Bring It On! Religion and Society Religion and it's role in society. Wed, 09 Jan 2008 00:10:46 +0000 en God’s Charge To Mankind: Punish The Gays? Wed, 09 Jan 2008 00:01:21 +0000 Daniel DiRito Bill GatesChristianityENDAEqual RightsEvangelicalsGodHealth CareLGBTMicrosoftPovertyRedmondReligionReligious ExtremismRev. Ken HutchersonSame-Sex MarriageWashington Lighten Up God

It doesn’t happen often, but every now and again I find myself exasperated by what I read in a newspaper or on the Internet. Today I came across one such item. Apparently a conservative pastor in Redmond, Washington, the location of Microsoft’s headquarters  , is putting together an effort to get Christians to purchase shares of Microsoft stock in order to begin the process of ending the company’s support for “ungodly ventures”.

Cutting to the chase, the group is angered by Microsoft’s support for gay rights and the fact that the company believes its gay employees should receive all of the same consideratio n and benefits of their straight counterparts .

The groups leader, Rev. Ken Hutcherson, had previously sough to influence the company, a move that led a number of gay rights advocacy groups to accuse the company of allowing the Reverend to exert undue influence. At the time, the company briefly waffled on its support for a bill in the Washington’s state legislature of which barred workplace discriminati on against gays.

Hutcherson, joined by some of the country’s most influential Christian leaders, has created a new organization  , AGN Financial Network, to finance the effort. The worldwide venture asks people to buy three shares of company stock and donate one to AGN. Its Web site tells visitors, “You have the power to change the world,” and contains tips on how to open a brokerage account. Among the listed supporters are Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention and religious pundit Gary Bauer.

At Microsoft’s annual shareholder meeting in November, Hutcherson told the group that he was gathering evangelicals  , Catholics, Jews and Muslims to challenge the company.

He told company leaders, “I could work with you, or I could be your worst nightmare, because I am a black man with a righteous cause, with a host of powerful white people behind me,” according to an e-mail update to his supporters. “I hope to hear from you and if not, you will hear from me.”

When asked whether the new initiative is a ploy to make money for his church, Hutcherson said, “Absolutely. ”

“We’re going to need the finances to go to the next companies,” he said. “Anything you do successfully needs money.”

“Oh, yes ma’am, we’re going after corporations  ,” he said. “Microsoft has the privilege of being first because we have a history,” Hutcherson said.

I’ve said it many times before and I will say it again…these people will spend their last nickel attacking gays but for some odd reason you rarely hear them mounting the same kind of efforts to help the uninsured or the poor. If they were to take this same initiative with regards to providing health care for poor children in Washington, I suspect they could improve the lot of countless children. Instead, the Reverend wants Christians to donate stock so he can wage a public relations battle with Microsoft. Ahh, yes, is it any wonder why I revile most religious institutions  ?

All too often the leaders of religious organization s spend their time attempting to separate their followers from their hard earned cash by inciting their uninformed and misguided prejudices. Excuse my indignation, but if those in the service of the lord are actually little more than agents for agitating hatred, then I have to question the validity and necessity of their existence.

Further, if they represent the feelings of the god they impart; then he is little more than a vindictive interloper with misplaced priorities. In my most agitated moments, I conclude that this supposedly all-knowing god…the one who allegedly created all that is…is either a full-fledged fraud or one lousy engineer. If he didn’t want any gay people in the world he built, then he should have done a better job when building its inhabitants. Further, if he’s as focused as his followers on punishing gays and denying them equal rights…while simultaneous ly ignoring the plight of millions of his creatures, then he’s also one heartless and hypocritical caretaker.

I can save these fanatics and their god a lot of time, energy, and money. Here’s the deal. As I understand it, God created a place called hell for those who don’t follow his words as written in the Bible by a number of humans over two thousand years ago. Fine, then accept that I’m a lost cause and sign my friends and I up for irrevocable reservations to the fiery depths…then start spending the time and energy you’ve devoted to me and my gay cohorts helping the millions of innocent human beings in need. Call it my contribution to the advancement of Christianity .

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

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The Great Perplexity for Catholic Voters Tue, 08 Jan 2008 23:31:05 +0000 Jones of the Nile barack obamabill donohuecatholicelection 2008Faithgay marriageGodGOPhillary clintonJohn McCainMike Huckabeemitt romneynew hampshireracismRudy Giuliani New Hampshire polls close in just a few hours, but in the build-up to today’s primary, Manchester’s Catholic Bishop John B. McCormack gave an insightful quote that hints at the proverbial wall that many Catholics all over the country will be beating their heads against in the struggle to determine how to cast their vote. “Some candidates advance proposals that fail to mirror the commitment of the church to the protection of all human life. In many cases, these same candidates advance other policies and proposals that can be supported in light of church teaching. This frequent mixture of laudable and unacceptable positions causes great perplexity,” said Bishop McCormack.

What’s a Catholic to do when (1) it’s a moral responsibili ty to vote, (2) it’s a moral responsibili ty to vote for the candidate who best espouses the Church’s moral teachings, particularly on respecting life, and (3) no candidate on either side of the political aisle fits into the “perfect” mold of the Church’s moral teachings?

Now that’s a dilemma. Thank God I belong to the United Church of Christ now.

