Jesus Camp

Do religions bring peace and harmony or war and chaos to our world?
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dorajar
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Jesus Camp

Post by dorajar » Fri Apr 13, 2007 8:45 am

I finally got around to watching the documentary Jesus Camp last night. It gave me chills up and down my spine. I challenge anyone who thinks that Muslims are the only fundamentalists we have to fear to watch this movie. Talk about people who hate Democracy. Who hate freedom. Who say they love America, but really despise everything it stands for. And they are right here. They're not conveniently colored and dressed differently for ease of idenitification and villification, like Muslims, but these are the people, the Americans, who are trying to undermine our "way of life." <shudder>

thrice
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It's All About The Racism

Post by thrice » Fri Apr 13, 2007 9:15 am

Yes indeedy. Why is it we narrow minded Americans can't see the simple beauty and nobility of flying planeloads of civilians into skyscrapers full of workers, or strapping small children into the passenger seats of suicide car bombers for diversion when blowing up peacekeeper checkpoints? Racism and intolerance of diversity, I calls it.

Wonder if it's because when American fundamentalist whackos kill and injure others in the pursuit of their ideology, we hunt them down like dogs and put them in prison. As opposed to kinder and gentler governments like Hamas, who send their parents $20,000 and a thank you note every time they kill a busload of grandmas and shoppers.

dorajar
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Subtler Tactics

Post by dorajar » Fri Apr 13, 2007 9:26 am

No, we just elect them to our highest offices and watch as our civil liberties are slowly stripped away.

Just because people aren't blowing themselves up doesn't mean they aren't a threat to our Democracy.

dorajar
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Post by dorajar » Fri Apr 13, 2007 10:53 am

From Krugman's column today:
In 1981, Gary North, a leader of the Christian Reconstructionist movement — the openly theocratic wing of the Christian right — suggested that the movement could achieve power by stealth. “Christians must begin to organize politically within the present party structure,” he wrote, “and they must begin to infiltrate the existing institutional order.”

Today, Regent University, founded by the televangelist Pat Robertson to provide “Christian leadership to change the world,” boasts that it has 150 graduates working in the Bush administration.

Unfortunately for the image of the school, where Mr. Robertson is chancellor and president, the most famous of those graduates is Monica Goodling, a product of the university’s law school. She’s the former top aide to Alberto Gonzales who appears central to the scandal of the fired U.S. attorneys and has declared that she will take the Fifth rather than testify to Congress on the matter.

The infiltration of the federal government by large numbers of people seeking to impose a religious agenda — which is very different from simply being people of faith — is one of the most important stories of the last six years. It’s also a story that tends to go underreported, perhaps because journalists are afraid of sounding like conspiracy theorists.

But this conspiracy is no theory. The official platform of the Texas Republican Party pledges to “dispel the myth of the separation of church and state.” And the Texas Republicans now running the country are doing their best to fulfill that pledge.

And as for the Christrian Right and 9/11. True, they didn't "do" it, but they sure seem to think it was justified:

Two days after the terrorist attacks, Mr. Robertson held a conversation with Jerry Falwell on Mr. Robertson’s TV show “The 700 Club.” Mr. Falwell laid blame for the attack at the feet of “the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians,” not to mention the A.C.L.U. and People for the American Way. “Well, I totally concur,” said Mr. Robertson.
http://select.nytimes.com/2007/04/13/op ... an.html?hp

thrice
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Post by thrice » Fri Apr 13, 2007 1:03 pm

I have no use for Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, or any of the other smug, self righteous evangelical mouthpieces. Personally I think they're nasty, arrogant, dictatorial and nuts.

Pat Robertson has repeatedly demonstrated that he's gone over the edge. I would take his bragging about his graduates in the Bush Administration with a grain of salt, even though I would not join Black Helicopter Krugman in his portrayal of 150 of hundreds of thousands of Federal employees and appointees as "large numbers".

Here in the bunker, I get shivers when I think about leftist educators seeking to virtually snatch our children out of the cradle for mandatory "early childhood education" as they are seeking to do. For all the expressed fear of repressive and totalitarian governments voiced by liberals, I am frankly rather amazed that no one has connected the dots and realized that taking children for government "education" at an early age has been a near universal tactic of Communist bloc regimes for 50 years or more. The Nazis were rather fond of it too- came in mighty handy to have all those little rosy-cheeked informants dutifully reporting their parents' activities to Uncle Adolph. I would prefer that the government, regardless of who's running it, keep their mitts off my kid's head for as long as possible. I have no interest whatsoever in attending one of their "re-education" camps either should my thoughts be considered awry by someone in Washington, even if it's free. And I do hate to pass on a freebie!

dorajar
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Post by dorajar » Fri Apr 13, 2007 1:17 pm

In this documentary, it said that 75% of home-schooled kids are Evangelical Christians. THey showed one mother "home-schooling" her kids, and it was so outlandish it would have been funny if it weren't terrifying that these were real little minds being warped in such an egregious manner. She was going on and on about how Creationism is the only possible explanation for our existence, and how global warming isn't real, and how it doesn't matter anyway because our real lives will happen in heaven after we're all dead or something. And these kids, man, they believe what you tell 'em!! :shock: How are they supposed to know any better?

