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16 comments20 Oct 2004 @ 03:39 by Sarah @188.8.131.52 : Patriot Axe?
Is the "Patriot Axe" line, on the flier, a typo? Odd.
20 Oct 2004 @ 17:34 by i2i : Patriot Axe
Not a misprint. Click on the "Why Vote and Pray" button on the VoteandPray.com front page. They are very serious about this.
"The Patriot Axe
America is in a national crisis with the upcoming elections. Revival cannot come without reformation of society. Christian young adults must rise up in this hour to vote and pray for Gods moral & righteous standards to be established in America. Certain political parties that have a major liberal agenda, advocating abortion, same-sex marriage, fetal stem-cell research, human cloning & many other liberal policies, will destroy the Biblical foundations this country was founded on if put into office. Our generation must take action and not let this happen by voting & praying for God to put righteous leaders in the White House and the government offices of America!
What is the 'Patriot Axe'?
The Webster dictionary defines a patriot as 'one who loves, supports, and defends one's country.' The Patriot Axe is a grass roots movement to mobilize an army of righteous young leaders in America to defend this countrys Christian foundation. The 'Axe' represents Gods government ruling over man's government."
21 Oct 2004 @ 15:55 by Sarah @184.108.40.206 : Stealing Jesus
How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity
I am Currently Reading "Stealing Jesus,"subtitled "How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity" by Bruce Bawer.
From the author of the widely acclaimed "A Place at the Table," this is a major work, passionately outspoken and cogently reasoned, that exposes the great danger posed to Christianity today by fundamentalism.
The time is past, says Bruce Bawer, when denominational names and other traditional labels provided an accurate reflection of Christian America's religious beliefs and practices. The meaningful distinction today is not between Protestant and Catholic, or Baptist and Episcopalian, but rather between "legalistic" and "nonlegalistic" religion, between the Church of Law and the Church of Love. On one side is the fundamentalist right, which draws a sharp distinction between "saved" and "unsaved" and worships a God of wrath and judgment; on the other are more mainstream Christians who view all humankind as children of a loving God who calls them to break down barriers of hate, prejudice, and distrust.
Pointing out that the supposedly "traditional" beliefs of American fundamentalism--about which most mainstream Christians, clergy included, know shockingly little--are in fact of relatively recent origin, are distinctively American in many ways, and are dramatically at odds with the values that Jesus actually spread, Bawer fascinatingly demonstrates the way in which these beliefs have increasingly come to supplant genuinely fundamental Christian tenets in the American church and to become synonymous with Christianity in the minds of many people.
22 Oct 2004 @ 23:34 by Faith @220.127.116.11 : Fascinating read:
A former member of a legalistic church shared with me a nine-page document that she had been given by her pastor and that is typical of the kinds of materials that such men distribute to their female parishioners. Entitled "Seven Basic Needs of a Husband," it is a set of instructions designed to create wives who are perfectly subordinate in every way and to support the idea that such subordination is biblical. Under the heading:
"A HUSBAND NEEDS A WIFE WHO ACCEPTS HIM AS A LEADER AND BELIEVES IN HIS GOD-GIVEN RESPONSABILITIES."
It lists several points:
1. Husbands are commanded to govern their wives. (Gen. 3:16)
2. Wives are commanded to submit to their husbands. (Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18, 1pet. 3:1)
3. A wife's submission qualifies her husband for church leadership. (1 Tim. 3:4,5)
4. The leadership of the husband is illustrated in Christ and the church. (1 Cor. 11:3)
As these citations indicate, those who insist on the submissiveness of women have leaned heavily on the epistles traditionally attributed to Paul. Other directives are offered without biblical citation: Wife should dress to please her husband. Keep the home free of clutter. Provide good music throughout the day. The list mandates how women should dress and style their hair; it tells them to allow their husband time to be alone or with other men (so that the man may sharpens his thinking in conversation with them); and it insists that women should not have any expectations of their husbands; Expectation destroy gratefulness EXPECT NOTHING AND BE GENUINELY GRATEFUL FOR EACH LITTLE EVIDENCE OF YOUR HUSBANDS LOVE.
Millions of American men gladly embrace such rules as legitimate Christian theology; and millions of wives try their best to live by them, having been told that they are Gods law. To a great extent, indeed legalistic Christianity can be understood as a means by which many men, in the age of feminism, have succeeded in maintaining and justifying their authority over women.
