Archive for the ‘Catholic Right’ 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Jeffress made one problematic historical reference after another.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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Faith-Based Politics: Kinship Between National Socialism & Roman Catholicism

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

By

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.


[See download link at end of articles]

Fraudsters: New report highlights how Islamophobes have no expertise in the religion they claim to know

Fraudsters
Screenshot of a new Muslim Public Affairs Council report

The overwhelming majority of the people who make up the Islamophobic right in the U.S. have no formal credentials on Islam, a new report from a Muslim-American group says. 24 out of 25 of the figures the group profiles “lack the formal academic qualifications to be classified as an expert on Islam and/or Muslims,” the report reads.

The report, titled “Not Qualified: Exposing the Deception Behind America’s Top 25 Pseudo Experts on Islam,” was released by the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), a Muslim-American advocacy group.

MPAC’s report looks at some of the more prominent figures on the anti-Muslim right, and skewers their claims of expertise on Islam. Daniel Pipes was the only person profiled in the study to have formal, academic qualifications on Islam.

MPAC defines an expert on Islam as “as an individual who has formal academic qualifications in Islamic Studies from either 1) an accredited institution of higher education in the West or 2) an institution of higher education in a Muslim-majority country that rank among the world’s top  500 universities. In order to be classified as [an] expert, as defined above, one’s credentials must also be publicly verifiable.”

The profiles include a look at Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, Frank Gaffney, Steven Emerson and more.

Despite their lack of qualifications to be talking about Islam and Muslims, these figures, while representing a fringe, have reach beyond their small community of pseudo-scholars. Their talking points are often blasted to the public by Fox News and some have taught U.S. law enforcement. Spencer’s book, The Truth About Mohammed: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion, was recommended by the FBI in 2009. Spencer is a leading anti-Muslim activist in the U.S. and a close ally of Geller.

But Spencer has never studied Islam. He holds a master’s degree in religious studies related to early Christianity from the University of North Carolina.

Another lesser-known figure profiled by MPAC is former FBI agent John Guandolo, who taught law enforcement in Tennessee about Islam and terrorism. But Guandolo has “no formal academic credentials in Islamic studies.” He only holds a BA in engineering from the US Naval Academy.

Not Qualified: Exposing the Deception Behind America’s Top 25 Pseudo Experts on Islam

https://i2.wp.com/www.mpac.org/assets/images/2012/09/Not-Qualified-300px.jpg

Muslim Public Affairs Council, USA

Executive Summary

Based on the tracking of media coverage on American Muslims, anti-Muslim sentiment seems to be at an all-time high. The negative sentiment appears in many venues, from state legislatures debating anti-Sharia bills to opposition over construction of new Islamic centers. At the same time, media coverage has begun to focus on anti-Muslim activists in the United States and their corrosive effects on American pluralism.

Within a national security and law enforcement context, there is no denying that extremists constituting the leadership of Al-Qaeda and its affiliates explicitly articulate their justifications for violence in “worldly” political terms – including the now-deceased Osama Bin Laden.3 They have also manipulated religious beliefs for their propaganda and terrorism recruitment purposes. This fact makes it important to understand how violent actors like Al-Qaeda and its affiliates manipulate Islam, among other factors, for operational and ideological purposes.

For the benefit of national security and the American public at large, we must ensure that those speaking about terrorism perpetrated in the name of Islam are qualified. At a minimum, individuals who speak about Islam and its co-opting by violent actors need to be properly informed (or at least ground themselves in human resources who do have the proper qualifications)

Of course, this is nothing to say of those individuals who also speak about national security related issues yet lack formal and relevant qualifications. An example would be someone such as Zuhdi Jasser, who claims to be an expert on political Islam, yet only has an M.D. and whose primary profession is a physician. (See P. 51 for more information.)

In America’s free society, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution allows everyone the right to freely express their opinions. However it is one thing to give an opinion, it is entirely another – either explicitly or implicitly – to claim that a person is an expert on a particular topic. As the late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.”

