Christian Right Weekly Round-Up: Fishers of Muslims, When Franky Met Barry, Plus the ‘World Vision Shuffle’

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Pastor Pillow here!

Please turn in your hymnals to No. 34.

We are the Christian Shufflin’ Crew,
Shufflin’ policies for fundies in pews.
World Vision, changin’ its ways,
Oops! Think twice before embracin’ them gays.
All we want is to feed the poor,
Flip-flop to hate or they’ll starve some more.
We’re not here to start no trouble,
We’re just here to do the World Vision Shuffle!

Been that kind of week in Christendom, folks.  Thank God it’s the weekend.  Let’s go fishin’.  Time to “catch some Muslims.”

Sometimes hate rears its head in the most unlikely of places.  This past week, I was with a companion in a popular restaurant in Columbia, South Carolina.

The restaurant name will remain protected herein.  But the owner will receive a copy of this article, along with a letter.  Everybody deserves a second chance.

I have always enjoyed this restaurant’s ethnic cuisine.  The food leaves an exotic tang on my tongue that lasts the whole day through.

Unfortunately, it took just one sideways remark to leave the vinegary bite of bigotry in my mouth—a taste that still hasn’t gone away after several days.

As my friend and I paid for our meal at the register, the chef approached and said, “So, catch a lot of Muslims lately?”

The manager smirked and gave him a “golly gee, don’t say that in public” jab in the side.

The remark was so odd—I assumed I must have misunderstood.  I was in a hurry to leave.  I shook my head to indicate I didn’t understand his comment and exited.

The next afternoon, it dawned on me what the chef had meant.  He had been pointing at my T-shirt, which featured the NASA emblem.

He probably thought NASA was TSA or NSA.  Who knows?  Maybe even NASCAR.

But he just couldn’t let another moment of life go by without releasing some simpleminded, seething enmity from his inner being.

I pity the chef.  He didn’t even know what NASA is—had no clue as to its extraordinary Vision Statement:

To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind.

The NASA way:  Just you and me and all the myriad wonders of our Universe!  Let’s go pick flowers on some faraway exoplanet!  First one to Proxima Centauri is a rotten egg!

Yet here is the Fundamentalist Mission, as perfectly exemplified by Umberto Eco in his essay “Inventing the Enemy”:

“Having an enemy is important not only to define our identity but also to provide us with an obstacle against which to measure our system of values and, in seeking to overcome it, to demonstrate our own worth.  So when there is no enemy, we have to invent one.”

An unfathomable amount of human energy is expended on creating enemies and justifying their creation.  Then, instead of exploring and celebrating nature and life with the little time we have on this Little Blue Planet, we deploy our mental and material resources to hold back and destroy these invented enemies.

(Case in point:  just look at this list of the hundreds of millions of dollars of major political donations over the past 15 years to both sides of the U.S. political aisle.  Gee, I bet even World Vision could have put that money to better use.)

Clearly Chef Bigot perceived me as a fellow soldier in some imagined war to eradicate Islam.  Little did he know that all I want is a world where my daughter and her generation are free to explore the wonders of the Universe.  That’s why I wear the NASA T-shirt in the first place!

Muslims are welcome in such a future!  So are chefs!  So are all 7 billion homo sapiens, provided they check their godawful hatred, bombings, bigotry, drones, plutocracy, theocracy and raffle-prize semiautomatic rifles at the door.

Some weeks, I find myself at odds with this column.  Because it is so easy to fall into the trap of treating fundamentalists and the Radical Right like enemies.  It is so easy to engage in the Enemy Game.

“But fundamentalists are the enemy!” you might be thinking.

And indeed there is a foundational difference between a community that respects different worldviews and a community that subjects others to a specific worldview—to the detriment of humankind.

The majority of Christian Media articles I critique derive from this latter type of community—one I know all too well from my fundamentalist background.

Still, I dream of a world without enemies.  A world where we stop beating the shit out of each other and pushing each other down, and instead marvel at the universe, from hoff crabs to magnetars.

Let’s read that NASA vision one more time:

To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind.

I am convinced that this is one of the principle reasons God created the Universe in the first place:

Here is your playground.  Go explore.  And for goodness sake, share and be nice to one another.

Behold, the Christian Right Weekly Round-Up.

5.  Islam Rains on Noah Parade, according to TIME:  “Indonesia Bans Noah

Joseph Campbell might be dead, but Darren Aronofksy’s film about Noah’s Ark reminds us all of the power of myth—or at least of its ability to make everybody act cock-a-doodle crazy.

Glenn Beck hates the film Noah.  So, oddly, does the nation of Indonesia, and perhaps for the same reason.

“It treats a prophet of God like a lunatic,” Beck said.  “There’s no redeeming value in Noah, none.  He hates people.  I’m sorry.  No prophet of God hates people.”  (At least we finally have it from the horse’s lips that Glenn Beck himself is no prophet of God.)

Indonesia’s Film Censorship Board seems to be hiding behind the acronym, SARA, for its declared prohibition.  In Indonesia, films that focus on the “sensitive issues” of “ethnicity, religion, race and sectarian sentiment” can be easily blacklisted.

However, some wonder whether Indonesia based its ban on a general Islamic prohibition against screening “any production that characterizes Allah’s prophets and messengers and the companions of the Prophet.”