I hear you, thrice, and I'm all for civil liberties and letting people remain blissfully ignorant if that's what they want to do, but gosh. It does make me fear for my country, when more and more of these ignoramouses are being pumped out into the voting population.

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Post by thrice » Fri Apr 13, 2007 1:36 pm

Despite my serious misgivings about many of the practices of public schools, I personally fought the battle over home schooling with the artist formerly known as my spouse, who is now a permanent citizen of Bornagainia. I know a couple down the street who went that route for a while, when they weren't busy getting ready for the Rapture during Y2K.

If it's any comfort, the USA is far from alone in supporting a major nutcake quotient. I was just reading National Geographic this morning over my Lienenkugels and Lucky Charms, and perused an article about Myanmar. The extremely "progressive" author ruefully noted that the Buddists there believe that being born a woman is punishment for transgressions in a past life, and women offer gifts and prayers in hopes of being reincarnated as a man next time around. The misbehaving ones apparently fear most that they will be reincarnated as gay, which apparently falls somewhere between a rat and a female on the Karmic blacklist.

dorajar
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Post by dorajar » Fri Apr 13, 2007 1:42 pm

If the sun weren't shining so brightly today I'd be wallowing in despair for humanity.

:?

LadyM
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Post by LadyM » Sun Apr 15, 2007 10:38 pm

I need to rent this movie, but only on a night when I don't plan to eat dinner, or sleep it seems.

I know more than a few evangelical Christians and Born Again Christians and generally find them to be self absorbed, prejudicial menaces. How can an intelligent human willingly turn over their mind and their life for someone else to run for them?

But, in my mind the biggest crime remains the indoctrination of children into the cult.

thrice
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Evangelicals

Post by thrice » Mon Apr 16, 2007 6:01 pm

I'm sure there have been exhaustive studies on this phenomenon, both on Christians and others. The gut feeling I get from watching them is that of people getting what they want- certainty. They want to live in a simple, clear cut world with no ambiguity or judgements to make. They want a leader who will tell them how it is with certainty, and stroke their egos as reward for conformity. Of course we know that we live in a world of shades of gray, and different sides to issues. But it's much easier if it's all black and white, with no doubts or worry.

I attended an Evangelical church a couple of times to humor someone. The last time I went, the sermon was about "Solomon's Foreign Wives". The clear message to me was this: King Solomon was a wise and decent man, until he married foreign women with strange ways and beliefs. The message to the congregation was made clearer: stay away from people outside our community, because they will corrupt you with their beliefs, and make you stray.

Reinforce that message, and it all becomes clear. We have the truth, and those who question what we say or do are just trying to confuse and destroy you. You're in, or you're out. There is no in between. Associating with people outside our religion casts deep suspicion on your faith, and makes it clear that you are not committed if you are willing to knowingly take such risks with your soul.

Hard line to beat. A good bet it's the same line being heard from Baghdad to Birmingham.

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Post by LadyM » Wed Apr 18, 2007 1:32 pm

and a very very well thought out line from a business standpoint for these organizations.
If you throw everyone who questions into the "opposite" camp, very few will be tempted to think too much about what they are told. If they don't question or leave, the income base from collections, fund raising and dues.

As someone once said, religion is a very lucrative business if you can stomach it.

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Post by CraigInTwinCities » Wed Apr 18, 2007 11:02 pm

*sigh*

I am torn here.

On the one hand, I feel a bit compelled to stick up for people of faith, because I am a person of faith - and prior to becoming messianic, I was best described, I suppose, as an evangelical.

On the other hand, it was some of the weirdness in certain churches I encountered that led me to break away from mainstream Christianity and embrace the messianic faith.

In the years since embracing the messianic faith, I've felt a great relief and freedom as a result. I didn't feel compelled to defend the indefensible actions of folks like Mel Gibson and his anti-semitic rant.

And on a mutant third hand, I just get tired of seeing people of faith being constantly derided, denigrated and defamed because of the actions of a handful of extremists.

It's like comparing all Muslims to a handful of idiot 9-11 terrorists. Or all Koreans to V-Tech shooter Cho. Or all (fill in the blank) to (fill in extremist example of said faith, race, movement or whatever). They are all unfair comparisons...

I'm sure LadyM, who I have deep respect for, wouldn't be all that happy if such insults were directed at Wiccans, for example.

If these kinds of comparisons were being made about African Americans, they'd be fired like Don Imus was (and deservedly so, but that's beside the point...)

If these kinds of comparisons were being make about gays (e.g., comparing all gays to John Wayne Gacy or Jeffrey Dahmer), this board would erupt in outrage at such an outrageous and ridiculous comparison. And rightly so.

But when it comes to people of faith... let loose with both barrels, folks, because no one's gonna say boo to you for doing it.

I'm not saying there are no goofs and kooks among people of faith. There are, obviously.

But to suggest that all people of particular faiths are like the extremist examples is unfair, prejudicial and not worthy of the intelligence level of the people on this board.

Yes, Mel Gibson is an antisemitic jerk. But I know many Catholics who are wonderful folks.

Yes, there are some ministers who are complete charlatans. But I've also met several congregational leaders who are definitely in it for the right reasons... to build faith, win souls, communicate truth about the divine as they best understand it.

