Tuesday, January 31, 2012

News Tidbits

New York Times: Ruling on Contraception Draws Battle Lines at Catholic Colleges

New York Times: Lt. General William Boykin Withdraws from West Point Talk

Miami Herald: Judge denies effort to block Colorado abortion protester

Washington Post: Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims blast Rick Santorum on ‘equality’ comment

Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Foes of marriage amendment raise $1.2 million

Pink Paper: What happened when we infiltrated last week's gay conversion meeting in London

Pink News: Ex-Archbishop of Canterbury backs ‘gay cure’ therapist

Commentary Tidbits

Freedom from Religion Foundation: Pennsylvania Bible Resolution Is "Sinfully' Unconstitutional

Whatever Works: Still Believe in the Heritage Foundation?

The Rantings of a Gothic Atheist: Mark Driscoll's Seven Sex Essentials from the Bible

St. Louis Beacon: Darwin vs. Design

Concord Monitor: The Darwin connection: Anti-evolution bills put my health at risk

Metro Weekly: Baltimore's Catholic head uses atrocious "blacks vs. gays" argument against marriage rights

Media Matters: Fox Breathlessly Attempts To Smear Obama As Anti-Catholic

SPLC Hatewatch: WND Promotes Anti-Abortion Film for Black History Month

Friday at the 2012 Creating Change Conference

Pro-LGBT clergy stoles on display at the
National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change
On Friday, January 27th, I volunteered at the 2012 National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change in Baltimore, MD. Hosted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the conference draws thousands of attendees from across the country each year to explore LGBT issues. The 2012 Creating Change Conference sported several high-profile speakers, such as Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, NAACP president Benjamin Jealous, and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force executive director Rea Carey.

The Hilton Baltimore was brimming with a sea of LGBT people and allies, young and old, racially diverse, and religiously varied. In one wing of the hotel, the Practice Spirit, Do Justice initiative hung rows of pro-LGBT clergy stoles to demonstrate how members of the faith community support LGBT rights. One room was designated as an art lounge, where visitors could draw, paint, or contribute to a collective art piece stretched across a table. Hospitality lounges devoted to youth, health, and other topics offered relaxation and refreshments.

Collaborative art piece in
the art lounge
The exhibitor hall was lined with tables from dozens of organizations such as Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Truth Wins Out, NARAL, and Out at Work. The presence of faith groups such as Lutherans Concerned and Bangor Theological Seminary were a reminder that affirming Christians support the LGBT community. Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse oversaw a table loaded with books for sale on gender, sexuality, and LGBT issues.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the workshop schedule offered several sessions on Religious Right issues, which is what drew me to the conference. In exchange for several hours of volunteer work, I received free admission into the Friday workshops. I'd like to focus on two particular workshops on liberating responses to religious homophobia.

Monday, January 30, 2012

"No, I won't take the Viking sword out of my head."

Remember when former senator Rick Santorum said that rape victims who become pregnant should welcome the pregnancy as a "gift from God"? The Second City Network takes him to task with this video.

(Hat tip to Truth Wins Out)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The 2012 March for Life, Part II

(To return to part I, click here.)

On Monday, January 23rd, the annual March for Life took place on the National Mall in Washington D.C. to mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. C-SPAN posted a video of the March for Life rally, which can be viewed here. The March for Life rally featured speeches by political leaders and representatives from anti-abortion organizations such as Priests for Life, the National Black Pro-Life Coalition, and Silent No More. For your edification, I've featured some of the most striking speech quotes below.

Following a speech by Speaker of the House John Boehner, Rep. Chris Smith (R-New Jersey), co-chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus, took to the podium with his wife. Referring to the anti-abortion movement as the "greatest human rights movement on earth," Rep. Smith claimed that the House overwhelmingly approved H.R. 3 (the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act) and the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Rep. Smith delivered a scathing polemic against President Obama, whom he called the "abortion industry's enabler-in-chief." At the 52:45 mark, he insisted that abortion was incompatible with American values.
"Mr. President, the violent destruction of children in the womb, killing babies, is not an American value. Mr. President, stop violating conscience rights. Stop violating religious freedom. That is not an American value. Abortion is not, never will be an American value. And stop exporting abortion to the four corners of the Earth."
At the 53:19 mark, Rep. Smith demonized President Obama for his alleged "abortion extremism," which he claimed will be even more strident in President Obama's second term.
"The past three years, my friends, of abortion extremism by President Obama is a mere foretaste, a mere foreshadowing of what will be if he is reelected. Mr. Obama's abortion extremism will significantly worsen in a second term. Given four more years, Obama will pack the courts and will--especially the U.S. Supreme Court, with litmus-tested pro-abortion judges. Unfettered by any concern of a future election, Mr. Obama will aggressively use the coercive power of the state to compel abortion conformity."
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin, 5th District), criticized the Obama Administration's recent decision to require all employers to provide contraception coverage in employee health insurance (see here). At the 1:03:14 mark, he had this to say.
"One of the principles upon which our country was founded is freedom. Last Friday the Obama administration took away a freedom by going against conscience protection, and what this means is that people who are health care professionals or people who work in religious-sponsored hospitals will have a choice. The choice is their faith or their job. That's not freedom. That has to be reversed."
Similarly, Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio, 2nd District) framed the contraception coverage mandate as an attack on religious freedom. The fact that anti-abortion voices not only resented a government mandate to provide contraception coverage, but aired this resentment at an anti-abortion event, revealed much about their agenda. The impact this would have on women's freedom to have affordable contraception and control their reproductive lives was not considered. At the 1:14:04 mark, Rep. Schmidt echoed Rep. Sensenbrenner's rhetoric.
"I'm here to challenge you to help me make sure that we are and continue to be the greatest nation in the world, a nation under God and God's plan for us ... This administration attacked one of the basic cores of what makes America great. Not only has our right to life been under continuous attack for the last 39 years, but now our right to be the kind of person we want to be, the right to liberty ... By removing the conscience clause, this administration is now forcing us to choose between our  right to be the kind of person we want to be, to have religious expression, and a job."
The March for Life rally illustrated the threads connecting anti-abortion and anti-euthanasia activists. Before introducing Bobby Schindler (brother of the late Terri Schiavo) Brother Paul O'Donnell argued that abortion was a slippery slope toward euthanasia. At the 1:46:56 mark, he told the audience that, "we need to remember that euthanasia follows abortion, just as night will follow this day."

