Category Archives: religious news

Give this man his due … and some grace

He became the butt of jokes and misdirected criticism back in the day … not so much now that the man you see in this picture is so frail and is grieving the loss of his wife of more than 70 years.

You know him as James Earl Carter, the nation’s 39th president. He served one term in the White House before losing to Ronald Reagan in 1980. Republicans running for POTUS too often paint President Carter’s term as a failure. It wasn’t. His term, though, was damaged grievously by inflationary pressure and by the capture and prolonged imprisonment of those 55 American hostages held by Islamic militants in Iran.

Let’s understand something about this good man. He lived his deep Christian faith. He didn’t just talk about it or pose in awkward and phony photo ops to call attention to it. He rolled up his sleeves and went to work with his wife in building homes for those who needed one.

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter helped make Habitat for Humanity a household word.

Beyond that, though, President Carter taught us to live life to its fullest and to avoid taking credit for the good work he does. One does not hear this man boast about the work he has done, or how he spreads the teachings of Jesus Christ, to whom he is deeply faithful.

I have seen this social media meme proclaiming that “this is how a true Christian” demonstrates his faith. It shows Jimmy Carter working to build a home and it makes a direct comparison to the phony brand of faith preached by the likes of Republican former POTUS Donald Trump.

The meme is meant to illustrate how this topsy-turvy world has been turned on its ear with political operatives hijacking Americans’ deep religious faith and perverting it for political purposes.

It is utterly anathema to the life that President Jimmy Carter continues to live.

‘No!” on travel ban

Barry Goldwater, I am supremely confident in asserting, is spinning in his grave out yonder in Arizona.

The late Arizona U.S. senator and father of the conservative movement would no doubt be aghast at what might be transpiring in Amarillo, where the city council is preparing to vote on an ordinance that would ban women from using local roads and highways to obtain an abortion out of state.

Goldwater used to preach that conservatism, as he understood the principle, kept government out of people’s lives. He was particularly leery of religion being used to dictate public policy.

Amarillo is pondering whether to knuckle under to far-right conservatives’ call to ban women from using local rights-of-way to obtain an abortion. Amarillo Mayor Cole Stanley said he doesn’t believe the council will approve the ordinance, which is being brought to the council on the strength of petitions circulated throughout the city.

The city has validated enough signatures to call for a vote, the Texas Tribune has reported.

What now?

If the council rejects the ban the issue, then it can go to voters for a citywide referendum, as I read the Tribune story. That would give the anti-abortion fanatics room to persuade most Amarillo voters to endorse the ban.

Again, Barry Goldwater would come unglued at the notion.

The Tribune reports: The original ordinance supporters want to see passed in the city does not call for pregnant women to be punished for having an abortion out of state. However, anti-abortion legal crusader Jonathan Mitchell has filed legal petitions seeking to depose women he claims traveled out of state for abortions. Mitchell is working with anti-abortion activists pushing the travel ban on a municipal level.

Amarillo City Council must vote on abortion travel ban | The Texas Tribune

Limited government conservatism has given way to all-hands-on-deck conservatism … as long as the issue reflects a certain religious principle. Come to think of it, the nation’s founders would be appalled as well.

Tough to resist hating this guy

My dear mother taught me to avoid saying I “hate” someone. Mom wasn’t a particularly religious person, but surely she must have known what Scripture teaches us about Jesus “loving” his enemies.

Still, as I survey the Republican Party presidential nominee-in-waiting, I find myself wondering if the ex-POTUS knows a damn thing about what’s inside the Bible. Thus, I wonder if he refrains from telling those closest to him not to “hate” those who oppose him. If he is as ignorant of what the Bible tells us as I suspect he is, then he hasn’t exercised a moment of faithful restraint.

This is the kind of supposition that gives me grief as I wrestle with what I feel viscerally about the GOP nominee-to-be. If he has never sought forgiveness, as he once said, then should those of us who do follow Jesus’s teachings actually care about this guy?

At some level, I do care about him. “Care,” though, is as far as I go.

I’m going to continue to avoid saying I “hate” this clown. Jesus wouldn’t agree to it. More importantly, neither would Mom.

Tim Dunn: scary dude

Tim Dunn has taken front-and-center stage as the most frightening political operative at work in Texas.

