Uses and Abuses of Religion

My youngest son has a simple formula for comparing and evaluating religions. According to him, whatever their other differences and similarities, religions fall into one of two basic categories: those that encourage adherents to engage with the questions (good), and those that hand believers fixed, inflexible answers (bad).

It’s a handy guide.

Just this week, that distinction came to mind twice. Once, when I read about Governor Pence’s fundraising; evidently, one of his major donors is the owner of Hobby Lobby–the man who went to Court to protect his “right” to impose his religious beliefs on his employees. Our Governor is quite clearly in the camp of those who are sure they have the answers, that they know exactly what God wants (and isn’t it nice that God hates the same people they do!), and who give no evidence of ever having engaged with the questions or wrestled with moral ambiguities.

Fortunately, there is another kind of faith community, and it was on beautiful display last Sunday at an Interfaith Vigil for Nondiscrimination. The Vigil was held at North United Methodist Church, and hosted by the Interfaith Coalition on Nondiscrimination, Freedom Indiana and the Reconciling Ministries Network of Indiana.

When my husband and I entered the sanctuary, I was struck by the size of the audience. My husband estimated attendance at a thousand people, most of whom appeared to be middle-aged or older.

Program participants included Darren Cushman-Wood, Pastor of North Church; Rev. Danyelle Ditmer, pastor of Epworth United Methodist Church; Rev. Linda McCrae, pastor at Central Christian Church; Whittney Murphy, the student body president of Christian Theological Seminary; Rabbi Sandy Sasso, Rabbi Emerita of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck: and Philip Gulley, Pastor of Fairfield Friends Meeting.

If there was a “call to arms,” it would probably be Rabbi Sasso’s declaration that people of faith would not stand by and allow religion and religious language to be hijacked and used as a cover for hatred and discrimination.

If there was a summing up of the sentiments of those in the sanctuary, it would be these words of Phil Gulley’s–a small part of his extraordinary and moving speech. Gulley reminded us of “the America of the open door, its hand extended in friendship.

“It is the land of the kindly neighbor, the generous friend, the liberal heart. It is the America welcoming the tired, the poor, the huddled masses. It is the people with nothing to fear but fear itself, the nation conceived in liberty, dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal. It is the America made wiser by our differences, the America committed to justice, dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, who measures its strength in its citizenry, not its weaponry.”

To which we might add (with a nod to my son’s categorization), it is the America in which thoughtful religious citizens are grateful for their constitutional right to explore questions of meaning and transcendence for themselves—an America that understands the importance of extending that same intellectual and moral autonomy to everyone, that rejects the profoundly unAmerican theocratic urge to use religion in the service of their own dominance and privilege.

Both the Governor’s fundraising report and the Interfaith Vigil remind me that, like so much else in life, religion is neither an unalloyed good nor an unremitting evil. It can be used or it can be abused.

My own test is actually simpler than my son’s: if your beliefs make you a better, kinder person, they’re good. If they make you a rigid, judgmental asshole, they aren’t.

 

 

 

55 thoughts on “Uses and Abuses of Religion

  1. Your son’s analysis is similar to my 87 year-old father’s words of wisdom. Many years ago he told me that I should never get involved in a religion that told you what to wear, what to eat and who could have sex with. And never trust a religion that condemned any of those practices. So I learned not to judge, even the one who are judgmental – and accept the fact that the judgmental ones are assholes.

  2. Help me if I am wrong, but seems religion boils down to a we-they division where we know the true god and they do not.

  3. To me religion is about my own personal spiritual experience, not about nodding in agreement with a guy who has a $200 haircut, makeup and an expensive suit and is clearly most interested in fundraising.

  4. “My youngest son has a simple formula for comparing and evaluating religions. According to him, whatever their other differences and similarities, religions fall into one of two basic categories: those that encourage adherents to engage with the questions (good), and those that hand believers fixed, inflexible answers (bad).”

    “My own test is actually simpler than my son’s: if your beliefs make you a better, kinder person, they’re good. If they make you a rigid, judgmental asshole, they aren’t.”

