Trump v Jesus – An Interview with The Bunion

Recently Donald Trump made headlines with comments he made about Pope Francis.  Francis made references to Trump’s stance on immigration as relating to Christianity, and Trump went in as he usually does;  full of bravado and insults.

With that we were excited as we already had an interview set up with ‘The Donald.” Intrigued at his ferocious attack on The Pope, we scrapped our previous agenda on discussing foreign policy and the economy.  Instead we wanted to ask his opinions on another revered religious figure, Jesus Christ Himself.  As usual, he was enthusiastic to voice his opinion.  Enjoy the transcripts.

The Bunion: Thank you for coming Mr. Trump.  Let’s get to the point.  The Pope challenged your views on immigration which sparked a debate.  What do you think Jesus would have to say about the tiff between the two of you?

Trump: Listen, I know Jesus.  He’s been an awesome messiah.   This is in spite of the salacious circumstances surrounding his birth.  I mean, who does he think we are buying this fantasy about a virgin birth?  I mean is he kidding or what?  

The Bunion: Wait a minute…

Trump:  I have people in Jerusalem right now who have proof that Mary was not impregnated by a spook, (though I love black people) or a ghost for that matter.  Joseph was under pressure and he owed some debts so he had to get in line and support the conspiracy.  I’ll be revealing the results of my very comprehensive investigation soon.  It’s going to be amazing when you see what I’ve uncovered.  But Jesus is a wonderful guy!  I’m just saying we should all seek to know the truth!   It should be noted that he himself had many advantages that I didn’t have.  As you know I started with only a million dollars.  Jesus had three wise men.  I don’t know about you but where I come from, the Italians associate ‘wise men’ with the Mafia!  Well anyway it appears they gave him more than some fragrances if you know what I mean!?  No wonder he’s held power for so long right?  The Pope is afraid to side with The Donald. Because he knows he could have a leg or an arm broken, or worse end up swimming with the fishes in the Dead Sea.  However, if Francis or whatever his name is apologizes, I will forgive him and offer him my protection.  I’m talking about better protection than Farrakhan is providing for Beyonce!

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The Bunion: Wow.  Ok.  Well, Jesus did perform miracles.  You do know that right Don?  Have you preformed any miracles?

Trump: You mean that turning water into wine thing?  That was a bootlegging operation.  I told you that Jew was connected.  But I’m not judging.  I love the Jews.  The Jews have been very good to me! 

The Bunion: But Mr. Trump, the disciples never mentioned a word about Mafia connections.  The books in the bible, specifically the gospels in the New Testament all maintain that miracles happened. Not just the ‘water into wine’, I’m talking about healing the sicks and casting out demons.  Are you disputing all of that?

Trump: I’m glad you asked that question!  Let’s talk about the ‘disciples.’  They were thugs and criminals.  You do recall when that Peter guy chopped off the ear of one of Jesus’ detractors.  Sounds like criminal behavior to me!  These guys were a rag tag group who terrorized everywhere they went.  If you read ‘One Two, or Three Hezekiah, you would know that.  But that’s OK.  I’m here to teach you.  The government was able to turn a states witness against him… Judas.  But he was also mysteriously murdered before he could testify!  Still, I think they all turned on Jesus because last I saw, they weren’t around when he was crucified.  Now listen, how can you be a winner if you are hanging from a tree with nails in your hands and feet?  People get excited about Jesus being crucified for their sins.   I don’t know about the rest of America, but I admire messiahs who don’t crucified!  Elect me for president.  I’m telling you right now I will not be crucified.  Crucifixion is for losers!  I am a winner!  

The Bunion:  Are you sure you want this on the record Mr. Trump?  There are many Christians out there who may take offense to what you are saying here.

Trump:  I’m only telling you what I know to be true.  Not to speak ill of the dead.  But if Jesus is alive, then surely Fox News, CNN or your magazine can get an interview or a recent photo.  I don’t mean a painting.  I mean Jesus standing next to a Toyota on Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles.  He probably would drive a Toyota right?  Whatever. He’s dead that’s my point.  I’m alive and I’ll never die.  Dying is for losers.  I am a winner.  My disciples are loyal!  Vote for me, Donald J Trump and America is going to be winning so much, The Pope will gladly beg to offer his robe and his sceptor just to have a meeting with me in the Oval Office.  

Editors Notes:

****Since this interview, a new poll shows that support among Christians for Trump has risen 18%.

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Next Week: We are interviewing Ben Carson and Clarence Thomas.  Carson will discuss his blackness and Thomas will discuss…

Why I Could Never Again Be a Christian in America

First clarifying a couple things:

I dislike or hate people of Christian faith: To the contrary.  My mother is a Christian woman who’s faith shapes everything she is about.  She is a loving, wise, and generous soul.  Of the many times we talk, rarely does a conversation end without her talking to me about prayer.  She says often that, “God hears your prayers, son.”  She doesn’t say that like, ‘God hears everyone’s prayers.’ It’s one of those, ‘you have a gift and because your heart is good, God hears you,’ kinds of things.  Many of my close relatives, friends and social heroes are Christians.  Coming from a Christian background myself, there was a time when I based everything I lived on what I was taught within it.  If only I had a dollar for every time I was told I was going to be a preacher!

I am not an atheist:  I am a believer in evolution by the truest definition. There is easily accessible evidence that people and nature evolves and has been since the beginning. No way in hell do I trust that all that is glorious and magnificent in the universe is random.  It’s simply unintelligent to witness science, which is also merely discovering what is already, be fascinated by the wonders of what we could never duplicate, witness how nature and the world works together to sustain order and still somehow arrogantly believe it’s all by chance.  What I tend NOT to believe however, is that if we were to somehow be privy to the genesis of the universe, the answers would revolve around a religious mandate.  In other words, I don’t believe the Architect, if you will, would be obsessed with him/her/itself.  “Hey guys, its all about ME!  Worship ME!  Sing about ME!  Pray to ME!  Want rewards?  Come to ME!  Avoid destruction?  Come to ME!  ME ME ME!  Anytime there is an obsession with the WHO of God, there is by extension a narrow distinction which separates and isolates those who are not within that same group.  Basically it’s a group of people saying they have the market cornered on the WHO, and if you don’t accept their version of this entity, you are doomed for all eternity.

