Archive for the ‘Catholic Reich’ Category


Why Is Christian America Supporting Donald Trump?

John Fea teaches American history at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. He is the author of the new book, Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump (Eerdmans Publishing, June 2018).

 

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A week ago Sunday, June 24, 2018, First Baptist Church of Dallas held its annual “Freedom Sunday.” The church website described the special service this way: “Celebrate our freedom as Americans and our freedom in Christ with patriotic worship and a special message from Dr. Robert Jeffress, “America is a Christian Nation.”

Not everyone in Dallas was happy about it. Robert Wilonsky, an opinion writer at the Dallas Morning News, wrote that Jeffress and the First Baptist Church were “divisive” for claiming that America was a Christian nation. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings agreed. Atheists protested. Eventually, the billboard company contracting with the church removed signs advertising Freedom Sunday.

This, of course, did not stop the service from going forward. The people of First Baptist Church spent the morning of the 24th waving American flags, wearing red, white, and blue shirts, singing the Star-Spangled Banner, and celebrating the United States military. Vice-president Mike Pence sent a letter of encouragement.

Was this a religious service or a celebration of nationalism? What was the object of the congregation’s worship?

Jeffress has been preaching his “America is a Christian Nation” sermon for a long time. On Sunday he stuck with his usual script. He indicted the “secularists, atheists, and infidels” for “perverting” the Constitution. He chided the federal government’s failure to acknowledge God in the public square. He told his congregation that academics, historians, and teachers have been lying to them about the religious roots of the United States.

Jeffress made one problematic historical reference after another. He made the wildly exaggerated claim that fifty-two of the original fifty-five signers of the Constitution were “orthodox conservative Christians.” He peddled the false notion that the disestablishment clause in the First Amendment was meant to apply solely to Protestant denominations.

Near the end of the sermon, Jeffress suggested that spikes in violence, illegitimate births, divorce, and low SAT scores in America are the direct product of the Supreme Court’s decision to remove prayer and Bible-reading from public schools.

Jeffress concluded the service with an altar call. He asked people to come to the front of the church and profess their faith in Jesus Christ. I am sure Jeffress was sincere in his desire to lead people to Jesus, but after his message it was unclear whether he was inviting them to accept Jesus Christ as Savior or embrace the idea that the United States was founded, and continues to be, a Christian nation. Maybe both.

***

Robert Jeffress is best known as a Fox News religion commentator and one of the first evangelical leaders to support Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. He has called Trump “the most faith-friendly president in history.”

Within two weeks following the announcement of his candidacy, several polls had Trump leading among white evangelical GOP voters. In November 2016, 81% of these evangelicals cast their vote for Donald Trump for President of the United States. The reasons for this are complex, and we probably need to wait a generation or two before historians can begin to make sense of them, but three young sociologists have published a scholarly essay that suggests the most plausible explanation.

Andrew Whitehead of Clemson University, Sam Perry of the University of Oklahoma, and Joseph O. Baker of East Tennessee State University argue that “the more someone believed the United States is—and should be—a Christian nation, the more likely they were to vote for Trump.” They conclude that “no other religious factor influenced support for or against Trump.”

These sociologists found that the average Trump voter believes the federal government should: declare the United States a Christian nation, advocate for Christian values, oppose the “strict separation of church and state,” allow the “display of religious symbols in public spaces,” and return prayer to public schools. Likewise, Trump voters believe that whatever success the United States has had over the years is “part of God’s plan.”

This essay is revealing, and it confirms much of what I have written about since the 2011 release of my Was American Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction. But it does not address why and how Americans have come to believe these things. The answer to that question invites us to think historically.

Ever since the founding of the republic, a significant number of Americans have supposed that the United States is exceptional because it has a special place in God’s unfolding plan for the world. Since the early 17th century founding of the Massachusetts Bay colony by Puritans, evangelicals have relished in their perceived status as God’s new Israel—His chosen people. America, they argued, is in a covenant relationship with God. The defenders of this idea like to apply Chronicles 7:14 to the United States: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Though dissenters have always been present, the Christian culture of the United States remained intact well into the 20th century. But since World War II, the moorings of this culture have loosened, and evangelicals have responded with fear that their Christian nation is about to collapse. Robert Jeffress is correct about this.

During the 1960s, the Supreme Court removed prayer and Bible reading from public schools, the federal government cut federal funding to Christian academies and colleges that practiced segregation, the country grew more diverse through immigration, and the sexual revolution threatened evangelical patriarchy and gave women the right to choose to have an abortion.

The fear that America’s Christian civilization was falling apart translated into political action. In the late 1970s, conservative evangelicals such as Jerry Falwell, Tim LaHaye (the author of the popular Left Behind novels), and a group of politicians who had been closely affiliated with the 1964 Barry Goldwater presidential campaign, developed a political playbook to win back the culture from the forces of secularization. Most of the 81% of American evangelicals who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 understood, and continue to understand, the relationship between their faith and their politics through this playbook.

This playbook, which would eventual become the culture-war battle plan of the “Religious Right,” was tweaked occasionally over the years to address whatever moral issues seemed most important at the time, but it never lost its focus on “restoring,” “renewing,” and “reclaiming” America for Christ through the pursuit of political power.

When executed properly, the playbook teaches evangelicals to elect the right President and members of Congress who will pass laws privileging evangelical Christian views of the world. These elected officials will then appoint and confirm conservative Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade, defend life in the womb, and uphold religious liberty for those who believe in traditional views of marriage.

The playbook rests firmly on the Religious Right’s understanding of American identity as rooted in its view of the American past. If America was not founded as a Christian nation, the Religious Right’s political agenda collapses or, at the very least, is weakened severely.

To indoctrinate its followers in the dubious claim that America was founded as a Christian nation, the Religious Right has turned to political activists, many of whom claim to be historians, to propagate the idea that the founding fathers of the United States were in the business of building a Christian nation.

