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Fri

26

Dec

2008

The Infamous Among Us: Part I
Friday, 26 December 2008 12:12
by Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.

The Presidential Citizens Medal was established by Executive Order 114994, signed by Richard M. Nixon, on November 13, 1969:

Executive Order 11494, Establishing the Presidential Citizens Medal

BY VIRTUE of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, it is ordered as follows:

SECTION 1. Medal established. The Presidential Citizens Medal (hereinafter referred to as the Medal), together with accompanying ribbons and appurtenances, is hereby established for the purpose of recognizing citizens of the United States of America who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens. … [italics added]

How appropriate that the only president to have lower performance ratings than Nixon chose to include in the 2008 recipients of the Medal convicted Watergate felon Charles Colson. This Think Progress article succinctly summarizes Mr. Colson’s history and current activities:

Today, President Bush honored 24 recipients of this year’s award, including actor Gary Sinise and Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp. Also included in that mix was Chuck Colson, “the first member of the Nixon administration to serve prison time for Watergate-related offenses.” Colson was President Nixon’s counsel from 1969-1973 and pleaded guilty in 1974 to obstruction of justice. Colson received a one to three year sentence, but served just seven months. David Plotz at Slate described Colson’s role in the Nixon administration:

“As special counsel to the president, he was Richard Nixon’s hard man, the “evil genius” of an evil administration. According to Watergate historian Stanley Kutler, Colson sought to hire Teamsters thugs to beat up anti-war demonstrators, and he plotted to raid or firebomb the Brookings Institution. He eventually pleaded guilty to scheming to defame Daniel Ellsberg and interfering with his trial.”

Since that time, Colson has become an evangelical prison reformer, running the nonprofit Prison Fellowship, which advocates for “privately run prisons and the delivery of all social services by faith-based groups.” However, according to author Allan Lichtman in “White Protestant Nation,” Colson has also remained involved in conservative politics:

“Colson brought together politically conservative Catholics and Protestants for a statement of common beliefs, advised conservative politicians including Texas governor George W. Bush, and worked with Christian right leaders Pat Robertson and James Dobson on the development of political strategy. He disseminated conservative messages on sex roles, abortion, homosexuality, pornography, gay rights, and separation of church and state in his radio broadcasts and columns, reaching millions of Americans.”


On October 3, 2002, Colson was also one of the co-signers of a letter from prominent evangelical leaders supporting an invasion of Iraq. More recently he has spoken out in favor of California’s Prop. 8, accusing the LGBT community of “anti-religious bigotry.” [italics added]

More about Colson’s recruiting prison “ministry” in a moment, but first consider his signature on the December 5, 2008 full-page ad victimizers-turned-victims took out in The New York Times. It concluded with this declaration: “Furthermore, beginning today, we commit ourselves to opposing and publicly shaming anyone who resorts to the rhetoric of anti-religious bigotry – against any faith, on any side of any cause, for any reason.”

Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out took them at their word, and beyond:

Well, that is good news. The authors of this hypocritical ad can start by spotlighting themselves:

“Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular.”

– Bill Donohue, Catholic League

“Mormonism either affirms historic Christianity, or it doesn’t. Since it doesn’t, it can’t call itself Christianity – a fact that all the good will and public relations in Utah can’t change… While Mormons share some beliefs with Christians, they are not Christians.”

– Chuck Colson, Prison Fellowship Ministries

“Most evangelicals still regard Mormonism as a cult.

 

– Rich Cizik, National Association of Evangelicals

I really do hope this group shines a light of shame on those who promote religious bigotry – but they better be wearing very dark sun glasses when this occurs, as the glare from the light may be quite blinding. It appears that the only thing these men have in common with Mormons, or any other religion that they don’t agree with, is an uncommon passion for anti-gay discrimination. To watch these hypocrites act as the great defenders of the LDS church, and religion in general, is beyond laughable.

If this were not bad enough, Pat Boone compared Proposition 8 protests to terrorist attacks on Mumbai in a column for World Net Daily titled, “Hate is hate, in India or America.” Boone wrote, “Have you not seen the awful similarity between what happened in Mumbai and what’s happening right now in our cities?”

In his op-ed, Boone also wrote:

“What troubles me so deeply, and should trouble all thinking Americans, is that there is a real, unbroken line between the jihadist savagery in Mumbai and the hedonistic, irresponsible, blindly selfish goals and tactics of our homegrown sexual jihadists.” I’m not sure if Boone noticed, but it was religious extremism that was responsible for the attacks in India.

If these so-called people of faith have confidence in their beliefs, why must they resort to lying in the name of the Lord? For whatever they gain in smearing the gay community, it seems their religion loses twice as much in terms of credibility and respectability.

“Their religion loses twice as much in terms of credibility and respectability.” True. Pat Boone’s article appeared on Joseph Farah’s World Net Daily. I have first-hand experience with Farah’s and WND’s attack “journalism.”


Aside from Mr. Boone, WND also features articles by Ann Coulter, Robert Novak, Alan Keyes, and Chuck Norris, who garnered most of his fortune as a practitioner of the martial arts. That’s interesting, since the “Christian” Right for whom Mr. Norris now apparently speaks has condemned Eastern philosophy and theology and even the medically proven therapeutic practices such as yoga.

On 6 September 2006, the former incarnation of Don Wildmon’s American Family Association’s propaganda organ, Agape Press, now called OneNewsNow, carried an article titled “School Yoga Fitness Programs May Be Unhealthy Alternative, Author Warns.” The author cited was Dr. Walter Larimore, who wrote Alternative Medicine: A Christian Handbook. Dr. Larimore argued that because yoga has spiritual roots outside Christianity, the practice can be dangerous. He argued that “involvement with Eastern spiritual practices is known to cause psychological and emotional problems in some people.”

