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I WANT MY FUCKING RELIGION BACK! (A Rant)


Burris

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For years – at least since the September 11 attacks in the US – I've heard people asking why more moderate Muslims don't speak out against the most zealous and cruel elements within their own religion. The truth, however, is that Muslims have been speaking up since well before 9/11 – working hard, together, at great peril to wrest their religion away from the cruelest and most exacting factions.

They aren't fighting 'their own kind,' either, but rather they're fighting individuals who have the same basic religious identity coupled to an entirely different set of practices. What a lot of US Christians fail to understand is that a similar divide exists within Christendom as well – and I'm not talking about the 33 000 different variations of Christianity, but rather about two or three powerful and influential blocs. The most pernicious, dishonest, and dangerous of these – our own Taliban; the weed that could choke out all the light of Christianity – is the Dominionist brand of fundamentalism.

If they had the power – and they do want this power – they, too, would be sawing heads off their ideological enemies; killing infidels – a Christian term, by the way – even as their model Saul killed the Amalekites. Their public goal is simply to out-breed the heathen. Their more secret goal is genocide - “God-sanctioned†genocide.

As some of you know, I have been collecting documentation on the “Good News Clubs†that exist around the world, but especially in the United States, as subordinates to a group called the Child Evangelism Fellowship. The actual goal of the GNCs – to indoctrinate children 4-14 in their after-school madrassas – is well known and well-worn ground. Several journalists, including Katherine Stewart, have been studying the powerful CEF – its unseemly political connections, its emphasis on “masculine†Christianity and on absolute, unquestioning obedience to authority. (Here's a brief review of how that can easily turn out.)

I have just started reading her book, The Good News Clubs: The Christian Right's Stealth Assault on America's Children. At about 30 pages in, I realized that while the book deals specifically with the GNCs and their parent corporation, it also taps – sometimes self-consciously – into the wider and even more dangerous phenomenon of Dominionism as it is coupled with misogyny. And that would be bad enough, were it not for the fact some of the Dominionists are uncharitable misers who believe their version of Christianity – 'We've got ours from God; fuck you, heathen.' – is superior.

I've seen a similar undercurrent in clashes between Christians and Muslims – bloody and cruel, the clashes, as each side shared a belief that the other was an intractable enemy.

But to see it, as all of us here at FJ have, within the heart of Christianity is distressing as well.

Stewart writes...

The United Evangelical Free Church, [Pastor Mark] Wheeler makes it clear, is 'Bible Believing.' Only a certain kind of faith alone, they say, offers the keys to God's kingdom. There is a movement among contemporary Christian churches to distinguish their core beliefs from the teachings of 'do-gooders.' 'Social Gospel' churches of yesteryear – a form of the religion they often deride as 'feminized' – and United Evangelical is emphatically a part of this movement. Its newsletter boasts a tough-guy name: 'Body Builder: Uniting and Strengthening the Body of Christ.' (12)

Wheeler explains there are two kinds of Christians. On the one hand, there are 'Sink Christians,' who view salvation as something to soak up...On the other hand, there are 'faucet Christians.' They see 'salvation as something that comes to them in order to flow out through them to the rest of the world as a blessing to others, as a pipe carries water to a parched land.' (13)

I'm sure you can guess which group Wheeler is deluded into thinking he belongs to – however much derision he aims at the 'do-gooders' (or as the Bible would call them, 'the meek').

Social justice? That shit's for girls. Real Christians – faucet Christians – don't offer material aid; they dump scalding hot salvation, also known as empty rhetoric, on whomever they can capture. And they have decided the best recruits can be found among children, just as Children's Pastor Becky Fischer bragger during her infamous appearance in the movie Jesus Camp.

I actually posted a rant similar to this one nearly three years ago, writing...

As far as I'm concerned, modern Christianity has suffered no greater tragedy than that of politicization - and the right-wing strain of it is becoming ever more about the idolatrous worship of earthly power.

The macho posturing of those Christians who decry do-gooders – Aside: Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or not, Mark Wheeler? – also appears in the deadly teachings of Michael and Debi Pearl, in the totally unhinged rants of Steven Anderson and his cruel wife, and of course in the

of Christendom, Paul Washer – a title he should perhaps share with Mr. Dress-up, Diamond Doug Phillips.

I haven't had enough time to read through Stewart's book and thus do the content justice, but I think it's pretty fucking obvious already that the GNCs aren't actually the source of the danger facing Christianity: The sword-wielding ass-clowns, as mentioned above, are. And so are their short-sighted funders. (Funny how most of them have absolutely no military service on their records.)

'The meek...inherit the Earth? LOL! No. There's rape and spoil abounding, and 'God' has told us we can do to our enemies even as Saul was ordered to do to the Amalekites – so arm yourselves with enough ammo to provide for an entire platoon and get ready for some good old fashioned FUN!'

As I mention at the head of this post, I am indeed ranting. I want these assholes to remove their hands from the Religion of Peace. Those butt-heads are the reason why we can't have nice things – be they Christian or Muslim or Jew or Hindu.