The most prominent of these Christian nationalist purveyors of the past is David Barton, the founder of Wallbuilders, an organization in Aledo, Texas that claims to be “dedicated to presenting America’s forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on the moral, religious, and constitutional foundation on which America was built—a foundation which, in recent years, has been seriously attacked and undermined.” Barton and Wallbuilders were the source of most of the historical information Jeffress presented in his Freedom Sunday sermon on June 24th.

For the past thirty years, Barton has provided pastors and conservative politicians with inaccurate or misinterpreted facts used to fuel the Religious Right’s nostalgic longings for an American Christian golden age. American historians, including those who teach at the most conservative Christian colleges, have debunked Barton’s use of the past, but he continues to maintain a large following in the evangelical community.

David Barton peddles fake news about the American past. Yet, if Andrew Whitehead, Sam Perry, and Joseph Baker are correct, his work is essential to the success of the Trump presidency in a way that I imagine even Donald Trump and his staff do not fully understand or appreciate.

Trump does not talk very much about America’s supposedly Christian origins. His grasp of history is not very strong. But his evangelical supporters see him as a gift of God—a divinely appointed figure who has emerged on the scene for such a time as this. He is in the White House to preserve God’s covenant with America, to make America Christian again.

The support for the President is a sign of intellectual laziness in the evangelical community. Rather than thinking creatively about how to move forward in hope, Trump evangelicals prefer to respond to cultural change by trying to reclaim a Christian world that is rapidly disappearing, has little chance of ever coming back, and may never have existed in the first place.

The American founding fathers lived in a world that was very different from our own. In the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth century, America was a nation of Christians—mostly Protestants—who put their stamp on the culture.

Yet, amid this Christian culture, the founders differed about the relationship between Christianity and their new nation. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison defended the separation of church and state. John Adams and George Washington also opposed mixing church and state, while at the same time suggesting that Christians, because Christianity taught an ethic of selflessness, could be useful in the creation of a virtuous republic in which citizens sacrificed self-interest for the common good.

The founding fathers believed in God, but most of them did not believe that God inspired the Old and New Testaments or sent His son to die and rise from the dead as the ultimate payment for human sin. The God of the Declaration of Independence is a providential deity who created the world and the people in it, but there is nothing in this important American document that defines this God in terms of the Incarnation or the Trinity.

The United States Constitution never mentions God or Christianity but does forbid religious tests for office. The First Amendment rejects a state-sponsored church and celebrates the free-exercise of religion. This is hardly the kind of stuff by which Christian nations are made. Yet Barton and Jeffress invoke these founders and these documents to defend the idea that the United States was founded as a distinctly Christian nation.

***

If the Christian Right, and by extension the 81% of evangelical voters who use its political playbook, are operating on such a weak historical foundation, why doesn’t someone correct their faulty views and dubious claims?

We do.

We have.

But countering bad history with good history is not as easy as it sounds. David Barton and his fellow Christian nationalist purveyors of the past are well-funded by Christian conservatives who know that the views of the past they are peddling serve their political agenda. Barton has demonized Christian intellectuals and historians as sheep in wolves’ clothing. They may call themselves Christians on Sunday morning, but, according to Barton, their “world view” has been shaped by the secular universities where they earned their Ph.Ds. Thanks to Barton, many conservative evangelicals do not trust academic and professional historians—even academic and professional historians with whom they share a pew on Sunday mornings.

I know this first-hand from some of the negative emails and course evaluation forms I received after teaching a Sunday School course on the history of religion and politics at the Evangelical Free Church congregation where my family worship every Sunday. Because I was a college history professor—even a college history professor at a Christian college with strong evangelical roots—I could not be trusted.

What David Barton does not understand is that there are hundreds of evangelical historians who see their work as part of their Christian identity and vocation. These historians are women and men who pursue truth about the past wherever it leads. This pursuit of truth is a deeply Christian pursuit, as is the case with all efforts to distinguish truth from error.

When people like David Barton cherry-pick from the past to promote political agendas, they do a disservice to the past, fail to treat it with integrity, and ultimately harm their Christian witness in the world. They make evangelicals look foolish. This is not what Paul described in 1 Corinthians 1:18 as the “foolishness of the cross,” it is just good old-fashioned foolishness. It is a product of what evangelical historian Mark Noll has described as the “Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.”

Many of us engaged in trying to bring good history to the evangelical church need the support of Christians who are concerned about the direction Donald Trump, the Christian Right, and the pseudo-historians who prop-up their political agenda are trying to take the country and the church. Good history is complex. It is nuanced. And it is an essential part of truly worshipping God with our minds (Luke 10:27). Unfortunately, complexity, nuance, and intellectual discipleship are not the kinds of subjects that inspire Christians to dig into their pocketbooks.

What would it take to fund evangelical historians to travel to receptive churches around the country and spend some concentrated time teaching American religious history, and American history more broadly, to lay men and women? Perhaps such visits could also include times of worship and prayer?

It is unlikely that such an effort would reach the Robert Jeffress’ of the world. but there are many evangelicals who are open and willing to listen and learn. This was another lesson I took away from my Sunday School class. In fact, the criticism I received paled in comparison with the positive comments I got from those who had never heard a fellow evangelical offer a different, more accurate, view of American history.

American evangelical political engagement is built on a very weak historical foundation. It is time that Christian philanthropists, motivated by an entrepreneurial spirit informed by the pursuit of truth and a concern for the testimony of the Gospel in the world, take the long view and invest in responsible Christian thinking about the American past. The American republic, and more importantly, the witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, depends on it.

 

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Brian Toohey: Australian schools about to get biblical

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Australia’s federal government is set to adopt a review of the school curriculum that will severely cut back content about Asia and explicitly celebrate what it calls the nation’s “Judeo-Christian heritage, values and beliefs.”

