Monday, April 26, 2010

Taking Back America Tour: President Obama Is god's Punishment and the Democrats Are Demons

     Republicans and Tea Partiers gathered this weekend in Tyler, Texas, for the "Taking Back America" tour, where they claimed to know the will of their gods and denounced President Obama and the Democrats as "demons" and "God's [sic] punishment."  They preached the divine inspiration of the U.S. Constitution and called for their "army" of Tea Partiers "to take their country back."  All of this was done in Jesus' name.

      Conservative firebrands were out in force in Tyler, Texas over the weekend, speaking at a Glenn Beck-headlined "Taking Back America" rally.
     "I believe that Barack Obama is God's punishment on us today, but in 2012, we are going to make Obama a one-term president," declared Texas state Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler) according to the Tyler Morning Telegraph.
     Berman's extreme words were accompanied by other comments from conservative figures, including Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), who, in the height of the health care debate last month said that "demons" had invaded Washington and were causing Democrats to mislead voters about the merits of the bill.
     Glenn Beck, speaking at the event, said: "Do you believe this is God's land? Do you believe our constitution was divinely inspired? Why do you believe those things?" Beck asked. "If God is with us, who can possibly stand against us? The answer is no one."
     Texas Gov. Rick Perry also made an appearance and called the Tea Party an "army" that was gathering to "take their country back and send a message to this administration, to this Congress," an army that he said he was "proud to be in."

Majority of Germans Don't Trust Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church

     Jesus said one would know someone's true nature by the fruit they produce.  Here is the fruit of the Catholic Church's child sexual abuse hypocrisies in Pope Benedict's homeland, Germany, where one would think he'd have the best chance of maintaining the flock's reverence and support.

  • More than one third of German Catholics between 18 and 30 are considering leaving the Catholic Church. 

  • Only 24% of Germans trust the pope.

  • Only 17% of Germans trust the Catholic Church.
     With waning trust in church institutions and a turn toward “spirituality” among Catholic youth, many German Catholics under 30 have turned away from the pope. While saying they respect Benedict’s learning, young German Catholics don’t identify with Bavarian-born Benedict or with an institution seen as closed, hierarchical, and absolute.
     “Benedict is not communicating openly, and that means the church is not addressing its core problems during this [abuse] crisis,” says Geoff Steigler, a 25-year old graduate student in Munich and a believing Catholic. “But the church will have to adjust, since no young people are in the church anymore.”
     Polls reflect this sentiment. A March survey showed that only 24 percent of Germans expressed trust in Pope Benedict, compared to 38 percent in January. Overall trust in the Roman Catholic Church was even lower, at 17 percent in March compared to 29 percent in January, the poll showed. And according the Forsa Institute's April poll of more than 1,000 German Catholics, 23 percent of all church members are considering leaving.
     That disillusionment is felt greatest among youths, the poll found, with more than one-third of Catholics aged 18 to 29 considering leaving the church.
     Nice fruit, Ben.  Ain't karma a bitch?

Dutch Victims of Catholic Priest Sexual Abuse Speak Out. Please, Catholics, Listen!

     When I was abused, it was against the altar.  The priest was riding up to me, and then you are standing with your back to the altar. And that is holy, you are praying there. As an altar boy you see the father, you see the cross and think about God. And afterwards, all that was holy and sacred, yeah, suddenly it fell down.
-Janne Geraets, victim of a Catholic priest

     A new article by NPR reveals the horrendous experiences of Dutch victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic Priests

     I continue to observe in my own life that those who've not experienced abuse don't understand how devastating and reality-altering abuse is to a child, how it stays with a victim throughout his/her life courtesy of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and how it's incogitable that anyone would support a religious figure who enabled that abuse.

     Hear the stories of those who were abused by priests.  Put yourself in their shoes.  If you are a parent, put your child in their shoes. And then, go out there and demand change in your institutions and withhold funds until your leaders change.

