Donald Trump's Christianity

Donald Trump’s Christianity is probably yours too

This is the first time I’ve written anything in months; my last blog post on Removing the Fig Leaf about the sexual molestation I experienced as a child was more emotionally taxing than I expected, that coupled with the political climate of late has given me the desire to write but not the wherewithal to do so. The way this election cycle has been going leads me to feel like anything I might have to say would be trivialized or obfuscated by those unwilling to see my point.  Alas, here I am discussing my least favorite person – Donald Trump, and his version of the Christian faith. His is a version of the Christian faith I think some find confusing and unfamiliar, but for many I suspect it sounds just about right. Donald Trump’s Christianity is normal, you’ll probably recognize it in this post.

You might be thinking, “what gives you the right to address The Donald’s faith, or that of anyone else and determine whether or not it’s right or wrong?” – and I think that’s a reasonable question. Far be it from me to proclaim that there is a right way to believe in Christianity and a wrong way to believe in Christianity, as best I can tell any recipe for Christianity is ultimately a falsehood because the story that is foundational to the faith is a falsehood, but there are recipes for this faith that use a central ingredient of grace – and others which use a brew of xenophobia, self-righteousness, and a persecuted Americanism. On the spectrum of recipes for salvation, I’ll let you guess which of these Donald Trump ascribes to. Furthermore, I’ll leave it up to you which I find to be more palatable myself and more in line with my own philosophy of Humanism.

Nominal Christian

I am personally in no position to proclaim that Donald Trump isn’t a Christian. I honestly don’t know that anyone could qualify themselves for such a role. We all have to take him at his word – if he says he believes the message of Christianity and Jesus (and whatever he believes that message is) he is some form of Christian.

If I were to classify Donald Trump’s Christianity from what we know of him through his life and the way he’s talked about his faith, I’d call him a nominal Christian, at best. Nominal Christianity is best defined as a person who professes Christianity, but neither understands the faith nor makes any effort to live according to it’s tenets.  The nominal Christian is simply a Christian “by name”.

Many evangelical organizations (this link is a really good read from a Christian perspective on this same subject) consider the nominal Christian to be the greatest target for evangelism in the world, in fact the Bible addresses these very Christians and I’ve talked about what it has to say about them a great deal on this blog in the past.  Matthew 7:21-23 is alleged to be Jesus addressing those who carry on the facade of faith but fail to do the will of god. John 5:39-40 addresses Christians who fail to study the scripture to find out who Jesus is beyond just a name.

Jesus is just a name to many though. When I was a believer I felt burdened by my peers who professed faith but who failed to show any fruit of it and who didn’t do what I called “seek god” in order to know him better. That may sound odd coming from an atheist, but think about all the Christians you know – think about whether or not their life is a testament to a life of faith or a life where their faith is a tertiary afterthought they rarely give any real consideration to.

There are some easy to spot signs of a Nominal Christian, here they are – along with links to examples of how Trump is a shining example of each of them.

  • They have a favorite Bible verse, but they don’t know anything about the Bible – just like The Donald.
  • They’ll quickly take a stand for their faith when their isn’t any reason to, because of a need to appear persecuted and genuine – just like The Donald.
  • They’ll take up the cross on issues they are convinced are important to their god, but because they don’t understand their faith, are concerned with the wrong issues – just like The Donald.
  • Conversely, they won’t take up the plight of those their scriptures do actually tell them to be concerned about (see James 1:27) – just like The Donald, and again, and again.

Donald Trump, like your average nominal Christian – believes everything he reads but doesn’t read anything he believes. He’s used the Bible as a prop in his pony show, but he doesn’t know it or study it. He doesn’t love the scriptures or seek god in them. It’s more like a key that unlocks the door to Christian voters than anything – I would hope that American Christians would see through all that, the reason they don’t is because his faith is so similar to theirs.

Trump on Abortion vs The Bible on Abortion

Evangelical Christians are known for their fervor on the issue of abortion rights, that being the case – it has been the policy of the Republican Party to use it as well as homosexual marriage and being “tough on crime” (better read as “jailing blacks”) as part of their Southern Strategy to polarize Southern Dixiecrats against their former Democratic party in the wake of the Civil Rights Era.  The abortion issue is one that didn’t exist until it was made to exist and the Bible was used to fool nominal Christians into believing that their god had a problem with it. My friend Neil Carter over at Godless in Dixie wrote an incredible article on the transition from non-issue to the one issue that evangelicals vote on now – I highly recommend it for further reading.

Suffice it to say, Trump and every other neo-conservative before him bear witness to one thing: The Bible is, on a scale of pro-life to pro-abortion (not even pro-choice) – very much pro-abortion, but that doesn’t matter if you can convince people that don’t read or understand the Bible that this is the hill worth dying on.