    Sheila; I see your belief and your son’s going hand-in-hand, a necessity in today’s world. The headline in the Star this morning, “BILLS WOULD EASE GUN RESTRICTIONS” in the 2016 General Assembly goes hand-in-hand with the USA Today headline, “GUN LICENSE APPLICANTS GET PRIORITY” and the sub-headline, “ATF spends more time putting dealers in business. Both scream the rigid religious beliefs controlling the State of Indiana and our federal government in their anti-President Obama Executive Action on this life-and-death issue. And life and death are the basis of all beliefs, no matter which religion is at the forefront. Their Bible-thumping racist beliefs are guiding their every move during President Obama’s final year in the White House. LGBT issues in the state of Indiana and the nation will vie with gun control during this final year of his attempt to return sanity and human rights to America and Americans…never mentioning religion in his battle. He is going out fighting and I support him.

    I left the last organized religion I had been affiliated with when I realized I was living 24/7 with my head filled with fear and guilt. Afraid to make any decision about anything, fearing it would be the wrong decision. Guilt because I couldn’t make decisions…and couldn’t afford the 10% tithe demanded weekly. This fear and guilt was coupled with the blatant racism preached and practiced by the church. As always with me; it was a personal decision that abruptly ended all association with that particular Baptist church. The head of the Sunday School attempted to rape me in my basement when I sought to hire him to haul out debris left by the previous owners. Had my children not come in from school at that time, he would have succeeded. No idea what religious belief led him to believe he had that right and more than I have any idea why the owners of Hobby Lobby believe, supported by SCOTUS, they have the right to control their employees birth control decisions.

    I will not add my disgust at the “local reaction” to President Obama’s gun control by WISH TV Channel 8; nor will I add my disgust and fury at the way the host on MSNBC cut Bernie Sanders off mid-sentence regarding the same issue, removing him entirely from the program. My religion is trying in vain not to speak out about these judgmental assholes as I struggle NOT to become one of them. Probably too late but, WTF, at least I am trying.

  5. Having left religion years ago I no longer have first hand knowledge of what is being preached or not. Has any reader of this blog heard a sermon in the past ten years about the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” and the hypocrisy of those who say they believe this and yet own a gun?

  6. More broadly there are people who think and people who follow. Religion highlights these types, as those who think generally move beyond their religions, or at least take them in moderation, while those who follow latch on to that ultimate source of authority. Religion is dangerous and mostly awful because human beings are pack animals who evolved primarily to follow.

  7. Your thoughts for this day tie in perfectly with a speech given by FDR to Congress on this day in 1941 where he outlined his Four Freedoms: 1) the freedom of speech and expression, 2) the freedom to worship … in his (her) own way, 3) freedom from want and, 4) freedom from fear.
    It seems our elected officials and the minions of the modern-day GOP have no interest in freedom for all, or they’ve forgotten what freedom means. I wonder what FDR would have to say… or even Teddy Roosevelt. If I were a praying person, I would invest every effort toward it to stop this crazy translation of their bastardized version of…freedom. But I don’t pray. I vote.
    2017 looks pretty bleak if we don’t stop this now.

  8. I taught the Middle School/High School RE (Religious Exploration) class last year, and the kids wanted to talk about zombies! My first thought was what the heck am I going to do with that. But then I came across a piece about authors of zombie books using zombies as stand ins for people who won’t think.

    So we talked about Zombie Churches. Some churches will tell you exactly how to live, what to say, what to believe. And there is a continuum from the Zombie Churches to the anti-Zombie Churches. Our church, the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Community Church of Hendricks County in Danville is an anti-zombie church, as are most UU churches. But the zombie churches aren’t all bad – we must remember that 50 percent of the population has an IQ under 100 (not that that fact means that they have any less inherent worth and dignity, the UU First Principle). Some people don’t want to think, or just aren’t smart enough to figure this confusing world out, and a zombie church that teaches them to be loving people is just fine. It’s the ones that teach them to hate others who are unlike their selves that we want to look out for.