Members of this board do a very good job of speaking out against intolerance... until it comes to people of faith. Then it's A-OK to hurl insults, call them evil, misrepresent them, slander, whatever your heart desires.

I'm not saying people of faith should be above critique, or that obvious loons shouldn't be pointed out. But by the same token that, say, NoMNNice stands up against mis-characterization of the gay and lesbian community, confronting that kind of prejudice... or others stick up against misrepresentations of their particular faith or lifestyle... I do think it's time to say, "Enough is enough... stop painting all people of faith with a broad brush and look at people as individuals," just as you would with any other people group.

Now, I expect this will fall mostly on deaf ears.

"People of faith deserve it because...

...they're the majority."

...they're evil."

...we're just turning the tables on them, so all's fair in faith and war."

...I just don't like YOU, Craig."

Whatever.

My point is, there's a lot of intolerance to people of faith, at a level that would be intolerable, were it directed at some other group of people... pick one.

So, instead of examining your own attitudes, get all defensive, tell me I'm off base, kooky or only care about it when it's directed at me. I pretty much know what to expect and can pretty much predict what most of you will say.

But really, at it's core this is just a simple "blow off some frustration at the hypocrisy of it all" type post.

I don't have a stake in defending mainstream Christianity, but having been a part of it until about eight years ago or so, I can tell you that most of the people you meet in those communities of faith are just regular folks trying to live and do what they think is right, just like anybody else in any other people group. They are not defined by the extremists, anymore than any of the examples I've already given.

And I guess as a messianic rabbi in training, while I'm kind of a work in progress, I do think it's a bit unfair that folks look only at the extremes.

I'll attempt one preempt to the inevitable flaming that this post will undoubtedly receive: No, I don't define all people in any single group by the actions of their extremists, either. I won't list off the examples, because it would just sound like defensiveness... but no, I don't.

Do I react to extremists, especially to extremists of movements I have little in common with? Sure. We all do, myself included.

But I don't think that everyone who's part of that group is like that extremist.

Not all pastors are Jim Jones. Not all African Americans are Al Sharpton. Not all liberals are Hillary Clinton. And so on... The extremists I find objectionable... well, it's personal to that particular extremist. I don't paint everyone with the same brush.

Generally folks on this board are good at avoiding that... until it comes to people of faith.

OK, I've said my piece...

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Post by thrice » Wed Apr 18, 2007 11:22 pm

Craig-
It's late, and I'm tired. There's much truth to what you say, and much more to say. The only thing I want to express at this time is that, as someone who tends to lean to the conservative side, I deeply resent the very active campaign of political blackmail being waged by the Evangelical movement. People like James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and others have been extremely bold in demanding- not suggesting- that elected officials follow their faith and political agendas to the letter, or they will at best withhold the support of their large congregations, and at worst actively work to defeat elected officials who are non-compliant to their demands.
That is not "petitioning the government". That is blackmailing the government, and attempting to force the government to carry out your agenda. In the furthest projection, a theocracy by proxy. Is that tolerance? I think not. That is dictatorship. And in the process, they have managed to alienate the Great Middle of American citizens, who swing to neither pole consistently, but resent as I do feeling the heavy hand of self righteous "faith leaders" who, like the Islamic fundamentalists, are not content to live by their own rules, but insist on imposing them on others as well.
That is what people who came to this continent in little boats were fleeing in Europe. It is UnAmerican. And no, I will show no tolerance for it.

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Post by CraigInTwinCities » Wed Apr 18, 2007 11:25 pm

You're still defining all people of faith by the extremes, Thrice.

But I've made that point in the post above and if it's not already clear, it never will be. Oh well.

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Post by thrice » Wed Apr 18, 2007 11:29 pm

They may be extremes, Craig, I'll grant you. But any one of the men I mentioned could be sitting in the Oval Office on an hour's notice if they demanded it, buttonholing the most powerful person on the face of the Earth. Those "extremists" demand and get far more influence in our government than they deserve, and far more than those of us in the moderate middle get. And that's dead wrong.

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Post by CraigInTwinCities » Wed Apr 18, 2007 11:46 pm

thrice wrote:They may be extremes, Craig, I'll grant you. But any one of the men I mentioned could be sitting in the Oval Office on an hour's notice if they demanded it, buttonholing the most powerful person on the face of the Earth. Those "extremists" demand and get far more influence in our government than they deserve, and far more than those of us in the moderate middle get. And that's dead wrong.
Beg to differ. I can't think of any scenario in which Falwell or Dobson could even get the GOP nomination, let alone win the White House in a general election.

Heck, Robertson ran once or twice and barely got 2-3 percent of the GOP primary vote.

And praise Adonai for that! Those guys may be ministers to some.... (don't care for them myself).... but they're certainly not appropriate political leaders.

I realize it's unpopular as hell to say this anymore, but I appreciate GWB being a man of faith in the White House... there's room for that, I think... if there's room for Kennedy as a Catholic, there's room for GWB as a born-againer, I suppose.

I also think there will someday be room for our first Jewish president. I think our first Islamic president is a LOT further off, though.

The right has it's fair share of religious intolerance with folks like Falwell, Robertson and Dobson.

But, uhh... Don't forget... So does the left.

