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Culture War: Teach Your Children Well?

brainwashed.jpg

Drawing the appropriate line between parental rights and the states interest in the welfare of children can be a complex consideratio n. The emergence and prevalence of homeschoolin g has further complicated the equation. A ruling by a California appeals court will likely catapult the topic into the mainstream and it will undoubtedly become the latest flash point in the culture wars.

A California appeals court ruling clamping down on homeschoolin g by parents without teaching credentials sent shock waves across the state this week, leaving an estimated 166,000 children as possible truants and their parents at risk of prosecution.

The ruling arose from a child welfare dispute between the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and Philip and Mary Long of Lynwood, who have been homeschoolin g their eight children. Mary Long is their teacher, but holds no teaching credential.

The parents said they also enrolled their children in Sunland Christian School, a private religious academy in Sylmar (Los Angeles County), which considers the Long children part of its independent study program and visits the home about four times a year.

The Second District Court of Appeal ruled that California law requires parents to send their children to full-time public or private schools or have them taught by credentialed tutors at home.

The appeals court said state law has been clear since at least 1953, when another appellate court rejected a challenge by homeschoolin g parents to California’s compulsory education statutes. Those statutes require children ages 6 to 18 to attend a full-time day school, either public or private, or to be instructed by a tutor who holds a state credential for the child’s grade level.

The appeals court told the juvenile court judge to require the parents to comply with the law by enrolling their children in a school, but excluded the Sunland Christian School from enrolling the children because that institution “was willing to participate in the deprivation of the children’s right to a legal education.”

I suspect that the issue will soon devolve into a question of religious freedom…pitt ing the rights of parents against the states compelling interest to insure a curriculum consistent with sound science. Anyone who has watched documentarie s like Jesus Camp or Baby Bible Bashers should have an understandin g of the underlying issues.

Adding to the complexity are cases like that of Matthew Murray, the young man who was homeschooled and subsequently murdered two individuals at a Youth With A Mission location in Arvada, Colorado and two others at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs before killing himself.

Let me be clear, I don’t believe that parents should be precluded from teaching their religious beliefs to their children or that Matthew Murray’s situation is an indisputable indictment of homeschoolin g. On the other hand, the push for a Biblical interpretati on of science and the argument that God’s laws take precedent over the laws of the state are troubling developments that must be addressed.

Ironically, one can look to the words of the ancient playwright Terence for a measure of guidance. Not only is Terence known for his quotation, “Moderation in all things”, he also is said to have stated, “Children should be led into the right paths, not by severity, but by persuasion.”

All too often, those inclined to homeschool do so in order to instill their brand of extreme ideology…eve n if it lacks substantiati on and conflicts with far more factual theories. Unfortunatel y, the dogmatic nature of many religions posits that the only relevant truth is the truth they espouse. Hence, many of those parents who embrace this doctrine are not only unwilling to expose their children to alternate views; they see the views of the state as inferior and irrelevant.

Even worse, some parents seek to portray the state and the society as evil which can effectively isolate and alienate their children. In extreme instances, it may well set in motion the process by which the Matthew Murray’s of the world unleash their misguided malice on others.

Unfair as this may be, the fact that the California ruling outraged James Dobson of Focus on the Family leads me to believe that the appellate court may have ruled correctly in requiring that homeschoolin g must be conducted by instructors with state mandated credentials. Sadly, men like Dobson have made a career of vilifying others in order to solidify their hold on their followers and thus insure his financial success and his penchant for power.

The following is from the Focus on the Family website:

Dr. James Dobson used today’s Focus on the Family radio broadcast to tell his listeners about an “egregious decision” handed down by a California appellate court recently.

The 2nd District Court of Appeals ruled that California parents without teaching credentials do not have a right to home-school their children.

“The court has assaulted parental rights again, and this time with a sledgehammer  ,” Dr. Dobson said. “Listeners in all 50 states should take notice.”

Dr. Mike Farris, co-founder and chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said the ruling “effectively is slamming the door on home schooling for everyone.”

“I [Dobson] just pray that you all will be on your knees before the Lord, symbolically or otherwise,” he said, “and ask Him to protect those children in California and all over the country.”

Note how the final quote from Dobson seeks to suggest that parents must “protect” their children from the state. Look, I realize that public education isn’t perfect. At the same time, the ruling isn’t prohibiting homeschoolin g; it is simply requiring that it be taught under the guidelines of prior rulings. Dobson neglects to mention this in his statements.