I’m courageous enough to ask critical questions and live within the journey as things unfold.  My faith tells me that anything I need to know to live my best life in this world is available to me.  This world is the only one I am present in and therefore assuredly accountable to.  

With that, there are many schematic reasons why I cannot embrace Christianity.  But I am not going to quibble with theology, dogma or doctrine.  My frustration is simply the wildly selective, inconsistent, hypocritical and vile display of all the worst in human nature that cuts against every basic principle taught by Jesus himself.  Though this is nothing new, specifically as it relates to Christian Conservatism.  I remember going to church during George W Bush’s re-election campaign.  The pastor of a local church here in St. Louis, named Raphael Green said, “I’m not going to tell you who to vote for.  But as a Christian you shouldn’t vote for anyone who is for killing babies.”   Translation – Vote for Bush.  Nothing wrong with being anti-abortion.  But being pro-life in all phases of humanity is consistent with the teachings of Christ.  It is now as it was then that Christians tend to care a helluva lot about the unborn, while caring little for the child who has ventured past the womb.  During that election cycle the church by in large took the position that the areas of abortion, gay rights and school prayer were the only issues that really mattered when choosing a given candidate.

I look at today’s embracing of Donald Trump by Christian Conservatives now as,”the more things change, the more they stay the same”.  The reality is that those Trump supporters who carry Christianity as a banner are race and religious separatists.  These are the same people who hate Barack Obama with all of their hearts.

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Let’s look at Mr. Obama (regardless of politics). Married to one woman; faithful husband and father of two daughters, has brought no scandal to the White House whatsoever during his 8 years in office.  His daughters are stellar and controversy free!   Christians should love them for modeling ‘traditional’ family, right?  No.  Their lives as a witness never stopped Evangelicals from railing against him at every turn.  Never did they stand up to birthers who questioned the president’s citizenship.  Christians refused to acknowledge the President’s own claim to the Christian faith.  According to Pew Research Center, 70% or Republicans are white evangelicals.  80% of Mormons are Republicans. According to The Hill, 43% of Republicans still believe the POTUS is a Muslim.  These evangelicals have never embraced President Obama on any subject matter.  There were even preachers who hate him so much they had the nerve to say God hates him, and even prayed for his death!  Imagine that!  I never heard the Christian Right criticize this or other ministers who used their pulpits in churches as platforms for attacking the president’s character and at times calling for his literal execution (from White or Black preachers).  Meanwhile, unemployment numbers are down to record lows.  The stock markets rose to epic levels even after the deepest recession in decades in 2008.

Now let’s look at Donald Trump.  The Donald, a serial adulterer, who publicly flaunted his new women while being married to the old ones.  He had a child with #2 while being married to #1.  He ‘joked’ that if Ivanka wasn’t his daughter, he would sex her up as well.  Not a big deal?

But let’s put Barack Obama in Trump’s shoes and then tell me if the person who takes this point of view is going to feel the same.  Trump claims to be Presbyterian, but openly admits that he has never and will never ask God for forgiveness regarding anything.  This eliminates him from the possibility of being a Christian according to Christian teaching.

“Why do I have to repent, why do I have to ask for forgiveness, if you are not making mistakes? I work hard. I’m an honourable person. I have thousands of people who work for me. I have employed tens of thousands of people over the years.” – Trump on Anderson Cooper 360 July 2015

This dude is so biblically inept that he blamed his ‘Two Corinthians” comments on the Evangelical Minister Tony Perkins who gave him his talking points for his speech at Liberty.

“Tony Perkins wrote that out for me. He actually wrote out the 2, he wrote out the number 2 Corinthians. I took exactly what Tony said, and I said, ‘Well, Tony has to know better than anybody.'”

Militarily, Trump criticized Arizona Senator John McCain for ‘getting caught’ as a POW.  Of McCain he said, “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”  He refuses to attend a debate because Megan Kelly is a moderator, saying he’s going to raise money for wounded veterans.  I wonder why?  I would think he would be more approving of veterans who didn’t get shot or wounded from IADs.  The reality is, he doesn’t want to be a part of any situation where he does not control 100% of the narrative.  All of this and yet… he is the leading GOP candidate among American Christians.

I was watching CSPAN the other morning.  The subject for the open phone section was for Conservative Christians as to whether they were voting for Trump or Ted Cruz.  Most all of them chose Trump.  The moderator asked a few of the callers if they believed Trump was a Christian.  One lady said she believes he is.  When the moderator talked about how he didn’t feel the need to ask for forgiveness, she said, “I know.  He’s still a Christian in my heart.”  WTF????   I guess its the way he mocked a mentally disabled journalist that was indicative of the character of Jesus.

When asked about Trump’s comments about having so much support that he could shoot someone and still not drop in the polls, another Christian caller laughed it off and said it was funny. When asked about Trump’s 3 wives and history of infidelity, another Christian caller said, “As long as he keeps it with women!” 

This isn’t just for white Christians either.  A plethora of Black Conservative Christians that came out the wood-work early on slobbered all over Trump for his money.  They tout his business savvy in spite of several bankruptcies.  When questioning that logic they say, “Well he just took advantage of the system the way it’s set up.”  Not quite like calling him a welfare businessman or predicting he would be a food stamp president as Newt Gingrich called President Obama.  I wonder if these people know that ultimately the tax payer picked up the tabs for these business decisions that put thousands out of work?  Now these Christians who criticized Obama for being ‘ungodly’ after almost a decade when confronted with Trump’s shenanigans, all of a sudden say they are electing a president and not a pastor.  The hypocrisy revealed by irony has been on warp speed in 2015 and the start of 2016.