Following recommendations of a review panel, the government has said it will “properly recognize the impact and significance of Western civilization” in classrooms. The new focus even extends to a proposal to scrap all computer literacy classes.

What do you know?

The changes reflect the views of Education Minister Christopher Pyne, who commissioned the review after the ruling conservative Liberal/National party coalition replaced Labor in 2013. To conduct the review, Pyne chose two academics renowned for ardently supporting Pyne’s overall approach.

Like Pyne, Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a devout Catholic who had earlier championed changes to ensure that history classes no longer “underplay” Australia’s Western heritage. The reviewers endorsed Abbott’s claim that it is “impossible” to have a good education without a “serious familiarity” with the Bible. They seemed unaware that many Confucian and Hindu scholars, for example, manage to become reasonably well-educated without even a nodding acquaintance with Christianity’s sacred texts.

There should be no mistaking Abbott’s determination. The High Court, Australia’s supreme legal authority, has twice rejected the constitutional validity of his government’s appointment of Christian chaplains to all government-run schools. But Abbott is pressing ahead with a revised legal tactic, despite some states’ preferences for properly trained, secular counselors.

Looking West

The desire to stress Australia’s Judeo-Christian heritage is particularly difficult to understand in the context of an increasingly diverse, multicultural society. The latest survey shows only 8% of Australians went to church at least once a month in 2011, compared with 36% in 1972. Although many of the initial settlers from Britain and Ireland (including transported convicts) called themselves Christians, Australia chose to establish a secular political system.

Contrary to the views of some conservatives, its laws are not derived from the Bible’s Ten Commandments. Moreover, many observers argue that the inhabitants of today’s turbulent world would benefit from less emphasis on the superiority of a particular religion’s “heritage, values and beliefs.”

The review’s official adviser on the English curriculum is Barry Spurr, a poetry professor of the University of Sydney whose specialization is Blessed Mary imagery in poetry. In line with Spurr’s approach, the review recommends that the curriculum put greater emphasis on the “Western literary cannon, especially poetry,” and much less on Asian and other literary texts in the existing curriculum.

Spurr gained unwanted publicity when the University of Sydney suspended him in October after the online site New Matilda revealed elements of allegedly “racist and sexist” emails he had sent. Despite what others saw as a repugnant tone, Spurr said he was being “whimsical” and claimed his email account had been hacked.

What is not in dispute is that Spurr’s written advice to the review said he could find no good examples of Asian writing. The comment is absurd, even leaving aside literary prize winners from Asia, such as India’s Aravind Adiga, author of “The White Tiger,” which won the U.K.’s prestigious Man Booker Prize in 2008. Pyne was forced to distance himself from Spurr’s emails but is still enthusiastic about the curriculum changes.

Words versus action

The new curriculum also favors the traditions of English law that Australia inherited. Few would object to this. But this legacy is currently being eroded by claims of national security risks, something the review fails to acknowledge. Abbott and Pyne have backed the imposition of draconian legal changes in Australia, where detention without charge is allowed in some instances under anti-terrorism legislation. In other cases, the onus of proof has shifted from the prosecution to the defense. Journalists, whistleblowers and others who reveal abuses of power by the intelligence services and police during security operations can now face five to 10 years in jail. A “publication is in the public interest” law that had protected these truth-tellers was abolished in October.

While few Australians want a school system exclusively devoted to serving the economy, the new concepts are so rarefied as to be meaningless for parents, students and policymakers. They endorse the 20th-century British philosopher Michael Oakeshott’s definition of education as an extension of a “conversation [that] began in the primal forests.” Oakeshott went on to say, “It is the ability to participate in this conversation, and not the ability to reason cogently, … or to contrive a better world, which distinguishes the human being from the animal and the civilized man from the barbarian.”

Given the review’s evident contempt for “student-centered” learning, it is not clear how students in Australia (or Asia) could be motivated to participate in this high-minded “conversation,” let alone learn much about how to reason or make discoveries about the world.

Brian Toohey is a Sydney-based commentator on defense, economic and political issues, and was editor of the former National Times. He is co-author of “Oyster: The Story of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service.”

Faith-Based Politics: Kinship Between National Socialism & Roman Catholicism

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In Christian Nations, Christians Rationalize the Blending of Religion, Politics

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It’s common for Christians to assume that Christian churches resisted Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. The truth is that not only did few even go so far as to voice criticism, much less overtly and publicly resist, but some actually made serious arguments for the idea that Christianity and Nazi ideology were totally compatible. Such arguments for compatibility could either focus on the ideologies’ specific teachings, on their general approaches to life and society, or both.

Fusing Christianity & National Socialism

A focus on the “essence” of Christianity and National Socialism was probably more common, and Christians who did this also tended to discover that both were inherently more compatible with the German character. The idea that there was something essentially “German” about “true” Christianity might seem bizarre today, but it’s not that different from Christians in America acting like Christianity is especially compatible with American politics, American market capitalism, the American character. Just how often do we see Americans behaving as though they believe their god singles out America for special blessings and favors?

Protestants in Nazi Germany, not unlike their counterparts in modern America, tried to fuse Christianity with their contemporary politics much more than Catholics, but Nazi Catholics were able to rely on the fact that their own church is so authoritarian. If authoritarian control is acceptable within the church, it’s hard to argue that it’s unacceptable for the government.

There were certainly Catholics who believed that Nazi ideology was contrary to and incompatible with their Catholicism, but there were also plenty who just as sincerely believed that Nazi ideology was compatible with their Catholicism. I’m not arguing that the latter were more right than the former, but rather that the latter were just as sincere as the former and could offer serious theological and historical arguments to back their case.

