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NYT: Evangelical Crackup, Terry Fox in a Best Western

dobson300.jpg

Doktor Dobson

Did you see this in The New York Times?

Even in Kansas, the right-wing so-called Christians are falling into disarray. The old religious right leaders like Falwell and Kennedy are dead. Terry Fox, one of the most powerful preachers in the Southern Baptist Convention, finally got asked to leave his church after people hung their heads and muttered, “Oh no, there he goes again, 52 straight weeks about abortion.”

The guy’s now preaching in a lonesome Best Western.

Fox is not the only conservative Christian to feel the heat of those battles, even in — of all places — Wichita. Within three months of his departure, the two other most influential conservative Christian pastors in the city had left their pulpits as well. And in the silence left by their voices, a new generation of pastors distinctly suspicious of the Republican Party — some as likely to lean left as right — is beginning to speak up.

People are sick of the war in Iraq, sick of George W. Bush, sick of the right-wing claim that God is a Republican. They are sick of 45 million Americans without health care (the only developed country in the world without universal health insurance!) and they’re sick at heart about global warming. But the only thing that matters to James Dobson & The Dinosaurs is Giuliani, feminists and queers, oh my!

Rudolph Giuliani, the apparent Republican front-runner for president in an extremely weak field, has been known to wear dresses and camp it up; after his then-wife threw him out of Gracie Mansion, the New York mayor’s official residence, he took up with a Gay couple and lived with them for a few months. If he wins the GOP nomination, the religious right will never have been less relevant.

“When you mix politics and religion,” (the Rev. Gene) Carlson said, “you get politics.”

The Times article notes that evangelicals split with mainline Protestants a hundred years ago over that awful evolution.

A leopard never changes its spots. The hillbilly fundamentalists of old live in suburbia now, with significant wealth and TVs in every room, but they try not to call their swimming pool a “cement pond.”

I mean, what is it like to live your life opposed to science? What do you tell your kids when they bring home their report cards? “A D in biology, that’s great! Knowledge and logic come straight from the devil. Besides, girls don’t need to know such things, they need to submit to their husbands.”

Meanwhile the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion go through incredible contortions trying to figure out how to appease homophobic bigots and Gay people—first one group, then the other. It’s pointless.

The current generation has already made up its mind about Gay people. Youth are in favor of equality and opposed to discrimination. Gay marriage is here, we’re queer, get used to it; meanwhile what’s your carbon footprint?

When will the Episcopal Church realize that StandFirm, David Virtue and Kendall Harmon run blogs that are nothing but online bigot conventions?

Does anyone outside Colorado Springs believe that church growth depends on homo-hatred? Read the polls!

Young Americans have already made up their minds about homophobia. (They’ve also done the same about evolution.) The issue for youth is how to be faithful to Christ while also accepting logic, knowledge and science.

The Episcopal Church, currently intimidated by fundamentalists, happens to be great on Christ, knowledge and science. You’re actually allowed to have a mind ‘n’ everything!

We don’t take that gorgeous Hebrew meditation (Genesis 1) on God as Creator and the supremacy of the weekly Sabbath—the finest PowerPoint ever written—as if it were somehow a scientific statement. It was never intended that way—and the writer would laugh at people who think God can be confined to ink-smudges on paper.

Episcopalians know God as the pulsing, breathing, intimate and personal life-force epitomized in the self-sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Episcopalians really do have something unique to offer about Jesus: find and serve Him in your fellow human beings.

Inasmuch as ye have done this unto the least of these my brethren…

Meanwhile, this is very sad to say if you’re Iraqi, but the Worst President in U.S. History, the instigator of a needless, stupid war, turns out to be the best thing that ever happened to Gay people. He has single-handedly destroyed the religious right that claimed to elect him.

