Tag Archives: Religious Right

Colson’s death reminds me of a couple of warnings in Scripture

Where there is smoke there is fire.  Colson’s death reminds me of a couple of warnings in Scripture.  Jude’s warning and the death of Ananias.

Acts 5:1-6 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? 4 “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it. 6 The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him. NASU
Jude 12ff These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever…finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.  < characterizing imposters in the Church.

Jude said it, not me; I just pay attention to it.  So, in paying attention to it what does all this mean?  Be warned; judgment begins with the household of God; what?

  • … This year, in his final intervention in public affairs, Colson denounced the Department of Health and Human Services’ contraception mandate as representing “the first time” in American history that a church-state battle had been decided “by a bureaucrat in a government agency simply writing it and putting it out as law.” That, of course, was nonsense. Federal rule-making with respect to the application of new legislation with respect to religious rights is normal and customary.

  • Those inclined to pay tribute to Colson have deemed him an “evangelist” or a “church leader,” but Silk’s term is more accurate. He was, above all else, a culture warrior — fighting the same battles he once fought in the White House, with the same honesty and decency he displayed there.

“Chuck Colson was a cruel, vain, and arrogant man in all phases of his life, a dissembler and a hater to the end.” — Jeff Sharlet

Anthea Butler:

  • Colson’s life both before and after Watergate was one in which the most powerful people funded and supported the work that he did, whether it be the Nixon administration or Prison Fellowship. Both worlds were mediated by Colson’s worldview. Both were worlds of power and prestige. The message may have changed for Colson, but his support system remained ensconced in a particular kind of power.

Frank Schaeffer:

  • a Watergate felon who converted to “evangelicalism” but never lost his taste for dirty political tricks against opponents.
  • Colson was a vocal far right leader who tried to fill my late father’s religious right leadership (Francis Schaeffer) shoes by borrowing material from his books, even repeating one of Dad’s book titles as if he (Colson) was writing a sequel.
  • Colson had his “books” ghost written by Harold Fickett and other writers, some of whom like Fickett (who I worked with closely many years ago) used to complain to me almost daily about what an egomaniac Colson was to work for and how he did all he could to hide the fact that his work was written by others while rarely sharing credit.
  • … Few men have done more to trade (betray?) the gospel of love for the gospel of empowering corporate America and greed through the misuse of the so-called culture war issues to get lower middle class whites to vote against their own economic interests in the name of “family values.”

David Badash:

  • The Los Angeles Times described Colson’s Manhattan Declaration as incautious, “apocalyptic,” “disingenuous,” “irresponsible and dangerous,” and chastised its “Christian religious leaders who, even as they insist on their right to shape the nation’s laws, are reserving the right to violate them.”
  • The Times also labeled the Declaration’s attack on same-sex marriage as a “canard,” “as is the declaration’s complaint that Christian leaders are being prevented from expressing their ‘religious and moral commitments to the sanctity of life and to the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife’.”
  • Colson repeatedly attacked same-sex marriage and homosexuality. He wrongly stated “homosexual behavior” is more “dangerous than smoking, it lowers the life expectancy dramatically.” Colson also falsely stated that legalizing same-sex marriage was “sanctioning behavior known to be dangerous.” And, again falsely, stated that gays and lesbians “don’t want marriage; they want their sexual choices affirmed as normal and moral.”
  •  And as late as last year, despite years of research to the contrary, Colson was publicly advocating that homosexuality was both a choice and avoidable if parents “properly” raised their children.

David Sessions:

  • In 1994 he led an entourage of prominent evangelicals who collaborated with Catholic writers and theologians to sign the statement “Evangelicals and Catholics Together,” published in the Catholic-flavored journal First Things.
  • In 2002 Colson and other evangelical leaders signed an open letter to President George W. Bush praising his “bold, courageous, and visionary leadership” and giving their blessing to the Iraq War
  • And in 2009 Colson was part of another major ecumenical statement: the Manhattan Declaration, an evangelical-Catholic manifesto that called for civil disobedience against abortion and gay marriage.

To the very end of his long career, Colson maintained that enemies list. While others may remember him fondly, those who found themselves on that list most remember his enormous capacity for hatred, dishonesty and dirty tricks. They witnessed it and suffered it firsthand.

