Posts Tagged ‘Fundamentalists’


fundie

FUNDAMENTALIST, n. One in whom something is fundamentally wrong — most commonly lack of reasoning ability and vicious intolerance toward those not sharing the fundamentalist’s delusions. Thus, fundamentalists are especially intolerant of those able to draw obvious conclusions from observed facts, those who refuse to seek shelter in comforting falsehoods, and those who wish to lead their own lives.

Members of the fundamentalist subspecies known as “Slack-Jawed Drooling Idiots” have been known to give so much of their income to “electronic churches” that they subsist on Alpo at the end of the month.

In herds, fundamentalists are about as useful to society as wandering bands of baboons brandishing machetes.

The following statements by the Reverend Pat Robertson — prominent televangelist, Christian Coalition honcho, former Republican presidential candidate, blood diamond profiteer, and close “personal friend” of both corrupt, murderous former Congolese dictator Mobutu Sese Seko and corrupt, murderous former Liberian president and convicted war criminal Charles Taylor — are perhaps the most revealing illustration of the fundamentalist mentality that this lexicographer has ever seen:

People have immortal spirits with incredible power over elemental things. The way to deal with inanimate matter is to talk to it.

…and…

If you wanted to get America destroyed, if you were a malevolent, evil force and you said, “How can I turn God against America? What can I do to get God mad at the people of America to cause this great land to vomit out the people?” Well, I’d pick five things. I’d begin to have incest. I’d begin to commit adultery wherever possible, all over the country, and sexuality. I’d begin to have them offering up and killing their babies. I’d get them having homosexual relations, and then I’d have them having sex with animals.

And, yes folks, these are actual, direct quotations.

* * *

–from the revised and expanded edition of The American Heretic’s Dictionary, the best modern successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary

American Heretic's Dictionary revised and expanded by Chaz Bufe, front cover

 

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There’s been a lot of head scratching, both from the corporate media and from the left, about why white evangelicals were attracted to Donald Trump in the first place (81% voted for him), and why they’re sticking with him — a sad excuse for a man who, by their own moral standards, is garbage: a narcissist, hypocrite, habitual liar, boastful sexual predator, mob crony, bully, swindler, scapegoating racist, and entitled rich kid who’s never done an honest day’s work in his life.

Why are evangelicals sticking with and fervently supporting  this walking embodiment of the Seven Deadly Sins (as Grant Brisbee so eloquently puts it)?

Pundits have provided many answers to this question, some correct in part. Here are a few of the most common answers:

  • Trump’s hatefulness and racial scapegoating appeal to evangelicals, because evangelicals are racists. In a lot of cases, this is undoubtedly true. (Check out the maps of evangelical religious belief in the U.S. and maps showing the locations of lynchings: the maps almost perfectly overlap. Even though most lynchings took place decades ago, religious beliefs have largely remained static [evangelical] where the vast majority of lynchings occurred.)
  • Trump finds it easy to manipulate evangelicals, because evangelicals are dumb and uneducated. There is an inverse correlation between IQ and religiosity, and among predominantly white religious groups evangelicals are among the least educated.  So, Trump’s anti-science, anti-intellectual, “ignorance is strength” rhetoric is tailor made to appeal to evangelicals.
  • Trump plays to evangelicals’ sense of victimization. Many evangelicals are so unhinged that they believe Christians are being persecuted in a land where Christians comprise 70% of the population and over 90% of lawmakers. The “religious freedom” (to discriminate) bills so popular with evangelicals and their political manipulators are testimony to this. Trump flatters evangelicals, plays to their delusions, and presents himself as their defender.

There’s much truth in the above, but there’s more to it. In addition to presenting himself as evangelicals’ defender, Trump has also positioned himself as being as mean spirited and authoritarian as most of them are. For once, one suspects that Trump is being genuine. To quote Fred Woodworth, viciousness and vindictiveness run “like a white hot wire” through American evangelicalism, as they do through Trump’s rhetoric. To cite but one of innumerable examples of the viciousness that characterizes evangelicals, among American religious groups evangelicals are the most likely to support torture.