Pastor Luke Robinson of the Quinn Chapel AME Church in Frederick, MD delivered the final rally speech. At the 1:51:10 mark, he described Roe v. Wade in nightmarish language.
"We are here because injustice is here. Thirty-nine years ago, our Supreme Court decided to legally kill children in America. Thirty-nine years ago, America bought into the lie that it could not determine when human life began ... These supreme ones were not wise enough to determine the beginning of human life, and thus plunged this nation into a bloody sea of human death with the murder of over 52 million innocent children, pre-born children! This mess must stop!"
Old abortion myths die hard, such as the myth that abortion increases women's risk of breast cancer. At the 1:51:58 mark, Pastor Robinson repeated this claim, failing to consider medical research to the contrary. In 2003, the National Cancer Institute convened a gathering of over 100 global experts on pregnancy and breast cancer risk, which concluded that abortion does not increase a woman's risk of breast cancer (see here). He also depicted abortion as a horrific site of violence against women, but did not provide examples.
"Studies have shown that abortion has tremendously increased breast cancer among women since the fatal decision handed down in Roe v. Wade. Additionally, women have been sterilized, raped, found dead on the abortion table. This mess must change!"
At the 1:56:39 mark, Pastor Robinson framed abortion as a blow to the African-American community, raging against African-American leaders who refused to condemn abortion.
"Last year it was reported that the African-American community of New York was being devastated by abortion. The report was that 60% of all the impregnations of New York City in the African-American community ended in the death of the children. That meant that out of every 100 impregnations, 60 children died and 40 lived ... It is a tragedy in America. It is a tragedy in the African American community. It's genocidal. It is the destruction of a people. Where is the voice of President Obama? Where is the voice of Jesse Jackson? Where is the voice of Al Sharpton? Where is the voice of the Black Congressional Caucus? Where is the voice of the great Democratic party? ... Could it be, could it possibly be that the billion dollar abortion business has bought them out?"
Echoing the anti-Obama rhetoric of other speakers, Robinson urged listeners to take America back on election day from "the princes of darkness and the culture of death." He concluded his speech with glorification of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, begging God to open others' eyes.

After a musical performance of "God Bless America," the crowd left the National Mall to march to the Supreme Court, a sea of thousands peppered with umbrellas, banners, and signs.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

In conclusion, the conservative Christian flavor of several 2012 March for Life's speeches was noticeable, and the anti-abortion rhetoric was familiar enough. Speakers framed reproductive rights as an affront to religious freedom, painted abortion as a racial injustice, and spoke of contraception coverage, abortion, and euthanasia in the same disapproving breath. Equally glaring was the topics that were absent from the discussion: preventing unwanted pregnancy and exploring why women seek abortions. In their haste to demonize Planned Parenthood and contraception safeguards, speakers failed to reflect on the public health crisis that would result if either disappeared. In short, speakers at the 2012 March for Life vented their fury toward abortion without exploring its roots and complexities.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

News Tidbits

Los Angeles Times: Oklahoma Lawmaker Wants to Ban Fetuses in Food

Sacramento Bee: Romney's tithing raises the issue among Christian churches

Pennlive: Bishop of Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg draws anger with Hitler comment

Ms. Magazine: Perp Walk for the Pope

American Independent: Michigan schools asked to cancel appearance of alleged ex-terrorist Kamal Saleem

New York Times: In Police Training, a Dark Film on U.S. Muslims

Xtra: Vancouver School Board censures Denike and Woo

Washington Post: Poll: Preachy politicians turn off many voters

Albany Times-Union: Gay rights activist opposes lawyer's hiring

All Africa: Ugandan Anti-Gay Bill Doesn't Make Sense, Mbeki Says

All Africa: Ugandan Clerics Told Not to Wed Homosexual Couples

Commentary Tidbits

Truth Wins Out: Newt Gingrich, Self-Victimization, and the Politics of Personal Responsibility

The Grio: Rick Santorum's controversial ally: Black preacher with history of extreme rhetoric

Your Black World: Eddie Long’s Little Boys Keep Speaking Out

Tom the Dancing Bug: Sex-Act Morality Flow Chart

Salon: The right’s latest target: Girl Scout cookies

Media Matters: Fox's Napolitano Compares Roe v. Wade To "The Philosophical Argument Underlying The Holocaust"

Jewish Press: Surviving Bullying, Silencing And Torment For Being Gay In The Frum Community

The Christian Left Blog: The Enemies Within: The 20 Most Dangerous Conservatives and Their Organizations
(Hat Tip to A Feather Afrift)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The 2012 March for Life, Part I

On Monday, January 23rd, the annual March for Life took place on the National Mall in Washington D.C. to mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I observed the March for Life in person in 2011 (see here and here), although the Gilead budget prevented me from doing the same this year. C-SPAN posted a video of the March for Life rally, which can be viewed here.

On stage, gospel group Sounds of Liberty crooned to the rally's massive crowd, which was dotted with signs celebrating the sanctity of life and urging the defunding of Planned Parenthood. A joint opening prayer between Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox religious leaders featured Metropolitan Jonah, primate of the Orthodox Church. In his benediction, Metropolitan Jonah spoke of abortion as something cloaked in "despair and hopelessness" at the 29.37 mark.
"Remember not our negligence and sin. Remember not our failure to be doers of the word, and not hearers only. Remember not our hypocrisy, external zeal matched only with practical inaction to assist those who fall prey to the despair and hopelessness of abortion."
After the opening prayer, March for Life president Nellie Gray addressed the crowd, asserting that the right to life as understood by the anti-abortion movement is embedded in America's founding documents. At the 34:47 mark, she had this to say.
"We want to make certain that we remind our officials that this is not something unusual for America. Our founding documents put in them the right to life endowed by our creator, so that we understand that from the beginning, America was indeed a land understanding a right to life for each human being."
At the beginning of her speech, Gray insisted that anti-abortion activists "love the abortionists that we're trying to show and educate that they should not be active in the intentional killing of thousands and thousands of innocent preborn children." However, she later condemned abortion providers at the 35:21 mark, accusing them of deceiving the world so as to strengthen their "industry."
"There's an abortion industry in our country. This industry has begun to build itself, and how does that happen? It begins with their language. They want to deceive the world that what they are doing in the  intentional killing of the innocent preborn children is something that is a right, it's a choice. And so with language they have developed unfortunately a killing industry for our country."
Following Gray, speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) spoke at the podium. Speaker Boehner, well-known for his anti-abortion stance, spoke of the bipartisan anti-abortion lawmakers in the House of Representatives, who are "working to restore the damage with regard to Roe." At the 49:01 mark, Boehner assured listeners that, "I've never considered being pro-life a label or a political position. It's just who I am. And it's not just that I am pro-life, it's that we as a people are pro-life."