    UU churches, generally (even UUs slip up every once in a while), do not tell you what to believe, WILL NOT tell you what to believe. We will help you figure out what you want to believe (we have a course called “Building Your Own Theology”). We have no creed, but instead we have 7 princiiples.

    1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
    2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
    3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
    4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
    5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
    6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
    7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

    I suspect many of you aren’t familiar with Unitarian Universalism, but thought some of you might like to be. We welcome people of ever believe that is not in major contradition with our principles, and that includes everything from atheists to Zen Buddhists! It’s also a great place for couples of mixed faith.

  9. Cheryl,

    “2017 looks pretty bleak if we don’t stop THIS now.”

    I have a very important Quaker friend who always would say to me: Marvin, what do you mean by THIS? And I would go on and on about THIS. After awhile she became more and more put off by me.

    However, lately she has become much more friendly as she now can see that THIS wasn’t so easily explained. THIS is a powerful MOVEMENT. The Tea Party is only the tip. It’s very hard to describe because it doesn’t move in a way we have observed through prior historical moves in America.

    It’s non linear. It’s dynamic, not static. And most important, It’s web like and thus, very hard to “pen down” and explain.

    Excuse me. I almost forgot to say: THIS is masked, as Walter Cronkite had earlier pointed out, by Christianity.

    I can understand how difficult this is to take by my ethical Christian friends. They’re caught between a “rock and a hard place.”

  10. It occurs to me that those who think of religion as a blanket to protect moral and other choices and/or reject it in favor of no religion at all are themselves acting religiously in making such choices. Thus in my view and in isolated context atheism is a religion but without a god and the usual monkish interpretations of right and wrong in human experience amidst our cultural trappings. I have also found that many atheists are as militant in their beliefs (including non-beliefs) as those who faced the cross and lions in Roman days. Conclusion: Humans haven’t progressed much from the beginnings of animism to sophisticated theology or lack thereof today.
    Fortunately, standards for good and bad among the masses are not the exclusive province of temple, mosque or of “the church” with its medieval monk interpolation of scripture. The church, like any other human institution and including its detractors, is riddled with saints and sinners. The biblical prescription of “work out your own salvation in fear and trembling” and the adage “Physician, heal thyself” have much in common. It is neither a Pence nor a pope who is in charge of one’s life and how it is lived (within certain social norms found in law and culture); it is rather the responsibility of each and every one of us who would like to shed such personal responsibility to a “higher power” as though that solves the problem now and forever. We are all religious in one sense or another whatever we profess or deliberately refuse to profess, but it seems to me that there is one constant in this dreary discussion, and it is this: One must paddle his/her own philosophical canoe.

  11. I am a firm believer (if you’ll pardon the expression) that the asking of questions is of paramount importance to understanding, and even really having, faith in a religious context. I am also a firm believer that this country was founded on the principle that we are each endowed with the right to believe (or not) in the religion that makes that connection with our hearts and souls. That being said, I do not think your characterization of the Hobby Lobby court contest is at all accurate. They were not attempting to “impose [their] religious beliefs on [their] employees.;” instead they were trying to prevent the government from making them participate in a program which they felt violated their religious beliefs. This is part of the “moral ambiguity” you reference in a later portion of your blog. You may not agree with their interpretation of the requirement in question, but your agreement is not relevant in terms of what their beliefs are. Your attitude towards people who have real and heartfelt religious viewpoints that require them to act in ways that you would not is as much an intolerance as that which you accuse them of. I disagree with their position, as I do with those who would deny services to gays, blacks, Muslims, or whatever group based on their interpretation of their religious convictions, but that does not mean that we can deny them their rights to practice their faith as they see fit. When that practice infringes on other people’s rights, then we have the true ambiguity.

  12. “If there was a “call to arms,” it would probably be Rabbi Sasso’s declaration that people of faith would not stand by and allow religion and religious language to be hijacked and used as a cover for hatred and discrimination.”

    The judgemental religious people are so closed minded that they refuse to listen to any idea that might be different than what has been drilled into their minds for years by their church leaders.

