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“True Christians?” Hardly.

 

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I grew up in the First Organic Free Range Christian Church of Homer. OK, It didn’t say that over the door, but it seemed like it at the time. I played piano for the congregation and was always asking questions. I know. You’re shocked. Irreverent? I didn’t mean to be. I just wanted to figure it all out. I had patient teachers and living examples and was on the winning Bible Bowl team.

I no longer attend a church. I have a hard time reconciling what many churches say with what Jesus said.

This week a friend sent me a photo of the sign in front of the Valley Baptist Tabernacle, in Palmer.

“VOTE!! AND REMEMBER, TRUE CHRISTIANS DON’T VOTE LIBERAL.”

First, I agree. Vote. I think everyone eligible should vote. If politics were a religion, voting would be the sacrament — in remembrance for the blood shed to ensure your right to do it.

The rest of it? Rubbish.

“True Christians”? What does that mean? Were “true Christians” the ones responsible for the Crusades, witch trials, Spanish Inquisition? There’s been a spotty record of good deeds; the Valley Baptist folks may not want all that scrutiny.

That brings us to liberal.

I guess all the free health care Jesus was handing out was lost on these folks. The one guy who remembered his lunch to go see Jesus speak shared it, through a miracle, with 5,000. There’s no verse that says, “Oh, and all you hungry will remember to pack a lunch next time, won’t you.” Clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, visiting those in prison, taking care of God’s creation, I mean HAVE THESE PEOPLE EVEN READ THE BOOK?

Jesus was a liberal. A radical. An insurgent against the established and corrupt church. He asked for those killing him to be forgiven but he raged with a whip against the miserable money changers and rip-off artists running the church. Did you get that part? Sometimes I think the most audacious atheists are those running churches. They can’t possibly believe in a higher power who sees the content of their hearts or they wouldn’t behave the way they do.

This politicalization of religion isn’t new. It’s not just local to a church in the Valley. Sorry to pick on you but it is your sign. I’m sure your potlucks are lovely.

Top contender for Jesus, Inc., CEO is Jerry Prevo over at the Anchorage Baptist Temple. Almost two decades ago he blamed “Liberals” for a possible financial collapse of the United States. (That was during the liberal Clinton years.)

“Let me tell you, the liberals know what’s happening. I think I’d be for gun control too, I’d be for banning guns too, if I were a liberal. Since I’m not, I’m not for it (gun control). I may want to use one, one of these days. The only reason I would not take a gun and do it is because of God. That’s the only reason.”

Well, praise the Lord! The only reason he isn’t shooting a liberal is because of God? So, God is for gun control? Hmmm. And by the way, this is Alaska — liberals have guns too.

People drive to church, every church, on roads paid for, maintained and patrolled by public funds. When there is a fire at a temple, the publicly-paid-for fire department shows up. If there is vandalism, the cops respond. Churches aren’t taxed. You know, that separation of church and state thing works in their favor when it comes to rendering unto Caesar but when operating as a Political Action Committee it gets a little squishy. Pick one. Pay your taxes and endorse away — freedom of speech and all, or stick to the red letters and stay out of politics.

Here’s an idea. Tax religious institutions. Have a list of deductions they can apply to their property tax. (Yes, Jerry, all of your properties.) The list could come from the book of Matthew. Something like, “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me. … Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”

Then we’ll call it good and you can tell people your version of great voting.

God bless.

[This article is cross-posted at The Anchorage Daily News]

Comments

comments

Comments
29 Responses to ““True Christians?” Hardly.”
  1. Regulators says:

    I like how they try to “brainwash” folks with religion…that is just well…rich…really rich…lol…
    God is Vanilla Ice Cream and religions are flavors of it…this church is well…(fill in the blank)…

  2. Kath the Scrappy says:

    Well, unlikely anyone will read this since we don’t get any Open Threads anymore and this is an old thread, but just in case:

    “Hey, I wanted to see this whole steak & vodka & caviar speech. Great job Congresswoman Speier! I would guess that she’s not allowed to ‘name names’ on the floor of the house, but you know darn well that the blogs have already pulled up their names to spread all over the ‘net. hehehe ”

    Congresswoman Speier Pleads to Save Food Stamps

  3. Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

    “Sometimes I think the most audacious atheists are those running churches”

    This statement is what I am complaining about and frankly, I am surprised that Ms Moore
    herself has not responded. It is a very cleverly constructed sentence. But it is a lie.