Catholic Theologians in Nazi Germany

In Catholic Theologians in Nazi Germany, Robert A. Krieg describes the five points offered by Catholic theologian Joseph Lortz when he argued that “the basic kinship between National Socialism and Catholicism” was becoming evident to all Christians in Germany:

(1) like the church, “National Socialism is essentially an opponent of Bolshevism, liberalism, [and] relativism.” It affirms what popes Gregory XVI, Pius IX, and Leo XIII explicitly taught: authentic civil authority is much more than the will of “the majority.”
(2) like the church, “National Socialism is the declared opponent of the atheist movement and also of the lack of ethics in society.” Building on this healthy formation, the church can address “the great task of the present age: the creation of a new ‘Catholic human being’ who will replace the Sunday Catholic.” As Lortz saw it, this kind of cooperation between church and state occurred in Italy, where Pius XI and Mussolini initiated in 1931 collaboration between the Catholic youth organization and the state.
(3) National Socialism and Catholicism affirm “the natural order of creation.” National Socialism is intent upon leading Germans back to their cultural and ethnic origins so that they may once again flourish as a people. Since Catholicism believes in the complementarity of nature and grace, it can endorse Nazi efforts in this regard and simultaneously build on this foundation while it focuses on the spiritual realm.
(4) National Socialism and Catholicism hold that a society is not merely an association of individuals but rather a social unity in which individuals participate. Pius XI himself called for a corporatist society in his encyclical Quadragesimo Anno.
(5) National Socialism and Catholicism aim at overcoming modernity’s “spiritless intellectualism.” Both emphasize the “spiritual life” that undergirds intellectual inquiry.
Finally, these five points indicate at National Socialism and Catholicism share a “kinship of essence.” For this reason, in relating to the Nazi state, the church should “work for the fulfillment of the genuine essence of National Socialism.”

Many may be surprised at attempts to draw such detailed parallels between Nazi ideology and Catholicism, but this happens in many other cultures with many different political and economic systems. Everywhere you turn, you can find people trying to argue that “true” Christianity already anticipated or is most compatible with whatever political and economic systems they happen to be living in and we need to realize that neither will be entirely fulfilled until they are blended with other. We can find such arguments with communism and capitalism, democratic and authoritarian politics, liberalism, and conservatism, and so forth.

So Joseph Lortz wasn’t doing anything unusual — it’s just that he was doing it with a political and social ideology which everyone has come to realize is evil. No one who tries to blend Christianity with market capitalism or liberal politics wants to think that their project shares anything at all with what Christians like Lortz were doing, but ultimately they are all far more similar than they are different. Particularly significant here is the fact that as a professional theologian, Lortz can’t be dismissed as not being a “real” Christian — a common response from Christians when faced with stories of fellow believers whose political and social beliefs led them in a different direction.

Naturally the lesson here is not limited to Catholicism alone, or even just Christianity alone. Protestants and adherents of other religions engage in very similar behavior, though in my experience it seems to happen more often in the context of Christianity than other religions. I’ve never read about anyone trying to blend capitalism with Hinduism, or democratic politics with Buddhism. The ability of Christianity to blend with a variety of cultures, politics, and social systems has been part of what has made it so successful.

At the same time, though, it has led Christians to forget the degree to which contingent political ideologies, cultural traditions, and other external factors have become enmeshed with their faith. It might be wise for them to care about this and avoid actions which could serve to embed aspects of contemporary politics or economics into their religion. That’s one possible consequence of current faith-based politics which seeks to encourage greater political activism that is motivated by religious belief.


Passage of contraceptives law in Philippines shows times have changed for Catholic church

Article by HRVOJE HRANJSKI , Associated Press

MANILA, Philippines – Twenty-six years after Roman Catholic leaders helped his mother marshal millions of Filipinos in an uprising that ousted a dictator, President Benigno Aquino III picked a fight with the church over contraceptives and won a victory that bared the bishops’ worst nightmare: They no longer sway the masses.

Aquino last month signed the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 quietly and without customary handshakes and photographs to avoid controversy. The law that provides state funding for contraceptives for the poor pitted the dominant Catholic Church in an epic battle against the popular Aquino and his followers.

A couple with links to the church filed a motion Wednesday to stop implementation of the law, and more petitions are expected. Still, there is no denying that Aquino’s approval of the legislation has chipped away at the clout the church has held over Filipinos, and marked the passing of an era in which it was taboo to defy the church and priests.

Catholic leaders consider the law an attack on the church’s core values — the sanctity of life — saying that contraceptives promote promiscuity and destroy life. Aquino and his allies see the legislation as a way to address how the poor — roughly a third of the country’s 94 million people — manage the number of children they have and provide for them. Nearly half of all pregnancies in the Philippines are unwanted, according to the U.N. Population Fund, and a third of those end up aborted in a country where abortion remains illegal.

Rampant poverty, overcrowded slums, and rising homelessness and crime are main concerns that neither the church nor Aquino’s predecessors have successfully tackled.

“If the church can provide milk, diapers and rice, then go ahead, let’s make more babies,” said Giselle Labadan, a 30-year-old roadside vendor. “But there are just too many people now, too many homeless people, and the church doesn’t help to feed them.”

Labadan said she grew up in a God-fearing family but has defied the church’s position against contraceptives for more than a decade because her five children, age 2 to 12, were already far too many for her meager income. Her husband, a former army soldier, is jobless.

She said that even though she has used most types of contraceptives, she still considers herself among the faithful. “I still go to church and pray. It’s a part of my life,” Labadan said.

“I have prayed before not to have another child, but the condom worked better,” she said.

The law now faces a legal challenge in the Supreme Court after the couple filed the motion, which seems to cover more ideological than legal grounds. One of the authors of the law, Rep. Edcel Lagman, said Thursday that he was not worried by the petition and expected more to follow.

“We are prepared for this,” he said. “We are certain that the law is completely constitutional and will surmount any attack on or test of its constitutionality.”

Over the decades, moral and political authority of the church in the Philippines is perceived to have waned with the passing of one its icons, Cardinal Jaime Sin. He shaped the role of the church during the country’s darkest hours after dictator Ferdinand Marcos imposed martial law starting in 1972 by championing the cause of civil advocacy, human rights and freedoms. Sin’s action mirrored that of his strong backer, Pope John Paul II, who himself challenged communist rulers in Eastern Europe.