Trump and Grace

If I read the Bible in the way that my most educated, thoughtful, loving, and respected Christian friends read it – I read a story of grace. A story about mercy given to those who don’t deserve it with no strings attached. If I read the Bible in the way that the most hateful, xenophobic, and ignorant people I know read it – grace is still a central part of the theme there just happen to be more rules and rigamarole attached to receiving that grace.

Donald Trump’s Christianity seems to be a faith that lacks any semblance of grace. I say that because I see no evidence of it in his life or in the way he carries himself, even when he’s talking about his faith. The central theme of his faith is, “I have faith and here’s my favorite book of the Bible, Thessalonians!” as opposed to, “I’ve been saved by grace, through faith in Jesus, and that has humbled me to be more graceful and forgiving to other people.”

Trump sues indiscriminately, assaults women, discriminates against the poor and minorities, fails to pay his bills or keep his contracts, lies about his net worth (most of the property with his name on it is owned by other parties, he is paid a royalty for his name, for now), seeks for the death of the innocent and acquitted, cheats on his wives, among many others. He’s one of the least graceful men on the planet.  He’s just like every other nominal Christian I know, in other words.

Trump and You

3f2d57b701faea69dd204e9c0d476a8e“He tell’s it like it is,” or “he’s someone who’s finally saying what we’ve all been thinking,” are common reasons followers give for loving Donald Trump.  It’s true too, he’s telling you what you think the world is like – he’s confirming your biases. He’s telling you it’s just fine to be the sort of white evangelical Christian he is too – it’s fine to wave the Bible around like a prop, it’s fine to share that meme on Facebook with Jesus on it about not denying him in front of the world or he’ll deny you so you’ll feel comfortable about your salvation for the week, it’s fine to pretend like you are being persecuted because your kid’s teacher can’t lead him in prayer every day, and it’s even fine to build a big wall to keep undesirables out – because Jesus never said anything about sheltering those with heavy burdens.

If Donald Trump’s Christianity is a reflection of you and your Christianity I’m perfectly fine with that. The writing has been on the wall for a long time regarding the fortitude of America’s church, and you – dear Christian in your red “Make America Great Again” hat – are the reason.

You can be just like Trump if you want to.

Christian. By name only.

White guy, unsure why everyone is so upset.

Is our society more easily offended?

Over the last several years, actually going back into the 90’s, certain groups have decried “Political Correctness” and what some call a culture of being easily offended. If you happen to be one of my followers or friends on Facebook you already know that I have a massive variety of people that come to my personal page to engage in discussions about practically every hot topic imaginable. My little corner of the internet is one of the few places, next to 4chan, where there is practically no censorship or filtering going on – I let people reveal themselves for who they are and display even the most outrageous points of view.  Doing so is really important to me as I value freedom of speech and the safety of that space above all else, and I think that despite not having hard-line rules the extremes tend to equal each other out so that the middle can be more easily heard.

That said, if you spend much time on my personal Facebook page you are guaranteed to get offended. If not by me, then by

The Rules of Engagement for my personal Facebook wall - posted recently.

The Rules of Engagement for my personal Facebook wall – posted recently.

some of my friends or followers, that’s one of those disclaimers I wish I had the ability to put somewhere on the page,  – that I take the time to state every now and again in some fashion for people that might be new to my virtual forum (example included to the right.)

I honestly can’t think of many times where I’ve actually been offended in any serious way. I might find certain views to be simply atrocious, but they don’t offend me – I think the main reason for that is because I’ve been born into a great deal of privilege and I’ve long recognized it – so I just don’t let peoples words and beliefs get to me so much. Sometimes the things people say or do will  prompt a response from me, but not because I’m offended or hurt, because I think it’s important that we engage with bad ideas.

There are those that assert that society as a whole is more easily offended than in years past, citing movements like #BlackLivesMatter, the push for safe spaces on college campuses, and LGBT acceptance – movements which often use social media to lash out those who wish to remain a part of the status quo. Are these movements and these reactions evidence of a more easily offended society?

I don’t think so.

The segments of society who hold the most power have always tended toward a prejudice against the “other”, which is why those you are most likely to hear complaining about the “sensitivity of our times” are by and large white straight males (on Fox News) – as it’s usually they who are saying things that are most readily offensive or hurtful to people who are on the outskirts of modern power structures.

We do, today, live in a society where you hear a lot more about offensiveness though – so, what does that say about modern people and the changes that living in a technologically smaller world (ie: a world made smaller by the advent of technology which brings more people together) has wrought?

It says that we are a (somewhat) more caring society:

I know it seems like the opposite – and there are certainly times when the opposite is true, but we are by and large heading toward a more humanistic society who’s citizens care for the “other” and who consider with empathy the effects of their words and actions.

