Climate change and religious objection to climate activism.

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…And a little child shall lead them.  (Isaiah 11:6)

Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg is a hero and an inspiration for the whole world.  That became obvious yesterday as hundreds of cities all over the world gathered in huge numbers for the worldwide Climate Strike that Thunberg started a couple of years ago, when she decided to skip classes to stand by herself on a street corner with a homemade protest sign.

The sign did not go unnoticed.  Who would have thought that a painfully shy, introverted, autistic sixteen year old with few friends could be the catalyst for a worldwide movement to fight the Climate Crisis caused by our continued use of fossil fuels and unsustainable, wasteful, earth destroying practices that the likes of Trump and Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro have further encouraged, almost as if to mock the scientific data that shows we are in grave peril unless we reverse these practices.

Greta Thunberg now travels all over the world (she chooses ships when crossing the ocean, so she leaves less of a carbon “footprint”) to give speeches to leaders of countries and the heads of ethical corporations who believe in sustainable technology and know it’s the wave of the future.   Powerful but ethical adults are listening, and she has even been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Thunberg also has many critics, who smear her by saying she is a mentally ill (because of her autism), spoiled, Godless, fame hungry child who knows nothing about the planet and uses fearmongering to get famous.   Blaming a vulnerable child who has the courage to speak the truth is one thing you can always count on the regressive fascists of the world to do.

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Thousands of Dutch students skipped classes to march for action on climate change.  Photo credit: Remko de Waal, AFP

The pigtailed Swedish teen’s peers are our planet’s future.  It has been said by some that her generation (Generation Z) will be the last one on earth (that may be a bit dramatic, unless Trump starts World War III, which is certainly possible).

More realistically, any offspring Thunberg’s generation has will likely have the misfortune of living in a dystopian world without breathable free air and drinkable free water, massive flooding changing the contours of the continents themselves, devastating droughts, terrible storms, and food shortages everywhere, even in places that never experienced food shortages before.   These children will grow up on a blighted planet choked with pollution, eye burning and organ destroying soot and toxic fumes, trying to farm infertile, blackened soil that yields few or no crops, a planet with its natural beauty destroyed by powerful men consumed with never having enough and always wanting more, even when that means stealing from the rest of us and taking away our national parks and public lands so they can drill for more oil and garner more riches for themselves and their cronies.   Greed does kill.

And their terrible sociopathic God tells them this is all okay.   That these conscienceless individuals who have twisted God into a being so much like themselves, after all, have dominion over the rest of us, and we, as their hapless subjects who are not “chosen” by God or “anointed,” have no rights at all and will burn in hell for even objecting to our rights being taken away.   Their terrible fake God feeds their narcissism by giving them permission to do whatever they want, rewarding them with ever more power and riches, no matter how wrong or immoral the things they do, or how much it hurts life on this planet.

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Greta Thunberg leads climate change march in New York City yesterday. Photo credit: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, AP

They excuse their destructiveness by insisting they are the “chosen ones,” and patting themselves on the back for pretending to be “pro-life.”  But these are people without a conscience or empathy, so it makes no sense that they would have selective empathy for a tiny embryo who isn’t a sentient being yet, but never for the woman who carries it, for her other children who may be orphaned if the pregnancy will kill her, and never for children once they are born (especially if they are not white).   The explanation for their hypocrisy is simple.  Their real motive isn’t about saving unborn babies; it’s about having complete control over women.  That’s why they are fine with rape culture and are passing legislation that removes or diminishes laws that protect women from violence.  All fascist governments attempt to control and demean women in the same manner.   They do the same thing in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia under the Taliban and ISIS.  But I digress.  This is a post about climate change and environmental activism.

I had a few random thoughts about the hypocrisy of right wing fundamentalists and evangelicals’ objections to climate change activism, and I’d like to share them with you.

Right wing Trump supporting evangelicals think it’s okay for big oil companies and other powerful corporations to exploit and pollute the earth, and they also think it’s wrong for the people affected by these destructive practices to demand accountability and laws that regulate what these companies can do to the environment, because they believe it shows a lack of faith that God can replenish the earth.   How is that view any different from kids trashing the house and then saying they don’t have to clean their mess because it shows a lack of faith that their parents can do it?

Even if God is perfectly capable of restoring the earth to its pristine natural state without our help, isn’t the way we’re treating it pretty disrespectful of his property?   Frankly, we don’t even deserve to have a liveable earth should we destroy this one.    We seem so unappreciative of the one we already have.