Remember their proper titles... REV. Jesse Jackson... REV. Al Sharpton.

Might want to think about THAT for a bit... Just as scary, if all you're gonna look at is the extremes...

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People of Faith

Post by LadyM » Thu Apr 19, 2007 10:32 am

I do not attack people of faith as a whole, gentlemen and ladies.
I hold a great dislike and, yes, aversion to those who view faith as a business. Many, many people of faith are indeed intelligent, conscientious individuals who follow their faith with their head and their heart. However, many also view it as a way to avoid having to think through the tough decisions of life and take responsibility for their actions.

Even so, I can understand the desire to follow blindly. What grates on me most, though, are the people one can find in virtually any faith, my own included, who view another's desire to connect with God, in whatever form, as a way to make a steady income and gain status, either now or in the afterlife. These parasites need to be weeded out and exposed for what they truly are...con artists in the same league as Bronson McNeal and the Sweetheart Swindler.

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Post by thrice » Thu Apr 19, 2007 11:13 am

Craig- you mistook my point completely. I'm saying that if one of those men demanded a face to face with GWB, they'd get it- immediately. That's how scared the Republican Party is of alienating these powerful vote-herders.

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Post by CraigInTwinCities » Thu Apr 19, 2007 11:59 am

Which makes them different from Jackson and Sharpton... how? Neither is good and it's the same situation on both sides.

LadyM
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Post by LadyM » Thu Apr 19, 2007 12:07 pm

Craig:

Why does having a person of faith in the White House seem like such a good thing? I would bet you dimes to donuts that ALL Presidents from the 1st to GWB have been men of faith, but many just didn't wear it on their sleeves as much as those you mentioned.

As for extremists on both sides getting immediate audience with GWB...yes. Our political system has begun to cater more and more to the shouters and extremists to appear more "fair" and "proactive". In fact, most times these meetings may have merit, but we often do not hear about the less media hungry advisors. Great "to do" will be made of a meeting with someone who is crying foul to the media in order to pacify and defuse any possible political damage.

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Post by CraigInTwinCities » Thu Apr 19, 2007 12:37 pm

LadyM,

I'm not saying it's always and inherantly good to have someone of faith in the White House. I do think that politics at that level breeds huge egos, and if some form of faith can help curb that by realizing there's something bigger in the world than self... that has some value. Not all people of faith exhibit that quality, granted.

Ultimately, I decide who to vote for based on political, not faith-based, agreement, however.

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Post by thrice » Thu Apr 19, 2007 2:17 pm

I wouldn't agree that Jackson or Sharpton would get an audience. They are vocal opponents of Bush and the Republicans and are highly unlikely to ever change that position. How can they blackmail the President with the votes of people they're already urging to vote against him? The people that have access and the power of intimidation are those who have the power to mobilize, or not, people who WILL vote for him and his party.

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Post by CraigInTwinCities » Thu Apr 19, 2007 4:20 pm

Oh, come on now, Thrice. You really DIDN'T misunderstand that, did you?

Of course Jackson and Sharpton don't get much of an audience with the Bush administration. But they DO hold a ton of sway with the Democrats, and if you think that they wouldn't hold the same status with the next Democratic president that Dobson, Falwell and Robertson hold with Republican presidents, you're just not paying attention.

Sharpton and Jackson have HUGELY influential roles on the left... arguably MORE influential on that side than Dobson, Falwell and Robertson have on the right...

Are your memories of the Clinton administration foggy? Jackson and Sharpton arguably had MORE influence and access over the Clinton White House than Dobson/Falwell/Robertson have with GWB... and for the same reason... they deliver votes!

And Sharpton/Jackson have actually gotten people fired... (Imus being the most recent example.)

I'm not saying they're bad and the others are good. I'm simply saying there are religious extremists on the left, not just on the right. Being "scared" of one side and not of the other is a bit dishonest.

But really, this is a side-note to the ultimate topic of this thread... Which is a bunch of folks reacting with fear... NOT to Dobson, Falwell, Robertson, Jackson or Sharpton... but to a documentary about common people of faith.

My concern here isn't to put down religious leftists OR to defend religious conservatives. I have no interest in that.

My concern is on the massively negative reaction to generic people of faith.

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Re: People of Faith

Post by CraigInTwinCities » Thu Apr 19, 2007 4:35 pm

LadyM wrote:I do not attack people of faith as a whole, gentlemen and ladies.

I hold a great dislike and, yes, aversion to those who view faith as a business...

Even so, I can understand the desire to follow blindly. What grates on me most, though, are the people one can find in virtually any faith, my own included, who view another's desire to connect with God, in whatever form, as a way to make a steady income and gain status, either now or in the afterlife. These parasites need to be weeded out and exposed for what they truly are...con artists in the same league as Bronson McNeal and the Sweetheart Swindler.
LadyM,

I guess at this point I need to ask for a bit of clarity from you.

What this post would seem to indicate is a blanket indictment of anyone who becomes a minister/pastor/rabbi/etc, since those who pursue a career in ministry do indeed usually draw a paycheck (usually an extremely modest one, on average, compared to other professions) for their efforts in being a congregational leader of one form or another.

