Yes, I’m a Christian—But I’m Not With Them

My parents always said to be careful who you associate yourself with because you are known by the company you keep—that the people around you reflect on you and manufacture other’s perception of you from a distance. Sometimes that mistaken association will be so detrimental and embarrassing, that you will need to speak out and severe the connection.

I’m a Christian, and I realize that word may come with a great deal of baggage for you. You might have an idea about the kind of person you believe that makes me, simply because of the professed Christians you see out there in the world or the ones you may know. You may believe you know what I think or how I feel or how I vote because of the way someone else thinks or feels or votes.

Since I’m aware of this potential association and since I too see what you see every day—I need you to know where I stand:

I’m not with the Christians who shilled for this President, who sold their souls and leveraged their pulpits for political capital, who continue to defend his every vile deed, every reckless Tweet, every gross abuse of power—despite him not bearing the slightest discernible resemblance to Jesus. 

I believe this President and his Administration are fully devoid of Christlikeness.

I’m not with the Christians who believe healthcare is a luxury saved only for the rich and the well; those who claim to be followers of Jesus, the healer—while throwing the poor and elderly and ill, to the wolves of circumstance or sickness.

I believe all people who are physically, emotionally, and mentally ill, deserve every chance to get well—and by more than just thoughts and prayers.

I’m not with the Christians who police the bodies and bathrooms and bedrooms of strangers, who distort the Bible in order to justify their fear of people for who and how they love; the ones who’ve turned gender identity and sexual orientation into a weapon of damnation—who would tell adults who they can fall in love with and marry and raise children with.

I believe LGBTQ people are made fully in the image of God and deserve every happiness and right this world has to give them.

I’m not with the Christians who savagely beat their breasts about their shrinking religious freedoms, while regularly manufacturing monsters out of Muslim men and women seeking to live out their chosen faith tradition here in peace, without silencing,harassment, or discrimination—those Christians who do not admit or call out the prevalent and deadly extremism in our faith tradition.

I believe those practicing Islam should be as free and unfettered in this country as those who claim Christianity.

I’m not with the Christians who believe a woman’s body is anyone else’s jurisdiction but her own, those who believe they can legislate their morality upon another human being or take a woman’s personal autonomy from her for any reason.

I believe that women get the only say in what happens to and within their specific bodies.

I’m not with the Christians who refuse to acknowledge their privilege.
I’m not with the Christians who believe everyone should be able to get a gun, but not every one should be able to get prenatal care.
I’m not with Christians who believe God is responsible for Donald Trump’s Presidency.
I’m not with Christians who say they’re Pro-Life, but for the Death Penalty and against birth control.

I’m not with Christians who believe they have the Bible figured out enough to condemn anyone else.
I’m not with the Christians who believe they get to tell strangers they’re going to hell.

Yes, I’m a Christian, but I don’t want you to mistake me for those who may claim to speak for me or represent me by default—those you may have sitting across from you at dinner or worshiping next to you at church or preaching on TV or Tweeting diatribes. 

I hope that the fruit of my personal faith is apparent.
I hope that it yields compassion for the hurting, protection for the vulnerable, eyes for the forgotten.
I hope it champions equality for all people, truly diverse community, and a love that transcends difference.
I hope these things are obvious and that they set me apart from those Christians who may speak a different message with their lives—and quite loudly at that.

I also want you to know that there are many of us out here; people with a real, prayerful, fervent desire to follow Jesus, who feel like we’ve had our identities stolen by the pulpit bullies, fear mongers, and Bible bigots who make the headlines and steal the bandwidth and monopolize the conversation.

We want you to know that they do not speak for us. We don’t believe they speak for Jesus.

I guess what I’m saying, is that I hope you won’t too hastily judge all of us based on those who share the name of our faith tradition, and little else. We are as distressed as you with what we see them doing in the name of Jesus these days.

We’re exhausted by their hatred, fed up with their intolerance, disgusted by their violence—and no, we’re not with them.

 

 

 

199 thoughts on “Yes, I’m a Christian—But I’m Not With Them

  1. Pingback: Yes, I’m a Christian—But I’m Not With Them | Knitternun's Blog

  2. Thank you, John, for writing this and expressing the words in my heart. I have almost completely ceased to refer to myself as Chrisitan because other people assume they k now what I mean by that. I have started to refer to myself as an Episcopalian and/or a follower of Jesus. At least people tend to know what Episcopalians stand for and saying I am a follower of Jesus usually provokes the question “What do you mean by that?”

    You wrote “I hope that the fruit of my personal faith is apparent.
    I hope that it yields compassion for the hurting, protection for the vulnerable, eyes for the forgotten.
    I hope it champions equality for all people, truly diverse community, and a love that transcends difference.
    I hope these things are obvious and that they set me apart from those Christians who may speak a different message with their lives—and quite loudly at that.”

    They are obvious to me. I hope it is equally obvious to others that it is true of me, also.

    “I also want you to know that there are many of us out here; people with a real, prayerful, fervent desire to follow Jesus, who feel like we’ve had our identities stolen by the pulpit bullies, fear mongers, and Bible bigots who make the headlines and steal the bandwidth and monopolize the conversation.”

    I echo these words. On my Facebook group, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff, a newcomer to the group made the comment that he was surprised to see within me a passion for social justice because of my commitment to Christ. My response was pretty simple. I told him that the Gospels tell me Jesus was all about social justice as were the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures.

    Another issue dear to my heart is that Christians cease to bicker over things and cease to use the Bible as a cudgel. I attempt to bring to people’s attention that Christians have much more in common than otherwise because we all share Jesus. When we allow the Holy Spirit to illumine our minds and soften our hearts, we become more like Jesus. Which is the same thing as to say we follow our God-given vocation to become the person God had in mind when God was delighted to create each of as a unique individual. I attempt to do this on Facebook also in the group Celebrate What Christians Have in Common.

  3. Your comments are the strong words Jesus might have used to speak against–not Judaism–but the Pharisaical Judaism presented in the Gospels. It cuts to the core of the difference between the surface religion (i.e., worship of a religion) and that deeper commitment and outlook (spirit) to which our Father calls us.

  4. Yes, Joris, I think we can say that as the fulfillment of all the law and all the Prophets, Jesus fulfilled Judaism since He is the Messiah. He wants nothing to do with the Pharisaical Judaism presented in the Gospels or with Pharisaical Christianity.

    I just read this article and it seems to me to address the same issues:
    “How Trump Is Reshaping American Civil Religion and What We Can Do About It”
    By Benjamin P. Marcus, Murali Balaji 7-11-2017

    “In the first few months of his administration, President Donald Trump has offered a new definition of what it means to be American. His executive orders on immigration and religious liberty have sparked fiery debates about whether it’s appropriate — or constitutional — to shape our national identity using religious narratives or customs.

    “In the midst of a raging discussion about what it means to be American, it is worthwhile to reflect on the profound ambivalence of American civil religion — perhaps the most powerful force for creating a shared national identity.

    “In 1967, Robert N. Bellah’s seminal essay, “Civil Religion in America,” created a template for how both the right and the left defined civil religion to cultivate a sense of belonging, particularly in an era of turbulence. During this period of increasing polarization, Bellah’s words are more relevant than ever.

    “Bellah defined civil religion as “a collection of beliefs, symbols, and rituals,” drawn from American history and “institutionalized in a collectivity” that function “not as a form of national self-worship, but as the subordination of the nation to ethical principles that transcend it in terms of which it should be judged.”

    He pointed out that quasi-prophets like Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and John F. Kennedy articulated values that embody the country’s highest ideals — its national commandments.

    These values, immortalized in Scripture-like speeches and founding documents, establish the basis for the construction of communities and evaluation of actions.

    “According to Bellah, Americans’ strong self-identification with these values motivates them to act in self-sacrificial ways, sometimes to the point of fighting wars to safeguard their country. In other words, their civil religious beliefs inspire self-sacrificial behaviors.

    “Now, on the 50th anniversary of Bellah’s essay, it’s time for Americans to formulate a new definition of civil religion that de-centers a belief in American ideals as the basis for civil religion.

    “Building on the work of Jonathan Haidt and others, this new framework reveals how civil religion is formed through a constant exchange among beliefs, behaviors, and experiences of belonging.

    “This model for understanding American civil religion explains why civil religion is such a profoundly ambivalent force.

    “Civil religion can inspire both exclusive ethno-nationalism and inclusive idealism and hospitality. The construction of an American civil religion may be credited with binding together a radically diverse nation, but the sanctification of our cherished beliefs, practices, and communities may also be used to scapegoat the nonconformist and expel the other (as is being done now).

    “At its most inclusive, American civil religion includes capacious beliefs in core American values (life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, justice for all); behaviors associated with national rites and rituals (Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving); as well as more quotidian practices (protests, public free speech, petitions for the redress of grievances, free religious expression); and experiences of belonging (citizenship by right of birth or naturalization).

    “These three pillars of America’s civil religious identity can be interpreted broadly enough to establish the outer bounds of community, while offering room for debate and disagreement.”

    The remainder of this article may be read at: https://sojo.net/articles/how-trump-reshaping-american-civil-religion-and-what-we-can-do-about-it

    • We do need to be sort of careful about denouncing “Pharisaical” Judaism. Jesus and the Pharisees weren’t really that far apart in belief; his disputes with them tended to be of the sort that Jewish interpreters of Scripture have, seeking common ground and understanding. Jesus’ disputes with them were more about which of the commandments were most important, and what was the right way to love God and love neighbor. His strongest criticisms were reserved for the religious establishment–the Sadducees and religious leaders–and there were quite a few Pharisees who did follow Jesus, most notably Nicodemus and, later, Paul.

      Also, it was the Pharisaic sect of Judaism that reinterpreted the Scriptures to figure out how to live faithfully when the Temple was destroyed. As such, the Pharisees are the ancestors of Judaism as it exists today.

      tl;dr: It’s awfully easy for criticism of the Jews with whom Jesus disputed to slide into anti-semitism, and post-1945 we know how tragically destructive that can be. I’m not saying you’re going there, Gloriamarie, but I am cautioning all of us to be careful.

  5. Just read another article that seems to me to address the issues that John does. It’s a book review that sounds quite interesting:

    THE INVISIBLE BESTSELLER: SEARCHING FOR THE BIBLE IN AMERICA
    By Kenneth A. Briggs
    Published by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 255 pages, $25

    Book review written by Alexandra Greenwald | Jul. 12, 2017

    “If you haven’t read the Bible in a while — or if most of your contact with Scripture doesn’t come from the Bible itself — the premise of Kenneth A. Briggs’ The Invisible Bestseller: Searching for the Bible in America might resonate with you.

    “As a child, Briggs’ world was flush with biblical references and literacy; he remembers being inspired by Bible passages taught and explained to him in church, and feeling as if “practically all” Americans in the post-WWII days of his youth spent Sundays hearing similar lessons.

    “Times have changed, however, and Briggs writes that the Bible has “largely receded from public view.” He has the statistics to back that up — according to the polls he cites, 88 percent of American households own a Bible, but only 53 percent of Americans said they read the Bible more than once or twice a year in 2014. These facts and memories in hand, Briggs is spurred to go on a cross-country, quasi-pilgrimage to “discover what has become of the holy book that Abe Lincoln called the ‘greatest gift God has ever given to man,’ and where it figures into a contemporary America fraught with restlessness and uncertainty,” with the hope it would “inspire discussions of where we go from here.”

