all.  A conservative is willing to learn and advocate the insights of economics and the logic of the Bible for the benefit of everyone else.  A conservative favors conserving value by not giving handouts to anyone who does not really need them”.  Regarding their “goals and principles”, they note that conservatives seek or support “capitalism and free markets”, “classroom prayer”, “the concept of retribution for crimes, including the death penalty for heinous murders proven beyond reasonable doubt”, “family values, including traditional relationships and division of labor within the household” (emphasis added), “The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms”, “Economic allocative efficiency (as opposed to popular equity)”, “Private medical care and retirement plans”, “cancelling failed social support programs”, “enforcement of current laws regarding immigration”, “respect for our military – past and present”, “rejection of junk science such as evolution and global warming”, “a strong national defense”, “A dedication to the truth, and an ability to seek it”, and “ending entitlement programs”, amongst others.

The contribution Schlafly and Conservapedia is most known for is their origination of the “Conservative Bible” translation.  The Conservapedia page on the “Conservative Bible Project”  notes that its goal is to “render God’s word into modern English without archaic language and liberal translation distortions”.  They add that the first draft of the Conservative New Testament was completed on April 23, 2010, and many of the Old Testament books are completed as well.  It adds that “Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations”, and that “the third – and largest – source of translation error requires conservative principles to reduce and eliminate”.  It notes that “As of 2009, there was no fully conservative translation of the Bible which satisfies the following ten guidelines”, including “Framework against Liberal Bias”, “Not Emasculated”, “Combat Harmful Addiction”, “Express Free Market Parables” (“explaining the numerous economic parables in their full free-market meaning”), “Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness”, and “Exclude Later-inserted Inauthentic Passages” (i.e., “excluding the interpolated passages that liberals commonly put their own spin on, such as the adulteress story”).  It notes that the “benefits” of the new Conservative Bible include “benefitting from activity that no public school would ever allow; a Conservative Bible could become a text for public school courses”, “political issues can become a pathway to evangelizing liberals”, and “this project has a unifying effect on various Christian denominations, and serves as an important counterweight to liberal efforts to divide conservative candidates based on religion”.  Some of the “Helpful Approaches” that are cited from the Conservative Bible include to “identify pro-liberal terms used in existing Bible translations, such as ‘government’, and suggest more accurate substitutes”, and “identify conservative terms that are omitted from existing translations”. They add that “Many consider the Conservative Bible project, as well as any other Bible translation projects, to be heretical and in opposition to Matthew 5:18, which was fulfilled in the King James Bible”.  They use as examples of censored Bible passages in the Conservative Bible such as Luke 23:34, “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing'” (adding that, “Is this a corruption of the original, perhaps promoted by liberals without regard to its authenticity?”, since “This quotation is a favorite of liberals”), as well as Luke 16:8, where they change the “shrewd” manager of Christ’s parable to “resourceful”.  Amongst the “Advantages to a Conservative Bible” they list include “liberal bias – and lack of authenticity – becomes easier to recognize and address”, “supported by conservative principles, the project can be bolder in uprooting and excluding liberal distortions”, “the ensuing debate would flesh out – and stop – the infiltration of churches by liberals/atheists pretending to be Christian, much as a vote by legislators exposes the liberals”, “this would bring the Bible to a new audience of political types, for their benefit; Bible courses in college Politics Departments would be welcome”, and “this would debunk the pervasive and hurtful myth that Jesus would be a political liberal today”.

As example of the improvements provided by the Conservative Bible, in the Sermon on the Mount on Matthew 5 it says Jesus “began His Torah” instead of “He opened His mouth”, and states “Blessed are those who are not full of themselves” rather than “Blessed are the poor in spirit”.  In 2009 Stephen Colbert interviewed Schlafly about his Conservative Bible on his “Colbert Report” show .  There he states that Jesus’ parables were “free market parables”.  Salon Magazine actually listed verses from the Conservative Bible, where the term “Pharisees” has been changed to “liberals”, so that Mark 3:6 reads, “The Liberals then fled from the scene to plot with Herod’s people against Jesus, and plan how they might destroy Him”, and in Mark 10:23-25. they change Christ’s words “for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” to “for an idle miser to enter into the kingdom of God”.

Political conservatism is inextricably intertwined with most of American evangelicalism like a Gordian Knot, with Biblical passages and theological doctrine and the aforementioned conservative principles irrevocably linked, and not challenged or critiqued by the Bible text itself in polite company, at the risk of alienating oneself under the most dire charges of heresy – being a liberal.   As an example of its ubiquitousness, a look at the “Ten Liberty University Distinctives” by founder Jerry Falwell on what is arguably the world’s most influential evangelical university’s website in 2015 notes that one is “An uncompromising doctrinal statement, based upon an inerrant Bible, a Christian worldview beginning with belief in biblical Creationism, an eschatological belief in the pre-millennial, pre-tribulational coming of Christ for all of His Church, dedication to world evangelization, an absolute repudiation of “political correctness,” a strong commitment to political conservatism, total rejection of socialism, and firm support for America’s economic system of free enterprise” (emphasis added) – a political and economic indoctrination paid for in large sums by parents (or vast student loans) to provide their children a life-influencing “Christian education”.  This may be why their website also notes that amongst their awards are being in the Top 10 of Newsmax‘s “40 Conservative Colleges” and number 5 on another list of “the 20 Best Conservative Colleges in America”, while being the fifth largest university in the nation.  Sometimes it requires that they stifle independent thought and free speech by their own students (presumably there to obtain an education to thus acquire such skills), in widely reported incidents such as in which the university banned the College Democrats in 2009, or in late 2016 when a writer at the university newspaper was banned from writing about Donald Trump’s sexual assault conversation with Billy Bush (University leader Jerry Falwell Jr. had already publicly endorsed Trump), apparently blocked by Falwell himself.  Sometimes they just block the online version of the local newspaper on the university computer servers, to block students from reading unsavory reports about the university’s corruption or hypocritical actions.

As is typical for this blog, the preceding long-winded expository narrative was a mere preamble for the actual point of the post itself.  Inspired by these previous references and in their general spirit, I thought I might take a shot at proposing a handful of some of the more memorable “Conservative Role Models” in the Bible itself, since the purpose of the Bible itself is to undergird and give spiritual, divine sanction to politically conservative principles both we and it hold dear.

The remainder of this post will only focus on core conservative economic principles, as embodied in the following well-known Biblical characters:

 

The “Rich Man” Who Interacted with Lazarus:  In this parable of Christ in Luke 16, a “certain rich man” was said to be “clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day” – evidently an entrepreneur and “risk taker” who was rewarded for his genius with prosperity, apparently by God Himself, and therefore worthy of our respect by his apparent success, as well as his culture and fine taste, and a role model for enterprising young Christians.  Unfortunately, he was plagued by a liberal welfare deadbeat (i.e. ‘beggar”) named Lazarus (whose name means, “whom God helps’), who used the excuse of his medical condition of body-wide sores (why doesn’t he pay to see a good doctor?) to ask for handouts, rather than earn an honest living.  The rich man knew that if he provided to Lazarus any more than what fell to the floor (a form of “trickle down Reaganomics”), (a) he would never get rid of him, and (b) Lazarus would never “pull himself up by his bootstraps”.  The blessed rich man wanted to demonstrate adherence to the conservative Biblical values of hard work and responsibility.  He did permit Lazarus an alternative to wasteful universal health coverage – he let the dogs lick Lazarus’ sores.  Accordingly, when the rich man died, he went to his proper eternal reward as God decreed.  Curiously, in the afterlife he found himself to be a helpless eternal “welfare deadbeat”, as the tables turned and he begged to Lazarus for relief.  Maybe this is why the “poor in spirit” will inherit the Kingdom, and why it is so hard for the rich to enter it.  The eternal principles the rich man then learned were said by Abraham to reside in the teachings of Moses and the prophets, and if people would not embrace them, then even one returning from the dead (such as Jesus Himself) could not persuade them otherwise.

King Ahab (acquirer of Naboth’s vineyard) and the King (acquirer of the “perfect” lamb):  In 1 Kings 21 Ahab used his power and prestige to impress upon Naboth to sell or trade his vineyard, because of its proximity to the palace, as a type of “eminent domain”, even though Naboth legally owned it.  Ahab knew the “art of the deal” many Christians so admire today in the wealthy businessmen and traders who are invited to their pulpits as guests; he exhibited the success drive and “killer instinct” to be diligent, even obsessive, in getting what he wanted, and in not taking “no” for an answer.  Most powerful men have a more powerful and cunning wife behind them, and Ahab was no exception; she forged letters in his name after notifying him that she would obtain Naboth’s property with “an offer he couldn’t refuse”, setting him up in a legal blackmail scheme that led to his death, and Ahab’s possession of his property at Jezebel’s command as a result.  In the Social Darwinistic “survival of the fittest” trait of economic conservativism, what they did was “fair game”, using power and economic clout (even paying the stooges and lawyers) to obtain from the less well-connected by force, in “free and open markets” unfettered by regulations and restrictions.  Naboth was a fool for valuing the legacy of his descendents who gave him the land for an inheritance to future generations, and “not a good businessman” which would have earned Christian respect.  In response God sent His prophet Elijah (whom Ahab called “his enemy”) to tell Ahab what he thought of his economic philosophy, and his ultimate destiny.  Similarly, in 2 Samuel 12 the prophet Nathan told King David about a rich man and a poor man, the latter having a little ewe lamb he had raised, who ate and drank from the man’s table, and was like a daughter to him (v. 3), whereas the rich man had vast flocks and herds. When the rich man wanted to impress a visitor, he did not take from his own large supply, but rather took the lone lamb of the man, and fed it to his guest.  David sought revenge because the rich man had no “pity”, but it in fact it was about his own actions with Bathsheba.  However, in conservative free market capitalism, the inevitable destiny is that almost all a society’s assets will be owned by an ever smaller circle of elites, who can leverage their wealth and influence to extract more and more.  Today the top fraction of one percent own something like half of the total wealth in America, and that upper tier is getting more elite every decade – a top political platform of that “socialist” Bernie Sanders (a man himself on the outside looking in, unlike the other political candidates).  Trump’s tax plan he proposed in his campaign would raise tax rates on the poorest tax bracket, and eliminate their credits for their children, while dropping the 39.6 and other wealthiest tax rates to 25 percent, and corporate taxes down to 15 percent (who else do you think will pick up the tax revenue slack?).  This trend in wealth concentration, if unabated by conservative calls for lesser banking and financial regulation, will become an eventual a tipping point like the French Revolution, when the masses had nothing to lose, and then everyone (including the rich) will lose.

The Ambitious Barn Builders and Wealth Retainers:  Churches extol the virtues of visionary businessmen, including those who wear clerical robes and build massive “world ministry centers” with private jets and opulent campuses, and are ever-expanding and upgrading, as role models to emulate of “the American Way”.   In Luke 12 a ‘rich man” was so blessed by his farms (obviously due to God’s grace) that he decided to tear down his perfectly good barns to build yet bigger ones, to “bestow my fruits and my goods” for public admiration, rather than sharing with others.  God was not so impressed with such displays of wealth and security, although he would have been viewed as a “model of free enterprise and investment” and to have filled his time “productively”, rather than in others’ lives.   The Conservative Bible changes how the church in Acts shared all they had sold to give to the Apostles, to being “generous with those in need”, so as to avoid allusions to socialism or communism.  A couple who embodied this change was Ananias and Sapphira.  In Acts 10 they admirably sold a possession, but kept part of it, and laid the rest at the apostles’ feet.  While many such religious leaders today toil in their ministry under modest means and with dignity, many other conspicuous examples reveal opulent lifestyles and asset accumulations from the “widow’s mites” given to their “ministries”.  A biographical book about the Rev. Billy Graham entitled Prince of War noted that by 2004 the Billy Graham Evangelical Association’s annual income was 110 million dollars, with 271 million in assets, while Graham’s annual compensation exceeded $500,000 a year, while telling radio listeners the Garden of Eden was a place “with no union dues, no labor leader, no snakes, no diseases” and saying that no Christian laborer would take advantage of his employer by aligning with a union.  Various sources list the net personal worth of the almost centarian-aged Billy Graham at over $25 million, up with the most successful prosperity gospel preachers – what will he do with “all of this in his barns” at his age?  His son Franklin, a one-time rebel who avoided the ministry, has done even better; the Charlotte Observer – the bane of the Graham family – reported in 2015 that Franklin Graham made more than $620,000 in salary from Samaritan’s Purse – that’s a quite a haircut off the top of the “widow’s mites” donated by poor Christians, and means a lot more kids will grow hungry today that could otherwise be fed at a dollar a day – which also makes him the highest paid CEO of any international relief agency, even more than the CEO of the American Red Cross.  They add that his total compensation from Purse was $880,000 plus another $258,000 for working full-time for the Billy Graham Evangelical Association.  To be fair, this is far less than the $1.2 million he received in 2008.  Is it any wonder that these religious leaders hang out with high roller businessmen and Wall Street bankers, and guys like Donald Trump, with whom they can so identify?  People love a “winner” and particularly a conspicuous one – that is why the Pharisees publicly gave their money at the temple to great adulation and respect, while the widow’s mite was the greater portion of her essential resources, which only caught the Lord’s eye; we make much ado over rich Americans who give a small portion of their excess to a charity of their choosing to assuage their conscience and take on a pious stature with the public, not considering the treacherous ways in which much of this money was accumulated, as they put their names on buildings and hospitals; meanwhile having contempt for the poor who give a lesser amount monetarily to the public good by taxation and otherwise, but actually a larger share of their own minimal means, as Christians bemoan the high tax rates of the idle rich, who have numerous tax schemes to avoid their expected proportion of taxes anyway.  This environment is why a rich young ruler could live a very pious life and seek to follow the Lord, and only be inhibited by his “higher” calling to wealth and its prestige.