As for the ridiculous claim by some evangelicals that environmental activism is “earth worship”:  Here’s a news flash.  Maintaining your house isn’t “worshipping” it. Expecting others not to trash your brick and mortar house and punch holes in its walls isn’t ungodly. Making necessary repairs to your house doesn’t offend God. So why do evangelicals think caring for our earthly home is offensive to God?

God never said it’s okay to exploit the planet for personal gain and riches.  That’s part of dominion theology, which is heresy.   The Bible is clear about how God feels about humanity trashing the Earth.    You don’t have to be religious to appreciate that true morality means caring for our earthly home and not exploiting it for wealth and power.  Greta Thunberg knows this.    I hope God blesses her richly.

The Top 7 Bible Verses About Taking Care of the Earth

 

The Christian Right is Brainwashing People I Love

Currently, one of my favorite blogs is the progressive Christian pastor John Pavlovitz’ blog Stuff That Needs to Be Said.     There have been so many times I’ve wanted to reblog his wonderful, very readable articles, but alas, his blog features no reblog button.   Therefore, I will just provide the link to his latest.

There is so much truth in his posts.  Every time I read them, I find myself nodding vigorously in agreement.  There is so much I can relate to in them.

The Christian Right has indeed become quite terrifying, as they have weaponized a religion that was intended by its founder to be peaceful and based on love in order to achieve an evil and heartless political agenda based on power and greed.    It has become more like a cult than a religion, but sadly, a lot of people are buying it.

The Christian Right Is Radicalizing White People I Love

The Hurtful Church of Jesus-less Christians

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I love John Pavlovitz’ blog.   He’s a Christian pastor, but the kind that’s tragically rare in America: a pastor who actually believes in the compassionate, loving Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount, a Jesus whose table included all types of people and always had room for one more.   This Jesus isn’t the Jesus of the prosperity gospel, dominionist, and right wing evangelical churches,  whose preachers seem to completely ignore the inclusive, loving Jesus in favor of their abusive and constantly angry God who gaslights his flock, holds them to endless harsh rules, constantly threatens Hell and punishment, shames and silences women and tells them they must tolerate abuse from their husbands and pastors (because as women, they must be doing something wrong to deserve the abuse of their “betters”), makes excuses as to why keeping children in cages and separating families is “godly,”  and tells poor people their poverty is due to their own moral failings and that if they were pleasing to God, they’d be rich.

Their God is forever changing the goalposts and is impossible to please.   Moreover, their God has “anointed” certain chosen people as “prophets” or “apostles,” people we are to obey without question and never criticize just because their God has elevated them above the rest of us (that’s where the “Trump is anointed by God” rhetoric comes from).    Their religion, so unlike the real Christ, is merely a cover for greed, hatred, exclusion, and fascism, and is used by sociopaths and narcissists as a means to control people.

They have created a God in their own image: their God is a sociopath or least a pathological narcissist, and good, decent people with a conscience and empathy want nothing to do with him.    But in America, unfortunately he is the loudest and most visible God.   The term Christianity itself is acquiring a bad name lately (this trend has increased since Trump was elected) because good people are associating it with authoritarianism, hatred, condemnation, elitism, American exceptionalism, misogyny, white male privilege, and harsh punishment.  No wonder so many good people are turning to atheism or non-Christian religions instead.

I too am finding the term Christianity offputting lately.  When someone tells me they’re a Christian, I automatically become wary and distance myself, assuming they follow the authoritarian, far right God that’s so prevalent in America today.    Theirs is a predatory, heartless religion that behaves more like a cult than a proper religion, and hurts millions more than it helps (mainly enriching its wealthy pastors and billionaire donors).

John Pavlovitz speaks for the rest of us, Christians and non-Christians alike, who reject the authoritarian American God, but who wish to emulate the Jesus of the Gospels.  Such Christians, to circumvent the recent negative connotations associated with “Christian,” have been calling themselves Christ Followers.   I kind of like that!

Here is another insightful and important article from John Pavlovitz’ “Stuff That Needs to Be Said” blog.

The Hurtful Church of Jesus-less Christians 

I hate living in a country where so many people think my son is abomination who deserves to die.

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Pride Parade, New York City, 2019

Just this past week, I read this and this (a video of Fritts’ disgusting sermon calling for the execution of LGBTQ people is linked in the article, if you can stand to watch it).   I felt literally sick to my stomach after reading these articles (and watching that awful video) and almost had to vomit.

Fritts, the homophobic police officer, has since been relieved of his duties, but it’s the first article that’s really disturbing.   A group of “Christian” preachers are having a “Make America Straight Again” event in Orlando, Florida, in response to “Pride Week.”    Last I heard, free speech was still legal in America, so of course people have the right to express homophobic opinions.  But what’s really chilling is that one of the preachers leading the event is praying for violence against the LGBTQ community during their Pride events being held in the same city!   Not only that, but several of the scheduled speakers will be speaking about their belief in the mass extermination of LGBTQ people.   That sounds like something the Nazis or some of the Middle Eastern countries under Sharia Law would do.  It chills me to the bone that this sort of thing is becoming increasingly acceptable and normalized here in America.