    More may be read here: https://www.ncronline.org/books/2017/07/invisible-bestseller-goes-road-find-bible

  6. Once again, you have spoken my truth. I hesitate to call myself Christian, without feeling the need to explain. Perhaps I will copy this and the next time it comes up I will hand the copy to someone. I have started to say that I am walking and talking with Jesus and that I hope that my speak and behavior will verify that. So Thank you for giving my feelings and misgivings words that make sense. Peace and Love,

  7. “I’m not with the Christians who believe a woman’s body is anyone else’s jurisdiction but her own, those who believe they can legislate their morality upon another human being or take a woman’s personal autonomy from her for any reason.

    I believe that women get the only say in what happens to and within their specific bodies.”

    What about the body of the baby killed by the abortion? Why shouldn’t Christians care about the unborn? Most of the time an abortion stops a beating heart. This human creature has brain waves, a beating heart, hands, feet, a head, and it’s own unique DNA and an abortion intentionally kills it. How is that “Christ-like”? How is that even to be considered part of medicine whose purpose is to heal and not to destroy?

    My religious belief is that armed robbery is wrong, and there are laws against it. Some “religious beliefs” are also laws. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially with laws that protect humans from conception until natural death.

    Abortion rights are not good for the women who abort either. I’ve heard and read too many heart breaking testimonies from women who made that tragic mistake and regret the loss of their children and who feel betrayed by our abortion culture.

    As a Christian I am not with our abortion culture.

    So because I believe this, you are not “with me.” What does that mean? That you will shun me? That you will say I’m not a “real Christian”? That I’m in a state of sin until my politics conform with yours? What does it mean?

      • Edwin, you embarrass yourself with this misguided comment. If you want to join the discussion, perhaps you should refrain from adhominem.

    • It means you are likely to be ignored—because every American has already heard this abortion spiel of yours for the past 40 years until it has become old, fossilized, and numbing to the ears and eyes.

      • Has your heart been so hardened by millions of abortions that you don’t have a speck of compassion for the unborn or for mothers grieving the loss of their children?

        It amazes me that you and Mr. Mix and all those who want to turn pro-lifers into monsters will not even acknowledge that abortion kills or explain why such killing is acceptable to you and why you are “not with” those who speak against that killing.

        • Simple: The Bible does not directly address the subject and plainly say it is wrong. You have to twist scripture like a contortionist to create an all-too-human argument against it. I do not accept the Catholic notion that Natural Law is the basis of all morality. My church—the United Methodist Church—thinks abortion is acceptable and says so in its official church documents. I have told you this many times, but you seem unable to hear it.

          • Here’s what I found regarding the United Methodist Church’s position on abortion, and I don’t read that to them it is “acceptable.” What’s this business about the “sanctity of unborn human life”?
            ——————————————————
            Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion.

            But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother and the unborn child. (Book of Discipline ¶161.J)

            • HOLD THE PHONE, a Catholic who lectures about the evil of abortion should clean their own church before daring to even speak of what another says. Yours, is the church that for centuries would not grant space on consecrated ground for a miscarriage or stillborn baby (much less an aborted fetus). Yours is the church of Stigmata, The Cilice, and The Flagrum, not to mention, Purgatory and Indulgences, Exorcism and Real Presence. Yours is the church that ran orphanages of abuse, hid and moved child predators knowing what they had done and abused instead of loved unwed mothers. It is not one that has ANY authority on the love of God IMHO, so you leave the Methodists alone!

              • Brava again, Sandi. Back when I used to read what he wrote, I noticed he was quite dismissive of the evils in his own church.

                If we are going to be honest people demonstrating integrity, we have to look within ourselves and confront our goodness and darkness, within our communities, our churches, and our governments.

                We celebrate what we have right, and strive to continue to get it right. We struggle to change what is wrong.

                And no one gets to point a finger at anyone else or anything else because we all have horrors lurking.

              • I wasn’t criticizing the Methodists. I was simply pointing out that they do seem to impute worth to the unborn and do not say that abortion is “acceptable” as Charles the Methodist asserted.

                Your mish-mash of Catholic evils is interesting, especially since it includes doctrines accepted by all Christians for over 1,000 years.

                I hadn’t heard about stillborns being refused burials in a Catholic cemetery, but it was likely because they were not baptized. From what I can find it was up to the local pastor to decide what to do. It was probably because the Church was still sorting out where the soul of an unbaptized baby would go. That doctrine was not and is not yet determined as far as I know.

                Anyway, you see as evil much good, and you think because there was some actual evil by some individuals somehow that reflects on the doctrine as if a crooked policeman would mean that law enforcement is invalid. You fail to see all the good, all the saints, like Mother Teresa (sorry she loved the unborn along with the poor so maybe she’s not your hero), St. Francis, St. Augustine, and many many others, besides the millions of practicing Catholics who are good people.

                At any rate, reread my post please. “Let the Methodists Alone,” was an entirely inappropriate response since I was not criticizing them, though it doesn’t matter to “me too” since she admires your anger and smack downs and is too chicken to do it herself.

                Bottom line is that the unborn deserve to live and my sins or sins of any other Catholic or any other Christian who has compassion for the unborn does not excuse your contempt of them.

                • If indeed, “Joe Catholic” your “Bottom line is that the unborn deserve to live” then do tell us how you can justify not supporting any and every effort that gets to that outcome instead of just the force of law and guilt trips? That is not and never will be “compassion for the unborn” and it IS contemptible IMHO.

                  • I do support many efforts. I didn’t say I oppose all government help and much already exists. There are homes for women in crisis situations. There are people who are happy to adopt.

                    Why not show me that you really do care about the tragedy of abortion by including protecting the unborn by law in your list of all the other things you think need to be done? Why do you leave that one out?

                    • Asked and answered, now you are simply being both dishonest and repetitive.

                      As I said previously:
                      I will agree that abortion unjustly kills a baby when we have a world where the mother and child are supported and offered opportunity that is not here now. THEN they will deserve to be protected by law at some agreed upon point; not until. Odd how someone so concerned over a fetus will admit that some pregnancies are “a crisis situation” even as you seek to remove a choice on how to handle that crisis. As if you should have a say..

                      Since you long ago admitted the only thing you do to stop abortion is to vote for the promise of the force of law to do it; and you long ago admitted that you cannot support contraceptives because you are such a good Catholic; and you long ago admitted that you do not support more or new government programs to help mothers and children; I have to conclude that you now saying, you “support many efforts” and you don’t “oppose all government” is just a ruse. Much like yourself.

                    • Sandi wrote “I have to conclude that you now saying, you “support many efforts” and you don’t “oppose all government” is just a ruse. Much like yourself.”

                      Agreed.

                  • I really don’t understand your position Sandi. Anyway, I think what I previously said was that “even if” I didn’t support x, y, z, etc. that my position is still tenable, just like I can say smoking is bad and nobody should smoke, while smoking like a chimney myself and selling cigarettes in a store (neither of which I do).

                    Good one Kathleen. You made me laugh.

                    • “Joe Catholic,” I do not ask you to understand my position. You need to understand that your position enables and ensures abortion every day that dawns just as sure as you think mine does.

            • Tell that to GOP warmongers, the NRA, those taking healthcare from tens of millions, to the Christian Right driving LGBTQ teens to suicide, to death penalty proponents.

              Then your “pro-life, anti-murder” stuff might have a chance of sounding sincere.

            • How about you learn Hebrew? Where you will discover that in Hebrew “murder” and “kill” are the exact same word. So if the commandment reads “Thou shalt not murder” then it also reads “Thou shalt not kill.”

        • Joe Catholic continues his insulting meme that we are all just “baby killers” lacking any human decency. As if his path is the only path available for anyone with a heart.

          As if it would do even an iota of good to try and explain why we support a person’s right to control their own body. His mind and his heart are closed to any but his own perspective echoed.

          He has admitted that the ONLY solution to abortion he works for is to vote for those willing to use the force of law against women and yet we are the problem here? His blinders are just so sadly typical. Joe wants that baby born, regardless of what it might do to the life of the mother, family or even the child itself. He actually believes it is somehow his decision to make.

          And he has the audacity to claim it is our hearts that have are “hardened” as we support all of the policies and programs that aim to help every woman feel enabled and empowered to give that child life and opportunity and he supports only the force of law and punishment. WOW, what “compassion” he shows.

          It amazes me that Joe cannot see that he is among the pro-birth monsters who continue to enable and insure abortion every day that dawns. He would rather project and blame than honestly look into that mirror.

          • Sandi, excellent analysis.

            “It amazes me that Joe cannot see that he is among the pro-birth monsters who continue to enable and insure abortion every day that dawns. He would rather project and blame than honestly look into that mirror.”

            Well, yes. A person who thinks abortion is wrong is a person who needs to get involved in why abortions happen.

            Lack of quality sex education in schools. Lack of access to birth control. Poverty. Patriarchy. Women as second-class citizens. Any kind of thinking that says men have rights over women’s bodies regardless of what women want. Dysfunctional families.

            The list is endless. Seems to me that the best way to prevent abortions is to embrace doing to others as you would have them do unto you. Which means, love your neighbor as yourself as God first loved you.

          • You haven’t explained, Sandy, why you are ok with the fact that a body is ripped to shreds and killed by an abortion.

            Your pleas for big government solutions do not speak to the idea that the fetus has a moral worth.

            If you must support abortion rights, why can’t you at least be on the same page with the pro-lifers in admitting that an abortion is a tragedy and unjustly kills an innocent human being?

            • You poor, poor man. “Joe Catholic” this will remain an issue that you will lose on every single time it is discussed. And thank you for giving me the perfect avenue to show you how.

              I have never, not once, said or implied that I was “ok with the fact that a body is ripped to shreds and killed by an abortion.” Not once. That is your assumption because you cannot be honest on the issue so you assume no one else is.

              My “pleas” are not all about or for “big government solutions” but my solutions, unlike yours, absolutely “speak to the idea that the fetus has a moral worth” and so does the mother.

              My solutions, over and over and over are the ones that can prevent unwanted pregnancies which is the number one cause of abortion.

              My solutions, over and over and over are the ones that literally help a woman feel supported, valued and appreciated for choosing life.

              My solutions, over and over and over would show a society that values not just the fetus, but the mother and the child once born.

              BUT, I will never be on the same page with you so-called “pro-lifers” who are really just “pro-birth.” Unlike you, I am “admitting that an abortion is a tragedy” which is why I am willing to support MANY things (but not the force of law) that will stop the vast majority of them from happening while you all still insist there is only one way (the force of law) to do so. So in the end, you all are the ones who hold onto your doctrine, dogma and need for control which “unjustly kills an innocent human being” every day that dawns. YOU, not me.

              But that is really nothing out of the historical normalcy of the Catholic or Evangelical Church. The Right who supports war and the associated carnage, the death penalty, guns no matter what, punishing the poor and ignoring the plight of children already born, has no legs to stand on when arguing the morality of abortion. None!