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The Trump phenomenon is just an example. The rest of the Christians favor Ted Cruz.  This is a man who’s father tags along with making statements like, “What many people don’t understand, is the fact that Obamacare was actually put in place to act as a bridge for ISIS terrorists. A bridge that’s supposed to enable them to come here illegally and pose as doctors who allegedly want to help. And that’s not surprising, considering the fact that fewer and fewer doctors in our country are actually Caucasian, which is something Obama is well aware of, hence Obamacare as his weapon of choice. Do you understand what I’m saying? Our president is actually helping terrorists come to this country and not only that, he has created a permanent way for them to be able to wreak havoc all across America.”   Ahh, just let that sink in a moment!

I’ve talked to some of my black and white conservative friends about this subject.  Most of them are so blinded by their hatred of abortion, and same sex marriage, all the other scriptures regarding love, truth, justice and righteousness seem irrelevant.  For instance:

Mass Incarceration: These are the numbers for the federal prison population increase for mostly low level drug offenses:

1990 – 64,936

1995 – 100,958

2000 – 145,125

2005 – 187,394

2010 – 210,227

For states the total is well over 2 MILLION!  In most of these states prison is privatized and in addition, these institutions are guaranteed by the state to have a certain percentage of inmates. Where is the church on this?

We have a water crisis of epic proportions in Flint, Michigan.  This was caused by men who decided that poisoning an entire mostly minority and impoverished community was suitable.  Where is the outcry from the church regarding how Jesus said that how you treat the least of them is how you treat him?  I remember when Pastor Marvin Winans, in Detroit, refused to baptize a young woman’s child because the woman had the baby out of wedlock!  Won’t hear a word from him on this!  Black ministers are the worst for being fixated on material things, building mega churches and flying in private jets. If you held your breath waiting on them to speak on other issues like what Michigan’s governor did to residents in Flint, you would pass out.

I’ll tell you some of the reasons why they won’t say a word.

  1. They are bought and paid off.  These ministers make much of their money by networking with other ministers.  They don’t want to jeopardize those relationships and compromise future earnings from speaking engagements and perdiems.
  2. White Evangelicals have defined the metrics for what is moral vs what is ‘just the devil, and is therefore ignored.’  While they railed against gay rights and abortion at the turn of the century, they ignored the lies by a previous Christian president (Bush) that got us into war, murdered tens of thousands Iraqi civilians and mentally destroyed thousands and thousands of US servicemen and women. Clearly for them God only moral emphasis deals with who has sex with whom, and whether women keep the babies they are impregnated with, even if they are raped.  Many black ministers were given their biblical points of emphasis and marching orders by their white counterparts.  Since these white ministers are the majority that provide the gateways to get wealth, they close their eyes and ignore the obvious.
  3. Tribalism: Like most other religions, there is an US vs THEM state of mind.  If you’re not in the group, there is reticence to ask serious question and challenge any thought that doesn’t already support the status quo.  When 5 Americans were released from Iran recently, one of my Facebook friends only mentioned Christian pastor Saeed Abedini’s release as ‘an answered prayer.’  In other words, to hell with them other dudes.  I guess they’re just lucky or got to roll on the pastor’s coattail.

I’ve had conversations with black ministers.  There is only one that I know who agrees with me.  The others tell me that I am using my intellect too much.  When I challenge their ideas of traditional marriage with facts about the historical precedence of marriages being arranged for money, class, and inheritance, or how the god in the bible never challenged men who had multiple wives, even Solomon who had 700 of them along with 300 extra concubines, they say I am rejecting the word of God with my rebellious logic.  When I ask them which sex hermaphrodites should choose and who are they to marry, I get nothing but a dismissive smirk.  I’m sorry, but I just cannot accept this American Western civilization’s version of morality and base my life on it.  I cannot suspend serious questions just to make it into their heaven.  I cannot suspend critical thinking for the sake of the fear that I won’t have fire insurance. I cannot live in a bubble that ignores police brutality, and mass incarceration, while denying climate change.  I refuse to submit to a theology influenced and based on (that continues to be filled with) White Supremacy.

The Black church, while never perfect, used to be about something.  Going back to the 50s  and 60s, ministers like Martin King would use his influence to force those in government to hear the issues of the poor, those who were discriminated against and so forth.  In the tradition of Moses they echoed they cried, “Let my people go,”  when those at the bottom were being trampled upon. Today’s preachers just want to be in Pharaoh’s house. They want to rub shoulders with him and speak of his great virtues.  “He’s a billionaire and knows how to make money!”  They have become concerned with prestige and profits instead of being prophets.  These days far too many black churches have allowed themselves to be spiritually manipulated into fighting culture wars. I’ve had to debate black Christians who have defended Kim Davis for breaking the law of the Supreme Court.  And yet Kim Davis would never ever stand up for them if they were profiled and shot dead unjustly by police. She doesn’t desire to worship and associate with black Christians.  Think about it.  THE most segregated hours in America remain on Sundays between the hours of 10:00 am and Noon.

Martin Luther King Jr., with the Rev. Ralph Abernathy (center) and the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, defied an injunction against protesting on Good Friday in 1963. They were arrested and held in solitary confinement in the Birmingham jail where King wrote his famous "Letter From Birmingham Jail."

Martin Luther King Jr., with the Rev. Ralph Abernathy (center) and the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, defied an injunction against protesting on Good Friday in 1963. They were arrested and held in solitary confinement in the Birmingham jail where King wrote his famous “Letter From Birmingham Jail.”

Can you imagine Martin King, Fred Shuttlesworth and Ralph Abernathy caping up for Trump, Cruz, and Huckabee over same sex marriage, abortion and guns?