    This is why so many people like myself have given up and just left organized religion. In addition, the younger generations in our country have shunned organized religion more than at any other time in the history of our country. They are intelligent enough to recognize the hatred and bigotry that organized religion spreads and they don’t have any interest in being a part of it.

    Religious conservatives are very alive and well in northern Indiana. Just this week my State Senator, Jim Banks, filed SB 144. It would prohibit the abortion of an unborn human with a detectable heartbeat. Apparently an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable between 6-8 weeks of pregnancy. This would mean that at the very exact time a woman realizes that she is pregnant she could not obtain an abortion. He is claiming that this bill includes important women’s health protections. WHAT???

    His bill also includes the establishment of an “Interim Study Committee on Adoption Promotion and Support”. Isn’t this what the Republicans always do – establish some useless study committee that accomplishes nothing more than wasting valuable time that could be spent conducting important business?

    What he failed to include in this bill is additional funds to raise and support those babies and their mothers. As we all know, anti-abortionists are not actually pro-life. If they were, they would demand funding to properly take care of these mothers and the children they were forced to bring into this world.

    I urge everyone to watch out for anything that Sen. Banks proposes or backs. He has become a powerful member of the State Legislature’s Conservative Religious Extremists. He plans to run for a U.S. Senate position and the Club for Growth backs him. The Club for Growth has a lot of money and power and consistently supports candidates that enable the 1% to gain even more wealth.

  13. GALJohnson – thanks for the information about Unitarian Universalism. It sounds like a welcoming form of community and support.

  14. Beazulbub – “those who think generally move beyond their religions, or at least take them in moderation”

    I agree!

  15. Many Americans have been duped into thinking that freedom is measured only by the number of things that they personally want to believe and do that they can get away with.

    Witness the Oregon yahoos trying to steal our land. I would ask them who is living in fear? Who is not tending to their family? Who is an unproductive being? Their answer would be something like we’re free because we can kill.

    I respect faith because for some it represents freedom – living a meaningful life assuranced that you are in tune with the highest ideals of the species.

    Of course the faith of others is merely emotional slavery – again the Oregon criminals come to mind.

    So, bottom line, religion is not a problem. It does and always has brought good and comfort to many who need it.

    And freedom is not a problem in the context of people being free – free from fear.

    One of my favorite sayings now is live free, informed, unafraid.

    How many Americans have allowed their lives to be consumed by others and thereby accepted following, ignorance, and fear.

  16. Nancy; the term “religious extremists” should be an oxymoron but has instead become a very dangerous normal condition. Those who fear and mistrust all Muslims and foreigners are missing the most dangerous religious extremists in this country – the pseudo Christians who are now making our laws and removing civil rights from Americans. Many of whom are the sheep (Republican voters), led by the Judas goat, to slaughter by depriving civil and human rights and a livable income for the majority of citizens. The religious far-right has a good start on depriving primarily women of needed medical care. All in the name of God – their God who exists only in their minds and changes at the least provocation or whim as it strikes them .

  17. I think Jerry makes a good point about Atheism.

    It’s important to remember that people with bad behavior will use any means to justify their actions. Religion is often the vehicle for that justification, but it is not the only means. Let’s all not forget the anti-religious campaigns of Soviet Russia. Atheists and Agnostics and people who profess to be purely secular are not immune from the problems associated with religious hypocrites and haters. I hope your son sees that every religion and every ideology contains sects and individuals who fit both of his either/or categories.

    To live your life according to your belief or nonbelief is a freedom we should all uphold in this country. We are darned lucky to have it. We should not allow religion or any other political idea to be used to foster discrimination or hate.

    Sheila, I enjoy your blog. I think you have some of the most intelligent commentary on Indiana politics in your writing and in your comments section. Thank you for being such an excellent hostess.

  18. While religion is the opium of the masses, and that’s not bad (we all need a little relief from this craziness), you highlight that for too many religions they believe “those little rat bastards need to be told what to do.”

    And that’s just sad.

    Whereas, my doctrine is happily based on Kurt Vonnegut, and that’s just good!

