Are the Christians you know more like Jesus or Pharisees?

One of the common critiques leveled at present-day Christianity is that it’s a religion full of hypocritical people. A new Barna Group study examines the degree to which this perception may be accurate. The study explores how well Christians seem to emulate the actions and attitudes of Jesus in their interactions with others.

In this nationwide study of self-identified Christians, the goal was to determine whether Christians have the actions and attitude of Jesus as they interact with others or if they are more akin to the beliefs and behaviors of Pharisees, the self-righteous sect of religious leaders described in the New Testament…

Using…20 questions as the basis of analysis, the researchers created an aggregate score for each individual and placed those results into one of four categories, or quadrants…The four categories include:

• Christ-like in action and attitude
• Christ-like in action, but not in attitude
• Christ-like in attitude, but not action
• Christ-like in neither

The findings reveal that most self-identified Christians in the U.S. are characterized by having the attitudes and actions researchers identified as Pharisaical. Just over half of the nation’s Christians — using the broadest definition of those who call themselves Christians — qualify for this category (51%). They tend to have attitudes and actions that are characterized by self-righteousness.

On the other end of the spectrum, 14% of today’s self-identified Christians — just one out of every seven Christians — seem to represent the actions and attitudes Barna researchers found to be consistent with those of Jesus.

In the middle are those who have some mix of action and attitude. About one-fifth of Christians are Christ-like in attitude, but often represent Pharisaical actions (21%). Another 14% of respondents tend to be defined as Christ-like in action, but seem to be motivated by self-righteous or hypocritical attitudes.

The study is lots more interesting than I thought it would be. Read it to find and follow a great deal of detail, e.g., information broken out for self-identified evangelicals, Catholics, political ideology, age…And it appears to be sound in analysis, technique and style.

Hope our readers find it useful.

Taxpayers get to pay the price for official state bigotry

Two months after the U.S. Supreme Court ended the legal debate over gay marriage by declaring that the constitutionally protected civil right to marriage must be extended to same-sex couples nationwide, attorneys general and governors who fought it are receiving unpleasant souvenirs of failure: Invoices from the attorneys who beat them.

States that defended same-sex marriage bans — most did, to some extent — are now being asked to pay the legal fees for those litigants under a 40-year-old federal law that says the court “in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party … a reasonable attorney’s fee as part of the costs.”

Or as Michigan attorney Dana Nessel put it: “It’s the price governments pay for defending bigotry.”

Defeat won’t come cheap — or, in many cases, without further legal wrangling.

Michigan is weighing its response to a $1.9 million demand from attorneys for April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, plaintiffs in one of the four cases that went to the Supreme Court and was decided in June. In Kentucky, another state involved in the Supreme Court showdown, the bill for services rendered is $2.1 million. South Carolina has been ordered to pay $130,000, and Florida’s attorney general is fighting a tab of about $700,000.

Several states have struck agreements already. Pennsylvania settled for $1.5 million, Wisconsin for $1.05 million, Virginia for $580,000, Oregon for $132,000, Colorado for $90,000, Utah for $95,000 and North Dakota for $58,000. The varying prices reflect the length of the battles or their intensity.

“This is exactly what Congress created this law for,” said Stephen Rosenthal, a Miami-based attorney who fought Florida’s ban. “It’s a recognition that people need lawyers to fight the government, which has lots of lawyers, when they feel their civil rights are being violated. To encourage lawyers to take these cases, you need to provide the potential to get paid in the end.”

The attorneys general of Michigan, Florida, South Carolina and South Dakota did not respond to requests for comment.

Sometimes the creeps who fight tooth-and-nail against progress get what they deserve. Taxpayers – who elected creeps to represent them – get to foot the bill.

Fundamentalist measles threat from Canada

TrueBeliever

Health officials in Canada’s westernmost province are battling a large measles outbreak that is now threatening to spill over the border into Washington state.