              • Brava, Sandi, brava.

                Well said. It is a shame he constantly twists youir words to suit his narrative.

                I suggest you copy and paste this comment into a document so that the next time you need to call him out, it will be already be written and you can save yourself some time.

                LOL

              • Why is abortion a tragedy?

                Does it kill a person?

                You seem to think everyone who aborts cannot support their child but that’s not the case, besides the fact that there is an opportunity for adoption. Also, don’t think that all those who have aborted are grateful to you and our abortion culture for permitting and encouraging abortion. Many feel betrayed and wish that had known better.

                How do you propose to stop abortions in those cases where there are no economic difficulties? Could we in those cases protect the unborn by laws?

                And the rest of your diatribe is baloney, besides the fact that I oppose the death penalty.

                • Nope “Joe Catholic”, anything that exposes your total hypocrisy is not “baloney” and it is well worth my time and well deserved. In the final analysis, you enable and ensure abortion more than I do.

                  • Joe Catholic: I am a Christian, but I believe in a woman’s right to have an abortion if she chooses. There are four main reasons for my belief:
                    1) We as a society have a duty to women to make sure that they are respected and that their autonomy is recognised. Historically, the pro-life movement has focused on the life of the foetus and stayed lamentably silent on the right of the woman to control her own body and fertility, and particularly on the social programmes and socialised healthcare needed to make sure that mums and children have a good standard of living.
                    2) To me, a foetus isn’t the same thing as a child: it’s just a ball of cells with the potential to become a child if it grows further. There is no equivalency: therefore, abortion doesn’t kill babies by and large. The tiny percentage of late-term abortions, where the foetus might be viable outside the womb, are done in circumstances where life is likely to be short and include much suffering.
                    3) Allied to that, I believe it is far crueller to bring a child into the world that is not wanted-whether that’s because mum and dad can’t give it the life they would wish for it, or because it has come about through abuse, or for any other reason a woman wants to terminate her pregnancy. I would also argue that it is cruel for the woman who is pregnant to have to bring a baby to term if she doesn’t want to: men don’t have those kinds of restrictions placed on their sexuality, and historically haven’t borne the social and financial consequences of unintended pregnancy. Access to birth control, and access to abortion should the need arise, is fundamental to the ability of women to be equal, and for the balance between men and women to be addressed. Opposition to abortion is fundamentally sexist.
                    4) You’re Catholic-if you believe in abstinence-only sex education (which leads to higher rates of STIs and pregnancy than medically proven contraception, and yet again places much of the burden for sexual activity on women and girls) then I’m afraid those beliefs are part of the problem. This is particularly evident (and particularly distasteful) when these kinds of programmes are rolled out in less economically developed nations where poverty rates are higher, HIV is an ever present threat, and maternal death is one of the biggest killers for women of child-bearing age.
                    I respect your right to hold your own views on abortion, but there needs to be recognition that punitive, anti-sex, anti-women attitudes to relationships and pregnancy are not so much pro-life, as proscriptive.

            • Then I trust you are also in favor of very strong gun, control laws, against the death penalty, and campaign aggressively to end war.

              If not, then you are not in favor of life, only pro-embryo and pro- forced birth.

              • Congregationalista, I don’t believe I have seen you post here before. If I am wrong, I apologize. However, I do want to welcome you and your voice.

                You speak with logic and reason from a place of being educated and well-informed. I value all of that.

                Thank you for what you said. I am afraid you will find “conversing” with He of the Many Names, aka Joe Catholic futile as he will most probably never read what you write and if he does, he will distort and twist your words.

                I am sorry to say it, but it is something many of us have experienced. Personally, I choose not to read anything he writes.

    • At the time the majority of abortions occur, we are talking about an embryo.

      Aside from that, do you know who also has all of the things you described and ascribed to that embryo? The one person in the picture The one person YOU ERASED FROM YOUR DESCRIPTION. The born, sapient sentient *woman.* Pregnancy is not a state of wellness; three women die of gestational complications every single day in this country alone. You are demanding that a woman assume risks to life and health that you, Joe Catholic (your username reveals that you are male …) will never have to assume.

      You would give women fewer rights than we give a *corpse,* because you are demanding that she donate every organ in her body to sustain a pregnancy that may not be tenable for any number of reasons. You don’t know her circumstances. Only she does. Organ donation must be consented to beforehand … and consent to sex is not consent to gestate.

      I’m no longer of childbearing age, so I have no skin in this game other than supporting young women coming up after me.

      I will tell you this, though; I too used to be profoundly anti-choice.

      Then I got out of high school and discovered that life was not as black-and-white as I thought. I no longer possess the hubris to think I know what is best for a total stranger.

      • At the time “most” (but not all) abortions occur we are talking about an embryo which has developed to the point of having many recognizable features including brainwaves and a beating heart.

        Does being an “embryo” mean it’s disposable?

        I don’t know what is best for a total stranger, but I do know that I oppose abortion based on a basic right to life beginning at conception and I believe that embryo, which is also a total stranger, deserves to live. I’ve heard those arguments about “consent to sex is not consent to be pregnant” and those about “organ donation” (which is a crock since the baby does not swipe any organs on the way out) a million times, and you know how they sound to me? Selfish and hard-hearted. And very illogical. Consent to playing Russian Roulette is not consent to dying, but in playing that game, one knows it’s possible.

        I know life it hard and messy. But why not let them both live? Why not encourage life instead of “choice”?

        I became very pro-life when my first child was born. It occurred to me that during the pregnancy, there was no time looking backwards up to conception where I could fix a point and say he was not my son. And yes I know, I can’t get pregnant, but that’s because of the luck of biology. Take that up with God. That doesn’t mean I can’t speak up in favor of the most vulnerable who are unable to do so for themselves. I will also never know the bond a mother has with a child or be able to experience the wonders of giving flesh to a new human being.

        I can understand “the world” pushing for abortion rights, but it grieves me to see that some Christians want it too. That’s sad and makes no sense to me.

        • Joe said:
          “I’ve heard those arguments about “consent to sex is not consent to be pregnant” and those about “organ donation” (which is a crock since the baby does not swipe any organs on the way out) a million times, and you know how they sound to me? ”

          It does not matter “how it sounds” to you, Joe. IT IS NOT YOUR BODY! And it is clear you know very little about human pregnancy and birth since if the baby doesn’t “swipe” the placenta on the way out, the mother will likely die of sepsis. And yes Joe, the placenta is an organ.

          Also, when you say ” I know, I can’t get pregnant, but that’s because of the luck of biology. Take that up with God”, your misogyny is showing. That was unacceptable in 1917, let alone 2017. (If you don’t see the connection, simply replace the phrase “I can’t get pregnant” with “I get to vote”,)

    • It is interesting that you profess to be a believer and that human life begins at conception. That is certainly not biblical. Look at the old testament. There is a different punishment for causing a woman to abort a baby compared with killing a new-born. What is your biblical basis for assuming human life begins at conception, rather than sooner than that or later than that?

      • Bob. you are walking down a wrong path here. As a matter of official church policy, the Roman Catholic Church does not base its morality on the Bible or get it from the Bible. Few people know that obscure fact, but it is true. Catholic morality is based on an extra-Biblical philosophical ethics system that goes by the term “Natural Law.” You may read about it here, bearing in mind that some facts in Wikipedia articles can be wrong here and there:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_law

      • Bob,
        It’s interesting that you profess to be a believer and that human life doesn’t begin when a baby takes its first breath outside the womb. So tell me how you justify killing a baby when the mother delivers the baby’s head, he/she takes his/her first breaths, then the abortion doctor kills him/her by shoving scissors into his/her brain. Or an “aborted” baby who is breathing on its own, outside of the womb, but is smothered then dissected for the fetal tissue market. What is your biblical basis for assuming that a human life ends because the entire body hasn’t been delivered or because the doctor gets money for fetal tissue?

    • Joe Catholic, until you do more than vote for the force of law to end abortion and berate women as murderers, I will consider you part of the problem you complain about as you are enabling the very thing you claim to want to stop.

      There are myriad very Christian ways to stop the vast majority of abortions and none involve using the force of law as a weapon against women.

      Make those efforts, or vote to support them and I will believe you actually care about the unborn. Not before.

      Does your “religious belief” support the death penalty?

      Until you do more and support more of what is “good for the women” you have no right to speak for them. NO ONE pushes a woman to choose abortion except the society you are a part of and the greed culture you vote for who expects poor women to birth babies they cannot take care of.

      And whether you ever have the integrity to admit it or not, you are with “our abortion culture” every day you only support using the force of law to stop it.

      • I am going to stop using the word “misrepresent” and reluctantly change it to “lie.” You are lying about me, or else you have not read what I have written here and previously. I DO NOT berate women for having had abortions. I know women who have aborted and I never berated them for it and I don’t berate others who have aborted. I am a sinner too.

        There is much we all can do to stop abortions. On a local level a group in my church raised $15,000 to purchase an ultra sound machine for the crisis pregnancy center, and it has prevented some abortions and saved some lives. I support doing things like that. We need to do everything we can to HUMANIZE the embryo or fetus and not dehumanize it by calling it a “choice” or by totally changing the subject and focusing on the evil man or woman praying outside of the abortion clinic as if he or she really only cares about “women’s genitalia.” Those arguments speak to the hardness of hearts or total denial of those on the pro-choice side.

        Yes I agree we need to support women in crisis situations, but I do not necessarily agree that we must support every government program and every tax that you desire.

        I not only have a “right” to speak out against abortion, but it is my “duty.” Abortion unjustly kills a baby. If you don’t agree with that, then we have no common ground and you are not arguing for abortion reductions based on the moral worth of the fetus, and your arguments for reducing abortion seem very disingenuous.

        What does the “death penalty” have to do with anything? How can you compare murderers being executed a few times a year to millions of innocent babies being killed by abortions? I personally, however, oppose the death penalty. I think it’s unnecessary and barbaric in our culture–almost as barbaric as intentionally killing a fetus.

        What you believe about me is neither here nor there. Even if I were the monster you and your friend think I am, it is true or it is not true that an abortion unjustly kills a baby, and if the latter, they deserve to be protected by law, but that belief does not preclude believing we should do what we can to help a woman in a crisis situation.

        What would you do if I said I also oppose slavery? Will you then favor it because you think I don’t do enough to help slaves? You are not logical.

        • The original post mentioned a woman’s choice, but it was not about abortion, Joe Catholic. You seem to have missed the point of the post. You have a right to your opinion, but please stay on topic. I personally get tired of every discussion turning into an abortion debate.

        • Insult me all you like, it is you who is not logical or honest “Joe Catholic.”

          How you can think that your constant braying about abortion and how it kills innocent, precious life, maims and dismembers babies for convenience etc is not berating women who have an abortion is really beyond comprehension. It is like you have compartments that do not communicate your hypocrisy to you.

          I am not lying when I state that you constantly “scold or criticize angrily” anyone who supports a woman’s right to choose in language guaranteed to be seen as hurtful, indicting and berating to any woman who ever made the choice.

          If you want points for not taking it to the personal level and doing so to women you know have had an abortion. Sorry, not gonna applaud you not being a boorish clod.