Falwell’s dead; let’s go dancing.++

30 Responses

  1. Wonderful post! You’ve encapsulated the entire fundamentalist dilemma. Your “The issue for youth is how to be faithful to Christ while also accepting logic, knowledge and science” exposes the existential crisis we have about the practical realities of our own spacetime while remaining true to the Tradition of the Gospel. It’s obvious that Christian truths, human rights, and representative law is coming down full, hard, and fast into all corners of society and into the deepest cracks within people’s hearts. Thank you. – JN1034+++

  2. God is using the Episcopal Church to open up all the churches, all human hearts, to a shocking new reality that’s always been embedded in the Bible, for those with eyes to read: God is love. God loves everyone.

    And yes, that means Gay people too.

    It’s human beings who are bloodthirsty, not God; can’t we understand the Crucifixion?

    Faith is not an individualistic thing, although it’s very personal; God is pre-eminently concerned with the justice or injustice in human society, because God hears the cries of the poor and oppressed and cares passionately about their needs. When God gets angry (God doesn’t indulge it frequently, knowing how dim-witted people can be), his/her anger gets trained on warmongers, and FEMA, and corporations, and dictators.

    Aunt Tillie in Kalamazoo gets held in God’s bosom, regardless of what mistakes she might have made in her life. So does Tristan, a Gayboy in Albuquerque, and Suzette, a Lezziegirl in Dubuque. God is not a perfectionistic judge. God is bigger than that.

    Meanwhile Terry Fox is still preaching fire ‘n’ brimstone at a Wichita Best Western. At least it isn’t a Motel 6.

  3. Excellent. Well written.

    (Expect an online visit real soon by the legions of bigots. That snake den of hate, SF, has linked to this.)

  4. Indeed it certainly is depressing how ignorant minds can be imprisoned by mendacious propaganda.

  5. “Does anyone outside Colorado Springs believe that church growth depends on homo-hatred? Read the polls!”

    What polls are those? The mainline denominations that are appeasing the itching ear-ed* homosexualists are tanking. Those that are standing firm (Eastern orthodox, RC church, Assemblies of God, Southern Baptists) are maintaining or growing.

    * For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 2 Timothy 4:3

  6. Man up, Greg Griffith. Real men don’t spend a minute’s thought on homosexuals. Real men have self-confidence. They’re secure in who they are and what they do. They don’t worry or compare themselves to other guys. Real men don’t spend all day and night blogging about Gays. Real men live and let live.

    Real men won’t set foot in your femmy Viagraville. But robroy will.

  7. “What polls are those?” Yes. Please tell what polls, and provide links. Every poll and pdf I have seen lately shows that the only polls taken in the Episcopal church show people answering with their feet as they head out the door. If you have a poll that shows the opposite, provide links now.

  8. Of course, in the Episcopal Church, the pews are filled with these happy anti-homophobic young people.

    [/sarcasm]

    Since you have such a wonderful grasp of what the youth of today are like and what they do and do not want, perhaps you might wish to offer some suggestions on how TEC can stop being the AARP at prayer.

  9. Heh, I think I read a sort of tongue in cheek comment…can’t seem to locate the source…to the effect that today the average anglican is a thirty year old married woman of color from the global south. In about 20 years the average Episcopalian will be a divorced 70 year old white cleric in the North East.

    Yes, indeed, where are the herds of young people flocking

  10. Josh….what are you smoking?

  11. To address the part of this post dealing with following Christ and using logic….

    I only wish people did use actual logic. What do they teach kids in these school nowadays.

  12. “When will the Episcopal Church realize that StandFirm, David Virtue and Kendall Harmon run blogs that are nothing but online bigot conventions?” As just as soon as you can provide them that picture of David, Kendall and Greg all wearing their tin-foil hats!

  13. What a marvelously loving and charitably Christian harangue. :-/ It leaves me with the impression that either (a) the commissioning by the “three giants of Christian activism” did not “take,” (b) that you have stood the definition of giant on its head, or (c) that you were subsequently decommissioned but have failed to mention it in your (admittedly brief) profile.

    I would humbly suggest that you might want to ask yourself what Jesus would think of this piece as your witness for Him?