Now, I can understand that misgiving. In my 20s and most of my 30s, I never considered pursuing a career in the ministry, because I never wanted someone saying to me, "You only talk to me about religion and caring about my soul because you're paid to."

However, I've come to understand that to be an effective congregational leader, it can't be a part-time job, or a volunteer position. One needs to do a TON of study to gain insight into scripture, deliver meaningful sermons, offer personal and family counseling and generally fulfill all the other duties that usually come with such an office.

Now, do some "mega-ministers" give into greed and profiteering and hucksterism? Way too many, but most of those are media figures, not local clergy.

Do many churches of many faiths get headed up by folks who don't genuinely believe, or don't live up to their values? Too often.

But not exclusively.

As I've said, I'm just starting my own journey toward ordination, and have no guarantee at the end of the classwork that I'll be deemed worthy.

But I would like to think that if I meet all the classwork, study, requirements and am found worthy, that simply because I might choose to eventually become a messianic minister, that would automatically make me as corrupt as many of the posts in this thread seem to suggest.

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Post by thrice » Thu Apr 19, 2007 4:50 pm

A very lengthy discussion, and only time for a quick post. Of course you're right about Sharpton and Jackson having undue influence, and yes indeedy they engage in wholesale blackmail of people they put their demands on. In fact, Jackson has become wealthy by engaging in systematic blackmail of US corporations by forcing them to hire his organization to "diversity train them" or face public and political consequences. But if Texaco is stupid and chicken enough to fall for it, that's their shareholders' problem. I draw the line at my government, which I pay the bills and am a "shareholder" in.

I am not practicing religious, but I did grow up in a faith. It is considered in many ways obsolete and rigid. But it was made fairly clear to me growing up that our rules applied only to members of the faith, and what the rest of society did was their business. I consider Evangelicals to be a different breed, and to go forth and proclaim the faith to others- whether they care to hear it or not- is part and parcel of the practice of that philosophy. It is only a matter of semantics and interpretation to extend that philosophy to political action, and to decide that faith must not only be proclaimed, but "witnessed" in the form of government policy and law.

I draw the line at that. James Dobson doesn't. He, and other Evangelicals, have declared this to be a Christian country. Oh, and by the way, Evangelicals get to decide who is Christian, and flatly reject the members of my faith tradition despite the fact that we read and practice from the same Bible- but I digress. Perhaps Christianity is the historical majority of faith tradition here. But I believe that, at least for the moment, Caucasians still make up the majority of the population. Does that make it a White country? I think not. And I think it was founded on a better principle than that.

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Post by CraigInTwinCities » Mon Apr 23, 2007 12:59 am

LadyM wrote:But, in my mind the biggest crime remains the indoctrination of children into the cult.
LadyM,


I don't mean to beat a dead horse since this thread has been a bit quiet of late, but this was one of your statements that I found a bit disappointing. This is where I felt you were casting a bit of a wide net across all people of faith.

Now, again, I acknowledge that there are many cult-like, mind-control-oriented groups out there; but not every church whose members genuinely believe their own doctrine are cults, either.

But here's the reason this statement jumped out at me. In the current class I'm going through in my advanced "messianic rabbinical" studies, a bit of "church" history struck me as particularly chilling.

Let me set the stage a bit; the chapter I was recently studying focused on Catholic scholar Thomas Aquinas and how his theological writings set the stage for, and I quote, "bringing destruction, rather than salvation, to the Jewish people."

The book I'm studying contends that much of what has identified itself as "Christianity" over the centuries has had little to do with "Christ-like" behavior and everything to do with transforming a faith movement of the first century into a church-state alliance that was all about wielding power and "the sword of the state," rather than "the sword of the spirit." It other words, it was about power and politics, not faith and eternal life.

Anyway, after a LENGTHY setup explaining how Aquinas' teachings injected a false anti-Judaic mindset into biblical interpretation, it ultimately led to terrible and inhumane actions being taken -- and often justified -- by the "Church."

One notable incident goes as follows...
The Church and the Jews by Dan Gruber pp247-248
...The problem with Aquinas' reasons is that they did not seem reasonable to everyone. Justice based on the reason of man often changes - only God and his Word remain the same. So, when the Church felt it had an adequate way of handling aposty, its concept of "justice" changed. It found a new way to serve God in addition to theft and murder: kidnapping.

Every tradition starts some time. New traditions were being added to the old. Aquinas' highest authority, Church tradition, was the means of bringing destruction rather than salvation to the Jewish people. Reason, his arbiter and judge, informed by hatred and fear, was the means of justifying the destruction.

(Quoting from WEH Lecky's History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe, volume II, the passage from Gruber's book continues...)

"After the expulsion from Spain, 80,000 Jews took refuge in Portugal, relying on the promise of the king. Spanish priests lashed the Portuguese into fury, and the king was persuaded to issue an edict which threw even that of Isabella into the shade [i.e., it shone much more brightly.] All the adult Jews were banished from Portugal; but first of all their children below the age of 14 were taken from them to be educated as Christians."
Now, how did it come to this? Aquinas started out by advocating that converting unbelievers (Jews and pagans) was allowable, though not by force. Yet he turned his head when many were given the choice of "baptism or death." He also put forward the idea that children should by baptized into the Church, but not against the will of their parents.