In short, the March for Life started with familiar rhetoric against abortion, painting abortion in hopeless colors, caricaturing abortion providers as ominous deceivers, and justifying anti-abortion activism through references to America's foundational documents. The complexities of abortion, including the causes of unwanted pregnancy and the consequences if it were no longer available, were not the focus of discussion, sadly.

To read part II, click here.

To learn more about the March for Life, visit www[dot]marchforlife[dot]org/. For additional news and commentary, visit the following links.

USA Today: Thousands March on Washington to Protest Roe

Los Angeles Times: John Boehner Touts Antiabortion Efforts at March for Life

RH Reality Check: If They Called It the "March for Forced Motherhood and Female Enslavement," Then Would You Protest?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Occupy Faith DC to Host the People's Prayer Breakfast

Occupy Faith DC will be hosting the People's Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, February 2nd at 7:30 a.m. at the Church of the Pilgrims in Washington D.C. According to its website, the People's Prayer Breakfast is intended to show solidarity with those who suffer economic inequality and hardship. The message of the gathering, meant for corporate interests, political leaders, and Americans in general, is that "there is enough for everyone." Occupy Faith DC, an interfaith coalition supporting the Occupy movement in the capital region, welcomes attendees and donations for the event.

The People's Prayer Breakfast was created as an alternative to the annual National Prayer Breakfast, an elite gathering of faith, business, and political leaders sponsored by a conservative Christian group called the Fellowship (a.k.a. The Family). First established in 1953, the National Prayer Breakfast has counted U.S. presidents and world leaders as its attendees. Jeff Sharlet described the history and content of the National Prayer Breakfast in his 2008 book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. The People's Prayer Breakfast website acknowledges that good things have come out of the National Prayer Breakfast, but that new institutions are needed that speak to the faith of the grassroots rather than the elite.

Hat tip to Huffington Post. For more information or to register for the People's Prayer Breakfast, click here.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

News Tidbits

San Francisco Chronicle: Feds grant 1-year extension on birth control rule

Edge Boston: Pope Hits Out at ’Radical Secularism’ 

The Advocate: Washington Catholic Bishops: Marriage Equality Would Undermine Families

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Corbett's officials' departure initiates questions

ABC News: Mitt Romney Sent Millions to Mormon Church 

The Hill: Santorum endorser Huey Mills attacks Romney on Mormonism, homosexuality

Pink Paper: Amsterdam's Chief Rabbi suspended over gay-cure endorsement

American Independent: Anti-abortion group launches database of abortion providers

American Independent: Florida senator defends resolution honoring anti-abortion pregnancy centers

Commentary Tidbits

Pharyngula: A little comparative religion would do Ken Ham a world of good

New York Times: Moralizing’s High Cost

Cognitive Discopants: Driscoll & Brierley on Women in Leadership

God's Own Party: School Vouchers = Federal Funding of Christian Schools

New York Times: For God So Loved the 1 Percent...

The Daily Beast: Evangelicals in an Uproar Over Rick Santorum Endorsement

al-Arabiya: Tim Tebow, an Evangelical Candidate’s Secret Weapon

Salon: The Joy of Judgmental Christian Sex

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Newt Gingrich on Marriage

(Click here if you're having trouble viewing the video. Hat tip to Freak Out Nation.)

In a recent interview with ABC News, Newt Gingrich's ex-wife Marianne Gingrich alleged that he wanted an "open marriage" so that he could continue to have an affair. With Gingrich in the spotlight after these allegations and his recent win in the South Carolina primary, let's look back on what he has to say about marriage. This thrice-married man has a lot to say about the sanctity of marriage and the illegitimacy of same-sex marriage!

On January 7, 2012, Newt Gingrich had this to say about same-sex marriage during the ABC/WMUR Presidential Debate in Manchester, New Hampshire.
"We want to make it possible to have those things that are most intimately human between friend occur. For example, you're in a hospital. If there are visitation hours, should you be allowed to stay? There ought to be ways to designate that. You want to have somebody in your will. There ought to be ways to designate that. But it is a huge jump from being understanding and considerate and concerned, which we should be, to saying we're therefore going to institute the sacrament of marriage as though it has no basis. The sacrament of marriage was based on a man and a woman, has been for three-thousand years, is at the core of our civilization, and it's something worth protecting and upholding. And I think protecting and upholding that doesn't mean you have to go out and make life miserable for others, but it does mean you make a distinction between a historic sacrament of enormous importance in our civilization, and simply deciding it applies everywhere and it's just a civil right. It's not. It is a part of how we define ourselves, and I think that a marriage between a man and a woman is part of that definition."
In September 2011, Gingrich had this to say about marriage in Fort Dodge, Iowa, according to ABC News.
“I believe that marriage is between a man and woman. It has been for all of recorded history and I think [same-sex marriage] is a temporary aberration that will dissipate. I think that it is just fundamentally goes against everything we know.”
In a December 2011 letter to the Family Leader, Gingrich pledged to support legislation against same-sex marriage, as well as personal fidelity to his spouse. (See www[dot]thefamilyleader[dot]com/former-speaker-newt-gingrich-provides-written-response-to-the-family-leaders-marriage-pledge)

"I will support sending a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the states for ratification. I will also oppose any judicial, bureaucratic, or legislative effort to define marriage in any manner other than as between one man and one woman ... I also pledge to uphold the institution of marriage through personal fidelity to my spouse and respect for the marital bonds of others."
Need a chuckle after all this political talk? I do. On November 19, 2011, Gingrich made this comment about values at the Thanksgiving Family Forum in Des Moines, Iowa.