Thank you Sarah for bringing up Bruce Bawer and the topic of Fundamentalism up on this thread (a must read for anyone - especially foreigners - who ever hope to understand anything about this uniquely American phenomenon and its impact on American politics) and my thanks to D, and to NCN, for giving me the opportunity of posting this comment(this has been on my heart for a long time). There is an important distinction between this most disturbing kind of fundamentalism that flourishes in America today and the way most of the world think of Christianity in general:
As illustrated in the example, I gave above, Christian Fundamentalism in America has replaced the traditional emphases of Christian belief with bizarre doctrinal strictures that have no legitimate basis in reason or tradition. It has replaced Christ's gospel message of love, which drew on the noblest parts of the Hebrew Scriptures, with the harshest edicts from the Pentateuch, the epistles of Paul, and the Book of Revelation. And last, but not least (and this is the most relevant and threatening aspect of it politically) it has replaced the foundational Protestant TRUST IN THE INDIVIDUAL's "soul competency" with a dictatorial system of clerical absolutism.
In recent years, the Christian right has organized into a political movement so successful that when many Americans today hear the word "Christianity," they think only of this "legalistic" fundamentalist variety.
The mainstream media, in covering the so-called culture wars, generally imply that there are only two sides to choose from: the God-of-wrath Christian Right and the so-called "godless" secular Left. Many Americans scarcely realize that there is any third alternative.
26 Oct 2004 @ 00:17 by i2i : Feedback and acknowledgement
Thank you so very much, ov, Sarah, and especially you, Faith, for your input and perspective. A long established NCN tradition would normally have me try and tie up all of this in some neat conclusion, or with some words of wisdom, like some members like to do, or maybe present some new lines along which to pursue the topics like ov suggested, but I feel it would be an improper thing of me to do in view of the topic and considering the richness and the depth of some of the well thought-out comments above, many of which would deserve a thread of their own. Besides, this is not my style, I feel there is something too artificial and too stifling, a bit condescending too, about posting some neatly wrapped-up conclusion at the bottom of a thread on ones own blog. I like to keep things open-ended.
On the topic of Christianity, Religious Tolerance has put some efforts in attempting to compare and contrast the beliefs and practices of very conservative with very liberal Christians. Most North American Christians belong to either a mainline denomination or the Roman Catholic Church. Their own faith group may teach some beliefs similar to the conservative wing of Christianity. Some beliefs are similar to that of the progressive wing. Some beliefs are intermediate between the two.
Also, interesting thread here on the Christianity.com forum: why are American Christians more conservative than in other countries?
Just yesterday, quoting Matthew 25:31-46, (Whatever you do to the least of these, you do unto me,) Kerry said in a major speech on faith and morality (at Fort Lauderdale) that his faith had taught him that this means we have a moral obligation to one another, to the forgotten, and to those who live in the shadows, this is a moral obligation at the heart of all our great religious traditions. It is also the vision of America ... the ethical test of a good society is how it treats its most vulnerable members I believe we must keep faith, not only with the Creator but also with present and future generations.
Kerry also sided with Bush opponents who believe that the president's firm religious convictions have seeped too deeply into policy and weakened the sacred separation of church and state in US politics: "My task, as I see it ... is not to write every doctrine into law. That is not possible or right in a pluralistic society. But my faith does give me values to live by and apply to the decisions I make."
I noticed that no one commented about the documentary "With God on our side." For those interested in seeing it, it will be showing two more times on the Sundance Channel on October 28th @ 12:30am ET (9:30am PT) and 7:00pm ET (4:00pm PT). I found it to be a non-partisan and rather mild (informative, non sensationalist) recap of the growth of the religious right in America and its evolution under the presidencies of Richard Nixons (its beginnings), Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and the two Bush presidencies.
3 Nov 2004 @ 19:33 by i2i : Wearing the "Right" hat
Active electioneering cannot be done by a church.
(Active electioneering involves actions such as endorsements of candidates and expenditures of funds to expressly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate for political office.)
But there are ways around this.