Yet, he also wrote that children were being "condemned to damnation" by their unbelieving parents, so even though he officially wrote that it was not right to baptize children against their parents' will, in practice it transformed into either forcibly converting their parents so that their children might be baptized into the Church, or kidnapping the children from the parents, so that the decision to baptize them into the Church was Church prerogative, not that of their parents, since the Church was now the legal guardians of these children.

Now, THAT was a really long-winded explanation to get to this point:

This is an example, from Church history, of how beliefs and doctrines that seem mild can become destructive when put into practice, because people will often go further than the boundaries established by such teaching.

Thomas Aquinas may or may not have approved of the actual practice of kidnapping the children of Jewish folks, and forcibly raising them as "Christians" in the Roman Church. But his teachings certainly provided a theological rationale for doing so.

That is why, in my faith tradition, we feel it is important to use the Bible, not human traditions, as the basis for belief and practice.

However, let me not stray too far from the point....

The Catholic church has a LOT to be ashamed of as a harvest from the teachings of Thomas Aquinas; his teachings set forth, among many other things, the idea that raising a child in a Jewish family... rather than a Catholic environment, was the equivalent of child abuse, and therefore they allowed themselves to morally justify kidnapping children away from their parents and raising them in a "true" way.

That's why the quote I used from an earlier post by you bugged me a bit.

I'm not suggesting it was your intention at all, but the tone of it is worrisome. By that statement, you seem to be coming close to the same path that led the Catholic church astray into actions that were completely unworthy of anything the God they proclaimed would approve of, ever.
LadyM wrote:But, in my mind the biggest crime remains the indoctrination of children into the cult.
You're calling parents raising their kids in the parents' own belief system a crime. I don't know what church is being examined in "Jesus Camp," but you also label it a cult.

While I'm not suggesting nefarious actions, motives or thoughts on YOUR part, I do want to call attention to the similarity of thought patterns here.

If we start identifying one faith or belief system as more socially acceptable than another, it can lead down this path.... It's a belief I don't share... becomes... It's a wrong belief.... becomes... it's a crime... becomes... it's child abuse... becomes, "let's rescue these kids."

The actions described in the book I'm studying are crimes by the Catholic church, perpetrated upon the Jewish people.

But Catholic and Jewish could easily be interchanged there with "crimes by the secular government, perpetrated on people of faith..."

It's not that large a leap.

There are a lot of religions I don't agree with; I have my own that I am convinced of. But I do think it's dangerous to lose respect for the belief systems of others. That's the kind of religious (or irreligious) tyranny our founding fathers fled from.

If someone were to sign onto this board, and say many of the things about Wicca or Islam or Buddism or whatever... that have been said about "Jesus Camp" or other larger faith-movements on this board... I believe the reaction would be not very welcoming. And it ought not be.

There are a LOT of religions I don't fit into. Wicca, Islam, most forms of Christianity, non-messianic (e.g., mainstream) Judaism, and too many others to list here. I only fit into the one tiny corner that I'm a part of: messianic Judaism.

I disagree, therefore, with 99 percent of theologians and religious thinkers of one faith-movement or another, at least on some things, and perhaps on a lot of things. But I maintain respect for the beliefs of others... because that same respect allows me the freedom I enjoy in my faith movement.

I think it would be several steps too far to expand that disagreement on belief and doctrine into such a lack of respect for the belief systems of others that it would allow me to call someone else's faith practice, or their raising of their own children in it, a crime.

As history proves in the passage I shared above... that can have dangerous, even deadly, consequences.

I don't have to agree with someone else's faith practice to tolerate it on a societal level. I'm not advocating for the type of respect that demands agreement with the beliefs of others.

But I am suggesting there ought be enough respect that we don't vilify all people in a faith movement for the actions of a few nutballs. (Because every group of people, whether randomly chosen or divided into whatever group-types you want to divide them... cultural, religious, whatever... is ALWAYS going to have a small "nutbar" contingent.)

Take Islam as a handy example. A handful (was it 12?) of nutball extremist terrorists created the tragedy of 9-11, and a TERRORIST group of a few thousand TERRORISTS (who happen to be Muslim) were behind it.

Does that mean the world's 1-2 billion Muslims (or however many there are) are all terrorists? Are they all nutbars? Are they all plotting the next 9-11.

Certainly not.

In the same way, not all Catholics are antisemitic because of Thomas Aquinas and the crimes of the Inquisition.... Nor all Germans because of Luther, Hitler and the Holocaust... And not all evangelicals because of the religious bigotry of Dobson, Falwell and Robertson, either.

Bottom line, I guess? Deal with individuals, not broad generalizations.

Like I said, I have no vested interest in defending Dobson, Falwell and Robertson. My own opinion of them is not favorable. (And the same goes for the "religious left" figures like Jackson and Sharpton, among others.) Also like I said, I'm not an evangelical, either, so I have no vested interest in defending them

What I am saying, again, is that while this board does a decent job of speaking against various prejudices, many are guilty of participating in, or at least acquiescing to, prejudice against people of faith.

I think most folks on this board are capable of better than that. More intellectual consistency and honesty than that.

So... I guess... while it's fine to disagree... let's be careful what we label as "a crime."