If you think back to the 70’s and before, it was practically unthinkable for a straight male to be an ally of the LGBTQ community unless that ally had experienced some sort of discrimination on his own, today – however, we are seeing more and more allies for every marginalized part of society today and while some of those allies may be hopping on the bandwagon of popular morality, the roots of this shift in thought are surely empathetic and if empathy is a bandwagon people are jumping on that’s a better bandwagon than others I could think of.

There are, of course, those who try their damnedest to prove me wrong here, bent on the idea that privilege is non-existent or even OK – but I believe and can see in my community and in the US that those people are becoming the louder but more fringe voices rather than a rumbling cacophonous majority that agrees in these old ways of thinking.

We have avenues to express anger that we didn’t have before:

It’s easy to forget, especially if you are around my age or younger (29 as of this writing) the impact of the internet and social networks. I practically grew up with some sort of connectivity to a world of online friends and enemies.  With the advent of social media sites like Facebook and a generation of people who are accustomed to sharing their frustrations online it is easier than ever to express frustration and anger at some injustice or bigotry we witness or experience in every day life and for that experience to become a viral, mimetic cause du jour.

The nature of our social network beast makes it easier for people who wouldn’t have been exposed to social justice issues any other way (many of us live in very sheltered worlds, I am among those people) – and so it’s easier for us to care about things that we know about because of this exposure.

The landscape of the world has changed so drastically because of the internet that we often mistake those virtual interactions with real life interactions, forgetting that people on the internet are often unfiltered caricatures of themselves. While one generation of users may be well aware of the “keyboard warrior” affect – another generation may not be, and while both express anger in their own ways, one tends to believe that the others anger is the result of over-pacification and coddling – the idea that their opponents are too easily offended is almost always a hypocritical failure to view one’s very own leanings toward offense when exposed to a litany of new ideas.

Whether it be by a trending hashtag or a photo that gets turned into a meme and shared millions of times, we’ve got ways to express our anger at injustices that didn’t exist just 15 years ago – and unbelievably those things can lead to actual change. Public outcry via social media makes a difference in the world and in when someone in an authority position does something immoral the outcry can have them fired within days – rather than the weeks or months or never of previous years.

The offended are simply more aware and more vocal:

I think it can only be considered a matter of privilege if you find yourself inconvenienced by the outcry of a marginalized group, and the fact of the matter is that people from all walks of life are fed up with privilege as the status quo and are therefore more vocal about it than in years past.

It’s easy for a straight white male to complain about the constant tenor that “things need to change” because to the straight white male that’s an idea that means a loss of power, privilege, comfort, and often class and when you fail to see your own privilege you’ll be far less likely to empathize with those who aren’t benefiting from it or who are victims of some sort of neo-classism, sexism, racism, or other -ism and yet this is the landscape of our country and largely our world simply because the victims of old world mentalities are waking up to their oppression and speaking out about it with less fear.

Are these people more victimized today than they were 10-50 years ago?  Arguments can be made for and against. While the consciousness of the world is slowly moving toward more equality there are those who are, in more extreme ways, lashing out at communities of color, transgender people, the LGBT community, and even the poor (who we often forget about when discussing this sort of thing).  The most deadly mass murders against a racial group of the last 75 years in the US happened this year, in 2015, in Charleston – so it’s not difficult to see the extremists pushing against the broader narrative of brotherhood and humanism.

The fact of the matter is simple:  When black people, women, or the LGBT community react to something it’s easy to say “I don’t want to hear it, stop making a big deal of of this” when you aren’t the victim of an institutional bias – but these people are getting louder and they’ve got damn good reasons for it, I recommend anyone and everyone of the aforementioned mentality to shut up and listen to see if perhaps you can learn something.

Moralizing Political Correctness

I like to define Political Correctness as follows:  The ability to communicate with empathy for the marginalized.

There are those that want to compare Political Correctness to a police state or some invention of politicians, as if having a society of people who want to avoid offending their fellow citizen is a bad thing. Political Correctness, even if many don’t see it this way, is an attempt to neutralize harsh language and action toward marginalized groups, I’m not sure how that can be considered a bad thing unless of course you have a problem with empathetic behaviors.

Being more PC has certainly become a little more extreme, with the advent of social media (as previously discussed) using the wrong term can land one in a media firestorm and if you don’t know how to properly apologize properly for a failure to communicate with empathy you can easily be dismissed forever.

I think it’s clear that those who stand against a more politically correct world are in the wrong as it’s truly a more moral world they are standing against – a world where people have to hear epithets and cat calls walking down the street rather than our continual progression toward a world where that doesn’t happen and where those behaviors become overwhelmingly unacceptable social abnormalities. What many don’t know is that this memetic is how things change – societal morality slowly changes because society stops being OK with the way things are and polices those who continue operating with the same old and tired ways of thinking that have allowed people to be so marginalized for so long.

