Can We Please Stop Whitewashing Jesus?

As I write this, Twitter’s top trending hashtag is #ThingsJesusNeverSaid.

Guys, we need to talk.

Certainly it helps to expose the hypocrisy of conservative Christian “values voters” by comparing their economic views to those of Jesus. And it’s often a powerful point.  Jesus would not be thrilled with the spreading Trumpian philosophy that virtue is measured by financial success — the logical evolution of recent wildly popular “prosperity gospel” ministries.

So Twitter is filled with tweets like these today, that (no) God willing, will hopefully touch some hearts and minds:

Jesus may have been to the left on economic policy, but on social and military policy?  Sorry, but Jesus was no pro-gay, religiously tolerant peacenik.  Have we forgotten that there’s only one Christian god, and Jesus is the God of the Old Testament?  When we promote the Sandaled One’s words, we promote genocide, torture, slavery and rape and religious intolerance.  Just a few verses after the lefty favorite, “Blessed are the meek,” Jesus reiterates his support for the Old Testament, including his dad’s approval of genocide, slavery, rape and gay-stoning. Let the man-god himself remind you:

  • I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!  [Luke 12:49]
  • …for these are days of vengeance, to fulfil all that is written. Alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! For great distress shall be upon the earth and wrath upon this people.  [Luke 21:22-23]
  • Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them.  For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.  Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven…  [Matthew 5:17-19]

Upset with right-wing anti-Muslim bigotry?  Tweeting how Jesus said we should be kind to strangers?  Inviting people to follow Jesus’ lead in respect for nonChristians?  Jesus?  Come now…

Read the rest at Patheos.

How 36,000 U.S. Christians spent this Sunday morning

Will the centuries of Abrahamists declaring jihad on disbelievers never cease?

Here’s what THIRTY-SIX THOUSAND “loving” American Christians did this Sunday morning: they spread a near-literal declaration of war on nonChristians, sharing on Facebook a war cry from Rev. Franklin Graham:

With the election drawing closer… as Christians we realize there’s another battle going on—it’s a battle for the soul of our nation… The forces of godless secularism want to remove the name of God and His Son Jesus Christ from the public realm… ‘take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day…’ Have you put on your armor?

The bigoted rhetoric is nothing new: Graham is finishing up his war campaign in all 50 states to stoke fear in the Christian majority and dehumanize the “wicked” nonChristian minority.

Graham doles out charity to the victims of religious strife, while ensuring there will ever be more with his drumbeat of religious hatred.

—Bo Gardiner

Jill Stein: Swing-State Voters Should Still Vote for Me Even If It Means Donald Trump Gets Elected

Jill Stein: Swing-State Voters Should Still Vote for Me Even If It Means Donald Trump Gets Elected

[Excerpt.  Read the full article at Patheos].

Al Jazeera’s UpFront host Mehdi Hasan confronted Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein last week about continuing her campaign knowing it could produce a Trump victory.

SteinHasan

Her responses seemed startlingly detached from reality, by

  • pretending she might win, despite polling at only 3-4%
  • denying that a progressive should be more alarmed by Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton
  • dismissing any personal responsibility to “get out of the way” of those working to stop Trump
  • rejecting the advice of prominent fellow Green Noam Chomsky to swing-state Greens to vote against Trump by voting for Clinton
  • immaturely insulting the man she asked to be her running mate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who now passionately urges voters to stand with Clinton, by suggesting he’s not acting on deeply held principles but rather that he’s someone who has “drunk the Kool-Aid.”

Continue reading

Instead of Feeling ‘Blessed’ and ‘Praying for Haiti,’ Please Stop Voting to Make Their Storms Worse

Instead of Feeling ‘Blessed’ and ‘Praying for Haiti,’ Please Stop Voting to Make Their Storms Worse

The BBC reports that Hurricane Matthew has killed over 900 people; nearly wiped out whole towns; left tens of thousands of families homeless; destroyed crops, livestock and food supplies;  contaminated the drinking water; and released sewage that’s spreading disease.  The U.N. says “Haiti is facing the largest humanitarian event witnessed since the earthquake six years ago.”

haiti_minustah

[A scene in Haiti following Hurricane Matthew, photo via the U.N.]