The battle for the Catholic vote will likely rev up in the coming weeks and months, as we get out of primary election mode and into general election hysteria. Who knows what lurks in the hearts (or empty vessels they pretend are hearts!) of political operatives and pollsters this year in terms of nabbing the Catholic vote. One thing is almost for certain: the right is going to argue that Democrats are unsuitable because of issues like abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia, and gay marriage. The left is going to argue that Republicans are unsuitable because of issues like poverty, immigration, health care, education, and most importantly, war. Who’s right?

Well, if you look at what the institutiona l Church (i.e. The Catholic Bishops Conference) has said, here’s their take on the number one issue that should inform a Catholic voter’s conscience in 2008 (quoted directly from Faithful Citizenship, released every Presidential Election season by the Bishops):

The right to life and the dignity of the human person.
Human life is sacred. Direct attacks on innocent human beings are never morally acceptable. Within our own society, life is under direct attack from abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, and the destruction of human embryos for research. These intrinsic evils must always be opposed. This teaching also compels us as Catholics to oppose genocide, torture, unjust war, and the unnecessary use of the death penalty, as well as to pursue peace and help overcome poverty, racism, and other conditions that demean human life.

Talk about triangulatio n! Did Mark Penn write this for the bishops?

Whether it’s McCain, Romney, Giuliani or Huckabee who ends up the eventual GOP nominee, clearly they don’t fit the bill given their records on issues like war, the death penalty, and torture (particularl y Romney, who wouldn’t rule out using waterboardin g as an interrogatio n technique). And that’s not a liberal Massachusett s blogger saying this…that’s the institutiona l Catholic Church.

On the Dem side, it gets trickier. Sure, you can argue (like the right will) that Obama and Clinton support abortion rights and support stem cell research, thus Catholics in good conscience shouldn’t vote for them. But when you peel back the layers of these complex issues, particularly abortion, and start to look at which party’s platform might actually lead to a reduction in abortion rates and teen pregnancy rates because of how it handles issues like economic justice, poverty, health care, and education, the waters get much muddier. That’s because Obama’s and Clinton’s principles seem to line up more with the principles of Catholic Social Teaching than, say, a war hawk, someone who wants to jail clergy for feeding illegal immigrants, those who would execute entire populations of prisoners, and those who would condone torture.

So the great perplexity for Catholic Voters, and Bishop McCormack put it, might just be turning away from the rants and raves of Bill Donohue, Phyllis Schlafly, Deal Hudson and others who would sabotage Catholic Social Teaching to fit their own political sympathies, and looking more deeply at the moral teachings of the Church.

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Pat’s Prayers Have Been Answered Tue, 08 Jan 2008 14:29:53 +0000 Omnipotent Poobah bring it onomnipotent poobahpat robertsonpoliticsreligion Duuuude!Pat Robertson’s prayers have been answered - again. He apparently wandered off to consult a burning bush (pun intended) for advice on who will win the election and God slipped him a fixed betting slip on the outcome.

Of course, it isn’t unusual that Pat has been on the WWJD Hotline (1-555-GET-G OD). He and God have offered predictions and justificatio ns for all sorts of things over the years. Remember Hurricane Gloria? It was all about the gays. September 11? Ditto. It’s truly amazing that cash-poor, God-besotted rubes keep shipping him buckets of money to fund his suspicious African diamond mines.

The Human Race: Feh
I have a pretty low opinion of the human race. We’ve proven time and time again that we can’t be trusted to do anything right. Give us a nice place to live and we insist on polluting the whole planet in return for a Hummer than can handle the heavy snows of Key West. When an opening for Leader of the Free WorldTM came up…well, you know how well we handled that…TWICE! But the one thing we never do is pay retail.

In purely economic terms, smart God shoppers should avoid shopping at PatMart. They pay Pat wholesale prices to pray for them even though the nation’s leading deity experts confirm you can do that absolutely free. Besides, Pat sells a defective product. Aside from desperate, terminal cancer patients saying Pat’s Perfect PrayersTM cured them, most prayer purchasers seldom gets results worth their $100 “donation” to the 700 Club. Personally, I’d support a Consumer Product Safety Commission ruling requiring Pat to put “Paid Endorsement” in unreadable tiny letters at the bottom of the TV screen. However, that’s another post.

Assassinatio ns-R-Us
In addition to prayers, PatMart offers other products under Pat’s Prince of Peace label. There are the Nigerian Email Scams and the Jesus action figures with thunderbolt throwing grip were huge this Christmas. The AIDS Patient Penitentiary  (add-on gay hurricane attachment optional) also sold gangbusters. Pat has suffered a few product failures though. Just ask Hugo Chavez about Pat’s Assassinatio ns-R-Us Kit - he should have known better than to stock Chinese-made rifles for that kit. Buy American!

So, as a public service, let me offer some consumer advice to Mr. and Mrs. America and all the neocons at sea. Pat has all the credibility of Ann Coulter and George Bush glued together at their empty heads. If Pat’s prayers worked, he wouldn’t be selling them, he’d simply pray for an eternal flow of cash in his pockets and stay home to enjoy the hot tub at Chateau Robertson. The fact is that Pat is a charlatan. If you want to pray, go ahead. If you want to have a friend or a loved one pray for you, be my guest. Hell, if you can convince Pat to throw a freebie your way, more power to you. Just don’t send the man any more money. He’s already richer than God and probably has the Cayman Island tax dodges to prove it.

Just pray for God to give you the sense to come in out of the rain and go with the discount prayers. They’re always a better deal.

politics, 2008 election, iraq, omnipotent poobah

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