"I don't think liberty means libertine. I don't think liberty means absence of values. None of the Founding Fathers thought liberty meant that."
Forgive me if this rhetoric strikes me as hollow at this point. Whether or not Marianne Gingrich's allegations are true, I remain unmoved by Newt Gingrich's rhetoric about the sanctity of heterosexual marriage, and offended by his dismissal of same-sex marriage. People need to exhibit values before they criticize the values of others.

For additional commentary, visit the following links.

A Feather Adrift: How Many Feet Can You Fit in One Mouth?

Snoring Dog Studio: Hypocrisy and Self-Righteous Indignation Don’t Mix, Newt

Talk to Action: Eight Reasons Newt Gingrich is Emerging as the Religious Right's Anybody-but-Mitt Candidate

The New Yorker: Newt and His Wives

CNN: Why Gingrich 'open marriage' allegation may not scare off evangelicals

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Commentary Tidbits: Anti-Gay Protest at SPLC Edition

On January 17th, Hatewatch reported that several anti-gay activists protested outside of the Southern Poverty Law Center headquarters in Montgomery, Alabama. The protest, organized by Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH), condemned the Southern Poverty Law Center for categorizing anti-LGBT faith organizations as hate groups. According to Hatewatch, participating organizations included Abiding Truth Ministries, the Illinois Family Institute, and Mass Resistance, and scheduled speakers included Liberty Counsel's Matt Barber and Linda Harvey of Mission America.

Several LGBT and progressive blogs commented on the gathering, and for your reading pleasure, I've included links to their commentary below.

Right Wing Watch: While Protesting Southern Poverty Law Center, AFTAH Proves Why It's A 'Hate Group'

Truth Wins Out: Porno Pete Goes To SPLC For Whining Purposes, Brings Friends

Box Turtle Bulletin: Yes, Hate Groups Have African Americans Too

LGBTQ Nation: Anti-gay hate groups protest SPLC for calling them anti-gay hate groups

The New Civil Rights Movement: Anti-Gay Hate Groups Protest SPLC, Mislead About Why They're Labeled Hate Groups

Def Shepherd: Hate Groups Rally Outside Southern Poverty Law Center To Protest Being Labeled As Hate Groups

Joe. My. God: Photo of the Day: SPLC Protest

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Day of Purity and So-Called "Experimentation"

The Day of Purity, a project of the Liberty Counsel, will take place this year on Valentine's Day. Supported by Christian churches and pro-abstinence groups, the Day of Purity celebrates "sexual purity" among young people. Christian purity culture is problematic, but there is another undercurrent here I'd like to discuss.

While the Day of Purity website uses the usual strategies to encourage abstinence before marriage, such as warnings about STDs and teen pregnancy, it goes beyond a pro-abstinence message. Several elements of the website suggest that this is not just a pro-abstinence campaign, but an anti-LGBT campaign as well. For instance, the website accuses modern culture of encouraging young people to become sexually active at young ages and to "experiment with sexual preferences." The Day of Purity symbol -- intertwined male and female glyphs -- and website's admonishment to youth to be "politically incorrect" strengthened my suspicion that an anti-LGBT undercurrent was present.

The Day of Purity website claims that there is a "concerted effort" in the media and schools to lure young people away from "traditional values." In the "About" section, the site casts "experimentation" with partners of the same sex in an extremely negative light. The alleged push to "experiment" with members of the same sex has led to the "bisexual chic" fad, it insists, in which girls declare themselves bisexual to be "cool." This is breathtakingly condescending not only to bisexuals, but to all LGBT youth whose sexual orientation has been trivialized as "experimentation." The "About" section disapprovingly shared quotes from two pro-LGBT organizations, GLSEN and PFLAG.

What the website fails to address is why so many LGBT youth are experiencing bullying and discrimination if so-called "sexual experimentation" is all the rage. If attraction to members of the same sex were seen as "cool," why does widespread homophobia create so much misery for LGBT youth? According to GLSEN's 2009 National School Climate Survey, 61.1% of respondents felt unsafe at school, 84.6% have been verbally harassed at school, 40.1% were physically harassed at school, and 18.8% were physically assaulted at school because of their sexual orientation. A third of students who reported such incidents indicated that the school staff did nothing in response. In another study of 7,376 students, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning youth were more likely to report high levels of bulling and homophobic victimization than heterosexual youth. The reality for today's youth bears little resemblance to the sexually freewheeling caricature promoted by the Day of Purity website.

If the Day of Purity wants to discourage sexual activity among teens, that's their right, but to do so through homophobic means is uncalled for. There are plenty of ways to help young people prevent STDs, pregnancy, and early sexual activity without mocking LGBT youth.

To learn more about the Day of Purity, click here. The project also has a UK website here.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Right Wing Watch: A $370K Bonus for Saving Yourself for Marriage?

Commentary Tidbits

Slate: Evangelical Super-Group Endorses Rick Santorum

Box Turtle Bulletin: The Coronation of Pope Rick Marred by Dissent

Towleroad: Focus on the Family's Appeal to NFL Fans

Pandagon: I Get Letters

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lance Wallnau on Occupy Wall Street

(Click here if you're having trouble viewing the video.)

The Occupy Movement is still active, even if mainstream media coverage has declined. Blogs such as Freak Out Nation have been keeping tabs on the movement, and Religious Right voices are still offering commentary on the Occupiers.

Lance Wallnau, a New Apostolic Reformation preacher and CEO of the Lance Learning Group, mentioned Occupy Wall Street in a recent episode of Prophetic Perspectives. Wallnau and other NAR preachers were at the center of a controversy in 2011 when they were scheduled to speak at Harvard University's Social Transformation Conference (see here and here).