  19. Nancy,

    I’ve been a UU all my adult life. I come from the Unitarian side not the Universalist. They are a very welcoming group. I’m an exception, but I’m sure you can understand why that might be.

    In many ways they are like the Society of Friends (Quakers).

  20. Atheists have been a target of religion forever. Atheists provide important oversight and a balance to religious extremists. They usually lose the fight, but they file the unpopular lawsuits against religious displays on public property, etc. I take exception to the statement that “atheists are as militant in their beliefs (including non-beliefs) as those who faced the cross and lions in Roman days”. I don’t see any militant atheists, unless “militant” includes urging our government to maintain its separation from religion.

    Atheists are free to treat respectable people with respect and without fear of divine punishment, treat assholes like they deserve to be treated.

  21. I enjoyed a much needed growth experience in a UU congregation. Then, more recently, my wife and I attended a UU service in a newly adopted neighborhood where a seemingly self-appointed “welcoming” authority succinctly informed us that the congregation did not need to reach out for new membership because it was the beneficiary of an annuity by a member and therefore did not need new financial support.

  22. Marv,

    I really don’t know anything about UU, so I do not understand the difference between Unitarian and Universalist. You are welcome to try to enlighten me about this.

    I left the Methodist denomination years ago and started attending a Friends (Quaker) church. Attended there for 13 years and left that 2-1/2 years ago when they were attempting to decide whether or not they wanted to accept homosexuals. I could not tolerate the absolute hatred and bigotry that showed it’s ugly face and became a constant focus for over 2 years. At least that is what happened at the church I attended.

    Over the years, I concluded that organized religion is mostly about imposing power over the congregants.

  23. As a pastor for the past 17 years I too often hear two phrases that, when used, bring fear and loathing racing to my heart. They are (1)” I’m a good Christian, but . . . ;” and, (2)” We are good Christians, but . . .” Why to I dislike those phrases so? They are usually followed by a racist, or bigoted, or hateful, or self-righteous twaddle used to excuse VERY un-Christlike behavior. That would be bad enough, but they are often shouted out by so-called “Christians,” who wouldn’t recognize Jesus if he sat on their lap(s) and spoke directly into their ear(s). One of my teachers warned me that “When you hear the phrase ‘God and” you should immediately realize that the speaker is far more interested in what follows “and” than what preceded it. I’ve found him to be correct far, far more often than not, too.
    In light of this I am only too happy to share a link to a blog that will warm the hearts of most (not all, I realize) of your hearts as it did mine. Please give it a read. http://johnpavlovitz.com/2016/01/06/president-obamas-tenure-has-been-more-christian-than-his-critics-will-ever-admit/ You may have to copy and paste it into your browser search bar as I see that it did not turn blue as I typed it although it may when it is posted. Thank you for your time and consideration.

  24. Wray – you sound like a pastor that truly focuses on what is important. Unfortunately, there are far too many pastors that choose to focus on money and rules. Thank you for being the exception.

  25. While I appreciate the tone and intention of the piece, I’m saddened by the lack of understanding about religion and spirituality. What has erroneously been defined as “one of two basic categories” of religion is actually about the difference between religion and spirituality.

    Spirituality is a personal path of self-realized “truths” and customs. Spirituality is our personal path involving “engaging the questions”. Spirituality guides us on a personal level and into choosing a religion.

    Religion, by its definition, IS “fixed, inflexible answers”. Religion is about providing answers… Religion in its actual definition is an organized system of beliefs and practices: It has hierarchy, laws, taboos, mores, customs, rites, a way of seeing and interacting with the world. This is the whole point of religion – and it’s not a bad thing.

    What this piece is really getting at is the difference IN a given religion that individual spirituality causes. Religion is a set of rules and rites, how it is applied and interpreted falls upon the shoulders of the clergy and their following: this is why there is a history of church rifts and denominalization of religions.

    This distinction is necessary for any legitimate dialogue.