Three years after Aquino’s father, Benigno Aquino Sr., a senator opposing Marcos, was gunned down on the Manila airport tarmac in 1983, Sin persuaded Aquino’s widow, Corazon, to run for president. When massive election cheating by Marcos was exposed, Sin went on Catholic-run Radio Veritas in February 1986 to summon millions of people to support military defectors and the Aquino-led opposition. Marcos fled and Aquino, a deeply religious woman, was sworn in as president.

Democracy was restored, but the country remained chaotic and mired in nearly a dozen coup attempts. The economy stalled, poverty persisted and the jobless were leaving in droves for better-paying jobs abroad as maids, teachers, nurses and engineers. After Aquino stepped down, the country elected its first and only Protestant president, Fidel Ramos. He, too, opposed the church on contraceptives and released state funds for family planning methods.

Catholic bishops pulled out all the stops in campaigning against Ramos’ successor, popular movie actor Joseph Estrada, a hero of the impoverished masses who made little attempt to keep down his reputation for womanizing, drinking and gambling.

But few heeded the church’s advice. Estrada was elected with the largest victory margin in Philippine history. Halfway through his six-year presidency, in January 2001, he was confronted with another “people power” revolt, backed by political opponents and the military, and was forced to resign.

His successor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, styled herself as a devout Catholic and sought to placate the church by abolishing the death penalty and putting brakes on the contraceptives law, which languished in Congress during her nine years in power.

It mattered little. Arroyo’s mismanagement and corruption scandals set the stage for Aquino’s election on a promise to rid the Philippines of graft, fix the economy and lift millions out of poverty. The scion of the country’s democracy icon took power several years after Sin’s death, but it was a different era in which the church was battered by scandals of sexual misconduct of priests and declining family values.

The latest defeat of the church “can further weaken its moral authority at a time when this is most badly needed in many areas, including defense of a whole range of family values,” said the Rev. John J. Carroll, founding chairman of the Jesuit-run John J. Carroll Institute on Church and Social Issues. He said he wondered how many Catholics have been “turned off” by incessant sermons and prayers led by the church against the contraceptives law, and how much it contributed to rising anticlericalism and the erosion of church authority.

“People today are more practical,” said Labadan, the street vendor. “In the old days, people feared that if you defy the church, it will be the end of the world.”

Associated Press writers Jim Gomez and Teresa Cerojano contributed to this report.


1000 Years of Carnage & Barbarity in the name of Christ

Kenneth Humphreys

 

10th Century Obscenities Vile Princes of the Papacy

“Popes maimed &         were maimed, killed & were killed… Without question, these pontiffs         constitute the most despicable body of leaders, clerical or lay, in history.         They were, frankly, barbarians. Ancient Rome had nothing to rival them         in rottenness.” – Peter de Rosa (Vicars of Christ, p48)

         John XII (955-964).

Born from an incestuous          relationship  between Pope Sergio III and his 13-year-old daughter          Marozie. John, in         turn, took his mother as his own mistress.

Pope at 18, he turned the            Lateran  into a brothel. He was accused by a synod of “sacrilege,            simony,  perjury, murder, adultery and incest” and was temporarily          deposed. 

He took his revenge on opponents          by hacking off limbs. He was murdered            by an enraged husband who caught him having sex with his wife.

 

11th Century Horror Church lords over ignorant squalor of millions

1095 – Pope Urban II          calls upon the Franks to invade the more civilized Muslim world. Begins        five centuries of warfare.

“Let those who have         hitherto been robbers now become soldiers.” – Urban II addresses his gangsters.

 

1009: Rivalry from Islam prompts         eastern churches to break with idolatry. This ‘iconoclasm’ begins breach         with idol-worshipping Catholic west. Centuries of bloodshed ensue.

1079: The Council of Rome:         Persecution of Berengarius & his followers who cannot stomach the         dogma of ‘transmutation of bread & wine into Christ.’

Svyatoslav’s Miscellany, 1076. God’s work – a serious business.

 

12th Century Criminality Christian Church ally of murderous kings & rogue      princes

“Warrior Monks”         – Muslim heads catapulted into the besieged city of Antioch by Christian         Knights (Illumination from Les Histoires d’Outremer by         William of  Tyre 12th century, Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris).

 

1118: Christian fanatics          captured Saragossa; the beginning of the decline of Muslim civilization          in Spain.         

1184 Council of Verona         condemns Waldensians for witchcraft. The charge is later extended to condemn         heretics.

 

13th Century Wickedness Vile Crusaders Plunder & Murder for God

1204 Christian crusaders         sack & ruin greatest Christian city, Constantinople.

1209 Pope Innocent III         launches Albigensian Crusade against Christian Cathars of southern France.         7000 massacred in La Madeleine Church alone.

1211 Burning of Waldenses         heretics at Strasbourg begins several centuries of persecution.           

German Teutonic Knights         butcher their way through the Baltic lands, savage Catholic Poles &         Orthodox Russians.

1231: Pope Gregory IX authorizes         Inquisition for dealing with heretics.

1277 Pope John XXI, alarmed          by rumors of pagan heresy among “scholars        of arts in the faculty of theology” pressurizes Stephen Tempier,        Bishop of Paris, to prohibit 219 philosophical and theological theses.      The “Condemnations of Paris” is the first of 16 lists of censorship.

 

14th Century Catastrophe Church hostility to medicine allows plague to decimate Europe

Burning of the Jews of Cologne –
blamed by Christians for the         Black Death (Liber Chronicarum Mundi).

World Domination?

“We declare, say,         define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation         of every human creature to be subject to the Roman pontiff.”
– Pope Boniface VIII, Bull Unun Sanctum, 1302

1311-12: Ecumenical Council         of Vienne. It authorises the brutal suppression of the Knights Templar         (mercenaries of the church who have outlived their usefulness).

