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Mon

30

Mar

2009

Sex, Drugs and the Religious Right: Part I
Monday, 30 March 2009 09:31
by Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.

In a recent interview, Michael Steele, the beleaguered new head of the GOP, acknowledged homosexuality is not a choice
[Interviewer]: Do you think homosexuality is a choice?
[Steele]: Oh, no. I don’t think I’ve ever really subscribed to that view, that you can turn it on and off like a water tap. Um, you know, I think that there’s a whole lot that goes into the makeup of an individual that, uh, you just can’t simply say, oh, like, “Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being gay.” It’s like saying, “Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being black.”
That was way too much for Don Wildmon and his American Family Association to bear. Wildmon and the AFA are dedicated to denying gay Americans equal civil rights, denying that they have legitimate families, and denying that those families deserve equal social recognition. Case in point: their campaign against Campbell Soup:
In the December, 2008 and January, 2009 issues, Campbell Soup Company bought two, two-page advertisements in the latest issues of the nation’s largest homosexual magazine, “The Advocate.” The ads promote their Swanson line of broth.
In one of the December ads, the Campbell Soup Company highlighted the lives of two lesbians with their son. The others feature New York City chefs. See the ads here.
Campbell Soup Company has openly begun helping homosexual activists push their agenda. Not only did the ads cost Campbell’s a chunk of money, but they also sent a message that homosexual parents constitute a family…
Aside from the fact that target-marketing is a common practice, what kind of “man,” what kind of “Christian” would deny that legally married parents and their child do not constitute a family? If ever there was an example of raw hatred and seething bigotry hiding behind religion, it’s Don Wildmon and his American “Family” Association. And now dour Don has targeted Mr. Steele. In one of his patented hysterical petition drives, Rev. Wildmon is calling for Steele’s head… on a silver platter, of course:
In light of Chairman Steele’s remarks, should he resign as Chairman of the Republican National Committee?
We ask that only registered Republicans, or those who voted Republican in the last election participate.
Please fill out the form below and click the submit button. … [italics added]
“Only registered Republicans, or those who voted Republican in the last election participate.” How very cannibalistic. But then again, Wildmon does make his “living” by fueling divisiveness and an ideology that’s clearly waning.


“Secularity continues to grow in strength in all regions of the country” and other facts resulting from the American Religious Identification Survey 2008 were headlines in the mass media: “15 Percent of Americans Have No Religion: Fewer Call Themselves Christians; Nondenominational Identification Increases.”

What wasn’t widely reported in the mass media was, ironically, reported by OneNewsNow, Wildmon’s propaganda organ
Evangelicalism on the outs, says author
Jim Brown - OneNewsNow - 3/12/2009 7:20:00 AM
Christian blogger Michael Spencer says evangelicalism as it is known in the West is “bloated and hyper-inflated” and will soon collapse because of its emphasis on the culture war and affiliation with the Republican Party. …
As might be expected, the “reporting” of OneNewsNow was not quite accurate, nor was it faithful to what Michael Spencer wrote in his article “The coming evangelical collapse ” that appeared in The Christian Science Monitor:
Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. This will prove to be a very costly mistake. Evangelicals will increasingly be seen as a threat to cultural progress. Public leaders will consider us bad for America, bad for education, bad for children, and bad for society. …
True. The Religious Right’s obsession with gays has cost them dearly and shown quite clearly their layers of hypocrisy. How can it be “Christ-like” to demean and denigrate those who have been marginalized for so long? How can it be “American” to argue that some citizens don’t deserve equal civil rights?

Consider the resources of “The Top Ten Power Brokers of the Religious Right” Rob Boston listed in his November 2008 article in Church & State Magazine
1. Christian Broadcasting Network
Founder and Chairman: The Rev. Pat Robertson
2006 Revenue: $246,986,289
2. Focus on the Family
Founder and [former] Chairman: James C. Dobson
2006 Revenue: $156,972,266
3. American Center for Law and Justice/Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism
Founders: Pat Robertson (ACLJ) and Jay Sekulow (CASE)
2007 Revenue: $42,658,159
4. Alliance Defense Fund
President, CEO and General Counsel: Alan Sears
2007 Revenue: $31,674,124
5. American Family Association
Founder and Chairman: The Rev. Donald Wildmon
2007 Revenue: $22,547,087
6. Family Research Council
President: Tony Perkins
2007 Revenue: $11,783,971
7. Concerned Women for America
Founders: Tim and Beverly LaHaye
2007 Revenue: $10,640,810
8. Jerry Falwell Ministries
Founder: The Rev. Jerry Falwell
2007 Revenue: $4,208,989
9. Southern Baptist Convention/Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
2007 Revenue: $205,716,834; ERLC Revenue: $3,394,327
10. Council for National Policy
Executive Director: Steve Baldwin
2007 Revenue: $1,680,914
Now, consider the enormous amount of time and money those organizations and similar ones with similar agendas spent fighting against the civil rights they call the “gay agenda.”

Had that time and those funds been used for truly Christian and American purposes – such as feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, working for the common good rather than an ideology – a lot of real people with real world problems would have benefited. But alas, they spent their time and funds on “protecting marriage” from a non-existent “threat.”