Encouraging enough, some of my Christian friends praise me for my stances and the challenges I bring to their thought process.  More of them pay attention to my social media posts than I ever imagined, though they rarely make it publicly known.  I appreciate that.  My goal is only to provoke thinking and searching.  If something is true, it will continue to be true after further investigation.  If it’s not, one should strive to grow beyond remaining in a comfortable lie.  It was very difficult for me to walk away from that which I knew my entire life.  But I am thankful to have the courage to ask questions and not be afraid of the journey.  The problem with religion is that it doesn’t trust people with that journey. It has to tell us what to do and how to find God it’s way.  It sets the perimeters and doesn’t allow for any personal discoveries.  It’s controlling.  I’ve always said that if technology progressed like religion, we would still be riding camels and horses.  We certainly wouldn’t have computers and smart phones.  Technology is growing by leaps and bounds simply because of a hunger and thirst to learn more and reach for the possibilities.  And yet everything we are supposed to know about The Divine and our own lives has been completed hundreds of years ago?  I appreciate the United Church of Christ for their slogan, “God is still speaking.”  It gives us hope.  **Shout out to Rev. Tracie deVon Blackmon, a real 21st Century warrior and an excellent example of the teachings of Christ!

I am for a faith that is concerned with promoting all that is good, that speaks out against all wrongs without any sacred cows.  A faith that isn’t too afraid to think, question, challenge and grow from it’s evolution.  A faith that loves justice, grace and kindness.  If all this Evangelical Jesus cares about are the things they emphasize, as Curtis Mayfield once said, “If there’s hell below, we’re all gonna go!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Defense of Religion…

You know it’s bad when I have to start a blog off with this title.  And yet here I am.  Those that know me well know that I don’t claim any brand of religion.  I grew up in various forms of the Christian church.  I’ve had some awesome times while in church focusing on my spiritual life.  I’ve met some life long friends.  I wouldn’t trade my experiences for a life void of it.  And yet I had my reasons for leaving.  I don’t see myself going back.  But my faith and recognition of a supreme being, an architect of this universe has not wavered.  In my view, we are what the rock band The Police called, “Spirits in a Material World.”

Religion has taken some hits as of late.  Comedian and self described atheist Bill Maher makes it his business to go after religion on just about every HBO broadcast show that bears his name.  I agree with probably 90% of what he says about certain religious doctrines, whether it be from Judaism, Christianity or Islam.  (The main three in America)  It’s the other 10% that I don’t agree with that bothers me.

Reza Aslan was right when he said that Maher lacks ‘religious sophistication.’  He tend to lump all ‘religious people’ into a mixing bowl defining them as lunatics and fairy tale believers.  He leaves no room for nuance and complexities.  As Aslan mentioned recently during a commentary from CBS Sunday Morning,

“…But if we’re going to have an honest discussion about religion, let’s first begin by understanding what we’re even talking about when we say the word “religion.  … religion is not just about the things you believe or the rituals you follow. It’s about who you are as a human being — how you see the world and your place in it. …Consider this: around 70 percent of Americans describe themselves as Christian. Now, does that mean 70 percent of Americans go to church on Sundays? Or that 70 percent of Americans read the Bible regularly? Or that 70 percent of Americans could tell you much about Jesus Christ other than he was born in a manger and died on a cross?  … for a great many of that 70 percent, the phrase “I am Christian” is synonymous with “I am American.” In other words, it is a statement of identity, as much as it is a statement of belief.”

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This isn’t just Maher’s shortcoming.  It’s the problem with many atheist who go on the offensive slandering people of differing faiths.

I have been arguing Aslan’s point for years, even when I was in church!   Christianity in action is as vast as the planet we live on.  Christian sects and denominations both emphasize and de-emphasize differing parts of the bible in a way that suits their preferences.  Biblical scriptures have been used as a means to free slaves and justify slavery.  I once stood up in church and said, “There are two different Jesus’ in America. Ones a progressive and the other a white supremacist.”  It’s the same with Muslims and the Koran.  Differing sects value and dismiss aspects of their holy book in a way that is satisfactory to their own internal ethics.  Therefore, it is unsophisticated and indeed pointless to argue religion and religious philosophies as a world view, as opposed to targeted discrimination, crimes,  and ‘human’ atrocities.

As an example of targeting and respect, I take religious folk to task often when I believe they use their religious doctrine to oppress others.  And yet there are times as a sports official that I work in Christian environments.  When I go to a school that happens to pray before sporting events, I don’t have to bow my head.  But I do.  Every prayer in this case revolves around being thankful, praying for the safety of the participants, (children) and often attitudes during competition.  I am for all of these.  I respect the spirit of that prayer.

Religions are neither good nor bad.  It’s people that build or destroy.  Religion is often a justification for either.  I have yet to see a Koran behead a man.   The bible never enslaved anyone.  These are books, whether one believes the words within to be sacred text or not.  Blaming religion for crimes and injustices is like blaming Facebook when a spouse cheats.  If many atheist had their way they would eliminate all religions yesterday.  But that wouldn’t take away the tendency of man to separate, discriminate or oppress one another based on other factors such as class, ethnic background, eye color, height and any other difference we have between one another.  It’s just how we roll.  Humans tend to want to be a part of something. Being a part of a group makes people feel significant and validated.  That’s neither good nor bad. It’s benign.  The issue is a lack of respect for others; dismissing other faiths/beliefs with an, ‘I’m right you’re wrong’ attitude.

People have used religion to justify and execute their own prejudices for thousands of years.  Religion is used as a method  to get rich by many of it’s leaders.  But so are politics.  I’m reticent to curse religion by definition.  Simply because as much that can be said against it, equally true people are religiously motivated to serve humanity and better our world. They feed the poor, visit the sick, fund worthy projects that serve the least of us, and so forth. They pray for others as means of offering comfort and support.