 

 

 

1316-1334: Pope John XXII,         world’s richest man and first pontiff to promote theory of witchcraft.         Sanctions bull allowing heresy charges to be brought against dead people.         In 1320 he instructs French Inquisition to confiscate all property belonging         to blasphemers or dabblers in black arts.

1300s.  Glowing eyes and nocturnal behaviour of the cat interpreted by the Church as clear proof of the hapless moggy’s diabolic affinity. Wholesale trapping and burning of cats allowed free rein to the spread of the flee-carrying rat. Subsequently, Europe’s population was decimated  by the plague.

1347-50: The Black Death sweeps         across Europe, killing one-third of the population.

“Jews were burnt all         the way from the Mediterranean into Germany… under torture confessing         to have spread the plague by poisoning wells… the poison made from the         skin of a basilisk (a kind of mythical serpent)…”
– N. Cantor (In the Wake of the Plague)

 

 

 

15th Century          Malevolence Tortured Bodies by Sadists of the Lord

 

16th Century Mayhem Pogroms & civil wars in the name of Jesus

“My advice…               is: First, that their synagogues be burned down, and that all who               are able toss sulphur and pitch; it would be good if someone could               also throw in some hellfire..”

Martin Luther (“On              the Jews and their lies” 1543)

1517: Martin Luther posts         95 theses at Wittenberg. The Reformation will turn Europe into a battleground.

1517 A Dominican monk Johann         Tetzel swells papal coffers by selling indulgences (‘souls freed from         purgatory’!)

1524: Luther – no friend           of the downtrodden – encourages savagery of German princes in           putting  down the two-year Peasants’ Revolt.

 

Book Burners for Christ– Dominican monks in the service of Ferdinand proudly consign the wisdom         of Moorish Spain to the flames (Berruguete, Prado Museum, Madrid)

1553 John Calvin, the “Protestant            Pope” of Geneva proves his Christian credentials by having Michael            Servetus, the Spanish physician, burned at        the stake for heresy. Servetus      had opposed Trinitarianism and infant baptism.

Servetus,                  the discoverer of pulmonary blood circulation (an advance on                  Galen) had fled the Inquisition and had thought himself safe          among Protestants. Oh dear.

        1559 Introduction of Index of Forbidden Books (lasts until 1966)

1563 Following the Council         of Trent, Jesuit Order becomes ‘Defender of the Faith’. Huguenots are         persecuted in France.

 

17th Century Barbarity Burning Witches for Christ

Urbain Grandier, burned         in Loudun, 1634. Cardinal Richelieu orchestrated his murder.

1600 After a seven year trail           before the Inquisition, Giordano Bruno, who had the audacity to suggest           that space was boundless and that the sun and its planets were not unique,           is condemned and burned at the stake.

1605: The Gunpowder Plot. Catholic fanatics attempt to blow up James         I of England.

1633 Galileo is brought before the Inquisition. Under threat of torture and death, he is forced from his knees to renounce all belief in Copernican theories. He is sentenced to life imprisonment. He dies in 1642 and the charges against him stand for another 350 years.

 

 

1618-1648 Central Europe         devastated by Thirty Years’ War between Catholics and Protestants

1411 Dominican Vincente Ferrer         revives anti-Jewish hysteria in Spain: “cohorts of the Devil and         Anti-Christ, clever, warped and doomed.”

1415 John Huss           of Bohemia, critic of papal corruption but guaranteed personal           safety,  burned at the stake. “When dealing with heretics,           one is not obligated  to keep his word.” – Pope Gregory           XII.

1415 Pope John           XXIII deposed: “The most scandalous charges were suppressed;           the  Vicar of Christ was only accused of piracy, murder, rape, sodomy           and incest.” – Gibbon (Decline & Fall)

1478: Pope Sixtus         IV, in alliance with King Ferdinand of Spain, establishes the Spanish         Inquisition. Jews, Moors and heretics will be imprisoned, tortured and         murdered for centuries.         The bisexual Sixtus, though suffering from syphilis, fathers children         from his elder sister.

1484 Pope Innocent VIII decrees that cats are unholy creatures, to be burned along with the witches that own them.

1486 Taking a break               from book-burning, two Dominican monks, Henrich Kramer & James               Sprenger, write a best-seller – Malleus Maleficarum               (‘The Witches Hammer’) – ‘the most blood thirsty book ever               written.’ (Peter de Rosa, Vicars of Christ, p184)
This unsurpassed               nonsense rests on the bench of every magistrate and judge in Europe               for three centuries and leads to tens of thousands of judicial murders.

1498 Dominican           reformer, Savonarola – burner of books & ornaments of ‘pagan            immorality’ – is himself burned for criticising the degenerate            Pope Alexander VI.

18th Century Scandal Christian Church endorses Slavery, Racism & subordination      of women

“And Noah awoke from         his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said,         Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.         And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his         servant.”

Genesis 9.24-26

 

“As for your male         and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves         from the nations that are round about you. You may also buy from among         the strangers who sojourn with you and their families that are with you,         who have been born in your land; and they may be your property.”         

Leviticus 25:44

 

1738: Freemasonry is condemned         by Clement XII and Catholics are forbidden to join.
1793: Last ‘witch’ burning at Poznen in Germany

19th Century Evil Christian Church Rejects Science & social        reform; Christian ‘missions’ go hand-in-hand with colonialism.

 

1814: Society of Jesus, suppressed         since 1773, is restored. The Inquisition continues until 1834, Church-sanctioned         torture until 1917.

1844: ‘Protection of Children         Act’ allows Church missionaries in Australia to kidnap aboriginal children.

1854: Pius IX proclaims the         dogma of the Immaculate Conception in the bull Ineffabilis Deus.         Lourdes shrine introduced.

