Monday, August 22, 2016

The Red Hot Preaching Conference: Booze and Botswana

Perennial misogynist and homophobe Steve Anderson, Roger Jimenez, Donnie Romero, and David Berzins came together for the Red Hot Preaching Conference in Sacramento, California on July 28-31. Hosted by Jimenez' Verity Baptist Church, the gathering was meant to be an opportunity to "meet many great men of the faith and potentially go soulwinning with very experienced soulwinners". (Hat tip to No Longer Quivering and Raw Story.)

The conference couldn't have assembled a more hysterical and offensive list of speakers. Anderson, Jimenez, and Romero were in the news this summer for making vicious comments about LGBTQ people in the wake of the Orlando Pulse massacre. Berzins has made homophobic comments of his own, criticizing supposedly weak churches for not standing up to the "homosexual agenda". The gathering's homophobic line-up drew protesters from the Love is Love Movement and Kiss Away Hate, according to ABC 10, KCRA 3, and Fox 40.

Before I focus on the main lineup, I'd like to share some quotes from a man who spoke before Anderson. In this YouTube video, Garrett Kirchway of Faithful Word Baptist Church devoted a short sermon to the evils of alcohol.

"The Bible speaks very strongly against alcohol!" he preached. In rapid fire fashion, Kirchway fired off Bible passages that condemn drunkenness such as Proverbs 20.

Kirchway reminded the audience that he was preparing for a missionary trip to Botswana, where he planned to tackle alcohol consumption. "When you teach, you need to teach against the sins of the land. Alcohol is a big sin in Africa," he claimed. At the 47:58 mark, he told listeners that alcohol consumption is a problem in Botswana because its churches are confused and its Bibles are poorly translated. The answer, Kirchway proposed, was to promote the King James Bible.
"Why is alcohol so popular there? Well first of all, it's in the churches. The reason why it's in the churches is there's a lot of confusion that people see about alcohol. There's a lot of false teachings about alcohol. Also, their Bibles are messed up. Believe it or not, John 2 in many of their versions says that Jesus turned water into alcohol, not water into wine, but water into alcohol. We need to get the King James Version to as many people as we can ... We need to preach hard against sin."
At the 48:52 mark, Kirchway promised to eject Botswanans out of their churches if they didn't stop drinking alcohol.
"I can't guarantee we're going to bring down the alcohol consumption in the country of Botswana, but I can bring it down in our church. When we preach the King James Bible, when we preach hard, if they still don't listen, we'll kick them out of church by 1 Corinthians 5:11. And if the other churches follow suit, maybe the alcohol consumption will come down."
First, this approach to missionary work reeks of the White Man's Burden. Second, alcohol consumption in moderation is not immoral, and certainly no reason to denigrate your African hosts. Third, if Kirchway is truly concerned about alcoholism in Botswana, he should be supporting medical services and mental health care providers in Botswana. Professional services will do far more good for alcoholics than King James Bibles and finger-wagging American preachers. Like so many of his brethren, Kirchway promotes fundamentalism as a cure for social problems, ignoring better solutions.

News Tidbits

Louisville Courier-Journal: Judge dismisses civil suits against Kim Davis

Vancouver Sun: Vancouver Christians collide over televangelist Franklin Graham

Associated Press: Groups press Walgreens on religious restrictions in clinics

Washington Blade: Judge: Religion permits Michigan funeral home to engage in anti-trans bias

Gay Star News: Canada: Homophobic zombies at Toronto Pride sued for $104 million

Pink News: Australia: Being ‘transgender is like anorexia’, claim conservative lobby group

Commentary Tidbits

Damned Interesting: 4 times The Gospel Coalition outdid itself for bigotry

Against the Greater Light: The C Word

Shakesville: Behold Your Roosting Chickens

Washington Post: The Breitbart alt-right just took over the GOP

The New Civil Rights Movement: Founder of Two of America's Most Damaging and Dangerous Anti-Gay Groups Endorses Trump