          Even in your so-called efforts “to stop abortions” you want to use the tools of intimidation, guilt and pressure to “do everything we can to HUMANIZE the embryo or fetus” TO THE WOMAN CARRYING IT, which is a form of torture to her if she does decide to abort. In other words, you are happy to “dehumanize,” push and lay a guilt trip on the woman so you can claim to have “saved” a birth. Because as you freely admit, you are not about helping EITHER of them once you attain that goal.

          Your “duty” is to show the love of God to ALL. You do not do that by constantly harping on how awful, sinful, cruel and wrong abortion is. By claiming it “unjustly kills a baby” you again berate the women who made that choice.

          Say what you want, in this conversation, between you and me, I am the ONLY ONE who is arguing for abortion reduction based on the moral worth of BOTH the fetus and the woman. It is clearly and absolutely beyond doubt your arguments for reducing abortion that are only about the fetus, are disingenuous, and cruel, not mine.

          The death penalty, and acts of war are relevant to anyone who claims to “cherish life” to the extent of punishing women who seek an abortion. If all life has value then the death penalty, acts of war and refusing of charity that contributes to starving or disease is not “cherishing life”. Like I said, you are merely “pro-birth’ not pro-life.

          And again I point out calling abortion, “millions of innocent babies being killed” and “almost as barbaric as intentionally killing a fetus” is berating women who have chosen abortion. You do it all the time yet call me a “liar” when I point it out.

          I believe you are a “monster” and totally sick with an obsession of this blog and your need to be here.

          I will agree that abortion unjustly kills a baby, when we have a world where the mother and child are supported and offered opportunity that is not here now. THEN they will deserve to be protected by law at some agreed upon point; not until. Odd how someone so concerned over a fetus will admit that some pregnancies are “a crisis situation” even as you seek to remove a choice on how to handle that crisis.

          You bring up slavery as you talk about forcing women to incubate a fetus and claim I am “not logical?” Incredible!

          • Sandi, if I haven’t said this lately, I so appreciate your voice. You state so much better than I can what I also believe. I also appreciate your perseverance. So thank you, Peace and Love,

          • Sandi wrote “Insult me all you like, it is you who is not logical or honest “Joe Catholic.”

            Agreed.

            He of the Many Names has no credibility. He claims to want life for all, and yet he embraces the policies of the GOP and especially those of Lil Donnie Tantrum.

            He of the Many Names doesn’t care that something like 22 – 28 million of his fellow citizens will be without health insurance should the AHCA pass.

            He of the Many Names doesn’t care that the GOP and the Twitter in Chief only want to make the richer richer and don’t care if the poor starve and freeze when they cut rental assistance, SNAP benefits, cease to fund the programs that make sure poor people have heat in the winter.

            He of the Many Names also has zero credibility because he writes from a position of privilege and clearly doesn’t believe in sharing the wealth those of us who haven’t got any.

          • So if everyone is not offered whatever opportunity you think is right, then murder of innocent life is justified? And who are you to decide what path, or life experience was intended for this human that God created? What total nonsense Sandi Saunders! Your arrogance is astounding!

            • Tell me, tayesh…

              Are you in favor of a single payer national health care program that provides neo-natal care to pregnant women?

              Are you in favor of free medical care for babies and their mothers? The WIC program? Head Start? Free lunch programs in which the child receiving the free lunch is allowed to have the exact same lunch as the other kids who pay?

              Are you in favor of free birth control from places like Planned Parenthood, since preventing pregnancy eliminates the need for abortion. Additionally, PP provides free medical care to women, children, ***and*** men.

              Are you in favor of SNAP benefits (aka foodstamps) so that families get quality nutrition so that they all thrive?

              Do you believe every child in the USA has the right to a solid, quality education so that they in their turn can grow up to be this country’s future?

              If you answer to any question is “no” you are merely anti-abortion adn in favor of forced birth.

            • “tayesh,” I never said anything about opportunity having to be approved by me.

              I think it is more “justified” to allow the choice of abortion because that is freedom, liberty and privacy on the most personal level for every woman. Certainly it is more “justified” than using the force of law to stop it against her will.

              This nation, and the people in it, sanction and allow the murder of innocent life every day that dawns. So does the Catholic church and most Evangelical Churches. That is just a fact of life. That you think you, or anyone else should be able to force a woman to incubate a fetus is barbaric and ridiculous.

              I am not the one trying to decide the “path, or life experience” of anyone, YOU ARE. And you dare to speak of my “arrogance?” You are a hilarious hypocrite!

  8. Must be my day to find articles relevant to what John P has written. Here’s another :

    “American civil religion and the flag”

    July 12, 2017 by Jon White

    “Some years ago, Rosalind Hughes and her family arrived in America as new immigrants from Britain and encountered American civil religion for the first time.

    “Three weeks after I first moved to the United States with my family, and one week into our American public school adventures, my youngest daughter asked me, “Mummy, did you know that we pray to the flag every morning at school?””

    “With that opening, Hughes goes on to explore in an article posted at Religious Dispatches, the curious relationship American have with their flag and its parallels in Christian practice. She notes the way the Flag Code (actual Federal law) suggestions of reverence to the flag mirror the liturgical response to the Gospel and that prescribed manner of disposing of flags is the same as that for disposing of blessed items;

    “After an item has been blessed in divine service – palm leaves, linens used to dress or to wipe up at the altar, a metal chalice – and has reached the end of its useful service, the preferred method of its disposal is consumption by fire. Palm leaves are often turned to ashes for use the following year on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Christian holy season of Lent. Chalices may be melted down and recast.

    “We do the same for the flag”

    “She also looks at how these flag rituals might feel to members of communities long denied full participation in American life, quoting the Very Revd Will H. Mebane, Jr., Interim Dean at St Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Buffalo, NY, grew up in the South in a fairly conservative religious household.

    “In high school, where he and his friends were among the first African Americans to integrate a previously all-white school, the Pledge was recited before football games; then the National Anthem was sung and the band played Dixie. Will and his friends petitioned the administration to tone down the southern jingoism, but were ignored.

    “It was around that time that he became aware that the same flag that he had grown up saluting featured prominently in the ceremonies of the KKK. How could he recite a pledge of allegiance that talks about liberty and justice for all when white supremacists were using the same symbols to profess and promote their hatred?

    “Still today, he says, “For me, the words ring hollow. They do not speak to my experience as a Black man in this country, with two African American sons, and Black colleagues, and Black friends—it is a lie.””

    “If “praying shapes believing” is true, how might these civic rituals being shaping our beliefs about our nation? Where do you see intersections between American civil religion and Christianity; do you think these are necessary rituals for our national life? Are flags displayed prominently in your place of worship?”

    from https://www.episcopalcafe.com/american-civil-religion-and-the-flag/

  9. In my late teenage years I came to understand I didn’t have share every view with the person sitting next to me in the pews, or across the aisle, or even in the pulpit for them to be part of my Church. The essence of Free Will is making up your own mind. That WILL lead to disagreements. It doesn’t make others ‘less’ Christian than others.

    In the same way many things (but not all) Pastor John says I disagree with, I know him to be as Christian as I and know I must fight for him to have his pulpit to espouse how his Free Will allows him to hear the Message of Our Savior, Jesus Christ. I don’t have to believe in Pastor John. I have to believe in God.

    **

    See, I support equality for LGBTQI+ people as, not only ARE they created in God’s image, there is no legitimate reason for the government to interfere with a person’s identity as long as it causes no harm to themselves, or others. Simply put, the government doesn’t have the right to tell you ‘you’ are not what you claim to be, or how you feel about yourself, or how you relate to the world.

    **

    I support a woman’s RIGHT to an abortion, because it isn’t the government’s place to legislate morality. If you are Pro-Life, I suggest you make our Foster Care System so freaking wonderful all expectant mothers will feel they can put aside 10 months of their lives to place their offspring in an environment which will nurture an care for them, and not treat them like so many $$$. That would be a nice start.

    **

    I am against Federal Government control of the healthcare industry which is where the ACA is heading. It was sold as a lie, shoved down our throats unread (ty Speaker Pelosi) and is going to impose an ever increasing, crippling cost on the US taxpayer.

    If you don’t think so … wasn’t Social Security never going to cost more than 3% from both employee and employer (in 1949) when passed in 1935? Well, it turned out Congress ‘amended’ the law and the rate has gone up and up. Today the combined rate is 6.2% each ~ more than double the original tax.

    Now, instead of Americans planning for their retirement, the simply say “well, I guess there will always be Social Security” … and come 67, that is ALL they have. This is how entitlements work – they create a dependent class.

    Also, how well is the Fed doing running the VA? Does that give the ‘best healthcare available? No, it doesn’t.

    So, color me skeptical when people tell me the Government should shepherd US healthcare. We already have Medicare and Medicaid. Increasing government control over such a large segment of our economy won’t make things better.

    **

    I am also a fan of the 2nd Amendment. If someone breaks into your home with the intent of killing you and raping your wife and daughters, the police WILL NOT save any of you. You having a firearm in a gun safe beside your bed, on the other hand, will be a far better deterrent. Practice gun safety with your entire family. Guns are not toys. There is nothing MACHO about having a gun. It is dangerous. Being defenseless in face of an unkind world is the greater danger.

    **

    I also support Capital Punishment. I believe we should have special courts which do nothing except hear Death Penalty cases and appeals to make sure everything was done properly, no bias seeped into the case and justice is being done.

    No one sits on Death Row for 15 to 20 years either. If they are guilty, they get executed. If they are found innocent, they don’t waste the majority of their lives behind bars as innocent citizens. Prosecutorial and Police misconduct is thoroughly investigated by this Special Court as well.

    **

    I am distrustful of Islam. I don’t dislike Muslims, or any particular Muslim. I wouldn’t permit others to persecute a Muslim for being Muslim – because that is plain wrong. Freedom of Religion is freedom for ALL religions as well as the freedom to ignore religion if you so choose.

    I distrust Islam because it is causing the World problems. Adherents are reading the Koran and associated works and using those verses as reasons ~ not excuses ~ for horrific acts – in multiple countries.

    To me, repeating the mantra ‘Islam is a Religion of Peace’ as they keep piling up bodies in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Germany, Belgium, France, England, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Turkey, Russia, Poland and the US … is moronic. Islamic men and women are leaving Western countries where they were born and raised and going to Iraq, Somalia, Syria and Yemen to wage jihad. Along the way they are beheading prisoners, tossing homosexuals off buildings and keeping sex slaves. There are THOUSANDS of them.

    I don’t see myself as being Islamophobic. I see myself as a person facing the reality of our current situation.

    **

    I voted for and still support President Trump. I certainly wish he would at least control his Tweeting. I do think the Nation is making slow progress forward. I think his war with the Press is a distraction and a waste of energy and time.

    We are almost 6 months into his Presidency and we haven’t run off a cliff, become a dictatorship, a satellite state of Russia, or set off World War III ~ all of which have been predictions laid before us by various pundits.

    … so … yay! We are all not dead yet?

    **

    I tend to vote Republican. One of the most sure-fire ways for that candidate to make me vote for ANYONE ELSE is for that person to invoke the name of God as being their ‘guiding light’, on ‘their side’, or ‘haven given them a mission’.

