Southern Religion

Scientology’s secret

Guy Fawkes mask (anonymous)

Michael Bywater, an atheist writing in The New Humanist, asks why Scientology has been the only “really successful religion” launched in the 1,340 years “since Islam kicked off with the Qur’an.” His answer is the quality of the core document:

… first, [L. Ron Hubbard’s] Dianetics hits the perfect pitch of laying out mumbo-jumbo in just clear enough terms for people who think they’re terribly significant but who aren’t that bright (there are a lot of movie stars in the lists, wouldn’t you say?) to think that they’re grasping something terribly important which actually makes sense. And, secondly, it doesn’t pose a Creator. Just a bunch of clever aliens. Whom we can turn back into if we have enough money.

December 28, 2010 Posted by | Atheism | Comments Off on Scientology’s secret

Celebrating the King James Bible?

The 400th anniversary of the King James Bible will be celebrated next year in Britain. As Giles Fraser warns, the KJB is:

…an attempt by the Church of England to control the religious and cultural agenda. A team of academics was established in 1604 to translate the Bible in such a way that it bolstered the authority of the established church. James I gave the specific instruction that the translation must toe the official line on the importance of bishops. The Greek word ekklesia was to be translated as “church”, rather than “congregation” or “assembly” – the translators thus giving the impression that the Bible proposes a top-down form of ecclesiastical authority. James insisted no notes were to be made in the margins of the text; it was in this dangerous commentary that the previous, more radical Geneva Bible had dared to question the divine right of kings.

December 21, 2010 Posted by | Cultural, History | , | Comments Off on Celebrating the King James Bible?

Twas the Recession Before Christmas…

Churches are being hurt by the recession, Cathy Lynn Grossman of USA Today reports. Most churches. Bob Smietana of the Nashville Tennessean reported that megachurches are doing comparatively well:

…giving and attendance are up at the nation’s largest congregations, according to the Leadership Network, an association for megachurches.

The group surveyed 253 churches that average over 1,000 in weekly attendance. About 8 in ten said attendance was up at their services. Two thirds said the giving was up around 3 percent.

Tom Rich at FBC Jax Watchdog waxed seasonally poetic in his review of fund raising at some megachurches:

‘Twas the Sunday before Christmas
and all through God’s church
“Not a churchman is tithing!”
Yelled the preacher from his perch.

The mega church preacher
climbed up into his place
Said our tithe to his church,
Was required for grace.
. . .
He was dressed all in finery,
Even cufflinks of gold,
He took out his Bible
and Yelled to the fold:

“Now please get out your bibles,
You stupid sheep,
You’re holding your tithe back,
You’re being way too cheap,
. . .

Read the rest of his poem here.

December 21, 2010 Posted by | Churches | , | Comments Off on Twas the Recession Before Christmas…

Holy Moly: ‘Jesus on ThyFace’

It’s a book, and a sendup of social networking. As explained at ShipOfFools:

A new Gospel hath been vouchsafed unto us… in the form of Jesus on ThyFace, a book published just in time for Christmas. It features the full cast of the four Gospels, plus Geoff the Leper and the Whore of Babylon, all of them posting happily on their ThyFace pages. The UK authors, Denise Haskew and Steve Parker, started with the line “Lazarus hath changed his status to risen” and worked from there.

December 20, 2010 Posted by | Book Review | | Comments Off on Holy Moly: ‘Jesus on ThyFace’

Why repeal of DADT passed & will be implemented

In a defeat for evangelical conservatives, delivered with help from Republicans, DADT repeal passed Saturday:

Eight Republicans bucked their party in backing the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, potentially risking a backlash from the conservative base while giving the historic vote a stronger bipartisan finish than many expected.