The following is extracted from a guideline by the Alliance Defense Fund on how to work with/around the requirements of the Federal Election Campaign Act and the Internal Revenue Code as they apply to churches and pastors:
"Active electioneering cannot be done by a church Issue advocacy, however, may not be limited by government and can be freely engaged in by churches. Issue advocacy includes the discussion of issues of public concern, the actions of governments officials in office, and the positions of candidates on issues. As long as one does not use explicit words expressly advocating the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate, one is free to praise or criticize officials and candidates this is called issue advocacy."
"Individuals, such as pastors or priests, may participate in political campaigns, as long as they do so as individuals, not in the name of the church. Any individual, including a pastor, may wear different hats at different times and, therefore, be involved in political activity, as long as he is wearing the right hat."
3 Nov 2004 @ 20:02 by i2i : Careful wording
If this is not an endorsement it comes darn close to it:
"The upcoming presidential election may be the most important election in American history. No other time has there been a sharper contrast between two nominees in their stances on specific, non-negotiable Biblical issues (abortion, fetal stem cell research, same-sex marriage, human cloning, religion in government). John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, strongly supports an extreme liberal and un-biblical agenda, while George W. Bush, our current Republican President, supports a conservative agenda that holds strongly to Biblical values. Below are the clear contrasts between the two "
(Follows here a list of issues ranging from Abortion, Homosexual rights, Prayer in public schools, Federal funding of religious charities, Fetal stem cell research, Euthanasia, Human cloning)
"As you can see, our nation is in a moral crisis On one hand, we have the liberal agenda, and the other, a conservative. God is neither Democrat nor Republican, but he is a righteous & just God. Therefore, we must take into serious account the issues that are morally wrong. Pray about your decision in voting and then take action. Remember - every vote counts!"
And so it did.
Political pundits and pollsters may debate about what issue Economy versus Foreign Policy (the fight against Terrorism, the war in Iraq) was of greatest concern to people this year, the point is moot, as ironically neither issue proved to be the deciding factor of this election in the end.
3 Nov 2004 @ 20:10 by ov : Morality
Morality! Oh, I thought you said 'more banality' and immediately said Amen, Amen, we need a lot more of that.
Did you notice that when they talk about morality the subject of genocide never ever gets mentioned.
The bottom line is that comfort trumps morality.
4 Nov 2004 @ 16:22 by Faith @18.104.22.168 : No more gray
A line from the second letter to the Corinthians"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?"represents one of Saint Paul's uglier moments, and is a favorite of legalistic Protestants, quoted frequently in both churches and homes.
George Bush appeals to fundamentalist Christians. His black and white vision of the world and his "if you are not with us, you are against us" philosophy resonates with their core beliefshence making the demonization of any political opponent or anyone who dares to disagree with him (Al Gore was the anti-Christ and so was Bill Clinton before him, and John Kerry is a "baby eater") something that they do not question and find easy to accept (very litterally so) as it is a thing they've learned to grow with, as part of the make-up of their daily realityMost Fundamentalist Christians are taught to view strangers not as fellow children of God but as possible agents of Satan.
As an ex-fundamentalist told the writer Stefan Ulstein in an interview for his book Growing Up Fundamentalist, "When you go to school you're 'behind enemy lines.' Your teachers, your classmates, are all potential enemies, and you have to be on guard all the time."
Indeed, to be a committed legalistic Protestant is to have a powerful BLACK-AND-WHITE sense of the world as a conflict between good and evil.
A former fundamentalist described the mind-set as follows: "There's no more gray. You're separated from this world and at the same time inhabiting an unseen world, in which you're fighting an unseen battle against the unseen Enemy. That's what fundamentalism is about: the Enemy."
And if you are not with them, you are against them, YOU are the ENEMY! You are an agent of Satan.
For legalistic Protestants, Satan is a constant, overwhelming presence. "It's a whole different mentality," the ex-fundamentalist explained. "You not only think about God all the time, you think about the Devil all the time. Everywhere you go, in every encounter with other people, you ask yourself whether this is of the Devil."
4 Nov 2004 @ 18:01 by jstarrs : Amen...
...amen. Amen. Amen.
4 Nov 2004 @ 22:25 by i2i : Church and State in America
"I'm not sure the Democrats realize just how strong the church is in Ohio," said the Rev. Bob Huffaker, senior pastor at the 5,000-member Grove City Church of the Nazarene, an evangelical church in the exurbs south of Columbus.