    I don’t want my candidate serving God. I want him serving me – and my next door neighbor – and the lady down the street. They are MY representative for Pete’s sake! I’m not sending someone to Raleigh, or Washington, who doesn’t understand that simple fact.

    I have absolute faith if God wants something done, he’ll get it done and without resorting to channeling his Will through a politician. I figure he’d use someone we are all more likely to trust … such as a priest, priestess, imam, rabbi, yogi, or a librarian.

    **

    So, am I one of ‘those’ so-called Christians, or am I still welcome (which I know is stretching my acceptance on this blog) in this religious community?

    • I agree with most of what you wrote but those of us who oppose abortion are not forcing our religious beliefs on anyone, unless of course you think that if I want laws against stealing that that is forcing one of the Commandments into law. There are atheist pro-lifers and I have been pro-life ever since my first son was born and before I “found religion.”

      What we need to do is place a value on the unborn and not see them as disposable. Why shouldn’t they have a basic right to life? Why would that be seen as any more “religious” than the right a new born baby has to live?

      I also disagree regarding the death penalty. We don’t need to do that anymore.

      Otherwise, you’ve made some excellent points, and in spite of some serious differences, I don’t see any point or value in saying “I’m not with you.” Honest disagreements shouldn’t lead to rejection.

      • Joe Catholic, if trying to ban abortion isn’t “forcing your religious beliefs upon someone”, I’d love to know what, exactly, it is.

        • Then explain atheists and those of other faiths who believe in laws which would protect the unborn.

          Does it take a special religious faith to see that an embryo or fetus has a moral worth? Have you seen pictures of embryos and fetuses after the abortion? Does it take religious faith to be moved to pity and disgust and a desire to prevent such horror in the future?

          Yes, I am proud that my religion has opposed the injustice of abortion for 2,000 years as well has opposed the injustice of stealing. So please explain why you are ok that religious doctrine aligns with some laws such as murder, rape, and stealing, but that protecting the unborn from unjust death would be the imposition of religious beliefs?

          • Joe Catholic, embryos are clusters of cells. A fetus is a different stage of development and occurs around 9 weeks. Many women seek an abortion between 6 and 9 weeks, shorlty after a missed period. Still an embryo. Please Google them, at least, before you lecture others. On to the religious aspect, doesn’t the bible teach “he without sin should cast the first stone”? We answer to God and God alone. You should not judge others simply because they sin differently than you. If anti abortion is so important to you, are you out there fighting for sex education, free contraception, support for welfare systems for unwed mothers instead of looking down your nose at them as “abusing the system”, and a stronger foster and adoption system? If not, then you are NOT truly pro-life… you are just judgmental when it doesn’t impact you and that is a sin in itself.

          • You can be as “proud” as you want to be but unless you are part of the actual solutions (and you are not), you are enabling and ensuring abortion every day that dawns, even as you whine about abortion.

            “Feminist author Frederica Matthews-Green once pointed out that “No woman wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg.” The challenge for our ever-evolving society is this: Are we going to hand the woman a hack-saw and help her amputate her leg? Or are we wise and capable enough to come up with creative ways of removing the offending trap, without destroying the leg in the process – especially when that “leg” is a fellow human being?”

            THAT is the Atheist way of being pro-life and you are far, far, from it.

          • “tayesh,” it is not true that a woman “gains nothing” if she chooses an abortion. Like the animal in the trap that will gnaw off its leg, she gains the freedom and privacy of her own autonomy back. She gains what she wanted, what she chose, not to be pregnant.

            It is also not murder in the eyes of God, our laws or the vast majority of our society or the world. Until a fetus can survive independent of the mother, it is a part of her body and she can decide what happens to it. God can decide what happens to it. Nature can decide what happens to it. You may not like any of that, but I do not like the bombs of war that kill innocent children. I do not like the dire poverty, abuse or neglect in the world that harms, starves and kills innocent children.

            You, “Joe Catholic” and no one else has any standing to force a woman to incubate a pregnancy. You likely never will. Just like I will never have any standing to stop the other end of innocent live.

            C’est la vie.

            • Intentionally killing the embryo or fetus is an injustice or it is not. That children die in wars by disease or that there are other injustices doesn’t in any way support your position.

              The woman might “gain” something in the short term but according to many post-abortive women I know and and who I have read about, there is a long term loss and heartache, and your support of abortion did them no favors.

              • “Joe Catholic,” I get it that you grant “extenuating circumstances” on a case by case basis as it suits you, but the truth remains that a fetus biologically and physiologically has to be incubated in an actual female’s womb. Therefore the consideration you refuse to grant to that female as you focus strictly on the fetus (which may or may not become a baby even if desperately wanted) is still a factor whether you like it or not.

                It is an injustice that a female becomes pregnant when that is not what she wants, needs, or can handle. So the intentional ending of that unwanted pregnancy (the vast and overwhelming majority of which happen before anyone can determine the future viability of the fetus), is not just simply “killing the embryo or fetus.” with no other factors to be considered. Even if it looks like an injustice to you, it is still not your choice.

                My point about the injustice of children dying in war, famines, plagues, or from abuse, also not your choice, is not to support my position, it is to show you that your magic beans of life is a farce you tell yourself makes you more moral, forthright or righteous. But it does not.

                The issue is not about what a female might “gain” or lose. There are no “winners” in these scenarios. The issue is that it is not your call to make. It is no one’s business what a female decides to do when confronted with the reality of an unwanted pregnancy she cannot handle. Even in a perfect world, I see no good in having such control over females.

                I do not care how many “post-abortive women” you know or have read about, they do not get to take that right from another woman either. That is akin to the newly “saved” wretches screeching about the coming of the Lord on the street corner. It is NOT how we go about cherishing / valuing life (or salvation). Using the force of law in such situations only makes for more worst case scenarios and more unwanted children. If you call that a win, you are not clear on what a win is.

                Only a morbid fool could say that an abortion is doing a female a “favor” but something so deeply personal has to remain their decision or we have become a society that lies when it claims liberty, freedom or privacy for anyone.

                There are millions of women raising children in poverty and crime riddled communities for whom your guilt trips about abortion do no favors or ease their long term suffering and heartache. So I guess we are even on that score.

    • James Dosher, there are many points in your comment that I could take issue with, but the one thing I want to correct you on is your referring to Social Security as an “entitlement”. It really isn’t. We paid money out of our own paychecks into that account, and it is owed to us. It’s essentially the same as if we’d opened an account at our local bank branch and put the money there instead each payday. The bank would have no right to refuse to give it to us – it’s OUR money. SS is the same. It is not, repeat not, an entitlement.

      • Social Security money that one receives is not from what they paid into the system. It’s money that younger taxpayers are presently paying into the system. Any money you paid is gone and went to retirees. It’s very flawed and unfair, and places an ever increasing burden on young workers.

        If it really is “our” money or “your” money, then why not let people keep their own money and make their own accounts? That idea will be vigorously opposed because “your” money isn’t there anymore. They need to take money from young workers to pay you when you receive social security.

        • Wrong again Joe. While it was never set up to be a savings account, and no, you do not get the same exact dollar you put in back, you do indeed get Social Security money that you put into the system when you were that young worker and up until you retired or became disabled your contribution (and the matching one from your employer) is credited to you and determines your benefit.

          It is indeed flawed just like every other method, including letting us all “do it ourselves” (which means only those of means would ever be able to retire) is flawed but it is the best system ever devised for keeping more of our disabled, widowed, orphaned and elderly out of dire poverty.

          Ask Paul Ryan. He has likely been at the public teat longer than anyone in Congress as his father passed and it helped his mother raise him, get him through school and got him a fat government salary for life. Of course he is all to happy to cut benefits for others…funny how that so often works.

          • I would add that when I was young and paying into the system I always thought of it as helping out my parents and my husbands parents. I would add that although my husband received a salary, which was determined by a board, we had to pay the full amount, they let the churches off the hook for the other half. Now my boys have the same attitude, they pay in, it helps their parents. Why that is so evil is beyond me. One other thing, if it hadn’t been raided for the general budget by the GOP there would be a lot more money in the SS fund. The only people grousing are people who are comfortable and don’t want others to be.

      • Yes Susan, I agree wholeheartedly! The average yearly wage in this country is approximately $60,000. I think it takes a whole lot more citizens who make less than that amount to make it balance with those who make more. So I wonder should all those with a lower income all get a gigantic raise or should they be left to make low wages, save for their retirement with the hope they do not outlive their nest egg, pay the same rate for medical care as those making twice as much, ten times as much all while paying ever increasing costs for food, lodging, etc. Or, is it the fault of those making that low wage. Are we going to wipe all the careers making a low wage? No clerks, secretaries, nurse’s aides, teachers, etc. etc. – you know the people who help this country’s economy.

        What about those who have mental or physical disabilities who are incapable of working?

        What is your solution Mr. Dosher? If you did all the above while living with a income under $60,000, and plan on not using your “entitlement” I would like to know your secret. It is too late for me and my husband, but it would still be an interesting read. My Medicare supplement costs 3/4 of my Social Security check. The supplement does not cover eye care or dental care. We spend thousands every year for failing eyes and old teeth.

        Both my husband and I have worked since we were 16. What little we have we have worked for while surviving 2 recessions, the first of which was disastrous for us. We have never been “dependent” on anyone but ourselves.

        My taxes help pay the wages for the Republicans to do absolutely nothing for the last six years except obstruct and hold their favorite dog and pony shows which they call committee work. They never proved a thing. Worst investment ever.

        I also have a problem with continuing to throw more money at the military without an accounting. I have stated my reasons many times.

        Many leaders of the Religious Right try to sell us on their belief that God is actually working through Trump. Can’t get any closer to God than that I would think.

        Peace

      • Except, Ms. Susan, it ISN’T an account held in trust for you. It is a TAX for a program which promises to pay out to you and others if you are disabled, gain survivor benefits, or make it to 67.

        But it is not an account. You can’t get that money back – EVER.

        The US government does not keep a special account with Social Security funds in it. The Congress spends it like every other bit of taxation they get … which is one of the most critical problems we are currently facing with SS right now ~ the fact Congress has been spending it on non-SS things for a long time ~ Republicans & Democrats both.

        I repeat, Social Security is NOT a savings account of any kind. It is not ‘OUR’ money any more than a ‘Gas Tax’, or import duty is ‘OUR’ money. It is ‘TAX’ money.

        As an example, let’s say you, for whatever reasons, only pay into the system for 15 years. Even at the exulted 12.4% of your pay for those 15 years … what happens when you hit 67 and you start collecting those checks? They start paying you. Let’s say you live for thirty more years? Well … they KEEP paying you. Exactly what savings account does that?

        On the other hand, let’s say you bust your hump from the age of 18 to 67 and on the day you quit gainful employment, your unmarried-butt drops dead. Who gets your SS savings? Nobody.

        And that is the reality of Social Security. They want you to pay in for as long as possible then drop dead before you collect … which runs counter-intuitive to the idea Universal Health Care in the US, don’t ya know?

        Since we are not doing that … we have a system we cannot sustain. Woot?