During the January 4th edition of MorningStar TV's Prophetic Perspectives, "Changing Society with the Kingdom of God," Wallnau discussed Seven Mountains theology. Wallnau argued that Occupy Wall Street arose out of frustration with the economic system, which was corrupted by diabolical powers. At the 9:35 mark, he insisted that because the economic system wasn't infused with "kingdom principles regarding fiscal responsibility," the Devil sent his "kings" into the economic world.
"We have focused so exclusively on the mission of getting people saved ... what we've misunderstood is the world system has to have teaching, because the only way you're ever going to see nations made disciples is if we unpack what we've got in these systems. What are these systems? These are the systems that are in chaos right now because they haven't been taught. Right now you've got, depending on when you watch this broadcast, you've got an Occupy Wall Street movement. You know why? Because we didn't occupy Wall Street with kingdom principles regarding fiscal responsibility and discipline. Now we've got people that are frustrated, you know, like Woodstock generation type, next generation people on the streets who are upset because somebody didn't deal with economics, so if you don't deal with economics, guess what? The Devil will send kings into that area who will screw it up."
Wallnau continued, arguing that the Devil would corrupt other spheres of society if believers do not influence them. At the 10:38 mark, he had this to say.
"If you don't deal with the arts and the music and the literature and the songs and the culture that your children are being baptized into, guess what? The Devil will send the influencers into the art world and they'll pervert your kids' thinking. If you don't start to control truth in media and conscience in media, so that there's accountability ... the Devil will send kings who will dominate the information process. If you don't start to get a hold of government responsibility and laws properly framed that have a  Biblical worldview ..."
Wallnau reminded viewers that they must help solve problems instead of point fingers on policy matters. He urged believers to be tactful rather than combative when addressing public officials. "These people that are there, unfortunately they're not only under the influence of darkness, when they meet us, they don't always meet the best of us," he said

Wallnau's talk painted a familiar picture of Seven Mountains theology, one in which Christians must exert control over the spheres of society, lest diabolical powers take control of them. Still, I doubt that many Occupy Wall Street demonstrators would embrace his theory that the Devil's minions scrambled the economic system!

Hat tip to Right Wing Watch. To watch the full episode, click here

Open Letter Frames Same-Sex Marriage as Threat to Religious Freedom

January 11th was the release date of "Marriage and Religious Freedom: Fundamental Goods that Stand or Fall Together," an open letter opposing same-sex marriage. The document has been signed by almost three dozen American religious leaders, mostly conservative Christians, including Salvation Army national commander William A. Roberts, National Association of Evangelicals president Rev. Leith Anderson , LDS presiding bishop H. David Burton, New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, and Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission president Dr. Richard Land.

The letter defines marriage as the union of one man and one women, declaring it to be a universal good and the foundation of all societies. Opposite-sex marriage, it claims, is "bound up" within the human nature of male and female. The letter argues that the "true definition" of marriage must be protected for the well-being of society. Alterations such as same-sex marriage allegedly threaten to interfere with the religious freedom of those who affirm opposite-sex marriage.

The greatest peril posed by same-sex marriage, it insists, is pressure on religious organizations and individuals to treat sexual conduct by same-sex partners as the "moral equivalent" of opposite-sex marital sex. The letter laments that changing the civil definition of marriage to include same-sex unions will compel religious people and organizations to acknowledge same-sex marriages in their occupations and ministries (i.e., schools, hospitals, counseling services). Failure to do so could result in the withdrawal of government funds and other benefits, it suggests. For instance, religious adoption services would be required to place children with same-sex couples, and religious employers would be required to give health benefits to same-sex spouses. The horror!

The letter concludes by urging "those entrusted with the public good" to support legislation that upholds opposite-sex marriage as the only valid form of marriage, and in doing so safeguard religious freedom.

Where do I begin? First, the letter's assertion that the meaning of marriage transcends society and religion is incorrect, as notions of marriage and family differ across cultures and eras. Along these lines, the document's assumption that one particular concept of marriage is a "universal good" is incorrect. To boot, the idea that opposite-sex marriage is inscribed upon human nature ignores people who are LGBT, asexual, or single by choice.

In keeping with common anti-LGBT rhetoric, "Marriage and Religious Freedom" frames equal rights for LGBT couples and religious freedom as mutually exclusive. Discrimination against same-sex married couples by religious institutions is framed as an exercise of religious freedom, not unfair treatment. However, as more Americans, including religious Americans, acknowledge the rights of LGBT people, will "Marriage and Religious Freedom" resonate with the populace?

To read "Marriage and Religious Freedom: Fundamental Goods that Stand or Fall Together," visit manhattandeclaration[dot]org/media/MarriageandReligiousFreedom.aspx. For additional news and commentary, visit the following links.

Washington Post: Religious leaders: Same-sex marriage threatens religious freedom

MyQuest: My Thoughts on Life's Journey: A Critique of MARRIAGE AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: Fundamental Goods that Stand or Fall Together, Parts I, II, and III

Lez Get Real: Religious Leaders Want to Fight Marriage Equality on Religious Liberty

Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters: Faith leaders deliberately mislead about marriage equality

Saturday, January 14, 2012

OneThing 2011: Lou Engle on Dreams, Tornadoes, and Abortion

To read about Mike Bickle's talk at OneThing 2011, click here. To read about Corey Russell's comment on the "unequally yoked," click here.

The International House of Prayer's 2011 OneThing conference took place on December 28-31, 2011 at the Kansas City Convention Center. IHOP has since posted videos and MP3 files of the event at www[dot]ihop[dot]org/onething/. I would be remiss if I did not post on Lou Engle's December 31st talk, which contained familiar messages about dreams, prophesy, and abortion.

The MP3 recording began with Engle praising the Bound 4 Life anti-abortion ministry. Engle insisted that "seed" was being sown that night, and that years from now, audience members would be winning souls and working with orphans and adoption services.

Engle described his Christian anthropology to the audience, claiming that God forms the seat of human emotion and creates humans so that they long for their creator. Quoting Psalm 139:13 -- "you knit me together in my mother's womb" -- he celebrated how God shapes humans just as he shaped Adam in the Genesis creation story. "The womb is God's art studio," Engle said. "It's his secret laboratory where he creates those who bear his very image. You are a piece of artwork, not just a piece of work." Using a metaphor from his Firestorm 2011 talk, Engle told listeners that God wrote a novel about each of their lives, and that God doesn't writing boring novels.

