If the devil wanted to kill a religion.

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If the devil wanted to kill a religion, he would not be transparent or obvious about it.   If it was Christianity he was trying to destroy, he would not woo people with pentagrams, blood sacrifice, black masses, and upside down crosses, and new commandments telling us to blaspheme God, rape, kill, and steal.   That stuff is from the movies because it’s dramatic and scares most of us.   If the devil exists, he knows being that transparent would drive most people off rather than attract them.

On the contrary, if the devil wanted to kill a religion (say, Christianity), he would package his diabolical agenda in a nice, “Christian” package.   There’s a reason why he’s known as the “Father of Lies.”   He would use crosses and Bibles and images of European Jesus.   He would talk about vague “Christian values” or “the sanctity of the family.”

If the devil wanted to kill a religion, he would pick one or two culture-war issues that many religious people  have glommed onto (in our culture, this means abortion and homosexuality) and weaponize them.  This serves a dial purpose: (1) to deceive conservative Christians into believing his agenda is in fact “good,” and (2) to exert control over people, particularly women.  Because  people’s sex lives are so personal (and because these issues happen to be popular “culture war” issues today), these two things can be easily weaponized to instill shame and guilt, so those so deceived believe they are not being controlled but are in fact promoting “Godly morals.”

If the devil wanted to kill a religion, he would twist and pervert Scripture so it became its opposite.  This would happen gradually, so the change would barely be noticed.   Values once normally accepted as ungodly or evil — greed, money-worship, sexual abuse, child abuse, pedophilia, rape, dishonesty, and treachery, for starters — would be excused, receive “mulligans,” or even be celebrated and encouraged in some situations.  Dominionist types believe the means justify the ends, which means that immoral or abusive behavior is okay as long as they help to bring about “God’s kingdom on Earth.”  At the same time, values espoused by Jesus in the Bible — charity, empathy, unconditional love, and concern for the poorest and most vulnerable — would be dismissed (at best) or even be called sins (the dominionist evangelical God doesn’t favor those who are sick, poor or disabled, so helping them becomes a “sin”).  This bears no resemblance to anything Jesus taught.    Religion is simply being used as a handy vehicle to promote a diabolical agenda.

If the devil wanted to kill a religion, he would cherry pick verses in the Bible to dupe people into thinking his twisted perversion of the original passage is the Word of God.  “See? It says so right here in the Bible!”  Scripture can be — and is — interpreted many different ways, depending on the translation, what we “read” into the passage, and other factors.   Much of the Bible is not as cut and dry as we’d like it to be.   Being able to quote from the Bible doesn’t make you a good person or a good Christian.  Even Satan can roll Bible verses off the tip of his forked tongue.  He could even use some Bible verses to justify evil — and some “Christians” today do just that.

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If the devil wanted to kill a religion, he would weaponize the religion against those people who most espouse the true values of that religion.  Good and moral people with kind hearts have been leaving the American evangelical churches in droves lately, because what is being preached is diametrically opposed to what’s in their own God-given conscience.  They deplore the hypocrisy, superstition, denial of science and truth, ignorance, hatred, intolerance, emotional abusiveness, and cruelty of the modern evangelical church.  But the devil wouldn’t miss these good people, because they’d all be replaced by those most like himself — liars, hypocrites, narcissists, sociopaths, abusers, sadists, control freaks, and those without conscience, compassion, or love.

If the devil wanted to kill a religion, he would encourage believers to destroy God’s creation (in the name of God, of course) and take no responsibility for its stewardship.  He would tell them it’s okay to dump toxic, life-destroying substances in the water and air.    He would tell them that laws that protect them against those who would poison them are bad.  He would tell them that to use the earth sustainably is a sin because it shows a lack of faith in God’s ability to replenish it.   How is this different from telling teenagers it’s not only okay to trash their parents’ home during a party but that to clean up their own mess is wrong because it shows a lack of faith in their parents’ ability to do so?

If the devil wanted to kill a religion, he would blaspheme God by attributing his own dark and destructive nature to that God.   Such a “God” would therefore be constantly angry, war-mongering, narcissistic, compassionless, sadistic, rejecting, hate-filled, and authoritarian.   Such a “God” would favor the most powerful and ruthless with riches and material goodies while meting out unspeakable suffering on the most vulnerable, who he hates.  He would tell us to steal from the poorest to give to the richest.  He would “punish homosexuals” by sending hurricanes that destroy entire cities (that kind of twisted reasoning we hear from the likes of Pat Robertson have no basis in logic at all).    He would call social justice and altruistic behavior “socialism” or even “communism” and ruthlessness and cruelty “law and order.”   He would be a God devoid of mercy or grace.   He would be a God who, were he to meet the Jesus of the Bible, would reject, deport, and even kill him because of his dark skin, poverty, and compassion for the “least of these.”  In fact, there would be precious little difference between that “God” and himself.

If the devil wanted to kill a religion, he would tell believers they must vote for and support a certain highly immoral, narcissistic, and cruel person and tell them they will go to hell if they do not.     He would gaslight those who can see through the hypocrisy and lies by attributing that same false idol’s depraved values and actions onto them.

It’s not just Christianity that has been perverted into its opposite.  The same thing is happening to Islam, once known worldwide as a religion of peace.  The Taliban, ISIS and Sharia Law are extremist factions of Islam that twisted this peaceful religion into a cult of war and death.

