Christian Right Weekly Round-Up: Ham on Nye, Thoughtless Atheists & Holy Oscars

unnamed-19Pastor Pillow here!

Parishioners, gird your loins with grey sweats, don your breastplate of righteousness and kindly open your hymnals to No. 303.

2014.  A year to determine the course of Civilization.  The Midterm Elections are on the horizon, and the Fundamentalist Dragon runs amok, spewing its regressive flame to protect its lair of unbridled greed and unexpanded Medicaid.  Yet we the collective St. George must face this enemy squarely upon our progressive steed.

Winter is coming!  Once more unto the breach, my friends!  Ride, Shadowfax!  But they will never take our freedom!

Sorry.  I’ve had too much Red Bull tonight.  Also, it’s not easy writing a column while chasing philosophical chickens in the backyard and with Burgess Meredith screaming at you.

Seriously, though, something is in the air this week.  And it’s not just radioactive tritium from South Carolina or 4-methylcyclohexane methanol from West Virginia.  It’s fightin’ words.

Tensions are high.  And I cannot remember a January where pundits emerged from the holiday recess scrambling like scarab beetles for their soapboxes.

That said, I’m feeling some downright Willem-Dafoe-table-turning righteous indignation as I watch members of the left picking fights with their fellow brothers and sisters.  While normally I fix my pulpit punches upon the idiocies of the Religious Right, this week I have some progressive bulwarks in my sights.

Yeah, Richard Dawkins, I’m talking to you.

With so much on the line, we cannot afford splintering on the left.

We must band together:  progressive men and women of all creeds—and even no creed.  Our common enemy are the tens of millions of people whose lives are either wittingly or unwittingly committed to unreason.

We must walk arm-in-arm maturely in the name of Gadamerian sensus communis and justice.  And we must emerge victorious.

After all, our planet, which include these cute little guys, is depending on us.

Honestly, do you think if the Republicans take the House and Senate in November that Roger Ailes is going to go softie and protect the world’s quokkas?

Anyway, there are two other smash-mouth events going on Sunday.  Before the sun sets in President Obama’s birth state of Hawaii, the AFC and NFC will have crowned conference champions to meet for one final bout in the Meadowlands on February 2.  Now, I’m not suggesting the Big Color Commentator in the Sky has any particular favorites, but let’s not forget the words of Job 39:  “Do you give the horse his strength … Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom?”

So don’t be surprised if a Broncos v. Seahawks Super Bowl XLVIII is in the future.

Also, make sure to plant your butt in a pew today to hear the voice of the Lord.  And when you say “peace be with you,” really mean it!  Quokkas and atheists are depending on you.

Here’s the Christian Right Weekly Round-Up:

5.  Richard Dawkins Photo Bombs Bill Nye the Science Guy, according to Christian Post: “Richard Dawkins Foundation Slams Upcoming Ken Ham, Bill Nye Debate for ‘Offering Credibility’ to Creationism”

Two days after Super Bowl XLVIII, on February 4 at 7 p.m., an even greater contest is set to take place upon the grounds of the dreadful Creation Museum.  Bill Nye the Science Guy has accepted the ‘shallonge’ of Creation Museum muckety-mucker Ken Ham.

You can register to watch the Battle for Causality & Reality live at the following website.

However, as the Christian Post reports, the Richard Dawkins Foundation has issued a vehement critique of Nye, stating that not only is this a debate not worth having, but even going so far as to suggest that Nye, an engineer and not a biologist, is not qualified to engage Ham.

I think the great evolutionary biologist Dawkins has really stepped in it here.  First, the Dawkins Foundation’s criticism will instantly be read as a victory in advance by those Christian fundamentalists who espouse that the universe is merely as old as some of the world’s oldest olive trees.  The Creationist Movement, which includes a good many nutjob politicians, feeds upon such dissent like piranha.

Second, I have a real bone to pick with the Dawkins Foundation’s position that “[s]cientists should not debate creationists … period.”

Once upon a time, in fifth grade, every student in my class was forced to write a paper and make a presentation “proving” Creationist Literalism.  Not examine the two theories of Creationism and Evolution, but prove the literal truth of the Genesis Creation.

In those days, there were no talking heads with the charisma and passion of a Bill Nye to address our nation on the subject, no person willing to sit behind the camera in a colorful bowtie and declare that “to have a scientifically illiterate point of view in your neighborhood, or in your state, is not in anyone’s self-interest.”

As a boy obsessed with cosmology and nature, I would have killed to sneak peeks here and here of Bill Nye espousing evolution, even at the threat of my fundamentalist father finding out.

The February 4 “Ham on Nye” Debate will be viewed by millions of people who are sold on the theory of Creationism for no reason other than that pastors and pundits tell them to interpret the Bible literally.  For many, this may be the one true opportunity they ever have to hear the Bullet Points of Evolution presented in a comprehensible and dynamic manner.

Give ’em hell, Bill!

As for Richard Dawkins, his foundation clearly doesn’t have a clue what life is like in the ideological trenches of the United States.  But he needs to get off Nye’s back and instead lend his worldview colleague some support.

