February 14, 2009

You Can Take the Boy Out of the Country, But...

From the Saturday, February 14, 2009 edition of Editor & Publisher, we find this headline:

Buffalo Man Who Launched TV Network to Show Muslims in Positive Light Arrested -- for Beheading His Wife

(Read the story HERE)

About now we are all probably shaking our heads and musing on the evils of Islamism. This makes so little sense in a supposedly free society, and here is a man supposedly trying to show the free world that all of Islam isn’t “that way.” Sharia just doesn’t fit in a modern world that values human liberties. Neither, however, does evangelical Christianism or any form of religious extremism, and they all tell us they aren't “that way.”

I hear it regularly, that the United States is a Christian nation, and if you believe the polls this is more true than not. These polls regularly show that some 85% of Americans profess some degree or another of belief in a creator. A Pew Forum poll prior to the election indicated that 56% feel it is important that the President of the United States profess a “strong religious belief”. A 2007 Gallup poll showed that 27% believe in demonic possession and 26% believed modern-day witches possessed supernatural powers. And John McCain’s poll numbers went up significantly with the addition of a charismatic Pentecostal Christian to the ticket.

What are Islamism and its analog, Christiansm? They are extremist philosophies and doctrines using Christianity or Islam as the basis for government. They are a blend of extremist religion and extreme nationalism, with one potentiating the other. While the most obvious examples today may be found in the middle east, this occurs often. America through most of our history has experienced assaults on our constitution from the Christian Right. The Confederate South was rife with Christian nationalism, and even Nazi Germany could be cited as a prominent example. It varies according to degrees of nationalism of each nation, but the nature of the Christianity or Islam is often consistent.

I'll discuss this from a more local view. Consider that polls continually indicate mass dissatisfaction with court rulings rolling back efforts to teach creationism, or to ban the teaching of evolution in public schools. Christian nationalism was at the root of the McCarthy trials and HUAC activities. In an earlier post I pointed to several prominent, modern-day politicians who expressed thoughts that atheists were evil, or unpatriotic.

So, let us consider some rather extreme potentials. Sarah Palin is fresh in our memories, so I will discuss her particular philosophies. Keep in mind that these are my observations, based upon what information I could find on public sites.

The first question I wanted to answer was exactly what is Palin’t belief. According to records, she attended Wasilla Assembly of God for over twenty years and apparently maintains some relationship with the church. She was the 2008 speaker for graduating class at their Master’s Commission school. While in Juneau she attends the Juneau Christian Church, also an apparent Assemblies of God affiliate, but maybe neiter actually are. Both of these churches are in a non-denominational sub-group operating independently of the Assemblies of God, with a professed desire to take over the main church group. They go further than that, expressing the desire to assimilate all other branches and denominations of Christian churches.

This sub-group is alternately called the Third Wave of the Holy Spirit, or the New Apostolic Reformation. These have roots in the discredited Latter Rain Movement or the Five-Fold Ministry of the 1940’s and 50’s. They are a cult-like movement that has been gathering force for the last several decades. They are so at odds with traditional Assemblies of God belief that in 1949 the national body of the Assemblies of God denounced them entirely, and in 2000 the teachings were denounced as heresy.

The Third Wave movement teaches that all Christian denominations are invalid and that the members of these "false" denominations fail the test of salvation. They go to the extent of teaching that all other religious beliefs are “demonic” and to be rejected.

The cult’s most influential leaders are C. Peter Wagner and “Bishop” Bill Hamon. These “Prophet-Apostles” teach, among other disturbing beliefs, that “God has chosen [them] to restore doctrines that the church lost through the ages and to reveal new doctrines and final assignments”, that they are “so powerful that Christians who come into their presence with sin in their lives will be struck dead”, and that their followers will be able to “strike down God’s enemies with blindness and calling down natural disasters on them — causing entire nations to convert to Christ.” Reference Hamon’s book, Apostles, Prophets and the Coming Moves of God. Hamon also states in the book that "the church isn't going sit and take it anymore. The church isn't going to wait to be helicoptered out of the world in some rapture rescue plan. The church will stay right here and by its spiritual authority even defeat the principalities and powers in the heavenlies, dragging them to earth and putting them under their heel".

The most frightening teaching of all is the Third Wave belief in world domination by the (their) church. According to Rick Joyner, pastor of the affiliated Morningstar Ministries, the Prophets are working toward a Christian theocracy in America, which Joyner states, “may seem totalitarian at first.”