Offended?

I’m not the type of guy that cares a whole lot when certain groups are offended by something I say. When others are offended I agonize over it. You probably know which category you belong in by your reaction to most of my writing.

One day, the outcry from those who are just now getting the opportunity and wherewithal to stand up to microaggressions won’t be necessary – we won’t have to talk about who’s offended and by what, we’ll just live in a better society and it will be because people were willing to say “You know what, your viewpoint is shitty” and make a bigger deal of it than some might think is necessary.  If you happen to be the type of person that makes a lot of social faux pas, now is the time to brush up on your apology skills and your ability to be sincere because you will be called on it one day and hopefully you’ll use it as an opportunity to learn something about yourself and those whom you’ve transgressed against. I hope you will, and I hope we’ll all learn to extend a little grace to those that do screw this up.

 

Dawkins a Dick around Ahmed’s Clock

Late last week a young boy by the name of Ahmed Mohammed brought a clock/suitcase hybrid into his school to show off to his teacher at his Texas school. He was arrested and interrogated by police for over an hour without the presence of a lawyer or his parents because his teacher felt “intimidated” as the clock resembled that of a suitcase bomb in her eyes – not considering the fact that a 14 year old has no frame of reference for such a thing, nor the very apparent lack of C4.

That’s the old news.

Richard Dawkins, living up to his name and reputation of late, along with a few bloggers over at Skepchick (who I won’t bother to name or link to) have a beef with Mohammed:

The 14 year old child used the word “invention” for his contraption while being placed in front of national TV cameras, and it’s got them in an uproar.

What Ahmed did and didn’t do

A homemade clock made by Ahmed Mohamed, 14, is seen in an undated picture released by the Irving Texas Police Department September 16, 2015. Mohamed was taken away from school in handcuffs after he brought the clock to his Dallas-area school this week and the staff mistook it for a bomb, police said on Wednesday. REUTERS/Irving Texas Police Department/Handout via Reuters

Irving Texas Police Department

A homemade clock made by Ahmed Mohamed, 14, is seen in an undated picture released by the Irving Texas Police Department September 16, 2015. Mohamed was taken away from school in handcuffs after he brought the clock to his Dallas-area school this week and the staff mistook it for a bomb, police said on Wednesday. REUTERS/Irving Texas Police Department/Handout via Reuters 

Ahmed Mohammed didn’t invent a damn thing. Clearly. He took two things that already existed – took one of them apart – and stuck it inside the other. Ahmed’s clock is a clock + a suitcase.

What he did requires no special brilliance or insight into electronics and fails to make him special. It is not indicative of genius and wouldn’t win the science fair even if EVERYONE else in the school made those lame volcanoes.

Ahmed misspoke, and perhaps he’s not mature enough to know the difference between inventing and …er…Frankenstein-ing things together and a Professor Emeritus at Oxford with a PhD in biology took the time to correct him on twitter so that his name could be part of the media frenzy taking place over this, even going so far as to suggest a conspiracy on Ahmed’s part:

“…Ahmed didn’t build a clock. He simply took one out of its casing. Did he deliberately want to be suspected of making a bomb? Did he want to be arrested, to be seen as a victim of ‘Islamophobia’?”

““He disassembled & reassembled a clock (which is fine) & then claimed it was his ‘invention’ (which is fraud)” and asserted, “True, Johnny Smith would not have been arrested & Ahmed should NOT have been. But his motives remain questionable.”

Well, I don’t have  a PhD, and here I am stating the clearly obvious as well minus any insanity. Can I have a brownie now? Where’s my book deal?  Oh, there’s more to the story?
You mean we’re focusing on the wrong thing?

Ahmed Mohammed and Me

Here I am a 29 year old IT professional writing about a young man that took apart a clock, who – like me – started taking things apart at a young age out of a sense of curiosity for how they work.  I started disassembling things as soon as I could hold a screwdriver and growing up there probably wasn’t a piece of electronic equipment or complex mechanics that I hadn’t taken apart and put back together hoping it worked by the time mom got home from work.

That’s the beautiful spark of curiosity that got kids like me interested in a lifelong passion, and like Ahmed there were things that I slammed together and called inventions – one – an alarm clock with speakers that I replaced with bigger, louder speakers.  Is that anything special?  Nope.  But it was cool to me, and when I was 14 it was something I did that no one else had done, not to mention that I had the loudest alarm clock for miles.