4.  American Atheists PR Director Declares Christians Cannot Be LGBT Allies, over at Religion News Service: “Atheists debate: Can Christians support LGBTQ rights? Part 1” 

What the hell has gotten into progressives this week?

Now we turn our attention to Dave Muscato, PR Director of American Atheists—for how long is anybody’s guess.  Unfortunately, Muscato has lazily engaged the Bible as if it weren’t a complex text, and in so doing has shown himself to be as simpleminded as the whacko fundamentalists I criticize each week:

“[M]any Christians don’t get their moral compass from the Bible.  If they did, they would be fine with slavery, they would not get divorced, they would not wear gold wedding rings, and they would not have sex before they were married.”

It grieves me to see such hermeneutical ignorance.  Muscato has no qualms cherry-picking the New Testament like a fundamentalist in order to prove his insensitive points, and clearly doesn’t understand the most remedial tenets of Christian theology with respect to Mosaic Law.

Things only get worse when Muscato proclaims:  “People who claim to be Bible-believing Christians and also claim to support marriage equality are hypocrites.”

Then Muscato goes full-blown nuclear:  “…I am telling all Christians that what they believe about the entirety of reality is wrong.”

All Christians!  The Entirety of Reality!

Really?!

So my ethical practice to love my neighbor as myself and follow the Golden Rule is, in your words, “wrong”?

Also, just out of curiosity:  what about the hundreds of Christians who have signed the OneWheaton support letter as allies of LGBT students in fundamentalist institutions of higher education all across our country?

Gee, I’m sure every LGBT student who has received authentic encouragement, support and love from OneWheaton and groups just like it is relieved to know that you have discounted all of these collective actions.

Mr. Muscato, at a time when progressives in our nation need to come together more than ever, your lexical Molotov cocktails are now sitting out there on the web as fodder for every fundamentalist in the nation.

You write:  “The Bible isn’t true in the first place … we all get our ideas about what’s right and wrong from society, the study of ethics, and the changing cultures in which we live.”

And how is that separate from the Bible?!  Which is a text representing multiple societies and changing cultures over many centuries that were all intensely interested in ethics.

3. If You Can’t Beat ’Em, Rank ’Em, via Christianity Today:  Evangelicals’ Favorite Same-Sex Marriage Law?” 

Christianity Today sometimes makes it hard to choose.  It was either this article or their extremely timely theological review of the latest Jack Ryan action vehicle starring Chris Pine.

Apparently the new fundamentalist strategy with respect to same sex marriage is pharisaical scrutiny—as if looking at individual state laws about same sex marriage long enough under the microscope is somehow going to impact historical momentum.  By the way, doubtless there were articles like this in the days when our nation approached closer and closer to the abolition of slavery, universal suffrage and a host of other civil rights issues.

Also, I just love how author Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra makes same sex marriage sound like a disease:  “CT recently asked a group of legal scholars on the forefront of advising lawmakers on religious exemptions to assess which of the 12 existing state SSM laws offer the best protections.”

Here’s another classic quote:  “‘It’s a hard shift for same-sex marriage opponents, but a necessary one,’ [law professor Doug] Laycock said.  ‘They’re losing this fight, and need to get some more liberty protections while they have a chance.  Once a law is passed, it’s too late.’”

This, of course, is the other side of the Muscato Meridian.  And it’s just as unpleasant.

2.  Dobson-Backed Pediatrician Warns of Mingling Chocolate and White Filling, so says Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk:  “Warning:  Oreos Under Attack”

No surprise, researchers at the Connecticut College found that rats prefer Oreos, morphine and cocaine to rice cakes.  I’ll bet rodents would even choose rib eye over tofu.  And sex to Stratego.

Pediatrician Dr. Meg Meeker makes the point that processed sugar is addictive.  Thank God this was never stated in a Solomonic proverb, or Dave Muscato would deny it outright.

Just for fun:  Sugar is rarely mentioned in the Bible, but there are several references to people presenting sugar cane as sacrifice (Isaiah 43:24, Jeremiah 6:20).  Guess Jehovah has a bit of a sweet tooth.

To be honest, the only real reason I included this article was for its final sentence:  “So let’s respect the chocolate buggers and make sure that our kids (and we) dunk them in a healthier way.”

Will someone please tell me what the hell is a “chocolate bugger”?

1.  Only Christian Movies Go to Heaven, over at The Gospel Herald“Christian Film Alone, Yet Not Alone Scores Academy Award Oscar Nomination”

We like to end every week on a positive note.

This isn’t one of them—well, I guess it is if you’re singer-songwriters Dennis Speigel and Bruce Broughton, whose song, ‘Alone, Yet Not Alone,’ was among the five songs nominated this week for an Oscar.

My first thought was:  I cannot wait for Ellen DeGeneres to sing and dance to a Pennsylvania Dutch pioneer song during the 2014 Oscars.

My second thought was of that old Steve Taylor song, “Guilty by Association”And you’ll only drink milk / From a Christian cow.

I’m really curious, though:  what is the definition of a “Christian” movie?