What kind of person prays for violence or even death against a group that isn’t violent themselves, but who merely have a lifestyle some believe is sinful?   A person full of hate and violence, that’s who.  Certainly not a follower of Christ.

These are far from the only incidents of blatant homophobia infiltrating the law and politics in this country.  Like everything else that’s bad and rotten, it’s gotten worse under Trump.   He emboldens homophobia, misogyny, and racism, partly because of his hatred for these groups of people, but it’s also a big part of his efforts to appease the religious right, who apparently believe Trump is their magic genie.  They feed his massive ego by diefying him and telling him he’s anointed by God and above the law,  and he gives them what they want.   Easy peasy.   It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why Trump gives the religious right what they want, and it has nothing to do with him being somehow “God’s chosen” or caring about “morality.”   Trump’s lifestyle has been and continues to be one of the most immoral (or is it amoral?) I’ve ever seen, and he’s never shown an ounce of repentance.  He’s a hypocrite who does whatever gives him power and wealth.  The only fruit he bears is rotten.

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True morality isn’t about what women do with their bodies or what gender you’re allowed to love anyway.  It’s about the way you treat others.  I’m sure Jesus would agree.  Every day he showed the most vulnerable people and the marginalized nothing but kindness and acceptance, including the sinners.   It was the dominionists of his time — the wealthy and powerful Pharisees who demanded strict obedience in the name of God — that he condemned.

My son is gay.  He is also one of the kindest, sweetest, funniest people I have ever known.  He has brought so much joy to my life, and the lives of his friends.    He is a wonderful, talented, and intelligent human being who is empathetic,  has never hurt anyone else intentionally, and who also, like many gay people, struggled emotionally with his sexual identity before he was able to “come out.”

I don’t believe being gay is a choice.  No one just wakes up one morning and says, “Gee, I think I want to be gay” (or bi, or transgender, or what have you).  I don’t think a gay person can be “cured” any more than a tiger can change its stripes.   To think there are so many hateful people in this country — including people with enough political power to change laws — who want him dead or think he’s an abomination because of his sexual preference fills me with existential dread.   Now that these homophobic nutjobs have been emboldened by Trump’s “war on political correctness” and open hatred, and his shameless pandering to the religious right in exchange for their financial support and deification of him,  I’m actually becoming terrified for my son’s safety.

There are dominionist politicians high in government right now who are packing the courts with far right judges willy nilly, and I’m afraid they may well succeed in their efforts to turn America into a theocracy ruled by biblical (Old Testament) law (the “Christian” version of Sharia law).  I hope that if the United States continues in the dark direction it seems to be headed, my son can find a way to leave the country.  In the meantime, I pray for his safety.  America no longer feels safe.

How Evangelical Christianity’s brand is all used up.

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Here is an insightful article from Raw Story that describes how Evangelical Christianity became so tied up with the Trumpian Republican Party, and how right wing political policies have damaged the reputation (“brand”) of evangelical Christianity in general.

In fact, many Christian leaders, even from conservative denominations like the Southern Baptist Convention, are divorcing themselves from the term “evangelical” because of  negative associations with the worst human traits, which have only become worse since Trump was elected and has shamelessly pandered to the Christian right in spite of his debauched lifestyle (which he has never repented for) and evil policies.

How Evangelical Christianity’s Brand is All Used Up

13 red flags of a dominionist church.

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I’ve written about Christian dominionism before, especially as it relates to our current political situation here in America, but what exactly is it, and how can you tell if your church has gone dominionist or has dominionist tendencies?

What is dominionism?

First, we need to define dominionism.  What exactly is it anyway?  Basically, it’s a postmillennialist theology that was started by Rousas Rushdoony in the 1960s, with the publication of his tome, Institutes of Biblical Law.  It has its roots in Calvinism, and is in fact Calvinism on steroids.   It’s a form of theonomy, or theological totalitarianism, that teaches that God has mandated humans to prepare the world for Christ’s return by “christianizing” the “7 mountains” of society: government, family, media, education, religion, entertainment/arts, and business.   They seek to do this by installing only Christians (specifically, dominionist evangelicals) into the top echelons of each of these seven “mountains”  who will then work on changing them.   One of the tasks of the people mandated to transform the “government” mountain is replacing the Constitution with Old Testament biblical (Mosaic) law.   In fact, they’re busy doing this right now, which is why there are so many dominionist Christians in the Trump administration.  Dominionists (and many “normal” evangelicals also)  believe that Trump has been “anointed” by God as a “wrecking ball” to help bring about God’s kindgom on earth.   Many people have compared dominionism to ISIS and the Taliban, two extremist factions of Islam that also don’t recognize the separation of religion and government and have made laws based on the Q’uran (sharia law) the law of the land in some Middle Eastern countries.