I don’t know if I believe in a literal devil or not.  But I do believe in evil, and in the idea that evil forces exist in this world.  The modern American evangelical churches are a hotbed of evildoings in these times.   In my opinion, it’s much better to be an atheist.  I know plenty of wonderful atheists who are extremely good people who always try to do the right thing, so it’s a total myth that a belief in God is a requirement to have morals or a conscience.

How does one avoid being duped into worshipping a false God?  Observe what sort of fruit a church or a religion is bearing.  If they bear only rotten fruit, or their teachings and values are authoritarian; or they talk about hell, death and punishment more than they talk about God’s grace or mercy; or if they weaponize their doctrine against the most empathetic or the most vulnerable; or even if you just feel really uncomfortable in that church or with those people, run away!

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The choice is yours.

 

A reminder from James Martin, SJ (via Twitter)

In case anyone has forgotten:

Child abuse is a sin.

Sexual abuse is a sin.

Sexual harassment is a sin.

Racism, and white supremacy, is a sin.

Jesus asks us to welcome the stranger.

Jesus asks us to love the poor.

There are indeed two sides to these issues: Good and evil.

The choice is yours.

The benefits of socialism.

Twenty or even ten years ago, if you mentioned single payer healthcare, even to Democrats, people would look at you like you had three eyes.  Single payer healthcare, in case anyone doesn’t know, is the system the rest of the developed world enjoys — one that is more efficient, costs everyone less, covers everyone, is less complicated, and is far more humane than our profit-based system that relies on middlemen (the insurance companies) who interfere with and undermine the doctor-patient relationship (because they exist not to keep people healthy, but solely to make a profit off human misery — which is inherently immoral).  No one in the developed world envies our unnecessarily complicated, cruel, mercenary, immoral, and unfair “healthcare” system, in which the quality of care you receive (or if you receive any at all) depends on how much you can afford to pay.

But in 2017, things have changed.    Recent polls show that a majority of Americans (52%) support single payer healthcare, with 69% of Democrats, and 35% of Republicans supporting it (not a majority, but still pretty impressive).  Even CEOs of Fortune 500 corporations are beginning to wake up to how single payer would benefit them by freeing them of the obligation to provide healthcare to their employees or pay a penalty if they don’t.

As the hardline (“Freedom Caucus”) Republicans and the Trump administration double down on their efforts to repeal and replace Obama’s signature achievement (his attempt to make healthcare more affordable for more people), many people are finally waking up to the fact that single payer is really the only option we have left — and the only option that will actually work.   Obamacare is definitely an improvement over nothing at all and now more Americans are covered than were before 2010, but since it was originally a Republican plan developed by the conservative Heritage Foundation (and later used by Mitt Romney for his Massachusetts constituents), it still is based on a system of delivery where healthcare is funneled through profit-oriented insurance companies instead of the government, as it is in all other developed countries.

Now that Senator McCain has said he will vote “No” on the latest incarnation of Trumpcare (which means “no-care” to most of us), the GOP Senate is in full panic mode.  They’re so desperate for a win that they are trying to scare people into supporting their abomination of a bill.  Their latest scare tactic is to scream about “Berniecare” (a reference to Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” bill) being socialism and how it will destroy America.   They incorrectly insist that the ACA is a step toward socialism and a slippery slope to complete government control over our lives and everything we do.  They tell us that any kind of socialized healthcare or any socialism at all will lead to dictatorship and the removal of all our freedoms and the death of free enterprise.  They say that the only way to “freedom” is to kill the ACA and go back to the bad old days of having no healthcare plan at all where “personal responsibility” (code for ability to pay) was the only factor that decided whether you would receive care or not.

But they are gaslighting and projecting onto us.   It’s almost laughable how hypocritical these claims are.  It’s ironic that the party that is screaming about dictatorship and loss of freedom is the same one whose president is an intolerant, fearmongering demagogue who displays all the signs of being a budding dictator, who discredits and wants to silence the free press, who encourages police brutality and the militarization of police departments, who is backed by a party that is trying to roll back civil rights and freedoms, as well as consumer protections and protections for the environment. It’s laughable that the party that screams about freedom doesn’t want freedom for anyone but the rich, white, conservative, and Christian.   If you’re poor or even middle class, non-white, liberal, or don’t subscribe to a viciously authoritarian and aggressive form of Christian evangelism (Christian dominionism) that believes the “elect” have been favored by God with wealth and power (and aims to replace the Constitution with Old Testament law),  you aren’t worthy and you deserve to have all your freedoms and rights — or sometimes even your citizenship — taken away.

To these “federalists,” freedom means three things:   property rights, the right to bear arms, and “freedom of religion” (to them, this means not what the Founding Fathers — who were products of the Enlightenment and believed in the separation of church and state — meant by it, but the freedom to force your religious beliefs on others using the law to do so).   They talk about “small government” and believe the government should be responsible only for policing and the military (while closely monitoring and meting out punishment for the private behaviors of the people).   Concepts like freedom from harm, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” apply to them only.    If they had their way, they would outlaw any speech, press, or anything else that opposed their draconian, authoritarian, backwards views.  To them, freedom means if you’re wealthy, you shouldn’t have to pay taxes or contribute to the common good.   If you’re a corporation, it means you shouldn’t have to obey laws that require you to pay your employees a fair wage, not pollute the environment, or test products for safety before selling them to the public.