What’s remarkable about Colson’s legacy is not just how angry he managed to make the enemies that he bore false witness about and harmed for so long. Their anger is understandable and wholly appropriate. What’s really remarkable about Colson’s career is how very many such enemies he chose to make and how much damage he was able to do.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Religion News Service | Blogs | Mark Silk – Spiritual Politics | Chuck Colson: Political Warrior to Culture Warrior

    • The political hatchet man found his way to Jesus in 1973, as he awaited indictment for obstruction of justice. As Anthea Butler notes over at Religion Dispatches, he had already been anointed by the evangelical elite before serving his seven months at Maxwell Correctional Facility in Alabama.

    • I suppose he could even be forgiven for not recognizing that there was something wrong, let alone unconstitutional, in creating programs that used federal money to give special privileges to prisoners who embraced evangelical Christianity.

    • But as the years wore on and the accolades piled up, Colson became increasingly unattractive–a professional Christian given to smarmy and not-quite-honest preachments. Take his performance during the Lewinsky affair. When the impeachment struggle was at its height, he took to the pages of USA Today to urge President Clinton "to restore the moral authority of the office you hold….There are only two honorable choices, sir: repentance or resignation."

    • Then, two weeks later, after the president had chosen option one, Colson went to the Wall Street Journal and moved the goalposts: 

      I hope and pray that Mr. Clinton is genuinely repentant, that he will be restored to his family and that Americans will forgive him. But that doesn’t mean he’s entitled to avoid the consequences of his sin. If the law has been broken, justice demands a penalty be paid.

    • This year, in his final intervention in public affairs, Colson denounced the Department of Health and Human Services’ contraception mandate as representing "the first time" in American history that a church-state battle had been decided "by a bureaucrat in a government agency simply writing it and putting it out as law." That, of course, was nonsense. Federal rule-making with respect to the application of new legislation with respect to religious rights is normal and customary.

    • Chuck Colson ended his life as much a warrior in the culture wars as he had been in the wars of Richard Nixon. And if he was not overly scrupulous about his methods, well, he was a pretty old dog when he learned his new tricks.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

The Right-Wing’s 20 Biggest Sex Hypocrites | Sex & Relationships | AlterNet

  • Pentecostal televangelist Jimmy Swaggart
  • talk radio host Laura Schlessinger
  • while Gingrich was lambasting Clinton
  • Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana
  • The Rush Limbaugh Show
  • Republican Larry Craig of Idaho
  • Evangelical minister Ted Haggard
  • Republican Henry Hyde
  • Jim Bakker
  • Republican James West
  • Republican Michael D. Duvall
  • Bob Allen
  • Tony Alamo
  • Rep. Bob Livingston of Louisiana
  • Mark Sanford
  • Lou Beres
  • Florida Republican Mark Foley
  • Republican Roy Ashburn
  • Rev. Michael Hintz

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

The Wild Hypocrisy of America’s Conservative Christians

    • “Most people who agree with the religious right also support the Tea Party” and its ultra-conservative economic agenda.
    • Christians in America simply ignore the Word and “proudly proclaim that the creator of the universe favors free wheeling, deregulated union busting, minimal taxes, especially for wealthy investors, and plutocrat-boosting capitalism as the ideal earthly scheme for his human creations.”
    • the organization Faith in Public LIfe has highlighted new academic research showing that even in America there is growing “correlation between increased Bible reading and support for progressive views, including abolishing the death penalty, seeking economic justice, and reducing material consumption
    • Americans who cite Christianity to justify their economic conservatism may not have actually read the Bible. In that sense, religion has become more of a superficial brand rather than a distinct catechism, and brands can be easily manipulated by self-serving partisans and demagogues. To know that is to read the Sermon on the Mount and then marvel at how anyone still justifies right-wing beliefs by invoking Jesus.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Why Evangelicals Don’t Care When Rich White Conservatives Defile Marriage

Gingrich doesn’t live by the strict sexual rules laid out by conservatives, because those rules are meant for other people: the poor, Democrats, gays, and minorities.

January 25, 2012

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Newt Gingrich’s win in the South Carolina primary looks like it may not be an outlier; Gingrich’s poll numbers are rising rapidly in Florida, and he has a good chance of beating Romney there as well. Gingrich is doing well in no small part because he has so much support amongst evangelical Christians; so much so that many evangelical leaders refused to go along with an attempt to unify the Christian right behind Santorum.