As many as 330 cases of the highly contagious disease have been reported since early March in British Columbia’s lower Fraser Valley, near Vancouver, according to Paul Van Buynder, MD, chief medical officer of Fraser Health.

All but two of those cases have occurred among members of an orthodox Protestant sect that doesn’t believe in vaccination…

Four ill members of the congregation live across the U.S. border in Washington and have been isolated, but Van Buynder said Whatcom County officials now think a fifth person — not part of the church — has been infected…

The report comes as New York City health officials are reporting additional cases in an outbreak there, bringing the total to 25, including 12 children and 13 adults. Most of the children were too young to have had their measles shots and only four of the adults had a verified vaccination.

All told, the CDC said, there have been 104 cases of measles reported so far this year in the U.S., although that total did not include the Washington cases and only 23 cases in New York City. Most states had no cases but California is reporting 50.

Measles is officially eliminated in both the U.S. and Canada, but imported cases [and stupid cases] continue to cause disease.

Van Buynder said the Fraser Valley outbreak is epidemiologically linked to a large continuing epidemic among orthodox Protestants in the Netherlands that has been raging since May 2013 and had caused more than 2,600 cases by the end of February 2014.

An earlier outbreak in Canada — 42 cases in Alberta in the fall of 2013 and winter of 2014 — was also linked to the Netherlands epidemic.

The religion defense against vaccination is such crap when you consider the numbers of unvaccinated children – still too young to vaccinate – put at risk by True Believers.

Malaysian court rules only Muslims may use the word “Allah”

A Malaysian court ruled on Monday that a Christian newspaper may not use the word “Allah” to refer to God, a landmark decision on an issue that has fanned religious tension and raised questions over minority rights in the mainly Muslim country.

The unanimous decision by three Muslim judges in Malaysia’s appeals court overturned a 2009 ruling by a lower court that allowed the Malay-language version of the newspaper, The Herald, to use the word Allah – as many Christians in Malaysia say has been the case for centuries.

“The usage of the word Allah is not an integral part of the faith in Christianity,” chief judge Mohamed Apandi Ali said in the ruling. “The usage of the word will cause confusion in the community.”

The decision coincides with heightened ethnic and religious tension in Malaysia after a polarizing May election, in which the long-ruling coalition was deserted by urban voters that included a large section of minority ethnic Chinese…

A court appointed on the basis of politics makes decisions based on politics. Sound familiar?

Continue reading

What’s bringing on the Apocalypse this week? You guessed it — immigration reform?

Just in case plain old hating Messicans wasn’t enough reason to oppose immigration reform, Texas wingnut extraordinaire Cathie Adams, the former state GOP chair and current president of Texas Schlafly Rangers Eagle Forum, has found a new reason: on something called “End Times Radio” last week, she explained that the Senate’s immigration bill legislates the Mark of the Beast, and will bring about the End Times.

Leaving aside the question of why that’s something Christianists want to delay — after all, it will get Jebus back here sooner — it feels like wingnuts are finding impending signs of the Apocalypse about as often as the House votes to kill Obamacare (which may or may not require you to have an RFID chip implanted in your butt, too).

So far, Adams has been a minor-league wingnut, but she’s got big dreams, and big ideas. There was her warning last December that smoking the marijuana will fry your brain and turn you into Barack Obama, and her more recent endorsement of the theory that Grover Norquist is a sekrit Muslim, and now we have her discovery of Devil Marks in immigration reform, because the Senate bill includes a requirement for “biometric scanning”:

“And, of course, we know in biblical prophecy that that is the End Times,” Adams said of the initiative. “That is going to be the brand either on our foreheads or on the back of our hands. That is demonic through and through. That is End Times prophecy. There is no question about that…”

In a further explosion of derp, Adams also worried that the Senate’s immigration bill would promote “sharia law” by flooding America with scary refugees…

We aren’t sure whether to run screaming or adopt her as a mascot.