    Blessings, regards and prayers,
    Martial Artist

  14. Dear Mr. Thomas,

    Before I get to my main point, i am slightly concerned by the fact you espouse love, but at the end you say “Falwell’s dead; let’s go dancing.++” This seems to creat tension in your arguement, as how can we accomplish the 2 great commandments and yet celibrate the death of another human being. Perhaps you can educate me on this point
    I would have to define myself in your terms as a hillbilly, though logically the defining of traits of those opposed to ones views is unscientific and could be defined a phobic in nature. Of course that is more in line with discerment from social sciences and not pure scientific knowledge, so i’m sure your well aware that is nothing more then opinion that is neither testable, repeatable or predictable.
    Ok enough of my minor quibbles. The heart of my responce lies in the quest to understand how evolution has been granted the authority of it’s a done deal. Now I in no way consider myself a scientist, even though i have worked with scientists at NRC, i am afterall nothing more then as you have defined, a hillbilly. Since you have granted that authority to evolution, then you must have sufficient knowledge to answer my questions, or else your whole arguement would contradict itself and litterly go against logic and knowledge.
    Now there are so many questions where evolutionary theory must ignore pure scientific knowledge and logic, it would take an eternity for you to answer, so i have narrowed it down to a couple questions that cover different scientific venues that evolution contradicts.
    1. My first question deals with the actual time line for evolution. The odds of a single living cell being created out of random (remember a single cell is amazing complex and DNA must be in a certain sequence)are calculated at 40000 digits long. This may say it’s all but impossible, but it doesn’t say definitely impossible. What this does tell us, and as an educated evolutionist you must agree, that the time line must be great for this to occur. Hence the timeline of life beginning over 4 billion years ago, Afterall anything shorter then that make the odds practically insurmountable. So my question is about the moon. I’m sure you are well aware of moon and the fact that it is slowly getting farther away from the earth. I won’t bore you with the physics involved with this, but what it tells us is the moon would have been pass the roche limit (basically the point where the moon would be torn apart) 1-2 billion ago, so the time scale comes undone. So is the timescale off (rendering evolution a fairy tale) or do we ignore pure science in favor of a soft science where not one transcendent fossil has been found to verify the theory.
    Question 2: This question involves spindle neurons. Now we have discovered these neurons in higher level primates that evolutionists attributed to proof of an evolutionary process and what makes us different then our further down the tree ancestors. Unfortunately they have also been discovered in whales. Now the problems is how. Are we evolved from whales in a fairly direct manner, or has this exact same cell evolved seperately? BTW this neuron is what has supposed been the key factor in what makes us more intelligent.

    Thank You Mr. Thomas
    I am looking forward to a lesson in logic and knowledge.

  15. Go Josh. I linked from viagratown to your blog and you have my full applause and appreciation. It’s well within the Christian way of things to call disintegrity to task as you have done here. I like the “harangue.” Don’t stop just cause viagraville shows up to attack. As far as I’m concerned, they’ve put you on my map.

  16. What is not phobic about this story? Patronizing, bigoted, snobbish and insecure – all characterize this juvenile and unambitious piece. But it plays in Peoria, obviously.

  17. You are obviously a young person of passion. And I’ll bet you didn’t even notice the cultural slurs inherent in your hillbilly rant. Do you also go off on “towelheads”? Probably not.

    I enjoy reading both sides of the issue and it always amuses me that the “left” refers to the “right” as the Viagra blogs. My amusement is based on the phallic imagery and the implication that the “right” can’t get it up. Because it appears to the folks on the “left” that it all comes down to dick.

  18. “You’re actually allowed to have a mind ‘n’ everything!”.

    As a hillbilly fundamentalist now living in suburbia I’d like to suggest an improvement to your sentence, which might better read, “You’re actually allowed to have a mind ‘n’ everythin’!” (See also, any episode of “The Rifleman” in which Mark McCain routinely says, “anythin'” and “everythin'”). If you’re going to run us down, please do it with greater accuracy.