Consider our recent discussions regarding the Bill of Rights. Almost to a person, commentary rejected any infringement of the Second Amendment. Many agreed that infringement on the freedom of expression was contrary to the goals of our constitution. Now here we have a religious sect who would ram a totalitarian regime down our collective throats and make us bow to their personal god.
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Please show me any difference between these beliefs and those of the fellow who beheaded his wife.
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I voted for Obama. Perhaps some of this explains why.
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14 Comments:

Mark said...

This is one reason I was shocked and felt like I'd been (pardon profanity) cockpunched by otherwise rational folk who flocked to Palin. Screamed that she was "Their Gal". I've lived under a female leader. Her name was Margaret Thatcher. I honestly believe she was the reason that Great Britain lasted as long as it did, before being replaced by the United Kingdom. Compared to Lady Thatcher, Sarah Palin is a bible-thumping, hollowskulled wannabe, more interested in whipping up race-hate than formulating a salient and sentient policy docket.

It's like comparing the shrieking, asthmatic kid in the 2006 remake of War of the Worlds to Newt in Aliens. Lady Thatcher LEAD this country, with a potent brain, and a heart that could face the hard-but-factual decisions. Sarah Palin would squeal and take another hit off her bible.

I was raised to see women leaders taking a higher standard. That's all there is to it.

Mule Breath said...

Maggie was a jewel, indeed. Made in the Churchill light. We've had leaders here with similar attributes, and many of them were Christian. Probably most of them, in fact, were Christian. What is disturbing is this move to politicize religion and religionist politics. Few who came before Reagan were so inclined, but the religious right has so inflamed the rabble that if a Republican is to win the office he must pay homage to the Falwellites.

My friends know I have little animosity for those who choose to believe, even though they know I believe it to be all superstition. But I take great umbrage against the idea of turning my country in any direction even vaguely close to theocracy. That way lies insanity, as history has shown.

jeg43 said...

I suspect I was a bit down in the mouth before reading your post - because it gave me a massive instant case of the black ass. I can't imagine anything as negative as a theocracy or anything as harmful to society.
I certainly don't wish ill to anyone, but it would warm the cockles of my heart to see the astonishment on the faces of the members of many other rabid right wing religious factions when the members of a group like "Third Wave of the Holy Spirit" starts shooting them or marching them off to "re-education" camps. I know I wouldn't ever get a chance to see that because they would have previously shot my non-religious ass or (worse) dragged me kicking and screaming (or bloody and unconscious) to said camp.
As a complete aside, I just finished Spider Robinson's "Very Bad Deaths" and bet you'd enjoy it - not one of his si-fi books, but an interesting fiction read.
Hope you have a nice Sunday.

Mule Breath said...

Jeg,

SF Site did a review on the book a couple years ago. They still consider it to be Sci-Fi, albeit of the trans-realism genre. Supposed to be something similar to Phillip K. Dick's stuff from back in the 80's. I haven't read it yet because I haven't found a used copy. I seldom buy new, but with your recommendation I might be inclined.

Mark said...

Mule,

When Islamic fundamentalists committed the mass-murders of 9/11, then the worst possible thing to do was to engage them on their own ground. Unsurprisingly, Mr. Bush and his administration promptly declared Holy War. This particular act of arrant idiocy is going to ramify for a distressingly long time, as it's forged this nauseating link between "Faith" and "Patriotism".

At a finer grain, the one nation under God trope, with it's implicit message that the Constitution is sat under the Bible in the priority tree intrinsically sidelines the defining document of the nation. The Constitution doesn't recognise any document as outranking it - religious politicians do. They, by their nature, have a different idea of what America is, and respect their Book more.

Throw in the belief in the End Days, the fact that no matter how badly they fuck up they get into Invisible Sky Daddy Fun Park as long as they say "Sorry" and it's a recipe for disaster. As evinced by eight years of "Often in Error, Never in Doubt". It used to terrify me, but having seen it's effects I think it's more rational simply to see it as an evil to be opposed.

I fervently hope that Obama can do his job without having to pander to the "Faith-Based Initiative" crowd that Bush welcomed into the White House with such open arms. Aside for their implicit contempt of the Constitution, God-Bothering is not going to make anything better at this point: rationality and clear thinking are. Sadly, religious people aren't just irrational by nature, they're vocally - often viciously - demanding of support and recognition. Especially since some idiot decided there was a religious war on, not one of insane murderous bastards vs. sanity and decency.

Mule Breath said...