"These people were voting their values," said Huffaker, who had urged his parishioners to do just that in his Sunday messagealbeit without explicitly mentioning Bush by name (see the Christian Coalition's Voter Guide on this post and the Guideline for Churches and Pastors in comments above, "wearing the right hat" and "careful wording"). "It was incredibly important to them to vote, especially on the marriage issue."
Huffaker, who last month introduced Vice President Dick Cheney at a rally in Grove City, said: "Our parishioners are evangelical Christians, who see moral decay all around them and feel they have to speak up. It's a biblical issue. It's a spiritual issue.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Nicholas Jackson, 29, a physical therapist in Newark, who works with mentally retarded people and is active in his church, the evangelical Vineyard Grace Fellowship.
Jackson feels so strongly about cultural issues, including stopping gay marriage, that he wrote a letter published in his local newspaper under the headline, "How Would Jesus Vote?" For Bush, in Jackson's view.
"There's a whole world view involved," said Jackson, who was at his polling place Tuesday when the doors opened at 6:30 a.m.
"It's either going to be someone's immorality or someone's morality that wins out. Someone's cultural worldview is going to win out."
The quotes above are from an article about the State of Ohio in today's LA Times.
According to a recent poll, "moral values" were cited as the primary issue by 23% of the state's voters, and among this group 85% voted for Bush.
The article reports that the Bush campaign had paid liaisons to the Christian evangelical community, and with 70,000 volunteers conducted a highly disciplined effort to target new voters who were likely Bush supporters and to keep track of them right up to election day.
5 Nov 2004 @ 18:41 by Sarah @22.214.171.124 : The Anathema of Legalistic Christianity
Any religion so weak that it feels its survival depends on the support of government is unworthy of the name!
For a single case study, let's consider the question of Prayer in Public Schools. Would Jesus have been in favor of it? The New Testament tells us that Jesus deeply believed that prayer is a Private act. He said that we should not pray in public, MAKING A DISPLAY OF OUR PIETY, but in private, in our own closet he said, where we could speak directly to God without distraction or presumption.
The suggestion by Mr. Nicholas Jackson, a professed Christian, that Jesus would have voted for Bush is to me pure anathema, and reveals, in my opinion, a profound disrespect for the teachings of Christ, Christianity, Spirituality as a whole, and religion at large.
6 Nov 2004 @ 05:16 by i2i : Like a thornbush in a drunkard's hand
The Bible says somewhere (Proverbs 26:9):
"Like a thornbush in a drunkard's hand is a proverb in the mouth of a fool."
Meaning that even sharp insights can be dangerous and open to misinterpretation and abuses when used by the wrong hands. The Bible can be quoted by anyone for his or her own purposes. (In its pages there are passing references to the evils of everything from women to shellfish---but far from being a biblical literalist, Jesus himself drew a sharp distinction between the transient and permanent teachings contained in the scriptures.) This is true of the Bible as it is true of almost anything---not because anything is wrong with religion or the Bible, but because something is wrong with some people who quote the Bible or use religion in the wrong way and for the wrong reasons. Just as roses are lovely except when a drunk is waving them around, so the Bible (I am specifically thinking of The New Testament) can be wonderful except when a fool is waving it around.
Some interesting articles are being written here and there over this, as people are reacting. The U.S.A.R. by C. B. Shapiro from BoingBoing (via Ming the Mechanic) is one of them. I am glad to see that at least some people manage to retain a sense of humor in the midst of all this. But it is an ironic kind of humor, jeering and bitter. I can't help but feel, that something somewhere is broken and that nothing will ever be as it was before.
This is the second time in a row our Presidential Election holds the world transfixed---people in Europe and elsewhere are discovering an America that is not the America they thought they knew, the one they were told about in text books in high school or the one they discovered on their own, through exposure to our culture, fashion, and the music and movie industries.
In 2000, the power of Corporate Media and its influence on the political process came under scrutiny. This year, it's the power of the Church---and, to many Christians in the rest of the world, the discovery of a strange, unfamiliar, "made in America" brand of Christianity.
6 Nov 2004 @ 22:26 by Logan @126.96.36.199 : Jesus
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! ...blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel."
"And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men."
For years, Jesus has been held captive by people who claim to believe in him. But his words persist, defying their deed of ownership. Jesus was no conservative. He challenged the establishment, both religious and political.