Dominionism isn’t a denomination.  It’s an authoritarian theology that has infiltrated a variety of Christian denominations in America, mostly evangelical, fundamentalist, or pentecostal (you’re pretty safe from it if you’re in a mainline or liberal Protestant or Catholic church — for now).  Dominionism has flown under the radar for years and has gone under several different names:  New Apostolic Reformation (NAR),  Manifest Sons of God, the Latter Rain movement (an early incarnation from the 1970s), Kingdom Now,  Kingdom Theology, Joel’s Army, and other names.    It’s actually a fascist and nationalist political agenda wrapped up in Christian piety.  As a post-millennialist doctrine, it has a different eschatology from “normal” evangelicalism, which is traditionally pre-millennialist and therefore teaches that the Tribulation and Rapture will occur before Christ returns.   “Normal” evangelicals (and mainline Christians who believe in the Second Coming) adhere to the biblical teaching that we have no way to know when Christ will return, and there is no way to “prepare” for it, since God’s kingdom is not of this world.

Dominionism is heretical for many reasons but mostly because it says Jesus can’t return until the planet is “Christianized.”   For Americans, this means a installing a theocracy based on Old Testament laws.   If that sounds a lot like radical Islam to you, that’s because it is.  Their agenda is eventual world domination (dominion) and a One World Religion.  This is unbiblical.  We were never called to force certain religious beliefs on others, only to spread the Gospel.  To force a religion on society by way of its laws negates the concept of free will.  It also corrupts both the religion and the government.   This is why the Founding Fathers were clear about the separation of church and state.

The Bible also never says that only Man can change the world for Christ.  In fact, we cannot facilitate Christ’s return ourselves because we can’t even know when He is returning (Mark 13:32).

God’s kingdom, according to John 18:36, is not of this world.   But dominionists believe it very much is and to be pleasing to God, the world must be changed to Jesus’ liking.   Dominionism is also extremely authoritarian and very cult-like.    Many survivors of spiritual or religious abuse came from churches that embraced tenets of dominionism and reconstructionism.

Here’s an excellent (and scary) description of dominionism from a political research website:

Dominionism Rising: A Theocratic Movement Hiding in Plain Sight 

Dominionism has been working its dark magic within American evangelical churches,  and even some charismatic Catholic churches.  Now that it’s infiltrated our political system, it threatens the integrity of our Constitution and our freedom.  Many of the current GOP in high level positions, and some members of Trump’s staff are actively trying to install dominionist doctrine into our laws.   Here are 13 red flags to look for.

1.  The church uses military imagery or language.  This is a very visible and immediately obvious red flag of a dominionist church.  Such symbolism indicates a church that has no respect for the separation of church and state — and even believes it is mandated to change the law of the land to its liking.  Ads and educational materials include military imagery such as shields, swords, guns,  images of soldiers at war, sometimes combining the cross with nationalistic symbols like American flags.   They use terms like spiritual warfare, warrior for Christ, soldier for Christ, prayer warrior, POTUS Shield, Joel’s Army, etc.   God himself is portrayed not as a loving Father, but as constantly angry, full of wrath and vengeance, intolerant, and punishing for the smallest infractions.    Extreme nationalism is prominent too.  America is believed to be God’s chosen nation (the “new Israel”) mandated to convert (by force, if necessary) the world.

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2.  The church tells you how you should vote.   In America, this nearly always means voting for the “pro-life” candidate, regardless of how immoral that candidate may be in other ways.   Abortion and to a lesser extent, homosexuality, are the two pet “culture wars” issues given outsized importance by these churches.    This red flag alone though does not indicate a dominionist church, since many conservative and fundamentalist/evangelical churches frown on abortion and homosexuality.  But taken in context with other red flags, it’s still something to be on the lookout for.    Be wary of any church that tells you to vote Republican, says Trump is “God’s anointed,” or rails on about abortion and homosexuality constantly but doesn’t seem to care  very much about other moral issues such as greed, pride, pedophilia, poverty, racism, human rights abuses, adultery, dishonesty, or cruelty.