    I’ll allow that perhaps she meant it in good faith because of the tenor of her overall post.
    But the implication is unavoidable. Atheists take advantage, exploit, defraud by assuming
    the trappings of the religious zealots.

    I would ask ms. Moore, for a citation of any example of this behavior.

    • Really? says:

      KN, Maybe Shannyn is still emotionally confused about how to “”come down” from her religious upbringing . She is a “citizen who is paying attention”, but I’m going to give her plenty of room to try to figure out some of the mind control he has gone through. I cannot think of any other reason for her to say what she said.. Does that sound like it could be a reason?

  4. Really? says:

    There is often church and state violations in my community. A most recent one “in a nutshell “,The University of Alaska Fairbanks Tok Center had their 2013 graduation commencement ceremony in one of the churches in Tok. (there are 10 churches ). When I e-mailed Chancellor Brian Rogers to ask if future graduation commencement ceremonies could be held in a secular location, suggesting Tok School, this was his response. “Thank you for your e-mail dated May 6, 2013. It is good to know that community members take interest in the activities of the UAF educational centers. During my time as chancellor, we celebrated the majority of Tok Center’s commencements at the Faith Chapel (which I understand to be non-denominational) primarily because of the good will received from them over the years. The space tends to work for several reasons, and offers a unique and quaint atmosphere for the number of graduates we have from year to year. In 2011, we celebrated the Tok Commencement at the Visitor Center principally because of the number of graduates and the large dance group performing to honor esteemed elder Katie John. Last summer, UAF hosted its Fire Science Academy graduation at the Tok School, again because of the large number of graduates-over 30 Fire Science students. Our most important goal is to always have a setting that allows students to feel comfortable and to address the venue in a manner that best fits with programing of the event itself. I trust the center coordinator’s judgment in finding the best location to meet the needs of the students. Again, thank you for your concern. Brian Rogers, Chancellor”
    I told my family member, who will be graduating from the University of Alaska Tok Center in a few years, that we will just drive to Fairbanks and have a REAL meaningful graduation ceremony if the coordinator , again, decides to book the ceremony in any place other than a secular location. My family member said, “no, I just won’t go, it’s just a piece of paper anyway, and besides traveling 400 miles RT is just too expensive, with a motel room and all,.

  5. benlomond2 says:

    saw something posted on facebook that seems to fit .. “God is an adult’s imaginary friend”…. 🙂

  6. Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

    Well I have to take exception to your “sometimes thinking ones who run the church are the most audacious
    atheists”, and I don’t mean that as an exact quote, rather paraphrasing your words.

    I am sorry to have to say so but you are astoundingly wrong. Part of the problem is the word atheist itself
    because it defines something in terms of nothing. But more importantly, you associate malfeacence with
    rationalism which is a straw man, and disingenuous. The religionists who gleefully exploit their fellows
    through the device of collective superstition are simply perverts.

    I am not trying to be provacative here, but what exactly in your conception of things brought you to the idea
    of comparing scam artists, grifters and con men with atheists? Could it be that you have a stereotypical
    opinion of them without actually knowing any?

    I personally scorn the term atheist because it invoke the thing which does not exist, theism.

    I prefer the term rationalist.

    At any rate, religion is just highly ritualised superstition, not discernable from trixadecaphobia or
    walking under ladders. Living by your own wits is rationalism. By associating the hucksters who
    peddle superstition with atheists you slandered atheism. Please think it through and make a correction
    because such logical acrobatics are not apparent to most of your audience.

    Otherwise, all your arguments are both valid and germane. If anyone doubts the value of tax exemption
    for religious status just check out the saga of Scientology trying to obtain it. They succeeded in the end.

    • beth. says:

      And yet I’ve known, KN, people of GREAT faith who are the most rational (and sane) of souls…for the term “rationalist” to be co-opted as a ‘preference’ to the term “atheist”, does a ginormous disservice all the way around, IMHO. Not only does it imply that those who are of faith/who believe in some higher power (or powers) cannot ALSO be rational, and fully capable of “living by (their) own wits”, it negates even the possibility of that being the case. Ever!