It doesn’t surprise me that he prefers to portray the ruling as an assault upon religion…an emerging tactic employed by many evangelical leaders. Identifying an enemy and establishing themselves and their followers as victims of persecution only strengthens the hold men like Dobson seek to insure.

Frankly, I see the strategy of men like Dobson much the same as I view the actions of Karl Rove and George Bush. Nothing serves their purposes better than to identify an enemy, argue that the enemy seeks to destroy one’s way of life, and them utilize the fear they create to manipulate the masses.

I don’t begrudge anyone’s right to their religious beliefs. At the same time, when those beliefs are pitted against the interest of the state in order to usurp the state’s authority, then the lines drawn by our forefathers to separate church and state are being violated.

In the end, men like Dobson burn the candle at both ends. They favor democracy when it serves their purposes, they play the victim when democracy doesn’t comport with their wishes, and they yearn for the day when have the wherewithal to dictate their doctrines without regard for the democratic process.

The Dobson’s of the world champion dissent…but only if it is their own. Those dissenters with whom they disagree are cast as villains who threaten to usurp God’s authority. Unfortunatel y, countless religions are convinced they are the sole purveyors of God’s truth. As such, they have no reservation to meet out condemnation s and call for prohibitions against, and punishments for, those they oppose.

The logic employed by our forefathers well over 200 years prior suggests they understood that religions would likely remain “at loggerheads” in perpetuity. Wisely, they sought to establish a system that was intended to insure that no one faith should or could abridge the rights of others.

In this day and age, it’s troubling to realize that men like Dobson in this country…and Islamic extremists in other nations…are all too happy to seek to subvert the role of the state while sharing in their disregard for the principle of reciprocity.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater


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Florida Catholic Conference donates large chunks of money for anti-gay ballot measure

It hasn’t received much attention, but a last minute petition campaign for a “Marriage Protection Amendment” managed to secure a spot on Florida’s November ballot, sneaking in by the skin of its teeth on Friday. Given that Florida has already enacted a state-wide “Defense of Marriage Act,” one has to wonder why another push is being made by anti-gay organization s and institutions to keep this issue in the minds of voters.

Oh, wait. I know. It’s because conservative religious voters need a reason to go to the polls this November, seeing as how they are pretty unhappy with their choice of potential GOP nominees. So, sure enough, Florida4marr iage.org has secured a ballot initiative to ban gay marriage yet again.

Does anyone else feel like they’re reading the back of a shampoo bottle? Rinse. Wash. Repeat. Over and over again, every election cycle.

The specific language of the ballot measure says, “Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.”   Sixty percent of Floridians need to vote yes on the amendment in order for it to become law.

Not surprisingly  , the Republican Party of Florida was the largest bank roll for the campaign to get this measure on the ballot. They spent a whopping $300,000 collecting more than 600,000 signatures. But the number two donor? No, not Domino’s Pizza. No, not the Christian Coalition. But the Florida Catholic Conference, which gave nearly $50,000 for the effort. Yes, the same Florida Catholic Conference whose vision statement says they are guided by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings of his Church.

Of course, I’m sure if Jesus had $50,000 to burn, he wouldn’t have spent it going after gays and lesbians. You know, not when 15% of children under 18 live under the poverty level in the state. Darn that pesky Jesus and his message of economic populism.

Whether this amendment will bring out conservative voters in the Fall remains to be seen, but the gauntlet has once again been thrown. Ironically, Florida’s GOP Governor, Charlie Crist, has asked the Republican Party to stop spending money on this campaign, saying there are more important issues that warrant the money. Maybe somebody should convey that message to the Florida Catholic Conference, since the teachings of Jesus don’t seem to be doing the trick.

Thankfully, the ballot measure has already drawn organized opposition, in the form of the bipartisan “Florida Red and Blue Committee.” They call this ballot measure “dangerous and disingenuous  ,” and are organizing a drive to educate voters on why the amendment is not only unnecessary, but another example of the government bursting into the doors of citizens’ private lives. Check the Florida Red and Blue Committee out. Friend them on Facebook. Do whatever you can, so that come November 2008, organization s like the Florida Catholic Conference can be sent a message that they should feed the poor, clothe the naked, bless the peacemakers, and be good stewards of the Earth, rather than try to control who loves who. Darn that pesky Bible.