I guess I’ve known an average American number of Christians over this atheist lifespan. Most represented themselves as folks who believed in love thy neighbor and similar commie ideology.

Now, that True Believers are rebooting themselves to battle the non-white anti-Christ hiding under their polyester mattresses – the idjit vote has become really important. The central task of every Christian voter in the Neo-Confederacy and beyond is to elect incompetents to public office instead of giving them a sheltered workshop wherein to toil and spin without endangering anyone else.

To fight religious monuments Atheists will erect their own symbols

Atheists unveiled the nation’s first public monument to secularism outside a county courthouse in Florida last week — a 1,500-pound gray granite bench engraved with quotations extolling the separation of church and state.

The group American Atheists said it had decided to put up its own monument only after failing to force Bradford County to remove the six-ton statue of the Ten Commandments that a Christian group had put up nearby.

The atheist group has vowed to erect 50 more such monuments around the country on public sites where the Ten Commandments now stand alone. It says that an anonymous donor will foot that bill — the monument in Florida cost about $6,000 — and that it is hearing from atheists who are already offering to serve as plaintiffs in lawsuits if there is opposition and lead the charge in their communities.

“True equality means all or none,” said Ken Loukinen, a retired firefighter in Florida who volunteers as director of state and regional operations for American Atheists. “Christianity has had an unfair privilege for at least the last 150 years. We want to level the playing field by stripping them of privilege, and bringing them to equality with all other ideologies.”

The atheists’ monument-building campaign is a new tactic in a long-running battle over the boundary between church and state. Having failed to persuade the courts that it is unconstitutional for a private organization to put up Christian monuments on government property, the atheists figured they should get in the game.

But building monuments to atheism from sea to shining sea is not really their goal. They figure that once atheists join the fray, every other group under the sun will demand the same privilege — including some that Christians might find objectionable, like pagans and Satanists. In the end, the atheists hope, local governments and school boards will decide that it is simpler to say no to everyone…

There are hundreds of Ten Commandments monuments and plaques across the country, many erected in the 1950s and ’60s by the Fraternal Order of Eagles, a charitable group based in Grove City, Ohio…

In Starke, the atheists’ monument is dwarfed by the Ten Commandments…At one end of the six-foot-long granite bench is a four-foot-tall square-top pillar bearing quotations from John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Madalyn Murray O’Hair, who founded American Atheists in 1963.

“It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service [writing the Constitution] had interviews with the gods or were in any degree under the inspiration of Heaven,” Adams is quoted as saying.

I’d read enough science by the age of thirteen to become an atheist. I’d studied sufficient philosophy by the age of eighteen to become a materialist, able to embrace the dialectics of science and history.

I don’t care what you wish to believe as long as your deeds do not harm others, keep them from knowledge or prevent them from ordering their own life’s decisions. That puts me in opposition to pretty much all of the hypocrites and opportunists who quote religion as part of their political mantra.

American evangelicals question Republican ownership

After an election where conservative social causes failed to convince voters, evangelical Christians are pondering their relationship with the Republican party.

Christian conservatives used to be referred to as the “base of the base” of the Republican Party – voters whose strong religious ideologies meant the party could count on them to support “family values” candidates and initiatives…

After the 2012 election, evangelical leaders are contemplating what it means that conservative Republicans lost so badly, and that social issues championed by the religious right also suffered defeat. They are also questioning whether they still have a place in the world of politics.

There was a time when leading evangelicals had a very powerful position inside the Washington DC inner circle. The rise of the religious right in the late 1970s and early 1980s heralded an era in American politics in which social conservatives very much shaped the Republican agenda…

In return for an outpouring of support, politicians pushed agendas dear to the evangelicals, such as opposing gay rights and abortion and promoting the teaching of “intelligent design” in schools along with evolution…

At Barack Obama’s first term comes to an end, there has been a sizeable demographic shift in the US when it comes to voters and faith.