The Ultimate Manifestation of Capitalism – The Rider on the Black Horse and The Great City Babylon.  In Revelation 6 we see a rider on a black horse (as in being “in the black” financially) who controlled the global exchange rates of critical assets with a balance in his hand, announcing the cost of essential foodstuffs, while protecting oil (the Greek suggests the type that is used for fuel) and the luxurious items such as wine, which would be “untouched” and protected for the wealthy elites.  History has shown that physical weapons are not the most powerful methods of control – the control of wealth and money and raw materials is.  The Knights Templar arose out of nowhere to be Europe’s bankers (as “pious soldiers of Christ”) with sudden power that rivaled kings and the Pope, and could bring any of them to their knees by the control of capital as premier capitalists, soon to be followed by the Jewish House of Rothchild, House of Morgan, Rockefeller and others.  Even Joseph found out that by confiscating and then controlling for the State the only commodity of value in a world of famine -food – it could be used to confiscate all the wealth, and even freedom of the subjects of Pharoah.  In Revelation 18 we see it globalized institutionally in the Great City Babylon, where “the merchants of the earth have waxed rich” and “the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her” – i.e., pursued their mutual interests with the global financial cartel rather than being faithful to the interests of their own citizens.  It’s Social Darwinistic attribute derived from capitalism has them dispassionately yet immorally trading in all goods of value, even the souls of men as mere possessions of labor.  Good conservatives today (and most American Christians) also see little value in the dignity of the laborer, disfavoring minimum wage laws, a living wage, labor rights and jobs programs, as being “bad for business” and corporate profits, as the Christians are the ones who put in office a political party that clearly rather answers to the Wall Street bankers and corporations who finance it (when have you seen them aggressively fight Roe V. Wade in their 28 years since in power, although they campaign so heavily on it, for example?).  Christians have swallowed one of the biggest conservative “whoppers” of the last century – that more money for the rich in reduced taxes and corporate welfare and government contracts and inducements will actually help the poor and middle class, followed only by the promise that the reduction in inheritance and other corporate taxes are for the “small family business”, or that it will produce “more jobs”.  We now have a President largely elected by Christians to look out for the “little guy” as he promised, who has staffed all his cabinet positions with oil company CEOs, and billionaire and millionaire Wall Street hedge fund executives.  Christians are dazzled by their robber barons and tycoons just as Jerry Falwell Jr. was when getting to sit in Donald Trump’s airplane, but evidently God is not as nearly impressed, and will see to it that this system of exploitation will not prevail – that of the “Golden Rule”, or “He who has the gold makes the rules”.  The passage says to God’s people to “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (v. 4).  The question is – will America’s Christians listen?

That’s enough examples for now – let us know further examples in this vein.  The next part will include good conservative Biblical examples of patriotic nationalism, exceptionalism, and a “strong Judeo-Christian nation” that “projects force globally” as a “global leader”.

[NOTE: Please link this and other posts to Facebook, other social media and in emails, to invite either widespread denouncements, praise or enlightenments in a wider circle – all of which are encouraged – and at least some food for thought and a good conversation piece.]

 

 

 

Did America Just Elect Negan?

neegan

I mentioned in my last post that it was probably ill-advised, but that due to rhetoric I had heard from Christians close to me, I could not be silent, and rather focus on more long-term productive tasks like finishing my last book manuscript.  I posted anyway, and spent a good bit of time mentioning thoughts to consider, and aspects of Trump’s character and actions that would be good for Christians to ponder further.  If you have read it and the comments thereafter, you saw that my points were controversial for some, like most of my posts (it would have been even more controversial if it had been circulated within the greater Christian community, and not just the very special readers of this site).

However, as with many posts I have made (and as a foreboding of the expected response to my books to be imminently released), some of my points were evidently misunderstood, accidentally by many, and maybe intentionally by some.  First of all, let me make it again clear for doubters that my last post (nor this one) was an intention to promote the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.  I did vote Tuesday as a civic duty, but I did not vote for her or Donald Trump, because they did not meet my standards for trustworthiness, character, wisdom or mercy, as a Christian and humanitarian (I did not try to whitewash their limitations and vices in Christian “double talk” either).  I also did not mean to insinuate who I thought would win – after the shocking Brexit vote, I knew that polls were not a reliable indicator).  The real reason of my post, as I tried to explain, was my primary concern about how the Christian Right leaders and their followers re-packaged Trump as a pious Christian example, and visionary spiritual leader and messianic figure to “deliver us from evils” as sent by God, and how this rationalizing “spin” behavior will impact the long-term mission of Christians in America in their appointed tasks for the Kingdom of Heaven.  In fact, that is the motive of almost all my posts, and my books – how our thoughts, attitudes, words and actions of us as self-proclaimed “representatives of God” impact our eternal heavenly mission and “ministry of reconciliation”, particularly in our frequent quests to obtain transient advantages in power and influence in carnal matters for our own selfish interests and in spite of the “Kingdom fo Heaven” standards, which emphasize the Golden Rule and loving your neighbor and enemies.  I may overgeneralize at times (or be perceived as such by those who do not read my posts carefully), but for these objectives I do not apologize.  I also did not add a lot of references and linked citations in my last post (as I said I wouldn’t, as I haven’t in other posts as well), because it is very time consuming to do so (and I really need to focus on book writing), and I felt the recent events cited were fresh enough that people should be aware of them (although I shudder to think how many of my Christian colleagues do not read a wide array of news sources outside of talk radio, Facebook and one or two partisan sites).  I expect that some people may be in disbelief in many of the assertions and data I cite, and thus why I do cite extensively in my permanent writings. Some readers here may be unaware of the data I cite, and other commenters here try to seed doubt and accuse me of inventing facts, when they merely could confirm them with a one minute Google search.  Thus, for this post I will take the extra time to cite online linked references for the actions and quotations I cite, which I think will be embolded in the text for you to click on them, if you desire.

Anyway, on to the subject of my post today.  I felt like I had wasted enough time on my last post which probably did little contructive good, and certainly had no intention to go “double or nothing” and post again after the election.  However, I had an idea this morning just as I was getting up.  Most of you are familiar with (or are watchers) of what has evidently become the most-watched television program in the history of television, and a bona fide cultural phenomenon, called The Walking Dead.  Not only is it the only television show that I think is well-written enough to warrant my time, but it is very “non-Hollywood” in that it does not focus on Millennial angst, or beautiful youths hopping into bed with each other, or elite upper-class folk swapping spouses (in which I just described most other shows on TV today).  I see it rather as a modern day “Western”, filmed in rural Goergia and not Hollywood, in which a sheriff and a rag tag “klan” of his family, those he loves and his new-found brethren try to survive in a lawless society, where the greatest threat is not the zombie “walkers” (their version of the Apache “savages” in the wasteland), but rather the other survivor groups of dubious nature and purposes.  Even the weekly talk show Talking Dead after each episode leads an interesting public debate with a variety of people on set and callers as to the ethics of the actions of these people under dire circumstances – a discussion that is warranted for television.

The recurring theme of the show is the attempt of this group, under non-stop duress and no-win circumstances, to maintain their own humanity and mercy, in a merciless age and environment – a goal at which some times they acomplish better than others.  They have generally and consistently taken risks to the group’s well-being to rescue one or two of the group to leave “no child behind”, and have struggled to take risks to incorporate new people into their fold (sometimes causing them to realize new dangers and be betrayed, and sometimes to fail to accept them, all over much debate and soul searching).  However, a main portion of the conflict durng the seven seasons is over their encounter with groups who have sacrificed their humanity, for the sake of survival, and the risks it poses to them.  They have survived a mentally twisted Governor and his idyllic community, and a group at Terminus who were broken by other savages and now resort to the worst taboos against others.  Others were purely depraved like the Wolves.  However, this current season, which is breaking all TV viewing records, concerns their deadliest foe yet – the brutal yet pragmatic “Negan” and his mercenary group “The Saviors”.  The picture above shows Negan towering over the the star Sheriff Rick Grimes’ group as Negan and his men have terrorized and then captured them, forcing them on bended knee before him as he taunts them.  Shortly thereafter, he executed (pun intended) the acts which have become most famous in the series – brutally and mercilessly bashing in the brains of two beloved members of their group with his famous barbbed wire-lined bat called “Lucille”, they having been chosen randomly to “teach them all a lesson” not to resist (a “message” which broke them to the point of capitulation).

In the few weeks since this episode aired, we have observed and learned more about Negan and his group.  This morning I sudenly realized the similarity between Negan and his “operation”, and that of Donald Trump and his supporters and followers to “make America Great Again”.  Follow me as I give a few examples of their natures and similarities, and a few citations to both confirm and archive these actions:

NEGAN – Negan is a charismatic figure with wit, a sense of irony, supreme self-confience and focus on “winning” over others, wrapped up in a “swagger” that attracts followers more than repulses them (at least many types of people), not being burdened by propriety or political correctness, or even the Golden Rule.

TRUMP –  I need no citations to make this comparson clear to most readers.  This last description is the best way to describe Trump’s life and image, both historically and during the campaign.  “Winning” was a major and recurring theme of Trump’s campaign, as well as his books (which have been ghostwritten by others), Trump University, etc.  Trump can evidently “charm the socks off a rooster” with most of the public, who are dazzled by his swagger, bravado, boasting comments, conspicuous opulence and self-absorption (which is why he may have close affinity to evangelical leaders who can do the same to them as well).

NEGAN:  One can see that Negan has attracted brutes, bullies, ruffians and “hot heads” to his gang, who like to threaten others as much as he does.  He has encouraged them to beat up outsiders brutally, not wanting to have all the “fun” himself.  This includes group member Darryl (on two occasions), and other people as they are captured or encountered on the road.

TRUMP:  One needs to only watch the Trump rallies closely to see many of the same crowd in their functions.  He bragged on televised addresses over his early victories that polls showed he leads in support amongst the “poorly educated” saying, “I love the poorly educated!”.  After the election, pollsters showed that he led in those without college degrees nor college-educated.  Certainly there is nothing sacred or noble about a college degree, and if it makes one smug or elitist it is a detriment, but it is clear that Trump has focused his message on those with limited tools of discernment, and the many televised interviews with Trump supportors have shown them largely (but not totally) motivated by emotions or anger, or simplistic views of problems.  More disturbingly, Trump has been shown encouraging rally members to be physically violent with protesters at his rallies.  He has told rally attendees on camera to “knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell — I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.”; in others, he has said, ““I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell ya,” to a protester.  Attendees at these events have been shown punching or roughing up protesters at the events or Muslim women reporters ; elsewhere, the cited erefence notes that “a 78-year-old white male audience member at a Trump rally in North Carolina was videotaped sucker-punching a black protester being escorted from the event by police. The man, John McGraw, was later charged with assault and battery. But it was the protester who ended up in handcuffs at the rally”.  Many more such exmaples could be listed, but do you get the point?  Is this how things looked at Nazi rallies in the 1920s, when his SA goons grabbed protesters of other political views who were then drug out of those halls and worked over?

NEGAN:  Negan believes in using terror, or the fear of terror, to control people as a “force multiplier”, to keep not only outsiders but even his own people in line, and not challenge him as a single man with a bat who mentally controls many.  His barbaric barbed-wire-lined bat, dripping with blood, he uses phallicly toward others, directly in their face, to breed their fears and to dehumanize them.  When Sheriff Rick initially offered some resistance, Negan countered by forcing him to amputate his own son’s hand (to the point of committing the act).  Others in his own group who did not meet his demands he disfigured on their face with a hot iron.  Even more heinous means were in his toolbelt, to get what he wanted from others.

TRUMP: Trump has clearly gone on the record that he not only wants to bring the torture protocols back for detainees, but also make them even worse.  When a suspect was captured from the recent Paris terror attacks, Trum said on his Twitter that he would have talked “a lot faster with the torture”.   Trump has been far more explicit; he said on a New Hampshire television interview that “we’re going to have to get much tougher as a country. We’re going to have to be a lot sharper and we’re going to have to do things that are unthinkable almost.”  In the televised New Hamphire primary, he stated, ” I would bring back waterboarding, and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.” On Feb. 17, he publicly said, ” Torture works. OK, folks? You know, I have these guys—”Torture doesn’t work!”—believe me, it works. And waterboarding is your minor form. Some people say it’s not actually torture. Let’s assume it is. But they asked me the question: What do you think of waterboarding? Absolutely fine. But we should go much stronger than waterboarding”, and on July 27  he said, “I am a person that believes in enhanced interrogation, yes. And by the way, it works.”  At a recent rally, he said regarding torture you have to “fight fire with fire”, and added, “What do you think about waterboarding?” Trump asked the crowd. They cheered as he gave his answer: “I like it a lot. I don’t think it’s tough enough.”  These are but a few examples.

NEGAN:  Negan has no compassion for “outsiders” outside his “klan”, unless he can exploit them for his purposes.  Regardless, he has no mercy on them or see them as fellow human beings.  They also will be kept out and away from the benefits of his society unless they can offer more in return.