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Does This “Science” Serve Any Purpose?

I’m not religious (as you’d probably guess from some of my other posts) but I still found this article sort of irritating.

The gist seems to be that people who believe in God — or anything supernatural — or who anthropomorp hize their pets, well, they’re basically just a bunch of introverted geeks who don’t have a life. “Lonelines s Breeds Belief in Supernatural ” is the name of the article. WTF?

It would be one thing if the above categories were just a small minority. But when you add up everybody who believes in a conventional religion, everybody who believes in some sort of afterlife or reincarnatio n (whether through religious or occult/metap hysical beliefs) and everybody who anthropomorp hizes their pets — you’re probably talking about 99% of the population.

So apparently one percent of the population is successful and well-adjuste d, and the other 99% are just a bunch of neurotics who can’t get it together.

I have no idea what the point of this article was. Even if it’s true, it’s like saying anybody who can’t bench press 500 pounds is a wuss, or if you don’t work at least 19 hours a day you’re just a waste of oxygen.

IMHO


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God’s Charge To Mankind: Punish The Gays?

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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Pat’s Prayers Have Been Answered

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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Removing The Thin Veil Of Evangelical Eisegesis

Before I begin, let me be clear…I have great sympathy for the immense pain and loss the family of Matthew Murray must be enduring. I don’t for a moment question their sincerity and I’m certain they love Matthew, and I wish them well. We will likely never fully understand the dynamics that led to this tragic ordeal. However, it is important to explore all of the mechanisms which may have contributed to this terrible tragedy so that others might be spared the life-shatter ing agony. Additionally  , with measured and objective reflection, perhaps we can uncover the means to save the lives of people like Matthew and his innocent victims. I offer the following with this in mind.

As I read an account of the funeral of Matthew Murray, it crystallized the certainty of my long held concern. There’s no better way to state it…Christi anity has been hijacked by those who will spare no effort in their goal of coalescing each and every individual within the confines of their beguiling brand of fundamental and fraudulent evangelicali sm.

This broad movement, populated by dangerous demagogues, is tireless in its efforts to define God’s intentions via literal, though laconic, interpretati ons of Biblical passages. They set out to instill this canard via a cunning sleight of hand…one that endeavors to package biblical eisegesis as biblical exegesis in an effort to engender irrefutable status and unyielding support.

The end game seeks to insure that every human act can be filtered through this masterfully manipulated prism…rega rdless of reasonabilit y. Sadly, the efforts to view Matthew’s life and death through this narrow purview have already commenced.

Since the tragic events unfolded in Colorado, I’ve watched as a number of conscripts have sought to sell the theory that the “normality ” of Matthew’s younger brother precluded the casting of doubt or the shining of a suspicious light upon the environment in which Matthew was raised. This crock block has been expressed as follows:

He (Matthew), in my opinion had the best, most supporting family. The whole family is so nice and giving. 
IF his condition was caused by an event in his life, it would have to be something outside the family because his brother is a happy, friendly and a talented piano player. If it were his mum or dad wouldn’t his brother also be at least somewhat affected???

On the surface, one might be inclined to accept this argument…o r at least consider its plausibility . Needless to say, even the underlying premise of this statement misses the mark. Clearly the relevant problem exceeds his “mum and dad” and the fact that his brother may have embraced the religious teachings of the higher authority brought into the home via his parents doesn’t mean the environment was healthy or connected to rationality.

A siblings acceptance of the prescribed ideology doesn’t affirm its validity nor does it necessarily absolve the parents of any potential responsibili ty. One can just as easily argue that the brother has, in fact, been affected…n ot only as a result of parental oversight; but also as a product of intense ideological indoctrinati on. Should there be any doubt as to this likelihood, let the words of Christopher Murray persuade you otherwise:

Even though Satan attacked my brother, I truly feel God is going to save a whole generation of people through this.”

I suspect Matthew felt attacked by something other than Satan. I also suspect he would have been overjoyed to simply find the means to save himself…but even Matthew realized that wasn’t in keeping with the “master plan” of his “handlers”.

Anyone who has read Matthews voluminous writings will immediately know how to draw the necessary connections to, and conclusions from, this telling statement of Matthew’s brother.