The Republican senators voting “yes” with the Democrats on repeal were Richard Burr of North Carolina, Mark Kirk of Illinois, John Ensign of Nevada, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, George Voinovich of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska – and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins quickly responded:

Today is a tragic day for our armed forces. The American military exists for only one purpose – to fight and win wars. Yet it has now been hijacked and turned into a tool for imposing on the country a radical social agenda. This may advance the cause of reshaping social attitudes regarding human sexuality, but it will only do harm to the military’s ability to fulfill its mission.

Mark Silk of Trinity College’s Leonard E. Greenberg Center for Study of Religion in public life wondered:

When nearly 80 percent of the American public supports letting gays and lesbians serve openly in the military, you wonder exactly what the point is of asserting that this is a “radical social agenda.”

Even looking at active military alone, a heavy majority either favored repeal of DADT or didn’t care, as David Wood reported recently:

Tuesday’s Pentagon report [revealed] that things have changed in the ranks over the past two decades: today, the vast majority of troops (70 percent under age 30) either favor repeal of the law banning open gays from military service, or don’t care one way or another.

On some radical agenda list, or not, repeal of DADT enjoyed general approval. Which in pragmatic terms explains why it attracted the vote of North Carolina’s Sen. Burr, a Methodist who typically votes with religious conservatives. The weight of public opinion driving the change also predicts the political fate of efforts, like the one hastily announced by the Freedom Council, to repeal the repeal.

They may be best seen as drives to retain members and contributors in the face of a historic battle lost. Or to influence the details of repeal’s implementation. Otherwise, they’re doomed.


Analyst Nate Silver makes a simillar argument:

In what reflects a shift from the way that gay rights initiatives have been perceived in the past, however, other Republicans seemed to conclude they might have been taking on some measure of risk by voting to perpetuate a policy that a clear majority of the public wanted to see repealed.

For example:

Two other Republicans, Mark Kirk of Illinois, who won election by a narrow margin in November, and Richard Burr of North Carolina, who won re-election by 12 points in November but who has tepid approval ratings, may have cast a yea vote with an eye toward 2016..

December 19, 2010 Posted by | SBC | | 2 Comments

The humor in attempted rape is (nonexistent)

A choir at Liberty University, “the largest evangelical Christian university in the world,” based a humorous a cappella Christmas song on one written about an attempted rape. Moving Christa Brown to review the origin of the song and ask:

A parody about an attempted rape in the projects is “fun”? This is how Christian young people at a private university show humor?

The humor in rape eludes us too, Christa.

You may disagree, even after reading the backstory:


There are other, forcefully expressed views:

December 19, 2010 Posted by | Religion, Satire, SBC | , , | 4 Comments

ERLC’s Richard Land deserves ‘Lie of the Year’ recognition

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land is closely identified with the lie that President Barack Obama’s plan to overhaul the American health insurance system is a government takeover of health care that he deserves dishonorable mention.

A well-constructed Google search finds more than 9,000 ties between Land and that argument.

His most extravagant stunt in service of that lie was an alleged 1.3-million signature petition by the National Center for Policy Analysis/Salem Radio Network (for which he is a show host). At the time, he said:

This petition is indicative of a spontaneous grass roots eruption of protest against a government takeover of the American health care system.

More extravagantly, on March 11, 2010, Land argued in an open letter:

… President Obama and the liberal congressional leadership are trying to ram through a takeover of nearly one-sixth of the U.S. economy with a new strategy.

Yet the St. Petersburg Times’ Pulitzer Prize winning PolitiFact service concludes in naming the 2010 Lie of the Year:

Readers of PolitiFact, the St. Petersburg Times’ independent fact-checking website, also chose it as the year’s most significant falsehood by an overwhelming margin. (Their second-place choice was Rep. Michele Bachmann’s claim that Obama was going to spend $200 million a day on a trip to India, a falsity that still sprouts.)

By selecting “government takeover’ as Lie of the Year, PolitiFact is not making a judgment on whether the health care law is good policy.

The phrase is simply not true.