This brings me back to the atheist and the original point of this blog.  They should not be put in a box either.  Some tend to their own business and leave religious folk alone.  But far too many lately have turned into a vicious gang of bullies looking to defame and crush any and everyone who chooses to have faith in something beyond themselves.  Just like a religious zealot, these god-less zealots stand on high pointing a ‘superior’ finger at entire groups who don’t share their views. Their jokes, condescension and ridicule are no more refined as the religious bigots they abhor.

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To those I say:

What makes you so great?  What gives you moral authority?  You who had no say whatsoever in your own existence, when you were born, what family you were born into, or what country.  Neil Degrass Tyson speeches may challenge the life span of the earth as compared to the bible, but they have not nor will they conclude beyond reasonable doubt that there is no supreme being behind what is seen and unseen.   Science is not an enemy to origin, only towards certain dogma.  You can’t explain the origins of LIFE…or why if life reproduces after life, (reproduction) what are the origins of original life. Can you explain intuition if it’s not spiritual?  What is the point of natural life as we know it?  I don’t know and you sure as hell don’t either!  In essence you have FAITH that there is no supreme being.  Scientific discoveries are ever expanding.  But it merely explains what was already there before ‘discovery.’ What is understood today will be expanded upon further or even refuted 25 years from now. And yet you stand unwavering not just against religious dogma, (which I happen to stand with you on) but the existence of supreme altogether. Sorry, you are not exempt in this faith game.

The most effective way to oppose the degradation of people in the name of religion is to target our attacks.  There is no ambiguity when it comes to ISIS for instance.  They are a bunch of rag tag psychopaths. Just because they claim to be Muslim doesn’t mean there is a Muslim problem.  It’s an ISIS problem.  I don’t care what Christians, Muslims or Jews think of homosexuals, black folk and many other issues in society. I do care about actions that hurt, harm or discriminate against people.

For the rest of what is left of civilization as we know it, people are going to believe different things.  Blaming their beliefs solely for their actions is not going to cut it.  I suggest non believers start from where you are and ‘evolve’ in learning to find commonalities.  Educate without all the personal hate.  Enough with your high horse already!  If your dogma can’t handle this, then your atheism is too a religion.

Religious Hypocrisy Strikes Again, …or The Dog Fighter’s Advocate

“I wouldn’t have taken him.  Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it. …It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen.’’ – Tony Dungy

Let me start by saying I know where Tony Dungy is coming from.  I know because I used to run in the same circles he runs in.  I worshiped and congregated in the same churches, listening to the same preachers, fellow-shipped with the same men who attended Promise Keepers when it was in town.  Dungy, an author of 7 faith based books including one on marriage has never been shy about promoting his brand of Christian faith.  He raised money for the Indiana Family Institute to ban same sex marriage.  A champion for ‘conservative values’ he’s parlayed his image to be the NFL’s edition of  Billy Graham meets Cliff Huxtable.

Dungy displayed his Huxtable mentoring talents with Michael Vick.  After Vick was released from federal prison for the abuse and killing of dogs, he tutored Vick to become the calm voice in the Philadelphia Eagles locker room, and a protege to other potentially troubled NFL players.  On NBC’s Sunday Night NFL Football show, Dungy is the most vanilla/least polarizing of any football analyst.  That it until yesterday’s quote from the Tampa Bay Tribune.

Cliff-Huxtable

Dungy is living a double life, trapped between two conflicting worlds.  His Christian values teaches him that being gay is a sin.  He hears on any given Sunday that there is a ‘gay agenda’ promoted by Satan himself to subject god-fearing men to accept an abomination.  He’s also made a life playing, coaching, and now commentating in a brutal sport that destroys the body and cause brain damage.  Players in the NFL are generally not saints, but sinners.  They are young, brash, carnal, full of testosterone, trained killers who even if only briefly hold the world by their finger tips.  Generally, they live promiscuously and their idea of fun is making it rain in strip clubs.

How does Dungy navigate these two worlds?  It’s not hard.  His ‘values’ are not in peril because most of his Christian brethren love football.  They love the position he’s in.  They love to rub shoulders with NFL royalty.  And most of all, his presence on television brings credibility to their beliefs.  Which is why they don’t have a problem with his comments about Michael Sam.  Sam is gay.  As for what the straight players do and the lifestyles they live, it’s accepted par for the course.  Dungy and his sycophants don’t see promiscuity, materialism and making it rain as a ‘distraction’ to be dealt with.  Heck, if they weeded out the colonies from the strongest and fastest to the most chaste, the NFL would cease to exist. Make no mistake, these Christians want their football.

Some people are calling for Dungy to clarity or make some additional statement so as to not come off as bigoted against gay people. Sam is at least for now a member of the NFL’s family.  While he’s certainly not the only gay player, he is the only publicly acknowledged one.  Dungy, just the fourth black head coach in the NFL’s modern era post Fritz Pollard already had the path paved and smoothed  for him.  His Super Bowl victory makes him teflon.  His clean cut image made it so that he didn’t need to touch the Sam situation. But he just couldn’t help himself.  His Christian Agenda pricked him which prompted a statement for the boys in the congregation.  Veiled in the theme of ‘distraction’, he poked at Sam’s career potential saying he wouldn’t ‘want to deal with’ the baggage.  That same baggage that Branch Ricky dealt with for the media, social and player side show endured by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.   There are no sermons for womanizing, smoking weed and making it rain.  But the anti-gay message is weekly.

No, I don’t want Dungy to clarify a word.  If anything, he should keep it all the way 100 and own hypocrite that he and his Christian brethren are; instead of this passive aggressive ‘not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play’ BS.

Yea… Dungy wants Sam to have a chance….  just not on HIS team.