LadyM, sorry if you feel singled out in this. I have deep respect for you and did not intend it that way. It's just that your quote most captured, for illustration purposes, the point I've been trying to articulate and may have finally succeeded in communicating... maybe... about some of the attitudes expressed in this thread.

Thanks for listening... even if most of you disagree. Hopefully I've finally found the right phrasing of what concerned me and I can let the topic go... Though I'm fine with questions if any remain about what I'm really trying to say...

LadyM
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Post by LadyM » Mon Apr 23, 2007 10:32 am

Alright...
I do not view Christianity as a cult. I do not view parents raising children in their faith as a crime in the legal sense. You are taking my words a bit too literally.

In the movie, Jesus Camp, at least from what I've heard of it, the children are being taught gross intolerance and that questioning the rules of your faith put's you into the "them" camp of the Us vx Them outlook on life.

As I see it, religion itself is not evil, it has many, many beautiful, valuable and beneficial aspects, but once humans start to build big organizations around it, and start jockeying for power the truth behind the religion becomes lost to many people.

I realize that many people are drawn to religious service for all the right reasons and follow through on their promise to their God and fellow worshipers and I have great respect for them. I do not have much respect for those who feel the need to teach hatred and intolerance in the name of religion, though.

CraigInTwinCities
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Post by CraigInTwinCities » Mon Apr 23, 2007 10:44 am

LadyM,


Thanks for the clarifying remarks. It's cleared up the misunderstanding for me and I think the reason I went to such lengths to clear it up is that the previous statement seemed out of character for you.

I understand what you mean much more clearly now. Thanks.

thrice
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Post by thrice » Mon Apr 23, 2007 1:12 pm

Craig-
While I certainly have no time for Jackson and Sharpton, I wouldn't really call them "religious left". To be honest, I've never heard either one make a single statement under religious auspices, although surely as "Reverends" they must do some preaching sometime. Every public statement I have ever heard them make was political.

I'm certainly not qualified to discuss much about religion. Two biblical passages I can recall say much to me. The reading where Christ is asked about taxes, and gives the "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" lesson. The other, and I can't isolate the passage, is the statement that "My kingdom is not of this world".

My personal interpretation of those remarks is that religious people have to live in a secular world. I see no endorsement in there of actively participating in secular politics under the guise of a religious leader. In my opinion, "religious leaders" who are extremely active in the political process, to include rallying votes and making demands of elected officials, have crossed the line from "advisor" to "kingmaker". They are involved in the elected office by proxy. And I must conclude that they seek to do so for the same reasons most other people do it- for personal power.

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Have You Actually Seen Jesus Camp?

Post by mattsciple » Wed May 23, 2007 7:55 pm

Seriously. These people are terrifying. By "these people" I only mean the people in this movie. Not all Christians. Not all people of faith. Which is, in my understanding, what the conversation was about when it started. Equating their love for a man who preached nothing but peace and love (holding his anger for the Pharisees, religious charlatans, and false judges) with war is nothing short of obscene. They are extreme in every way, and that's where the thread began.

I have nothing against born-again Christians developing a personal relationship with their God. I have a HUGE problem when the focus of their lives becomes converting as many people as possible to their religion. If they really believe this is the way to heaven, in spite of the countless words to the contrary by their messiah in their own Bible, then they are going to do dangerous things. Why wouldn't they, for example, endorse a state religion, as many do? Why wouldn't they use their tax-exempt status to hand out voting guides? Why would they accept the idea of Separation of Church and State? They are acting out of fear and self defense: if I don't accept Jesus, not only am I going to Hell, but many believe they will follow me for their failure to convert me. This is the God that told Joshua to march through enemy territories, killing everyone, commanding him to "bash the children's heads upon the rocks" in His name.

If I say holding a belief that non-believers should die is dangerous, does that make me a bigot? I don't think so. Fundamentalist ministers often use the language of warfare to fire up their flocks against me. They don't advocate killing me, but if I'm in their way, they advocate--in places like Jesus Camp--a religious war for the soul of America. And they're dressing their children in fatigues and camou paint to teach them to believe this, too. If I say that this teaching is dangerous, does that make me intolerant? If they dehumanize me and teach their children to do the same, the danger grows.

To be clear: they have the right, in a free society, to believe anything they like. They don't have the right to put those beliefs in action if those beliefs infringe on the beliefs or rights of others. It's not always an easy distinction to make.

Further, when their religious beliefs become the basis for government policy, I get to say whatever the hell I want about them. When their personal salvation becomes linked with who I can and can't sleep with, what my wife can do with her reproductive organs, with whether children are taught to respect scientific consensus, with protecting other species because "dominion over them" actually means they exist solely for our benefit, with whether AIDS prevention can be funded, sex ed taught, condoms distributed, with whether my body has to continue to live once my brain has stopped.... The list goes on and on. Once they step into the political realm, the beliefs have consequences, and therefore can be criticized. Should this criticism be respectful? Of course. Just because they're shrieking at the top of their lungs doesn't mean I should, too.