There has already been significant and groundbreaking research on the anti-Muslim hate industry by the Center for American Progress as well as the Southern Poverty Law Center, among others. Their research focuses primarily on anti-Muslim hate activists’ sources of funding and their possible connections to other forms of hate. No study that we know of has focused on the qualifications of the so-called “experts” on Islam and Muslim extremists. This study seeks to fill in this research gap by focusing on the academic qualifications of 25 individuals who comprise – some of the most vocal voices and activists in the anti-Muslim circuit. We specifically focus on highly visible personalities who engage in anti-Islam rhetoric and who frequently and inaccurately speak not only about extremist Muslims, or even Muslims  at-large, but who also claim to be knowledgeable about the fundamental beliefs and tenets of the Islamic faith.

The study asks the question: Do these individuals have the formal academic credentials to back their explicit and implicit claims of expertise on Islam?

Within the context of our study, we define an expert on Islam as an individual who has formal academic qualifications in Islamic Studies from either 1) an accredited institution of higher education in the West or 2) an institution of higher education in a Muslim-majority country that rank among the world’s top 500 universities. In order to be classified as expert, as defined above, one’s credentials must also be publicly verifiable.

Our research finds:

  •  Of the 25 people examined, only 1 (4%) had the qualifications to be considered an “expert” on Islam.
  • Most of these individuals do not have a college degree in Islamic studies. A few, such as Pamela Geller and Brigitte Gabriel, do not have a college degree.
  • The individuals in the study fall into three broad categories in terms of the public role they play: 1) “Scholars” 2) “Validators” and 3) “Activists”. Scholars are further classified as “religious interpreters”, “security analysts” and “terrorism talking heads.”
  • Several of the “validators” in our study have made unsubstantiated, odd, and inaccurate statements that raise serious questions about their subject matter expertise, and at times, personal authenticity. For example, one of the people examined in our study claimed to be an ex-terrorist, but an investigation by CNN found this to be false.
  • These facts have severe negative consequences for our national security:
  1. At a pragmatic level, such rhetoric is counterproductive for two reasons. First, it undermines community oriented policing efforts by sowing seeds of distrust between law enforcement practitioners and the American Muslim communities they are sworn to protect, and which have been crucial in keeping the nation safe. Second, anti-Muslim rhetoric plays into the very grievance narratives that terrorist organizations use to radicalize individuals.
  2. At a legal level, when conspiratorial rhetoric is employed at training events, the likely outcome is the undermining of the American legal philosophy that the law enforcement community is sworn to uphold, which is based upon the guilt or innocence of an individual actor based upon their individual behavior, as opposed to collective guilt based upon group membership (and not behavior).
  3. At a professional level, public servants take pride in subordinating their personal politics to the higher calling of their mission and the values enshrined in the Constitution. Arguments that leverage the freedom of speech in order to undermine freedom of religion, while distasteful, are protected by our nation’s Constitution. However, they have no place in our federal, state, and local government practitioners who serve the public in accordance with the law.

Here is the list of 25 Individuals (and page numbers) covered in the MPAC report are

1. ANDREW G. BOSTOM  21 2. WILLIAM BOYKIN 23 3. STEPHEN COUGHLIN 24 4. NONIE DARWISH 26 5. STEVEN EMERSON 27 6. BRIGITTE GABRIEL 31 7. FRANK GAFFNEY 34 8. DAVID GAUBATZ 36 9. WILLIAM GAWTHROP 38 10. PAMELA GELLER 41 11. JOHN GIDUCK 42 12. SEBESTEYEN (SEBASTIAN) GORKA 43 13. JOHN GUANDOLO 45 14. TAWFIK HAMID 47 15. DAVID HOROWITZ 48 16. RAYMOND IBRAHIM 49 17. ZUHDI JASSER 51 18. ANDREW MCCARTHY 53 19. WALID PHARES 54 20. DANIEL PIPES 56 21. PATRICK POOLE 59 22. WALID SHOEBAT 60 23. ROBERT SPENCER 61 24. ERICK STAKELBACK 63 25. DAVID YERUSHALMI 65

Please click here to download the whole report in PDF format.