     NPR reports:
     Dutch musician Bert Smeets, lead singer for the band Bedroom Monkeys, says he was one of the sexually abused at a boarding school in the early 1960s. He sips black tea outside the 12th century Our Sweet Lady cathedral in Maastricht, one of the oldest Catholic churches in the Netherlands -- and a place Smeets hasn't stepped foot in for years. He recalls running to one of the head priests at his school and telling him what happened. Smeets says that priest promptly beat him severely and told him he was lying.
     “They made me believe I was making it up," he says. "I was 10 years old. I was really shocked. Nobody was allowed to talk to me. I wasn't allowed to talk to anybody. It gets really isolating. That was very hard."
     The abusive priest repeatedly violated him, Smeets says. In his teen years, he tried to channel his confusion and rage into music and writing songs -- like "Answer, No Answer," which he penned at 14. “I felt very lost,” Smeets says. “There [were] questions, and I was asking for help in this song. But I didn't realize what really was the meaning of it, at that time. I just sang it."
     Now 58, Smeets launched a blog, Mea Culpa, to bring Dutch victims together. So far, he's received more than 1,000 e-mails and phone calls from people in the Netherlands who say they, too, were abused by priests. His efforts were helped by recent reports on Radio Netherlands and in a Dutch newspaper that detailed similar sexual abuse at Dutch boarding schools in the 1950s, '60s and '70s.
     Listen.

     Learn.

     Change.
Images:
Cartoon from MeaCulpa

Catholic Church Opposes "Protect Our Kids First" Legislation in Florida


     The bill the holy Catholic Church sees fit to oppose in their god's name: "Protect Our Kids First."
     Despite Catholic Church opposition, Protect Our Kids First legislation, HB 525 sponsored by Rep. Chris Dorworth, R-Heathrow, passed the Florida House of Representatives by a vote of 110-0. Upon passage, the House immediately certified the bill, thereby delivering it to the Senate where it is scheduled to be heard on Special Order Calendar today. A final vote in the Senate could come as soon as tomorrow.  Child advocates have fought for this legislation for six years. And this year Lauren Book-Kim finished a dramatic 500-mile run in the Capitol courtyard to publicize the plight of sexually abused children.
   For six years the Florida legislature has been trying to get this bill passed.  Six years!  Now, it passes unanimously, but the Catholic Church is still against it, placing her pocketbook above her parishioners.  What would Judas do? 

    The Florida Catholic Conference's legislative report reveals where children's safety stands in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church's values.  

     The "Protect Our Kids First" legislation is not listed under the bishops' categories "Life and Death," "Social Concerns," "Health," or "Education," apparently in Catholic-bishop-land, none of these categories are considered aspects of child sexual abuse. 

     Instead, "Protect Our Kids First" is the last piece of legislation listed on the page and is listed under the category "Other." 


     The bishops of Florida are self-serving hypocrites.  What parent would ever trust their child to such a group of child-endangering hypocrites?

Jennifer Knapp Comes Out, Challenges the Authority of Bob Botsford: Why Do Americans Check Their Brains at the Doors of their Churches?

     Christian Singer Jennifer Knapp, who just came out as a lesbian, was a guest on Larry King Live last week.  She took on ex-televangelist and sexual abuse/gay prostitute aficionado Ted Haggard, who claims  he is now cured of the gay, and Pastor Bob Botsford of Horizon Christian Fellowship, who's been very outspoken about his beliefs and preaching his version of the gospel that Knapp is a sinful homosexual.

     In the video embedded below Knapp puts it to Botsford saying:
     KNAPP:   If I am a sinner and homosexuality is a sin, let's just go on that premise for a moment. But what separates that particular sin out from the fact that I'm angry or mad at someone or that I cheat or maybe, you know -- what separates that out as so grievous to you that we have to sit here and have this type of conversation?
     BOTSFORD: Well, it's interesting. There's -- sin is sin. You're absolutely right. And we all have sin.
     KNAPP: So, why are we -- why am I -- why aren't you in this seat and I'm in the other seat condemning you on national television?
Later
     KNAPP:  I will say this to you again on air. I have spiritual leadership in my life.  The pastoral counsel of those who are dear to me, who understand the Scripture as sacred text. You are not that man in my life. Speak to your congregation --  You do not know me, and don't have the right to speak to me in the manner which you have publicly.
     Of course, in the video, Botsford interrupts her last statement about five times.  The full transcript is below.