Capitalism works best when it’s leavened by socialism.   Uncontrolled capitalism quickly becomes tyranny.  What we have now is no longer a democracy.  It’s an oligarchy, where corporations are “people” with unlimited power, money is “free speech,” and the very wealthy and powerful are above the law and don’t have to abide by the same rules the rest of us do.  They can pollute, exploit, extort, abuse, and lie to the American people to their heart’s content.   They can infiltrate politics and buy votes.   That’s why the wealthiest .01% have so much power and we’re in the mess we’re in right now.   This sad state of affairs started insidiously with Reagan’s tax breaks for the wealthy, the war on labor unions, and removal of corporate regulations.   Now we have capitalism run amok, with our current government bought and paid for by the wealthiest corporate interests and assisted by an aggressive and powerful group of religious extremists.   Far from being a road to freedom, theirs is a culture of narcissism, entitlement, greed, and exploitation that oppresses everyone except themselves and their wealthy donors.

 

“The definition of fascism is the marriage between the corporation and the state.”

— Benito Mussolini

 

They have gaslighted us all along by convincing people the government is our real enemy, when all along it was the corporate and moneyed interests who were buying our government. Now we have all three branches of government hamstrung by the most hard right of Republicans to the point we are nearly a one-party country.

Think back to FDR and the New Deal.   After World War II, we became a world power like none before or since.  Of course, winning World War II helped our economy immensely, but had it not been for New Deal policies and labor unions that narrowed the gap between the richest and poorest, relieved people from the ravages caused by the Great Depression, and made it possible for young families to buy a home and move into the middle class (and also freed them from the burden of having to house and provide round the clock, at-home medical care to an aging parent thanks to social security and Medicare), I doubt we would have become as prosperous in the postwar years as we did and the envy of the free world.   These government programs and labor unions freed people from the burdens that kept people mired in toil, poverty, and hopelessness in the past, and allowed them to be able to move up into the middle class and even higher.    They allowed older people to live longer, which increased our collective life-span.   Hardliners rant about these programs being socialism, and they are right about that.  But these “socialist” ideas have helped millions of people live freer and healthier lives.

Do you like having a post office?  Do you like having access to libraries, parks, community pools, and museums, which are free to all?  Do you like the national parks and monuments that are the envy of the world and create a thriving tourism industry?  Do you like having bridges, tunnels,  interstate highways (instead of toll roads or dangerous makeshift dirt roads like they have in third world countries), police departments, fire departments, efficient air traffic control, and the assurance that your aging parent won’t have to move in with you and force you to quit your job so you can provide them round the clock care?   Do you like knowing that if your house is on fire, you don’t have to pay a private company to come put it out or watch it burn down and spread to other houses if you lack the money?  If you’re a person of limited or modest means, do you like knowing your child has access to a free public education?   Do you like knowing that the air you breathe and water you drink is safe, and that the food you eat is free of toxins that could kill or sicken you or your loved ones?   Do you like knowing if your area was affected by a natural disaster, that you and your family would receive help from the federal government to get back on your feet? Do you feel secure knowing that there are scientists doing research on deadly contagious diseases that could become plagues without their efforts to combat their spread?  Do you like the fact there are laws that keep factories from dumping toxic waste into your drinking water?  Do you like the fact that companies by law can’t make you work for whatever they want to pay, which might be a dollar a day?

“The test of our progress is not how much we add to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

–Franklin D. Roosevelt 

 

All these things are socialism.  Now try to imagine what things would be like if these services and protections didn’t exist, or if you had to pay a private company or individual to get any of these things.    Not very pleasant to contemplate, is it?  You’d be looking at a country with a quality of life more closely resembling countries like Cambodia, dictatorships in central Africa, or banana republics in South America than to any developed western nation.

Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland are the four happiest countries in the developed world.    They are also countries that are social democracies — which means they combine capitalism and socialism.  There is nothing wrong with capitalism as long as regulations to keep it contained exist, there is progressive taxation (the rich pay more), and there is a general recognition that not everything can or should be privatized.  Some things simply work better and are more morally sound when they’re not privatized and are administered by the government instead.  Things like police departments, fire departments, prisons, interstate roads, air traffic control, and the military  should never be privatized.  Some services (like long-term care for the elderly, treatment for serious chronic illnesses like cancer, and safety and environmental regulations) cannot be adequately administered by private charities either.

Healthcare and education should always have a public option, even if a private option is also available.  In America, we have both public and private education.   The right wing complaint about “school choice” is bogus, since no one is forced to send their child to a public school, if they’d prefer to pay for a private one, but the public option is available for those who choose it or cannot afford to pay for the private option.  And that is as it should be, even though our current government is actively trying to dismantle public education.  As for healthcare, in Germany, you can buy your health insurance on the private market if you wish, but most people opt for single payer.  Socialist policies keep countries humane and civilized, and they counteract the negative, oppressive, malignant effects of unbridled capitalism which eventually lead to fascism and tyranny, as it is right now in the United States.

I think the problem so many people have with socialism is they equate it with communism. The Cold War led many of us to take a dim view of communism, which was an extreme form of socialism in which people were not allowed to own private property and all services were centralized and run by the government.  So, instead of being able to choose a doctor and have the government pay the claim (as it works in social democracies who have single payer insurance), you’d actually see a “government doctor” in a clinic-like setting and receive less than ideal care.   You could only watch State TV or listen to state-run radio or read state-run newspapers.  You had to stand on long lines to obtain government issued food, and of course there were always shortages.  None of these things are the case with European-style socialism.