3.  The church encourages you to leave your non-believing loved ones.   Dominionist churches operate very much like cults because in fact they are cults.  Cults such as Scientology very often coerce their adherents into disconnecting with non-believing friends or family members, who are demonized.  Enemies of Scientology are called “Suppressive Persons” or SPs for short (here’s more about my own short foray into Scientology, in case anyone is interested).    In dominionist churches, anyone who isn’t a believer — even other kinds of Christians — are said to be doing Satan’s work.   In fact, some dominionists believe that non-dominionists are naturally evil because they come from Cain’s bloodline (they believe that the “right kind” of Christians are from Abel’s bloodline) so they are predestined for Hell no matter what (I told you this was Calvinism on steroids!)

So if your church leader tells you a relationship you have is sinful or accuses your friend or family member of being of the devil because they believe differently or have a lifestyle the church disapproves of, and they tell you you must cut off that person to avoid God’s wrath,  run away as fast as you can.  Dangerous people and organizations both attempt to isolate their prey from the people they love in order to control them.   It’s a form of divide and conquer.

4.  The church says we can and should seek signs and wonders.  Many evangelical churches emphasize “signs and wonders” (spontaneous healing, “glory clouds,” speaking in tongues, deliverance, exorcism, laying on hands, etc.) as a physical manifestation of the holy spirit.  Pentecostal and charismatic evangelical worship services focus on attempting to bring about these supernatural phenomena and as a result, it’s hard to not get drawn in by all the intense and uncontrolled emotion.  Dominionism goes a step further, saying humans are mandated by God to “manifest” signs and wonders, since God is in each of us.   This is very similar to New Age teaching.  In fact, many dominionist churches, such as the Bethel megachurch in California, are a strange hybrid of Christian fundamentalism and New age religion (Bethel is also known for an odd and disturbing practice known as “grave sucking.” ).    Dreams are also given great importance, and even quasi-occult practices such as astral projection are practiced: there are dominionist preachers and authors who claim they have traveled to heaven (and hell).   Signs and wonders (miracles) may be real for all I know, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to be conjuring them for their own sake or as “proof” God exists.   I think it could even be dangerous (not all supernatural occurrences come from God), so if you belong to a church that says you must take part in such occult activities or that something’s wrong if you can’t speak in tongues, conjure a “glory cloud,” or heal people spontaneously, find another church.

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Attendees at Bethel Church catching manifested gold dust from a “glory cloud.”

 

5.  The church says certain people are “anointed,” or chosen by God — and says you must obey those people.   In this regard, dominionism has been compared to the Roman Catholic Church, which believes in intercessors between us and God, such as popes, priests and bishops.   In dominionist churches, certain people are “anointed” (often self-proclaimed) as prophets or apostles, and they have dominion over everyone else.    To disobey or resist such an “anointed” person is considered a sin.   Since these churches consider Trump to be “anointed by God” (regardless of his continued immorality and lack of repentance for his sins),  to disagree with Trump means you disagree with God himself and have a “jezebel spirit.”

If your heart tells you something is wrong, I think it would be immoral not to disobey.  We were given a conscience which is a gift of God, and helps us manifest the holy spirit in the world (the same way our minds do — it is godly to use our critical thinking skills!)  While good works may or may not be necessary for salvation, they certainly are a “good fruit” proving we are using the conscience and thinking ability we were given and acting in a Christlike manner (even if we are not Christians).  Who can argue with that? It sure wasn’t Satan who gave us brains and a conscience!

If you know your leader is doing something immoral,  I think it’s the godly thing to call it out or at least refuse to take part in it.   What if your pastor asks you to perform a sexual act on them or cheat on your spouse?  Is to refuse to do so immoral? I certainly hope not!  I think there are always circumstances in which disobedience is not only the correct thing to do, it’s the only moral thing to do.

6.  The church puts great importance on blind obedience.   This ties closely with #5.   Dominionist churches put an inordinate amount of emphasis on unquestioning submission to authority, often quoting Romans 13, which says that every man in a position of power was put there by God, and therefore we are not to question God’s will.   Using this logic, even Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini were placed in power by God.   You could also ask a dominionist why Barack Obama was so vilified by the religious right, since according to their doctrine, he must have been put there by God as well.   Not only is blind obedience valued over critical thinking (which is a sin), to insist on “rights,” including civil rights, is considered to be satanic.

Here’s a thought experiment.  Dominionists might want to ask themselves if undergoing an abortion in China is the godly thing to do, since Chinese law mandates a couple must not have more than one child — and therefore to refuse an abortion is to disobey the law.    Likewise, would the American Revolution have ever happened — or any revolution in all of history ever happened — had disobedience or resistance to authority not come into play?