TRUMP:  The hallmark of Trump’s campaign was to exlcude and eliminate “undesirables”.  At a press conference he held on December 7, 2015, he read an official statement that said, “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering in the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on…we have no choice…it is going to get worse, you’re going ot have more World Trade Centers…we can be politically correct and we can be stupid…folks, those days are over, we have to be tough…yes we will look at mosques”.  This view is not only that of Trump’s – it’s that of his “klan” coast to coast.  A June 2016 Reuters poll showed that 50% of all Americans said that there should be a temporary ban of all Muslim immigrants to the U.S.  CBS News reported in July 2015 that Donald Trump followed up his early campaign pronouncements (as in his early debate appearances) with the assertion that the U.S. was becoming a ‘dumping ground” of outsiders with the world’s problems, and reiterated his position in a CNN interview.  He stated that the Mexican government was sending people of which “they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”.  when the interviewer pointed out that the women Trump cited as being raped were victimized prior to entering the country, Trump replied, “Well, somebody’s doing the raping, Don. I mean, you know, somebody’s doing it. Who’s doing the raping?” – a phrase he reiterated during the campaign.  Alicia Machado, the woman he crowned Miss Universe (as Trump runs many beauty pageants), was told she was fat by Trump and fired, and as a Hispanic was called by him, “Miss Housekeeping”.  I am glad Trump was not able to force his immigration policies in ancient Israel – the world would have missed the contributions of Rahab, and the Moabitess Ruth – both famed ancestors of our Lord.  If the Philistines had had such a policy, they would not have generously accepted David and his followers as they were wanted men in Israel.  Of course, Trump himself imported his own wife as an immigrant from one of the U.S.’s recent Iron Curtain enemies – I wonder if he might send her back, as Ezra the priest did in sending all foreign women and children away to their death who had married Jewish men, to set a good example to the rest of us?

NEGAN: Negan’s fundamental policy was to take the spoils and resources of any outsiders he encountered as his own.  Sometimes he would let people in his spheres of control keep up to half, at his discretion, and would continue to take from them over time.  He also encouraged his loyal henchmen to help themselves to the goods of others as they desired.

TRUMP:  Trump has a similar policy; whereas before he had to use his access to capital, and to New York lawyers to enforce these provisions, he will now have the IRS, CIA and military to do the collecting for him.  While he did not think it was wise to invade Iraq (after originally supporting it), he did think it could be worthwhile if we confiscated the profitable oil from the very country which we ourselves had destroyed and impoverished (first by sanctions, and then by bombs).  The Atlantic noted that in August 2016, like many times before, Trump gave a speech in which he stated regarding our involvement in Iraq, “We should have kept the oil…I was saying this constantly and consistently to whoever would listen. I said: Keep the oil, keep the oil, keep the oil…In the old days, when we won a war, to the victor belonged the spoils…Instead, all we got from Iraq—and our adventures in the Middle East—was death, destruction and tremendous financial loss.”  The Los Angeles Times added that “It also would have violated decades of international law, including the Geneva Conventions, as well as the United Nations mandate that authorized the invasion.”  I guess we now know that Trump also would not have come to the aid of the millions of victims in the Tutsi-Hutu conflict in Africa – there was no oil there to justify it, as America’s critics now feel justified in having pointed out over the decades.  Trump even declared that he would not honor America’s long treaty commitments to aid a fellow NATO member if attacked, unless they had paid significantly in advance.  In a July 2016 New York Times interview regarding helping NATO nations, Trump stated that “You can’t forget the bills. They have an obligation to make payments. Many NATO nations are not making payments, are not making what they’re supposed to make. That’s a big thing. You can’t say forget that..Have they fulfilled their obligations to us? If they fulfill their obligations to us, the answer is yes.”, and in May 2016 also told the Wall Street Journal that when other NATO nations “don’t pay up, they’ve backed out of their obligations, then we no longer have an obligation to defend them.” (while they note that the only time the NATO provision has been enacted is when the other NATO nations came to the aid of the U.S. after the 9/11 attacks).

 Trump thinks like a businessman, and makes decisions based upon the bottom line ledger – not morality, or mercy or civility.  He sees war as only another money-making operation, and would only pursue it in that context (and would stay out of those he did not deem monetarily profitable).  Trump also plans another way for he and his henchmen to clean up from others – this time their fellow Americans; in one of the few detailed plans Trump has produced, Trump’s published tax plan will adjust the tax brackets so that the rates on the most wealthy will come down considerably, while the lowest bracket of the poor will rise, and the lower middle class will be about the same.  By eliminating personal exemptions, low and middle-income families with many children will have their tax go up a good bit.  Currently, estates above $5.45 million are subject to inheritance tax regarding the fortunes passed on to offspring within rich family lines to prevent their need to work for generations; Trump will make sure that this tax on the ultra-wealthy will be eliminated.  He will also bring the tax brackets down for the largest corporations down (from 39.6% or so) to about the rate of the most poor in society (15%).  Will Trump’s own estate benefit from these rules?

NEGAN:  Unless you are one of his “elite” henchmen, residents at Negan’s ‘Sanctuary” have to earn “points” to gain their basis necessities he has confiscated from them.  In the case of one of his henchmen on the show, this includes access to fundemental health care needs such as critical medical drugs.  In contrast, Sheriff Rick’s group provided medicine freely to anyone in his group who showed a need for it, and they would often risk their lives to obtain it, such as an intubator for his son Carl, or emergency medical care for a sick pregnant member.

TRUMP:  Trump prefers Negan’s approach to health care, by abolishing Obamacare, which provided basic health coverage for those with pre-existing conditions who could not get coverage as “bad investments” to the insurance companies, and making sure they had access to catatrophic care so the banks could not later wipe them out;  Trump sees “no money” in covering these people, and will leave them to their own fate.

NEGAN:  Negan has been shown to sneer and mock the weak and wounded, including those whom he has just beaned with his bat and look “real messed up”, and otherwise are a “mess” because of their suffering and misfortune.

TRUMP: Trump shares a similar view.  He is famous for recently mocking a disabled reporter investigating his claims.  He unfortunately has a palsy-like neurological condition that causes limb contortions and tremors, to which Trump at the lectern began to impersonate with exaggerated limb shaking and facial contortions – behavior society deems unacceptable for teenaged boys, much less the Leader of the Free World.  Trump always outdoes himself – at the 2015 Family Leadership Summit in Iowa, Trump famously said of long-time tortured POW Senator John McCain, “He’s not a war hero…He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”  The citation adds, “Trump received four student deferments from military service between 1964 and 1968. In Ames, he told reporters another medical deferment he received after graduating was for a bone spur in his foot. When asked which foot, Trump told reporters to look up the records.”  A published survey showed that people felt that this was his most offensive comment (while noting that Trump claimed he did not know the reporter nor that he was disabled, while the reporter claimed that he and Trump had been on a first-name basis for many years), even more offensive then his statements that the “second amendment people” amongt his followers should take care of Hillary Clinton.

NEGAN:  Negan is famous for how he treats women.  He rates them based if they are “smokin’ hot” or not, and if he takes a shine to them, he forcibly taked them to be his concubine “wives”, thereby nullifying their lawful marriages to other men present.

TRUMP: Trump’s history is very similar, which American Christian supporters have amazingly excused.  An abbreviated list of some of his more famous past and recent comments about women include his assertion that debate moderator Megyn Kelly was menstruating during the debate to justify her fierce quesitoning of him (saying that “blood was coming out of her…whatever”), such as when she cited that it had been documented that”You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals”, to which he said it was only directed to Rosie O’Donnell. He said in a 1991 Eqsuire Magazine profile that “You know, it really doesn’t matter what they write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass. But she’s got to be young and beautiful.”  He said that Arianna Huffington was “unattractive both inside and out”, and that a female New York Times reporter had “the face of a dog”.  Of a female contestant on his show The Apprentice, he said as she stooped in front of him, “It must be a pretty picture,” he said to her. “You dropping to your knees.”  He also tweeted that Bette Midler was “extremely unattractive”.  Of Hillary he said, “Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote,” Trump said in April. “The only thing she’s got going is the women’s card.”  He now uses former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, whom the network found was sexually harrassing women there, to be a chief advisor for him. He released an unflattering picture of Heidi Cruz next to his own wife, and entitled it, ‘The images are worth a thousand words”.  On an Entertainment Tonight interview in 1992, he pointed out a 10 year old girl nearby, and said, “I am going to be dating her in ten years.  Can you believe it?”.  He not only called Miss Universe Alicia Machado “Miss Housekeeping”, he also publicly called her “Miss Piggy” and “an eating machine” (the New York Post also reported that Trump also arrived unannounced in his beauty pageant dressing rooms as the contestants were nude, making “creepy” comments to them (including 15 year old participants), and later saying on the radio to Howard Stern in 2005 that it was one of the “perks” of ownership, adding, ““I’ll tell you the funniest is that I’ll go backstage before a show and everyone’s getting dressed…No men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in, because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it…You know, they’re standing there with no clothes…And you see these incredible-looking women, and so I sort of get away with things like that.”) .  Of course, the list also includes the video of him bragging to an interviewer (who has since lost his job with the Today Show) about his targeting of married women to initiate adulterous affairs, and grabbing women by their genitals and leading them around or forcing himself on them and getting away with it because he was a celebrity.  Another published list notes his assertion that people should not vote for primary rival Carly Fiorina because of her face, and that he said he’d really like to date his daughter Ivanka.  In 1992 in New York Magazine, he said of women that “You have to treat them like shit”.  When asked in 1993 about his reputation as a womanizer, he said, “Yes I have that image. I think women are beautiful –  I think certain women are more beautiful than others, to be perfectly honest – and it’s fortunate I don’t have to run for political office.”  Talking of one of his former wives, he said, “when I come home and dinner’s not ready, I go through the roof.” Regarding prenuptual agreements for his wives, he said, ““There are basically three types of women and reactions. One is the good woman who very much loves her future husband, solely for himself, but refuses to sign the agreement on principle. I fully understand this, but the man should take a pass anyway and find someone else.”  He said that when he bought the Miss USA pageant, “I’m going to get the bathing suits to be smaller and the heels to be higher.”  Of his daughter Ivanka, he said, “”You know who’s one of the great beauties of the world, according to everybody? And I helped create her. Ivanka. My daughter, Ivanka. She’s 6 feet tall, she’s got the best body.”, and adding on the TV show The View, “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”  Trump said on Howard Stern’s radio show that he’s “been with women with extraordinarily bad breast jobs’ and ‘pancake tits’.  There are many more I could list.

NEGAN:  His followers have been corralled and maintained by a combination of privleges offered to them, and dreadful fears if they do not stay in line.  However, some of them are having doubts and are considering defection.

TRUMP: Trump similarly has made promises of insider influence to prominent evangelical Religious Right leaders and other conservatives whom he has portrayed as his spiritual advisors.  Others, like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Ted Cruz he has corralled after their original adamant refusal on grounds of principle, with threats of political disenfranchisement and blowback if they did not get in line. CBS election day exit polls found that of the “winner”, Donald Trump, 60% of voters said he was not honest or trustworthy, and 60% of voters said that Trump was not qualified for the office of the presidency, with even 25% of Trump voters saying he was unqualified (I guess motivated by their Hillary hatred exclusively).  NBC exit polls said that 60% of voters had an unfavorable view of Donald Trump.  Hillary Clinton received almost a quarter of a million more votes than Trump (how would he have acted had he won the total vote count but lost the electoral collage in his “rigged system” mindset?), who himself secured less than half of the public’s votes.  When they all see that Trump now has no obligation on fulfilling any promises to these individuals and groups, now having obtained their support to accomplish his election objectives, will any of them then have the courage to defect and stand up to him?  When Trump has control of the CIA, FBI and IRS, will they dare speak up, given his history of petty reactionary harrassment?

A BIG Difference between them:

NEGAN: Negan came to power during a time of lawlessness and upheaval, in a society suddenly with “no rules”.  He somehow provides a measure of security, along with exploitation and brutality, that might be at least partially excused in his unique times and challenges.

 TRUMP:  In contrast, Trump came to prominence in a time of relative prosperity and peace in America, without any tangible civil wars or major unrest, or economic calamity.  America had built on almost two hundred years of racial and human rights progress. Public demographics were turning away from those interested in Trump’s xenophobic, paranoid demagoguery.  Now Trump has a majority in both chambers of Congress, and has no restraint on his excesses moving forward, much like Hitler when he assumed the Chancellory in 1933.  So how did he do it?  Exit polls show that Trump received 81 percent of the evangelical vote, while noting that 76% of evangelicals are Republican, making up one fifth of all voters, and a third of Republican voters.  The story of how he seduced most of Christ’s Body in America (and particularly its leadership), and what it reveals about their gullibility, lack of principle and respect for basic virtues and values, and lack of recognition of the true spiritual priorities of Christ Himself and for God’s people in assisting secular governments in the scope of responsiblilities God has given them, as distiguished from those of the church itself, and lack of basic common sense maturity much less maturity of the spiritual variety, is a story that requires much data to consider, and is beyond the scope of this post, but may be started to be discussed soon thereafter.  What this has revealed about the true mind of most of the American evangelical community, and how this will affect their mission in the future, is the far bigger story than who won this last election, in my view. 