Of Michael Sam, Black Folk and the Deity Factor

When I was at Webster University I took a class called Religion and Political Conflict.  It was one of my favorite classes, as it inspired critical thinking. Our professor, Chris Parr assigned us a paper asking the question: Why do people threaten violence and wage war in the name of religion?  I titled my response paper, “The Deity Factor.’

The basic premise is that a person will do most anything no matter how heinous if they believe the orders are from their highest power.  As much good that is done in this world for the sake of the deity factor, there are just as many if not more evil done against mankind. This could range from feeding the poor, evangelism, or strapping a pack of C4 on their bodies and killing innocent people. Logic and self analysis fall to the deity.  This is because the follower believes his/her eternal state depends on pleasing the deity.  Frankly, when dogmatic belief is serious enough, one would do anything to satisfy that longing to be approved of by his god.

What is interesting about the deity factor, is that it’s easy for those to believe their own illogical ideologies, while thinking others are ridiculous.  For instance, I can’t understand how radical Muslim extremist believe that the reward for martyrdom is 72 virgins in the great by and by.  I mean, you blew your body to pieces, and dead people can’t have physical sex.  And what does that say about a female martyr?  She can’t have 72  fresh penises because the sexism that rules on earth carries over to heaven or paradise. Sounds like a raw deal for the sisters to me!

femalesuicidebombers-640x480

Unnamed female Islamic radical

There is a segment of the White Christians who inherently believe that they are superior to all others based on their color.  They have used their interpretations of the bible to justify slavery then, and status now.

As silly as that martyr/virgin sounds to most, many Christians, don’t see the similarities or hypocrisy they display when they openly discriminate against the gays and lesbians.  This seems especially true of the Black Christian community.  I’ve had a plethora of discussions with my Black  Christian socially conservative friends.  I am amazed at how they hand select scriptures that supports their discriminative beliefs, but turn an unapologetic blind eye to other scriptures that would make their own lives uncomfortable.  Many are otherwise intelligent and thoughtful people.  But once the dogma of the deity come into play, they turn into blind nincompoops.

I wasn’t always as passionate about supporting the LGBT community as I have been in recent years.  I had never been an all out bigoted idiot, but I certainly wasn’t a friend.  There are some elements within the gay community that still rub me the wrong way.  I still typically frown on what I view as an overly effeminate male who acts more girlish than the most girly girl I know.  I agreed with a former gay male friend of mine when he told me, “I’m gay, but I can’t stand a sissy!”  That’s on me and I’ve been working on growing above that judgment.

A more appropriate critique that I do challenge them on is wanting to be equal without embracing the ability to take a joke. I hate racism but I am able to critique black folk,  laugh at myself and my people.  No group can truly prosper and be taken seriously if its members take themselves too seriously. Some of my gay friends haven’t gotten there yet.

In a most recent conversation on social media, some black folks were asking the question, “Why does Michael Sam have to announce that he’s gay?  What is the big deal?  He’s gay…. I’m straight.  So what?”  I explained why Michal Sam made his announcement.  (As if it wasn’t obvious)  I further explained that these same people who resent Sam for making his ‘announcement,’ don’t bat an eye when a ball player is interviewed after a victory and they say, “I want to thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ who gave us the victory.”  When Kurt Warner played for the Rams, St. Louisans heard this every week.  (Unless the Rams lost and Kurt sucked)  When Tim Tebow talked about his faith 24-7, it never occurred to Christians who supported his rhetoric, that Jesus never threw a pass, never threw a block, made a devastating tackle or sacked the other team’s quarterback.  Public figures give credit to their deity thereby ‘announcing’ their religious beliefs every day.

Christians love it when famous people do it.  It confirms their own brand of faith.  On the flip side, they merely reject Sam because his gayness doesn’t jive with their brand of religion dogma.  I told my Christian friends that to reject this recognition in light of the original question they posed about Sam’s announcement is being intellectually dishonest.  Of course, neither logic, theory, nor the incredible amount of irony couldn’t crack that steel wall of dogma!

mizzou students sam

Michael Sam’s return to Mizzou Feb 15, 2014

I pointed out that… “the real issue for you wasn’t Sam making an announcement, it was what he announced.  To suggest otherwise when you applaud announcements that support their own beliefs  is hypocrisy and intellectually dishonest.  And while gays are catching hell every day, you lack empathy for their struggle while still getting pissed at white folk who are racist against you and people who look like you.”

Look, the LGBT community has been here since the beginning of civilization.   In 20 years, there may not be a such thing as a closeted gay person.  You won’t be able to pray them away… and they aren’t trying to change your minds about them.  Neither will I.  You are free to hold on to your prejudices.  Just keep in mind the flip side.

Every time you criticize them for asking for what is rightfully their’s, (which is to live and be allowed to live,) you sound just like White folk who say, “I’m tired of your black shit!  Trayvon Martin was a thug and deserved what he got!  And so did Jordan Davis. What are you crying about?  This isn’t 1964 anymore.  Don’t talk to me about disproportionate injustice and  mass incarceration rates.  You have Oprah, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.  Dammit you have a black president for godsakes.  I never owned slaves.  Shut the hell up about racism already!   

Many Christians I know say that homosexuality and gay rights are being forced down their throats.  And yet this is the same language used in Mississippi, Alabama, and so forth when it came to Black folk as it pertains to equality.

I am certainly not going to suggest that you change your mind about approving of homosexuals.  Just as I am not looking to convince a racist white person to appreciate me for who I am.  But what I am asking you to consider is the same thing I ask of the prejudice:  

You don’t have to love me.  You don’t have to like or approve of me.  But don’t attempt to stop me from prospering.  Don’t kill me advocate or excuse violence against me.  Don’t arrest me for unjust reasons.  Don’t deny me equal opportunities.  Don’t stand in my way as I look to create a decent life for myself and feed my family.  Don’t support legislation that denies me full equal rights that you support for yourself.  Keep your prejudices if you must, but don’t exploit my life and ruin my opportunities because of them.  And dammit don’t support or excuse those who do.