While the U.N. and other nations help Haiti rebuild, some missionaries have gone to take some supplies and most likely the opportunity to evangelize victims, like Franklin Graham’s Christian mission Samaritan’s Purse.  The charity is asking the public for donations and “prayers in Jesus’ name.”

But part of their work, at least for its CEO, Rev. Graham, is to ensure the situation only worsens for Haiti.  He must like the hurricane-relief business, since he’s also America’s leading Christian crusader for Donald Trump, going to all fifty states to get out the vote for him in his Decision America tour.  Trump, who says climate change is a hoax concocted by the Chinese, will almost certainly increase our CO2 emissions and threaten global climate treaties if elected.  Graham himself calls climate change treaty efforts “godless,” “frightening,” and leading toward “moral depravity:”

Continue reading

Did the Oregon Shooter Actually Target Christians? It Doesn’t Appear So

[Excerpts from my article published at the Friendly Atheist. ]

It’s a rallying moment for American Christians angered by the growing voices of the nation’s non-religious, however small a minority we remain.

Christian communities online are feverishly crying, “Now do you believe we’re persecuted?” Political, cultural, and religious leaders are calling on Christians to rise up against their non-religious persecutors, accusing us of fostering violence, and demanding we take responsibility.

That fever is rising with each news report about the massacre of nine people at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.

(Images via YouTube)

All of those stories seem to report a variation on the line “Christians were targeted.” A Washington Post headline read “Oregon shooter said to have singled out Christians for killing in ‘horrific act of cowardice.’” NBC reported: “The gunman who opened fire at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College targeted Christians specifically, according to the father of a wounded student.”

Though some outlets like the New York Times noted that that “Law enforcement officials would not confirm or deny” that Christians were targeted, that “fact” has already become conventional wisdom.

Support for that idea, however, is limited, as Lauren showed in an earlier post on this site. Most people making that claim point to the shooter’s membership in a Facebook group called “Against Organized Religion,” his self-characterization as “spiritual but not religious,” and two secondhand accounts from relatives of survivors.

Hemant posted another survivor’s report that contradicts those earlier accounts, providing a more detailed and very different interpretation of the shooter’s questions:

McGowan told family members that the gunman didn’t specifically target Christians but asked them about faith. The shooter, apparently planning to die during the massacre, told students: “I’ll see you soon” or “I’ll meet you soon.”

“The shooter would call a person: ‘You, stand up,’” Salas said, recalling what her son told her. “And then he would ask them if they were a Christian, knew God, or had religion. And it wasn’t like it was stated on TV. It wasn’t about that he was just trying to pinpoint Christians, no.”

The shooter would tell them it wouldn’t hurt.

“And then he would shoot them,” she said.

Of course, there is a way we could check if this claim that the shooter was targeting Christians has any merit: Let’s examine the victims’ beliefs as best we can and find out if they fit that description.

It’s not just for the sake of curiosity. One could argue that painting them all as Christian martyrs would be disrespectful if they weren’t actually Christian. For most of them, we don’t know their religious beliefs for certain. All we can look at is their social media presence and comments from loved ones.

Similarly, should we assume that those who were spared or only injured were either non-Christian or insufficiently courageous to admit their Christianity?

People are making a lot of assumptions without looking at the evidence.

So let’s try to do that.

First, let me say this is the hardest post I’ve ever written. Studying the words and photos of these lovely people made the magnitude of our loss simply unfathomable.

The bottom line? Only two of the nine victims are confirmed to be Christians. While some of the other seven may be Christians, there’s currently no publicly available evidence for it. And several others seem to hold beliefs other than Christianity.

Continue reading