According to a recent survey, an increasing number of Americans are giving up on religion. The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life found that one-third of Americans under 30 have no religious affiliation, and, with few exceptions, are not seeking religion.

Dr Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Theological Seminary, says this “acceleration of secularisation” is what made social conservatives, and their agenda, lose so badly in November.

He acknowledged the religious right is losing its political power…

Evangelicals may well have to learn how to live into a minority position against the larger society moving in a different direction.”

That, my friends, is what is called wishful thinking. The point of evangelism, of fundamentalist religion – as ideology, for that is what it is – is remaining true to beliefs that ran out of reality centuries ago. That fact hasn’t mattered to proselytizers in the past. There isn’t any inherent reason to expect that commitment to reverse itself.

No, religious fanatics are perfectly willing to retreat into an ever-diminishing circle of influence. Choosing isolation is perfectly satisfactory to a True Believer. The only worry for the rest of the nation is the possibility of a truly nutball fringe deciding they need to become a Christian al-Qaeda.

Christian homophobes organize boycott of anti-bullying program

On Mix It Up at Lunch Day, schoolchildren around the country are encouraged to hang out with someone they normally might not speak to.

The program, started 11 years ago by the Southern Poverty Law Center and now in more than 2,500 schools, was intended as a way to break up cliques and prevent bullying.

But this year, the American Family Association, a conservative evangelical group, has called the project “a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools” and is urging parents to keep their children home from school on Oct. 30, the day most of the schools plan to participate this year…

Kind of warms the cockles of your heart to hear these so-called Christians would rather aid bullies by doing nothing than to welcome gay students who have been bullied. Doesn’t sound very Christian to me. Or does it?

“I was surprised that they completely lied about what Mix It Up Day is,” said Maureen Costello, the director of the center’s Teaching Tolerance project, which organizes the program. “It was a cynical, fear-mongering tactic.”

The swirl around Mix It Up at Lunch Day reflects a deeper battle between the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil-rights group founded 41 years ago in Montgomery, Ala., and the American Family Association, a Bible-based cultural watchdog organization in Tupelo, Miss. The association says its mission is to fight what it calls the “increasing ungodliness” in America.

The program is not about sexual orientation but rather about breaking up social cliques, which are especially evident in a school cafeteria, Ms. Costello said.

In some schools, cliques are socioeconomic. In others they are ethnic or religious or based on sexual orientation. By giving students a way to mix with other students, self-imposed social barriers can be broken down and bullying can be curbed, she said.

“Many of the targets of bullying are kids who are either gay or are perceived as gay,” she said…But the idea that the program is intended as homosexual indoctrination is simply wrong, Ms. Costello added…

This is not especially different from the lunatic fringe of professional Christians who used their “holiness” to protest previous civil rights-based issues. The same sort of nutballs who claimed civil rights assemblies were brainwashing white students into being race-mixing subversives – or equal rights for women would have their wannabe Dollywood daughters burning their training bras.

Lady Gaga’s Manila concerts face Christian protests


 
Christian groups in the Philippines planned to protest Lady Gaga’s performances there Monday and Tuesday, just after Muslim protests have cast doubt whether she will be allowed to perform in Indonesia.

“This protest is not against Lady Gaga as a person but on her music and on how she declares distorted views about the Lord Jesus Christ,” said Reuben Abante, bishop of Lighthouse Bible Baptist Church and secretary-general of Biblemode Youth, which is leading the protests…

Of particular offense to the group is the pop star’s song, “Judas,” with lyrics like, “Whoa whoa I’m in love with Juda-as, Jud-as,” “Jesus is my virtue and Judas is the demon I cling to I cling to…”

When asked if Lady Gaga’s concerts could contravene Philippine laws, Loretta Ann P. Rosales, chairwoman of the Commission on Human Rights, replied in an email, “The Philippines is proud of the fact that we do indeed have one of the best Bill of Rights in our Constitution that has the widest latitude as all other Constitutional democracies in protecting freedom of thought, freedom of expression, freedom of religion.”