Some extremists on the far right argue that countries such as Canada with “socialized medicine” require long wait times and that people die before they get to see a doctor.  But this is a lie.     Most Canadians (and people in other countries with single payer healthcare) are happy with the care they receive and knowing they won’t go bankrupt or risk reaching a “lifetime cap” or be denied care at all because they have a “pre-existing condition.”    In fact, they laugh at us for being so backwards that we refuse to recognize that good health is a human right, and not a luxury that only the rich should be able to afford.   If there are “wait times” in social democracies, it’s for services like cosmetic plastic surgery, gastric bypass surgery, or hip replacements — procedures that aren’t life and death emergencies and where there may be less invasive options that can be explored.  In America, of course, there are long wait times too — even for medically necessary procedures in which you are forced to wait for a health insurance company that cares only about profit to “authorize” a procedure and possibly deny it.

Authoritarianism has no ideology.  It can arise on the left or the right.  Communism is on the extreme left; fascism is on the extreme right.  Socialism (or social democracy, if you prefer) is more in the middle of the scale, although more to the left than capitalism.  Extremes of any ideology lead to tyranny and oppression.   Socialism taken to its extreme becomes communism; capitalism taken to its extreme becomes fascism. Both are caused by (and lead to) government corruption and both lead to the same terrible outcome:  short and brutal lives dominated by oppression, hopelessness, fear, illness, violence, and widespread poverty.   Balance is necessary for a system to work, and for a capitalist society to work for all its people, it must be balanced with socialism.   Other developed countries recognize this, and until the Reagan years changed everything, so did we.

Supporters of unbridled, unregulated capitalism like to tell us “the markets” will fix everything, but this is not true.  It has only led to disaster in the past, the most recent one being the housing crisis of 2008.   The markets are not God, and leaving the markets alone to fix themselves only leads to both economic and social ruin.

When people scream about socialism, I wonder if they’ve ever been to western Europe, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand — countries which may not be world powers, and where people may have to pay higher taxes (but not as high as you might think), but where there is more equality, more tolerance of diversity, and where people enjoy better health, live longer lives, get paid a living wage, and are never burdened with the possibility of bankruptcy or being denied coverage should they or a loved one become seriously ill.   Countries where people are generally happier, have more peace of mind, and where there is less hatred, violence, sickness, poverty, and selfishness. Countries where the common good is still valued more highly than power and greed.  Countries that don’t deny scientific fact or the right of its people to have a free education, clean air and drinking water, and basic no-cost healthcare from cradle to grave.

People in these countries can start companies and engage in free enterprise and with a lot more ease too because they’re not burdened with the fear of losing their insurance if they quit a job to start their own business.  They can leave a job they hate for a better one without fearing a “gap in coverage.”   They are still just as “free” as we are, if not more so (and now they are leaving us behind as they move ahead in the global economy because they recognize that sustainable industry that respects the planet and all life is the wave of the future).  The difference is they recognize what real freedom and real morality is — not the fake version of “freedom” that has come to mean “I got mine, so screw you,” and the fake version of “morality” that condescendingly tells us, “I’m better than you, so the rules I impose on you don’t apply to me.”

The Religious Right cares about control, not morality.

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Christian Right leaders (in both politics and the churches) — many who embrace the horrific theology of Dominionism/Reconstructionism — pretend to care an awful lot about morality.    They rant on endlessly about abortion and homosexuality.  They want to roll back laws that protect women’s health and reproductive rights.   Today, Trump passed a bill that bans transgender people from military service.

But do they really care about morality?

I don’t think so.  Their hero (who is supposedly going to make America a “Christian nation”) is a philanderer, adulterer, tax cheater, con-man, possible traitor, narcissist, bully, and only worships himself and money.   He holds himself above the law and doesn’t even think he needs God’s forgiveness.

Trump talks an awful lot about God — such as his tweet today that said (the caps are his own), “IN AMERICA WE DON’T WORSHIP GOVERNMENT. WE WORSHIP GOD.”   Yet I doubt the man has ever darkened a church door, said a heartfelt prayer, or ever really read the Bible.   Trump doesn’t give a hoot about God, only about power and control.   He’s a man without a conscience or a moral compass, but he  sure does seem awfully concerned with everyone else’s morals.

To the powerful leaders of the Christian Right (including many church leaders), morality means only one thing, or maybe two things (and they are closely related):  gender roles and sexual behavior.

They care nothing about being kind to others, helping those in need, welcoming strangers, turning the other cheek, loving their enemies, telling the truth, calling out wrongdoing, being ethical in business dealings, paying their fair share, and loving their neighbors as themselves.   In fact, when you hear them talk, they hardly ever mention the Gospels and Jesus’ message of love.

Instead, the cherry pick the most punitive passages from the Old Testament (and ignore those like the one illustrating this post) to justify their greed, hatred, bigotry, racism, sexism, denial of facts, and lust for power and control.   Certain passages have come in handy for instilling fear and terror which are used to dominate.   They talk about hell an awful lot, and seem pretty sure they’re not going there but YOU are if you disagree with them.     Dominionist church leaders even tell their followers that they will burn in hell if they didn’t vote for Trump or don’t support his policies.   It’s a toxic stew of religious abuse, fear, and hate — and unfortunately, it works.     It operates in the same manner as a cult — because it is a cult.