 

1864: Pius IX issues the encyclical          Quanta cura and the Syllabus of Errors. It condemns some         80 propositions derived from scientific method and rationalism. Liberalism         & socialism are denounced.

 

1870: Vatican Council declares         the Pope “infallible”.

 

‘Bible Societies’ & ‘Missions’         in European colonies destroy indigenous cultures

20th Century Iniquity Christian Church allies itself with Fascism;        opposes advances of science & personal freedom

1907 Pius X condemns Modernism         in the decree Lamentabili and the encyclical Pascendi.

Hitler’s Pope – Pius         XII (1939-1958)

Hitler, a Roman Catholic,            is never excommunicated for causing the death of millions; whereas        Martin Luther was excommunicated for criticism of the papal system.

Friends of Fascists Everywhere:

         Germany

         Spain

         Croatia

21st Century Menace Churches the Stalking Ground of Paedophiles & Sex        Offenders

On March 12, 2000 Pope         John Paul II attempted to purify the soul of the Catholic Church by         apologising for 2000 years of “sins” committed by the church         – quite some compensation for twenty centuries of terrorism, extortion         and murder!

And yet – September 2000 – the            same John Paul II issues “Dominus Jesus (Lord Jesus)”,  reaffirming              intolerance: “Only one path to God – the Roman Catholic Church.”

And the story does not end:

Still the evil continues…

Child               sex abuse scandal rocks the US Catholic Church

“The Roman Catholic         Church has removed 218 priests from their positions this year because         of child sexual abuse allegations, but at least 34 known offenders remain         in church jobs”Reuters (June 9 2002)

Anti-abortion

Anti-birth control

Creator of “saints”

31 July, 2003 “Congregation          for the Doctrine of the Faith” condemns same sex deviants          who seek marriage. In contrast, no Vatican condemnation    of priestly paedophiles.


Scalia says abortion, gay rights are easy cases

By MARK SHERMAN | Associated Press – 4 hrs ago

  • FILE - In this March 8, 2012 file phoo, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. Scalia says his method of interpreting the Constitution makes some of the most hotly disputed issues that come before the Supreme Court among the easiest to resolve. Scalia calls himself a “textualist” and, as he related to a few hundred people who came to buy his new book and hear him speak in Washington the other day, that means he applies the words in the Constitution as they were understood by the people who wrote and adopted them. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

    Enlarge PhotoAssociated Press/Jessica Hill, File – FILE – In this March 8, 2012 file phoo, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. Scalia says his method of interpreting the …more Constitution makes some of the most hotly disputed issues that come before the Supreme Court among the easiest to resolve. Scalia calls himself a “textualist” and, as he related to a few hundred people who came to buy his new book and hear him speak in Washington the other day, that means he applies the words in the Constitution as they were understood by the people who wrote and adopted them. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)  less

WASHINGTON (AP) — Justice Antonin Scalia says his method of interpreting the Constitution makes some of the most hotly disputed issues that come before the Supreme Court among the easiest to resolve.

Scalia calls himself a “textualist” and, as he related to a few hundred people who came to buy his new book and hear him speak in Washington the other day, that means he applies the words in the Constitution as they were understood by the people who wrote and adopted them.

So Scalia parts company with former colleagues who have come to believe capital punishment is unconstitutional. The framers of the Constitution didn’t think so and neither does he.

“The death penalty? Give me a break. It’s easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion. Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state,” Scalia said at the American Enterprise Institute.

He contrasted his style of interpretation with that of a colleague who tries to be true to the values of the Constitution as he applies them to a changing world. This imaginary justice goes home for dinner and tells his wife what a wonderful day he had, Scalia said.

This imaginary justice, Scalia continued, announces that it turns out “‘the Constitution means exactly what I think it ought to mean.’ No kidding.”

As he has said many times before, the justice said the people should turn to their elected lawmakers, not judges, to advocate for abortion rights or an end to the death penalty. Or they should try to change the Constitution, although Scalia said the Constitution makes changing it too hard by requiring 38 states to ratify an amendment for it to take effect.

“It is very difficult to adopt a constitutional amendment,” Scalia said. He once calculated that less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, residing in the 13 least populous states, could stop an amendment, he said.

In a lengthy question-and-answer session, Scalia once again emphatically denied there’s a rift among the court’s conservative justices following Chief Justice John Roberts‘ vote to uphold President Barack Obama’s health care law. Scalia dissented from Roberts’ opinion.

“Look it, do not believe anything you read about the internal workings of the Supreme Court,” he said. “It is either a lie because the press knows we won’t respond — they can say whatever they like and we won’t respond — or else it’s based on information from someone who has violated his oath of confidentiality, that is to say, a non-reliable source. So one way or another it is not worthy of belief.”

“We can disagree with one another on the law without taking it personally,” he said.

___

The issue of gay rights, or more specifically same-sex marriage, is expected to be a big one in the term that began this week. While the justices initially were scheduled to discuss the topic at their private conference in late September, it now appears likely that they will not make a decision about whether to take up a gay marriage case until after the presidential election, which would mean arguments would not take place until the spring.

The justices have a variety of pending appeals they could choose to hear that deal in one way or another with gay marriage.

One set of cases looks at whether same-sex couples who are legally married can be deprived of a range of federal benefits that are available to heterosexual couples. Another case deals with California’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and federal court rulings striking down the amendment. An Arizona case deals with a state law that revoked domestic partner benefits, making them available only to married couples. Arizona’s constitution bans gay marriage.