Mark,

Your rhetoric is coarse but your analysis pretty much the same as mine. To have a Commander in Chief listening to a “higher power” is a frightening thing… or it should be frightening… not frightening enough obviously, considering how the Party of Hoover is still fawning over Palin. The rapid, almost explosive growth in acceptance of the so called “End Times” prophecies and the Apostles/prophets preaching such drivel should frighten any reasonable person. When they are selling religion packaged as patriotism, and preach an afterlife so there is no fear of death, and the people believe it; we are in deep doo doo. I am speaking of both Christian and Islamic extremists.

I started my post with the story of an islamist behaving as islamist extremists do. This was an overtly reasonable islamist, but when faced with great emotional challenge, he reverted to Sharia. Folks in this country expect islamists to behave in that manner. Then I turned my discussion inward, hoping to show that we have extremists in our midst too; that we were falling for their line and behaving just as bizarrely as the islamists… the only difference being the name of the prophet.

Our constitution was drafted using careful language with just this scenario in mind. The document was accepted by compromise, but by majority. Different folk can peacefully reside together so long as none is allowed to lord dogma over another.

I don’t accept any religion or faith, but neither am I overtly against religion. I’ll debate it with anyone who wants to, but I’ll not try to “evangelize” you with my atheism. Folks are free to believe any myth they choose and I will remain silent, until they feel compelled to knock on my door and try to sell it to me; or until they somehow con the American people into handing over the nuclear launch codes. Then I get a little nervous and I will speak out.

We can’t do much about extremism abroad, but we’d better do something about the rise of religious extremism and christian nationalism here at home, or we’ll be kissing our constitution goodbye… in our lifetime.

Mark said...

I'm sure my rhetoric will be a bit smoother when I get over my 'flu ;)

I try not to be overtly against religion, but I do find it increasingly difficult as time goes on. Having decided to confront radical Islam on a theological footing, rather than rationality vs. make-believe, the horrible situation you've described of only the prophet's name being different comes to pass.

At that point, I find it terribly difficult to respect any religion, as they all seem to tend towards extremism. It's getting to the point where someoone just mentioning any god gives me a full-body twitch, and I have to forcibly remind myself that they're not actually a complete lunatic all over just because they've got an invisible friend. But I tell you, it's getting difficult because of the accelerating amount of insanity being perpetrated worldwide.

There is a real and worsening conflict going on planetwide between Islam and xTianity, and folk who strive towards rational thinking appear to be a diminishing minority. The fact that it's a bloody war over whose invisible friend is better is, on occasion, hair-rippingly frustrating. And it just seems stupid.

Sometimes, frankly, I despair.

Farm.Dad said...

Mule it will likely be no surprise to you that i subscribe to no sect. In fact my beliefs would brand me as an apostate with most Christians . However in an attempt to do as you asked i will simply point out that no Christian ( nor many other ) religions support, or endorse the homicide of females . In fact most if not all other religions abhor the mutilation of young females for any reason ( not to be confused or compared with with the mutilation of young males lol ) . The difference is that ( to borrow a wonderful word ) xTianity now as a rule limits its activitys to lobby among the xTristions for funds and members. Islam on the other hand has less problem with direct action than i do with home invaders . We simply dont see ( as i say lately ) reports of xTianity members raped and then use the shame of the act to create such guilt as they will suicide , and by taking others possibly buy the way to the magical place .

All things being equal Islam is just as wonderful as any other religion. Unfortunately due to Islam being stuck somewhere around the 1400s in any moral code one could mention it is not . I dare say that in Islam there is no individual moral compass, there is only the opinion of your iman(s). I am frankly disappointed with your assertation on this post. As a close i will just question you when you say ..

" Now here we have a religious sect who would ram a totalitarian regime down our collective throats and make us bow to their personal god." .

I ask you sir how the current state of affairs are a lick different ? The state of the left ( not true liberals but the left ) and obama borders on if not has crossed into religon . To borrow from Christianity if he pelosi and reid are not an unholy trinity they are not far from it lol .

As allways best to you , and thanks again for making me think lol .

Mule Breath said...
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Mule Breath said...
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Mule Breath said...

[Edited and reposted to correct typos and other mistakes. I was in too much of a rush yesterday]

Farm.Dad says:

”Mule it will likely be no surprise to you that i subscribe to no sect”

Correct, it does not surprise me. Fewer than half of those who claim a belief in some form of creator deity claim a particular affiliation. But most do subscribe to a general belief that any form of xTian (I like it too) centered government is better than a godless government. In other words, they feel the bible trumps the constitution. This is incorrect and dangerous. The intent of the founders was for our government to be a government without religion, and they had good reason for that desire.