The BIG question is – Trump has gotten his big objective and trophy, presumably, in being the most powerful man in the world and secured his place in world history, but what will be his true motivations and goals during his administration?  Using his life history as a guide, Trump would be first motivated by (a) what raises his prestige, respect, praise and overall “brand”, and (b) what will monetarily help him and his financial peers either now or down the road.  Regarding (b), the clear details of his proposed tax plan (which will likely fly relatively unscathed through a Republican-controlled Congress) will largely accomplish those goals for his checkbook and others; how he opens doors for big business via his foreign policy and stopping raises in the minimum wage or the requirement to provide health care to workers, for example, are other ways he can accomplish this objective.  Regarding (a), what else does he have to accomplish for his ego?  Wipe out ISIS?  Raise the gross national product?  Be popular enough to be able to be re-elected if he chooses?  Time will tell.

Most people who have had concerns about Trump recoginize that they really don’t know what he will do – could he be surprisingly statesman-like and visionary, or autocratic and cruel to minorities on the margins, as he has suggested?  Heal rifts with other cultures and nations, or bring us to war?  What did his behavior during the campaign, much less his history, suggest will happen?  Actually, his history of being an intimidating “tough guy” and using strong-armed tactics reveals that he usually doesn’t believe the nasty things he says, for once he has “won” – albeit in securing the business deal or contract, the court case, or even the court of public opinion – he then begins speaking kindly of those he has humiliated after he has defeated him, suggesting that he may not actually pursue the most severe, ugly and draconian policy approaches he sold to his followers in the campaign.  Even during this campaign, how many times has he warned people of the unsuitability and dangers of “Little Marco” Rubio, “Lying Ted” Cruz, and even “Crooked” Hillary, all of whom he has praised after he had disposed of them.  As another example, The Hill, Buzzfeed and others have reported that the New York Times possesses an audiotape and transcript from an off the record portion of their interview with Trump this year on his immigration plans, which attendees suggest or implied that he does not plan to actually follow through on the positions he sold to his followers, as evidence the Times will not release unless he approves, which led Sen. Ted Cruz to state that the tapes they have suggest that Trump “doesn’t believe what he’s saying on immigration.  That all of his promises to secure the borders are not real and if he’s president he doesn’t intend to do what he says…The New York Times apparently has this on tape…The voters deserve to know if he says something different when he’s talking to The New York Times then he does when he’s talking to the voters”, as a posiiton also echoed by Sen. Marco Rubio.  This tendency for Trump and his peers to make these serious and dramatic charges against others as traitors and criminals (including Hillary, whom he promised to lock up to her face in a debate, and now praises right after the election as a real patriot) leads us not to take seriously what any of them say; not only should we not get worked up over their allegations, but why do we not not get behind leaders who have a reputation for honesty and straight talk, even with policy differences, rather than who has the most charisma, bravado or macho image?  However, if he hesitates to pursue all these inquisitions against Mexicans, immigrants and Muslims to the severe degree he “sold”, it will certainly disappoint many Christians that counted on him to be the “strong man” and bringer of wrath.  I suspect that they will find that after he has secured their votes, the last thought on his mind will be how the Religious Right members he counted on for election consider his actions, or if he lives up to what they wanted him to be.    

In any case, beyond my verbose opinions, what I do know is that the Bible is clear that Christians are to pray for the blessing of their rulers.  We all have that obligation on behalf of Donald Trump by the command of our Saviour, that he could help fulfill the role of what national governments are to do to secure the well-being of its subjects on the issues God has assigned to them as evidenced by the words of the Lord through the prophets and apostles, to protect their citizens from outsiders, look out for the minority and vulnerable stranger, the poor, the widows and orphans, and provide honest and fair courts and marketplace for everyone, and particularly the poor.  I plan to do that duty in prayer for Trump; I wonder how many Christians have fulfilled that duty in sincerity for President Obama?  I also plan to still critique my own heart and values as a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, and that of my brethren here; that is the right and productive thing to do, because “judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17), and due to Paul’s admonition to the church itself that “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside” (1 Cor. 5:12-13).  While we are to be educated about the true nature of these exploitative politicans of every stripe to “be not deceived”, the real focus of judgment and self-assessment belongs to the Church in America itself, for and of itself, and who it needs to be in the midst of these issues.

The experience of this election process, and how I perceive the American church participated in it and how it revealed its values, reminds me of the words of the Greek philosopher Thucydides, in his famous writing History of Peloponnesian War, Book III, 3.82, as he saw demogogues emerge in his society on the advent of regional war – which may be what we will receive as a consequence of this age of demagoguery – when he observed:

“To fit in with the change of events, words, too, had to change their usual meanings.  What used to be described as a thoughtless act of aggression was now regarded as the courage one would expect to find in a party member; to think of the future and wait was merely another way of saying one was a coward; any idea of moderation was just an attempt to disguise one’s unmanly character; ability to understand a question from all sides meant that one was totally unfitted for action.  Fanatical enthusiasm was the mark of a real man, and to plot against an enemy behind his back was perfectly legitimate self-defense.  Anyone who held violent opinions could always be trusted, and anyone who objected to them became a suspect…If an opponent made a reasonable speech, the party in power, so far from giving it a generous reception, took every precaution to see that it had no practical effect.”

 

 

 

Religious Right and Their Followers May Be Getting Their Bar Kokhba Political Leader

trumpchristian

 

This is a post I have tried to avoid writing for over a year.  I know it will alienate many more of what few friends and followers I still have.  I have also tried to focus on finishing the last of seven volumes of my Holy War Chronicles book series instead, but since I haven’t posted here in some time, I might as well get this off my chest, even though it may well result in fewer readers for my books.  I could drown the readers in historical and recent data and citations here, like I do in my book, but I’ll try to restrain that and get to the point, and let those skeptics read my books or do their own research for themselves.

There was a time when God’s people, the Jews in Judea, had a monumental choice to make, which had everlasting political and, more importantly, spiritual overtones.  Their pious religious leaders had turned them against a poor carpenter/preacher known as Jesus of Nazareth, who talked of “turning the other cheek”, “Loving your enemies”, and avoided talk of claiming a political kingdom by force, but rather focused on a “Kingdom of Heaven” in which the poor were the “insiders”, and the rich were not revered and pandered to, but rather had to emulate the humility of the poor to be a part.  He told His followers to “put their swords away”, because His Kingdom was not of of this world, “else My servants would fight”.  Rome graciously gave God’s people a choice – to spare either this weak but healing Jesus who comforted the religiously or socially outcast, or another “Jesus” – Jesus Barabbas – who was a patriotic military hero in rebellion, who wanted to “make Judea great again” and “take Judea back”, even though he was also known as a killer and criminal (with such Zealots often known to rob from their own people).  We know the choice these people made; from then forward the die was cast and their fate was sealed.

The Jews, like their Canaanite and Levantine neighbors, were a wall-building people, as their source of protection from the menace of undesirables outside their “exceptional” community.  However, it is curious to note that Biblical history suggests that their walls did little to make them safer.  When Assyria’s army came, it was the heavenly host that turned their army into panic, and the prophet of God commanded that they not be slaughtered, but fed – the banquet being a non-violent affair that led to a true safety for a generation, and the foreign army to which mercy was showed had no heart to return later.  These walls did not stop Nebuchadnezzar’s army when his hand was forced by their rebellion; they had forgotten their real security was in obeying God, who had protected them without fortifications in their desert wanderings.  Nehemiah’s walls, so lovingly celebrated by Christians today (though never mentioned by either Christ or the Apostles), did not stop the Greek army from conquering when the Jews embraced them initially as “saviors” (thus betraying their benevolent Persian overlords), nor the Roman army later.  However, this wall to keep out “unexceptional” outsiders did serve to trap the people of Judea inside their own walls by their own patriotic Zealot “saviors”, who initiated an ill-advised and hopeless rebellion against Rome, and in turn massacred and tortured their fellow Jews who wanted to leave the city, while plundering their own food stockpiles and other provisions during the siege, as the Zealots used the sacred Temple grounds as a military citadel, forcing the Romans to destroy it when they refused to surrender.

Having lost their beloved Temple and their autonomy did not stop the Jews from seeking a patriotic leader to again “make Judea great again”.  Their religious leaders had “advanced” via their form of Pharisee-led Rabbinic Judaism to elevate their religious leader Rabbi Akiva, still known today by Jews as more important to Judaism than Moses himself, as well as being more wise as of the things of God.  He proceeded to “anoint” a dashing military figure as “Bar Kokhba”, or “Star of Israel”, proclaiming him as the prophesied Messiah of Israel, and massaged some Old Testament passages to vaguely alude to it.  Kokhba did not exhibit the virtues one might find in Scripture; Jewish historical records show that he was cruel, even to his fellow people of his own faith, such as cutting off the fingers of all his soldiers, and confiscating the lands of his countrymen for his own wealth.  He famously said that the Jews did not need the help from God to win.  He did launch a cruel persecution and massace of Christians throughout the land.  While rousing the patriotic/religious fervor of his countrymen, he led an even more disastrous rebellion after three and a half years, as eventually he and Akiva were killed, along with over 580,000 of their own countrymen, as the Jews were then banned from the entire region of Jerusalem.  By this time the oriignal tenets of the Jewish faith were submerged, and the hopes of a “return of the Kingdom” under a conquering Messiah was all they clung to, with no thoughts repentance, lessons learned from their folly, or the actual will of God, whom they felt betrayed them.

I have written for some time, and express in far deeper discussions in my books, that the Religious Right in America today, whom I have been raised to admire as a good “church-goin’ boy”, has similarly lost their way, in their brew of Christianity, American-exceptionalism and conviction of national “divine destiny”, Aryan superiority over other cultures, hyper-militancy (Spartan-style) and a paranoid fear, hatred and contempt of those who are different and don’t share their views, and the need to use State power to quench or eradicate them, rather than the power of love and a godly example.  This trend goes back many generations, and even prior to our nation’s founding; in recent generations, such conservative Christians were the main standard bearers of the Cold War against the commies, thereby giving spiritual sanction to the illegal acts of the CIA and FBI (both internationally and domestically), and foreign wars under false pretences such as the Vietnam War.  Since the falling of the Berlin Wall took away that zeal (and the need for such huge defense budgets and contracts), they have seamlessly transitioned their external contempt to those of another culture and sphere of the world in the War on Terror, justifying an American police state and ridiculous security budget even though the primitive nomadic leaders with AK-47s pose no civilization-toppling power in America like Russia’s nuclear arsenal.  They have justified torture and unlawful detainment and redention, with secret military trials if any, as worthy of the “good guys” to protect our morally-superior way of life.

I have observed that most of them, including many people close to me, have flocked to Donald Trump as a kind of Bar-Kokhba “messiah”, to “make  America Great Again”.  I have marvelled to see him get away with saying almost anything, to the immediate defense of his followers, in particular Christian leaders.  Probably the most honest thing Trump has ever said is that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, and he would not lose any of his supporters.  Sadly I think this is a kind of prophetic statement of how far America’s Christian community, or at least most of it, has descended into their abyss.  If anyone has taken the time to follow Trump prior to his candidacy, they will note that his life and actions have been one of total narcissism that many have called a long time ago as clinical in its severity (which does not have to be treated as long as you have enough money to buy friends, and scare away or silence critics), as a need to be seen as being the “greatest”, with the need for him to point it out for every building he has built, every house he owns or piece of furniture as ‘the greatest ever”, and for his coterie around him to acknowledge it as well.  In today’s campaign, he anoints himself as “the greatest job creator God ever made” (Henry Ford may protest this, in wherever he resides today), and will build the “greatest military”, the “greatest economy”, and the “greatest wall”, all without a single detailed plan.  We know about his attitudes toward women, which has been a lifestyle and not a recent nor long-past phenomenon.  He brags publicly on air about ditching wives when they hit 35 and are no longer useful, the lack of merits of flat-chested women, his perverted glee at getting to watch naked beauty pageant contestants dress back stage, his desire and skill at seducing married women into adulterous acts, and even his description of his own daughter’s physical attributes in sexual terms, as “someone he would date if he were not his daughter”.  He has gotten kudos from Christians for scapegoating the “others” as the source of America’s ills – a skill in “selling it” that would make Hitler proud – including all the “rapist” Mexicans, and the Muslims he kept saying he would ban from immigrating, with his reputation built on a physical “wall” that he thinks will not only effectively protect America, but “make it great again”.  He is seen as the hero of the common man, who evidently also do not do much reading (Trump has bragged publicly about being the choice of the “poorly educated”) – they would see that many of those “common men” he stiffed and did not pay for their hard work on his buildings, and the minorities he and his dad were fined for racially excluding in their buildings (his dad, the New York slumlord Fred Trump was notorious for this, leading one of his tenant victims – Woody Guthrie – to savage him in his songs).  One can see beyond his rhetoric how he would really take the cause of the common man, in his only detailed policy plan – his tax plan, which plans to reduce the tax rates of the highest tax brackets, and drop all corporate rates to a mere 15 percent.  Who do you think will take up the tax-paying slack in America?