This is the birth of the tinkerer, and that’s really cool to see from my perspective. I love seeing kids tear crap apart and put it back together. I don’t expect every kid to know how to use a breadboard and soldering iron at 14, because we all start somewhere – and THIS is where we start, and sometimes we call the crap we do an invention because we aren’t adults and because we haven’t been tainted by the trouble of filing a patent yet.

My curiosity and love for tinkering never got me arrested though.

That’s the point, that’s why media attention to this is OK, not because he called his traveling clock an invention or because the President had an invite to the White House for him. That’s also why it’s OK for tech companies to jump on the bandwagon of free advertising and send the kid all kinds of free stuff that may foster this interest, because a kid did something he thought was cool and because of his skin color and last name he was arrested for it – detained without warrant – and questioned, at 14, without the presence of his parents or a lawyer. Ahmed’s clock is supposed to be his introduction to my world, instead it was a crash course in Islamophobia and racial profiling.

Dawkins – aka white privilege personified, is meanwhile convinced that Ahmed Mohammed was an inside job.

Can we stop taking him seriously now, once and for all?

Introducing Southern Discomfort

The past couple of months I’ve been working with my friend Jordy on a new Podcast project called Southern Discomfort and after quite a lot of work we have our first episode up.  This, of course, is a growing process – but I’m pretty damn proud of it and I think that if you like what I do here you’ll appreciate the podcast.  You can subscribe via RSS here.

 

So, check it out please!

 

Welcome to Episode 1 of the Southern Discomfort Show – in this show we introduce the show, ourselves and our religious and political backgrounds, plus we prove how nerdy we are. In addition to all that we get into a long talk about same sex relationships, how your grandpappy’s idea of “race mixing” was probably wrong and why Christians aren’t actually being persecuted here in the USA.

PLUS  we talk about Black Lives Matter and whether or not that means that police are all terrible people.

 

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Direct Download

The Pastors on Ashley Madison

If you’ve been living under a rock then you may not know that the popular infidelity site known as Ashley Madison was recently hacked by a group of moralist hackers with the intention of exposing those who were using the site to find people to have affairs with.   So far over 400 of the exposed have been Christian pastors on Ashley Madison – many with paid accounts (paid accounts allow a person to send messages to others).

This news comes as no surprise to any of us, Christian and unbeliever alike – we all expect hypocrisy from the Christian elite. Josh Duggar – stanchion of fundamentalist morality, vitriolic anti-lgbt hate, and former spokesman for the Family Research Council had multiple accounts, affairs, and participated in both prostitution and had a past littered with child molestation cover-ups is a shining example of what that hypocrisy looks like in one of it’s most dangerous and vile forms. This post isn’t about Josh Duggar though, it’s about better people.

We know that Christianity is full of hypocrites. Christians know it. I know it. This is reality.

 

How then should we respond?

 

I, obviously, am not in the position to prescribe to my atheist friends the best approach for this but I do think I have a Humanist approach and I think that’s how we should look at this whole thing. I know many of you are reveling in this revelation as if it’s some beautiful day, “we’ve finally exposed the Christians!”  But I don’t think that’s a fair assessment, I don’t think that Christianity needed any more exposure than it already had and I don’t revel in the fact that hundreds of men were deceptive to their wives and congregations. I can’t find joy in that, I can’t find joy in seeing people who want to be one thing fail at that thing and be altogether another. I think that’s what these pastors represent in large part is a desire to earn god’s favor and an utter inability to do so. They represent the futility of Christianity, and the pain of it’s failure.

This is not a good time for these men, many of whom have spit fire from their pulpits about what marriage is and isn’t. I’m saddened for the pain they and their families will endure because it isn’t so unlike the pain they’ve been in large part responsible for among the LGBT community for decades and it is grievous. They will be judged, hated, mocked, and invalidated – and that’s not good for anyone.

On August 24th, 2015, John Gibson, a 56-year-old pastor who taught at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary was found dead by his own hand. He was exposed in the Ashley Madison hack and his suicide note contained a great deal of shame and remorse.

I don’t know if Gibson was a bigot, I don’t know if he was the sort of man to preach hate and condemnation or if he truly believed in grace and lived his life in a way that made that evident. I cannot know and I don’t care – but I do know that he was a human being with a life and a family and that he experienced the depths of depression to the point that he was willing to take his own life.  As one who has been there, as one who has held a gun in his mouth pleading for the end – I don’t think anyone deserves that. I’m therefore, saddened, deeply.

We cannot be happy that these men have been exposed. That mankind is likely to pursue sexual urges is no surprise, that pastors are humans is no surprise.

We cannot be happy that Josh Duggar has a trail of victims in his wake, including his poor brainwashed wife Anna and 3 of his sisters.