On a side note, I’ll add that dominionist child rearing methods are extremely authoritarian and oppressive, even cruel.   The goal of such draconian and harsh parenting is to “break the child’s will,” as you would “break” a horse — but really what happens is the child grows up to be a broken person unable to think for themselves, afraid to experience genuine emotion — and all too often becomes an abuser themselves.

7. The church preaches the “prosperity gospel.”  While not all prosperity gospel churches are dominionist, all dominionist churches preach the prosperity gospel.   Dominionism is really a sort of hyper-Calvinism, which states that God blesses those who please him with financial and material rewards (“name it and claim it”).   So if you are poor or struggling,  then you deserve your poverty.   You’re displeasing to God in some way, or your faith isn’t strong enough and God is trying to “awaken” you to the error of your ways.   It would therefore be wrong to offer such a person help because that’s interfering with God’s will.  The prosperity gospel also puts a great deal of emphasis on tithing, which I describe in #8.

8.  The church puts great importance on tithing and “donations.”   Even if you are poor and can’t feed your family, you are told you must tithe a large portion of your income to the church.  Failing to tithe the right amount is considered sinful.   This is another red flag of a cult, because cults always find ways to extract large amounts of money from you, often promising you nebulous things such as greater prosperity, happiness or peace of mind in return.    Failing to attain those goals means you have failed — or are displeasing to God.   The church is like a gambling casino: the house always wins.   It is always right, you are always wrong.  If you belong to a church whose leader is extremely wealthy and flaunts that wealth, and the poor are blamed for their own financial condition,  run.

9.  Women are treated as second class citizens.  Women are held in very low regard in dominionist churches, though not all churches that order women to be “helpmeets” and submit to the authority of their husbands, fathers, and other male relatives are necessarily dominionist.  They could just be ultraconservative.   But again, this is something you will see in dominionist churches.   Of course, abortion is forbidden in most conservative churches, but if birth control is also frowned on (outside the Catholic Church), and women are told their only value is to have as many children as God gives them, or if having many babies is referred to as “building an army for Christ,”  that should be a howling red flag.   The Quiverfull movement, which the Duggar family is a part of, is a fairly recent manifestation of dominionist theology at work.    The Taliban in Islam has very similar views of women and their proper roles in society.  In such a misogynistic environment, abuse is rampant.

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Scene from the Hulu TV series, The Handmaid’s Tale.

 

10.   Abuse is concealed, denied, or excused.   Women and children are extremely vulnerable to abuse because of their second class status.   Since the man is regarded to be biblically mandated to have headship over his wife and children — and because questioning authority is frowned upon and even condemned as sinful — reporting abuse or defending yourself or your children against it can be dangerous.   Many women who tell their preachers about the abuse are shamed and coldly ordered to go back home and try to be better wives, or to “make the best of it.”  Sometimes they are even accused of bringing it on themselves, and told they can stop the abuse by being more pleasing or obedient to their husbands.    Because a woman may be saddled with many children, or have been cut off from her family and friends (see #3), she may have nowhere to turn to get any help or relief, which takes us to #11.

11. Disdain for psychiatry, psychology and the mental health profession.   This attitude toward the mental health professions is very similar to that of Scientology, which also takes a very dark view of them.   In many dominionist churches, the only acceptable kind of therapy is that given by a Christian (dominionist) practitioner, who is rarely trained in psychology and counseling, and will often give advice that is not based on the client’s best interests but rather on obeying the religious doctrine.  For example, they might tell a gay person their sexuality is an abomination to God, and they need to undergo “conversion” therapy, or they might tell a wife she must obey her husband and try to “make the best of things” even if she and her children are in danger.  A secular therapist would encourage the gay person to accept themselves as they are, and urge the woman to leave her abusive husband and connect with people who can help her.

12.  The church demonizes the vulnerable.   I’ve already discussed the way dominionist doctrine demonizes the poor, blaming them for their lack of prosperity.  But it also demonizes the disabled, the sick, and other vulnerable groups of people.  Because dominionist doctrine holds that God blesses his elect with perfect health and wealth, a godly person would never become poor, sick or disabled.  Misfortune is only visited on those who don’t believe or who are morally offensive to God.   To suffer misfortune then, means you are doing something wrong.  The fault is always your own.  This is an extremely narcissistic, even sociopathic, worldview — and nothing at all like Christ, who loved the “least of these” the most.    Dominionists apparently have never read the Sermon on the Mount.