While one might expect Matthew’s tragic death to lead his family to question their fundamental beliefs…as well as the rigid script they pushed upon Matthew suggesting his eventual role as a prophet (even to the extent that it foretold he would first turn away from his faith), it appears that his death has simply been incorporated into an ongoing story line.

The fact that the family would continue to brandish this biblically based biography (adaptations included as needed) with unflinching adherence may surprise or shock the objective observer…b ut it shouldn’t…es pecially if one remembers the constructs upon which this movement is premised. Nothing, not event the death of a loved one, can force them to deviate from their doctrinal diatribe. If the outside observer can discern that rigidity, is it any wonder Matthew would be tormented by it?

I contend such an environment essentially relegates a child like Matthew to irrelevance… a virtual character in a play whereby the doubts and discomforts of the real person (Matthew) are inconsequent ial. The ideology, the church, and mom and dad have but one objective… to direct the production of the preordained outcome. As such, understandin g Matthew was unnecessary. Instead, they set out to make him understand his role regardless of his protestation s. When he failed to comply, they simply wrote his behavior into their script…all the while preserving the integrity of the ending.

I would compare the situation to a father who dabbled in golf as a child, but for whatever reason never succeeded in the sport, who then becomes determined to turn his child into the next Tiger Woods regardless of the child’s total lack of athletic ability and an unbridled interest in classical piano.

As this process unfolds, the child will undoubtedly feel inadequate. If the pressure persists or advances, the child’s identity will suffer untold damage. In extreme situations, some children will strike out in an effort to be seen as more than an object being utilized to augment the insecurities of the parent(s).

Returning to Matthew’s writings, in one of his many entries he states:

As far as dealing with parents….I don’t think the woman known as my mother really is my mother. She doesn’t act like it. My “mother” is just a brainswashed  (sp) church agent cun,t. The only reason she had me was because she wanted a body/soul she could train into being the next Billy Graham, Bill Gothard, or Peter Wagner. […] She had a “special plan from the Lord” for me. No easy way out for me. Almost every f***ing day and at every church service the pastors and our parents would tell me and the other youth that “God has a very special plan for this generation…. .don’t break any rules or you’ll miss out!!! Honor and OBEY your parents and the pastors (”god’s anointed”) or your life will be cursed and you’ll open a doorway for demons!”

Clearly little interpretati onal analysis is needed…Mat thew, in his own words, vividly supports the argument I’ve made. One needn’t take license to realize that Matthew felt invisible.

We may never know what Matthew sought to impart in his final actions…bu t I’m willing to surmise that the words his brother spoke at his funeral would serve as one further reminder to Matthew of his inability to be seen outside the constructs of the dogmatic design of those he knew.

Nonetheless, those who contend that looking at Matthew’s brother should absolve the family or his faith from any accountabili ty is akin to suggesting that Nazi war criminals were not influenced by the rampant rhetoric and reprehensibl e rationale of Adolf Hitler’s “final solution”. Let me be clear, the acts of those who carried out the Holocaust can never be justified and neither can Matthew’s. While this is an extreme comparison, even in the resolution of far more innocuous liability cases, the attribution of responsibili ty is rarely applied solely to one party.

Those who manipulate others in order to execute misguided agendas are sullied by the acts of their minions…ev en if those injustices are perpetrated by the willful behavior of adults…and those in positions of authority mustn’t be allowed to reconstruct reality in order to absolve accountabili ty.

Matthew, unlike these Nazi criminals, was systematical ly submitted to indoctrinati on his entire life. If grown men in Germany were susceptible to the suspension of reasonable and long-establi shed mores, what chance did a vulnerable child have to avoid the madness that ensued from his efforts to reject hypocrisy and see life outside of the prison he was forced to endure? If our condemnation of Hitler and his ideology is justified, so too is our questioning of parental propriety.

It should come as no surprise that the world Matthew chose when rejecting his faith was filled with the constructs of his overlords… a world immersed in images of evil and inhumane idols…a world cast by the iron fisted adults in his life as the only alternative available to those who would fall from grace. In limiting Matthew’s contact with the outside world…as well as vilifying it…they precluded him from witnessing moderation and escaping the confines of the black and white extremities they promoted.

Now, more than ever, it is time to break the back of religious extremism lest we regress into the throes of a dark ages mentality… a time where the pursuit of objective knowledge is subjugated to the asserted infallibilit y of religious ideology.