Would anyone who turned over the money-changers' tables in the temple have had anything nice to say about today's televangelists? And what about those who pride themselves for saving the taxpayers money by slashing social programs?
When it comes to their platform and the "moral issues" they have been rallying around at practically the exclusion of any other issue, I believe that today's self-righteous right-wing moralists would have found themselves more at home in the company of the Pharisees (the biblical literalist of Jesus's own days) and the Sadduccees (who defended the status quo - the poor get poorer, the rich get richer) than they would in the company of Jesus who, we are told, cavorted with prostitutes and other reprobates, and always came down on the side of the dispossessed and downtrodden.
11 Nov 2004 @ 09:22 by ov : Rapture Index
The Rapture Index and the U.S. election
Embassy, November 3rd, 2004
By Bill Moyers
How do we explain the possibility that a close election ... could turn on several million good and decent citizens who believe in the Rapture Index? That's what I said the Rapture Index. Google it and you will understand why the best-selling books in America today are the twelve volumes of the Left Behind series which have earned multi-millions of dollars for their co-authors who earlier this year completed a triumphant tour of the Bible Belt whose buckle holds in place George W. Bush's armour of the Lord. These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the l9th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative millions of people believe to be literally true.
According to this narrative, Jesus will return to earth only when certain conditions are met: when Israel has been established as a state; when Israel then occupies the rest of its "biblical lands;" when the third temple has been rebuilt on the site now occupied by the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosques; and, then, when legions of the Antichrist attack Israel. This will trigger a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon during which all the Jews who have not converted will be burned. Then the Messiah returns to earth. The Rapture occurs once the big battle begins. "True believers" will be lifted out of their clothes and transported to heaven where, seated next to the right hand of God, they will watch their political and religious opponents suffer plagues of boils, sores, locusts and frogs during the several years of tribulation which follow.
I'm not making this up. We've reported on these people for our weekly broadcast on PBS, following some of them from Texas to the West Bank. They are sincere, serious, and polite as they tell you that they feel called to help bring the Rapture on as fulfillment of biblical prophecy. That's why they have declared solidarity with Israel and the Jewish settlements and backed up their support with money and volunteers. It's why they have staged confrontations at the old temple site in Jerusalem. It's why the invasion of Iraq for them was a warm-up act, predicted in the 9th chapter of the Book of Revelations where four angels "which are bound in the great river Euphrates" will be released "to slay the third part of men." As the British writer George Monbiot has pointed out, for these people the Middle East is not a foreign policy issue, it's a biblical scenario, a matter of personal belief. A war with Islam in the Middle East is not something to be feared but welcomed; if there's a conflagration there, they come out winners on the far side of tribulation, inside the pearly gates, in celestial splendor, supping on ambrosia to the accompaniment of harps plucked by angels.
One estimate puts these people at about l5 per cent of the electorate. Most are likely to vote Republican; they are part of the core of George W. Bush's base support. He knows who they are and what they want. When the President asked Ariel Sharon to pull his tanks out of Jenin in 2002, over one hundred thousand angry Christian fundamentalists barraged the White House with emails and Mr. Bush never mentioned the matter again.
Not coincidentally, the administration recently put itself solidly behind Ariel Sharon's expansions of settlements on the West Bank. In George Monbiot's analysis, the President stands to lose fewer votes by encouraging Israeli expansion into the West Bank than he stands to lose by restraining it. "He would be mad to listen to these people, but he would also be mad not to." No wonder Karl Rove walks around the West Wing whistling "Onward Christian Soldiers." He knows how many votes he is likely to get from these pious folk who believe that the Rapture Index now stands at 144 --- just one point below the critical threshold at which point the prophecy is fulfilled, the whole thing blows, the sky is filled with floating naked bodies, and the true believers wind up at the right hand of God. With no regret for those left behind. (See George Monbiot. The Guardian, April 20, 2004.)
I know, I know: You think I am bonkers... But this is just the point: Journalists who try to tell these stories, connect these dots, and examine these links are demeaned, disparaged, and dismissed. This is the very kind of story that illustrates the challenge journalists face in a world driven by ideologies that are stoutly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality.
--Bill Moyers, Excerpts from an address to the Society of Professional Journalists 2004 National Convention
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