Although the anti-yoga article detailing Dr. Larimore’s claims is no longer available, there are many others proclaiming the same message: here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here.

A martial artist, who presumably has practiced yoga, Mr. Norris is one of those proclaiming that America is a “Christian nation.” Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to understand the difference between “a Christian nation” and “a nation whose population is predominantly Christian.” That was made clear in his December 15, 2008 WND article “Atheists’ national holiday?” in which he bemoaned the fact that atheists and secularists were being given equal time during the holiday season:

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am a patriot, and I believe that atheists are free to believe, speak and post whatever they want. This is America – and that’s their First Amendment right. But, to do so with harassment and hatred under the guise of free speech is despicable. An anti-religious poster filled with spite is in no way equated with a religious symbol like a nativity. Where are the politically correct police when Christians are the victims?

If such words were written against any social minority group, protests would be ubiquitous. But anti-religious (and particularly anti-Christian) bigotry is in vogue these days. But I, for one, am neither amused by intolerant verbiage nor passive about my politics. There is absolutely no justification for these atheists’ written revile [sic].

Personally, I’m always suspicious of those who proclaim themselves “a patriot.” That seems more an accolade others should confer. But be that as it may…

“Harassment and hatred under the guise of free speech.” Some of the postings Mr. Norris found harassing and hateful included “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life…” and “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness sake.” He also didn’t care for “billboards that echo the ‘60s John Lennon music mantra, ‘Imagine no religion.’” But he was particularly miffed about displays

in the capitol of Washington (and now in Wisconsin and Illinois). The message reads, “At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell.” It then obliterates political correctness by ending with the following hate language, “There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

Mr. Norris called these statements of other perspectives “intolerant verbiage.” But isn’t railing against them the very definition of “intolerant verbiage”?

To be sure, “There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell … Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds,” is a blunt statement, but one with some scholarship to support it: Karen Armstrong’s The History of God, Peter Stanford’s The Devil: A Biography, the fifth edition of Meredith B. McGuire’s Religion: The Social Context. Joseph Campbell’s many studies of religion and mythology would also be productive reading.

Then again, religion has nothing to do with facts or rationality. Indeed, the reason to have faith is that there are no verifiable, provable facts. If there were, one would not need faith. Knowledge would suffice. Similarly, if one’s faith and beliefs are strong enough, then opposing viewpoints would not – or at least should not – be seen as threats or harassment, but an opportunity to investigate and contemplate further.

Mr. Norris did have one small point. “Religion” is definitely not “a myth.” True. It’s based on myths. “Religion” is a socio-political construct primarily designed to control people’s lives. It has also been a source of hatred and bigotry, as well as the stimulus for Inquisitions and countless wars. It has indeed been used to harden hearts and enslave minds so much so that torture and murder became justifiable ad majorem gloriam Dei. More recently, it became the justification for removing an existing civil right from California couples whose “crime” was that they loved and wanted to commit their lives to each other and their families.

Mr. Norris claimed that the words of these displays are “particularly anti-Christian.” Where is the overt reference to Christianity in any of them? The surrounding displays also included Chanukah and Kwanzaa messages. One could make the “particularly anti-Christian” accusation only if he saw Christianity as the only “valid religion.” Isn’t that the epitome of religious bigotry?

Mr. Norris also claimed that “Christians are the victims.” The leaders, zealots, and defenders of “Christianity” have victimized countless million throughout history. Most recently they used their myth-based dogma to victimize same-sex couples in California. But beyond that, name another solely religious holiday that is also a national holiday: banks closed, government offices closed, no mail. Christianity has a privileged position in this country, so let’s not play victim, shall we? It’s a bit difficult to see the privileged majority as being victimized by small minorities.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Norris supported Prop 8… while hawking his latest book.

An October 21, 2008 article by Sandy Banks in The Los Angeles Times recorded the event:

A trip to a church provides some background to the campaign for Proposition 8.

Even in this hyperbolic election season, the rhetoric in the campaign for Proposition 8 seems overheated to me:

Support for the right of gays to marry is a move against Christians by the homosexual lobby, the devil's strategy to destroy the church, a confrontation between light and darkness.

That was the view from the pulpit at a “Protect Marriage” rally on Sunday night, hosted by Skyline Church near San Diego. It was beamed via satellite to 170 churches and thousands of voters across California. …

If you’re against Proposition 8 – which would amend the state Constitution so that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California” – the measure probably looks like a misguided, mean-spirited assault on the civil rights of gays and lesbians.

But if you were in the pews on Sunday night, you heard gay marriage denounced as the work of Satan – along with divorce and pornography – and Proposition 8 as a mighty shield, protecting children, marriage and the rights of Christians who share a “Biblical worldview” that homosexuality is bad.

Gays need salvation, not marriage, the thinking goes. …

The loudest applause came when action hero Chuck Norris appeared by video: “I’m angry that four judges overturned the will of the people.” He lauded Proposition 8 for “maintaining the union between man and woman” and promoted his book, “Black Belt Patriotism,” featuring a photo of him clad in martial arts gear. … [italics added]

Ya gotta love it. Hawking bigotry and books in a church.

Before getting back to felon Colson’s recruiting “prison ministry,” more must be said about Mr. Norris’s fellow WND columnist, Pat Boone, and his nonsensical rant.

To be continued...
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