Christian Right Weekly Round-Up: The Sky is Falling! Quick, Convert a Muslim!

crusades1Writing tomorrow’s Pastor Pillow sermon at the ole cherry wood desk this evening, I hear the sounds of the evening bugle call at Ft. Jackson just down the way.  The presence of military helicopters over my home has steadily increased in the past two weeks.  I’m sure there’s no connection whatsoever to possible preparations for the latest Christian Crusade in Syria.

Ah, the grand tradition of the Christian Crusade with the Cross of Christ held high.  Let’s turn in our chronological hymnals back to the year 1204.  Christians of the Fourth Crusade intent on liberating the Holy Land made a pit stop in Constantinople (Istanbul), where they proceeded to sack the city, raid the great cathedral of Hagia Sophia, and rape and murder fellow Christians in such a bloodthirsty manner that more than one historian has gone on record to describe these events as perhaps the worst crime spree in recorded history.

Is it just me, or do you think the people on that end of our Little Blue Planet might be a wee bit tired of being “liberated”?

Pastor Pillow here.

Someone asked me last week what was the point of posting articles about the ridiculous behavior of Christian fundamentalists.  After all, “everyone knows” that the Radical Right worldview is absurd.

Well, even this quasi-pacifist believes in the wisdom of G.I. Joe.  The other half of the battle, of course, is action.  And by action I mean, minimally, to vote.

On November 4, 2014, one-third of U.S. citizens heading to the polls to determine the political future of their individual communities and states, and the collective nation, believe that the universe is just barely older than some of the world’s oldest olive trees; that God will eternally condemn a man to eternal flame for having sex with another man; and that if Jesus were to reissue the Sermon on the Mount, he would most certainly add sections on the godliness of carrying an AK-47 and throw in a parable, to boot, about the innate evil of universal health care.

Over 90 years ago, on May 21, 1922, Harry Emerson Fosdick fired the first public progressive pastoral missive at the nascent Christian fundie movement, for which he lost his post at Manhattan’s First Presbyterian Church.  In that famed sermon, “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?,” Fosdick proclaimed from the pulpit:

“I do not believe for one moment that the Fundamentalists are going to succeed. … Nevertheless, it is true that just now the Fundamentalists are giving us one of the worst exhibitions of bitter intolerance that the churches of this country have ever seen.”

If only Fosdick had lived to see Westboro.  As it is, the Christian Fundamentalist movement to raise the Cross of Christ over the Beltway was just getting warmed up.

More than nine decades later, the Weltanschauung War between progressivism and fundamentalism continues, with civilization still hanging on by a thread.  (If you don’t believe me, just ask a polar bear.)

Sorry to preach politics from the pulpit, 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.

So it helps to have a weekly reminder—as you’re about to learn—that one in three members of the American electorate believes that President Obama’s Syria Situation is prophesied about in the Bible as a sign of the End of the World.

If that doesn’t scare the shit out of you enough to submit an early 2014 ballot, I don’t know what will.

Anyway, while you wile away the afternoon watching the Vikings battle the Bears (I confess I’m wearing purple boxers) before this evening’s 5:30 p.m. service, spend halftime reminding yourself how many of your pigskin comrades feel about everything from the End Times to college education exit exams.

As ever, not only does this stuff matter, but I’m not making up any of it.

5.  Nearly One-Third of Americans Can’t Tell an Armageddon from an Armadillo, according to Baptist Press:  “U.S. Syrian Attack Sign of End Times?”

This week, one of the world’s most amoral (and that’s being kind) leaders, Russian President Vladimir Putin, took the United States to task for, amongst many things, its exceptionalism.

Also this week, Baptist Press reports that a recent LifeWay Research poll finds that more than 30 percent of U.S. citizens are firmly of the belief that Obama’s suggested military action in Syria is linked to the Battle of Armageddon as described in the biblical Book of Revelation.  (For what it’s worth, that percentage rises ten points for those polled in the U.S. South.)

I’m not sure there’s a better way to prove Putin’s point about America’s self-centered tendencies than the audacious belief held by one-third of Americans that Uncle Sam is at the heart of the Apocalypse.  (Well, maybe it is; again, ask a polar bear.)  Only slightly less egoistic was the Ptolemaic belief that all heavenly bodies revolve around the Earth.

Next time you bump into one of these Chicken Littles—and apparently there’s always one next to you at the gas station, in the elevator, in line at Sbarro—ask them to consider the fact that every generation of Christians since the first century has similarly believed that some contemporary military conflict was predicted in St. John’s Apocalypse and portended the end of the world.  Oh, but this time I’m sure they’re right.