They use the talking points of abortion and homosexuality to instill fear (of going to hell), and control.   To a lesser extent they focus on other things that offend them — strangely, almost all are related to gender roles and the patriarchal belief that women are biblically mandated to be submissive to men (even when the man is an abuser):  women’s reproductive health (including birth control), adultery, divorce, private sexual behavior, and sex roles in the family.    Oh, and there’s a few other things they condemn:  Muslims, atheists, and liberals.

They justify their patriarchy and narrow minded views by quoting selectively from the Bible, but ignore the words of Jesus, who rarely if ever mentioned sex roles or homosexuality, never sent away a stranger, and never once said women were required to submit to men or tolerate abuse.  I don’t know for certain what Jesus’ actual views about sexual behavior were (since he never really went there), but I do know that there were things that were far more important to him, such as being kind to your neighbor, not being greedy and selfish, welcoming strangers, and caring for the needy and sick.

Jesus was gentle and kind.  He never turned his back on the “least among us.”  He was even loving toward sinners, as he was toward the adulteress who approached him.   But he only had harsh words for the powerful Pharisees, who were the equivalent of today’s legalistic right-wing Christian leaders and politicians.

America has a long history of the separation of church and state, and for good reason.   The Founding Fathers weren’t stupid.  They knew that when you try to mix the two, you wind up corrupting both.  That is what’s happening now.   There’s nothing un-Christian about keeping church and state separated.   In fact, it’s what’s kept Christianity from turning into a cult of power and hate.

Things that until very recently were considered sinful or at best, secular — greed, selfishness, seeking wealth and political power, corruption, hatred, bigotry, and taking from the poor — have now all been embraced by the Christian Right, using the heretical doctrine of dominionism to justify their actions.   Incredibly, they have Christianized the diabolical.  It makes you wonder who their real “god” really is.

They go on about the “sanctity of life” but seem to care only about fetuses and embryos.   But they are anything but pro-life.  Anyone who wants to take Medicaid away from pregnant women, make women’s health (including pregnancy) a pre-existing condition,  support the death penalty,  build more weapons, support torture, start wars, remove laws that keep the mentally ill from buying guns, gut education funding, destroy the environment,  remove laws that make our workplaces safe,  and kick millions of people off healthcare are definitely not pro-life.

I find it hard to believe far right Christian leaders even have much empathy for the unborn.  They seem incapable of empathy, so it makes absolutely  no sense that they would care so deeply about unborn babies but at the same time be so callous about the health and lives of born babies, children, women, refugees, and humanity in general.   Especially when you consider that Medicaid covers nearly half of all deliveries.  If you toss all those pregnant women off Medicaid, what will happen?  A hell of a lot more abortions, that’s what.   So how are they pro-life?  They aren’t.

The truth is, they don’t care about people, born or not.   The abortion issue (and other gender-related issues such as homosexuality) is a talking point they’ve latched onto in order to control people, especially women.    It’s also how they’ve managed to marry together religion with politics.  Far right politics has hijacked the churches and corrupted Christianity.    Their “morality” is all about control, and they will do the most immoral things imaginable to get it, as we see with this presidency.

I’m fed up with right wing politics’ bastardization and corruption of Christianity to suit their own agendas.  Over time, they have twisted Christianity into something dark and diabolical.    These heretics have held Jesus hostage for almost 40 years and it’s time to take him back.

I apologize about how harsh this may sound, but I’ve been feeling pretty strong about it lately, and sometimes the truth hurts.

What the Old Testament has to say about not taking care of the poor.

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We Christians already know the Gospels are filled with writings about Jesus instructing his followers to take care of the “least among us” — the poor, sick and otherwise afflicted.    We also know Jesus preferred the poor and less fortunate over the rich Pharisees of his day.    There’s not much argument about how Jesus felt about the greedy and the selfish, which is why the Christian Right usually references the Old Testament with its harsher, angrier God.   They can always find something there to use to make their greed, lack of compassion, and exploitation of the less fortunate for their own nefarious purposes (usually to enrich themselves) seem somehow moral, even God’s will.    They’re good at cherry picking from the Old Testament to excuse their un-Christian views, and cherry pick they must, because there’s plenty in the Old Testament that condemns those who worship mammon and turn their backs on the less fortunate.

No matter what version of the Bible is used, the message conveyed is the same:  we are to take care of and show compassion for the least among us, not exploit them and take away the little they have to enrich the already-wealthy.  This is exactly what the christians in the current Republican Party  (that is not a typo; I will not use a capital C to describe them because in my view they are not Christians) are trying to ram through the Senate in dark secrecy (which is in itself evil and dishonest).  Their “healthcare bill” is a lie.  It is nothing but yet another huge tax break for the richest 1% that will strip healthcare away from middle class and poor Americans, including the disabled and elderly (many who rely on Medicaid if they are in nursing homes or residential treatment since Medicare only pays a limited amount for long-term services); children, people with pre-existing conditions, older people like me who are still too young for Medicare (which, along with social security, might be gone by the time we hit age 65 or whatever the magic age is now) and families of limited means of any health insurance at all.