But most importantly, white evangelicals are authoritarian. They’re ready, in fact eager, to use violence and coercion to impose their beliefs on others, and they see Trump as a convenient tool to that end. His viciousness, hypocrisy, and authoritarianism bother them not a whit. (Undoubtedly, many evangelicals are willfully ignorant of these things — blind to the blindingly obvious; others probably admire these qualities, because of mutual resemblance.)

Evangelical pastors laying hands on Donald Trump

To evangelicals, the ends justify the means, even if that means is a steaming pile of moral toxic waste. Even though Trump isn’t one of them, they see him as the means to their ends.

That is why evangelicals overwhelmingly support Donald Trump, and that is why they’ll continue to do so.

 

 


by Chaz Bufe, author of The American Heretic’s Dictionary

Religious fundamentalists  — all of them, Christian, Muslim, Mormon, Jewish, Hindu — are a threat to our freedoms, our families, our economic well-being, their own children, the environment, and human survival.

I’m not exaggerating.

This threat is not the result of particular religious beliefs; it results from the very nature of fundamentalism.

Virtually all fundamentalists have the following in common:

  • They place faith (belief without evidence) above reason (which along with observation forms the basis of science). As Martin Luther put it in his “Table Talk”: “Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has . . .”
  • They place their faith in ancient (Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Muslim) or modern (Mormon, Scientology) “holy” books and the cynical or simply delusional men who wrote them; they then place their faith in the founders’ interpreters and successors. Why? Because the books, their writers, and those who follow tell them the books and prophets are true.
  • They systemically engage in childhood religious indoctrination — an insidious form of child abuse — to spread their delusions to their children, who in turn will indoctrinate their children, who in turn . . . . . This results in generation after generation who disrespect and disregard rationality and evidence, and consider belief without evidence the highest virtue.
  • They place faith above family.
  • One of the primary, perhaps the primary, tenet of fundamentalists is that they must obey unconditionally, without question, the commands of their religion’s holy books and holy men. This makes fundamentalists very easy prey for manipulators, and very dangerous. They abdicate their decision-making responsibility and instead blindly follow orders, no matter how crazy or vicious.
  • They regard doubt as unholy, sinful, and, quite often, regard doubters as being in the grip of Satan.
  • They regard themselves as “the chosen,” “the elect,” “God’s people,” who by virtue of their shared delusions are better than the rest of us.
  • Worse, virtually all fundamentalists believe that they have the right, indeed the duty, to impose their religious beliefs on nonbelievers, through violence if necessary. And they’ll feel righteous while doing so.

Evidence of all these things is abundant. A few examples, from a near infinite number:

  • American “faith healer” cultists routinely allow their children to suffer horribly and, in some cases, die unnecessarily rather than allow medical science to save them. (For information on this problem see the site of Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty [CHILD] and this article on them.)
  • One of the most horrible examples of childhood religious indoctrination is provided by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (and other groups of fundamentalist, polygamous Mormons), whose members follow the divine injunction to forcibly “marry” young girls (as young as 13 or 14) to much older men, who then rape them.  (See John Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven for sickening details, or just google FLDS.) The great majority of girls, who do not escape this nightmarish abuse, then give birth to broods who continue this unutterably vile, “divinely ordained,” form of indoctrination/sexual abuse, which not incidentally also involves widespread incest.
  • “Disconnection” from “apostates” is common among fundamentalist families. It’s widespread among Mormons, Muslims, the Ultra Orthodox, and it seems to be the rule among Scientologists.
  • Fundamentalists are easy prey for manipulators, for transparent charlatans. There are millions of American fundamentalists who send massive amounts of money to televangelists, including “prosperity gospel” hustlers who tell their viewers to send “seed money” to them, which will then return to them tenfold or a hundredfold.
  • This proneness to manipulation — this lack of a bullshit filter — has real-world consequences for the rest of us. Donald Trump, as transparent and grotesque a con man as has ever appeared on the American scene, received the votes of 81% of American fundamentalists in the 2016 election. Why? Why would they vote for this grossly immoral–by their own standards–disgrace to humanity? Because he told them what they wanted to hear.
  • Fundamentalists seem especially prone to persecuting nonbelievers. This takes its current most flagrant form in areas controlled by Islamic fundamentalists, with their floggings, torture, and beheadings of atheists and other infidels. This occurs not only in areas controlled by ISIS and Al-Qaeda, but also in countries controlled by Islamic fundamentalists, notably Iran and Saudi Arabia. Here in the West, there were anti-blasphemy laws (and resulting imprisonment) well up into the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • Fundamentalists also want to control the most intimate aspect of daily life, and the punishments they inflict on those who don’t comply with their moral dictates are often barbarous, not only in Islamic countries, but also in Christian fundamentalist countries — e.g., Uganda’s “kill the gays” law, inspired directly by American fundamentalists. Here in the U.S., fundamentalists (and conservative Catholics and Mormons) are the driving force behind attempts to restrict reproductive rights, and those same forces are in many states denying people the right to end their own lives, even when in intolerable pain.

They feel proud of all this; they feel virtuous about it; and they’re intent on forcing their perverted beliefs on the rest of us.

As Clay Fulks said nearly a century ago:

Having fundamentalists in a nation is like having congenital imbeciles in a family–it’s a calamity. Allow their mountebank, swindling leaders enough control over society and though religious faith would flourish fantastically, society would revert to the sheep-and-goat stage of culture . . . Wherefore it is perfectly irrelevant whether your fundamentalist is honest or utterly hypocritical in his religious beliefs . . . It just doesn’t matter. The question of his intellectual integrity will have to wait until he grows an intellect. In the meantime, however, what the forces of reaction are doing with him constitutes a continuing calamity.”

Christianity, A Continuing Calamity

 


It’s been a while since we visited the wild, wacky world of religion, but the time has come. Hold onto your hats.

  • We’ll start with a classic organ grinding story. According to The Smoking Gun, Jerry Childress, organist at the Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church, stuck his penis through a hole in a public bathroom stall “and waited” for a moment of glory from the street sweeper in the next stall. That moment of glory never came, and neither did Childress. The street sweeper wasn’t amused, called the cops, and Childress was subsequently arrested for indecent exposure. And, yes, you’ve already guessed the state in which this incident took place.
  • On a more serious note, according to The Daily Beast, “suicide is now the leading cause of death among 10- to 17-year-olds in Utah.” Could this have anything to do with the Mormon Church’s overt homophobia? In less than three months after the Church ramped up its bigotry last November, declaring that same-sex married Mormons are apostates and that the Church will not baptize their children, 26 Utah LGBT young people committed suicide.
  • In 2014, Kessler Lichtenegger, at the time a vacation Bible school volunteer at the Westside Family Church in Lenexa, Kansas, and now a convicted sex offender, sexually assaulted two under-14 girls on church property. Subsequently, the girls and their families filed suit against the church. On June 15, that Southern Baptist church asked the presiding judge to refuse to allow the lawsuit to proceed unless the underage sex-abuse victims and their families publicly identified themselves. This is yet another example of a church making concrete the words of the Bible: “Suffer the little children.”
  • Last November, members of the Word of Life Christian Church in Chadwicks, New York, including the victims’ mother, father, and half-sister, beat brothers Lucas and Christopher Leonard for 12 hours in the church. They killed Lucas and beat Christopher so badly he had to be hospitalized. The brothers’ “sin”? They wanted to leave the church. In June, their father Bruce Leonard, pleaded guilty to two counts of assault. Why was he allowed to plead guilty to these relatively minor charges? This devout Christian father agreed to provide state’s evidence in the trials of the  other defendants in the case.
  • In another fine example of Christian parenting, Crimesider reports that in 2013 “the parents of a diabetic boy who died from complications related to starvation and neglect waited two hours before calling 911 in 2013 when they found him not breathing.” At the time of his death, 15-year-old Alexandru Radita, of Calgary, weighed 37 pounds. His parents, Emil and Rodica Rodita, have been charged with murder.
  • From the Islamic world, CNN reports that “The leader of a Pakistani Islamic council has proposed a bill that allows husbands to ‘lightly beat’ their wives as a form of discipline. “
  • Not to be outdone, Christian fundamentalist Steve Haymond is, according to Patheos, selling “chastening” instruments, in other words, child-beating sticks.
  • And finally, speaking of assholes, Metro reports that a Turkish imam has been suspended after going to the hospital because of “bleeding in the anus and rectum and foreign object in the rectum.” The “foreign object”? A cucumber.