13.  The people are just…weird.   When people join cults, if they stay any length of time, eventually the indoctrination and mind control tactics begin to take a toll on their personalities and even their appearance.   Many people have noticed, for example, the “Scientology stare” so common in Scientology adherents like Tom Cruise.  This is a creepy blank stare, often combined with a fake smile that fails to reach the eyes.   I’ve never spent time in a dominionist church, but my fascination with it has led me to watch Youtube videos of dominionist preachers and public speakers, and almost all of them have that weird, robotic, predatory, almost psychopathic stare.  Watch videos of Paula White (Trump’s “spiritual advisor”) if you want to see a real world example of what I mean.

If you’re still not sure whether the church you attend has dominionist leanings, there’s an easy way to tell if it’s a good church or a bad one:  ask yourself if it bears good or rotten fruit (Matthew 7:17-18).   If the church is doing good works and helping others (without coercing them to convert),  its leaders seem humble and kind, and the congregants seem happy and contented without repressing their real desires and emotions, then it’s probably a healthy church environment.  If the leader seems distant (or “above” his congregation), the congregants seem fakely perky and happy (or miserable and afraid), and the overall feel of the church is one of fear, negativity, and anger,  it may not be a dominionist church, but it definitely could be a toxic one.

If Doug Jones does this, he will win Alabama.

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I’ve been very worried about the far-right religious demagogue and pedophile Roy Moore winning Alabama.   He and his Democratic opposition, Doug Jones, have been running neck and neck, and even after 9 women spoke up about Moore molesting them (in one case the woman was 14 years old when she was assaulted) and other complaints that Moore stalked teenagers at the mall, Roy Moore still has a better than good chance of winning in his state.  The reason he may still win, even though he is a horrible human being who preys on children, is because of where Roy Moore stands on abortion.

Even though I don’t live in Alabama (thank God), I’m worried about Moore winning because that will mean he’ll be in the Senate, and have greater influence and power.  We do not need religious extremists and unrepentant sexual predators (please don’t bring up Al Franken, because at least he apologized and took responsibility for his actions) like Moore in the US Senate or anywhere close to the federal government.

So I had a kind of brainstorm this morning.    Because so many Alabamans care so much about abortion, and vote on that one issue (even over homosexuality), Doug Jones needs to run on the abortion issue, and it doesn’t matter that he happens to be pro-choice.     He can make an excellent case why he’d be the better pro-life candidate (and why the Democratic Party is also the more pro-life party at the end of the day).

As it stands now, religious Alabamans will vote for Roy Moore because they believe Doug Jones is soft on abortion and therefore against God.  It doesn’t matter to them that Moore is himself an immoral man who preys on children and blasphemes Jesus when he justifies his molestation of a 14 year old by saying that Mary was only 14 when she was impregnated by Joseph (whatever happened to their belief in the Virgin Birth?).  No, they will still vote for Moore because of his anti-choice stance.

But here’s something to ponder.  It is a statistical fact that 50% — HALF! — of all births in America are paid for by Medicaid, which also covers children’s healthcare after they are born.  That’s a lot of babies that might have been aborted without Medicaid (and other support programs for mothers and their children).   Republicans like Roy Moore want to cut Medicaid or eliminate it altogether, as well as cut or eliminate other services that make it possible for poor women to have and raise their children.

If a poor woman loses or cannot access Medicaid, food stamps, and other services that help her and her unborn baby, both during pregnancy and after, do you think she is going to have the baby anyway without medical and other support?  No!  She is most likely going to choose abortion.  Most abortions in the US are done for financial reasons. Most women having abortions aren’t married middle or upper class women — they’re usually poor or very young women who have no health coverage and no support system in which they can raise their child.   If you refuse her Medicaid and support services, is she just going to say, “Hey, well, ok, I guess I’ll just give birth at home in my bathtub!”   Of course not.  This isn’t 1700.

Sure, there are a few women who can afford a child and have abortions because they just don’t want another child (or any at all), but they are in the minority. Even if abortion was outlawed, rich women would “take a trip to Europe” just like they did in the 1950s.

Facing an unplanned pregnancy is scary enough as it is.  If you have no money to afford prenatal care, labor and delivery, and medical care for the baby, and there is no support system that can help you, that’s even more terrifying.  Again, half of all births are funded by Medicaid. So if that is taken away or cut, most if not all of those poor women are NOT going to decide to have their babies in the bathtub.  It’s a lot easier to come up with $600 or $800 or so for an abortion than find the money for hospital care.  Even the poorest woman can usually get that kind of money in a pinch, even if she has to borrow it or use a payday lender.

Abortion rates have ALWAYS gone up during GOP administrations, when services like food stamps, Medicaid and family planning are cut.   Most women, when faced with other alternatives to abortion and given support, will choose to have their baby.  Cut off their support system and access to healthcare, more abortions.   It makes perfect sense.