     These Christians that preach their bigotry veiled by love are bullies.  They are disrespectful of the separation of church and state in this country and of the inalienable rights of each human being.

     They are also flawed in their logic. 

     If human being are so inherently sinful (original sin for Catholics, concupiscence for Protestants, etc.), so unable to know what is right and wrong, and so prone to sin and falling away from their god, then wouldn't it follow that any one sinful person's interpretation of their scriptures is just as flawed, sinful, and illegitimate as the next?

     The fact that demigod Christian leaders like Ted Haggard have sex with male prostitutes, the last two Catholic Popes have conspired to enable child rape, that some Muslim clerics are fighting for the right of husbands to rape their wives to death, that numerous Christian fundamentalist preachers are so blatantly racist, and that untold numbers of Christian politicians, pastors, and religious leaders commit adultery and get divorced, which are sins condemned more clearly and frequently in their scriptures, proves how sinfully flawed, depraved, addicted--whatever religious buzzword you want to insert--the leaders and members of these institutions are. 

     Therefore, it's likely that these leaders' interpretations of their scriptures are sinfully flawed, as much, if not even moreso than any lay person, who picks up a holy book.

     Most parents would quit going to a swimming pool if the lifeguards were having sex with children in the closets of the locker rooms.  Most women would quit going to a restaurant if they were told they had to sit in a separate section than their husbands.  Most LGBT persons would quit patronizing businesses that had posters on the walls saying "Gays are sinners."   And most people of color would walk out of a job interview if the interviewer told them that their bylaws justified slavery.

     But, when churches do these things, when churches subject people to discrimination, bigotry, sexism, racism, and homophobia, people keep sitting their butts in the pews and dropping their coins in the collection plate.

     Why is it that Americans check their brains (and their self-respect) at the door when they enter their churches?

     Here is the transcript from this section of the interview via CNN.com:

KING: Do you believe Jennifer is going to go to hell?

BOTSFORD: Larry, God is the judge. I'm just here to --

KING: You're judging her.

BOTSFORD: Well, am I?

KING: Sure.

BOTSFORD: I'm here out of love. I don't have a --

KING: You said she's a sinner.

(CROSSTALK)

KNAPP: If I am a sinner and homosexuality is a sin, let's just go on that premise for a moment. But what separates that particular sin out from the fact that I'm angry or mad at someone or that I cheat or maybe, you know -- what separates that out as so grievous to you that we have to sit here and have this type of conversation?

BOTSFORD: Well, it's interesting. There's -- sin is sin. You're absolutely right. And we all have sin.

KNAPP: So, why are we -- why am I -- why aren't you in this seat and I'm in the other seat condemning you on national television?

BOTSFORD: I'm not condemning you. Listen, I'm here because I love you. And I told you that off-air, I'll say it on air. I'm here because I'm concerned. I'm here as a family member.

KNAPP: You get my phone number.

BOTSFORD: You calling yourself a Christian still as part of the family of God saying, as I said in the blog, Jen, come home. Come back. Come out.

KNAPP: I will say this to you again on air. I have spiritual leadership in my life.

BOTSFORD: Yes.

KNAPP: The pastoral counsel of those who are dear to me, who understand the Scripture as sacred text. You know, also, want to --

BOTSFORD: I'm not sure they do, Jen.

KNAPP: Don't interrupt me. You are not that man in my life. Speak to your congregation --

BOTSFORD: I agree. I'm not saying that I'm you're spiritual authority.

KNAPP: You do not know me, and don't have the right to speak to me in the manner which you have publicly.

BOTSFORD: Well, I do have a role to stand up for truth.

KNAPP: In your congregation and your community.

BOTSFORD: I'm --

KNAPP: But do not -- I'm asking you not to do that. I ask you not say that you're doing that on my behalf.

BOTSFORD: I'm here as a representative of Jesus Christ.

KNAPP: That's good.

KING: But you are judging. You are judging.

Image Credit: BullyPulpit.com