The Atlantic: Donald Trump Isn't Relying on Faith Alone

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Hillary Clinton in League with Infernal Forces, Say Some Religious Right Figures

Many Religious Right figures have supported Donald Trump's candidacy and attacked Hillary Clinton's candidacy. Some have done so by arguing that a woman is unfit to be president. Others are doing so by claiming Clinton is knowingly or unknowingly in league with infernal forces. Who can forget Ben Carson's speech at the Republican National Convention, during which he linked Hillary Clinton, Saul Alinsky, and Lucifer? Now, several Religious Right commentators have linked Clinton with Satan and the Antichrist, pandering to the fear and superstition of their audience.

This tactic is nothing new. Fundamentalists have repeatedly claimed that President Obama is the Antichrist, or that he is at least playing a sinister role in Biblical prophesy. The claims began during his run for the 2008 presidential election and have continued ever since. Desperate to unite their followers against Clinton, fundamentalists have started making the same claims about her.

First, Trump supporter and New Apostolic Reformation preacher Lance Wallnau lionized Trump as a "wrecking ball to the spirit of political correctness" during a recent podcast. During the August 17th edition of the Strang Report on Charisma Podcast Network, Wallnau gave a political talk dripping with Seven Mountains Dominionism. He argued that Trump could help the Religious Right gain control of social institutions that are supposedly controlled by Satan.

After reminding listeners about the next president's power to appoint Supreme Court justices, Wallnau spoke of Hillary Clinton and the devil in the same breath. At the 11:14 mark, he claimed that a Clinton victory would play into Satan's "end game" and help him consolidate his control of society. (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)
"If Hillary Clinton has the power in this culture to promote radicals to the Supreme Court, that process of redefining the meaning of words I can almost guarantee is going to continue to extend itself right on down to the free speech of Christians to be able to speak biblical truth. That’s the end game the devil’s at. And so, I’m talking to Christians now, we must understand -- Satan wants to wrap up his institutional control of high places in government, media, arts, academia, and business is about to come under assault with Hillary Clinton. And the end game will be a redefinition. The ultimate redefining will be what America is, and it’s going to happen in her administration and it’s going to affect our children. For forty years they’re going to have to live with it."
Radio host Bryan Fischer, who opposes a Clinton presidency on account of her gender, has linked Clinton with the Antichrist. During the August 15th edition of Focal Point, Fischer claimed that Hillary Clinton was animated by an "Antichrist impulse". At the 34:47 mark of the second hour, he said the following. (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)
"Hillary Clinton is not a friend of religious liberty. In fact, she is hostile to religious liberty. She's an enemy of religious liberty. There's a profound anti-Christian impulse in Hillary Clinton. I would go so far as to call it an Antichrist impulse. The same spirit that will one day animate the Antichrist is the same spirit that is at work in Hillary Clinton. She opposes Christ. She opposes biblical Christianity. She's hostile to it. She seeks to repress it. She seeks to punish it, and she seeks to stifle it. That is the spirit of the Antichrist and it is at work in Hillary Clinton."
After blasting Hillary Clinton for allegedly siding with the "homosexual agenda" over religious liberty, Fischer repeated his accusation at the 43:10 mark.
"Hillary Clinton is motivated by the spirit of the Antichrist because she is against Christ. She's against Christianity. She is against the free exercise of the Christian faith. She doesn't want the Christian faith to be a part of the public square, to influence public policy in any way. She's against everything that Christianity stands for. She is for same-sex marriage. She is for the promotion of homosexuality. She is against the sanctity of human life. She is against religious liberty."
Anti-abortion activist Alveda King also linked Clinton with the Antichrist. During the August 12th edition of The Jim Bakker Show, King accused Hillary Clinton of asking Americans to abandon their religious beliefs, thereby ushering in the Antichrist. At the 3:02 mark, in the midst of a disjointed diatribe against ISIS, Margaret Sanger, and Planned Parenthood, King had this to say. (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)
"Mrs. Hillary Clinton .. said basically Christians and religious people in America need to set aside their religious beliefs and serve secular humanism, and in that point she was saying abortion or the thing with ISIS ... and she really has said we're going to have to learn in America to set aside our religious beliefs ... What's she's really saying is usher in the Antichrist."
Jim Bakker also hosted Don Colbert of the Divine Health Wellness Center on his show, who accused Hillary Clinton of acting under the aegis of the Antichrist. During the June 9th edition of The Jim Bakker Show, Colbert claimed that the "spirit of Antichrist" rested on Hillary Clinton at the 35:00 mark. Colbert's comments followed a pro-Trump segment in which a retired firefighter prophesied that God had chosen Trump to restore America, as well as something about horse races. (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)