    Sorry your cute little example was wrong 🙁

  26. Girl cousin, your quote of Napoleon Bonaparte is quite apt. Indeed religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich (among other things). However, today I think the question might well be what we should do to keep the rich (with their resistance to decent wages, good education, health care etc.) from murdering the poor. Did the great general turned social commentator address that problem, or was there perfect liberty, equality and fraternity following the revolution of his day?

  27. Wray, very interesting opinion piece that you posted.

    While I am an enthusiastic supporter of separation of church and state that does not mean that both are not part of the foundations of the country. Respect by citizens for America and love by congregants for their Faith formerly defined our culture. They’ve been taken from us by pure simple greed and now we don’t know how to get them back.

    While I am optimistic by nature I’d have to say that at best it will be a long hard slog and at worst we simply will fail as a country and a culture.

  28. Thank you, Pete.

    You are certainly correct that “it will be a long hard slog” to get back on track, but so long as there are those who are willing to keep on fighting at least there is a chance. The finest hours and greatest days of our domestic progress took place when churches, labor and lovers of civil rights worked together for a kinder, stronger nation. I would hope and pray that we can recapture that spirit and move forward together once again.

    I’ve got my slogging boots on and will wear them until my time is exhausted.

  29. Nancy,

    At your request, this is a short synopsis of the UU’s along with my personal prejudices:

    The Unitarians and Universalists joined together in 1961 for financial reasons.

    UU’s differentiate themselves from other Christians: The Unitarians believe Jesus was human and not devine; the Universalists believe in salvation for everyone not just Christians. That was always a good starting point for me.

    Some congregations tend to be Unitarian, others Universalists. Some attempt the mixture of the two.

    However, locale makes a difference in many cases. I’ve belonged to many UU Congregations. The last one was in Jacksonville. We have two. I’ve been a member of both, even the one in St. Augustine.

    I’ve always been a Unitarian not a Universalists. there are very few Unitarians. Some of my close friends have been Universalists; however, at least in the North Florida area they attempt to conform to the strong fundamentalist Christian influence. Consequently, I resigned from the church a few months before I started posting on Sheila’s Blog. Although the church, some are called societies, was very good on racism, for the most part, and LGBT issues they attempted to censor me on discussing the local Tea Party oligarchy, reminiscent of tactics used by Florida Governor Rick Scott.

    In the past, there have been deadly attacks on UU Congregations in the U.S., like we have seen with African-American Churches. So I have to admit, the UU’s have some realistic concerns on how much “truth” they are willing to accept within their walls.

    I would categorize my departure as friendly. A few others probably would not.

  30. Marv,

    I fail to see anything new under this sun. There have been oppressors and the oppressed since times began. Beazulbub is on to something when he states we are essentially pack animals . We need a leader as it appears we are incapable of self government. (Now give us a king to lead us, as in all other nations. Sam. 8) We need kings because the human mind is not programmed to succumb to reason. Baser emotions rule our actions. It has been said that common sense is the least common of all senses. The maladies of the 20th century cannot be attributed to one religion or one party. The stream toward self destruction has been steady and unrelenting. We did more damage this year than we did last. We will do worse tomorrow. And this trend can only be reversed when we seek out leaders who are ready to die. After we have killed enough of them, we will tire and allow one to save us.

    Meanwhile, the THIS is as old as the dividers and the square.

  31. Earl,

    I’m not in disagreement. You’re probably 100% right. I was talking about the methods used by THIS. The methods are not as old as the dividers and the square.

    I’m just a little bit more optimistic than you are. That’s all.

  32. Marv, thanks for the synopsis. I checked online and the closest one to my location is 2 hours away so that will keep me from finding out more in person.

    The Tea Party is alive and very strong where I live – speaking out against them in a local church would probably get a person kicked out.

  33. Nancy,

    They don’t kick you out. They come to you and say listen: “A lot of the members are very upset with your use of the term oligarchy.” I never went further than implying that it exists. I will admit not in very favorable terms. For me, to refrain from using the term “oligarchy” is like refraining from using the term: “Sun.” Both can give you a bad burn. A real bad one.