To be sure, some GOPers are finally seeing the proverbial light
Wash. GOP Senator: Gay Is ‘Genetic
By Julie Bolcer
March 13, 2009
Embattled GOP chairman Michael Steele can find some support within his own party for his statement that homosexuality is not a choice. Washington state senator Dale Brandland, a Republican from Whatcom County, says his belief that people are born gay motivated him to vote in favor of expanded domestic-partnership rights for same-sex couples on Tuesday.
In the Colorado senate, two Republicans – Al White of Hayden and Ken Kester – voted for Bill 1260 which would, as The Denver Post reported, enable “two people to file an agreement with their county clerk … that agreement would give them rights to inherit, make medical decisions and such.”

But other Colorado GOPers, such as Kevin Lundberg, opposed the bill because it was “an attempt to give more rights to gay couples.”

Holy theopolitics! Can’t have those same-sex couples – and their children – gaining any more social recognition and civil rights. Perhaps that “thinking” has something to do with why so many GOPers are touting former drug addict Rush Limbaugh and discredited politician Newt Gingrich as the champions and voices of godly Christian conservatism, while still others cling to anti-family theopolitical nonsense
Rep. Tony Shipley Speaks for God on Gay Adoption
By Jeff Woods
Monday, Mar. 16 2009
On the OpenPen blog, an unidentified lobbyist for children's issues reports on an alien encounter in Nashville. Rep. Tony Shipley of Kingsport reportedly told this lobbyist (1) that God will lift up entire states, apparently starting with California, then plop them into the ocean and drown everyone for letting gays adopt babies and (2) God-fearing Christians might secede from the union and start shooting minie balls at people if gays keep trying to adopt babies. [link added]
Mr. Shipley should read more:

Faith, Bible minor players in ‘successful’ parenting
Allie Martin - OneNewsNow - 3/19/2009
A study conducted by LifeWay Research finds that for most parents, the definition of success rarely includes faith in God – even among parents who are evangelical Christians.
Yes. That article appeared on Wildmon’s OneNewNow. But after acknowledging the facts, Ms. Martin gave them the usual AFA spin by quoting Selma Wilson, coauthor of The Parent Adventure: Preparing Your Children for a Lifetime with God:
The Bible gives clear direction to parents … All of life should be integrated faith … We should talk about God all the time – in a natural way, in a way that's just as common as getting up, going to bed, and doing life. That was the point that we wanted to make, and God’s Word tells us how to do life. [italics added]
“The Bible gives clear direction to parents.” Yep, Deuteronomy 21:18-21 says it all:
If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son, who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they chastise him, will not give heed to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall purge the evil from your midst…
(Apparently, stubborn and rebellious daughters get a pass...)

“Talk about God all the time – in a natural way.” How does one talk about an “original sin’ committed by mythical characters and somehow passed along to all real flesh-and-blood humans, a Father-God who demands the torture and bloody death of His Son-God, a virgin birth, walking on water, and a physical resurrection in a “natural way”?

In the first few centuries of the Common Era, religious leaders and the sheeple parents they herded did, daily, scare children with the boogey-man supernatural, but this is the twenty-first century. Nevertheless, fundamentalist religion still uses scare tactics on children.

Fortunately, outside the dogmatic walls of organized religion there’s real-life human reality
Faith, Bible minor players in ‘successful’ parenting
Allie Martin - OneNewsNow - 3/19/2009
A study conducted by LifeWay Research finds that for most parents, the definition of success rarely includes faith in God – even among parents who are evangelical Christians.
As is often the case, etymologies and basic definitions reveal truths
Religion n, [ME religioun, fr. AF religium, L religion-, religio supernatural constraint, sanction, religious practice, perh. Fr. religare to restrain, tie back] the service and worship of God or the supernatural; scrupulous conformity.
“Fr. religare to restrain, tie back” goes well with “scrupulous conformity.” No independent thinking allowed. Just be a good sheeple in the flock: do and believe what you’re told and you’ll be rewarded, posthumously.
Dogma n, L dogmat-, dogma, fr. Gk, from dokein to seem] a point of view or tenet put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds; a doctrine or body of doctrines concerning faith or morals formally stated and authoritatively proclaimed by a church.
“From dokein to seem” also goes well with “a point of view or tenet put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds... formally stated and authoritatively proclaimed by a church” (italics added). Dogma is the unsubstantiated opinion of someone or some group that must remain as is despite ever-changing social, cultural and political contexts. In other words, dogma is little more than opinion. As one definition in the Oxford English Dictionary puts it, dogma is “an imperious or arrogant declaration of opinion” which uses itself as its source of authority.

Spirituality is an inherent part of being human. For most it’s an intrapersonal dialogue, a liberating and uplifting experience, an encouragement to grow toward enlightenment and peace, an evolution into more conscious perceptions of realities. But when personal spirituality is organized into a religion, an institution is produced and as all corporate institutions it produces a hierarchy who produce dogma that often has little if anything to do with spirituality but everything to do with maintaining social and political control.

It’s sad to see “the party of Lincoln” become a caricatured buffoon. It’s equally sad to see spirituality entombed in dogmatic religion that’s then used as a justification for civil prejudice and discrimination.

To be continued… See Part II here.
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