      The word, atheist, on the other hand, describes perfectly, to my mind, persons who do not subscribe to/believe in any higher power; it’s from the Greek: a- “without” + theos “a god”. The term neither confirms nor denies the existence of a god, just that the person does not believe in one/does not ‘claim’ one (or any)….even if one existed.

      While I agree the term “atheist” has been –and is being– used as a catch-all word to signify (and personify) Ebil Incarnate and therefore all that’s wrong with the world, I don’t agree that it’s inaccurate as a term to describe someone who is, in fact, “a-without’ + theos ‘a god’.” I totally disagree with using “rationalist”, instead. Sorry. beth.

      • Ivan says:

        anti-theist !

        • beth. says:

          Wouldn’t “anti-theist” be acknowledging there is, in fact, a god (or gods) in the first place, Ivan? You can’t be ‘anti’ something unless you admit/recognize that that something actually exists; you can’t be “anti” something without accepting it –the something– as an undisputed given. If I’m not mistaken, that was KN’s beef about the use/abuse of the word “atheist” to describe any and all who do not ‘believe’ there is such an entity– that the word, atheist, presupposed there was/is a god. KN rejected the word in favor of “secularist” and I, in turn, disputed that word in favor of the word used in the OP…”atheist”. Atheist, to my mind, and by derivation and definition, is the accurate word for such a person as I think KN is describing. It certainly isn’t “anti-theist”. beth.

          • beth. says:

            CHIT! I meant’ “rationalist” in the above post…not “secularist”. Ai! beth.

            (Oh, what I wouldn’t do for a 5-min window within which edits could be made to posts… b.)

            • Ivan says:

              Yes I do mean anti-theist in the sense that I am anti theism, A non Belief in the man-made construct of theism, God!
              That is not to say that I do not believe in a higher power, A creator,

              • beth. says:

                Ivan, whether you’re personally an anti-theist, or not, is not the issue. I was commenting on NK’s rejection of the word, atheist, in Shannyn’s piece — commenting on NK’s taking exception to the word. A person’s belief in any ‘above’ thing or dogma, or their nonbelief in said, isn’t moot, here, nor is their personal belief/set of beliefs any of my business unless they want to share it with me. Anyone can believe -or not- as they choose, is my feeling. It’s the ‘switching’ of “rationalist” for “atheist” that I’m taking exception to and asking NK about. beth.

              • beth. says:

                Again — what I wouldn’t do for a chance to edit a post!

                The above SHOULD say: “… or their nonbelief in said, IS moot, here,..” Aiiiiiiiii! beth.

      • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

        Beth

        So having read the rest of the thread so far you appear to object to my claim that rationalist is a more appropriate appelation for those who chose not to supplicate before hypothetical sky fairies who determine everything. I.e. gods. Of whatever ilk. I won’t indulge in the pedantry of citing definition. But to my mind being rational means simply following a thought out course, reasoning.

        I think you missed my point about my complaint that Ms Moore used atheists to shame the perverse clergy.
        By comparison to the crimes of the clergy most atheists are pure as the driven snow.

        I still object to the term though because as I pointed out and as been echoed in this thread, theism
        in and of itself is no more substantial than astrology. On the other hand rationalism has produced
        thermonuclear weapons. Ironic as hell is it not? In much the same sense you endeavor to impose
        an obligation of some kind of faith or belief on the alternative course of reasoning. I suppose in some
        abstract sense you might be right, those who depend on reason for guidance might indeed embrace
        some sort of faith that it actually works. On the other hand, there is evidence that it works. Actually a
        long history now exists that shows how much reason has modified civilization. The fact that you can read
        this rejoinder from your remote enclave is proof enough of that.

        So I will stay with rationalist. The difference is knowing what we can do inside ourselves, versus what
        might or might not be happening outside ourselves.’