Said Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of health policy at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill: “The label ‘government takeover” has no basis in reality, but instead reflects a political dynamic where conservatives label any increase in government authority in health care as a ‘takeover.’ “

They document the fallacy of the claim point by point, and its origin in a Republican strategy memo, here.

The SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s full-throated voice of a falsehood is not a new. In 2009, Land was likewise owed honorable mention (below Sarah Palin} for the PolitiFact Lie of the Year award trophy for elevating fictitious “death panels” to a topic of frenzied national debate.

Indeed, Land promoted both the falsehood that health reform involves eugenics programs, like those instituted in Nazi Germany, and the “death panels” myth which is part of those partly retracted claims.

Like Fox News, ERLC so often fosters misinformation that relying upon them has meant being misled on matters of historic significance.


Bold Faith Type offers a few other examples of Religious Right promotion of the falsehood:

  • The Family Research Council held a webcast called “Government Takeover of Healthcare: Counting the Cost.”
  • The Susan B. Anthony List took out radio ads alleging that Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) “cast the deciding vote to allow the government takeover of health care.”
  • FRCAction PAC ran campaign ads accusing numerous Democrats of supporting “big government” that is “taking over our health care.”

December 17, 2010 Posted by | Churches, Religion, SBC | , , , | 6 Comments

How an evangelical inerrantist changed his mind about women in leadership

Pastor Wade Burleson of Enid, Oklahoma, recently stopped blogging. And was predictably pulled back into blogging again by his enduring concern about self-destructive failure of the Southern Baptist Convention to accept women as lead pastors. About Alan F. Johnson’s book “How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership,” Burleson wrote:

There have long been attempts by fundamentalists conservatives to paint liberal moderate anyone who believes that women can be as gifted as men, can lead or teach men, or can hold positions of “authority” over men. Aside from the fact it is nigh impossible to define authority the way Jesus defines it (servanthood) and have any objection to women in leadership, it is a breath of fresh air to read a book edited by a bona-fide evangelical inerrantist who is showing that it is not God who is changing His mind about women, but fallen, fallible men who must change theirs.

Read the rest here.

December 14, 2010 Posted by | Religion, SBC, Women | Comments Off on How an evangelical inerrantist changed his mind about women in leadership


December 10, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Comments Off on HISTÓRIA DO NATAL DIGITAL

Illinois’ Catholic governor stands his ground for civil unions there

Warned by his bishop (Thomas J. Paprocki) that “the Catholic Church does not support civil unions or other measures that are contrary to the natural moral law,” Illinois’ Catholic governor Pat Quinn said Thursday, “I did the right thing.”

Dimitrios Kalantzis of The Daily Journal wrote:

Evoking women’s suffrage and the 1960s civil rights movement, Gov. Pat Quinn vowed to sign into law a bill legalizing same-sex civil unions, which was passed Wednesday by Illinois lawmakers.

. . .

“It’s always the right time to do the right thing,” Quinn said paraphrasing Martin Luther King Jr. during a press conference, when asked to address criticism that the state’s large debt and high jobless rate should take precedence over social issues.

The legislation was approved by the Illinois state house by a vote of 61-52 Tuesday night and approved by the Illinois Senate by a vote of 32-24 on Wednesday.

After the governor signs, the legislation will take effect on June 1, and provide same-sex couples in Illinois with protections formerly unavailable to them. For example, as Rex W. Huppke of the Chicago Tribune wrote:

Things like protecting gay and lesbian couples who have entered into a civil union from having to testify against each other in state courts, and giving a surviving partner the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If a person has a pension, a same-sex partner in a civil union will be entitled to a survivor pension benefit.

The Pew Research Center reported in November that Americans are increasingly (39%) finding marriage obsolete, but the role of families as the most important element in our lives remains overwhelming (76%).

Families, in all of their glories variety.

December 2, 2010 Posted by | Catholic, Religion | , , | Comments Off on Illinois’ Catholic governor stands his ground for civil unions there