We cannot be happy that a man killed himself and left his family to pick up the pieces, either because he didn’t know how to handle the pressure of guilt and exposure or because he didn’t feel like he would receive love and grace from the church.

This is a time for Christianity to come to terms with the reality that it is not the shining white tower it so often portrays itself as; in the wake of the exposure of these pastors on Ashley Madison and of bigots like Kim Davis the church has an opportunity to self examine and to recognize that the perfection  is a guise for inadequate people who are failing to reach the standards they use their pulpits to preach about. This is an opportunity for the Church to show grace to those inside it’s walls, and maybe apply that lesson to those outside – where it has so often failed.

So, I’m asking for us not to revel in the pain of others – simply. Let’s be better than that.

 

 

 

Honkie flag

Dear Honkie,

A letter to crackers, from a cracker.

That’s right. I started this post with a pejorative word for white people in hopes that it would get your attention and that it might mean that you’d read it. Unfortunately, my recent experience with my fellow Caucasians has been that — once threatened or humiliated in the slightest by the chance of an inconvenience or disruption of the status quo all willingness to pursue an intelligent discourse is immediately shut down, so please — don’t shut down. Keep reading, listen and receive the words one of your own has to say about this race thing.

A while back, during yet another tragic event that took the life of an innocent African American — I wrote a piece about recognizing my own white privilege and a lot of you were…well…livid about it.

The comments on Facebook that resulted from that post were incredible, and were evidence that very few were interested in the point I was trying to make but were instead interested in defending the idea that they — in all their whiteness — worked to get where they are, and that nothing has ever been handed to them.

I guess somewhere about halfway through the first comment I started reading through the lines of “I worked for everything I have” and began understanding it to mean “unlike the welfare queens that have never worked a day” — let’s be honest, that’s what you mean when you can’t acknowledge that life is even the slightest bit easier for you as a white person and want to put your hardships on display.

A lot of of grew up poor, I sure as hell did — and I work incessantly to make sure I’m not poor the rest of my life.

Still, being white is making that process — and has made my life, just a little bit easier for me than for my black counterparts.

In all this, it’s also been made clear that my marshmallow friends feel like they are being told to feel guilty for being white. There is, of course, nothing in the post I wrote previously that should indicate that I feel that way — and of all the articles and opinion pieces I’ve read from authors (regardless of their ethnicity) it’s become clear to me that almost no one, save a few extremists, wants you to feel guilty for being born white. You don’t even have to feel guilty if your great-great-great grand-pappy was a racist slave owner, just — maybe — instead of feeling guilty you could say, “I could see how 450 years of slavery and oppression might put the balance of power in my court and in the court of people that look like me and make life more difficult for black people.”

Acknowledging that truth goes a long way in the black community, in fact — it goes a hell of a lot farther than having a black best friend that no one has ever met and you don’t even have to feel bad about it any more than you feel bad about water being wet. Some things just are, and you were born white while other people weren’t. There’s no bad guy in that scenario.


“So, you are telling me that I don’t have to feel bad about systematic racism that has been unfair to an entire culture of people?”

That’s a great question Honkie, I’m glad you asked.

Look, I know — You didn’t own slaves, your family has always been poor white trash and you never had anything to do with slavery or any sort of oppression of black people at all. Slavery, racism, Jim Crow laws, the KKK , etc. , etc. — those are all things that you had nothing to do with and that no one wants to pin on you. You benefit from being white. That’s it.

So.

No, you don’t have to feel bad about it at all, but I suspect that once you’ve acknowledged that this experience is a real one for you (privilege) and your black counterparts (prejudice) that you’ll automagically feel bad. I have a feeling that you’ll just feel icky, like I do, for being part of a society that allows that to happen — and that’s not guilt, that’s something much stronger than guilt and more powerful for introducing someone to the desire to see a change.

Empathy.

That’s what you guys are afraid of too, at least — that’s what I think it is that you are afraid of. You are afraid that you’ll feel bad for someone who has it worse than you, and that you’ll have to acknowledge that your life isn’t as miserable as you want to pretend it is. You’ll be forced to give a shit, and that’s scary because you aren’t familiar with the lives of these other people and because you’ve been led to believe that they’ve brought it upon themselves because all you really know about black people is a caricature of extremes.

Empathy would mean that you’d have to look at a black man, woman, or child just like you look at a white man, woman, or child — rather than with the biases we’ve been raised with. It means you have to acknowledge that sometimes people end up in situations that aren’t their fault, and sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to dig yourself out, furthermore that sometimes it’s just impossible to get ahead when you start out so behind.

Empathy doesn’t mean guilt, but it does mean that you want things to be better for someone else. Even if you don’t know how to make that happen, it’s sure as hell a good place to start.


On that flag.

I’m as white and Southern as the day is long, and I’m proud of it too.