When the following statement can be accepted as a reasonable reaction to Matthew’s horrendous final actions, have we not commenced the suspension of our humanity in favor of a contrived denial construct?

just thought I’d let u guys know…i go to new life…and i love it there..God forgives and so do i…i forgave matthew the minute it happened…w e are all sinners and capable of making huge mistakes. God loves everyone…i pray for his family…and that somehow through this tradegdy (sp) that God WILL be exhaulted (sp)  […]

The nature of man tells us death is first met by grief and anger and sometime in the future forgiveness will hopefully emerge. When those of faith leap to make statements that deny as much, have we not injected the very ideations that led Matthew to reject the sincerity of religion? Any faith that believes we can or should abandon our basic human traits is suspect.

If I can read the English language…a nd I believe I can…then aren’t those who are leaping to accept and embrace Matthew in death, the same who ignored and rejected him in life? If that is a demonstratio n of Christianity  , then Jesus Christ was a fraud.

On the contrary, I contend those who portray their Christianity through trite statements and symbols, as if it were the equivalent of a badge that can be slapped upon one’s lapel, are simply engaged in a never-ending spiral of hypocrisy and self-decepti on.

While I applaud the sincerity and compassion being exhibited by many people of faith, those easily identified interlopers who wear their faith like a badge, and who seek to usurp Christianity  , must be exposed and forced to travel far deeper than the pretty proclamation s they’ve begun to toss upon this terrible tragedy.

Unless and until this happens, we’re never going to save the Matthew’s of the world…or prevent the needless carnage they inflict.

behindtheveil.jpg

Cross-posted at Thought Theater


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Matthew Murray, nghtmrchld26: The Confrontation At New Life Church In 2004

There appears to have been a connection between Matthew Murray and New Life Church in 2004…one that resulted in a confrontatio n. Perhaps this explains why Matthew chose New Life as a target. Even more significant, the staff at New Life allegedly warned Murray’s mother that Matthew might be “planning violence”.

The gist of the situation seems to suggest that two staff members told Matthew’s mother that he “wasn’t walking with the lord and could be planning violence”. From that situation, Matthew’s mother found his stash of “evil” items (music, books, video games) and confiscated them. It appears he may have blamed this on the folks at New Life.

Forum Thread Number One:

First Entry:

On 09/04/06 - Chrstnghtmr wrote:

Thread: Growing up in the nightmare of Bill Gothard and Charismatic Christianity  (short version) (Healing)  (Posted on: 04 Sep : 13:04)

I am 22 years old and I was raised in Bill Gothard’s homeschool program all the way through high school. I went to both the Basic and Advanced Seminars. My Mother was fully into both Bill Gothard’s programs AND the Charismatic movement. She followed Peter Wagner, Mike Bickle, Joyce Meyer, Ted Haggard of New Life Church, Cindy Jacobs, Dutch Sheets and any other person who was popular in the Charismatic movement at the time.

In addition to all of Bill Gothard’s insanity my mother was into all the charismatic/ ”fanatical evangelical” insanity. Her and her church believed that Satan and demons were everywhere in everything. The rules were VERY strict all the time. We couldn’t have ANY christian or non-christia n music at all except for a few charismatic worship CDs. There was physical abuse in my home. My mother although used psychotropic drugs because she somehow thought it would make it easier to control me(I’ve never been diagnosed with any mental illness either). Pastors would always come and interrogate me over video games or TV watching or other things. There were NO FRIENDS outside the church and family and even then only family members who were in the church. You could not trust anyone at all because anyone might be a spy.

At age 17, I decided to “go all out for Jesus” and do my best to practice christianity and live it out. I went to the bible to read for myself how one gets “saved.” I found several different versions of getting saved from the gospels. In John it was mainly “have faith” but in Mt, Mk, and Lk, it was as found in Mt 25, that you would have eternal life by doing good works(which of course is considered heresy). So I went to the books from the man that “had all the answers,” Bill gothard’s Basic and Advanced seminar textbooks.