If you can do that, you won’t hear me say another word!

Religion, Ignorance the Problem, not Faith!

I was watching CBS Sunday morning last week (one of my favorite TV programs) and this particular segment on organized religion caught my attention.

Sometimes, I’m amazed at how many times we don’t think things through as a nation, as a people.  As advanced and thirsty for knowledge as we can be in other areas such as technology and science, we seem to be willingly prehistoric, simple and horribly less evolved when it comes to the subject of faith and religion than any other.

This all tends to create a major cluster-fu#! of ideologies.

Take this shirt for instance. (pictured below) After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, pictures like these flooded
Facebook and other social media timelines.  Let’s break down the dialogue and see if it jives with anything more than an ideological and political smokescreen:

dear-god-you-are-not-allowed-on-t-shirts

Dear God, Why do you allow so much violence in our schools?

Signed a concerned Student

Dear Concerned Student: I’m not allowed in schools.

God

This sort of message comes from the perspective of some Christians.  It’s directly related to the Supreme Court’s Ruling in 1962 via the Establishment Clause of the Constitution that made it illegal for the government to endorse religious practices in public schools. Since that decision the cries have been frequently ongoing from the conservative right lamenting that this law is somehow an affront to God.

The two scenarios are as follows:

1) That this law literally takes God’s divine presence out of public schools.

2) That tragedies are God’s punishment to the law.

Let’s examine scenario #1: This is the message of the t-shirt.  When I grew up in church I was taught that God was omnipotent.  That God’s presence is everywhere in the earth and the universe for that matter.  I was taught that the presence of God dwells not in buildings, but in the hearts of man. (Acts 7:48, Ephesians 3:17)

When I was in school, I prayed all the time.  I prayed to pass a test that I studied hard for, (or didn’t).  I prayed at lunchtime before consuming some of the worst foods that could be served to children.  My faith in the Divine was always within me.  There was no law that could ever legislate that away.  And so it is today.  If one honestly believes God to be all powerful, then to say God could literally be limited in some way by government is ridiculous.  It’s impossible, illogical and totally antithetical to any form of sound teaching.  I mean either God is or is not who those who follow God say God is.  And if God is, then how in the hell can one keep God out of schools or any other place for that matter.

Banning public school endorsed religious expressions actually does more to protect students of faith.  Seeing that not all Christian sects share the same specifics, how are children who aren’t raised Christian supposed to function healthily in a hostile Christian environment.  Are Muslims or Hindu’s going to get to pray their way too without ridicule?  (Well all know the answer to that!) And what about those whose parents don’t subscribe to prayer at all?

How can one expect to learn math and English if there is constant fighting about Muhammad vs. Jesus?  Since we obviously can’t play fair and respect anyone else’s views, as far as the classroom goes I’d rather keep faith expressions where they belong, in the privacy of hearts, and minds.

dobson

The latest example of the 2nd scenario comes from James Dobson who said that the shooting was a result of God’s judgment or revenge against the nation for allowing gay marriage and abortion.

There are so many things wrong with this kind of rhetoric.  It bastardizes the hurt of the families in Connecticut.  Dobson is doing what others like Pat Robertson have done for decades.  Blaming high profile crimes and natural disasters on God’s so called hate of ‘fags’ and a nation that has turned it’s proverbial back on God.  Its ignorant and blasphemous!  These false “profits” (yes I spelled it correctly) are in effect blaming God for evil; for slaying adults and children as some sort of payback.  Dobson is making himself out as God’s henchman.  Like a gangster movie where the muscle comes to extort the local business owner.  “The boss says if you don’t pay him his cut, well, I hope you have fire insurance.”

This is part of the reason why there are so many of the so called nones in the nation today as illustrated in the CBS piece.  People have grown tired and irritated of religious zealots with these hair brained ideas about who and what God is.  To these idiots, God is a finger waging children slaying gladiator out to uphold all things politically conservative.  These same ‘profits of rage’ never speak of hunger, poverty, racism, classism, racial injustices, cheating and lying preachers as reasons for ‘god’s punishment.’

If their theologies were true of God’s punishment of America, there wouldn’t be a nation on earth that doesn’t proclaim to be a Christian one in existence today.  Their God would have already destroyed them.  That would include Israel in that they don’t believe Jesus is The Messiah.

mafia

Religion: The Enemy of Faith

These religious wars have always been around and will always be.  Unfortunately faith and relationship with The Divine has gotten a bad name.

I have faith in The Divine.  I believe that I am an extension of The Divine.  I believe I have been created, that I have a purpose in this life and what I do, and how I relate to others who were created by The Divine matters.

My mother is a great woman of faith.  She will swear that who and what I am now is a direct result of years of nightly prayers for me.  Who am I to argue with that?

I, and many people like myself are people of faith who don’t subscribe to the character of The Divine being defined for us by people whose ideology are so flawed that only their own arrogance keeps them from recognition.  I support a faith that loves all of man kind.  A faith that comforts the lonely, feeds the hungry and have compassion on the sick.  I support a faith that protects, nurtures and trains children to inherit the next generation and take it as far as they can.  I support a faith that loves justice and compassion equally; that explores the individual and the collective benefactors of the human and humanity.  And I’m good with that.

The Politics of Race, Religion, and the Person of Jesus

This is a serious question for my Evangelical Christian friends who are hoping that Mitt Romney is the next president of the United States. I am not being flippant at all but wanting to understand a question central to your faith in Jesus and the way you generally express that faith as it relates to local and national politics.

My question is how do you justify supporting Mitt Romney for president when he is a Mormon?

My personal experience in church, evangelical churches in particular focuses on the central personhood/divinity of Jesus Christ as not only the Son of God but being God Himself.