Sheesh.  I don’t know, maybe Republicans are on to something when it comes to voting restrictions.  I’m not really sure how upset I would be if voters who expressed an earnest belief that President Obama is the Antichrist were kindly asked to return to the voting center on November 5.

4.  More Apocalyptic Fear Mongering from Charlatans in Leisure Suits, over at Christian Broadcasting News: “Crisis in Syria Fulfilling End Times Prophecy?”

On a related note, apparently the sale of idiotic books about biblical prophecies and trash fiction like Timonthy LaHaye’s dreadful Left Behind series are on the rise as the result of so many Americans being convinced that the Syria Situation portends the end of the universe.

Thankfully Dr. Robert Mulholland, a retired professor of New Testament of Asbury Theological Seminary, is here to correct us:  instead, supposedly the Prophet Isaiah said that Iran will be responsible for Syria’s destruction.  What a relief!

Actually, I’m willing to give Dr. Mulholland the benefit of the doubt that his words may have been twisted in their context to promote even further fear-mongering amongst Evangelicals.  After all, the right wing Christian media is poised to make millions if all the sheep start apocalyptically bleating about Iran too.

For the record, I would like to remind everyone that, once upon a time, the Prophet Isaiah woke up one morning and decided to run around Palestine bare naked for several years to make a point about those wicked Egyptians and Cushites.  I’m sort of eager to see if Pat Robertson shows up in studio this week in nothing more than his birthday suit.  Maybe then the FCC can finally shut down his operation.

3.  Religious Right Upset About College Graduate Exit Exams, via Family Research Council: “Adding Insult to Injury: The Latest Shoe to Drop in Today’s College Scam”

Interesting piece, here.  The Family Research Council spends most of its time engaging in bigoted rants against same-sex marriage and warning about the evils of stem cell research, abortion and the Boy Scouts.  But why would the FRC come out against the Collegiate Learning Assessment Plus (CLA+) Exam, which is “a new standardized test for graduating students intended to give prospective employers a measure of their abilities”?

According to the Council for Aid to Education, as reported in the Chicago Tribune, the CLA+ Exam “will measure analysis, problem solving, writing, quantitative reasoning and reading.”

Oh, wait.  Does this mean that college graduates might soon have to demonstrate critical thinking skills?  No wonder the Family Research Council doesn’t want the CLA+ Exam gaining traction.  Stop critical thinking before it can start!  Otherwise, we might become a nation of evolution believers!

2.  “Reaching Out” to Muslims, over at Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk“Standing Strong” 

This article by Alex McFarland starts out so nice.  What’s the big deal about putting Dzhokar Tsarnaev on the cover of Rolling Stone?  A contemplative response to 9-11.  Let’s “reach out” to Muslims.

Wait a second.  By “reach out,” did you mean “convert those who are in spiritual darkness?”

Hmm.  It appears you and I have very different definitions of “Christians reaching out.”

Listen, I can live with articles like this.  Conversion from one religion to another happens.  What upsets me, however, is McFarland’s conclusion:

“Apprehension of the Boston bomber is a reminder that no one is powerful enough nor clever enough to elude God’s hand of justice”—which, in a classic case of Putin U.S. exceptionalism, is delivered a la the U.S. military industrial complex.

Indeed, thank God that the U.S. military brought all those Muslims in spiritual darkness to justice.  Now, I just wonder when we’ll get our biblical just desserts for Gitmo, white phosphorus and depleted-radioactive bullets, drone strikes, Agent Orange, the Native American Holocaust.  Shall I continue?

How about next time you just reach out?  That’s it.  No agenda.  Show Christian love, and spend some time trying to understand why Muslims might find you and your society “in spiritual darkness,” as well.

But do so quickly, because the second a U.S. missile lands in Damascus—kapoot!

1.  A Theology of Net Rage, as reported by Christianity Today“Hungry for Outrage”

As usual, we like to end on a positive note.  Some interesting theological musings on Net Rage, which honestly can apply to web users of all religious and political persuasions.  Even Pastor Pillow admits that sometimes it’s very hard to resist the urge to turn the moneylender tables on the Internet.  Yes, even against the one-third of Americans who believe that the Dead Sea Scrolls were laying odds on the over-under between Obama and Assad.

Instead, I will swallow my rage and retreat into a placid, wordless, double-face palm.

That’s a wrap!

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.

See you next week.

And a final message for people everywhere—unless you happen to believe these are the End Times—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!


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