The movie is about an extreme wing of militant Christianity. But in my opinion, it's not far enough from the mainstream. The language they use is the same used in countless megachurches across the country. Churches that preach "The Gospel of Wealth" which, again, in direct contradiction to their own Bible, says believing in Jesus will make you rich. Never mind that he told the rich man to give up his worldly belongings to follow Him. Never mind the fact that he said it was "easier than a camel fitting through the eye of a needle for a rich man to get into heaven. Never mind that he said God in in all of us, even the least of us.

I could go on. I'll be glad to. My only point is that Christianity is by far the dominant religion in America today. Period. No one could get elected in America today if he/she was an admitted Atheist. Period. Given both of those situations as true, Christianity has the obligation to guard against its own excesses, to avoiding excluding those of other religions, to vigilantly guard against efforts to nationalize it. There are positive signs. The Religious Left has begun gaining traction in the areas where religion can actually do Good well: fighting poverty, fighting for civil rights, providing stewardship over nature. Stuff like that.

For the record though, there is a difference between Falwell, Dobson, Robertson and Jackson/Sharpton. For all their excesses, and believe me, I'm not a fan of either man, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have never--to my knowledge--advocating denying rights to specific classes of people for any reason. They have never blamed Hurricanes or national tragedies on the beliefs of their opposition.

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Post by CraigInTwinCities » Wed May 23, 2007 11:51 pm

Kayne West isn't exactly a religious leader, but...

"Katrina is proof that George W. Bush hates black people."

So... yeah, whatever... Too tired right now to counterpoint or even evaluate whether I should, LOL... G'night Matt.

mattsciple
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Kanye West is Not the Subject

Post by mattsciple » Thu May 24, 2007 12:52 am

No, he's not a religious leader. Even remotely. Get some sleep.

The Godfather
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Post by The Godfather » Thu May 24, 2007 2:01 am

Hey, when all else fails, bring up a person who hasn't even entered the conversation and quote them randomly, then say "I'm too tired to answer this", and leave.

One person talks Sharpton and Jackson, one talks Kanye West. Hey, that's a great argument. Next time someone is discussing Joseph McCarthy, I'll be sure to mention Bob Uecker.

It's awful rough when someone has a legitimate opposing view, isn't it????

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Post by nomnnice » Fri May 25, 2007 2:05 pm

I feel like a mouse reaching for cheese, but I do have something to say.

Not all people of faith are nutballs, Craig, but the people of faith in Jesus Camp are, according to the original post (I have not yet seen the movie myself...I think I'd poop myself and I reserve such activities for a solar eclipse), nutballs.

Also nutballs: Mel Gibson, the 9/11 highjackers, Al-Sadr, Hussein, Bin Laden, Falwell, Gacy, Dahmer, Peterson, Simpson, Coulter, and whoever thought the success of Heroes meant than the Bionic Woman should return to television.

However...here's where my issue is...let's look at some examples: Bin Laden is a nutball because he uses his faith to defend indefensible actions. Same with Jerry Falwell and, to a certain extent Mel Gibson. That's what is being discussed in this thread.

But, is a comparison to "gay" men going on homocidal rampages really fair? No. You should be ashamed for even mentioning it. So, yes, I am going to get up in arms with your ridiculous comment about Gacy and Dahmer. They were psychopaths. They killed people. They didn't use sexuality to defend their actions. And, they weren't even "gay" in the true sense. And I shall now tell you exactly why you're wrong, specifically, in the case of Jeffrey Dahmer.

While Dahmer's victims were primarily homosexual, he himself was not a homosexual in the sense of the word in which we use it most. He was a homosexual pedophile, which means, yes, he sexually abused young boys, but it has no bearing on his adult sexuality. Pedophilia is so misunderstood, and gay men get a bad wrap because of non-gay men abusing little boys and being mislabled as "gay" because of it.

Oh, and did I mention that he was a homocidal maniac/cannibal, too? Yeah, he kept his victims' skulls as souvenirs and ate some of their organs for dinner before dismembering them and keeping some body parts in a variety of storage containers around his Milwaukee apartment. In fact, the only "adult" homosexual act there is any evidence of Dahmer committing was when he had anal sex with a cadaver. Now, call me crazy, but I don't really think that counts. I've never had sex with a cadaver, so I guess I shouldn't comment on that which I do not know, but I will say, personally, I prefer the men I have anal sex with to be alive.

As ridiculous as it may be for me to have to say it, I know that I do have to say it because there is enough ignorance out there in the general public to start a whole new society: I am a homosexual adult male and I am not a pedophile/cannibal. Whew! I'm glad we cleared that one up. No wonder I can't get married with that charge on my shoulders... :roll:

So, what is my point, you may be asking yourself? My point is: Even if Dahmer did consider himself "homosexual", he didn't use his alleged sexuality as a defense of that which is indefensible. Whereas, the folks in Jesus Camp are using their faith to defend hate.

So, sure, Craig, stamp it on my forehead: "Bait Set, Trapped" But, I can't let you get by with your same old "Oh, poor me, the faithful are being persecuted" crap when you're trying to compare it to my same old "Oh, poor me, the gays are being persecuted" by saying I would get mad at you for saying Jeffrey Dahmer was a psychopath because he was gay.

His psychosis had nothing to do with being gay, so you really just end up, again, looking like a big ol' jerk.

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Post by mattsciple » Sun May 27, 2007 12:42 pm

Well said, nomnnice.

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