Category Archives: religious news

Bible gives POTUS authority to blow up the world?

One of the many wonderful aspects of the Bible is that it can be interpreted in countless ways.

My understanding of the Bible I’ve read since childhood is that no one is entirely right or entirely wrong … if they believe in what they are interpreting.

So, when a preacher says that the Bible gives the president of the United States all the authority he needs to blow another nation to bits, well, that’s the preacher’s belief. It doesn’t have to be mine.

The Rev. Robert Jeffress is an avid Donald Trump supporter who went on “Fox and Friends” — the president’s favorite TV show — to proclaim that Romans 13 gives the president justification for attacking North Korea in the wake of that country’s threats to the United States.

I looked up Romans 13 in the Bible on my desk. I scoured through it and I don’t read anything of the sort. Then again, I’m not a biblical scholar. I’ll give Jeffress credit for studying the Bible more than I have. But as I noted already, we ultimately are left to our own value systems to interpret words written thousands of years ago. Believers can differ in their understanding of the holy word.

Some of them take the words literally; others — such as yours truly — take a more interpretive view of its contents. I won’t challenge Rev. Jeffress’s faith. I’ll just stand by a different view of the Bible’s contents.

The Bible I’ve read tells me Jesus Christ preached love and tolerance. I don’t know where he says it’s all right to destroy thousands of human lives because of a political dispute.

Is it in there? Somewhere? I don’t believe it is.

Why the silence on mosque bombing?

The president of the United States is elected to represent all Americans.

He takes an oath to defend us, to fight for us against our enemies. The presidential oath makes no mention of certain Americans deserving more protection than others.

Some of our countrymen have been attacked. Their place of worship was bombed. It is a mosque near Minneapolis, where Muslims pray and worship.

And yet … the president hasn’t condemned the attack. His silence on this incident is, shall we say, deafening in the extreme.

We all know of Donald J. Trump’s feelings about Muslims. He once called for a complete ban of all Muslims entering our country; he softened it somewhat; the federal courts have challenged what’s now called a “travel ban.”

Meanwhile, some Americans who happen to be devout Muslims are dealing with damage being done to the place where they worship. They need a word of support and encouragement from their president.

It’s time for him to deliver it.

Don’t try to predict what God intends

Don’t you just love it when evangelists try to predict what’s on the mind and in the heart of The Almighty?

This little video snippet suggests two points to me.

One is that no one — no matter how godly he claims to be — should try to predict what God is going to do, or how he’s going to act if you do something that displeases him.

The other is that it’s perilous to meld spiritual matters into political ones, particularly when they involve the current president of the United States of America.

The video here is of Jim Bakker, the once-famous televangelist who’s pitching something called the “Trump Prophecies.” He says something about how Americans should be wary of what God will do if they go against the president’s agenda, his purpose in leading in the country — whatever the heck that all means.

Trump is doing God’s work on Earth, Bakker seems to suggest.

How does this guy know these things? Earth to Bakker: God’s work defies humankind’s meager, fallible ability to make bold predictions.

That’s why he’s God and none of us mere mortals — and that includes Jimmy Bakker — are not. Got it? Good!

My second point simply is that it continues to baffle me to the max why certain evangelical leaders remain faithful to Donald John Trump Sr. Can anyone out there point me to an example of how this man ever demonstrated a commitment to the Lord’s teachings prior to his being elected president of the United States?

This guy says things about women that should flummox evangelicals. He politicizes a speech at the Boy Scout Jamboree, injecting politics into an event aimed at paying tribute to the kindness and good work of the Boy Scouts of America. He continually demonstrates a level of narcissism and self-aggrandizement that run absolutely counter to the way Jesus lived during his brief time on Earth.

But these evangelicals love this guy!

Go figure, man.

If you can comprehend this, then y’all are far better individuals than I ever thought of being.

Evangelicals’ support of Trump: as perplexing as ever

An article that was published slightly more than a year ago remains relevant today.

It comes from Esquire magazine. The noted documentary filmmaker Ken Burns asks: What is it about Donald Trump that reminds evangelical voters of Jesus Christ?

Burns was troubled a year ago over why evangelical Christian voters glommed onto Trump’s candidacy. I remain puzzled in the extreme as to why they remain loyal to this guy a year later, and six months into his presidency.