        Anyway, since it doesn’t matter how much money you give the government to how much the government pays out to you, Social Security is an entitlement. It is virtually the textbook definition of an entitlement.

        • Yes James Dosher, the “reality” of Social Security lies in it being “social” and helping those who need it out of the taxes all workers pay. Even the illegal immigrants still pay payroll taxes. Even non-citizen refugees still pay the payroll taxes and neither may ever get a dime.

          My father went to work at 16 and died at 43. I like to think his taxes paid helped some other family. Like the widow left with minor children or the disabled person who can no longer work. Unlike some who need to keep score, getting all you have paid back is not the only part of the issue.

          Many, many elderly people get much more in Medicare and Social Security than they paid, many others drop dead before they get a dime. Just the way the world happens. If your notion of “fair” is to let people do it all themselves and then live in dire poverty and be put down when they run out of money (which is millions of low wage workers), how is that any better?

        • It’s inevitable that some will receive more than they have contributed and the reasons for that vary.

          If someone becomes disabled at age forty-five, and starts to collect Social Security, it is inevitable that person will collect more than was paid in.

          Would you have that person only collect the amount they paid in and then be left with zero income? That’s not only a death sentence, it is also a very unloving attitude for a Christian to have.

          We are here on this earth to love our neighbors as ourselves, to love our nbeighbors as God first loved us.

          One way we can demonstrate this love is by sharing what we have with others in need.

          How about these verses in Acts 4? Seems to me the church would have had a powerful influence had we continued this practice;

          “32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

          36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.”

  10. Here is yet another article that is along the lones of what John writes. I especially appreciated this bit, “Telling me to lay off of calling out racism within white American Christianity is like telling someone to lay off the Nazi party shortly before the actual start of their genocide. I mean, I’m sure some of them were decent people, just trying to make Germany great again, right?”

    The Middle Ground of Racism
    July 12, 2017 by Sheri Faye Rosendahl.

    “Telling me to lay off of calling out racism within white American Christianity is like telling someone to lay off the Nazi party shortly before the actual start of their genocide. I mean, I’m sure some of them were decent people, just trying to make Germany great again, right?

    “In my recent article, The Racist God of America, I caught a lot of drama from white people regarding two things. The first was my calling out racist tendencies in American Christianity … because of course not every American Christian is racist.

    “The other was this statement I made: “What about the video after video we see of flagrant police brutality and murder of our black neighbors? In those cases, we see white Christians actually defending the murder while crying their ‘all lives matter’ crap in complete ignorance of their own racist mentality.”

    “Surprisingly, it was this short paragraph that caused the most outrage. Multiple white folks literally tried to justify police brutality by stating, “black people commit crime at a higher level.” What the hell?

    “I can understand some snowflaking tendencies when a group you identify with employs racist ideologies. It makes sense to become defensive and give your input that not every member of the group thinks this way. However, attempts to justify murder are unacceptable.
    I believe that many of these people who are essentially justifying racism are probably decent people — not all of them are raging bigots. But seriously white people, in a country that was literally founded on racism, arguing that racism isn’t a real issue — while we could produce a feature-length film based on the footage we have all seen of “legal” police brutality and murders of our black neighbors — is borderline delusional.

    “Why are so many white Christians unwilling to admit that there is a problem? Why is the first reaction that many white people have to footage of blatant murder not compassion, but vibrant defensiveness?

    “Is it because if we admit the problem we would have to face the monster of segregated oppression that we — in our white privilege — are immune to, even as it costs others their lives?

    “On top of those who straight up deny the reality of oppression, another major obstacle comes from those who clearly see systemic racism but refuse to speak out. Those who see it but believe we need to take a more moderate approach, to be less harsh when calling out the issue. I find an overwhelming amount of criticism from this group. They are upset by the candor of those of us who vocally and unapologetically fight against oppression.”

    More of this excellent article may be read here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unfundamentalistchristians/2017/07/middle-ground-racism/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=Best+of+Patheos&utm_content=57

    • “Telling me to lay off of calling out racism within white American Christianity is like telling someone to lay off the Nazi party shortly before the actual start of their genocide. I mean, I’m sure some of them were decent people, just trying to make Germany great again, right?”

      Hehehe … that’s cute and I’m sure Ms. Rosendahl is an honest, mean-spirited Antifa who feels it is okay to ‘punch a Nazi’ who only wants to take America Left Again, right?

      So … racism …

      First off, ‘White’ is a construct, created as a force of opposition to be the ‘oppressor’ to any number of groups in need of being ‘oppressed’. Not too long ago, there were Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans, German-Americans, WASPs, Scots-Irish, Southerners, Yankees, Cajuns, Californians, Midwesterners, Texans, Westerners … and so on and so on. There was no over-arching ‘White’ identity. It was created by outside forces who needed a villain so they created a homogenized White America. I don’t look Greek, or Swedish, yet somehow we are all considered ‘White People’. If the results haven’t been so tragic, it would be to laugh.

      Now that we’ve got that out of the way …

      Would that be White racism against Asian-Americans? That would truly suck … as Asian-Americans are the most prosperous and best educated ethnic group in the United States. More so than White Americans. We must really suck at this systemic racism stuff if we can’t even make our ‘ethnic’ group #1.

      Let’s continue …

      White racism … White men make up, by far, the largest number of homeless people in America. I’m unsure how this can be seen as a success for the White Patriarchy, but I’m sure the anti-White racists will try.

      Black men make up a disproportionate amount of the US prison population, but they also commit a disproportionate amount of the violent crimes. Funny how that works. They commit roughly half the murders by gunfire in the US and the vast majority of their victims are other Black men. In fact, you are more likely to be hit by lightning than be a Black man shot to death by a White cop. Yeah … let’s just put all the blame on White racism though.

      Black Americans are poorer and less educated than White America yet the number of Black women seeking out higher education is consistently rising while that of White men is consistently falling. The number of White women going to college is also on the rise … so if it is racism … is it White female racism? Or is it sexism?

      White women have formed the largest voting block since 1980. For the past 17 years, they have earned the greatest number of college degrees as well. Women now make up roughly 62% of the college population. As of 2016, a White woman’s starting salary is greater than that of a White man’s. Still, I’m not hearing the clarion call to counter the domination of White female racism … and I’m not really expecting too. The introspection and honesty is way beyond such people.

      So yeah … clearly, the problem is White racism, systemic racism and police brutality. That’s why in Chicago, St. Louis and Baltimore ~ cities where they’ve reined in their rampaging police forces … the murder rates have soared. The majority of the victims ‘spared’ from this systemic White racism and police brutality have turned out to be … Black … hmmm ,,, whoops?

      Oddly, it was almost as if those evil police-men & -women were keeping those murderers off the streets and stopping them from murdering all those other Black folk. That was until those saintly anti-White racism people made those vile cops go away … so those murderers were able to do what murderers do best – murder people. And that is exactly what we are seeing.

      Good job, you anti-White racism folks! Instead of putting a few bad characters in jail, you are stacking many more Black people in the morgue. But hey ~ at least you are proving to everyone you are fighting that pernicious White racism, right?

      By all means, please DON’T help me ~ the struggling White male. People you help have the annoying habit of ending up DEAD so I’ll do what my kind has always done – struggle on alone, or in the company of like-minded individuals, who do the best we can with what we’ve got. We see you as the dangerous pedagogues you are, thus avoiding you whenever we can for you rarely truly help anyone except yourselves.

      Okay now – gotta go. Peace, love and understanding!

    • I have to say, one of the things that has alternately amused/irritated me these last 8 years has been that, whenever I’ve called rightwingers out on their racism toward President Obama, the response was nearly always that I was a racist for bringing the subject up! That one was guaranteed to make my head do a 360 spin…..

      • Susan, the cognitive dissonance among some people will indeed have a head-spinning effect.

        Quite nauseatingly so, IME.

        Reminds of He Who Shall Not Be Named Because He Has So Many accused us of being racist when we referred to Lil Donnie Tantrum’s orange skin which he does to himself, by his own choice.

      • Oh yes Susan, to call it out is to “play the race card.” I think hypocrisy and irony must be a gene and some are living without it.

  11. Why liberals and conservatives do not understand one another (AKA why Pastor Pavlovitz can not understand conservative Christians, and vice versa)

    Warning: this contains verified science, which may make you Christians feel uncomfortable. (Ba Dum Dum Tssss…..C’mon that was funny.)

    Anyhoo….

    Moral Foundations Theory: originally developed by Haidt and Graham

    A.) There are 5 dimensions* to Human Morality which is consistent across culture, gender, and age. IOW, these appear to be human universals and not isolated to modern WEIRD** cultures. They are
    1. care (opposite harm),
    2. fairness (opposite cheating),
    3. loyalty (opposite betrayal),
    4. authority (opposite subversion),
    5. purity/sanctity (opposite degradation/contagion).

    B.) People’s moral dispositions are partially heritable. Furthermore, humans assortatively mate according to their morals and values. i.e. a person’s morality is TO SOME DEGREE (but NOT totally) hardwired. Entrenched. AN extreme exception that actually proves the rule is the case of sociopaths, who are essentially hardwired without a moral compass (sociopathy can arise from environmental factors and traumas as well. However, the point is, once it’s there, it’s next to impossible to eradicate).

    C.) ALL people value ALL 5 (or 6) of these dimensions but to differing degrees. There are statistical trends/clusters in how these dimensions are valued. There are two major clusters of morality (think in terms of statistical trends, not in absolute terms as you Christians are so often want to do…sorry for another dig-I’m just playing… kind of). Envision two partially overlapping statistical mounds.

    1. People who value care and fairness RELATIVELY more. In our culture we call these people liberals. (Again 3 friendly reminders –
    Liberals also value the other three, but fairness and care figure more prominently into their morality. Also, there are individual statistical variations within this liberal grouping on the various dimensions. Finally, these are PARTIALLY heritable, relatively hardwired traits.)

    2. People who value the dimensions of loyalty, sanctity/purity, and authority RELATIVELY more. In our culture, we call these people conservatives. (Again 3 friendly reminders -Conservatives also value the other two but sanctity/purity, loyalty, and authority figure prominently into their morality when compared to liberals. Also, there are individual statistical variations within this conservative grouping on the various dimensions. Finally, these are PARTIALLY heritable and thus FAIRLY hardwired traits. )

    Let’s unpack this, and I’ll do it from the liberal standpoint since those are the lenses through which you, dear Pastor, see the world. If I am a conservative (which I am not), I am going to put a higher value on social hierarchy, tradition, group loyalty, and purity more than you (to some degree). I am more likely to be willing to sacrifice people at PERCIEVED societal fringes for the good of the whole (things like healthcare for the poor, public education, social entitlements, minority rights). I will exhibit more tendencies toward tribalism manifesting as nationalism and out-group enmity i.e. xenophobia (for example, like the ancient Hebrews, who committed mass genocide in Canaan or our current regime’s relatively anti-immigrant sentiment). I will favor robust police and military forces to protect the good of the group over social programs to help the poor. I will place relatively more value on tradition (for example, outdated patriarchal norms espoused by Middle Eastern desert goat herders in the Bronze Age). My stronger distaste for physical/spiritual contamination will make me more apt to police your sexual behavior, where you pee, what you wear and use of intoxicants. I will be more apt to legislate the gender of the person with whom you form intimate bonds. Yet, in comparison, I’ll be relatively indifferent to the government favoring big businesses over individual human beings.