Is that anything like a Christian fast food restaurant that hates homosexuals and serves fried cardboard between sugar bread?  Or a Christian craft store that doesn’t want its employees to have good health care?

According to the article, the film Alone, Yet Not Alone was released by “Christian distribution studio Enthuse Entertainment.”

Of course, I’m not saying a work of art can’t be religiously themed.  But I watched the trailer.  I saw red-painted Delaware Native Americans pretty upset that Caucasians were stealing their homeland.  I saw a British imperial asshole.  And a pretty lady standing at a river wondering what the hell she was supposed to do—which is probably a fair question when you’ve just hopped off a boat from Germany in the middle of the American colonial mess.

But I don’t see what made the movie “Christian” any more than Pocahontas.

Then again, I’m almost absolutely positive that The Gods Must be Crazy is a Christian movie.  I believe with all my heart that God sent that Coke bottle to that bushman—no matter what Dave Muscato thinks.

That’s a wrap!

One last hymn.  C’mon, Joe Esposito!  Lead us in Hymn No. 350.

Wax on, parishioners!

And just why do we present the Christian Right Weekly Round-Up each week?

According to Forbes, the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) alone brings in nearly $300 million per year in revenue. CBN isn’t alone in the 9-figure Radical Right Revenue Game. According to the website Ministry Watch, CBN is dwarfed in comparison to the nearly $900 million raked in annually by the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).

But TBN and CBN are mere bright stars in a galactic empire of hundreds of Christian news and media organizations. If you have a few minutes to spare, review the membership lists of the National Religious Broadcasters and the Evangelical Press Association.

Each and every one of these Christian media organizations have one thing in common: they report news to members of the Christian Right across the Fruited Plain. And the Christian Right account for nearly one-third of America’s voters.

Not only that, but here’s a list of what’s on the line in November 2014:

—All 435 seats of the U.S. House of Representatives

—33 seats in the U.S. Senate

—46 State Legislatures

—And 38 State and Territorial Governorships.

Sorry to preach politics from the pulpit, but if that doesn’t scare the shit out of you enough to submit an early 2014 ballot, I don’t know what will.

See you next week.

And a final message for people everywhere, don’t forget: the November 2014 election is this many days away.

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!

Comments

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  • Pipercat

    Hey elevator boy, if a certain group of prospecting entrepreneurs prove your prediction wrong, prepare to be reminded when you least expect it!

    • The Author

      Ha! Just remember, it was the Man Upstairs’ prediction. Then again, maybe Job made a scrivener’s error. 🙂

      • Pipercat

        Their names are on the list…

  • A Girl

    Hi Arik,
    I agree with you on Dave Muscato’s tweet- he’s wrong to imply that Christianity and its theologies are monolithic; obviously not. Christians can be inspired by their religion to support LGBTQ rights (even though, as atheists, we believe that most religious motivation has its source in non-existent things). There is no incompatibility between being “a Christian” and being a LGBTQ ally.

    Re the Nye-Ham debate: You point out one positive reason why Nye “ought’ engage Ham- that is exposing the biblical literalists to evolution is good- this is the silver lining which Nye has offered himself, but you’re too easily dismissing the opposing arguments- the ‘ought nots’ put forth by Dawkins and many other skeptics – as if these arguments were elitist, they’re not: (1) debates like these can be counterproductive to science education- the danger in engaging in a debate of ‘false balance’ is that it can sincerely hurt the cause of science communication by suggesting that the two theories (one theological and one scientific) should be given equal weight in public school science classes; (2) Nye, by engaging in an activity that financially benefits the Creation Museum is only helping to perpetuate misinformation; and (3) Nye is inexperienced at debates of these sort which is more likely to result in (1).

    “Debating creationists on the topic of evolution is rather like trying to play chess with a pigeon; it knocks the pieces over, craps on the board, and flies back to its flock to claim victory.” — Scott D. Weitzenhoffer

    • The Author

      A Girl,

      Thank you for your very thoughtful comments.

      I am concerned that Muscato’s remarks may do some damage to the wonderful progress that has been built between believers and non-believers (or whatever terms you choose to use) by groups such as FP and Patheos. As stated in the article, this is a time when progressives need to band together, not purposefully divide the ranks.

      I do understand Dawkins’ reasoning, but I also feel that he and his foundation are acting disconnected from life outside the Academy. Dawkins probably doesn’t have an inkling what people like me lived through, growing up in a fundamentalist charismatic Christian school and inheriting a strange and unhealthy worldview. Dawkins thinks like an academician (which is good, for his purposes), but Nye is reaching out to and for the common person–and is accomplishing great things!

      Also, the quote is a funny one, one I have heard before. But it is important to remember that I was once the pigeon. I am no longer. And that is BECAUSE people engaged me in debate and dialogue. I am living proof that Weitzenhoffer’s quote, while funny, also discounts testimonies like my own.

      Thanks again for engaging me productively! Also proof that Muscato spoke rashly.

      Peace!

  • Jamie Carter

    Muscato is correct IF the believer is claiming to follow the morals taught in the Bible mind you the believer has to be against a lot of things if that is the case (which they usually aren’t) this of course is where hypocrite label comes in at.