The huge irony here is this is the so-called pro-life party, but all they are is pro-birth.   They care more about “the sanctity of the embryo” than about a sick child who needs medical care who they would gladly deny the right to see a doctor if her parents can’t afford it.  If she dies, oh well, too bad, it was either “God’s will” or “her parents should have made better choices.”   These sociopaths and their sycophants will continue to get their Cadillac health care plans though, paid for by our taxes, while many of us must sacrifice our own right to see a doctor if we become sick, or risk losing everything we own.    Mike Pence once said that people who will lose their insurance “don’t need healthcare — they need more Jesus.”  Well, Mr. Pence, since you’re apparently one of God’s chosen ones who seems to know exactly what the rest of us who are less blessed than you need, why don’t YOU give up YOUR Cadillac plan and rely on faith healing for yourself and your own family?   If our only option after you rob us of healthcare is appealing to God for a cure and that’s supposed to be good enough for us, why isn’t it also good enough for you?   Give up your healthcare plan so at least we’re all on a level playing field.  No?  I thought not.   Of course, you don’t believe in fairness, because as one of God’s Elect, you deserve healthcare and I do not.

The hypocrisy and callousness of these swamp creatures is staggering.

Many innocent people will die if this abomination passes.     I look at Mitch McConnell, the turtle-faced, dead-eyed, smirking, Koch Brothers-funded ringleader orchestrating the secret dealings to pass this cruel travesty that will help only the most wealthy and the corporations (people just like himself), a “man” who has the temerity to try to ram this bill through in dark secrecy without  anyone knowing what’s in it except him and a few of his equally wealthy cronies — and he makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.   He — perhaps more than anyone else in this administration (and they are all horrible human beings from everything I have seen of them) — reminds me of the Undead — some demonic swamp creature who seems to garner pleasure from the idea that millions of people will suffer and die.   And he’s not the only one.

The spectacle of the smirks, backslaps, laughter, beer toasting, and glad-handing going on among McConnell, Paul Ryan, Mark Meadows, Trump, and so many other of these hate-filled white racist thugs at the Rose Garden party after “Trumpcare” passed the House back in May was a wake up call that sent chills through my soul.  I realized with no uncertain terms that these creatures sold their souls for Mammon and walk on the side of darkness.  If they profess to be Christian, it’s merely a talking point intended to gain support from the gullible red state religious types who blindly believe everything this cabal of Dark Triad power-mongers and their lying, gaslighting, fake news-generating pundits on Fox News, Breitbart, and InfoWars tell them.     Their followers and supporters are in my prayers because to my mind, they are victims of a dangerous and powerful cult whose doctrine is anathema to anything Jesus taught.

Here are passages from the OLD TESTAMENT (I’ve included many versions of the Bible to illustrate it’s not just in the translation) that show that Jesus message in the Gospels is still God’s will for us.    God is a constant and his love is for ALL of us, not just a chosen few.

preexisting

Proverbs 22:16

Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich–both come to poverty.

 

New Living Translation
A person who gets ahead by oppressing the poor or by showering gifts on the rich will end in poverty.

 

English Standard Version
Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

 

New American Standard Bible 
He who oppresses the poor to make more for himself Or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

 

King James Bible
He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.

 

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Oppressing the poor to enrich oneself, and giving to the rich–both lead only to poverty.

 

International Standard Version
Whoever oppresses the poor to enrich himself and whoever gives gifts to the wealthy will yield only loss.

 

NET Bible
The one who oppresses the poor to increase his own gain and the one who gives to the rich–both end up only in poverty.

 

New Heart English Bible
Whoever oppresses the poor for his own increase and whoever gives to the rich, both come to poverty.

 

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
He that harms the poor increases his own affliction and he that gives to the rich suffers loss to his soul.

 

GOD’S WORD® Translation
Oppressing the poor for profit [or] giving to the rich certainly leads to poverty.

 

JPS Tanakh 1917
One may oppress the poor, yet will their gain increase; One may give to the rich, yet will want come.

 

New American Standard 1977 
He who oppresses the poor to make much for himself
Or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

 

Jubilee Bible 2000
He that oppresses the poor to increase his riches and who gives to the rich shall surely come to want.

 

King James 2000 Bible
He that oppresses the poor to increase his riches, and he that gives to the rich, shall surely come to poverty.

 

American King James Version
He that oppresses the poor to increase his riches, and he that gives to the rich, shall surely come to want.

 

American Standard Version
He that oppresseth the poor to increase his gain , And he that giveth to the rich,’shall come only to want.

 

Douay-Rheims Bible
He that oppresseth the poor, to in- crease his own riches, shall himself give to one that is richer, and shall be in need.

 

Darby Bible Translation
He that oppresseth the poor, it is to enrich him; he that giveth to the rich, [bringeth] only to want.

 

English Revised Version
He that oppresseth the poor to increase his gain, and he that giveth to the rich, cometh only to want.

 

Webster’s Bible Translation
He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.

 

World English Bible
Whoever oppresses the poor for his own increase and whoever gives to the rich, both come to poverty.

 

Young’s Literal Translation
He is oppressing the poor to multiply to him, He is giving to the rich — only to want.

republican_jesus
Other Verses
James 2:13
For judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

 

Proverbs 22:22
Do not rob the poor because he is poor, Or crush the afflicted at the gate;

 

Proverbs 28:22
A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth And does not know that want will come upon him.

 

Ecclesiastes 5:8
If you see oppression of the poor and denial of justice and righteousness in the province, do not be shocked at the sight; for one official watches over another official, and there are higher officials over them.

On the oppressors:

Proverbs 22:22,23 Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted …

Proverbs 14:31 He that oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker: but he that honors …

Proverbs 28:3 A poor man that oppresses the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaves no food.