Even though most Democrats are “pro-choice,” there are fewer abortions under Democratic administrations when access to family planning and healthcare and other services are more available.  This has been proven statistically.  Railing on about abortion being evil and then offering no alternatives to a desperate pregnant woman, especially if she’s poor, does absolutely nothing except shame and traumatize her.

Even if abortion were outlawed, desperate pregnant women who can’t afford a sudden “European vacation” would go to back alley butchers just like they did in the 1950s.  Illegal abortionists would pop up like mushrooms after a storm.   Women who are desperate are still going to get abortions even if they’re illegal, if no other support is given.

I really think if Doug Jones runs on this platform, and stresses the fact that abortions increase under GOP policies and decrease under Democratic policies, I think he could win over some if not most of the pro-life Christians.  Let’s face it.   Doug Jones seems like a good man and a nice person and unlike Roy Moore, I believe he actually cares about the people of Alabama, and he cares about women and children.    If pro-life Christians, many who vote on the abortion issue alone, could realize that Jones is actually the much more pro-life candidate at the end of the day, I definitely think they would vote for him  over an extremist, dishonest sexual predator like Roy Moore.

I’m actually going to send the link to this article to Doug Jones and urge him to address this issue in his campaign, because I think he’d win.  It’s important he wins so we don’t get someone like Roy Moore in the Senate.

Trump’s tax bill: we are in deep trouble.

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Holy cow.   Trump’s tax bill is bad enough for the average person who isn’t a corporation or a billionaire, as well as threatening the ACA (by removing the individual mandate), but look what else is hidden inside it.

Every American needs to be aware of this.   There’s all kinds of horrible things (many which I’m sure I’m not even aware of) hidden inside the tax bill, but this is probably the most dangerous and scary thing I’ve heard yet.    The plan, if this bill passes, is to remove any remaining separation between church and state, allowing a free and uncontrolled flow of dark money between the evangelical right wing churches and the government.

I wonder if many of the Senators who are going to be voting on this bill are even aware of this hidden clause.  The GOP seems to do just about everything in secrecy and darkness, without transparency (typical of authoritarian regimes).

The intent is to establish a “state religion” (remaking America as a “Christian nation”), which will result in the marginalization (and maybe worse) of anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their brand of toxic Christianity, which has nothing to do with actual Christianity and is really a political movement disguised as “Christianity.”

This is straight up authoritarianism & a great danger to democracy. These evangelical Christofascists are using Trump to carry out their wishes, and it’s all about money and power.   I wish this was just fake news, but I can tell you with confidence that this is real.

Hidden in GOP Tax Bill:  A Plan to Turn Churches into Dark Money Spigots

If you’re not freaking out about this, you’re either not paying attention or are part of the problem.  We cannot allow this to happen.  We are not Saudi Arabia.

Call your senators.  They may not be aware what they are about to vote for. 

Here’s another article, from Mother Jones.

Republicans Are Sneaking Right-Wing Social Policies Into Their Corporate Tax Cut. 

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5 Ways Christian Patriarchy Harms Men

One of my favorite Christian bloggers talks about the ways patriarchal Christianity actually harms men.

Please comment under the original post.

Jesus Without Baggage

It is easy to understand how Christian patriarchy harms women, but it might not be so clear how patriarchy harms men. Patriarchy is a religious belief in which women must submit to their husbands, who are heads of their homes, earn the money, and make all the decisions—while their wives support and submit to them. In effect the husband is boss.

Patriarchy believes God created men and women with rigid gender roles and that the Bible describes those specific roles (see arguments against patriarchy in the links at the bottom of this page).

Patriarchy puts men in charge at home and church. Men are empowered while women are disempowered. So, with such privilege, how can patriarchy HARM MEN? There are at least 5 ways, and I am sure there are more. During this series, a number of both men and women readers addressed this issue. Some of their anonymous contributions…

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What if the far-right God is the true God?

Even though this article is less than four months old, I’m reblogging it because it provides a kind of lead in to the article I plan to write later on today. I also think its message is comforting in these turbulent times. Stay tuned for my later post!

Lucky Otters Haven

god

I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of God lately.  The insidious rise of Christian fascism in this country is forcing me to do so.

The radical religious right’s beliefs about God — punishing, angry, and intolerant — are incomprehensible and repugnant to me.   The prospect of the Old Testament Law-based Christian theocracy this radical group of zealots are attempting to impose here in America fills me with terror, righteous anger, and makes me literally sick to my stomach.

No matter how hard I try to understand these far right religious leaders, their dominionist views, and their need for total control over every aspect of our lives (this is the same group that talks about “small government”), I just can’t.   I don’t get it at all.   They might as well be aliens from another planet.

Their message and plan for America (and yes, eventually the world)…

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