As Orthodox Jew and New Testament scholar Amy Jill Levine points out, it is okay to repudiate parts of the Bible. Ignoring parts of the Bible is certainly wrong for anyone who believes it has sacred origins, but challenging them is not. People are supposed to test this stuff, to see if its fruit is good (Matthew 7:16). From evil-doers come evil deeds (1 Samuel 24:13).

What happened to pastoral humility? Instead we have these steroid-infused he-men strutting across the stage screaming at their parishioners that Hell abounds everywhere and can be found most closely at hand among people who help the poor. Wheeler and Anderson and Phillips are like the Pharisees who tithed dill and cumin while forgetting weightier matters of the law such as justice and mercy and faithfulness to do them (Matthew 23:23).

The entire Epistle of James warns about this kind of horse-shit: That faith without works – words are not works; they're vanity, if unaccompanied – is dead, being alone.

You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? -- James 2:20

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. -- James 2:26

These works are to plead the cause of the needy – and not just those whom you deem deserving of help, but enemies as well, and even those taken in the act of adultery. They are not to store up Earthly treasure; nor are they to counsel children to break the Fifth Commandment, which is to honor one's parents - pretty damned hard for a child to do if he is ever at odds with his parents because the after-school club he attends tells him they are infidels or heathens or whatever word those wicked Pied Pipers want to use now.

I recently posted a list, on this very board, of the Biblical qualifications for an elder.

1 Timothy 3:1-7 (King James Version)

1) This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work [ESV].

2) A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

3) Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

4) One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;

5) (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

6) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

7) Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without [ESV]; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Good behavior. Apt to teach (and I somehow doubt this includes screaming like a complete lunatic about how homos are aiming to take over the world). Not a striker. Not greedy. And respected by the community outside his church – by non-believers who, though they do not share his religion, can still recognize his fitness to teach.

That sounds absolutely nothing like the preachers I mentioned here or those Stewart uncovers in her book. And to them, those false teachers, those liars and hypocrites, I have a warning:

Matthew 26:52 (ESV) - Then Jesus said to him, 'Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.'"

If Christianity is ever to have a good report again, it must be as a result of adherents' behavior – how it differs from that of other people; how they share more and are kindlier to strangers and are willing to risk their own skins in thinking well of others.

But that kind of Christianity is being knuckled under and silenced – the meek are being muzzled – by ambitious religious leaders who want to dismantle the social safety net specifically to create the underclass of serfs to which they believe themselves entitled (because the Bible, in having regulated slavery in the ancient Near East, apparently endorsed the practice merely by mentioning it. I guess those guys have never read Philemon.)

Whosoever reads this and is a Christian has been put on notice: We cannot ask others to put down the brutal elements in their own religions if we will not. Meek isn't weak. It's time for strength to flow back into the Social Gospel and away from those who covet earthly power and gain for themselves.

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Thank you Burris. I'm glad you are back. I hope you have a blog, your post needs a world wide web audience.

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Absolutely in agreement.

I was unaware of the scope/reach of Child Evangelism Fellowship. I drive past a large building every day with their name on the marquee and wondered what that was all about.

My parents got a visit from the Sunday School director when I was ten years old and pointed out to the class that Jesus would have stood up for the rights of anyone who wasn't being treated fairly, because he did it over and over in the Bible, as well as going on about God loving all people. That's the week I became a Unitarian Universalist, even though I needed another eight years to find them.

I have no more to add, except a round of applause.

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Burris, thank you for expressing this so well, and for researching it in depth.

This isn't near enough depth, though. I hope to catch them in the act. Counsel genocide? More fucking genocide?! No, assholes. Religion is not an excuse - and the more people who know about this, the less likely that religion can be used as a shield, either.

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I also started reading Katherine Stewart's book after someone mentioned it in the topic about treemom's son having a Bible forced on him! It's riveting - forget horror movies, this is the truly scary stuff. I highly recommend it.

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Thank you, Burris. Didn't know at all about CEF but see I need to read up on it.

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Once again Burris, you prove to be truly awesome. Thanks for posting this. It should be shouted from every mountain top.

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Thank you Burris. All throughout the bible, even in the Old Testament, god instructs his followers not to abandon or mistreat the poor. It is troubling that some of these individuals want to ignore the good that is in their own holy text. Most of them, I think, haven't read the bible at all and are just going by what their pastors and leaders have told them Christianity means.

Saturday Night Live did a skit on DJesus that captured some of the hypermasculinism of some modern evangelicals. Because I don't think most confident men need to be so assured of their manliness, I'm not certain if masculinism is the right term. However, I get the impression that many of them would prefer a kick ass Jesus that solved problems with his fists and told the lazy poor to be grateful to the rich and stop complaining. It is strange but as a nonbeliever, I often think that I like the character of Jesus that is depicted in the bible far better than some of his followers do.

Perhaps one day someone will do a study on the phenomena of modern American evangelical Christianity and how it differs from traditional Christianity or what Jesus actually taught.

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Perhaps one day someone will do a study on the phenomena of modern American evangelical Christianity and how it differs from traditional Christianity or what Jesus actually taught.

Well, I am at least a useful idiot. That study has been done, and so I shall cite it:

Jesus%20vs.%20Jeezus.jpg

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