Christian Right Weekly Round-Up: Hate Speech to Hymnsta Gangstas

Christian MediaThe cock croweth! Rise and shine, Children of Faith! It’s Sunday morning!

Pastor Pillow here.

Couldn’t help but notice you slept right through that alarm. Didn’t quite make it to your local morning service, did you? Fret not. There’s always the 5:30 p.m. last-chance call.

In the meantime, I am pleased to provide you with a Weekly Round-Up Report of this week’s top stories in the Right-Wing Christian Media.

Folks, honest to God, I am not making up any of this.

5. Breaking News from the Wisconsin Christian News! “Speaking Against Islam Will Now Be ‘Hate Speech.’” 

The Reverend Bill Keller is supposedly the “world’s leading Internet Evangelist”—which I guess means he is responsible for converting many pagan URLs from HTML to XHTML. Apparently the Good Reverend Keller was incensed by reported rumors that behaving like a hate-mongering bigot toward Muslims could be considered hate speech and land oneself in the predestination pokey.

Keller recently released an inflammatory letter to the Head of the American Muslim Advisory Council of Tennessee. I for one think the Good Reverend should be arrested—for poor sentence construction, if nothing else.

In his letter, Keller writes: “As a Christian and follower of Jesus Christ and Biblical teachings, Islam is a false religion…”

Reverend Keller, next time you go off your epistolary rocker, we suggest you ask someone to proofread your emails before you click SEND. Think about that sentence for a minute. Really? Because you follow Christ, Islam is a false religion? Sounds to me like you’ve added yourself as a fourth member of the godhead.

Another way one might render Keller’s solecism is that Islam is a follower of Christ and both Islam and Christianity are false religions. Sunday School Lesson for all fundamentalist preachers: In the beginning may have been the Word, but Grammar matters, too.

Oh, and just so the rest of the civilized world knows what kind of demented madman Reverend Keller is, he goes on to state in his letter that the Prophet was “a documented pedophile, polygamist and murderer,” then feels empowered to condemn the head of the American Muslim Advisory Council to “hell for all eternity.”

Wow. I’m sure when the Lord hung on the cross, he eagerly anticipated the day Mr. Keller would come along to piss vinegar all over his message of love and hope.

4. Conventional Misinformation from Focus on the Family: “What Your Teen Needs to Know About Sex”

According to Linda Klepacki, RN, MPH: “The Bible states repeatedly that sex outside one-man-one-woman marriage is dangerous and unacceptable. But more than that, the Bible describes marital love as an ecstatic, mind-boggling mystery so profound that it is an image of the love that exists among the Trinity.”

Oh, dear Lord, Ms. Klepacki, you weren’t the benefactor of many theology courses in your Masters of Public Health program, were you? Thankfully I am here to tutor you in the Biblical Definitions of Marriage 101.

Enough said.

3. Meanwhile, over at Christianity Today, Evangelicals are Finally Reading Madame Bovary. “The Not-Hopeless Anti-Romantic”

Maybe there is hope for Evangelicals. At least some of them are finally getting around to reading mid-19th-century French literature. Yes, Christianity Today brings you a not-so-scintillating review of a novel by Gustave Flaubert, hot off the press since 1856.

Listen, I want to be positive about this. I’m actually a little surprised the editors of CT let a novel by a French sensualist about an affair slip through the christological cracks. Yet, sadly, it is about the driest review ever. Trust me, not worth your time.

Yet, a sign that Christian fundamentalism is, as I have always suspected, about 150 years behind contemporary civilization.

(Psst! I don’t want to cause any reading riots, but I just learned on the QT that next month’s issue of CT will contain an article about a work by C.S. Lewis.)

2. This Just In! God Remains Pissed Off, So Says Baptist Press. “God’s Wrath Taboo Subject for PCUSA Hymnal”

You think East Coast-West Coast rap is a bloodbath? Let’s sneak a peek at the vagaries of the Christian hymnal underworld!

The Presbyterian Church recently determined that the lyrics to the Top 20 modern Christian worship classic “In Christ Alone” are “too controversial.”

The line in question: “Till on that cross as Jesus died / The wrath of God was satisfied.”

Pro-propitiation songwriters Keith Getty and Stuart Townend nixed the Presbyterian Church’s Committee on Congregational Song’s request to soften the tone a bit to “The love of God was magnified.”

Russell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, offered bling-paved heavenly street cred in support of the two gangsta hymnstas: “As an evangelical, I would argue that it’s necessary to sing about the wrath of God.”

Oy veh.

Needless to say, no one in the Presbyterian Church is likely to support my suggested substitute for the stanza in question:

Till on that cross as Jesus died,
Sick and tired of conservative lies,
Despondent of the marital affairs of Evangelical politicians,
Who serve Mammon on behalf of the Christian Coalition.

1. Finally, from the Christian Examiner. “Rick Warren Returns to Pulpit after Son’s Suicide”

Seriously, this is probably the most important Christian Right news story in 2013.

I am not going to make any cracks about a man’s struggle to deal with the suicide of his beloved son. And I expect all readers to remain civil in their comments about this tragedy.

Earlier this year, Rick Warren, one of the most well-known Evangelical ministers and pastor of the mega-Saddleback Church in California, lost his son due to suicide “following a long struggle with mental illness.”

Here are some of the words delivered by Warren in his first sermon back following a 16-week leave of absence: “‘If you struggle with a broken brain, you should be no more ashamed than someone with a broken arm,’ Warren said. ‘It’s not a sin to take meds. It’s not a sin to get help. You don’t need to be ashamed.’”

If you grew up in an ultra-fundamentalist home as I did, you will understand the momentousness of this statement by Warren. In many Radical Right homes across our country, mental illness is often regarded as a matter of demonic possession. No, I am not kidding.

I sincerely hope that the personal suffering of the Warren family, and Pastor Warren’s subsequent call to recognize the medical nature of mental illness, will help propel the right-wing Christian fundamentalist segment of society toward civilization on this matter.

Our Sunday morning prayer: May Pastor Warren’s words result in a healthy dialogue between the Christian Right and the psychiatric community and lead to fewer suicides and mental illness-related tragedies (Sandy Hook) in our nation.

That’s a wrap for this installment of the Christian Right Weekly Round-Up!

In case you’ve never noticed, Christian media is big. Really big. Somewhere between Goliath and Leviathan on steroids.

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 that’s why Pastor Pillow is here to keep you abreast on the stories that led the Christian News World this week for nearly one-third of America’s voters.

See you next week. And, remember, whatever you do, don’t pull an Onan.

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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