Engle stressed at length the spiritual importance of dreams, which are one medium through which the divine speaks to believers. At the 17:00, he had this to say.
"We trivialize the prophetic. We trivialize our night visions and just say, 'Well, I just had a dream. It was only a dream.' Only a dream!? The Bible says in the last days, your old men will dream dreams and see visions. The language of the last days is revelatory, audible, hearing and seeing, and you say it's just a dream? Many people see the burning bush and don't even go toward it."
Engle described how Brian Kim's dream led to the creation of Bound 4 Life, an anti-abortion ministry in which members demonstrate with red tape over their mouths with "LIFE" written on it. The first such demonstration received media attention in Washington D.C., Engle said, claiming that the media is subject to prophetic ministry at the 27:13 mark.
"What I didn't realize is that the media would fall in love with the image, and they would blast that image all over the world. While standing out there, it was prophesy that was going on. The media was prophesying life, life, life, life. The media comes under the prophetic ministry of the church. The media doesn't have the last word in America. The prophetic praying church has the last word."
Engle spoke of life bands, the anti-abortion wrist bands distributed by Bound 4 Life. He described another man's dream in which a life band sat alongside David's slingshot and Samson's jawbone-bludgeon in Heaven's weapon hall of fame. He spoke at length about miraculous happenings and anti-abortion activism, attributing it to God's influence.

At the 32:27 mark, Engle spoke of sex trafficking in the same breath as abortion, claiming that God wants to make war on "the destruction of women's lives." This is not the first time Engle has suggested a moral equivalency between sex trafficking and reproductive freedom, nor is it the first time that an anti-abortion figure has suggested that abortion harms women.
"I tell you, I believe we are heading into a moment when God wants to make war on sex trafficking. He wants to make war on the abortion of babies and the destruction of women's lives, and a people that are hearing the prophetic voice are not playing games."
Engle claimed that the devastating tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri in 2011 was a sign of God's judgment upon abortion. At the 40:46, he said this.
"The Joplin tornado came last year, three tornadoes in one, rumbling through the land. I said right after that to my friends, 'This is the beginning of God's redemptive judgments for the shedding of innocent blood of the unborn. This is a sign.' God's separating the nation on the issue of abortion, just like he did when the Missouri Compromise. Out of Missouri, again, something's going on."
Engle recited a story he shared at a June 2011 gathering in Kansas City, in which a pastor dreamed that he urged President Obama to end abortion, and the pastor's daughter dreamed about President Lincon and the numerical code 52911 (the date that President Obama visited Joplin). As he has many times before, Engle spoke of racial justice and the ending of abortion in the same breath at the 44:49 mark.

"I believe as Lincoln was a president who presided over a nation that was under the judgment of the shedding of innocent blood because of the blood of the slaves, so too now President Obama is presiding over a nation that is under the judgments of God for the shedding of innocent blood of the unborn. But wouldn't it be like God that a man from Illinois could release an Emancipation Proclamation to let the blacks go free so that a black man could be president to let the unborn go free."

To read additional commentary, visit the following link.

Right Wing Watch: Lou Engle has Prophecy of Looming Natural Disasters and Economic Wreckage Because of Legal Abortion

Friday, January 13, 2012

News Tidbits

El PaĆ­s: Abortion a bigger problem than joblessness, says archbishop

Buzzfeed: Bishop Romney Pressured Single Mother To Give Up Baby, Book Says

American Independent: Priests for Life releases ‘four-pronged attack’ on abortion rights

New York Times: Boys’ School Affiliated With Catholic Group Draws Conservatives in Washington

Sunshine State News: Coalition Demands Hillsborough Schools Cut Off 'Hamas Entity'

Chicago Tribune: Gay marriage a threat to humanity's future: Pope

The Advocate: Osteen: Being Gay’s a Sin, But We Can Go to Heaven

Christian Science Monitor: On the front lines of sexual assault in the military: Army chaplains

Commentary Tidbits

Vanity Fair: The Meaning of Mitt

CBC News: Can Mitt Romney Survive the Rapturous right?    (Thanks Knatolee!)

The New Civil Rights Movement: Unmasked! Anti-LGBT Group Behind Girl Scout Cookie Boycott

Butterflies and Wheels: Stop Ukpabio from Bringing her witch hunting campaign to the US

Wall of Separation: Hypocrisy Alert: Religious Right Likes Prayer In School – Unless It’s By Muslim Students

Dispatches from the Culture Wars: The Planned Parenthood Boogeyman

Women's eNews: Republicans Push Pro-Zygote Extremism Over the Top

Ames Progressive: Iowa! New Hampshire! South Carolina! Santorum! God!

RH Reality Check: Ultra-Conservative Doctrine May Be the Reason for Unreported Sexual Crimes in the Military

Mother Jones: Rick Santorum's Big, Anti-Gay Ally

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Human Trafficking, Violence, and Scripture

In a recent commentary at Religion Dispatches (trigger warning), Sarah Sentilles analyzes misogyny and violence against women in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The film revolves around a serial killer whose sexual assaults and murders of women are based on passages from the Bible, such as Leviticus 21:9. With such violent Biblical passages in mind, Sentilles takes Biblical literalists to task for selectively ignoring the Bible's offensive content.
These bloody verses that insist women be punished with violent death—often for perceived or imagined sexual transgressions—are usually overlooked, downplayed, skipped over, ignored. Most people like to pretend they aren’t really in the text. Especially people who claim to take the Bible literally.
Passages like these should render biblical literalism impossible. Their existence illuminates that literalists always engage in selective literalism, choosing the passages that support the arguments they want to make. And what is the rubric for selective literalism other than convenience and the maintenance of oppressive power relationships? When faced with such verses—or even passages about keeping kosher or not being around women who are menstruating—many a literalist will argue something like “that was then and this is now,” while in the very next breath (I’m talking to you, Rick Santorum, and you, Michele Bachmann) they’ll insist that homosexuality is an abomination or that women should submit to their husbands. Why? Because it’s in the Bible.
Sentilles' review made me reflect on other wrathful Biblical passages about "harlots", as well as the approach of many modern Christians to prostituted women and girls.