I’m proud of the way we generally treat one another around here; we nod in acknowledgement of nearly every person that passes our way, we hold doors open for the people behind us at restaurants, we eat the meat we kill (I’m not a hunter, but if you don’t eat the meat you kill people look down on you, and they should), and we tend to be independent — but when tragedy strikes a family you wouldn’t know it because we make sure they don’t go without. That’s, to me, my heritage as a Southerner.

For some people — maybe you, that heritage proudly includes a historical connection to the “War of Northern Aggression” because someone in your family fought and died to defend an ideal that, like most that die in war today, doesn’t really protect his interests as much as it protects the wealthy and disenfranchises the poor.

You, like most, are simply proud of that background and want to pretend like slavery wasn’t the root purpose of the war and you may even believe that to be true because you’ve been taught it by historical revisionists your whole life. That’s what I was told, and it’s bullshit.

What all that pride means for you war half-historians is proudly displaying the Confederate Battle Flag of Virginia in one of the many popular iterations on your person, on your unreasonably large truck, or in front of your home. I see at least 20 a day. The one I hate most though is displayed on a tiny plot of land in front of the county courthouse where I live, mocking those who it pains every time they pass by.

That flag, all the muck aside — is a symbol of white supremacy and control. It’s a symbol of preserving one races’ power over another, of ripping families apart, and of all the labor that provided free wealth for aristocratic Southern families who needed to keep the status quo going in order to continue building wealth in the ways that they were. That’s why the KKK used it as their banner in the 50’s and why other skinhead organizations use it today. Even if it has been kidnapped from it’s original purpose, and it hasn’t, it’s time to relegate it to history and to extremists who hurt people.

In a part of the country built on the labor of scarred black backs, that flag is a symbol of gloriously returning to those days.

If you can be proud of that part of our heritage you’ve got a stronger stomach than I. I’m not, I can’t be. I can’t ask black people to pass by it every day at government buildings when I know their taxes pay for it too. If you must display it on your property, by all means — but now would be a good time to revisit that part about empathy a few paragraphs above.


And while we’re at it….

So, you’ve folded up ole Dixie and recognized that maybe some folks do have it harder than you based solely on the circumstances of their parentage all in the course of a single post…shit…I’m doing pretty damn good, what else can I get your pasty white behind to do?

I’ll end this monologue with the Good Ole’ Boy’s by telling you how I try to move my dialogue with the black community, a community that I know I’m not a part of — but that I care about:

Don’t pretend to be colorblind, that doesn’t mean anything. Recognize, appreciate, and celebrate our differences all while loving the things that unify us. Saying, “I don’t see color” is to rip that part of someone’s identity away from them when instead we should be saying, “I see beauty and history in your color”.

Race is real, it’s been part of the historical narrative of this country and the world ever since we started forming tribes around language and skin-tone. We don’t have to pretend like race doesn’t exist or even be ashamed of the race we share, we can acknowledge race without placing the people who’s race differs from ours in a subclass or fearing them.

Just treat people like people ya peckerwoods.

Sincerely,

Your Honkie Neighbor

Franklin Graham asks us Where Would Jesus Bank?

Where Would Jesus Bank | Why Franklin Graham doesn’t understand Jesus

The Story

Franklin Graham – who rode the coat tails of his famous preacher daddy Billy Graham into Christian fame as the head of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association ever since the elder fell ill, recently announced that the ministry and churches associated with BGM would be pulling all accounts from Wells Fargo (and boycotting Tiffany & Co.) .  Why?

This ad:

(Warning, grab a tissue)

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Is Christianity Dying?

Is Christianity Dying?

Is Christianity Dying? – Russell D Moore asks rhetorically in an article sent to me by a friend who serves in the ministry, wanting my commentary or insight as Dr. Moore explores the results of the latest Pew Religious Landscape study and what those results mean for the Christian church.

Dr. Moore and others would have you believe that a 6.8% increase in people who don’t identify with any religious group and a combined decrease of people claiming affiliation with Christianity, between mainline and evangelical Protestants plus their Catholic counterparts, of 7.4% is largely due to atheism being in vogue enough for the people that have long sat in the pews without actually maintaining religious belief has given them license to speak up about their lack of faith…as if answering an anonymous poll is risque.

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Unbreaking the Broken Self (pt 1)

 

On my way home to work last night I was listening to fellow Southern apostate Neil Carter’s guest appearance on The Humanist Hour and I heard him talk about  being less judgmental toward other people since leaving the faith and diving into humanism and atheism.  After that he talked about being less judgmental toward himself, something many who have never been Christians will actually understand – because they’ll lack the context for understanding it. Most atheist activists understand how Christianity and religion in general harm those outside it’s walls – but because so few have a perspective on Christian philosophy  as devoted insiders they’ll struggle to understand how it’s doctrines lead to a broken self.