”i will simply point out that no Christian ( nor many other ) religions support, or endorse the homicide of females”

Well… That is not completely correct. In the bible we find:

Deuteronomy 22:13-21 If a man marries and then decides that he hates his wife, he can claim she wasn't a virgin when they were married. If her father can't produce the "tokens of her virginity" (bloody sheets), then the woman is to be stoned to death at her father's doorstep…

Deuteronomy 22:21 Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die…

Deuteronomy 22: 22-23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city…

There is similar in Leviticus, Numbers, Ester, and in I Kings. It’s in the book, so we must assume it was practiced at some point, and just because we don’t practice it today does not mean some whacko ‘prophet’ won’t twist it to an advantage.

Perhaps you will say we don’t use the old testament; we use the new testament now. To that I would answer that Wagner, Hamon, Joiner and their ilk use the old testament… and that they twist even that. Read their material and you will find that they place themselves above the bible. Even above god herself.

Not all Christians are extreme cultists like these Third Wave folks, but then again the Third Wave is not the *only* odd Christian sect twisting scripture. My point is that it is easy to see parallels between the two Xisms. Christianity is fairly well behaved today compared to its history, and Islam has perhaps not progressed as far. There is an element of extremism in both who refuse to accept any progress. The point of my piece was to show that this Third Wave movement is of that same stripe as radical Islam. Then I wanted folks to consider that a follower of the Third Wave was a just a few votes and a heart attack away from the Presidency.

”I dare say that in Islam there is no individual moral compass, there is only the opinion of your iman(s)”

Considering the dozens, perhaps hundreds of End of Time cults that have made the news over the years, all with charismatic leaders and all behaving in aberrant ways, can you really say that *all* or even *most* of the biblical faithful have well calibrated individual moral compasses? Instead of imams they follow Charles Taze Russell, L. Ron Hubbard or Jim Jones, so where is the difference?

Again, the point of my piece was to illustrate the rather extreme teachings of a splinter religious sect, of which Sarah Palin is a follower. All you need to do to verify what I am saying is spend a couple hours on the internet, or just read Hamon’s book.

”I am frankly disappointed with your assertation on this post” and also “I ask you sir how the current state of affairs are a lick different?”

I’m sorry I disappoint you, but I stand by my observations. The Third Wave is a splinter of the Assemblies of God, which are themselves a splinter of the Methodists. The Methodists rejected the Pentecostals (Assemblies of God) for heresy. Then the Assemblies of God rejected the Third Wave for the same charge. So even the snake handling holy rollers think the Third Wave is whacky. This is their doing, not mine, so I fail to see how my assertion can disappoint you.

Yes, Obama is a liberal and he is likely to take liberties with our liberties. Bush took a *lot* of liberty with our liberties. I recognize certain risks in Obama as President, but I was willing to accept those because the other option was having Sarah Palin a short heartbeat away from the seat of power in the free world.

Please don’t let me offend you, but please do locate the literature I’ve mentioned and read it. We cannot afford to take the chance on this building threat. Consider this; Yes, there is a potentially higher risk of the Obamistas coming for your guns than with a conservative regime, but if the likes of the Third Wave ever gain power they’ll be looking for a lot more than you’re your guns.

jeg43 said...

There's more food for thought found here:
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/
I recommend this site.
Enjoy.

Rogue Medic said...

56% feel it is important that the President of the United States profess a “strong religious belief”. A 2007 Gallup poll showed that 27% believe in demonic possession

Taken together, that begins to make sense. :-)

they are “so powerful that Christians who come into their presence with sin in their lives will be struck dead”,

Maybe Palin (Sarah, not Michael) is not a believer. She has worked in politics. Are there many reports of politicians dropping dead around her? If sinful politicians are more powerful than her death presence, perhaps we should be worshiping the more powerful god - sinful politics. Or has she combined the best of both worlds, sinful politics sin and fanatical hypocrisy?

“may seem totalitarian at first.”

Isn't that always the way with totalitarian rule. At first people mention the totalitarian behavior, then they are too afraid to mention anything.

Not that anyone would ever do that, here.

We can’t do much about extremism abroad, but we’d better do something about the rise of religious extremism and christian nationalism here at home, or we’ll be kissing our constitution goodbye… in our lifetime.

Nah! Those of us, who speak out in defense of the Constitution will be some of the first to be killed. They will not demolish it all at once. Tyrants often do not.

Read their material and you will find that they place themselves above the bible. Even above god herself.

Well, Creationists obviously place the Bible above God, since God cannot have acted other than as described in Genesis. It kind of depends on what your definition of omnipotent is. Of course, the interpreter is the Supreme Being.