    On the contrary, as a liberal, your higher value on care and fairness predisposes you to be more willing to forsake tradition, hierarchy, and group integrity to help the needy and marginalized. Also you’re more prone to overlook any perceived degradations of sanctity/ purity to meet those ends. From my reading of the New Testament, Yeshua Bar Joseph unequivocally seems to have been a REALLY liberal Jew.

    Now, none of the morals are bad/evil things. Group cohesion is a good thing, its good to come together. Loyalty to your friends, family, and community is also a good thing. Deferring to the more experienced hierarchically isn’t necessarily dumb. It’s actually smart, most of the time. Avoiding behaviors and objects that cause illness (in the anthropological sense) is conducive to survival. Moralizing contamination into other races ethnicities and lifestyles is NOT though, I submit. Caring for the helpless and making sure things are fair are also quite admirable. But when any one of those dimensions is taken to extremes, things can get lopsided. You could imagine a situation where you could be so focused on helping the disenfranchised that you endanger or betray your community one, for example.

    Since these are heritable traits, they’re relatively entrenched. That’s why conservatives are very unlikely to change your moral dimensionality and why, unfortunately, you’re very unlikely to change theirs.

    Solution? Realize you both value the same things, just to different degrees. Find commonalities and start working from there. Condemning people doesn’t win friends. Just ask your favorite liberal jew, he got beaten to a bloody pulp, pubically nailed to a tree, and died of exsanguination, exposure, dehydration, and pain for doing so….

    * some add a sixth dimension, Liberty (oppression)

    ** WEIRD = Western Educated Industrial Rich Democratic societies

    • We’ve discussed this very research in a recent message series at our church.

      The problem isn’t in not understanding someone’s motivation, it’s in the results of their belief system.

      If someone wants to deny rights for LGBTQ people because they see them as abominations, or they want to marginalize Muslims—we don’t value the same things.

      At some point this isn’t about why people believe what they believe, but the damage their beliefs is causing.

      • The difference in your closing “liberal Jew reference” is that no one is suggesting Conservative Republicans should be met with violence, or have their rights taken away. They on the other hand…

        • You’re preaching to the choir, Pastor. The statistical probability of a liberal blowing up an NRA rally is infinitesimal compared that of a conservative follower of an abrahamic shooting up a gay club. And, yes, you do share the same values (albeit to a lesser degree) as a conservative Christian who marginalizes Americans who do happen to also be Muslim or LGBTQ or Muslim LGBTQ…you are very much attempting to marginalize the conservative Christian. Sorry. That’s the facts, Jack. And for the record, I’m totally with you in marginalizing any ideology that oppresses another human being (who isn’t harming anyone else). (Although I am very interested in oppressing..say…. serial rapist-murderers and people who bilk money from the poor in the name of an imaginary deity). All I’m saying is, as Nietzsche once said, “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”
          One thing, that you might find faintly reassuring, is that, if you take the long view from the jet airplane at 37,000 feet, as Theodore Parker said “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”. We may be experiencing a a conservative blip at point this time, but overall, we as a species are becoming less violent and more inclusive (please read Steven Pinker’s “The Better Angels of Our Nature” or Michael Shermer’s “The Moral Arc” for compete exposition and verification of that truth claim that is…gulp…scientifically verified). I know it’s not happen as fast as you’d like it. But is accelerating. Don’t believe me? You, a pastor, couldn’t have conversations like this 50 years ago. Gay rights? Women’s equality? Racial equality? No way Jose! And you’d be imprisoned or executed if you did 500 years ago. Progress. Slow progress. But definitely changing in a slow but accelerating way. Not fast enough though. And I’m not saying you’re wrong to vociferously decry our nation’s retrogressive backslide. It’s disgusting. And I’m not saying don’t push back. You should. All I’m saying that conservative Christians are also my brothers and sisters, and they are worthy of love and compassion and patience and kindness even though their dogmas are complete horsesh*t.

          • I keep seeing people insist that the problem is just that I do not “understand where these people are coming from” and if I would only try to see the issue as they see it, it would all come clear and we could “relate” but this is 1) insulting and 2) not true.

            I do understand that we were raised and then chose to look at issues with a different brain pattern and pathology. So were pedophiles, rapists and murderers for that matter. We, as adults are called upon to use the faculties we have to navigate the world we live in but when you are daily bombarded with issues and you consistently go with the voice that cries wolf you are not helping yourself or society.

        • I’m sure Steve Scalise sleeps better at night knowing no one is calling for conservative republicans to be met with violence.

          • Yes, let’s please blame this on Progressives…

            … not the NRA’s gunlust.
            … not Donald Trump’s violent rhetoric.
            … not the son of the President calling Democrats “less than people.”

            Right.

            • Where did I blame anyone? I pointed out the absurdity of saying “no one is suggesting Conservative Republicans should be met with violence” a month after the attempted assassination of several congressmen at softball practice simply because they were conservative republicans. One of them was still in the ICU when you wrote this. You can lay blame wherever you like (I tend to place it on the whack job that pulled the trigger rather than the leader of the targets political party), but it doesn’t change the fact that they were targeted solely because of their conservatism. Your statement has no basis in reality.

          • Well he certainly SHOULD because NO ONE IS! Trump has often called for violence as have many on the right. If violence and malevolence is your language, then that is how people will understand you. There is plenty of blame to go around.
            Please get off the victim bus, you do not have a valid ticket!

            • You guys just love arguing points that weren’t said. He said no one is calling for violence against conservative republicans. That is patently untrue. Only the most blindly partisan person would make that claim after the softball shooting. If you’d like to pretend that didn’t happen, a quick google search will show other instances of people being attacked merely for being conservatives or Trump supporters. How about the leftist college professor who started attacking people at Cal Berkeley with a bike lock? There’s three more people in the hospital for exercising their constitutional rights to free assembly. Or are we going to say assault with a deadly weapon isn’t violence?

              And where did I claim being a victim? The author’s statement is totally baseless. I can point that out without claiming victim status. You, like Mr. Pavlovitz in his reply to me, are refuting things I haven’t said.

              Now, to be sure, I am not saying violence is the exclusive domain of the left. That would be as completely untrue as the author’s claim. I thought I would spell that out, to save you the energy of arguing against yet another point I never made.

              • Sorry Bruton, but you are just categorically being dishonest. The shootings by that awful and clearly disturbed man were horrific and in his mind, politically motivated, but NO ONE had, or has, or is “calling for violence against conservative republicans.” That is just patently false.

                I am not at all pretending the shootings did not happen. I am just disputing that ANYONE “called for” it. NO ONE DID THAT.

                Yes, other people, liberal and conservative have been attacked merely for being conservatives or liberals but again, NO ONE CALLED FOR THAT TO HAPPEN.

                If you want to trade incidents, we can. Like the right-wingers who shoot doctors, or blow up abortion clinics or the right-winger who went into a Unitarian Church to “kill liberals” (and did). But again, that does not mean the violence was being “called for.”

                Surely even you can admit that “When ballots don’t work…bullets will” and “We came unarmed…this time” are threats of violence…but not from the Left.

                I am sorry if you do not recognize the victim status your words claim, but it is there. And Trump is the only candidate and President who has advocated and spoke of violence on several occasions that I am aware of.

                  • Sure Bruton, we can trade angry tweets from anonymous people or we can get real about what is really the truth. And that is, it happens on both sides but that is still not people calling for violence.

                    “On his Monday radio show, Glenn Beck highlighted claims that before he started targeting a little-known, left-leaning organization called the Tides Foundation on his Fox News TV show, “nobody knew” what the non-profit was.

                    Indeed, for more than a year Beck has been portraying the progressive organization as a central player in a larger, nefarious cabal of Marxist/socialist/Nazi Obama-loving outlets determined to destroy democracy in America. Beck has routinely smeared the low-profile entity for being staffed by “thugs” and “bullies” and involved in “the nasty of the nastiest,” like indoctrinating schoolchildren and creating a “mass organization to seize power.”

                    As Media Matters reported, the conspiratorial host had mentioned (read: attacked) the little-known progressive organization nearly 30 times on his Fox program alone since it premiered in 2009, including several mentions in the last month. (Beck’s the only TV talker who regularly references the foundation, according to our Nexis searches.)

                    So yes, Beck has done all he can to scare the hell out of people about the Tides Foundation and “turn the light of day” onto an organization that actually facilitates non-profit giving.

                    And guess what? Everybody in America would have found out about the Tides Foundation last week if Byron Williams had had his way. He’s the right-wing, government-hating, gun-toting nut who strapped on his body armor, stocked a pickup truck with guns and ammo, and set off up the California coast to San Francisco in order to start killing employees at the previously obscure Tides Foundation in hopes of sparking a political revolution.

                    Thankfully, the planned domestic terrorist attack never came to pass because California Highway Patrol officers pulled Williams over for drunk driving on his way to his killing spree. Williams quickly opened fire, wounding two officers during a lengthy shootout.”
                    https://newrepublic.com/article/76612/conservative-hatred-vs-liberal-hatred

                  • “I blame ourselves, for being hypocrites, for being what we said we never were and never would be – bitter and rigid in our self-righteousness. We have now become all the things we said we could never understand about liberals. We succumb to soundbites and headlines. We’ve stopped looking for original sources or reading to the end of an article. We’ve taken on the news-digestion habits of the left and it is only serving to fuel our rage towards one another.”

                    http://www.redstate.com/kiradavis/2017/02/20/conservatives-become-hate-left-im-exhausted/

                  • “Twitter suspends right-wing pundit who called for violence against Charlotte protesters “Run them down.”

                    “In the real world, since the end of the Vietnam era, the overwhelming majority of serious political violence—not counting vandalism or punches thrown at protests, but violence with lethal intent—has come from the fringes of the right. ”

                    “Senator Rand Paul ✔ @RandPaul
                    .@Judgenap: Why do we have a Second Amendment? It’s not to shoot deer. It’s to shoot at the government when it becomes tyrannical!
                    12:48 PM – 23 Jun 2016
                    7,927 7,927 Retweets 5,798 5,798 likes”

                    ” “The first shots of the second American civil war have already been fired,” said Alex Jones earlier this month. “We are in a clear-cut cultural civil war,” according to Newt Gingrich. Pat Buchanan offered that we’re “approaching something of a civil war,” and said that it’s time for Trump to “burn down the Bastille.” “You ain’t got any idea of the war that’s raging outside the four walls of the church,” religious-right activist Dave Daubenmire told a crowd of antigay protesters last weekend. “Don’t you understand what’s going on? Don’t you know it’s a war? Don’t you know they want your children? Don’t you understand that those same people singing ‘Jesus loves you this I know’ want to kill us?” Then there’s the quasi-apocalyptic prepper mentality, which holds that we’re on the brink of social collapse so you’d better buy gold and stock up on ammo for when the shit inevitably hits the fan.”