Religion is truly the gift that keeps on giving, so we’ll put up another of these posts sooner rather than later.


WASHED IN THE BLOOD, adj. phr. As considered by fundamentalists, the ideal state of personal hygiene.

* * *

–from the revised and expanded edition of The American Heretic’s Dictionary, the best modern successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary

American Heretic's Dictionary revised and expanded by Chaz Bufe, front cover


“They [fundamentalists] do not deserve to be treated like reasonable people because they aren’t reasonable people; they’re dangerous lunatics.”

–William S. Burroughs, quoted in America’s Taliban, by David Irish

taliban


cover of Culture Wars by Marie Castle(Excerpted from Chapter 7 of Culture Wars: The Threat to Your Family and Your Freedom, by Marie Alena Castle)

 

Churches fight to keep their tax exemptions and charitable perks—and to get more. The national Citizens for Tax Justice (www.ctj.org), founded in 1979, lobbies legislatures to ensure taxes are adequate to maintain social programs. Its coalition members and directors include religious organizations. In Minnesota, it works with the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (www.jrlc.org) whose four sponsoring members are the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the Minnesota Council of Churches, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, and the Islamic Center of Minnesota. (JRLC, founded in 1971, was the first interfaith public-interest lobby group in the United States. Since then, groups in other states have formed.)

While JRLC cites the need for fairness and bemoans the plight of the poor, its members never offer to pay any taxes themselves. Yet in 1992 the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition made specific proposals for raising taxes by $649 million on businesses and on higher incomes to fund social programs, with no suggestion that their own tax-free havens be tapped to help achieve what they call a “need for fairness.”12 The JRLC, of course, sings the same tune whenever budget crises arise.13
Many social welfare programs are administered through churches, which contract with the government to provide services or are paid from government sources such as Medicaid and Medicare. In either case, taxpayers, not the churches, pay for these services.

The comfortable financial status of many religious institutions is fairly well known. Despite the Vatican’s well over a billion dollars in losses in court judgments and in out-of-court settlements for shielding pedophile priests, it remains extremely wealthy, not just in its financial investments and property holdings, but in its collection of priceless works of art—a major tourist attraction in Rome. (As of this writing, five U.S. Catholic dioceses—including the dioceses of Tucson and Portland—have declared bankruptcy to avoid paying pedophilia victims in full, and eight other dioceses have filed for bankruptcy for the same reason.) As for Protestants, the media regularly report on the lavish lifestyles of televangelists, as documented by Senator Charles Grassley in his now-aborted campaign to make lavish-spending churches accountable for abusing their tax-exempt status.

In 1977, the Minneapolis Star Tribune ran a multi-part investigative piece that revealed that Billy Graham had millions of tax-exempt dollars deposited in foreign bank accounts, while paying most of his employees minimum wage or less.14 In 1987, the paper reported that Graham’s tax-free profits for 1986 amounted to $3.8 million.15 There is no reason to think the Graham operation, which has ministries in several countries, is any less profitable today. Certainly his organization—now run by his son, Franklin Graham—can afford to pay taxes.