Or as one member of the Salafi Call political party in Egypt puts it:  “Depicting prophets in art is a crime; not art, that is harmful to the image of prophets.”

According to The Guardian, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have already banned the Russell Crowe vehicle.  Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait are expected to outlaw the film on religious grounds, as well.  (Just you wait:  once Hobby Lobby is declared a person with religious rights, see if it doesn’t start wielding its personhood by picketing at cineplexes nationwide.)

I cannot recall any Hollywood endeavor that has succeeded in rousing fundamentalism across all four corners of the globe since The Last Temptation of Christ.  Not bad for a movie about something that never happened.  Yet the Noah myth remains extremely powerful for the handful of human beings actually willing to contemplate its deeper meaning.

Somewhere, Utnapishtim, the original Mesopotamian character who started the whole diluvial ball rolling, is himself rolling in his mythical tomb.

Sorry, Ut, the Tinsel Town remake again steals your ancient glory.

Postscript:  For those interested, here are some sections of the Quran that contain the Noah account:  Surah Hud, Surah Aş-Şāffāt, Surah Al-Qamar and Surah Nūĥ.  (Also, here is a website with a nice side-by-side layout of the Noah Myth from the Bible and the Quran.)

4.  When Barry Met Franky, via Christian Broadcasting News:  “What Did Pres. Obama Talk about with the Pope?”

In case you were too busy marveling at hoff crabs and magnetars to notice, President Obama met Pope Francis this week.

The moment the two world leaders sat down, Pope Francis whipped out a ruler and started thwacking the President’s hand, castigating him for drone raids.

Actually, that’s a lie.

The two world leaders had a very congenial first meeting by all accounts—or, rather, by most accounts.  Gifts were exchanged.  The two men sought commonality wherever they could—especially on the subject of poverty (at which point all developing nations rolled their eyes).

However, listen to the video at the CBN link above.  You’d think the two men mud-wrestled for hours about Obamacare.  Oh, for God’s sake, Republicans:  give it up.

Baphomet is not driving health care reform!  (Though Mammon is opposing it.)

3.  The Hobby Lobby Golem, over at Christianity Today:  “Why Hobby Lobby Is This Year’s Supreme Court Case To Watch”

This is an excellent Evangelical-perspective summary of the Hobby Lobby “we oppose Obamacare for religious reasons” hypocrisy.  (Gotta put yourself in your enemy’s shoes.)

Let’s hone in on one particular quotation on the matter by megachurcher Rick Warren:

“Some flippantly say ‘A business cannot be a Christian’ but the truth is, every business is either moral or immoral, ethical or unethical, depending the values they base their business on.”

First off, if that is truly the case, then Lord have mercy on pretty much every business in this military industrial complex nation.

Secondly, please click this link.

We mock ancient Egyptians for daftly buying into the claim that pharaoh was a god.  Same with the Romans and their emperors and other ancient peoples who claimed divinity in the personhoods of their leaders.

Yet many Americans don’t blink an eye at the fact that corporations have been accorded the rights and privileges of human beings.

Forget everything else you’ve heard about the Hobby Lobby case thus far.  Ask yourself this question:  why are some people spending so much time and effort trying to legally anthropomorphize corporations?

What happens when a single billionaire can gird himself or herself in a suit of corporate iron?

Brick by brick, plutocratic fortresses are enhanced.  Degree by degree, the frog of the common person is boiled.

Granting corporations the human right to freely exercise religion is what this is all about.  And if corporations achieve that right, just watch how far the godless plutocrats will run with it.

2.  Will Bure Showcase “The World Vision Shuffle” on Next Week’s Episode?, via Gospel Herald:  Candace Cameron Bure Testifies Her Christian Faith, Upholds Modesty on ‘Dancing With the Stars’”

Nothing makes me laugh more than when Christian Right news sites act like Entertainment Weekly.

I didn’t even know Kirk Cameron had an actress sister, Candace Cameron Bure.  But now I have another reason never to watch Dancing with the Stars.

“The Christian actress, better known as DJ from ‘Full House,’ along with her brother Kirk Cameron, has not been ashamed to share their faith before the American television fans.”

Dancing the religious rhumba while simultaneously submitting to her husband.  Judges, that’s no small feat.

Did I mention that next season, Hobby Lobby and Chik-Fil-A are going to be guest judges?


1.  Choose Your Own Spiritual Adventure

Usually we like to end on a high note.  This week, it’s up to you!

Let’s see that NASA vision statement one more time:  To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind.

It’s a big universe out there—even bigger than a Prosperity Gospel pastor’s annual salary.

Go explore and let me know what you discover.

That’s a wrap!

Please turn in your hymnals to No. 616.

Here that music?  You guessed it.

Pastor Pillow is regenerating!

Expect a new format next week, folks.

In the meantime, the November 2014 election is only this many days away.  Get in line to vote!

Arik Bjorn

Arik Bjorn lives in Columbia, South Carolina. He was the Democratic Party / Green Party fusion candidate for U.S. Congress in the 2nd Congressional District of South Carolina. Visit the archive for Arik’s campaign website, and check out his latest book, So I Ran for Congress. You can also follow his political activities on Twitter @Bjorn2RunSC and on Facebook. And be sure to check out more from Arik in his archives!


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