Matthew 16:13-18

13When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

14And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

15He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

This has been the litmus test for a ‘legitimate Christian’. And truth be told regardless of the denomination, this central core of the identity of Jesus at the very least united the fold.

Romney_2012_04285Mitt Romney

This is slightly different than Catholics.  Even the hard right ones tend to vote for the political persuasion of candidates rather than looking for them to specifically be Catholics.  JFK is the one Catholic president we’ve had.  Therefore, being Catholic is not a deal breaker when voting for president.

Evangelicals don’t share that same standard.  For instance, George W Bush’s conversion to Christianity after alcoholism was a really big deal to White and Black Conservative Christians.  In addition to his alignment with the pro-life, anti-gay, anti-stem cell stances, he was an easy choice religiously; so much so that the rest of his politics were automatically supported.

The subject of Mormonism had come up earlier in the primaries.  Initially the Evangelical community were tremendously reticent on supporting Romney for this reason.  It was only after the likes of Perry and Santorum were dismissed that the litmus test was rescinded.  

In the Christianpost.com, a potential conflict played out between the views of mega preacher Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church in Houston and Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church of Dallas differed.  Osteen who many would consider a less controversial and less confrontational preacher said he accepted Romney as a ‘believer’ in Christ.

Said Osteen, “What I see about Gov. Romney is that he says ‘I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He’s raised from the dead and he’s my savior.’ I see him as being a believer in Christ like me.”

Contrast this with Robert Jeffress, who said, “Rick Perry’s a Christian. (Former presidential candidate) He’s an evangelical Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. Mitt Romney’s a good moral person, but he’s not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity, it has always been considered a cult by the mainstream of Christianity.”

Jeffress-copy-264x200Robert Jeffress

This certainly fits with what I understood Christians to believe for many years now.  I was taught this about Mormons in my own church experience.  More specifically, the differences centered on several scriptural beliefs that including the one aforementioned regarding the person of Christ.  Here are more from an article also posted in Christianpost.com.

Other differences that Mormons don’t believe that are key to Christian doctrine are items such as the Trinity.  Mormons don’t believe in it. Nor do they believe in original sin of Adam, salvation through grace and faith in Jesus Christ, and among other things that the Book of Mormon is equal to the bible.  Further study of Mormonism would reveal a lot more than that Christians would find strange and rather off beat in comparison to their own beliefs.  I won’t get into those specifics here but I wanted to focus on core doctrinal differences in posing my original curiosity.

Ironically enough, since Romney became the Republican nominee Jeffress has now changed his tune saying that he endorsed Romney all along.  He goes on further to say that President Obama ‘opposes biblical principals.’

Lets just see now… Barack Obama, Christian man who has been married to one woman, father of two, the quintessential family guy, claims Jesus Christ as his savior,  church going and former community organizer opposes biblical principals.  This president even targets his policies and campaign partially on issues that Jesus Himself found important according to scripture, i.e. the poor, the downtrodden, the sick and so forth.  But the Mormon whose religion Christians have been calling a ‘cult’ for decades, who has not done anything to show forth the works and concerns of Jesus in the marketplace should now get the vote over Obama?  It doesn’t add up!

First Family 2President Obama & Family

Strangely enough, Jeffress believes Romney and other Mormons are going to hell.  He also says that he believes that President Obama is a Christian.  But yet he will vote for the man he believes is going to hell not the one he believes serves the same lord and savior he claims to serve himself.

Now in hoping that my friends on the right are willing to give me honest and sincere answers, let me first offer two answers that won’t cut it.

A) Obama is not pro-life.

I have yet to meet anyone who is pro-abortion.  The ability for a woman to choose whether to carry pregnancy to term has several complicated factors within it.  They range from poverty, rape, incest, life of the mother and so forth.  Church denominations have always differed in the level of importance they’ve held to this topic.  Most do not see this as a central theme of faith but a personal choice whose merits will ultimately be decided by God’s providence.  Even former Vice President Dan Quayle said that if his wife were raped and became pregnant she would have a DNC.  This is clearly a distinction without a difference.  The truth is that rich women have and always will be able to obtain the safest care in terminating a pregnancy regardless of the laws or what they claim to believe in public.  With all of these factors, surely one cannot with a straight face make a presidential choice based on an opinion that he has that is already the law of the land anyway.

B) Obama’s faith is not ‘like ours.’  Look at his former pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright

Christians cannot legitimately rail on Wright as an excuse to say bad things about Obama’s faith.  Not when they have their own pool of radical preachers who’ve said controversial things like Pat Robertson, who said of the US State Department in Washington DC, "Maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on Foggy Bottom to shake things up."  Then there’s Jerry Falwell who said, "AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharaoh’s charioteers … AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals; it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals."  I can only imagine what would happen if Wright had said something encouraging terrorism and violence against American citizens.

Obama  has had one wife and two children.  He’s never had any family scandal, and his wife and kids are a reflection of the American dream.  They show what one can do when starting with little and making the very best of what they have.  They were not born into wealth.  They are both highly accomplished people in large part because they worked their asses off and on top of that, they used those talents to help others not just themselves.  Till this day.  President Obama’s biggest income generators has been the books he’s written.  This is more of an example of Jesus than any other candidate that has run for president in several decades in the least.

So I am asking for real answers.  It seems to me even when it comes to Christianity, many Christians are willing to compromise when it comes to the politics of race.  I can only imagine if President Obama were claiming some other religion where there was a history of polygamy, an unwillingness to ordain white men in ministry as recently as less than 40 years ago, there is no doubt to me that this religious thing would be a much bigger issue than it is now among White and Black evangelical Christians.  He would be perceived as having an un-American womanizing anti-Christ belief system. Right leaning Christians would easily be comfortable rallying against him all the way through November on faith principals alone.  Instead, right wing Christians have totally given Mormonism a free pass, while turning their backs on the Christian already in the White House.  I’m merely curious as to how it is justified.