What I found were all these other rules Irealized I could never live up to, yet, the man seemed to have a biblical basis for everything. In Februrary 2001 at age 17 I plunged into a dark suicidal depression all because I thought I had lost my “salvation” and somehow couldn’t live up to the rules. Every single hour of every single day, up until October 2001 I thought about ways of suicide and hating myself for not being worthy enough and failing God. I felt like there was no reason to live because I had lost my salvation and could never live up to the rules. In May of 2001, I told my parents I was depressed and they put me on 2 anti-depress ants(in addition to the other crap pills they had me on to try to brainwash me).

None of that touched this depression at all. Everyone prayed, they laid hands on me, spoke in tongues over me, I sought out every kind of christian spiritual help I knew of in charismatic christianity . I through away video games, a few movies, anything that could possibly be “bringing demons” that would cause me to lose God’s favour and make me depressed. I never told my parents I was suicidal however, that would have gotten me in big trouble, I just told them I was depressed.

In Oct 2001 I decided it had to end somehow, so I decided to simply reject the idea that Bill Gothard was infallible. The depression mostly cleared right up. I was still a little depressed because I saw other youth in another group doing so well and happy with life. That group was called King’s Kids.
King’s Kids is a youth ministry of YWAM.
I got involved with King’s Kids and went on missions trips with them.

At age 18, in 2002, I went to Youth With A Mission to do their “DTS” program which lasts a total of 5 months, the last two months you go on outreach. On the YWAM base several of the other young men smoked pot, looked at porn, listened to heavy metal, AND were involved in homosexual activities. 6 of the guys made a homosexual porn videotape together on the YWAM Denver campus but only one got kicked out because his face was on the video. 1 week before I was to head out on outreach, I was told by the YWAM Denver staff that I couldn’t go because I “wasn’t popular and talkative enough for missions work.” They admitted that I hadn’t done anything wrong, just that they had prayed and felt I wasn’t popular/”con nected” and talkative enough. I had already raised the $2600 for the 3 month course AND payed the $2200 for the missions trip(I did get a refund).

When I got back home it was back to the good old restriction and that is when I started having serious doubts about christianity . I got on staff with another group that is a program of YWAM called King’s Kids. I was on staff with them until mid 2005.

In early 2004, I was still living at home at age 20. I went to a charismatic conference at New Life church with my mother and her church. At the conference I got into a debate with two prayer team staff members. These two staff members watched me throughout the conference to find out who I was with. They found my mother and told her this story that went something along the lines of I “wasn’t walking with the lord and could be planning violence.” Two weeks later my mother brought over one of the pastors to search my room for “anything evil”(which included my Xbox video game and DVD collection). I tried moving all the video games, DVDs, and a few non-christia n books over to a friends house, but that woman was a church member. My mother and the church leadership called that woman, got into her house and basically destroyed at *least* $900 worth of property. I wasn’t involved in anything like drugs or anything like that. I just had video games, some books about other religions, DVDs and such.

After that incident my mother searched my room for the next 3 months EVERY SINGLE DAY. After that I decided it was over, that I had had it with christianity . Seeing how there are all these different churches and interpretati ons of the bible and what Jesus said, many different views on what a sin actually is and isn’t, different views on what God approves of, and all kinds of different views on:On how to get “saved” and how to stay “saved,” I realized that Christianity was mostly a big lie. Everyone has different ways of getting and staying saved and staying in God’s favor yet somehow there’s “only one God, one way to God and only one Word of God.”

I had already told my mother to lay off or she’d regret it. After that incident in 2004 I immediately went into all of Marilyn Manson’s thinking, ideas and music, believe it or not.

I found a LOT in common with Marilyn Manson and what he had to say, especially on his “Antichrist Superstar” album. I got involved in several other things too.

I never bothered to tell my King’s Kids leaders and friends that I had changed beliefs. I just stayed on KK Staff because I enjoyed going on outreaches and helping people. In 2005, I had written some poems about my experiences and sent them to some of my friends, 2 of which were on King’s Kids staff. One them got upset about it and forwarded it to the local King’s Kids director. He called me up and said he needed to have a meeting right away about “these e-mails you sent.” At the meeting I told him that they weren’t meant for him or anyone not on the list and that I didn’t see how any sin had been done. He admitted that I hadn’t done anything wrong by writing poetry, but he was still upset about it because it was talking bad about christians. He told me not to go to anymore meetings and that he would call me every other week to talk. He only called me the next week and has never called again. I had faithfully served them for a totall of 4 years, 3 of them on King’s Kids staff. I found out with them just who my friends really are.