In 2011, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a First Amendment watchdog group, reported the following multi-million-dollar annual budgets for several prominent religious right organizations:

Pat Robertson empire — $412,581,050
Jerry Falwell empire — $400,479,039
Focus on the Family — $130,258,480
Alliance Defense Fund — $30,127,514
American Family Association — $21,408,342
Family Research Council/FRC Action/FRC Action PAC — $14,569,081
Coral Ridge Ministries — $17,263,536
Traditional Values Coalition — $9,888,233
Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention $3,236,000

Then there are the “prosperity gospel” evangelical megachurches—a huge national network inspired by Kenneth Copeland, “The Godfather of the Prosperity Gospel”—all of which have palatial facilities, acres of property, and thousands of members. Most of these churches seem to be prospering nicely. Several were featured prominently in the Minneapolis Star Tribune in September, 2011. One was the Substance Church, with an income that grew from $150,000 in 2004 to $2.5 million in 2010. The church has accomplished this by preaching Bible verses such as Proverbs 11:24-25: “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” The “evidence” that such giving is rewarded came from occasional reports by churchgoers who gave when it was difficult, then unexpectedly recovered financially, always certain their god was rewarding them, never realizing that it is a mathematical certainty that some of those thousands of donors will prosper financially, getting something they can interpret as a reward.16

One might argue that, even though a religious organization’s financial activities are questionable, donors are free to support the institution regardless. Maybe so, but what if those activities cause considerable harm? We seldom see reports from those who gave and gave and gave, and whose finances worsened as a result. But some of them do surface to shed light on this particular aspect of religious tax-exempt activities.

In 2008, CBS Evening News investigated Kenneth Copeland Ministries (KCM). Highlights of the CBS report included:

It’s a business, it’s a bottom-line business,” said a former ministry employee-who feared being identified. The employee answered hundreds of prayer requests a day, most sent in with donations, before quitting, feeling ‘betrayed’ by Copeland’s gospel of prosperity.

Michael Hoover, who worked for Kenneth Copeland Ministries for five years, quit in 2005 over disagreements with the church. He says he witnessed other employees doing work on behalf of for-profit businesses tied to the Copeland family. “In my viewpoint, I believe that they were using a lot of the ministry’s assets for personal businesses,” he said.

The nonprofit activity and the for-profit activity are so intertwined that you can’t, you can’t separate them,” said Ole Anthony of the Trinity foundation.17

Chuck Gallagher, a “business ethics and fraud prevention expert,” recently commented negatively on the Kenneth Copeland Ministries (KCM) on his web site.18 Gallagher’s site includes comments from visitors. Most said they supported the Copelands, noting that “rappers and thuggish figures” and other high living celebrities make millions and fly corporate jets and nobody investigates them. The fact that those celebrities paid taxes while FCM was tax-exempt and abusing that privilege did not seem to occur to them.

But there were other comments. This one says it all. It’s from a woman who tried to get an accounting of all the money her mother gave to KCM:

Being only human, our quest for health and wealth regrettably does lead some in the wrong direction. Promises and guarantees, made by the Prosperity Gospel ministers give people that have not obtained these blessings on their own a second chance at achieving their goals in life. An important discovery I made while reviewing testimonies revealed that numerous victims had very little knowledge of the Prosperity Gospel’s dark side. These unfortunate victims appear to be [acquainted] with only a small portion of the web of deceit these ministers weave.

Picture yourself being raised in a small country town, with a population of only a few hundred, the closest city [having] only a population of a few thousand. Computers, Internet, cable, satellite TV, and other high tech gadgets are not needed or desired. You are living a simple, solemn life you wouldn’t trade for any amount of cash. After your working day is done, you gladly remove your shoes, kick back in your easy chair, and relax without a care in the world for a while. After flipping on the TV to view the local evening news, you are reminded to give thanks that you don’t have the worries that accompany life outside the safe haven of your home and your community. Religion is your safeguard, your faith is strong, and you have no doubts about the truth behind your sacred beliefs.