Of course, all these things have endeared him to our wise and righteous examples amongst our Religous Right leaders, and in particular his biggest cheerleaders such as Jerry Falwell Jr., Franklin Graham and Dr. James Dobson.  And he has given them much to believe his sincerity – from his affirmation of his faith because he says he “takes the little cracker”, to his faith recitation of “two Corinthians” and how much it means to him, and his holding up his grandmother’s Bible to rapt, tear-stained Christian audiences.  Like Bar Kokhba, he has publicly said to Christian audiences that he has done nothing to ever ask God for forgiveness for.  The many Christian leaders who have crowded around him like groupies for influence and photo ops, including Dr. Dobson, have said that televangelist Paula White has led him to the Lord; she should understand him well, as an adulteress who had an affair with fellow evangelist-healer Benny Hinn until they were exposed.  Like Rabbi Akiva, they have worked hard to find Biblical references to herald his coming as messiah, many Christian leaders publicly calling him a “King David” or :King Cyrus” to justify his “rough edges” (to which I expect both men will some day hold such leaders to account for such character defamation of themselves).  They have hard-pounded home to the American Christian flock that they should not look at his character, how he speaks directly or acts, either over his life or even during the campaign – he has an exemption from any expectations of character or virtue.  It’s not that he’s just not a “holy joe” or a preacher; I don’t think he has any virtues at all to speak of, or even the bare minimum of a ne’er-do-well off the street in any culture, East or West, much less our choice amongst tens of millions to lead the ‘Free World”.

In recent years the Religious Right and their followers have had a similar crisis of what path to take, and who to follow, as they did in the streets of Jerusalem.  In the recent election, Ron Paul, a practicing Christian, veteran, only serious congressman to actually propose pro-life legislation, and faithful spouse to his wife for over fifty years, spoke to the almost exclusive evangelical audience at the South Caroline debate, and said that our foreign policy should follow Christ’s Golden Rule, to which he was roundly booed.  At the Values Voters Summit held by the Family Research Council , Christians there gave him the lowest “values” score, merely because he did not like war, and did not think that everyone who tried a marijuana cigarette should be in jail.  These days, like Kokhba they have a candidate whom they can really rally behind and admire.  They speak in defense of Trump regardless of his historic or recent actions or words, much like an abused spouse or a co-dependent of an alcoholic, in neither case helping the sick person, and in this case revealing more about their own character.  We have recently seen, in Trump’s own words, how he likes to “grab women by the p___y” and lead them around (I use this offensive term because most Christians don’t seem to think it is a big deal, evidently).  I think in this case, Trump is grabbing the Religious Right and their followers “by the p___y”, and derisively laughing all the way.  More importantly, he has shown (by his own statements) that he likes to target women in marriage covenant with others; in this case, he has the greatest prize – a Church in marriage to Christ, whom he has seduced away by his dirty talk, bravado and “charm”- not as if there were much resistance from them; they have repeatedly shown their tendency to go “a whoring” after patriotism and self-worth, the Darwinian emphasis on “might makes right” in their economics and gunboat diplomacy, and even their justification of slavery in years past.  I cannot speak for Christ, but I would noo be surprised if He is telling the leaders of the American Religious Right and their followers to “weep for their children” in the days ahead, and it won’t be for the reasons they hear on talk radio.

As far as I am concerned, I think that all of these Christian leaders and pastors who have espoused this have gone the way of Balaam the prophet – telling pagan leaders what they want to hear in spiritual terms in exchange for profit and influence.  I intend to hang their endorsement of Donald Trump, and their lame justification for it, around their necks like an albatross for the rest of their lives (albeit subject to repentance and wising up, like we all have had to do).  The next time they begin publicly moralizing about how immoral certain Americans are – including gays, or thoese irascible “millennials” – I am going to throw their endorsement of Trump back into their face, and tell them where to stick it; I don’t want to hear any of their moral superiority any more.  I now know (actually I have known for some time), and more importantly all can see their hypocrisy, and how serious they are about moral convictions and being a “voice of conscience” to a society.  Oh, how do we need a John the Baptist today who could speak real “truth to power”, and also point out these sold-out Christian leaders as a “brood of vipers”!  The rank and file Christian Trump supporter has no excuse, no more than any of us saying these politicans are the problem and were forced on us – someone had to vote these guys (Trump and Clinton) in during the primaries, and think they were a “good choice”.  I think these supporters have gone the way of Esau – “despising their birthright” by selling their Christian moral authority for a promised bowl of porridge of feel-good, militant American exceptionalism, and scapgoating of Mexican and Muslim outsiders for all our problems.  I’m afraid this birthrite of spiritual credibility is also hard to get back.  It has exposed their priorities and a projection of their own internal values and ideals.

Trump’s life has been defined by his establishing of his “brand” (with his names on buildings, steaks, airlines, etc.), and the “art of the deal”.  Ironically, his book by that name that made him famous was not even written by him, and his ghost writer who did come up with his philosophy for him has now renounced him and rejects what he stands for.  I guess some might admire Trump as a “success” – as one might consider a “success” who only started with millions to invest from his dad and his dad’s Rolodex of insider real estate contacts (and the shirt on his back), and his ability to declare bankruptcy numerous times while leaving all his partners and creditors holding the bag (which he defines as “success”).  In Trump’s world, a “good deal” is not when both parties succeed in their goals as a “win-win”; no, there must be a winner and a loser of a transaction as to its value, to feed to egos of Trump and his ilk (as he did with Merv Griffin over Resorts International).  In his deals, he must “sell” a persona of awe to intimidate his “mark” (a term from street con games), followed by periods of “good guy” posturing and flattery when needed, as well as “tough guy” belittling of a deal opponent to give them fear of refusal (having the perceived dough to threaten endless lawsuits also serves he and his type well as well).  He himself believes none of it (other than some measure of self-denial), and seeks only to “win”, and does not see destroying his opponent as “personal” (see the horrible things he has said to his primary rivals, and then instantly made up with them when they were no longer a threat to his goals). I have experienced these behaviors myself from billionaires and other high-rollers I have had to do business with, and even strike deals with (or defend myself when they break them).  I have witnessed him using all these techniques on America and his growing ranks of gullible followers during this campaign, and he has played them like a Stradivarios.  Most have never had to deal with types like him before (except at maybe an Amway sales meeting or similar scenario or timeshare sales experience).  He has flattered them. charmed them, and made them in awe of him, and “ready to sign”.  His emphasis on “winning” in all his talks (when not offending women and their looks, or Hillary. the media conspirators, etc.) sits well with Americans, including many American Christians, because the real religion of America is “winning” – winning wars, winning sports, winning in global business, etc.  We will deal with the devil (while spouting moralisitic platitiudes) as long as we can be with a “winner”, and maybe have some of that success rub off – at least Dr. Dobson, Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell Jr. do.  Trump has produced no evidence, much less detailed plans, on how he will be the “greatest” in all these areas, other than his showmanship.  All of his other partners and associates have ended in sorrow and loss; what will be the fate of America, and its Religious Right?  Who will hold the bag this time when he goes “bankrupt”?  Instead of using money and New York lawyers to intimidate people with threats, what happens when he is privy to the capabilities of the CIA, FBI and the military?  He has also shown us how gullible we are, in his fawning adoration for the “strong man” (and former KGB spook) Vladimir Putin, who may be helping him covertly (according to the FBI).  Christian leaders (including Graham) have praised the despot Putin, who jails and kills opposition, shuts down independent media and is building his own personal largesse as the singlemost powerful individual controlling energy supplies in the world, to add to his own wealth.  Graham and his Christian leader peers (and many laypersons) have been calling Putin himself the “lion of Christianity” for his jailing of gay persons or those with dissenting views to his government or the Russian Orthodox Church, while ignoring his laws that are outlawing an evangelical presence in his country.  Putin and Trump both share in common a desire to inspire their national churches with nationalistic fervor, and to exploit them for their own financial and political gains.

All these words of rebuke are not intended in any way to elevate or promote HIllary Clinton – a Nixon-like figure of entitlement, paranoia and secrecy that would continue our less-than-ideal leadership vacuum, although probably not quite the Wormwood figure that Right Wing Talk Radio has indoctinated Christians to adopt withour question or critique (these same sources and their followers also said there would be no election in 2012 or 2016 if Obama was elected).  I did not vote for Hillary in the primaries (nor Trump or his warmonger Repubican peers), and I don’t plan to in the general election; I remind you that there are other choices for president on our ballots, and I would submit that now is an excellent time (with two terrible major candidates) to begin availing yourself of them, as I have done for several elections (and wish I had done earlier).  I do encourage you to vote; even as Christian citizens of “another kingdom”, I believe that is is right for us to vote, at least as an expression of gratitude to God who gave it to us here in America, and as a small measure of positive influence.  Don’t tell me I am “wasting my vote” by not endorsing either of the two similar criminal syndicates we know as “political parties”; I am tired of endorsing the status quo of them with my vote, and the choice of candidates will not improve unless we change course (and more importantly, educate our fellow Christians).  Some Christians think Trump will fight the neo-cons.  It is true that a few of the neocons (such as Bill Krystal) cannot swallow him, and I like his critique of the Iraq War and Syrian intervention.  However, I see that his advisors are chock full of neocons and warmongers (and endorsed by gen. Boykin, to boot, as well as Dick Cheney), and he has had the audacity to say publicly recently, “I love war”.  Does anyoen really know what he will do once he is in office?  Who is he beholden to?  Does the Religious Right really think he will give them the time of day after he has rangled their votes, if he wins?

That’s it – I have much more to say, but I should quit while I am behind and say no more, before there is no one else left to piss off (I sadly have had strained relationships with many close friends needlessly over this issue).  Even though this election may not inspire most of us, we can use it constructively, regardless of what the “world” does, to see what it says about us as individual Christians and our Christian community and what we value, and the state of our witness in this world after the smoke of this election clears.  I suspect that God will use this to bring some clarity, and even separation (and new bed-fellows and fellow travelers) to perceptive Christians in the days ahead.

Buckle your seat belts, and keep a long-term, heavenly kingdom perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vote for Pedro

NapoleonAndPedro

Friends,

Tomorrow I have to cast a primary vote in Tennessee for the upcoming presidential election.  I think we can all agree this has been some kind of disturbing election season, which I think portends a work God is doing to show us who we as Americans, and in particular Christians, truly are, in the eyes of God and everyone else.  I am not going to tell you who to vote for, but I am going to suggest the kind of person to vote for.

Vote for Pedro.

Those of you who are now confused (or think I am being racist) are obviously the few who have not seen the wonderful and insightful (and funny) 2004 movie Napoleon Dynamite.  The “heroes” of the movie were a trio of geeky outcasts at school – the types we all knew, or better yet (as in my case) were.  One of the main story elements was a competition for school student body president between a socially awkward Mexican transfer student Pedro, whose shyness reveals the courage and daring (or madness) he exhibited in even deciding to run, and the domineering “insider”, the popular and beautiful cheerleader “Summer”.  While her many popular friends posted “Vote for Summer” signs everywhere (she probably did not have to compete for Prom Queen), Pedro’s buddy Napoleon sported the now societally-popular phrase “Vote for Pedro”, using an old iron-on “puffy” transfer on a T-shirt.  As the movie’s many viewers fondly recall, Pedro was ready to get his head handed to him in the election, when a school assembly beforehand let Summer and her cheerleader friends use their sex-appeal in a dance number, contrasted to Pedro’s unassuming and unimpressive speech, until Napoleon saved the day with the most exotic dance number ever put to celluloid.

The message of this aspect of the film is more relevant now than ever.  It contrasted the two kinds of people in the world – the “insiders” (“Summers”) and the “outsiders” (“Pedros”).  We and the public make numerous value judgments each day over who are friends are or those we want, the leaders we want to follow, the people we want to trust and then purchase from, the company we keep, and the kinds of people we aspire to be like.  In this context, the “Pedros” never have a chance when it comes to earning our devotion, wallets, endorsements and emulation.  Ads and commercials are filled with beautiful and macho “Summers”, male and female, who have ideal weight and body type, do amazing physical sports and exercise, go on all-inclusive vacations to the Bahamas and dance in formal wear on the beach, walk with a swagger and confidence, and “know what they are doing”.  And then there’s the rest of us – including those who try with great effort but in vain to measure up or gain their acceptance and approval, or those of us who gave up, either due to lack of energy or interest.

Here’s some of the traits I can think of concerning the “Summers” and “Pedros” of the world:

“Summers”                                                                       “Pedros”

Seen as physically attractive, sex appeal    “Average” or less looks, appeal less noticed

Confident in statements and positions             Tentative, self-critical, slow to speak

Swagger in style and image – “big talker”       Meek, self-effacing

Surrounded by adorers or other “insiders”     Loners or small group of fellow “Pedros”

Often born into “Summerdom” by parents     Humble upbringing

Wealthy, connected, advantages for success   Starts from the bottom, no insider help

Gets heard, attention whenever they want     Often overlooked, seen as hopeless, “loser”

Gets all the breaks                                      Gets few breaks

Will drop friends when no longer useful     Loyal to fellow “Pedros” who offer nothing

I could go on, but you get the point.  The “Summers” get picked first in pickup sports, get invited to the slumber parties, get multiple prom date requests, selected as team captains and class presidents, fraternity and sorority offers, lucrative job positions, quick promotions (particularly in the military) regardless of true skill, and offers to join high society.  And then there’s the rest of us “Pedros”, who could only dream of such attention and opportunities, and watch such people adored on TV and elsewhere.  Janis Ian, a backward wallflower growing up herself, wrote of these latter people in her hauntingly melancholic hit song, “Seventeen”.  Some of the lyrics are

I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for the beauty queens
And high school girls with clear-skinned smiles
Who married young and then retired

The valentines I never knew
The Friday night charades of youth
Were spent on one more beautiful
At seventeen I learned the truth

And those of us with ravaged faces
Lacking in the social graces
Desperately remained at home
Inventing lovers on the phone

—————————————————-

And the rich relationed hometown queen
Marries into what she needs
With a guarantee of company
And haven for the elderly

—————————————————

To those of us who knew the pain
Of valentines that never came
And those whose names were never called
When choosing sides for basketball

It was long ago and far away
The world was younger than today
When dreams were all they gave for free
To ugly duckling girls like me

 

These “Summers” are the people who are “super-salesmen” who we admire and thus succeed, becoming charismatic military leaders, entrepeneurs and CEOS by “looking like they know what they are doing”.  Even well-known pastors in mega-churches and para-church organizations can come from these ranks.