    We both want freedom. Not everyone feels that way. Actually, very few. Down deep most like to be led around like sheep, like Earl has pointed out. Sometimes, even to their slaughter.

  34. Browsing through the comments today makes me wish that more secondary level school students and all university students were exposed to a credit-earning course entitled something along this line: World Religions-A Comparative Overview.

    Just as all Muslims are not wild-eyed terrorists, not all Christians are narrow-minded Bible thumpers. When we make sweeping barroom generalizations about any particular group or, in this case, any faith group, we demonstrate a lack of cultural literacy and comprehension regarding the inherent differences in the denominations of the primary groups in each world religion.

    Because I was raised ‘in’ a culture of mainline protestant Christianity, it does not equate that I am ‘of’ the culture of all the branches of Christianity. Mainline Christianity includes the specific denominations of United Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, and the particular smaller denominations who embrace the ecumenical movement and the National Council of Churches. Seldom will one find a mainline Christian protestant thumping a Bible, quoting scripture to prove a point, or generally conducting his/her life in a narrow judgemental fashion based upon an infallible Bible. Off the top of my head, I’m reminded of thoughtful political statesmen who self-identified as mainline Christian protestants including Dick Lugar (Methodist), Sam Nunn (Methodist), and Bill Hudnut (Presbyterian).

    I’d suggest that the evangelicals, the fundamentalists, and the pentecostals be remembered as the proselytizers, the Bible thumpers, and the frozen chosen.

  35. This is a part of my earlier post: “Excuse me. I almost forgot to say: THIS is masked, as Walter Cronkite had earlier pointed out, by Christianity.”

    “I can understand how difficult this is to take by my ETHICAL Christian friends. They’re caught between a “rock and a hard place.”

    Walter Cronkite used the word Christianity in a negative sense to describe the MASK not as a belief.

    To be more specific my ETHICAL Christian friends would include: The UU’s, Quakers, and “Mainline Christianity which includes the specific denominations of United Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, and the particular smaller denominations who embrace the ecumenical movement and the National Council of Churches.” WITH EMPHASIS ON THE ECUMENICAL MOVEMENT AND THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES.

    Four or five months ago, I was asked by two of you to publish on the internet: “Democracide: The Far Right’s Path to Power,” which my companion and I self-published in 1993. It’s an explanation of how the present divide in Christianity started. One reason I haven’t published it on http://www.democracide.info so far is the threat of serious retaliation which Barbara and I received on its first publication.

    The threats were coded as a part of “The Chamber” by John Grisham. “The Chamber” was the 7th best seller in the world for the decade of the 90’s. It was published in response to “Democracide.”

    Despite the dangers, I will publish the essay again. This time on the internet. Unless I run into downloading problems, it should be online by the end of he week. Time is running out.

  36. Marv,

    Your above post brings to mind Senator Tom McIntyre’s 1979 book, “The Fear Brokers”. The particular book, in hardback copy, is on my bookshelf located directly over my left shoulder.

    I’m thinking you remember those awful Christian Yellow Pages where jerk businesses advertised.

  37. BSH,

    As mainly a pro bono attorney, the largest fee I ever received was $5,000 an hour. Phil Burleson who defended Jack Ruby referred the case to me. He was going to charge $20,000 an hour.

    My client Larry Lassiter, who was Chris Everet’s partner, had conned SMU University into funding the multi-million dollar Turtle Creek Tennis Complex by selling his strong Christian beliefs, which were non-existent. I won the case in one hour. It wasn’t before a jury but a judge. I saved the “born again Lassiter” over a million dollars. His response was to argue that my fee was excessive. The Judge and I became “fast” friends after he finished listening to that jerk.

    I also handled two or three other cases directly involving the Christian Yellow Pages. One “screw job” after another. They became a very profitable source for attorney income in Dallas.

    Dallas in the 80’s was the incubator for almost everything that’s rotten in Christianity today. We explained that clearly in “Democracide: The Far Right’s Path to Power.”

  38. I was going to comment on the subject of religion (naturally since most people think I AM the subject of religion)….but find I am the 49th commenter. Not the best place for ME to BE.

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