"That spirit of Antichrist is majorly on one of these candidates, and that’s Hillary Clinton, and Jesus even said there will be many Antichrists in the world. Well, that spirit of Antichrist is on our president right now. And so, as Christians, we have got to turn out and vote. If we don’t turn out and vote, we are electing Hillary Clinton."
After Colbert's comment, Bakker warned listeners against hatred and venom in politics, oblivious to his hypocrisy.
"As I have been speaking to a lot of leaders that know history, really know what's going on, they're saying there is such hatred, there is such venom that they said that--be careful. Pray the power and the blood of Christ over all your leaders, because there will be people falling dead if we're not careful. The hatred right now, and the lust for power--you don't understand how deep this power thing goes."
Literally demonizing a political candidate is a cheap, dirty tactic. Are these Religious Right figures knowingly manipulating their listeners with dire warnings about Satan and the Antichrist? Or do they actually believe their own propaganda as they grow more paranoid about the End Times?

Either way, these tactics may inflame the fears of a small segment of the population, but they will not work with the larger populace. If these fundamentalists are resorting to devils and boogeymen in their fight against Clinton, they're scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Friday, August 19, 2016

News Tidbits

Salt Lake Tribune: Students: BYU Honor Code leaves LGBT victims of sexual assault vulnerable and alone

The Guardian: 'I'm not a Mormon': fresh 'mass resignation’ over anti-LGBT beliefs

Newsweek: Russian Orthodox Archpriest Opposes Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

Irish Independent: Story of Noah's Ark is proof that climate change does not exist, says Irish TD Danny Healy-Rae

Religion News Service: Doctors at Catholic hospitals may be unable to refer women for services

LGBTQ Nation: NYC Catholic school sidesteps blame for bullied teen’s suicide

Talking Points Memo: Trump Dumps All Over U.S. Intel Community: 'I Won't Use Them'

Associated Press: Pope outlines vision for promoting life, family issues

Commentary Tidbits

Governing: Is Abstinence-Only Sex Ed on the Rise? 

Tell Me Why the World is Weird: All of the LOLs for this Sermon on "Marrying Young"

Political Research Associates: Dominionism Rising: A Theocratic Movement Hiding in Plain Sight

Alternet: Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson Is the Star of Bizarre New Extreme Right-Wing Movie Featuring Horrific ISIS Murders 

CNN: Three arguments against covert Christian 'spycraft'

Washington Post: Trump’s pitch to Mormons falls flat

Friendly Atheist: Christian Bigot Who Wants Gay People Cured Condemns Christian Bigot Who Wants Gay People Dead

Chicago Reader: Illinois pastors don’t deserve exemption from conversion therapy ban

The Advocate: National Intervention Needed to End Conversion Therapy

The Advocate: Understanding Anita Bryant, the Woman Who Declared War on Gays

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Cartoon Wisdom

Here are some words of wisdom from my favorite cartoon, Steven Universe.
"You're supposed to change! You're never the same, even moment to moment! You're allowed and expected to invent who you are. What an incredible power, the ability to grow up."
If you've spent time in a restrictive fundamentalist subculture, remember Rose's words. Your path in life need not be defined by others. You are free to pave your own path in life. You are free to discover for yourself who you really are. The freedom to define ourselves is precious and beautiful.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Trump and Rubio Consort with Homophobes Before Anniversary of Pulse Massacre, Part II