In South Carolina, evangelical Christians voted for Gingrich 2-to-1 over boring family man Mitt Romney. For anyone who takes seriously the notion that evangelical Christians actually care about things like family and fidelity, this support for Gingrich is baffling, since he has a history of serial adultery that he barely bothers to disavow. But a closer examination of the situation makes clear what’s going on: for the Republican base, “family values” don’t actually matter, but are just a gloss painted over what really motivates them: reactionary rage. They love Gingrich because he’s a flaming ball of rage they can wield against everyone they hate. 

The sexual double standard is the most obvious way the us vs. them mentality works. There’s nothing the modern American conservative loves more than to decry our country’s supposedly declining sexual morals. Once the Republicans swept state legislatures and the House of Representatives, punishing sexual freedom became their number one priority, which manifested in nearly 1,000 bills restricting reproductive rights in state legislatures and a bill attacking private insurance funding of abortion in the House. Eventually, House Republicans threatened to shut down the federal government in order to defund family planning clinics, basically because they’re in the business of providing contraception and STD prevention and treatment. All this while the base continues to push abstinence-only and reject gay marriage on the grounds that it’s not “traditional.” But when it comes to a serial adulterer like Gingrich, he gets a pass. After all, he’s one of theirs, and if you’re in the tribe, you get a lot more leeway. 

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the reaction to Marianne Gingrich sticking her head out, as she periodically does, to remind the world of what a terrible man her ex-husband is. This time she added the juicy detail that Newt basically demanded that he get to have both his wife and his mistress at the same time. It was a reminder that while this flagrant cheating was going on, Gingrich was repeatedly moralizing in public over President Clinton’s adultery. To this day, the GOP base still regards Clinton as some kind of perverted sex maniac. But Gingrich? Well, during the South Carolina debate when Marianne’s interview with ABC was brought up, the audience loudly booed the mere mention of her name. For the Republican base, Gingrich not only gets to cheat, he also gets to flaunt it in his wife’s face; but a Democrat like Clinton’s more secretive and brief affairs are unforgivable.

Gingrich doesn’t live by the strict sexual rules laid out by conservatives, because those rules are meant for other people. Sex is a weapon being used against all those classes of Americans they don’t like: non-white people, gays, non-Christians, liberals, Democrats, people who have to work for a living, poor people, Democratic politicians. 

With rising levels of pious posing amongst Republicans, there has been some half-hearted attempts to pretend that they hold everyone to the same standards, which helped created the spectacle of Gov. Mark Sanford’s resignation. Gingrich represents a tossing-away of that feigned concern for fairness and a return to what conservatives really love best, a pedal-to-the-metal defense of straight white male privilege, especially that of wealthy white men. He’s the living id of the Republican Party: a spoiled brat who takes what he wants without apology, and then dresses down perceived inferiors for their supposed lack of morals and work ethic. You could easily imagine him drifting out of Tiffany’s, having bought wife number three fancy baubles with money generated from one of his direct mail schemes only to pause to lecture a homeless vet on how he deserved his fate because he didn’t sacrifice enough. 

In the Republican worldview, sex is a luxury item to be reserved for the privileged, and everyone else who indulges deserves whatever horrible fate befalls them. In the world imagined by Gingrich and his fan base, rich people get to say they’re sorry and run for public office if they have sex out of wedlock; poor people should see their health decline because they have an STD but can’t afford to see a doctor to treat it. The wealthy can afford contraception and have all the sex they want, but if Republicans succeed in cutting off family planning subsidies, poor people will go without. If abortion is banned, wealthy women will be able to travel to get abortions or depend on discreet doctors, but the poor will simply be forced to have babies. 

Of course, Republicans know better than anyone that simply giving into their worst instincts and promoting the career of someone like Newt Gingrich tends to turn off the moderates and swing voters they need to win elections. But it seems this year they don’t really care. Conservatives seem sick and tired of paying lip service to equality and family values, and instead are just enjoying the ride of cheering for the screw-you-I-got-mine guy. Will they wise up before it’s too late and Gingrich has the nomination? At this point, it’s hard to say.

Amanda Marcotte co-writes the blog Pandagon.