Why say such a thing? Well, the Texas Tribune reports that a former Texas House speaker, Joe Straus, has confirmed that Dunn — who runs Empower Texans, told him that “only Christians” should hold leadership positions in the Legislature.

Straus is Jewish. So I am presuming that Dunn either (a) didn’t know that when he said it to the speaker or (b) knew it and didn’t give a sh**. I’m guessing it was the latter.

Empower Texans is the far right-wing political action committee that works tirelessly against Republicans who aren’t conservative enough to suit the group’s taste. Dunn is a Midland oil executive who believes that Christianity is the only religion on Earth that is worth a damn.

According to the Tribune: But Dunn reportedly demanded that Straus replace “a significant number” of his committee chairs with tea party-aligned lawmakers backed by Dunn’s political advocacy group, Empower Texans. After Straus rebuffed the demand, the two began to talk about social policy, at which point Dunn allegedly said he believed only Christians should hold leadership posts. “It was a pretty unsatisfactory meeting,” Straus said Thursday. “We never met again.”

Ya think?

Joe Straus: Tim Dunn said only Christians should be in leadership | The Texas Tribune

Let me remind Dunn and others of his ilk of something the founders wrote into the Constitution. Article VI states that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

What about that statement does that dimwit not get?

He can’t cite a single verse? What?

The presumed Republican Party presidential nominee claims to be a devout Christian.

I mean, he says he has “many Bibles” strewn throughout his houses in Florida, New Jersey and … Timbuktu.

Now he’s signing Bibles and selling them for 60 bucks a throw. For what purpose? To raise money to pay legal bills accumulated as he defends himself against multiple felony charges contained in four criminal indictments.

He’s a phony and a fraud, says Mitt Romney among others. Here’s how one can make that presumption.’

When reporters have asked him to cite a “favorite verse or two” from the Bible, the former Bible-thumper in Chief can’t do it. He won’t do it. He says it’s “too personal” to cite a single favorite verse. A reporter once asked him whether he prefers the Old or the New Testament. He answered: “Oh, let me think. They’re equal.”

He is without question, debate or any discussion needed the most un-religious and immoral individual ever to hold the office of POTUS. To think he wants it back simply sends chills throughout my old man’s body.

***

Here is a brief video that shows what I am talking about. Spoiler alert: It is admittedly compiled by someone who opposes this individual’s claim of piety.

Donald Trump Can’t/Won’t Name His Favorite Bible Verse (youtube.com)

No … God didn’t do this!

Of all the histrionics I have heard about why the MAGA crowd is so in love with the former POTUS who wants to return to office, only one proclamation actually offends me.

It goes like this: It was God’s will that put him in the office and God wants him to return.

Let us ponder that for a moment, or maybe two.

When you rely on the Almighty to justify your earthly political beliefs, you immediately run into serious trouble. Where in the world does it say that God looks the other way at someone breaking his sacred vow of fidelity to his wife? Don’t the evangelicals who back the former POTUS stand firm on the biblical view that cheating on one’s spouse is a sin worthy of high scorn?

Moreover, where does the Good Book allow for someone to on one side of his mouth proclaim to be someone of deep faith and then declare with the other side of his pie hole that he has never sought forgiveness for any sin he has committed?

Citing Scripture is a dangerous gambit. God also must have decreed that Joe Biden be elected president in 2020. That’s why he’s there now, in the office, making decisions on our behalf!

Those of us out here in Voter Land who also worship God understand the teaching laid out in the Bible far more than the guy who pretends to be faithful.

A critic of this blog ID’s himself (I presume it’s a guy) as Psalm 109:8. I looked that passage up. I says: “Let his years be few; let someone else take his position.” He believes President Biden should lose his job because the Bible suggests as much. Such devotion to Scripture. You know what the next verse says? “Let his children be fatherless; let his wife become a widow.” 

You want a reason to take great offense at some phony notion that God intended for the former Idiot in Chief to be elected? That is why one should never mix religion with politics.

Perverts preaching Christian doctrine

Jesus Christ would be appalled at what passes these days for teaching in his name.

There. I said out loud what has been gnawing at me for decades.

OK, I have to acknowledge that as a Christian, I must assume that Jesus knows what is happening. After all, the son of God, is … well, God, right? So he knows.

This notion of Christian nationalism, though, is beginning to bother me in the extreme. It presumes the nation’s founders created a nation steeped in Christian teaching, that the nation adheres to Christianity and that it ignores or dismisses the faith of others who happen to be devoted to a deity other than Jesus Christ.