As discussed in a prior post, Sen. Marco Rubio and Donald Trump both addressed right-wing audiences in Orlando. On August 11th, Trump spoke before an audience of clergy members and their spouses at the Pastors and Pews gathering in Orlando, according to Bloomberg. The event was sponsored by the American Renewal Project, whose founder, David Lane, opposes LGBTQ equality. To add insult to injury for the LGBTQ community the gathering took place shortly before the two-month anniversary of the Orlando Pulse massacre.

C-SPAN posted a video of Trump's speech. At the podium, Trump avoided talk about LGBTQ issues, focusing instead on naked pandering to his conservative evangelical audience. Trump told his listeners that they had been silenced by the Johnson amendment, assuring them that he would repeal the amendment if elected president. Feeding his audience's sense of imagined persecution, Trump promised to address that supposed persecution by weakening church-state separation.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee introduced Trump. At the 2:03 mark, Huckabee assured his audience that Trump had Christian credentials.
"I'm also aware that a lot of my fellow believers and evangelicals sometimes say, 'Is Donald Trump, like, one of us?' Well, let me try to be as blunt as I can be. He may not sit in the front of a church like yours every Sunday. He may not be as expressive or as loud about his own faith or convictions about things like being pro-life, which he is, and if he wasn't, I wouldn't be standing here today. But folks, some people will eat their soup a little louder than others. It doesn't mean that the soup tastes better."
Trump took his place at the podium and spent the next forty minutes reinforcing his audience's imagined persecution complex with phrases such as, "Without religious liberty, you don't have liberty" and "You've been silenced, like a child has been silenced". He called Christian clergy "the most powerful lobby there is, and yet you've been totally silenced," referring to the Johnson amendment that prevents tax-exempt entities such as churches from endorsing political candidates. "It's Lyndon Johnson wanting to silence people that didn't feel so good about him, in particular one church," he said of the policy.

At the 14:01 mark, Trump shared a story in which he was stunned that religious leaders couldn't endorse him because of church-state separation, having been ignorant of the Johnson amendment.

"So I'm in the room with many of the pastors and some ministers, and they're going like, 'Well, we can't really do that.' I said, 'Why? Why can't you do that? I don't understand. I know you like me. Why aren't you endorsing me?' "Well, we just can't' ... These were strong men ... and women ... It wasn't that they didn't want to tell me. It's almost like they got used to this thing around their neck and eyes, and it's almost like they couldn't see ... After a lot of prodding, they said, 'Well, we don't want to lose our tax-exempt status." I said, 'What does that have to do with your tax-exempt status?', not knowing. And it basically has to do with the 501(c)(3) status that they can't get involved from the standpoint of essentially freedom of speech. So you have these powerful people with a great voice. You know that Christianity...has had a very, very tough time."
At the 34:43 mark, Trump pressed his listeners to make voters out of their congregants at all costs.
"You have to get your congregations and you have to get parishioners, you have to get all of your people to go out and vote. You got to get them to sign those cards early. In many cases, you can vote before November 8th. This way, there's no excuses. I joke a lot, and I say if you're sick, if you've just got the worst prognosis that a doctor can give you, if you're lying in bed and you just know you're not going to make it, you have to get up on November 8th and you have to vote."
Considering how disappointing Trump's poll numbers look, it's no wonder that he's begging for every vote he can get.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Bloomberg: Trump Goes Traditional With Florida Meeting of Evangelical Leaders

Right Wing Watch: Donald Trump: Vote For Me To Help Me Get Into Heaven

Mother Jones: Trump Addresses Conference Hosted by a Group Whose Leader Called Homosexuality a Marxist Plot