I have been blessed to be around wise Christian family and friends of great attributes but humble estates my whole life.  I have rubbed shoulders with billionaires and connected people in my early career, and even had Lear Jet rides and the keys to executive positions dangled in front of me.  However, I knew then I could never fit in or pull it off, and I am greatful to God to be spared such a shallow and unfulfilling existence.  When one becomes aware of the move-prop facade this type of “success” is, one cannot help losing one’s natural envy of others who do “make it”, and all its material perks and supposed esteem-builders, and feel sorry for those struggling so hard to find that elusive contentment and real acceptance with that crowd, and truly feel pity for their BMW and “work hard/play hard” worlds.  If is particularly sad to see women in Southern California, and now everywhere, who have been told that their value is merely their looks and youth, and thereby mutilate themselves at times in a vain attempt (excuse to the pun) to retain their “utility”.

The ultimate domain for the “Summers” is in the field of politics.   It is often all about image, swagger, “tough guy” mentality, and frankly being a bully.  As you can imagine, in a regular field of narcissists we now have a candidate who probably is the ultimate “Summer” – a wealthy billionaire born into wealth and connections, with people who hang on his every word, whether it is foolish or not, and even if he is insulting them or pandering to them in an obvious condescening way (and I have to say that Christians always seem by and large to be the most gullible).  They are dealing with a “dealer” whose life of deals are not those that are “win-win” for two parties who meet each other’s needs, but where one is a “winner” and the other a “loser”, decided on who has more inside information or assets, or merely by bluff, bullying and intimidation.  Those who are in the way either get out of the way, or get sued – just ask Merv Griffin – to further show his awesome “power”.  His success?  You know what they say – “Everybody loves a winner”.  The people proving this adage the most by beating a path to sit at his feet are many of our most prominent Christian leaders, and professing American Christians in general.

Well, I have started a movement some time ago to start voting for the “Pedros” of the world.  If it is real popular in society right now, be it a television show, style of music, gadgets or other styles, I’m probably going to take a pass on it.  If it is a “trend”, “fashionable” or status symbol – count me out.  If a person comes well-connected or with lots of money in their background, I’m probably going to write them off right on the spot.  If they come with associations with powerful or prominent organizations and institutions, I will probably write them off too.  If they are not selling themselves, but rather a noble idea, particularly one that looks out for the Forgotten People (those in institutional care, the elderly or low-income, all of whom are of no interest to Madison Avenue, Wall Street or the politicians, or others “out of favor”), then I will probably buy in, even if I disagree with them on certain matters; it is a question of integrity.  If “insiders” recommend them, groom them or try to influence them, they are off my list, regardless of the good “positions” they claim to represent – I am old enough now to know whose interests they really represent.

This is a life decision for me, concerning all aspects of life.  Tomorrow I am going to “vote for Pedro” at the ballot box.  Won’t you join me?

 

 

 

 

Building Walls or Building Bridges – Trump and the Pope

482295313.0.0_2.0.0Sorry, friends, that I am been absent for a while here, but I have been busy trying to wrap up the next-to-last volume of my book series, and other personal matters.  However, there has been buzz recently concerning a unique scrap between two major public figures concerning a religious matter, for which I just had to add my two-cents as food for thought.

As most of you know, a few days ago the Pope was asked to comment about popular Presidential candidate Donald Trump and his comments about the Mexicans that the Pope was visiting at the time at the border.  The interchange has been famously misquoted on television and on line almost everywhere, but you can read the actual comments, in context, here.  The key points of question to the Pope and his response are taken from this cited reference and the Catholic News Agency transcript, and include the following:

Phil Pullella, Reuters: Today, you spoke very eloquently about the problems of immigration. On the other side of the border, there is a very tough electoral battle. One of the candidates for the White House, Republican Donald Trump, in an interview recently said that you are a political man and he even said that you are a pawn, an instrument of the Mexican government for migration politics. Trump said that if he’s elected, he wants to build 2,500 kilometers of wall along the border. He wants to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, separating families, etcetera. I would like to ask you, what do you think of these accusations against you and if a North American Catholic can vote for a person like this?

Pope Francis: Thank God he said I was a politician because Aristotle defined the human person as ‘animal politicus.’ At least I am a human person. As to whether I am a pawn, well, maybe, I don’t know. I’ll leave that up to your judgment and that of the people. And then, a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel. As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.”

Trump subsequently took the media bait in twisting the Pope’s words, and said that someone challenging whether another person was a Christian was “disgraceful”; nevermind that less than 24 hours before Trump himself was publicly challenging Ted Cruz’ true Christianity because of his alleged deceit.  Trump also would love to give the Catholic leader a “black eye” on the eve of the South Carolina primary, which is overwhelmingly evangelical and distrustful of the Pope anyway.  His gambit paid off; numerous polls showed that his comments about the Pope raised his standing with voters, and in his vote returns, as the most popular candidate today amongst evangelicals, according to polls, and with major endorsements such as Liberty University head Jerry Falwell Jr. and Franklin Graham.  Trump added that any reservations the Pope had a about the wall in Mexico were due to his ignorance, and that one day when ISIS attacks the Vatican he will wish there had been a President Trump.

It is important to look carefully at the words the Pope chose to use in his forced off-the-cuff response to a reporter, for he is a real thinking person.  He did not say that someone who wanted a wall for a specific instance and justification was in question (for example, for a prison); rather, he responded to the reporter’s description of a man who spoke poorly of him and others that seek diplomacy, and sought to deport large numbers and split up families, in the reporters view.  In response, the Pope carefully said that one who only thinks about building walls and not building bridges, is not a Christian, adding that “This is not the Gospel”.  In other words, it is a matter of the nature of the person and their first “gut level”, reactionary responses to any conflict and disagreements, that defines their connection to Christ, or “abiding in the Vine”.  The choice between “building bridges” or “building walls” is at the heart of the Gospel; it’s the same as the choice between Jesus od Nazareth or Jesus Barabbas.

I believe the Pope is on sound Biblical foundation in his assertion here.  There are only a handful of uses of the word “wall” itself in the New Testament.  Their is a reference to a wall in Damascus in which Saul of Tarsus was let over in a basket to prevent his capture, and the “whited wall” that Paul used to describe the chief priest, similar to a comparison Christ made, but with neither in a favorable intention.  There is also the wall in the New Jerusalem.  However, it has numerous wide gates that never close, that the free people are free to pass through, as they take refreshment from the Tree of Life, the River from the Throne and God’s presence, all taken freely and without restriction – the “end game” God wants for His people.  The only other reference in the entire New Testament is a doctrinal one, from the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2, when he told the Gentile Ephesians that

“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.  For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us]; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.” (Ephesians 2:12-16)

At the time (at least for a decade or two more), the Temple stood, as it had for centuries, with a separate outer courtyard for Gentiles, and an inner court for the Jews; if a Gentile strolled in the inner area, signage was posted that said he was to be killed.  When Jesus died on the Cross, He first tore down the first “wall” between God and man when the Holy of Holies curtain was torn; a generation later, the entire Temple complex, with its “wall of separation” between Jew and Gentile, would be visibly broken down.  Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit broke down other barriers between Jew and Gentile, with the visions for Peter and the salvation of Cornelius and other Gentiles.  When the Pope mentions people who think only of building walls or building bridges, he is referencing this Biblical teaching: “And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18).

I have witnessed a number of pro-Trump pastors come to his defense (Trump’s, not the Pope’s, the latter having been lambasted by many Christians for his comments), saying that building walls was Biblical, and cited Nehemiah as their sole example.  I find it curious to note that Nehemiah himself (aside from his own singlular book) was mentioned only in one verse in the book of Ezra (a similar book), and no where else in the Old Testament, and certainly not in the New.  Neither Christ nor the Apostles found any cause or reason to ever cite Nehemiah, and his fellow armed wall builders, as a spiritual model for their teaching of the New Covenant and Kingdom of Heaven – I wonder why?

I’ll conclude by noting the irony that the other Republican candidate popular with evangelicals – Ted Cruz – is using David Barton as head of Cruz’s “Keep the Promise” Super-PAC.  Barton is a former Texas Republican Party vice chairman, and a political consultant to the Republican National Convention on wooing evangelicals.  However this man, armed with his sole Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education from Oral Roberts University, is a household name (at least in Christian households) for being “an expert in historical and constitutional issues”, at least according to his own claims in his own organization biography. You may already know that many fellow Christian historians of legitimate historian academic credentials have debunked many of his assertions concerning the spiritual faith fo the Founding Fathers and their documents, including those he excises and omits, and his exoriation of the separation of church and state, and original intentions. What is the name of his organization? Wallbuilders.  On the same web page he says the organization name comes from “the Old Testament writings of Nehemiah, who led a grassroots movement to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and restore its strength and honor.”  By the way, what happened to Nehemiah’s walls they so painstakingly built?  Well, due to their own internal corruption within the walls, first the Greeks and then Romans took them over at God’s pleasure for their disobedience, and the walls did them no good.  Later, when they insisted on internal civil war and rebellion from Rome (following Zealots like the Jesus Barabbas they chose, and as American evangelicals choose today), even these walls were thrown down, along with those of the Temple itself.  Only the Western Wall fragment remains as a testament to their futility.  If a people aren’t pure at heart, walls will do them no good.  One day the Jews may build these walls again, along with the Temple (likely with evangelical help), just like their dubious wall to keep out Palestinians, to help facilitate the coronation of their “messiah” the Anti-Christ as God in their Temple.  Walls do more to keep evil in, than keep evil out.

Cultural “wall-building” is big business today in conservative and Christian circles, and has been for a long time.  It requires a Chicken Little propaganda arm to keep saying “the sky is falling”, and “barbarians are at the gate”, be they Muslims, Mexicans, Communists or secularists.  Gold and survival food is always ready for sale at Christian ministries concurrent with these messages; they follow the adage of the old Fuller Brush door-to-door salesmen: “First create a need, and then fill it”.  It requires the demonization of those who are the least bit different culturally from us, and use of the old Klan warning that “they’re coming to rape our white women”.  Intelligence agencies, defense contractors and other big businesses (even individual billionaries from casinos, gas fracking and the like) can provide all the money they need for paid airtime, first-class accommodations and facilities, and a prominent position at the National Religious Broadcasters conventions.  It violates many premises of New Testament teachings, including to love your neighbor, love your enemy, and the Golden Rule.  It also is a fundamental expression of unbelief in God and His goodness and power, to properly protect His own, and the mission of the Church in their world until it is completed.  And it is embraced by “Bible believing Christians” that are weekly church attenders now more than ever.  In contrast, “bridge builders”, be they with Muslims, the poor, minority groups and the like, are always starved for funds, and people to help.  They seek to better understand people who see things from a different perspective or experience, and even those who may claim to have gotten a raw deal by us or our ancestors, and are bitter about it.  “Bridge builders” humbly listen to others, and don’t try to butt in and defend their own culture or faith, and rather listen and be respectful to them.  They make the first move to make contact and to bless the “stranger”, who may rightfully be skeptical of them, and are patient to let trust build, even to the point of extending more grace to them than to their fellow Christians.  They take the effort to do this face-to-face, but also listen to others worldwide and in the media, and endorse their concerns (when justified) to their elected officials and their Christian leaders and friends.  While they toil away, slowly building trust with other groups, they are called “naive”, “misguided” and even unpatriotic “traitors” (the most serious of spiritual offenses) by their own Christian kindred.  These Christian scoffers are the “Sanballats” and “Tobiahs” that sew discouragement and grief in those building Christian bridges of reconciliation.  

Of course, practical yet merciful measures to secure borders, to vet entrants as to their being criminals or terrorists, is a legitimate concern of Caesar (i.e., government). However, this is not the issue here.  The real question is what do you want to be the focus of your thoughts and deeds, and instinctive “nature” over your very brief life – as a “wall builder” or a “bridge builder”?  What do you want to be?

I look forward to your enlightening comments!

 

 

 

 

 

“Coming Out of the Closet” With Thoughts on the Ongoing “Christian-Gay” War

Friends, this is another one of those blog posts I may live to regret, but I think we now live in the days when we as followers of Christ need to speak openly and plainly on difficult topics.  We need more honest “thinking out loud” (even speculating, with the expectation of changing or modifying views upon further contemplation) and humbly challenging ourselves as well as others to compare our reflection (and its culture) to that of Christ.  We need to attempt to rightly judge how well we resemble His mindset and mission, and the spirit of His priorities and values, while understanding the Gospels and words of the Apostles in that light.  The ironic “coming out of the closet” title refers to the feeling a Christian believer in our culture often feels when they ask “questions that should not be asked”, and express sympathies for “unthinkable thoughts” and “depraved individuals”, knowing that they will be misunderstood, castigated, marginalized and ostracized as a result – leading them to sympathize with others who announce their personal views and convictions with the knowledge they will experience the same as well.