“I have heard raves over her concert by Filipinos who have watched her,” she added. “Maybe I shall have a chance to enjoy her concert too one day…”

For Lady Gaga, the protests in the Philippines are the latest in her problematic Asian tour. Her provocative lyrics and risqué costumes have prompted conservative Muslims in Indonesia to call for the cancellation of her upcoming concert in Jakarta.

As of Monday, her Indonesian promoter, Big Daddy Entertainment, was still trying to secure a permit, and the June 3 event was still on, according to its website.

When she opened her tour in Seoul, South Korea, last month, it was to concertgoers aged 18 and above after the Korea Media Rating Board banned the show for minors, even with an accompanying parent or guardian.

The world is a patchwork of beliefs and histories. It’s always a shame when a cultural expression is harassed by one or another ideology – or religion – that doesn’t believe in free expression. When the focus is simply a pop singer like Lady Gaga who is accepted by most young people as someone who believes in advancing freedom – it points out the hypocrisy, the limits that chain one or another True Believer into a sarcophagus of fear. Even the stodginess of some old cultures is hard to justify.

UK equality chief, Trevor Phillips, says that Christians aren’t above the law – even if they feel it’s their right!

Christians who want to be exempt from equality legislation are like Muslims trying to impose sharia on Britain, Trevor Phillips, the human rights watchdog, has declared.

Religious rules should end “at the door of the temple” and give way to the “public law” laid down by Parliament, the chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission said. He argued that Roman Catholic adoption agencies and other faith groups providing public services must choose between their religion and obeying the law when their beliefs conflict with the will of the state.

Mr Phillips singled out the adoption agencies that fought a long legal battle to avoid being forced to accept homosexual couples under equality laws. Last year, following a High Court case, the Charity Commission ruled against an exemption for Catholic Care, an adoption agency operating in Leeds.

Speaking at a debate in London on diverse societies, Mr Phillips backed the new laws, which led to the closure of all Catholic adoption agencies in England. “You can’t say because we decide we’re different then we need a different set of laws,” he said, in comments reported by The Tablet, the Catholic newspaper.

“To me there’s nothing different in principle with a Catholic adoption agency, or indeed Methodist adoption agency, saying the rules in our community are different and therefore the law shouldn’t apply to us. Why not then say sharia can be applied to different parts of the country? It doesn’t work.”

He added that religious groups should be free to follow their own rules within their own settings but not outside. “Once you start to provide public services that have to be run under public rules, for example child protection, then it has to go with public law,” he said.
“Institutions have to make a decision whether they want to do that or they don’t want to do that…”

Mr Phillips has been outspoken in his defence of human rights law even when they conflict with religious beliefs.

He has accused some Christian groups of being more militant than Muslims. During the debate, he praised both the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches for their work in inner cities, particularly through faith schools, but accused some religious groups of growing intolerance.

“There is something rather odd that is happening amongst what I call the righteous brigade, that is people of good will and so on,” Mr Phillips said. “And that is that if you don’t agree 100 per cent with them and excoriate people who have a different point of view actually somehow you are joining a bad bunch of people.”

Keith Porteous Wood, director of the National Secular Society, said Mr Phillips was “absolutely right…If society has decided that it wants to ensure by law that every citizen of this country has equal rights, then there cannot be endless exemptions for religious bodies or anyone else,” he said.

There is no such thing as partial equality, and every time an exemption is made, someone else’s rights are compromised.”

Sound familiar? Except that Trevor Phillips has more backbone than Barack Obama when it comes to confronting civil rights, the validity of civil law over religious belief in a constitutional democracy. Confronting sharia-style precepts, Muslim or Catholic or whichever fundamentalist source requires the courage to maintain constitutional protections via civil law. Maybe he’ll be invited sometime to drop in and give lessons at the White House.

But, don’t hold your breath waiting.