This was my life, before KCM. Prosperity Gospel ministers enter the homes of many victims through a 30-minute Sunday morning worship service on a local broadcast station. Growing up in Jigger, Louisiana, truly located in the middle of nowhere, I can testify that we only received on a clear day about three or four channels at most. Warnings of dangers associated with Prosperity Gospel ministries made by critics, ministers, and victims go unheard; therefore, tragically for many, when the realization of this scam is discovered it is already too late. Families have lost their homes, life savings and some even their lives due to the Prosperity Gospel’s misleading doctrines.

Unfortunately, my mother was not one of the lucky ones. Her confidence and faith in this false Gospel ultimately cost her her life. After more than a decade of programming her mind to believe and think the Prosperity Gospel way of life she lost her battle with cancer. By refusing medical attention, she sealed her fate, but the programming she had acquired from Kenneth and Gloria Copeland proved strong all the way to her last breath. A diary she left behind revealed the horrific tale of her life from 1992–2002, the top of each page titled with Kenneth Copeland, Gloria Copeland or BVOV [Believers Voice of Victory—Copeland’s Internet TV “station”]. . . . The use of miraculous healing confessions and newly found wealth testimonies are their sales pitch. Sadly, my mom among many others are proof that their sales pitch works.

When all is said and done, perhaps [it] will be tagged not as the Prosperity Gospel, but the false Gospel.18

Preaching a Prosperity Gospel is not the only way to take advantage of trusting people. For months, in 2011, doomsday was yet again prophesied—this time to occur on May 21st, 2011. It never happened, of course. The “prophet” this time was the Reverend Harold Camping, from Alameda, California.

If such foolishness were treated as just that, we could dismiss it with a few jokes and end-of-the-world parties. But it’s not. Many people take doomsday predictions seriously. Camping’s national promotion through billboards and other media resulted in people inflicting great harm on themselves and others. Some liquidated their assets to donate money to publicize the event, or incurred heavy debt to finance purchases and vacatis in the expectation that they would be gone to Glory on May 22nd, or they quit their jobs; some even killed themselves and/or their loved ones to avoid the post-Rapture Tribulation.

Camping’s tax-exempt organization, Family Stations, a multi-million-dollar radio enterprise, promoted Camping’s doomsday prophesies, and it in turn was supported by donations. But Camping made no personal preparations for being Raptured. And he certainly wasn’t among those who liquidated their assets. This sort of thing happens every time someone promotes a doomsday scenario.19

At the very least, it is difficult to see what justifies preferential tax treatment for Camping.

___________

12. “Deficit: Religious coalition says state should raise taxes and increase spending,” by Dennis J. McGrath, Minneapolis Star Tribune, March 3, 1992.
13. “Legislators, there is no magic number,” (op-ed piece) by Brian Rusche, Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 7, 2011.
14. “Immigration: Faith leaders call for compassion,” (op-ed piece) Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 16, 2011.
15. Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Graham Association won’t reveal finances to avoid rich image,” 6-25-77; “Graham admits Association has secret $22.9 million fund,” 6-27-77; “North Carolina paper says Graham Association worth $23 million,” 6-27-77.
16. “A recession-proof gospel of giving,” by Rose French, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Sept. 24, 2011, p.A1.
17. See http://trinityfi.org/2008/01/29/cbs-evening-news-w-katie-couric-looking-at-kenneth-copeland/%5D
18. “Kenneth Copeland-Godfather of ‘Prosperity Gospel’? Why Not Comply with Grassley?” at http://www.chuckgallagher.com.
19. “FFRF calls for fraud probe into Rapture campaign,” news release distributed by Freedom From Religion Foundation, June 1, 2011. See http://ffrf.org/news/releases/ffrf-calls-for-fraud-probe-into-rapture-campaign/