A very good Christian friend of mine included me in an email chain with an attached article from the Lousiville newspaper, as yet another article about the need for Christian resistance to the gay “agenda”, written by Albert Mohler Jr., President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, you can read the article here.
The following are a few “off the cuff” comments I have concerning the article, and the general (but very difficult) topic of how America’s Christian community might deal with the “gay” issue, and some other food for thought:

  1.  First of all, I need to acknowledge who Dr. Mohler is, what is his foundational doctrinal belief and how it influences him on this issue.  Dr. Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (the denomination in which I was raised and active for four decades) and other popular theologians such as John Piper and R.C. Sproul (and thirty percent or more of Southern Baptist churches, evidently) are prominent Calvinists. Any churches or Christians who claim to be “reformed” almost always embrace the tenets of Calvinism.  In case you are not aware, Calvinists worship a demiurge-type god of mal intent (such as was acknowledged but resisted by the Gnostics) that intentionally created the majority of mankind to be sent without recourse eternally to the Lake of Fire, for His expressed pleasure – in essence, having the same desires and agenda as Satan himself.  God intentionally withholds the lifeline of saving irresistable grace of salvation because He wants to withhold it.  This is described as a “predestination” in which God irresistably foreordains the destiny of most people to eternal agony.  The rest of Calvinism’s “TULIP” beliefs – including the irresistibility of man’s salvation of the “elect” (i.e., those eternally lucky enough to win the “pre-natal lottery” but having no merit OR even desire of their own), or their assertion that Jesus did not die with the intention or will to save “all men”, inevitably follows from this view of the “sovereignty” of God being a bullying bulldozer that programs all of us and the universe as automotons.  This means that God made Satan fall and rebel, and Adam and Eve to fall, and all who obey such programming from God will be rewarded with a one-way trip to the Lake of Fire.  This means that any challenge by God in scripture to “choose ye this day whom ye will serve” or any other decision posed ot man is a cruel joke from God that cannot be asserted, because man is unable to make such choices, his total fate having been already preordained; it also makes evangelism a farce amongst the masses of unchangeably pre-saved or pre-lost.  This view of the “total depravity” of men rather than just being fallen (even though they are created in God’s image, and proclaimed “good” at the time) and the lack of any hope for the many “non-elect” helps such believers view suspected non-elect as animals and cannon fodder, because God has the same agenda and lack of value of them.  For just one example, popular national Christian media host and Reformed pastor Kevin Swanson stated on air recently that God is “kind” to gays by giving them AIDS.   They also insist that this view is the only way to interpret Scripture; in general, they tend to be argumentative and view themselves as more savvy with Scripture as its lawyers where doctrine supercedes mercy, and are very harsh in tone toward those who disagree or live differently, desiring to impose their values on others much as Calvin did upon pain of torture or death in his totalitarian rule in Geneva.  In effect they make God “depraved” as the author of mankind’s wretched state and fate, to which I assert that the only “depraved one” is Calvin himself, and those who follow him.  I believe that this doctrine is a fundamental blasphemy of the foundational character of God, “who is not willing that any should perish”.  Having said this, I ask myself that if I believe that Calvinists, including Dr. Mohler, so misunderstand the fundamental character of God, His perspective on humanity and their state, as well as what the Bible reflects on these matters, why should I regard anything he has to say on this matter?
  2. I continue with the following comments with the understanding that I do not believe Scripture indicates that God desires homosexual relations for mankind; He did mention spiritual covenants He acknowledges as marriage that describe those between a man and a woman (although same-sex marriage as opposed to their sexual activity was not addressed directly, to my knowledge), while New Testament writings allude to it being an analogy of the relationship fo Christ and the Church.  Having said that, Dr. Mohler goes so far as to suggest that opposition to the gay lifestyle is the “the essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ”.  Is that a wee bit of a stretch?  Is that the reason Jesus came to earth to die on the cross – to stop gay marriage?  Is that what “sets men free”?  In fact, beyond His opinion on the matter, do we have evidence that this topic is a “front burner” issue for God at all, as His primary concern?  Is that the main message we want to send to a dying world about the Church – that our main focus is stopping people outside the Church from having civil rights such as gay marriage?  Is this approach and reputation with its public emphasis really being effective in winning more people to Christ as “fishers of men”?  If Christian leaders want to tell the world that this is the main focus the Church has, then they are being very successful with it, because that appears to be about all they talk about in the public, to the point that those outside the church see them as paranoid and obsessive.  I understand why many Christian ministries would beat this drum, because scaring people about those who are different has always been an effective way to raise money and become quite a “war profiteer” in the process, whether it be a “culture war” variety or some other; however, in terms of the Church in America at large, their desire to “win” on this issue is a battle that has caused them to lose a “war” of their higher calling in their “ministry of reconciliation”, not by disagreeing on homosexual activity but rather their excessive hostility and desire to control what others do with their own lives, often by the the use of Caesar’s civil statutes.
  3. Regarding scriptural exhortations, I concede that there are severe measures in the Mosaic Law for such homosexual behavior (particularly since Jewish men at the time seem to have a proclivity for debased sexual behavior with the Canaanites and their other neighbors), on par with penalties for disobeying parents, but being under a New Covenant, law and priesthood I look only to the teachings of Christ and His Apostles for my authority, and I am bound to them alone (as since I violate much of the Ten Commandments (i.e. the Sabbath) and sacrificial and dietary laws, I myself would be subject to death as well as gays if I used such criteria to judge me (as well as rejecting Christ my priest)).  Jesus interacted with many people involved in sexual immorality, developing relationships and interacting.  He acknowledged that the Woman at the Well had a very serious and unacceptable track record with marriage as well, (as well as living in a sexual sin relationship at the time) but did not dwell on it or browbeat her; He rather dropped the subject and focused on offering her “living water”.  Jesus did not condemn the immoral graft of Zaccheus, rather affiliating Himself and fellowshipping with him; in response, Zaccheus took the act of making things right as a result of exposure to Jesus’ holiness and acceptance.  Regarding homosexuality, I don’t think Jesus ever mentioned it; is that consistent with it being the “essence of the Gospel”?  Jesus did defend another woman charged by the religious leaders with sexual sin, and suggested that they were the problem and not her, while still afterwards privately speaking to her directly (and not through the mouthpieces of the religious establishment), directing to “go and sin no more” once the religious leaders no longer meddled or got between them.  He spent most of His indignance and concern about the hypocricy of the Religious Establishment.  I think Jesus would still do these same things today.
  4. I further concede that Romans 1 is probably the strongest New Testament passage used to condemn homosexual behavior, where men “left the natural use of the woman”.  However, what is usually not pointed our in the context of this passage is that this occurs because God sent this persuasion amongst the people in question because they had previously rejected God’s ‘truth” in nature by adopting pagan idol worship of stones, etc.  Is that the exact circumstances where we find ourselves today?  Furthermore, Paul adds that the other equal sinful behaviors God sends as a result are “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful” (Rom. 1:29-31).  Thank goodness we have purged all of these companion behaviors equally deserving judgment from the halls of our churches!  Thank goodness our Christian leaders have rallied the nation and churches to stop the behaviors God equally hates such as “covetousness, envy, deceit, whisperers, boasters, without understanding, disobedient to parents, backbiters, etc.”, and worked Congress and lobbyists to eradicate it by statute to preserve the integrity of the Church and God’s blessings!  We wouldn’t be playing “favorites” with opposing the sins we are least susceptible to, would we?  
  5. Furthermore, Christian leader alarmists do not continue Paul’s continuation of thought from the end of Chapter 1 to the beginning of Chapter 2, where he confronts the Roman church Christians with this list and says, “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.  And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?  Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?  But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Rom. 2:1, 3-5).  I understand this passage to be about Paul exposing the hypocrisy of church members who condemn others for these things, and then practice similar unacceptable behavior of their own kind itself; Paul says that a “hardness and impenitent heart” is the motivation for this, which is what I view in Christian media and on the Internet today, and God says that in addition to their punishment for thier sins there will be added for their hypocritical, judgmental behavior and attitude.
  6. God is not implying that the behaviors that are listed are acceptable, including homosexuality, and neither are they to me nor should they be to you, but the key verse is verse 4, that people mired in such behavior are graciously subject to the “riches of his goodness and forebearance and longsuffering”, with such “goodness of God” leading to eventual repentance, which the Church members having had received from God before, but are unwilling to grant to others.  Words such as “forbearance and longsuffering” are not in the vocabulary of most American evangelicals today; some good translations even use the world “tolerance”, which is anathema to conservative Christians but is described as an attribute of a supremely holy God, and one for which all Christians have had their “fat saved out of the fire” previously.  Christians today seem to think that God either “accepts” or “rejects” a person in their state today, with no “shadow of turning”, but scripture shows that God does a lot of tolerating of us and our behaviors that He hopes to see changed in time, and for which He gently and patiently helps us with.  For example, God permitted writs of divorcement even in the the Mosaic code, because of the “hardness of men’s hearts”, and commended kings even when they took multiple wives or did not tear down all strongholds, and even “winked” at man’s idolatrous worship (Acts 17:30); Jesus had a disfunctional apostle group (including a leader who denied Him), and disfunctional churches then and now, but He accomplishes His mission even with their shortcomings that are not resolved.  As such, there are rare behaviors and strongholds for which I do not believe we as a Church have to take immediate actions toward others, and thus give active “blessings” or “curses” against,  but rather take a “third way”, exhibiting patient forebearance, encouraging them to draw close to Jesus and His word,  while God works behind the scenes to guide and deliver.  If any of the churches I have attended had said that liars would not be tolerated and allowed to participate, I would have been out of luck, because I have told an occasional whopper, justifying it all the way, even as an adult.  Have you?  Hopefully God has helped me with the strongholds in my life, while I was in fellowship at church, and they never did protest me once.  Sometimes it was for things that I did not recognize as wrong for a long time, but in time God showed me the light, all while I was in church fellowship, and I was welcomed and nurtured during that time.  Has that happened to you?
  7. I think it is important (but even more controversial) to make a note concerning the argument from Christian leaders and pastors that the purportedly pervasive “gay agenda” will one day force churches to compromise scriptural passages on the topic of “Biblical marriage” in sermons, and modify the operation and state of the “family” from its “scriptural norms”.  Well, I hate to tell them, but “those cows have already left the barn”.  I’m sorry, but I can’t help but see such arguments of Christian groups as hypocritical, since they have already allowed feminism to accomplish all these “worst fears” to change the home and church far more than homosexuals ever will.  The feminist movement of the mid to late twentieth century has caused pastors to talk around Bible passages, from the same Bible books and authors that they quote on homosexuality, that guide women to be silent in church, asking their husbands for spiritual insight, and following his guidance as “unto the Lord”, seeing such subjection and obediance as obediance to God, and expecting God’s direction through their husband, possibly even more than through prayer itself.  I have witnessed countless sermons that in effect derived nervous laughter from pastors and statements to the effect of, “what God really meant to say was…” on female subjection, rather than sticking with the plain text, such as they do with veiled references to homosexuality.  I have witnessed Christian women, including pastor’s wives, demean their husbands at church and elsewhere, mocking them and intentionally disregarding their views or superceding them on matters large and small – a state that would shock Christ and the Apostles if they were to hear it, as being of far more concern than a stray homosexual couple that has wandered in the flock.  The family and sanctity of marriages has taken a big beating as a result, and in fact the divorce rate for Christians is about the same as outside the Church – are they to be talling the world that they are the “experts” om marriage, Biblical or otherwise? The irony is that in ignoring this clear guidance in scripture regarding Biblical male-female marital relations, these Christian leaders have evidently decided that the “sky will not fall in”, and they comfortably proceed along with their mission while disregarding or explaining away specific scripture guidelines; so then, why are they panicked about doing the same on the homosexual equation?  I certainly do not recommending going to some state of tyrannical domination over females or cruel subjugation, and I believe that God can bless marriages to a degree that are more egalitarian, even if a departure from His Biblical ideal (because of His “forebearance”), but I suspect that the greatest blessings are for those couples who conform to the Biblical model, which would make them a rarety in most churches, and subject to a lot of criticism from its prominent members. So why are they so rabidly aggressive and paranoid regarding gay relationships?  I now suspect that the masculine insecurity in Christian men today probably makes them overcompensate in being repelled by homosexual behavior, after seeing themselves as less masculine while inside today’s “feminized” Church.  They see shadows of themselves, and a subconscious mandate to compensate by being “macho” in the face of it, to the point of being “homophobic”.  That is a popular charge by those outside the church, and our general cultures also contribute (I know, coming from the South) but it is hard to explain otherwise the irrational paranoia expressed publicly from church officials and their followers, which makes the issue “front burner” rather then more legitimate menaces.  They do act such that if a homosexual person or couple would be permitted in their midst, their sexual preferencet would thus spread like smallpox amongst the flock, and engulf their youth; that’s why many choose to homeschool rather than being exposed to others who are different.  It reflects an insecurity about one’s own gender identity and the strength of traditional values in the face of others, and a senseless suspicion that the masses might discover they prefer the “alternative”.  I for one do not plan to change my heterosexuality regardless of others.  If parents are so concerned about the choices of their children, then they need to start to demonstrate healthy husband-wife relationships in their own homes to model – is that too much to ask?  
  8. The talk I hear amongst Christian leaders and officials is that a “militant gay lobby’ (which I have yet to see, but maybe exists in California and some strongholds) wants to take over every church, and probably will soon.  I am not surprised to find out that almost all of these Christian decision-makers have no gay friends; probably because they are terrified of them that it would rub off, and that they would be rotten, preachy friends tp them anyway.  While my circle of gay friends is also sadly limited as well as my knowledge, I find the knowledge of these Christian church leaders to be based solely on profiteering Christian scaremonger demogogues in the Christian media and Internet.  You will find almost universally that Christians who have some number of gay friends look at addressing this issue completely differently, even if they don’t condone the behavior, because they know these are real prople of substance and worth, and do not have horns.  These paranoid leaders never seem to ask themselves – what if some gay group gets a church – what would they do with it?  Honestly, even today any Christian, leader or otherwise, can retain their own views on the matter, if they are willing to pay the price for it (which now is basically nothing, and may never be on this issue).  However, the real issue is in trying to protect the “stuff” of the church – real estate, bank accounts and paychecks – which they think are worth fighting for from lawsuits.  “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”.  If churches met ad hoc in rented spaces of homes, without fat assets to protect from rivals, sending their collections right out the door in total to serve the field, this would not be an issue.  Could it be that God sends threats like this to liberate church people from the assets that weigh them down, and take up all their time to manage rather than minsiter?  Has this prospect (which has occurred in Israel and in the Church historically many times) ever crossed their minds?  Meanwhile, while the church is obsessed with fighting the gay boogeyman and in protecting their stockpile, destitute refugees from the world’s war zones have left all and have no where to lay their heads, black kids are gunned down in the streets, the gulf in the superwealthy and those barely surviving continues to grow, and the church has no such alarm or even time for these issues.
  9. A last point to make is that this topic is yet another one where the church and its (I hate to say it) incompetent leadership shot itself in the foot yet again, by not encouraging secular “civil unions” long ago, to give others similar civil legal rights of inheritance and property transference, tax treatment, visitation rights for the ill, etc.  Their “holier than thou” attitude could not exhibit the Golden Rule, which is way down on their list of spiritual imperatives, and did not care about these civil injustices.  In effect, they insisted on making what had been a sacred concept of “marriage” into a “government issue”, and then reaped the inevitable whirlwind for their lack of wisdom and foresight.  To be real honest, to a large extent even the Church should not be in the “marriage business” – marriage existed long before the Church, and is a covenant between two and God for which the Church has no Biblical say as to its legitimacy.  In fact, there is no Biblical citation for church weddings, or church “blessings” of them, and in particular pastor’s functioning as State officers in signing marriage licenses within the church itself.  These same enlightened Christian “leaders” not long ago said it was unbiblical for those of difference races to marry, or different social standings.  If pastors did not officiate church weddings, contrary to scripture but only in obedience to cultural tradition, they would otherwise not have to wring their hands over whot to marry, and who to restrict, gay or otherwise.  I have seen churches “bless” many a marriage which looked like a bad idea from the start, and many more for whom the wheels come off soon thereafter.  So are they the real experts on the matter?  For that matter, these are the same Christian leaders on a local or national scale (many of them) who have led us to nominate some of the most dumb, incompetent or crooked politicans – like many of them.  So why do we trust their spiritual insight on all of these harder things?  I recently read a paper from 1834 from the head of the South Carolina Baptist Convention to its governor, showing from scripture alone that slavery was acceptable to God, along with practical reasons why enslaved blacks were better off.  You better beware when religious leaders string up arguments with a daisy-chain of scripture, using “sola scriptura” to bully us into positions that run counter to and violate our own consciences – which God says He placed in all of us in nature as just a reliable a witness (if not better) as these Bible-slingers.  If you cannot look at the victims of these purported “Bible policies” in the eye and defend them and practice them in their midst, then it is probably a wrong thing to do, and these spiritual “experts” may not be hearing from the Holy Spirit.                                          