Job 20:19 Because he has oppressed and has forsaken the poor; because he has …

Psalm 12:5 For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now …

Micah 2:2,3 And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and …

Zechariah 7:9-14 Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and …

James 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that has showed no mercy; …

James 5:1-5 Go to now, you rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall …

On those who give: 

Luke 6:33-35 And if you do good to them which do good to you, what thank have …

Luke 14:12-14 Then said he also to him that bade him, When you make a dinner or …

Luke 16:24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send …

 

Cognitive dissonance and NPD.

narcissism_childhood

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of cognitive dissonance and its role in creating a narcissist or turning a narcissist into a malignant one.

Cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.

–Wikipedia

A computer will crash or stop working when given conflicting sets of instructions. Although people are not computers (because we have emotions and a soul), if we receive conflicting sets of “instructions” or information about ourselves, it causes so much mental distress that a personality disorder can develop if the conflict appears very early in life.

A child who is constantly invalidated by narcissistic parents tries to correct the cognitive dissonance by “becoming” what the parents tell them they are. If the parents tell them they are evil, bad, always misbehaving, etc. they may become aggressive, overt narcissist themselves to “match” the parents’ assessment of them. If they are told they are incompetent, a loser, stupid, etc. they may develop covert narcissism or BPD instead.

Golden/spoiled children.

Veruca-Salt

Spoiling a child is actually a form of abuse, because being a golden child negates the child’s own reality that they are human and less than perfect. The spoiled, golden child will either try to be as “perfect” as they are told to match their parent’s unrealistic assessment (and a grandiose false self develops from that) or they know they can’t ever be the image of perfection their parents insist they be, and to correct the cognitive dissonance they may become rebellious or adopt covert narcissism (in which the child believes they are worthless and the parents are wrong) as a coping strategy.

Other personality disorders.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is also a way to correct cognitive dissonance. I think BPD develops in many children who were both golden children and scapegoats (which is often the case with onlies) who were given inconsistent parenting, sometimes abused, sometimes treated like little gods. That’s why they’re so conflicted and seem to act in contradictory ways that confuse themselves and those around them.

Not all abused children develop narcissism or BPD, but it’s my belief almost all children of narcissists develop personality disorders, all of which are the adult incarnations of childhood attachment disorders.

Malignant Narcissism.

monsters-nietzsche

Malignant narcissism is NPD that is high on the spectrum and mixed with antisocial (ASPD) traits. A low-mid spectrum narcissist (or even a non-narcissist!) can turn malignant during adolescence or even as an adult. I think this is almost always due to some choice they made or action they were forced to engage in that went against their conscience. Let me explain how this works.

M. Scott Peck in his book, “People of the Lie,” (the book that popularized the concept of malignant narcissists as “evil”) told the story of a man who narrowly escaped becoming evil/malignant. The man, a non-narcissist who loved his family dearly, suffered from debilitating panic attacks when crossing a certain bridge on his drive to work. Even though he didn’t believe in the devil, one day while suffering a severe panic attack he made a “deal with the devil”–he told the devil he could take his favorite son’s life in exchange for allowing him to cross the bridge without having any more panic attacks. Of course nothing happened, and the son was fine. The man, filled with remorse over having these thoughts, told Dr. Peck about it, and was told he did the right thing to repent, because otherwise he would have become evil himself, especially had something actually happened to his son. If he had turned to darkness and narcissism, it would have been to correct the cognitive dissonance between what he had done and his internal moral compass. He would have had to discard his previous moral standards and embrace darkness.

A person forced to engage in something they find morally reprehensible, such as a soldier forced to kill innocent civilians, can turn toward darkness. Many veterans return suffering severe PTSD and in some cases seem to have lost the souls they went to war with. Many, who have committed atrocities in war, correct the cognitive dissonance created by doing something that went against their conscience, by discarding their conscience altogether. This isn’t a conscious choice usually, but is the end result of severe PTSD. (I think all personality disorders are, in fact, manifestions of severe PTSD caused by chronic abuse starting when the personality was still forming.)

It’s my opinion that adolescence is when malignant narcissism is most likely to develop, because adolescents are by nature risk-takers and trying to establish a separate identity from their their parents. This usually takes the form of some type of rebellion, and rebellion is normal as long as it doesn’t go too far. Some adolescents may be “dared” by their friends to engage in antisocial activities. Adolescents are so eager to be accepted in a group of their peers that sometimes their desire for acceptance overrides their conscience, which isn’t fully developed yet. If these antisocial activities hurt others (such as robbing someone’s house on a dare), the teenager’s fledgling conscience is halted in its growth, and may be discarded altogether. It’s at this point an adolescent can turn to malignant narcissism. This is why the choices kids make are so important. Here’s an excerpt from my article, “Healing Narcissism: Stephen’s Story,” in which a fictional boy I called Stephen turns to narcissism as a coping strategy, and it all began with a dare.

The Choice.

bullied_child

Stephen recalled a dare when he was 8 years old. A group of boys who had bullied him dared him to set a paper bag of dried dog poop on another boy’s rickety wooden front porch and set it on fire. The boys promised him that if he did this, they would no longer bully him and they would be his friend and protect him against any further bullying. Stephen knew that doing this could set the other boy’s house on fire and at first he protested, explaining what could happen. At this point he still had a conscience. But the boys threatened him and told him if he didn’t do it, their bullying would become worse and they would kill his pet rabbit. Stephen believed them, so against his will, he complied.