I have read the New Testament since, oh, I was a little boy. That is more than 70 years! I don’t profess to know what every chapter and verse says. But I have learned that I am entitled to interpret it as narrowly or broadly as I choose.

On most matters, I take a broad view of what the Bible tells us.

These so-called Christian nationalists also seem to take an overly broad view of what Jesus taught us while he walked the Earth. He said his way was the only way to heaven. I get that part. What I cannot swallow is the notion of condemning others who do not follow Jesus’s teaching. That is what I hear the Christian nationalists doing.

Is that in keeping with what Jesus taught the world? No. It isn’t. Those who purport that it is have perverted the holy word to a level I do not — and cannot — recognize.

They inject their version of Christianity into our secular politics where, in my ever-so-humble view, it does not belong. I believe strongly that religion belongs exclusively in houses of worship, not on street corners or in campaign rallies.

Court goes way beyond what is decent

The Alabama supreme court has issued a ruling that is going to reverberate all over the nation, as it endangers a medical practice that allows couples to welcome children into this deeply troubled world.

The court has ruled that embryos are “children,” and that the destruction of embryos that are not implanted into women’s bodies via in vitro fertilization theoretically could be construed as “murder.”

This despicable ruling is a nod by the court to the Christian nationalist movement in Alabama and it well could be — and should be — challenged as violating the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

This one hits many millions of Americans right where they live. Indeed, a member of my family gave birth some years ago to twins after she and her husband decided to seek an IVF procedure. Had the court ruling issued in Alabama had been in force in the state where they live, this couple could not have welcomed their son and daughter into the world.

The First Amendment declares that Congress must not enact any law that establishes a state religion. The Alabama high court has thumbed its nose at the amendment and declared that if Christian nationalists want to declare embryos to be children, then that’s all right. Let ’em have their say, the court has ruled.

This is crap. No, it’s worse than that. It is an evil intrusion into a couple’s most delicate decision-making process.

We are a ‘secular government,’ dammit!

I keep hearing about how U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson cloaks himself in the New Testament, about how he is pushing the doctrine of “Christian nationalism.”

Sigh … I want to remind the speaker and those who adhere to his reported view of how government should function of this irrefutable fact: You won’t find the word “God” anywhere in the U.S. Constitution. Why is that? Because the men who wrote it consciously avoided using such language because they had fled religious oppression in Europe. They wrote a secular document that establishes that human beings should determine our laws and that they should not be influenced by a specific religion. Yes, I am talking about Christianity. The founders established in Article VI that there must be “no religious test” to determine who should run for public office. The First Amendment to the Constitution lays out a number of civil liberties that deserve protection from government interference; the first one of them is religion, as the amendment declares that “Congress shall make no law” that establishes a state religion. Speaker Johnson needs to put a sock in his proclamation of faith. It is admirable that he is a man of strong faith. That is as far he should go, and he must end this rhetoric that attaches references to God to legislation enacted by fallible men and women.

Why object to ‘happy holiday’?

Quiz time, y’all: Who among us really objects to retail employees wishing their customers a “happy holiday” rather than “Merry Christmas”?

At the risk of generalizing, I submit that those who object are either: close-minded, ignorant of those around them, also ignorant of the “religious liberty” clause in the Constitution, just plain bigoted.

I never, ever have objected to receiving a “happy holidays” wish from a retailer. I also am a Christian who celebrates Christmas fully, relishing the commercial aspect as well as the religious significance of the holiday.

I also recognize that my religious orientation is far from the only one being observed by my neighbors, or even my friends. I live in a community with a significant Muslim population. I see women with hijabs on their heads daily; I also presume the men who accompany them also are of the Muslim faith.

Why wish someone a Merry Christmas who doesn’t observe the holiday? A “happy holiday” would suffice. Why, they likely would smile back and wish the same for the retail employee.

Donald Trump once stupidly asserted that if he were elected POTUS that he would “make” businesses wish customers a “Merry Christmas.” Of course, the president has no authority to issue such an order. But … it played well among the MAGA base that helped elect their moronic leader to office in 2016.

The simple act of wishing people a happy holiday is a recognition of the pluralistic society in which we live. It should offend no one — not a single patriotic American — even a little bit to hear it.

I submit the pluralism plays a huge part in “making America great.”