Mark the Foreheads…Beginning At The Sanctuary


Beginning At The Sanctuary.

The apostles, when entering on their missionary labours, were to “begin at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). The destroying messengers were to begin their direful work at the sanctuary.

Ezek 9:6 Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the temple. NKJV

I. There is no protection in the sanctuary.
II. The greatest guilt is found in the sanctuary.
III. The doom of the sanctuary is a warning to the world.

I. There is no protection in the sanctuary.

Some might flee to the holy shrine as to an asylum. This was done at heathen temples, and later at Christian churches, and no doubt in rude, violent ages, the pause of vengeance which such places afforded, like the use of the “cities of refuge” for the innocent manslayer, would then serve the purpose of justice. But this would be needless with God, because he is never hasty nor unjust, but slow to anger, and only taking just vengeance. Moreover, the asylum can never be a permanent protection for the guilty, and Ezekiel’s Jews at the temple are guilty.

No holy place can secure us against God’s wrath. We are not saved by attending church. The bad man who dies at church will go to the same fate that would have awaited him if he had dropped dead in his familiar haunts of debauchery.

No holy office will secure us without holy living. They who minister at the altar are not spared because of their sacred function. Priests share the doom of laity. Dante and Michael Angelo locate bishops in hell. The cardinal’s hat appears in Fra Angelico’s picture of the prison of lost souls. We shall not escape the punishment of our sins by putting on clerical vestments.

Source: The Pulpit Commentary via Biblesoft 

Next up…

II. The greatest guilt is found in the sanctuary.
III. The doom of the sanctuary is a warning to the world.


Why Many Evangelical Christians Are More “Un-American” Than US Muslims

 clipped from www.alternet.org

A new poll suggests that American Christians (unlike Muslims) are likely to put their faith before their country.

November 29, 2011

If you have the stomach to listen to enough right-wing talk radio, or troll enough right-wing websites, you inevitably come upon fear-mongering about the Unassimilated Muslim. Essentially, this caricature suggests that Muslims in America are more loyal to their religion than to the United States, that such allegedly traitorous loyalties prove that Muslims refuse to assimilate into our nation and that Muslims are therefore a national security threat.

Earlier this year, a Gallup poll illustrated just how apocryphal this story really is. It found that Muslim Americans are one of the most — if not the single most — loyal religious group to the United States. Now, comes the flip side from the Pew Research Center’s stunning findings about other religious groups in America (emphasis mine):

American Christians are more likely than their Western European counterparts to think of themselves first in terms of their religion rather than their nationality; 46 percent of Christians in the U.S. see themselves primarily as Christians and the same number consider themselves Americans first. In contrast, majorities of Christians in France (90 percent), Germany (70 percent), Britain (63 percent) and Spain (53 percent) identify primarily with their nationality rather than their religion. Among Christians in the U.S., white evangelicals are especially inclined to identify first with their faith; 70 percent in this group see themselves first as Christians rather than as Americans, while 22 percent say they are primarily American.

If, as Islamophobes argue, refusing to assimilate is defined as expressing loyalty to a religion before loyalty to country, then this data suggests it is evangelical Christians who are very resistant to assimilation. And yet, few would cite these findings to argue that Christians pose a serious threat to America’s national security. Why the double standard?

Because Christianity is seen as the dominant culture in America — indeed, Christianity and America are often portrayed as being nearly synonymous, meaning expressing loyalty to the former is seen as the equivalent to expressing loyalty to the latter. In this view, there is no such thing as separation between the Christian church and the American state — and every other culture and religion is expected to assimilate to Christianity. To do otherwise is to be accused of waging a “War on Christmas” — or worse, to be accused of being a disloyal to America and therefore a national security threat.

Of course, a genuinely pluralistic America is one where — regardless of the religion in question — we see no conflict between loyalties to a religion and loyalties to country. In this ideal America, those who identify as Muslims first are no more or less “un-American” than Christians who do the same (personally, this is the way I see things).

But if our politics and culture are going to continue to make extrapolative judgments about citizens’ patriotic loyalties based on their religious affiliations, then such judgments should at least be universal — and not so obviously selective or brazenly xenophobic.

David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books Hostile Takeover and The Uprising. He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at OpenLeft.com. E-mail him at ds@davidsirota.com or follow him on Twitter @davidsirota.
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