    • Alaska Pi says:

      KN-
      I too take issue with the term “audacious atheist” but from a very different place.
      The scamerinos and grifters have never seemed like atheists to me. I’m beth’s without-a-god atheist and am just fine with the designation. Those other patoots don’t live here next to me.
      They might be audacious in the negative sense of the word but not atheists.
      Nor do I find anything appealing in the “rationalist” argument.
      I too know far too many rational, richly religious folks who enrich my life and community with their way of being .
      As for religious organizations , of all types- time to do away with tax exemptions on anything except feeding, clothing, and assisting their neighbors- be the neighbors religious or not. Enough with the exemption from being part of the larger polity. Period.

  7. fishingmamma says:

    The Bible, I believe, was really given to us by God. I believe it was intentionally vague. I believe He is interested in our interpretations of the words, and our attempts to understand each other.

    I also believe that He gave us “free will”. I believe that we will be held accountable for our actions. I believe that God has created more than one path to finding the truth. I believe that some people need the rules of the Amish society, some people need the way of the mormans, some people need to live in the muslim faith. Some believe that God does not exist, but truth lies in behaving in an honorable way toward others. Navajos have their way. We all do. Judging another’s way, I believe is wrong.

    I do believe that holding another person accountable in this world is right.

    I also believe that God has an enormous sense of humor. I mean, really. You know those questions where they ask “Who would you most like to have dinner with?” Thinking you may say Jimmy Stewart, or a dead president — I always answer God. Cause I thing he has got to be funny as all get-out.

    • Mo says:

      P Z Myers said something in his Pharyngula blog the other day that I copied, altho I don’t have the link:

      “I think too many people look into religion and see a mirror, reflecting their good values and their personal aspirations, and they fail to see that they’re holding up a burden and a distraction and a poisonous delusion, and that, as good people, they’d be even greater when free of that ugliness.”

    • Ivan says:

      the god of the bible demanded worship and threatened punishment for disobedience.
      “jealous and vengeful” ?
      i do not believe this being is the creator, it is just something that wants to be
      considered or rather worshiped as a god.
      most of everything else, in the bible and any subsequent “revelation”, is just mans attempt to assign his own personal beliefs to GOD.
      there may truth’s in the bible that have come to man from the creator but i do not believe it is right to attribute those to the god of the bible. just as i do not think it right to attribute the deception and miss information in the bible to the creator.
      i do not believe the god of the bible is the creator of the universe or whatever holds the universe, or whatever holds that, or whatev————– !.

  8. Slopslinger says:

    Excellent article, Shannyn. Thankyou.

    You very clearly articulate the hypocrisy of many churches and their figureheads who claim to be faithful and expound upon their supposed beliefs in the teachings of those they worship, yet use their influence over their parishoners to advocate their own political agenda.

    I often think of my uncle, who, in reference to two churches that had built on adjacent parcels of land, and both claimed that they owned the ground upon which Jesus would make his second coming, said, “You know, whenever Jesus does come back, I believe he WILL come to this spot first just so he can slap the shit out of all these people.” Maybe not very Jesus-like, but funny and apropos, I think.

  9. WakeUpAmerica says:

    Again, you do remind me of the irreverent Molly Ivins. That’s a good thing.

  10. Mo says:

    Yes. Time to tax some actual moochers.

  11. mag the mick says:

    Jesus: When I was hungry, you gave me food. When I had no clothes, you gave me clothes. When I was in prison, you visited me.”

    The Boys: “Rabbi, what do you mean? When did this happen?”

    Jesus: “In whatever way you treat the very poorest and most dispossessed, that’s how you treat me.”

  12. juneaudream says:

    Amen..’cept for the ..god bless part. I m a pagan..born and raised.The educated family members..flew away from churches..grabbed ahold of things like Nat’l Geo. and The Great Books of the World. At this moment in time..on another site..I am counseling a very devout Christian woman..who is..afraid of death. Sits in her church, tithes amazingly well..and..death frightens her. Go figure. Why..oh why..is it them..who lean on me..to explain their value systems? Tiz a puzzlement for darn sure!

    • AKblue says:

      Juneaudream, some churches preach hell-fire and brimstone along side a God who is unconditionally loving. It’s hard to reconcile a loving god who can toss a child into eternal fires for a temporal screw-up. That contradiction alone, and the guilt rained down by some preachers would make anyone terrified of death.

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