So that’s my rant for now.  It’s all stream-of-consicousness and I am sure the activists out there can pick apart any of the ideas expressed herein, but I sure feel better getting it off my chest.  There is much more to say on this matter, and I may add to this or post further on it as circumstances permit.

To God be the glory.

ADDENDUM:

After having uploaded this original post, I have noticed from some of the comments and commenters, even though it is a mixed bag of supporters, detractors and mixture, that some have taken great offense to my initial comments concerning my deep concerns about the influence of Calvinism on how some Christians look at others, and how it might influence Albert Mohler who wrote the article on homosexuality that I have commented on.  I am sorry if I offended any of you fellow Christian readers – I did not intend that. I know I expressed strong words, but I am sure I have been influenced by my studies for the current book volume on church history as it relates to holy wars I am writing, and in particular the section I recently finished in commenting on the era of Calvin and the aftermath. I could not help but observe that when Christians accept the idea that the majority of mankind has been hated by God before they breathed their first breath and will forever be hated with no recourse they have, it seems natural that such people will pursue a theocracy like Calvin’s Geneva to impose their will using a similar irrestible force they claim God uses on people per Calvinism doctrine. Per the writings I have read from Calvin and his apologists, it accordingly seems shy of mercy, empathy, and the subjection to the Golden Rule, which still applies even toward the “damned unelect”. Not only did this create an era of tyranny even against other Christians, the killing of Baptists like me and others, but also fueled the demeaning and genocidal treatment of Indians by the Puritans, by giving spiritual sanction for their eradication. I did not invent these observations; they have been pointed out by large numbers of prominent conservative Christian thinkers and historians. It is also clear that it fuels the current Calvinist-based Restoration Movement which seeks to establish a modern theocracy in America, and according to Gary North intends to eliminate the “heresy” of religious liberty.

I see how people with some degree of connection or empathy to Calvinism have become offended and taken my comments personally, and I did not mean to make it personal. However, while I have been called many bad names, having bad motives and distorting the issues, I still have not heard any direct refutations of the major tenets of Calvinism concerning God’s intention to create the majority of mankind merely to send them to Hell for His pleasure, with the other tenets of TULIP inevitably extending from it. I understand why Calvinists would not want to dwell on this, as well as the obvious conclusion that this motive matches Satan’s, and would like to re-frame it. I do not need to be held accountable for this statement; the people who believe this should be held accountable. If they deny this central aspect of predestination in Calvinism, I don’t see why they would even bother calling themselves Calvinist, because not much is left.

I also want to clarify that I do not have contempt for the little old lady who brings her covered-dish entree to the local Presbyterian church, serves her fellow members and community, and loves God the best she knows; I rather hold accountable the church leaders and other men who I believe should know better, and for whom I would like some answers on how they justify this conviction while saying that God is love and that they love their fellow man. I may have bitten off too much in explaining Mohler’s harsh position against the homosexual community as being at least partially explainable given his Calvinist connection within one post, but I still believe that a danger of considering a “damned without hope” class of people leads one to take a Pharisee-like hard line to those outside their ranks, with little empathy or mercy in many cases.

My only intention is to give food for thought and contemplation – and dialogue.

New Bombshell Investigative Report Ties Gen. Boykin to Military Intelligence Use of Christian Aid Organization in North Korea as a Funded Cover

Friends,

I just heard on CNN today a report on a new investigation by a journalistic organization called “The Intercept” that just released their findings that Gen. Jerry Boykin and his military intelligence group took over a Christian aid organization to fund and use to place intelligence gear and collect data in North Korea and elsewhere as a cover.  I found the actual amazing report, which you can read here:

Intercept Report Linking Boykin to Christian Group/Intelligence Cover

The front organization, the Humanitarian International Service Group (HISG), was founded the day before the 9/11 attack (you can see it explained here); the first website shows a video of the founder Kar Hiramine’s “Christian” calling to found it.  In 2003 Gen. Jerry Boykin, original member and eventual chief of Delta Force and Special Forces Command and now well-known evangelical speaker, joint chief with Rick Joyner of the Oak Initiative, and Executive Vice President of the Family Research Council, took over the DoD Defense Intelligence Group in 2003, and decided to develop intelligence capabiltiies to rival the CIA, by using faith based front organizations, which the CIA and rest of the government had been forbidden to do after they had been caught doing it in the 1975 Church Committee hearings.  They set up other front organizations to fund it to provide cover that it was a DoD intelligence front.  One funding organization, the New Millennium Group, was operated by Army Colo. Robert Lujan, who was the legal counsel for Delta Force when Boykin operated it; he also wrote a paper called “Legal Aspects of Domestic Employment of the Army” (which you can read here from a military training site) that talks about the use of the military in the U.S., and mentions the Waco siege (where Boykin advised Janet Reno on the assault that immolated scores of civilian victims) by using Delta Force to help the BATF clear a meth lab from the Branch Davidian house and to conduct  “‘room clearing discriminate fire operations,’ termed ‘close-quarter combat’ by the military”, and Presidential use of the military to take over Los Angeles after the Rodney King verdict.  He concludes by saying that “Civilian and military leaders need to expect an increase in domestic deployments of US military forces…America’s leaders should recognize that the relationship between America’s Army and the American people is strong but may be compromised.”

The article also notes that the money was also funded through a small outfit called the “Working Partners Foundation”, run by Robert Simses and Yale King.  Simses is a lawyer whose bio says he worked for the Navy in the White House during the Nixon years.  Yale King was the primary man, and was said by Boykin in his book Never Surrender as being a long-time “dear friend”; he was often featured on the Oak Initiative videos with Boykin and Joyner, talking about how the govt. had stolen his car dealership, when at the same time it appears evident that the government was sending him large sums to be a laundering organization.  The article notes that the ‘Christian” organization HISG received $15 million from the Pentagon, operating in 30 countries, until a new intelligence director shut them down at the end of 2012.  The new commander, Adm. McRaven, was said to have said to “shut it down because he was nervous about the flap if it ever got out that the Pentagon had used a bunch of evangelicals and missionaries as spies”.  My review of their tax records show that the groups shut down subsequently at the beginning of 2013, and according to the tax files I have (and the article attests), the remaining assets were given back to the U.S. Treasury (!).

I had already planned to have Gen. Boykin “star” in the last book volume for me to draft of my book series The Holy War Chronicles.  I document his involvement in the torture activities at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, his Delta Force activities and his “Christian” activities to turn the War on Terror into a “holy war”, where he (alongside Kanasas City Prophet Rock Joyner) advised the church to train our youth “with a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other”, as he also pontificated on Jesus’ return sporting an AK-47.  I thought that this, plus his recent book allegorizing a secret organization of retired pastors and special forces soldiers that assassinated Muslim leaders and other illegal acitivities were evidence of a corrupt work of wolves masquerading as Christian sheep.  I have seen all this evidence as “red flags” that Christian leaders have not seemed to acknolwedge to date.  I have been willing to speculate that the anti-sharia movement and Religious Right para-church community at large is rife with CIA and other intelligence operatives using the Church to accomplish its agenda (the documents I have obtained from the 1975 Church Committee hearings confirm this likelihood as well), since their agendas coincide, and this piece of data strongly bolsters this possibility.  If it is true, God help us all.

I hope this concerns you as much as it does me.

Important Updates to the Kim Davis Soap Opera

Friends,

I highly recommend you read ALL the links in the following article regarding the Pope’s “meeting” with Kim Davis:

Links to Stories That Explain Papal Visit

If you notice that the site is critical of “right wing” politics, please do not swoon and dismiss it entirely.  The links it highlights are all to high-quality news sources, that help clarify what happened there concerning the Pope’s “brush with greatness” (i.e., Kim Davis), and separates facts from fiction.

It appears that the Papal Ambassador to Washington DC has a old score to settle with the Papal Office, and “pulled a fast one” on the Pope (he is also an ardent Davis supporter).

The most important facets to me are the two times documented in these links that Davis’s “Christian” council Matt Staver of the Liberty Council (tied to Liberty University) lied to the public about the extent of Davis’ support overseas, and the death threats from The View.  Not only did he not even validate the data IF it was not intentional as an attorney, but none of the other Christian sources had as well.  Where is the due diligence from the Christian media?

Liberty University has a track record with this.  For a long time they covered for the fraud Ergun Caner, who was the head of their seminary, slandering and belittling his whistleblowers until they no longer could, then quietly shelved the issue.

The Religious Right cannot figure out why their evangelical message does not “work” anymore, and assume that any who point out their hypocrisy and disingenuity are merely “Christian persecutors”, and try to spread their illicit reputation to innocent Christians at large as fellow subjects of attack.  They have not grasped yet how irrelevant they are, caused by their own hand, and evidently do not have use of a mirror when seeking causes for their plight.

For this reason I agree with most of the public in seeing no credibility with the Religious Right or most Christian media.  These days when they speak I assume they are lying and/or I am being conned (to their monetary benefit), and it is sad to feel that way; I liked it better when I was in blissful ignorance.

Don’t let these jokers fool you into thinking that critics of them like me have “forsaken Christ” and have just become an “enemy of the Gospel”; today I love, worship and follow Jesus stronger than I ever have, have good and trustworthy pastoral leadership in a local church (and hope you find such as well), and find the Bible the only valid voice of God’s will, worthy for instruction, reproof, etc. when used in a responsible and wise way, and subject to the Holy Spirit’s unique direction with every person and situation I encounter. I no longer seek or regard “their” guidance, just like my “old school” Baptist forbearers centuries ago, who would be just as befuddled and dismayed at their hijinx as I am.  Spiritual “buyers” beware – listen to all their rantings with a high degree of skepticism, and keep your hand on your wallet (and electoral ballot).