 

How the children of Christianity become broken.

I was six years old when I first learned to hate something about myself.

At six years old I had already attended three separate churches, exposing me to different types of preaching, but the one I had attended the longest at the time was a fairly small Pentecostal church in the town of Chester, Georgia. It’s the church where I was “saved” – which meant that someone had convinced me that I was a sinner and that I needed to believe in Jesus in order to be saved from the punishment I so rightly deserved.

This doctrine of depravity, which teaches that all human beings are born into sin as a result of the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden, permeates all major denominations of Christianity in one form or another. It is a foundational and cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith as a prerequisite need for the sacrifice of Jesus as an atonement for mankind’s sins.

Jesus had to die because of me.

Believing that I, singularly or as a part of the human collective, was responsible for Jesus death on the cross was a heavy burden as I understood it. It was something I received with sincere pangs of long enduring guilt and my young mind didn’t know how to turn that guilt into a simple understanding of the Gospel message – it had to be, and demands to be a Gospel that destroys the self.

A Broken Self Image

As a child that grew up in an unrelenting culture of fear based preaching and sermons focused on how depraved humanity inherently was I was never able to find much self worth at a young age. All of my value was stored up in Heaven and in the refuge of Jesus’ love for me as displayed by his death, for me. Those of us who grow up believing in this way have a difficult time seeing past our own flaws to find a decent human being – every sin is picked apart and over analyzed, we beat ourselves up over every aspect of our lives that doesn’t align with what we believe – and because what we believe as our goal is so incredibly in-acheivable there’s an awful lot of self deprecation that happens.

By the time I was 13 I had no recognizable self-esteem.

All I knew how to do at such a young age was hate the things that characterized normal and natural adolescence. It was my belief that those things separated me from God and separation from God was separation from the only consistent and worthy part of my life. There’s nothing healthy and nothing good about growing up with those ideas in your head, for those lucky enough to escape that sort of religion; I envy you.

Proof-texting our inadequacy

Growing up fundamentalist meant that finding the answers to practically any question began and ended with a piece of scripture. It was an ignorant belief, sure – but one held dear and practiced on a nearly daily basis for me – and I was not only able to remember how the pastors, past abusers (which is a different story for a different time), and other adults had drilled into me the fact that I was a sinner – I was able to “prove” it against the Biblical standard of truth.

Romans 3:23 told us that each and every individual was a sinner that had fallen short of God’s glory.

Psalms 51:5 tells us that we are born in sin.

Mark 7:21 tells us that men’s hearts are full of evil thoughts and even murder.

Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that our hearts are deceitful and sick.

Ecclesiastes 7:20 tells us that there are no righteous men on all of the earth, there are none who live without sinning.

Titus 1: 15-16 tells us that those professing to know god often deny him in their disobedience. That purity is witness only to pure acts.

Galatians 5:21 says that if we do as the flesh desires (sin) we will not inherit God’s kingdom.  Verse 24 says that we must crucify our flesh in order to belong to Christ.

If you believe the words in this book to be true then it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that you are born as filthy rags that must be washed clean – and that you must continually fight against all the evil desires you hold.

It’s no wonder the people who leave this faith often struggle with feelings of inadequacy for years after the fact, suffer nightmares of Hell, and find it difficult to adjust to the idea that – in fact, they aren’t quite as bad as they’ve been conditioned to believe.


 

 

In my next post I’m going to talk about overcoming the psychological effects of the broken self, how I’ve managed to feel whole again after leaving the Christian faith and the doctrine of depravity – and why I believe society could improve wholly by rejecting this idea outright.  Please, share this post on social media if you’ve found something of value in it.

 

Source: http://all-len-all.com/duck-dynasty-star-let-everyone-at-cpac-know-stds-are-the-revenge-of-the-hippies-video/

The Phil Robertson Rape Fantasy

Phil Robertson, patriarch of the Robertson clan of Duck Dynasty fame, is a diamond of the neoconservative right wing’s eye; he’s independently wealthy, loves to shoot guns, and believes that America is a Christian nation – and if you don’t like that you should get the hell out. Recently, when Phil Robertson was speaking at the Vero beach Prayer Breakfast, he shared – in Pentecostal pulpit style – what I’m calling the Phil Robertson Rape Fantasy, complete with murder and a beheading.

I’m going to attempt to break down Robertson’s insanity into chunks  and analyze what I think he’s really trying to say – right after I share this disturbing audio.

Note: This is disturbing stuff, not for the faint of heart or easily offended. Don’t listen if you don’t want to hear about murder, rape, and decapitation spoken in one of the most hateful tones possible.

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