I'm heartened by the plethora of Christian groups tacking sex trafficking, offering advocacy and outreach to trafficking victims. Efforts to help trafficking victims and raise awareness should be commended, and I for one am pleased to see Christians joining the fight.*

Still, I'm perplexed by anti-trafficking advocates who hold the Bible as the inerrant word of God, given that the Bible contains many passages demonizing prostituted women. How do Christians reconcile compassion for prostituted women and youth with reverence for a text that repeatedly uses the "harlot" as a symbol of evil and violence against the prostituted woman as a symbol of divine judgment?

  • Leviticus 21:9 commands that a priest's daughter who becomes a prostitute is to be burned to death.
  • In Jeremiah 13:26-27 and Hosea 2:1-13, God's chastisement of his disobedient people is likened to a man sexually humiliating his promiscuous spouse. Similarly, Ezekiel 16:35-41 depicts God and Israel's other "lovers" sexually humiliating and physically brutalizing her.
  • In Revelations 17:3-6, the tormentors of Jesus' followers are symbolized by Babylon the Great, the lavishly dressed "mother of prostitutes" drunk on the blood of God's people. In a scene fit for a snuff film,Revelations 17:16-17describes how the beast and Babylon's lovers sexually humiliate, cannibalize, and burn her.

I commend Christian organizations engaged in solid anti-trafficking work and want to see them thrive. The women and youth they have helped undoubtedly feel the same. Still, I think it would be fruitful to see more Christian voices critique and reject harmful images of prostituted women in scripture. Violence against women is abominable, and it should never be used to symbolize justice or goodness. To boot, it would be interesting to find out what prostituted women and youth think about these passages, and what impact such passages have on their own spirituality and self-esteem.

Healthy spirituality recognizes the fundamental humanity of all people, and recoils when the humanity of others is diminished. Christians (and others) who are involved in anti-trafficking work understand this well, as they labor to affirm the humanity of women and youth coerced into sexual exploitation. To combat human trafficking and affirm the dignity of its victims, there is much we need to do. We need to raise public awareness. We need to demand justice for traffickers and johns. We need to support service providers who provide advocacy and outreach to victims. We need to undermine men's demand for trafficked women and youth, and the patriarchal beliefs that undergird this demand.

Along these lines, we need to recognize the tension between compassion for trafficking victims and a belief in the Bible as inerrant. When fundamentalists dismiss disturbing Old Testament passages as “the old covenant,” it does not erase their misogyny – after all, those passages still indicate that the Biblical God endorsed misogynist ideas in the past. Readers of the Bible need to be critical of scriptural passages that ignore the human dignity of the prostituted women, caricaturing her as the quintessential symbol of idolatry and depravity. We need to reject inerrant interpretations of scripture in favor of nuanced interpretations that recognize patriarchal human influences on the text – and leave room for our common humanity.

For additional commentary, two excellent discussions of violence against women in the Bible are Joan M. Sakalas' "The Whore of Babylon Metaphor: Permission to Erase Evil?" and Renita J. Weem's Battered Love: Marriage, Sex, and Violence in the Hebrew Prophets.

* I am not referring to right-wing voices that use dubious trafficking rhetoric to bludgeon Planned Parenthood. Nor am I referring to those who lump sex trafficking into the same moral category as behaviors they happen to dislike.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Quotes from the ABC/WMUR Presidential Debate in New Hampshire

On Saturday, January 7th, ABC News and WMUR hosted a Republican presidential candidate debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. Participants in the debate included Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, John Huntsman, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Rick Perry, reflecting a GOP presidential race that is slowly thinning out. While the debate probed a range of political issues, including candidate qualifications and foreign policy, it is the candidates' comments on marriage, reproductive issues, and "anti-Christian bigotry" that I will focus on here. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Commentary Tidbits

Politicus USA: Ralph Reed Wants You to Believe Evangelical Vote is a Myth

CNN: Santorum wants to impose 'Judeo-Christian Sharia'

Brilliant at Breakfast: And just how does making women bear children they don't want bring your son back?

Salon: From Texas to Israel, Santorum’s twisted history

Think Progress: Rick Santorum’s Top 10 Most Outrageous Campaign Statements

RH Reality Check: The Burning of an Abortion Clinic on New Years Day and a Call to Action on Abortion Rights

SPLC Hatewatch: Apparent Arson Levels Abortion Clinic Hit Many Times Before

National Center for Science Education: Monitoring Anti-Evolution Bills in New Hampshire

News Tidbits

CNN: Santorum benefits from evangelical surge, but born-again Iowans splinter

CBS News: Why evangelicals coalesced around Rick Santorum

New York Times: Margaret Court Defends Her Views on Gay Marriage

WFSB: Hartford Archdiocese implementing program to help those with same-sex attraction

Pink News: George Michael slams “twisted” prayer for his death

The Advocate: Professor Says Antigay Activist Misused Her Research

Guttmacher Institute: States Enact Record Number of Abortion Restrictions in 2011

American Independent: Archbishop orders Minnesota priests to support or stay silent on anti-gay-marriage amendment

Florida Independent: Police arrest suspect in Pensacola abortion clinic fire

2012 National Conference on LGBT Equality Coming to Baltimore

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force will host the 2012 National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change on January 25-29 in Baltimore, MD. To register or volunteer, visit the conference website.

The conference schedule sports an impressive selection of sessions on advocacy, movement-building, diversity, health, crime, and a range of other issues. Alsothe conference will offer several workshops of interest to observers of the Religious Right.

- Language Matters: Why We Should Stop Saying 'Abomination' and 'Sodomy

- When Anti-Gay Protesters Come To Campus

- Using Peacekeepers to Oppose Spiritual Violence

- Stacking the Deck: Why Conservatives Are Starting to Win in the Courts and What We Can do About It

Finally, the Practice Spirit, Do Justice initiative will offer a plethora of workshops on LGBT issues and faith, including ways to engage in constructive dialogue with Christians.

- Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself: How to Start a Productive dialogue between LGBTQ activists and Evangelical Christians on a College Campus

- Powerful Voices: Leading the Way to the Liberating Jesus

- Auburn Media Toolkit: How to Talk to Conflicted Christians about LGBT issues

- God vs. Gay? The Religious Case for Equality

Monday, January 2, 2012

OneThing 2011: The Unequally Yoked

To read about Mike Bickle's talk at OneThing 2011, click here. To read about Lou Engle's talk, click here.

As mentioned in my previous post, OneThing 2011 took place on December 28-31, 2011 at the Kansas City Convention Center, and IHOP has since posted videos and MP3 files of the event here.

Corey Russell, a member of the IHOP senior leadership team, gave a talk on Wednesday, December 28th entitled "We Are a New Creation in Christ." At the 2:40:40 mark of the video, Russell urged "unequally yoked" listeners to break off friendships and romantic relationships with "unbelievers."
"He says do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. That looks like boyfriend, girlfriend, you're not going to get them saved. Just forget it right now. Quit trying to evangelize them. They're evangelizing you. They're evangelizing you. Their values, their vision, their system, and it's because we haven't touched the power of the living God. Break it. Text them right now, saying 'Sorry buddy, it's over.' [Applause] Do it right now. We're going to text and tweet. Tweet 'em that! 'Sorry Bobby, it's over. I won't even remember your name here in ten years.' Break it. Break it with these friends. I'm telling you right now, break these ties, because God is calling you to himself."
The contempt for non-Christians here is palpable. Russell seems to envision faith as a zero-sum game in which Christians either convert or are converted by the non-Christians around them. The idea that Christians and non-Christians can share common ground and friendship while respecting each other's beliefs is not considered. Such an us-versus-them attitude, including wholesale rejection of "unequally yoked" friends and lovers, is a recipe for insularity among fundamentalist Christians. Sadly, that's the whole point.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

OneThing 2011: Mike Bickle on Vampires and Divine War

To read about Lou Engle's talk at OneThing 2011, click here. To read about Corey Russell's comment on the "unequally yoked" at OneThing 2011, click here.

The International House of Prayer (IHOP) hosts an annual year-end conference called OneThing, which Republic of Gilead commented on in 2010. OneThing 2011 took place on December 28-31, 2011 at the Kansas City Convention Center, and IHOP has since posted videos and MP3 files of the event at its website

IHOP director Mike Bickle gave several talks at OneThing 2011, including a Friday talk entitled, "Jesus, the Bridegroom King: Waging a War." Bickle explored the Revelations image of Jesus as conquering warrior, refusing to shy away from Revelations' graphic violence. Amidst his amusing comments about vampire movies and the occult was an unsettling excitement when discussing the Bible's violence.

At the 14:52 mark, Bickle explained that Revelations 19 is so violent because the world will be a wicked place in the end times.
"The nations will be blaspheming god. The nations will be walking in unprecedented levels of wickedness. They will walk in wickedness far beyond any other time in history. The occult is going to explode. Immorality is going to go far beyond what it is now. What's happening in the internet, realm of immorality is going to go so far beyond in the next ten, twenty, thirty years than it is right now. We can't even imagine."
I find it interesting that Bickle lists occultism and internet foulness, rather than war, poverty, or oppression, as the wickedness that will characterize the end times. Bickle goes on, condemning films and television shows with vampires -- films and shows he admits he has never seen -- as a means of "desensitizing" society into accepting "demon activity." At the 15:29 mark, he had this to say about pop culture.
"These kind of cute, kind of romance new films or shows with demons and beautiful women and beautiful men that are demons, or whatever-whatever. Haven't watched any of them, but I've heard about them, and believers thinking, 'oh, it's cute.' Video games. This stuff is really bad. It's not cute. It's calculated to desensitize an entire generation of the earth so that they are not scandalized by demonic activity and what demons do. This vampire this, or whatever it is that, the cute guy, but he's really this guy, or he's a demon ... Never watch that stuff. It's not cute, it's not innocent, it's desensitizing you, and it's a setup for the occult explosion that's about to happen ... And then the devil's going to pull his mask off, and they're not even going to mess with the cute guy and the romance and the vampire. It's going to be straight demon activity, straight on, face-to-face."
I loathe Twilight as much as the next person because of its toxic messages (see here and here), but not because it supposedly promotes demonic activity. As consumers of entertainment, we need to be media savvy, not paranoid about demons.

Bickle tells listeners that Jesus will march on Jerusalem in the end times to liberate it from its enemies. At the 24:26 mark, he launches into a pro-Israel speech, warning that the devil will try to destroy the Jewish people once again.
"The nations are going to gather, surround the city of Jerusalem with the intention of annihilating and exterminating the Jewish people. That's where history is going. Someone said is anti-Semitism going to break out again. It is going to reach all-time levels like never before. The devil wants to exterminate the Jewish race. He tried to do it through Adolf Hitler, and he failed. He's going to try again in a far more dramatic way through the Antichrist, and I have good news. He's going to fail again, but I have another news. The body of Christ is going to stand with Israel like no time in history, and we're going to be there as the first line of defense under Jesus' leadership."
Bickle describes in detail the graphic violence of Revelations, including how Jesus will "tread the wine press of the wrath of God" as he slays the armies at Jerusalem. With regard to the bloodshed that Jesus will unleash, Bickle asserts that "it's terrifying, but it's glorious in its end result." So that the land will be clean after the conquest, Jesus will gather birds to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the slain. Jesus' garments will be stained red, as if discolored from stomping grapes in a wine press. Bickle's euphoria as he described Jesus' violence was disconcerting, even if the violence he described would supposedly "clean the planet of evil once and for all."

Bickle's glorification of divine bloodshed made my blood run cold. After my fellow Americans have returned from a bloody and traumatizing war in Iraq, and having just read Child, Victim, Soldier, I have little patience right now for anyone who imagines war as "glorious." War is ugly, savage, dehumanizing, and corrosive to our fundamental humanity -- sometimes necessary as a last resort but never "glorious." What kind of vision of God is this, in which God is depicted as a conqueror who engages in mass bloodshed? What does it say about the authors of Revelations that they depict divine war in such celebratory terms? What does it say about Bickle that he revels in the image of Jesus as a blood-spattered warrior?