Rick Santorum Now Writing for World Net Daily: ‘The UN Wants to Kill My Daughter’
Former presidential candidate promptly pens crazy anti-UN rant
Rick Santorum has now joined the illustrious company of Pamela Geller, Jerome Corsi, and Joseph Farah, and is writing a regular column for one of the looniest wingnut sites on the web, the always inadvertently amusing World Net Daily, where they’re still totally certain that Barack Obama is a secretly gay radical Muslim atheist commie with a fake birth certificate.

Not a single one of those absurd adjectives is exaggerated. The people who write for this hive of lunacy really do believe that stuff, all of it, at the same time. Not to mention the creationism, the advocation of theocracy, the climate change denial, the insane raving homophobia, and the blatant nativism and racism. It’s a cornucopia of anti-rational far right kookery.

And Santorum’s first column for Weird Nuts Drooling fits right in; it’s a crazy rant about a United Nations treaty on the rights of disabled people that Santorum thinks is a secret conspiracy to subvert the US Constitution so they can kill his daughter.

Digging a bit deeper, the treaty has much darker and more troubling implications.

The most offensive provision is found in Section 7 of the treaty dealing specifically with children with disabilities. That section reads:

“In all actions concerning children with disabilities, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.”

“The best interest of the child” standard is lifted out of a controversial provision contained in the 1989 treaty called the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. That treaty was never ratified in large part because of this provision.

“The best interest of the child” standard may sound like it protects children, but what it does is put the government, acting under U.N. authority, in the position to determine for all children with disabilities what is best for them. That is counter to the current state of the law in this country which puts parents – not the government – in that position of determining what is in their child’s best interest. Under the laws of our country, parents lose that right only if the state, through the judicial process, determines that the parents are unfit to make that decision.

In the case of our 4-year-old daughter, Bella, who has Trisomy 18, a condition that the medical literature says is “incompatible with life,” would her “best interest” be that she be allowed to die? Some would undoubtedly say so.

Oh, for Pete’s sake.

Should somebody let Rick Santorum know that the Supreme Court has ruled on numerous occasions that the Supremacy Clause says treaties like this one cannot supersede the US Constitution, or is it too funny to just let him keep ranting away?

It’s very illuminating to see Republicans like Santorum losing their shit over an overwhelmingly positive treaty that would greatly help the disabled people of the world; makes it very easy to see that gaping cavity in their chests where a heart is supposed to be.

Also see: Let’s Talk: The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities


Santorum Exposes The Real Republican Party

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[Re-posted from earlier today.]

What’s fascinating to me about Santorum‘s outburst yesterday was not its content, but its candor. In fact, one of Santorum’s advantages in this race, especially against Romney, is that we can see exactly where he stands. There can be no absolute separation of church and state, let alone a desire to keep it so; and in their necessary interactions, the church must always prevail, or it is a violation of the First Amendment, and an attack on religious freedom. The church’s teachings are also, according to theoconservatism, integral to the founding of the United States. Since constitutional rights are endowed from the Creator, and the Creator is the Judeo-Christian one, the notion of a neutral public square, embraced by liberals and those once called conservatives, is an attack on America. America is a special nation because of this unique founding on the Judeo-Christian God. It must therefore always be guided by God’s will, and that will is self-evident to anyone, Catholic or Protestant, atheist or Mormon, Jew or Muslim, from natural law.

Tcs2

Hence the notion that America could countenance abortion or same-sex marriage is anathema to Santorum and to theoconservatism. It can only be explained as the work of Satan, so alien is it to the principles of Judeo-Christian America. Hence the resort to constitutional amendments to ban both: total resolutions of these issues for ever must reflect what theocons believe was in the Founders’ hearts and minds.