After the 2005 King’s Kids I have not had any other affiliation with christian groups. however I’d say I left christianity in 2004.

Since leaving christianity I have gone on to the following:
Freemasonry- Scottish Rite, York Rite, Shriners
Everything Alesiter Crowley and Thelemic Magick, Marilyn Manson, Ceremonial Magick, Hermeticism, the Golden Dawn, Kabbalistic magick and studies.
Alice A. Bailey and her books, Lucis Trust, H.P. Blavatsky, Theosophy.

This story is kind of a shortened form. A LOT went on up until age 18, and then a lot happened at age 19(2003) to now.

____________ ____________ ____________ ____________ ____
Every man and every woman is a star

Editor’s Notes:

The following postings provide some poignant and troubling insights into Matthew and his thoughts. If one believes what Matthew has written, he asserts that he is bisexual…and has participated in “every sort of sexual perversion”… a statement which likely reflects some of the very religious judgments he sought to escape.

The last entry in this posting is perhaps the most significant… and perhaps one of the most troubling. I’ll offer a note of caution, in that Matthew uses some harsh and crass language in recounting an alleged conversation he had with his mother.

What is clear is his growing resentments and his determinatio n to effect a change. I contend his rejection of his religious ideology unfortunatel y didn’t include the ability to separate his newly chosen activities (drinking, sex, etc) from the construct of sin which had been ingrained in his psyche. While choosing to rebel, it is obvious he still loathes his actions though sees them as equal or superior to the hypocrisy and abuse he believes he experienced while attempting to live his faith.

Sadly, in the end, I suspect he couldn’t find a comfortable and comforting choice…hence his decision to end his life. It’s unfortunate that he apparently concluded he had no reasonable alternatives to the path he ultimately chose. I find it difficult to fathom being in that state of mind…but then that’s the primary reason for this exercise.

Let’s hope that our society will decide to be more proactive in the future.

Read more…


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Matthew Murray: nghtmrchld26…In His Own Words (Updated)

As most of you know, it has been determined that Matthew Murray was the shooter in two incidents at religious organization s in Colorado which left five people dead…includi ng Murray.

The following entries are Matthew Murrays postings on an internet site where ex-pentecost als share their thoughts and experiences. Aside from the first entry, I’ve attempted to organize them in date order so the reader is able to follow the progression of his thoughts and his obviously spiraling hopelessness and depression. Let me be clear…I don’t offer this observation as a defense for Murray’s actions…they cannot be justified. Rather, it is an opportunity for us to learn more about the dynamics which lead these individuals to such heinous acts.

The first entry includes a music video which I think is fundamental to understandin g the mechanics involved in these individuals attempts to dissociate themselves from their religious upbringings. I contend that the imagery in this song…though seen by Matthew and others as a means to rebel against or reject their religious ideology…is in fact still attached to the constructs and notions that were found in their faith.

Further, the imagery in both (their prior faith and their newfound anti-faith) is a manifestatio n of extremes…ext remes that often preclude these individuals from achieving some semblance of balance in their lives. In essence, in order to achieve the freedom they seek and to break the ties of the belief system they’ve been raised to follow, they move towards the very images and ideations which they were presented as representati ve of the “other side”…images and ideations which are no more real than the ones they seek to reject.

Unfortunatel y, they often lack the means to visualize their rejection of faith in ways which would bring balance and a far more healthy world view. In the end, the place they arrive is little more than a rejection construct populated by the same extreme concepts they seek to escape…ever steeped in the vividly defined notions of darkness which they have been instructed to resist.

I intend to offer additional observations and analysis of these writings but I wanted to first get them published so readers have an opportunity to ruminate on Murray’s state of mind as well as the circumstance s which contributed to his tragic decision.

NOTE: I’ve included more of my own thoughts at the end of the posting.

Subject: From the Cradle to Enslave - Music Video
Posted By: nghtmrchld26 Friend
Posted At: 10/29/07 8:52 pm
Reply

I saw this band in concert recently, They kicked a**.
Some people say this is “just entertainmen t,” but for me, and some of my friends, the songs bands like this sing are VERY REAL, it’s kind of something we can “see” and can feel and in a spiritual sense and we’re able to “connect” “into” the music. Very powerful song…..

Editor’s Warning: This video contains adult content, violence, & is rather disturbing.