    Warmest regards from Viagraville,
    JimmyMac

  19. Interesting blog you have here…

    On a somewhat related note a little while back I wrote a post in my blog on my thoughts on same-sex marriage. It deals with a solution that I think is workable and would be hard to be criticized by the right wing folk. Hoping for some comments on my idea…

    http://shadowdemocracy.wordpress.com/2007/09/25/get-government-out-of-the-marriage-business/

  20. “They are sick of 45 million Americans without health care”

    Careful…that’s 45 million without health insurance. Healthcare is available in the ER of most hospitals. Sure, it’s second best to a primary care physician…but I’d put it up against any facility at any price in…Africa.

    Besides…Americans spend in excess of 35 Billion a year on their pets. If they’re sick of people without health insurance (or any of the other things you mention) they’ve got a funny way of showing it.

  21. Good one, JimmyMack. I myself drop G’s all the time. I’m a rural Midwesterner, after all. Sorry ’bout that.

    And to Bigmama, Stand “Firm” deserves its dickless epithet, since over half its posts (and even more of its comments) are rants about Gay people. Let’s review:

    “Man up, Greg Griffith. Real men don’t spend a minute’s thought on homosexuals. Real men have self-confidence. They’re secure in who they are and what they do. They don’t worry or compare themselves to other guys. Real men don’t spend all day and night blogging about Gays. Real men live and let live.”

    Real men don’t tell each other to man up; real men respect each other. Real men who hear some guy try to insult their masculinity know that they’re not the ones with the problem; he is.

    Most victims of homophobia are Straight men who allow bullies like Griffith to dictate their behavior. As every heterosexual woman knows, a lot of men get very insecure. Griffith loves to take advantage of that. He thinks it gives him power. Obviously he needs a little boost. A pill maybe?

    Someone please notify Matt Kennedy that the Roundheads are dead. So is his message about “God’s wrath at man’s depravity.” Read the polls.

    Interestingly, the study discovered a new image that has steadily grown in prominence over the last decade. Today, the most common perception is that present-day Christianity is “anti-homosexual.” Overall, 91% of young non-Christians and 80% of young churchgoers say this phrase describes Christianity. As the research probed this perception, non-Christians and Christians explained that beyond their recognition that Christians oppose homosexuality, they believe that Christians show excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians. One of the most frequent criticisms of young Christians was that they believe the church has made homosexuality a “bigger sin” than anything else. Moreover, they claim that the church has not helped them apply the biblical teaching on homosexuality to their friendships with gays and lesbians.

    And here’s an interesting observation:

    The new study shows that only 3 percent of 16- to 29-year-old non-Christians express favorable views of evangelicals. This means that today’s young non-Christians are eight times less likely to experience positive associations toward evangelicals than were non-Christians of the Boomer generation (25 percent).

    Now all of you who are professional statisticians and pollsters, feel free to attack the moderate Christian Barna Group for “flawed methodology” and “being in league with apostate priestesses like Mrs. Schori.”

    You are so predictable and so delusional; you remind me of the scene in “Gone with the Wind” where Southern women turn over the last of their jewelry, when it’s already clear that the South is a lost cause.

  22. “Man up, Greg Griffith. Real men don’t spend a minute’s thought on homosexuals. Real men have self-confidence. They’re secure in who they are and what they do. They don’t worry or compare themselves to other guys. Real men don’t spend all day and night blogging about Gays. Real men live and let live.”

    Yup. Describes the average participant of every Gay Pride parade I’ve ever seen. And the guy in the Pride booth at the local street arts festival with “The Fun Starts Here” printed on the front of his shirt. And the scurrying single men and their ‘lookouts’ that populate the suburban greenways around town.

  23. Okay, I’m confused. I thought the “man up comment was made TO Greg, not from him.” Set me straight.

    And the statistics.. 97% of non-Christians have a negative view of Christianity. Doesn’t that make sense? If they had a positive view they might BE Christians? No surprises there.

    But there is only one view that matters, and that is how Christ views your heart and soul. Most days I think I get it right. Sometimes not so much. We all try.