___

The audio of Roberts reading a summary of the health care decision is available online through the Oyez.org website at http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2011/2011_11_400


Christo-Fascism without Tears: Response to Evangelical Writers who Distance the Church from the Nazi Party

By Alex Constantine

“The prophet seldom has any honor in his own country.” – Adolf Hitler

“Today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.” – Adolf Hitler

priestssalute 300x212 Christo Fascism without Tears: Response to Evangelical Writers who Distance the Church from the Nazi Party

Point 24 of the Nazi Progamme circulating in Germany of the 1920s stated that the only religion that the party officially denounced was “Jewish”:

We demand liberty for all religious denominations in the State, so far as they are not a danger to it and do not militate against the morality and moral sense of the German race. The Party, as such, stands for positive Christianity, but does not bind itself in the matter of creed to any particular confession. It combats the Jewish-materialist spirit within and without us, and is convinced that our nation can achieve permanent health from within only on the principle: the common interest before self-interest.

Many historians of WW II have downplayed the role of religion in Hitler’s Germany, most notably Richard Overy, author of The Dictators, cited by Christian researchers everywhere to reprimand those who suggest that the Nazi leader used religion as a vehicle of mass persuasion. Despite prestige appointments and numerous awards for scholarship, Overy, as a historian of Hitler’s Germany, is a complete incompetent if not deliberately dishonest. His contention that Hitler was hostile to capitalism, for instance, is blatantly false. Pay no heed to slippery conservative Christians who cite Overy and his equally dubious contention that Christianity was “in decline,” and played no role in the rise of the Third Reich.

Overy’s sourcing alone is a red flag – he relies heavily on the writing of Hermann Rauschning (a friend of Hitler who “defected” and sat out the war in the United States); other questionable citations and deliberate misinterpretations of Nazi Party rhetoric are common.

One widely-repeated citation is made by Bruce Walker in an article posted on the Net, “The Nazis and Christianity,” published by American Thinker, a Christian site. According to Walker, the “decline of Christianity in Germany led directly to the rise of Nazism. Professor Henri Lichtenberger in his 1937 book, The Third Reich, describes the religious life of the Weimar Republic as a place in which the large cities were ‘spiritual cemeteries’ with almost no believers at all, except for those who were members of the clergy.”

Seems to be a legitimate history until one considers that Henri Lichtenberger, the French historian, was a fascist propagandist who idolized Friedrich Nietzsche and Richard Wagner. He was a mercenary with a pen, drawn from ranks favoring a Franco-German intersect in the early ’20s. He was PRO-NAZI. Lichtenberger’s word on anything was determined by who paid him.

This is the caliber of “experts” that right-wing evangelical propagandists cite when making the claim that Nazi Germany was “secular.” The bottom line is that, in private, Hitler found National Socialism and Christianity fundamentally incompatible because he believed that the latter – “an invention of the Jews” – had given rise to Bolshevism. Ironic, then, that before Hitler, Lenin became Christ … in a true athiest state … as reported by Vision, a quarterly academic print and online journal of news and analysis:

… As chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, Lenin soon became a dictator …. The use of traditional religion played a part in securing popular support. Following an attempt to assassinate Lenin in 1918, his public persona was infused with religious verbal and visual imagery. Sociologist Victoria Bonnell notes that now the leader “was characterized as having the qualities of a saint, an apostle, a prophet, a martyr, a man with Christ-like qualities, and a ‘leader by the grace of God.’” Posters showed Lenin like a saint in Russian iconic art. …

“Aspects of the political, social and religious fabric of the Russian Motherland provided many of the necessary conditions for Lenin’s cult. .… While Hitler and Stalin were deranged and profoundly evil, they were aided and abetted by masses of people who moved toward them as the leaders they desired. As we have noted before in this series, the symbiosis of leader and led cannot be ignored as we try to explain the bloodlust that characterizes the rule of many, if not all, false messiahs. Nor is exploitation of religious fervor ever far from the surface as leaders seek and maintain followers. Mussolini appealed to elements of traditional Catholic religion to create his fascist cult, and Hitler was well aware of religion’s power to induce loyalty to a cause. It was no different in the atheistic Soviet Union for most of the last century.

http://www.vision.org/visionmedia/page.aspx?id=2966

Hitler’s religious beliefs and fanaticism (quotes from Mein Kampf)

Hitler wrote: “I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord..”

As a boy, Hitler attended Catholic Church and was exposed to the anti-Semitism of the prevailing religious culture. In Mein Kampf and in his speeches, Hitler appeared to be a fanatical believer in God. In one speech, he declared:

The world will not help, the people must help itself. Its own strength is the source of life. That strength the Almighty has given us to use; that in it and through it we may wage the battle of our life…. The others in the past years have not had the blessing of the Almighty – of Him Who in the last resort, whatever man may do, holds in His hands the final decision. Lord God, let us never hesitate or play the coward, let us never forget the duty which we have taken upon us…. We are all proud that through God’s powerful aid we have become once more true Germans.

On marriage: “A folkish state must therefore begin by raising marriage from the level of a continuous defilement of the race, and give it the consecration of an institution which is called upon to produce images of the Lord and not monstrosities halfway between man and ape.” (Mein Kampf)

On race war: “But if out of smugness, or even cowardice, this battle is not fought to its end, then take a look at the peoples five hundred years from now. I think you will find but few images of God, unless you want to profane the Almighty.” (Mein Kampf)

Hitler’s Biblical beliefs show clearly where he based his notion for offensive action:

On liberty: “God does not make cowardly nations free.” (Mein Kampf)

On Judaism: “Their whole existence is an embodied protest against the aesthetics of the Lord’s image.” (Mein Kampf)

A prophecy: “Their sword will become our plow, and from the tears of war the daily bread of future generations will grow.” (Mein Kampf)

In a speech delivered on April 23, 1922, Hitler stated:

My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them. … In boundless love as a Christian and as a man, I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison.

On himself: “I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so.” (Hitler speech, 1941)

“Anyone who dares to lay hands on the highest image of the Lord commits sacrilege against the benevolent creator of this miracle and contributes to the expulsion from paradise.” (Mein Kampf)

“We were convinced that the people needs and requires this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.” (Hitler speech, Berlin, October 31, 1933)