Burns said, for example: “The Republican Party has been extraordinarily successful at getting many groups of people to vote against their self-interest. Evangelicals are voting for Donald Trump. What part of Donald Trump reminds you of Jesus Christ? Trump lusts after his own daughter on national radio, talks about women’s bodies and breasts in such a disparaging way, and mocks them. How is this in any way Christian? When you make the ‘other’ the enemy, how is that Christian?”

Check out the Esquire link.

Burns noted a year ago that Trump once lusted after his own daughter, Ivanka. He carried on highly publicized extramarital affairs on his first two wives. Of course, we have that infamous “Access Hollywood” video in which Trump is overheard boasting about how he grabbed women by their genitals.

He routinely denigrates women and there is zero evidence anywhere in his professional or personal history of any commitment to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

But he remains on evangelicals’ A-list. He’s their guy. Their “dream come true,” in the words of Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr.

Someone has to explain it to me. I’m all eyes and ears.

Long live the secular state!

Jon Mark Beilue has done it again. He has written a spot-on column for the Amarillo Globe-News that I want to share here.

I won’t restate my friend’s thoughts, other than to echo his notion that the founding fathers created a marvelous governing document that has withstood many challenges over time.

They knew that the nation’s European immigrants came here to flee religious persecution, so they wrote into the Constitution’s First Amendment that there should be no law that established a state religion; indeed, of all the liberties protected in the First Amendment, they mentioned religion first.

Here, though, is an additional point I want to make above Beilue’s excellent essay.

It is that the United States to this very day remains a significantly more religious country than virtually all the nations of Europe. Americans are more inclined to attend worship services than Europeans. I am aware that church attendance is declining in the United States, but it remains far greater than it is throughout Europe, where worship attendance has plummeted for decades.

Why is that important? Because many nations of Europe have state religions. The United States has none. The Church of England? A state religion. Catholicism is ingrained in the governing documents of several European nations.

I make this U.S.-Europe connection only because those original immigrants came across The Pond from Europe.

The Constitution stipulates that there must be “no religious test” applied to candidates for public office at any level. The word “Christian” does not appear in the Constitution.

Were the founders fueled by their personal religious faith when they wrote the Constitution? Certainly. I don’t doubt that for a moment. However, they knew better than to write their faith into the nation’s government document.

As Jon Mark Beilue writes: “Our Founding Fathers, they knew what they were doing.”

Smashing of Commandments … an attention-getter

I will stipulate right up front that I don’t get too worked up over displays such as, oh, Ten Commandments tablets being put on public property.

I find the Ten Commandments to be an ecumenical statement for how human beings should live. I don’t see these displays as “establishing a government religion.”

But when someone destroys such a display, as was the case in Little Rock, Ark., then you get my attention.

They put a Ten Commandments tablet at the Arkansas State Capitol. A day later, some guy decided to ram his motor vehicle into the stone display. He destroyed it.

Police arrested Michael Tate Reed and charged him with criminal mischief and criminal trespass.

I guess Reed really and truly dislikes any form of religious statement on government property. He reportedly rammed his car in 2014 into a Ten Commandments display at the Oklahoma capitol.

My gripe with this guy is that he resorts to vandalism to make a point. He destroys public property. His actions call attention to him as much — if not more — to whatever political statement he intends to make.

By my definition of the term, this guy is an exhibitionist … allegedly.

Trump and evangelicals: strangest union of all

Donald J. Trump has just selected Jerry Falwell Jr. to lead a task force aimed at overhauling public education policy.

The president of the United States has linked arms with the head of a leading faith-based university; Falwell also is the son of the late televangelist who used his pulpit to attack President and Mrs. Bill Clinton throughout the president’s two terms in office.

This appointment brings to mind a curiosity I’ve harbored ever since Trump entered political life, which is when he announced his candidacy for president in June 2015.

Falwell joins Trump team

My question of the moment is this: How does this man, Trump, continue to win the support of many within the Christian evangelical movement?

Falwell Jr. has called Trump a “dream come true” for evangelicals. He just cannot say enough gushy things about the president, who delivered his first commencement speech at Liberty University, the school that Falwell’s father founded.

If you think about it, though, the relationship strains credulity to the max.

Trump has not been known as a major contributor to religious causes; he hasn’t been associated with faith-based charities; his whole life has been filled with glitz and glamor, chiefly through his association with and ownership of beauty pageants; he is married to his third wife and has boasted publicly about his infidelity involving his first two marriages; Trump also has boasted about how he can grab women by the p**** because his celebrity status allows him to do it.