Read more…


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Mike Huckabee’s cat and mouse game

As the cult of Mike Huckabee continues to grow, both nationally and across the state of Iowa, his cat and mouse game on religion is stepping up. Case in point, this AP article, “Huckabee Bristles at Creationism Query.”

Huckabee has sought time and again to portray himself as a Christian candidate. His advertisemen t in Iowa features big, blocky letters that pan “Christian Candidate” across the screen. He’s received the endorsement from Tim LaHaye, one of the co-authors of the “Left Behind” series (compulsory evangelical lit). His campaign Web site uses the alliterate trifecta of “Faith. Family. Freedom.” And he just recently received the endorsement of Chuck Hurley, an influential conservative activist in Iowa who was backing former Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, before Brownback dropped out of the race.

Yet as The Incredible Huck is continually asked about his faith, he’s playfully getting irritated. Case in point in the news article above; Huckabee is asked whether he thinks creationism should be taught in public schools, and he responds “Why the fascination with my beliefs?”

At the risk of stating the obvious, Mr. Huckabee, the fascination with your beliefs is not only your own doing, but it’s the reason you’re up in Iowa. The more you’re identified as a Christian candidate, the more Mitt Romney looks like he believes that the Garden of Eden was located in Missouri. (Oh wait. He does.)

This is why Huckabee can play the cat and mouse game. He can say, “Look, stop focusing on my beliefs,” while still getting the message out there that what he believes is on target with the vast majority of GOP caucus-goers in Iowa. It’s like the reverse of a Catch-22. Whether he makes religion his focal point, or whether he chafes at religion being the focal point, Huckabee benefits.

Which begs the question: If Mitt Romney has millions and millions of dollars to pay political consultants, why the hell did none of them see this coming?

This caucus is Mike Huckabee’s to lose. And as Jet Netwal pointed out earlier on this site, that means we’re all in trouble.


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The Catholic League goes after “The Golden Compass”

Another news cycle, another round of stories quoting Bill Donohue and the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. Given all of the media attention Bill Donohue gets, you’d expect his organization to be a major public policy think tank. It’s not. It’s one person – BD himself – and he bilks the 501c3 organization for a mind-blowing $300,000 annual salary.

What does Bill Donohue do to earn that money? He lambastes Kathy Griffin. He criticizes Joy Behar and The View. He rants on the Folsom Street Fair. He protests companies that say “Seasons Greetings” instead of “Merry Christmas” . And in his latest round of media whoring, Donohue is launching a vendetta against the upcoming Nicole Kidman movie, “The Golden Compass.”

I cannot figure out why mainstream press gives this guy any credence. He is a one man shop pretending to speak for a movement. Their Web site lists no other staff other than Donohue, and their 990 IRS report (posted on Guide Star) lists only one other paid person – Bernadette Brady, Vice President (and she makes $170,000!). He speaks for a movement of one.

Moreover, he’s not officially a representati ve of the Catholic Church. Time after time the media lets him offer a Catholic position, but he has no formal ties to the institutiona l Church. He’s not a priest, nor does he work for the US Bishops Conference. True, his physical office space is part of the New York Archdiocese s property, but he’s not employed the by Archdiocese.  

So to recap: Bill Donohue. Rants about pop culture while pretending to be the official voice of a major U.S. religion, while cashing in a $300,000 annual salary as director of a NON-PROFIT. It’s no wonder you won’t find much about poverty or economic injustice on his organization ’s Web site!

Donohue’s venom toward “The Golden Compass” stems from what he thinks is an anti-religio us bent, and suggests that the author of the “Dark Materials” fantasy trilogy (which “The Golden Compass” is a part of) is an extreme atheist. Donohue hasn’t read any of these books, of course. Nor has he seen the movie yet. Yet AFP still gives him a soapbox to stand on.

Pathetic.

Though I usually find her a bit abrasive, I think Kathy Griffin has it right when it comes to Bill Donohue. Check out this YouTube clip of her comedy special, where she trounces Bill Donohue. Donohue went full force after Griffin when she won an Emmy and told the audience that no one had less to do with her winning the award than “Jesus.”  

I’m starting to think that no one has less to do with the work of Bill Donohue than Jesus. But that’s beside the point. Enjoy Kathy Griffin’s clip, and go see “The Golden Compass,” just to spite Bill Donohue. Then give the books to your children for Christmas!


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