This has long been the theocon argument; it was the crux of what I identified as the core Republican problem in “The Conservative Soul“. It is not social conservatism, as lazy pundits call it. It is a radical theocratically-based attack on modern liberal democracy; and on modernity as a whole. It would conserve nothing. It would require massive social upheaval, for example, to criminalize all abortion or keep all gay couples from having any publicly acknowledged rights or status. Then think of trying to get women back out of the workplace or contraception banned – natural, logical steps from this way of thinking. This massive change is radical, not conservative. It regards the evolution of American society these past few decades as literally the work of the Father of Lies, not the aggregate reflection of a changing society. It is at its essence a neo-Francoite version of America, an America that was not the pinnacle of Enlightenment thought, but an America designed to destroy what the theocons regard as the catastrophe of the Enlightenment.

PM Carpenter is right to note below that “Kennedy was emphasizing an institutional separation; he never denied that his conscience was influenced by his faith.” But to say that Santorum is attacking a chimera is unfair to both men. Yes, of course, Kennedy’s conscience was informed by his faith; how could it not be? But what Kennedy asserted was that his public pronouncements would be defended by non-sectarian reason, devoid of explicit religious content. Moral content – yes. Religious content – no. Which is why I have long found Obama’s occasional digression into defending, say, universal healthcare by invoking Jesus as depressingly part of the problem. Money Kennedy quote:

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant  nor Jewish–where no public official either requests or accepts  instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of  Churches or any other ecclesiastical source–where no religious body  seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general  populace or the public acts of its officials–and where religious  liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as  an act against all.

This is an explicit public denial that this country is a Christian nation. It is a reaffirmation that “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” The most important feature of today’s GOP – and the fundamental reason I have long abandoned it – stands foursquare against that idea. Moreover, in its fusion of explicit religion and explicit politics, it is itself, in my view, an attack on America – and the possibility of a civil republic. Its religious absolutism is the core underpinning of this country’s polarization – because when religion becomes politics, negotiation and compromise become impossible. Bring God into it, and a political conversation must become a culture war.

Note this too from Kennedy:

I believe in a President whose religious views are his own private  affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation or imposed by the nation  upon him as a condition to holding that office.

This is a defense of private conscience as the core bulwark of religious life – emanating from the Second Vatican Council. And that too is what today’s radical GOP is attacking.

For Santorum, as for Ratzinger, if your conscience says one thing, and the Pope says another, you obey the Pope, not your conscience. And for the Christianists, if your conscience or intelligence says one thing, and the Bible says another, you obey the Bible, not your conscience, and certainly not your intelligence. Because beneath Christianism is a deep fear of the human mind – as if they actually believe that reason is stronger than religion and therefore must be restrained. As if the human mind can will God out of existence.

This is Santorum’s fear-laden vision. Which is why he is not a man of questioning, sincere faith and should not be flattered as such. He is a man of the kind of fear that leads to fundamentalist faith, a faith without doubt and in complete subservience to external authority. There is a reason he doesn’t want many kids to go to college. I mean: when we already know the truth, why bother to keep seeking it? And if we already know the truth, why are we not enforcing it as a matter of law in a country founded on Christian principles? It is not religious oppression if it is “the way things are supposed to be”, by natural law. In fact, a neutral public square, in his mind, is itself religious oppression.

We can also see here the collision of the Second Vatican Council and the current hierarchy. Kennedy was a Catholic of another era, unafraid of modernity, interested in other paths to God, publicly humble and cheerful, privately devout and deeply connected to others of all faiths and none. Santorum is of a different kind: authoritarian, deeply suspicious of freedom when it leads to disobedience of the Papacy’s diktats, and publicly embracing a religious identity as his core political one.

I am relieved he is at least candid. For now we can see in plain view the religious fanaticism that has destroyed one of the major parties in this country, a destruction that is perilous for any workable politics. It must be defeated – and not by electing a plastic liar and panderer like Romney. But by nominating Santorum and defeating him by such a margin that this theo-political Frankenstein, which threatens both genuine faith and civil politics, is dispatched once and for all.

(Photo: Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum speaks  during a campaign stop at the St. Mary’s Cultural & Banquet Center  on February 27, 2012 in Livonia, Michigan. By Joe Raedle/Getty Images.)