But he’s tough on Muslims, vows to destroy the Islamic State, wants to impose a travel ban on refugees coming here from Muslim-majority nations. Maybe that’s why Falwell and many within the evangelical community are smitten by the president.

I concede that political alliances can take form among groups or individuals one might not imagine banding together. This one, though, baffles me greatly.

The president’s history is full of episodes that would seem to send devoutly religious voters scurrying for someone more, um, to their liking.

Go figure. I cannot fathom it.

Not sure boycott will do what it’s intended

I dislike boycotts, even when they are launched to promote a cause with which I might agree.

Sometimes they give me heartburn. Take the decision by California officials to no longer send state employees to Texas because of the Lone Star State’s recent legislation affecting LGBT residents.

I might lose some “friends” over this blog post. If so, well, so be it.

The Texas Legislature recently allowed welfare agencies to deny adoptions for same sex couples based on their religious beliefs. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra declared the law to be discriminatory and as a result, the state no longer will send employees on state-funded trips to Texas.

Yes, the law discriminates. I don’t like it, either. It opens the door for folks to declare religious objections when they faith might not be the actual reason. Is a boycott of Texas the most appropriate response? I tend to doubt it. I am open to discussion about this and would invite comments arguing the point.

My concern is that boycotts tend to inflict gratuitous collateral damage. The people who are hurt by them quite often are business owners or residents of the jurisdiction being boycotted; these individuals might happen to agree with the reason for the boycott, so they are caught in a political vise.

California overreacts?

According to the Texas Tribune: “While the California DOJ works to protect the rights of all our people, discriminatory laws in any part of our country send all of us several steps back,” said Xavier Becerra, the California attorney general. “That’s why when California said we would not tolerate discrimination against LGBTQ members of our community, we meant it.”

OK, Mr. Attorney General. I get it. Raise hell about it. Stomp your feet. Pound on your desk. Declare it to be bad law and urge residents of Texas to seek to overturn it. I agree with you!

I just fail to understand how a boycott is going to bring tangible result, other than to inflict damage to private citizens who would benefit from state employees traveling to Texas.

Melania goes scarf-less? Heaven forbid!

Melania Trump has arrived with her husband, the president of the United States, in Saudi Arabia.

She and her husband, Donald Trump, strode down the stairway from Air Force One and greeted the Saudi king.

Oh, but wait! Her head was uncovered. She wasn’t wearing a scarf, per Muslim custom. Where’s the outrage? The recrimination? The howls of disrespect?

There wasn’t any. Nor should there be.

Hey, let’s hold on! Michelle Obama did the same thing when she and her husband, also the president of the United States, went to the Middle East a couple of years ago. Her head was uncovered, too. Oh, but the conservative media went semi-nuts.

So did at least one notable Republican politician. His name? Donald John Trump! That, truth be told, is what makes this an issue worthy of a brief blog post.

Being of a more tolerant strain as it regards religion, I am not bothered in the least that non-Muslim female dignitaries don’t cover their heads when they travel to Muslim-majority nations. They aren’t “dishonoring” their hosts.

Let’s stay focused on the aim of these visits, which has nothing to do with making fashion statements.

Get ready for Trump speech on (gulp!) — Islam!

Donald J. Trump is getting ready to climb headfirst into the belly of the beast.

He is planning a speech on Islam. The venue? Saudi Arabia, where two of Islam’s holiest cites are located.

Politico offers a list of do’s and don’ts for the president to follow.

Here it is: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/05/18/donald-trump-islam-speech-215150

As we know, the president isn’t known for his nuanced approach to foreign policy. He doesn’t seem to have a foreign policy. He doesn’t think strategically. He doesn’t look at the big picture. He speaks in the moment and seems to react to the last person who has his undivided attention.

I feel compelled, though, to remind everyone that he will be speaking to an audience full of people with lengthy memories. I’m quite certain they’re going to remember what candidates Donald Trump said about Muslims way back when, how he intended to impose a blanket ban on “all Muslims” entering the United States “until we figure out what the hell we’re doing.”

He’s backed off of that. He’s tried to impose executive orders banning Muslims from certain countries, only to have the federal judiciary strike them down. Why? They discriminate against people of certain religions, which the U.S. Constitution forbids.

As Politico reports: According to the president’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, “The speech is intended to unite the broader Muslim world against common enemies of all civilization and to demonstrate America’s commitment to our Muslim partners.”

Be very careful, Mr. President.