They set out after dark for the targeted house. The boys watched from the darkened yard as Stephen lit the paper bag on fire and hesitantly walked up the front stairs of the boy’s porch and set it next to a dead potted plant. The deed done, all the boys ran away before anyone saw them. Stephen looked back in time to see the flames ignite the plant, and quickly start to spread over the railings of the rickety old wooden porch. He felt awful and considered going to the police, but he didn’t dare. He went to bed that night and had terrible nightmares.

The targeted boy’s house burned down and he, his baby sister, and his mother had to be taken to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. Soon after, the family moved away, never to be seen again. No charges were pressed because no one knew who the culprit was.

To protect himself from his unbearable feelings of guilt and shame, Stephen shut off his painful emotions of guilt and conscience. From then on, the group of bullies accepted him as one of them, and they continued to engage in tormenting other children and even petty crimes.

This is an example of cognitive dissonance. Stephen would not have been able to live with himself had he not turned to narcissism as a coping strategy. The irony here is that, the more intense the child’s guilt or shame over committing an act that goes against their morals (or the more heinous the act), the more likely it is they will turn malignant, because to do otherwise would mean the overwhelming shame they feel could likely cause them to become severely depressed or even suicidal. This isn’t an excuse for anyone to turn to narcissism (or malignant narcissism) as a coping strategy, but is an unfortunate reality.

Acquired narcissism.

narcrealityshows

Sometimes people who become extremely successful, such as celebrities, sports stars, business leaders or politicians, can become narcissists, even if they were not narcissistic before their success. It doesn’t happen to all of them, but if it does, this is another example of how cognitive dissonance tries to “correct” things. In order to close the mental gap between their actual assessment of themselves as imperfect humans and the adulation they receive from the outer world that treats them as if they’re somehow more than human, a successful person can turn to narcissism to align their self-assessment with the way they are regarded by others. This is why some celebrities become so full of themselves or manipulative. It’s a form of acquired narcissism, but because it’s acquired fairly late in life and isn’t due to a choice, this type of narcissism may be temporary and only last as long as the person remains famous or very successful. If they fade into obscurity, the person faces a narcissistic crisis, but after that I think they can return to a non-narcissistic way of being in the world.

Narcissists attack your conscience

This was another post I just found at Fivehundredpoundpeep’s blog that I just had to repost because there is so much truth here and it really hit home for me. I have experienced this “attack on the conscience” firsthand with a MN mother who seemed to look down or be critical of any genuinely good qualities in others (she called them “insipid” or “weak.”) I don’t ever remember her praising anyone for being altruistic, generous, or kind, but she did admire (and envy) narcissistic, mean, materialistic traits in others.

My MN ex, although on the surface almost the opposite of my vain, always-must-appear-perfect mother (he was a “needy” narc, while she was a histrionic, somatic one), was the same way. He walked on the side of darkness and was attracted to dark things, including the occult and death metal music. He made fun of the positive, wholesome things in life. He made snide remarks about people who believed in God or who lived a clean, moral life–as if his choice to walk on the dark side was better and “cooler.” He actually used the word “uncool” to speak of people who lived moral, functional lives–he was a perpetual 13 year old even into his 50s.

Narcissists Attack Your Conscience
By Fivehundredpoundpeep
http://fivehundredpoundpeeps.blogspot.com/2015/01/narcissists-who-attack-your-conscience.html


Smakintosh is a survivor of narcissistic abuse who has a Youtube channel with many similar videos about narcissism. Although speaking from a Christian perspective, you do not need to be a Christian to appreciate what he has to say.

This video sums up so much to me. This is a video that spoke so much to me, that I have watched it three times. Smakintosh is right about the narcissist’s moral darkening. He is right when he says, “They attack our very consciences.” This is completely true. I think the narcissists do know that something is missing in them and that they hate the “light” and “conscience” in others. Remembering my parents yelling at me for being “too sensitive” as a child, by then they were trying to stamp out the flicker of goodness and a conscience within me. I understand what he means too about this being difficult to express in words.

Spiritually, I had these thoughts as a child, knowing I was different in my core from my parents. I knew I lived among dark individuals who saw the world in a completely different fashion. Destroy or be destroyed. I wanted to help people. They saw this as offensive. I was nothing like them.

Clear consciences are something narcissists hate. They live in the darkness of seared conscience. They do not want good people around them. If anyone is “good”, they want to make them bad just like themselves. They do want people to be the same as them– moral degenerates who live for self gain.

My mother attacked my conscience. My father did as well. I was even told I was not to have my own beliefs a few times which I refused at a very young age and brought forth more of their anger. Smakintosh is right about how narcs prop themselves up as people’s moral authorities. My mother definitely is seen as such within my dysfunctional family. She is seen as the moral authority not God to those people. It is crazy how everything is tested and judged according to HER standards. I watch both siblings living as slaves to these standards, still seeking to please “Mom”. Everything is done with the idea of her watching them and her pleasure or displeasure. What about pleasing God?

Abusive parents will tell you that you are wrong a million times and elevate themselves above you, where they are always right and you are always wrong. This is something they do to people where they will try to separate you from your own conscience and intuition. They try to train you in thinking what they think and believe is above what you think and believe. They do extreme spiritual damage to individuals.. I believe this is one way they gain so much control over entire groups of people. Exploration, discovery and introspection and spiritual yearning is stamped out under many a narcissist’s foot.

I believe God has helped me separate from my narcissists. When I was saved in Jesus Christ, and put God first, I was able to test the narcissists [we need to of course test ourselves as Christians] and see them for what they were. I was able to stand for my own values with God’s help. God broke the chains of the narcissist’s false authority.