    I have left the Episcopal Church, but it really isn’t the gay issue. The final straw to me was the clown mass. I’ve always hated clowns. Seeing a buy with a bozo wig and nose break the bread just did me in. I wish TEC well in its endeavors. I just want to hang out somewhere else because they just aren’t on the same spiritual page I am. But we at least are in the same book.

  24. Forgive the punctuation issues in the above post. Misplaced quotes…can’t see if there is a way to edit.

    And a blessed All Saints Day to everyone.

  25. I can’t believe you reduced Genesis 1 to “the finest PowerPoint ever written.” I’m pro-Darwin all the way and I’d never dream of describing Genesis in such terms. For starters I loathe PowerPoint; it’s merely a method of disseminating useless information to passive audiences via pretty pictures. Way to trivialize the story of Creation there, dude. If your blogging goal was to evoke the mental image of an audience of mouthbreathers, your description of evangelicals doesn’t do it for me… your ridiculous metaphor does.

  26. “It’s human beings who are bloodthirsty, not God;”

    Uh-huh. Tell it to the Malachites, or to the Egyptians in Pharoah’s court. And Noah’s neighbors might have a thing or two to say about that as well.

    But maybe that’s in one of those Bible parts that TEC doesn’t use anymore.

  27. Pilgrim, you worship a bloodthirsty god? Sounds more like Dracula to me.

    God is love.

    The Flood was weather. The theologizing afterwards was beautiful, human and now to us fairly crude. Floods are part of life, and afterward life breaks out again; what a wonderful thing to proclaim.

    But God the Creator doesn’t do weather, or wars, or mass slaughters, or vengeance. We’re the ones who do wars and vengeance.

  28. Dear Josh

    I am waiting for my education. did you forget? I’m sure it’s not a case of you assuming an authority greater then you possess.
    Now as to you last post, i am again confused by the tension you create in your arguement. God is love, that is certainly true, but he is also a god of righteousness. Now if we create wars and mass slaughters, how does a loving God then create a path to himself that all may come to him? Does that mean that God telerates all behavours with no consequences? How does a loving God not exact a measure of vengence on those that perpertrate these acts? Does God not see and does he not provide a way to triumph over evil? I maybe wrong, but you seem to equate tolerance with love with no responcibility to actions. Exactly what does God do?
    If God is creator, then what did he create? Evolution and it’s acceptance means God has created nothing.
    Now you say that the flood was weather, maybe you could expand upon that as it really is a statement without context.
    I hate to be nitpicky, but if you are to educate me then I must have answers with substance, not staements of opinion.

  29. RickP: Learn to spell if you want to be taken seriously.

    Otherwise you’re just a troll, offensive and abusive. Man, I don’t have the time; why do you?

  30. Dear Josh,

    Thank you for the effort you have put forth or lack there of, it is very telling. Maybe you could show me how I have been offensive and abusive. I never labeled anyone as you have done, I certainly find no joy to dance over the death of another human being. I have been labeled a hillbilly by you, is that not abusive? You have stereotyped a section of society, run them down, and that you find nothing wrong with that is very sad.
    You state “I mean, what is it like to live your life opposed to science? What do you tell your kids when they bring home their report cards? “A D in biology, that’s great! Knowledge and logic come straight from the devil. Besides, girls don’t need to know such things, they need to submit to their husbands.” My daughter is an honor student and valedictorian, and BTW brought home an A in biology. As a quality engineer I work with pure science on a regular basis.
    It would appear that in order to create the foundation for your argument you need to attack me and can not present a rational case based on solid evidence.
    I presented 2 valid scientific questions that you have deflected by labeling me, not by presenting your case. You say I live my life opposed to science, yet you seem unable to present a scientific case and justify that by trying to present me as a troll and not worth your time.
    I then asked you a couple questions about how you view God, that I see as contradictory. Instead of answering them so that I could understand your views, you label me.
    I was a liberal Anglican for the majority of my life, but it is because the ACC and Episcopalian church are not great on science or knowledge that I have left. All I have ever received from my questions is the same attitude that you have given me. If you can not put down your hatred and talk civilized and rationally then yes I do not have time for this.

    God Bless Josh

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