                    “If James Hodgkinson looked around himself and saw a president who acts as if he’s above the law and a Congress that’s working in the dark to strip away health insurance from millions of people to finance tax cuts for the wealthy but is unwilling to perform its oversight duties, and decided that he would stand up to tyranny with an assault rifle, he would have taken a theme that’s exceedingly common on the right to its bloody logical conclusion.”

                    Or did you think only right-wingers could “water the tree of liberty?” You can run from the hateful right wing rhetoric and the malevolence in it, but it is there. I own our kooks, and I am deeply ashamed of them. You need to own yours!

                    https://www.thenation.com/article/why-does-the-far-right-hold-a-near-monopoly-on-political-violence/

                    • Do you even bother to read what other people write? You spent who knows how long cutting and pasting a bunch of articles about right wing nut jobs, and for what? If you’d actually read my comments in this very thread you’d see I explicitly stated that violence is a thing on the right as well, and only a fool would claim otherwise. You expended a lot of energy trying to prove something I’ve already clearly acknowledged. What was your goal, here?

                      “I’ll provide links proving what he said earlier was true. That’ll learn him good!”

                    • “Bruton Gaster” you seem to be a slow learner. I said we could trade links if you liked and what did you do? Throw up a right-wing link, so I answered. Several times. No one on the Left is “calling for” conservatives to be shot one iota more than those on the Right are calling for liberals to be shot. It has become the way political hot-heads communicate. Trump even made it to the White House doing it. You must be so proud (or desperate) to call other people out from the low ground you occupy on the issue. From the Freedom Riders forward, more liberals have died for their beliefs than conservatives so tell us again who the violent people are?

                    • Sandi Saunders wrote “From the Freedom Riders forward, more liberals have died for their beliefs than conservatives so tell us again who the violent people are?”

                      I googled “correlation between conservatives and NRA” because I was curious to know if there is a correlation between the people who are the loudest voices in defense of their Second Amendment rights and the actual deployment of weapons.

                      Some interesting finds:

                      Guns and religion: How American conservatives grew closer to Putin’s Russia

                      https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-the-republican-right-found-allies-in-russia/2017/04/30/e2d83ff6-29d3-11e7-a616-d7c8a68c1a66_story.html

                    • Another interesting find:

                      “The Secret History of Guns
                      The Ku Klux Klan, Ronald Reagan, and, for most of its history, the NRA all worked to control guns. The Founding Fathers? They required gun ownership—and regulated it. And no group has more fiercely advocated the right to bear loaded weapons in public than the Black Panthers—the true pioneers of the modern pro-gun movement. In the battle over gun rights in America, both sides have distorted history and the law, and there’s no resolution in sight.”

                      https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/09/the-secret-history-of-guns/308608/

                    • Sorry, Sandi. You can’t have it both ways. In the same comment in which you talk about trading angry tweets, you again denied anyone was calling for violence against conservatives. You don’t get to act like you never said so because I provide proof that you and Mr. Pavlovitz are flat wrong about that. You only “own your kooks” after it became obvious your previous position was unsupportable.

                • Sandi, I seem to recall Trump offering to pay the legal fees for people if they “took out” liberals.

                  I seem to recall someone in the right recommending that Hillary be killed.

                  Doesn’t that count as inciting violence?

                    • I’d really like an example of a progressive urging other progressives to take violent action.

                      I’ve been running Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff on FB for many years now and I have yet to see progressives advocate violence of any sort.

                      But it seems to me that on a daily basis I see examples of violence by the onservatives, in one form or another.

                      For instance the proposed budget is nothing else if not an act of violence perpetrated upon the neediest of USians.

        • Who is “we?”

          I am in Parkersburg, WV. We are attempting to pass a non-discrimination ordinance here that would add protections for LGBTQ folks to the already existing Human Rights Act. The conservative churches in City Council meetings and from their pulpits have called members of the community the following (these are all documented in videos): perverts, sexual predators, demonic, queers, mistakes, deviants, and abominations.

          So perhaps you, Joe Catholic, may not use these epithets against some of the nicest people I have ever met in my life, but your conservative fellow travelers certainly do.

        • Interesting defense there Joe C. Odder still given that the Bible verses used against the LGBTQ community use that very word. You rank sin, just like so many other right-wingers and yet you want to deny the verbiage of harm…FAIL.

      • Ok, this baffles me. You are adamant in your support for the gay community, and equally adamant in your support of Islam. Yet, every country between Yemen and Pakistan has laws making homosexual acts punishable by death. Same with Somalia and Sudan, two more Muslim majority countries. Where homosexuality is not a capital crime across the Middle East and North Africa (what is widely regarded as the Muslim World) it is still illegal.

        How can you be so passionate in your support of one group, while simultaneously supporting, with equal vigor, a different group that would imprison or execute every member of the other? Meanwhile, you rail against conservative Christians for their beliefs about homosexuality, none of whom, to my knowledge anyway, are pushing for laws that would add being gay to the list of things that can earn you a stoning, public decapitation, or a gravity powered trip from the roof to the street. I can’t wrap my head around this.

        https://www.google.com/amp/www.independent.co.uk/news/world/gay-lesbian-bisexual-relationships-illegal-in-74-countries-a7033666.html%3Famp

        • It’s simple. Because the actions of hateful people of one group do not speak for the whole group. 50 years ago in this country, many white Christians were lynching black people and filling the KKK’s ranks. It didn’t mean Christianity or America were evil, it meant that the evil needed to be called out there.

          • “Because the actions of hateful people of one group do not speak for the whole group.”

            An interesting statement coming from someone who at least once a month directs sermons at “White Christian,” as if we are all responsible for the things you find wrong with the country.

            Also, about two thirds of the world’s Muslims live in countries where homosexuality is at least illegal. That isn’t a small number. If the vast majority of Muslim nations have these laws on the books, it takes an awful lot of effort to argue it only represents a tiny fraction of the population.

            • Bruton, since John P himself is a “white Christian” as are many of us who agree with him, it is nonsensical to claim when he uses the term, he is saying “we are all responsible for the things you find wrong with the country.” It is the group he is speaking to, and holding accountable.

              Pointing out or defending the religious freedom of Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Atheists, or any other group does not mean you are defending every tenet or nuance of their group. While some Muslims are very tolerant of the LGBTQ (and some even are…) it is not correct to say that defending them is defending their prejudices.

              When you defend the white, straight Christians you identity with, are you defending their prejudices?

              • Sandi wrote “Pointing out or defending the religious freedom of Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Atheists, or any other group does not mean you are defending every tenet or nuance of their group.”

                I simply want every person in the US to have the freedom to worship or not as they choose according to the First Amendment.

                While it is true that in the past white Christians may have been in the majority but the truth is, the demographics are shifting and the fasting growin one is Hispanic/Latino and Asian communities. Please google “U.S. Hispanic and Asian populations growing, but for different reasons.”

                While the LDS are the largest growing religion within the the USA, Muslims are the largest growing relgion in the world. Please google “Why Muslims are the world’s fastest-growing religious group.”

                The fact of the matter is that we are living through the death throes of the white male and those death throes are violent because of the Gunnysack Syndrome.

                https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/love-and-gratitude/201608/choose-forgiveness-and-gratitude-over-gunny-sacking

              • If you think he’s talking about himself when he addresses a “white christian” I can’t help you. Look at the title of this blog post. He spells it out explicitly for those who couldn’t infer it themselves.

                • Bruton, I do think he is talking to and about all of us. And I never asked you to help me. I cannot fathom that you could.

        • What Bruton? John Pavlovitz does not believe in Islam anymore than you or I do. He just does not believe in harming or persecuting Muslims because their beliefs are different from his. What say I persecute your momma because she thinks it is okay to be a few pounds overweight? Go read the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and let me know what parts of that you do not understand.

          • Ugh. I must have missed my comment claiming he doesn’t have the first amendment right to support whoever he wants. How you got constitutional rights out of anything I wrote, I can’t understand.

            And come on, Chuck. Fat shaming women? That’s not awfully progressive of you. Though I suppose it’s an improvement over telling people to go f&%$ themselves. I wonder where all the ladies who insist they’re all about civility and not ideology go when you post. Your comment deriding a woman for her weight has been up for a day, and yet the Ladies Civility Patrol is not where to be found. A mystery, that.

      • This isn’t about beliefs, it’s about truth! Why is that so hard to understand? There is human opinion and then there is God’s truth and only one of them matters! And if you think the progressive way of doing things through the government benefits people and leads them to Christ you just aren’t paying attention.

        • “God’s truth”. You keep using that term.

          Your version of God’s truth is the only thing you believe, nothing more. Once you find the humility to admit this, you’ll treat people far better.

        • tayesh, I am very sorry that you don’t think making sure every person in the USA has the exact same civil liberties is in conflict with the Gospel.

          I think it is very much compatible with the Gospel because making sure that everyone has equal rights, equal civil liberties, is one of the very many ways we can demonstrate that we love our neighbors as ourselves.

        • Actually “tayesh,” it is about beliefs and truth. That you claim your beliefs are “the truth” when many see it differently is a problem. You may claim God is ‘on your side’ but we claim we must be on God’s side. Using the historical Biblical treatment of women in today’s world is not going to be tolerated. Using the chosen Biblical treatment of the LGBTQ is also not going to be tolerated.

          If you think the conservative right-wing Christian way of doing things benefits people and leads them to Christ you just weren’t paying attention when Jesus spoke or when you look around you. You can want the high-ground…you just don’t have it.

          While we have not eradicated poverty, suffering or problems, I know the poor today are better off than the poor of even 40-50 years ago and much better off than 100 years ago. We are therefore, on the right track with left-wing government programs and policies that help them. Just facts.

    • In addition to what John Pavlovitz says here, I would add that the Christian faith has nothing to do with “moralism.” If you do not understand that, then you do not understand the true, baseline nature of the Christian faith. Jacques Ellul, in his book entitled “The Subversion of Christianity,” explains that, makes it clear, and shows how (historically) the Christian faith fell into Satan’s “everything is about morality” rut. By the way, I am the resident anthropologist here.

    • While very interesting- Mathias- and thanks John P for your additions- the “heritable” inheritable piece is still off.

      What parents (successfully or unsuccessfully) pass onto children is their “moral code” belief system. And it’s parents who create sociopaths. But if that’s based in something “technically unprovable” (i.e. FAITH) it’s not actually real. So it’s total brainwashing of an unreal belief system into the next generation- family by family- with excommunication from the family/religion (banishment) used as the threat against one’s own children to keep them toeing the line. Heaven? The goal. Hell? The punishment.

      Religious people are simply unwilling to accept that what they were brainwashed with may not be the total truth- so changing their beliefs is usually impossible because their beliefs define who they are as human beings. People who recognize “truths” with a more scientific approach to the natural physical world- built on literally the entirety of human historical knowledge- know that growth in one’s moral code can and will take place over time as one learns new things- because one CAN learn new things. The evidence reported on recently is that the majority of professed republicans now think a college education is a bad thing. Why? Because education tends to- if not outright debunk religious faith- certainly challenge it right where it doesn’t want to be challenged- in its unprovability. Ya just gotta have faith!

      I was born into a mormon family in 1953. I’m an artist and always have been. That alone makes me a not/conservative born into a conservative household. I got attacked when I was 8 for being a fag. I’m a male who didn’t care all that much about the stupidity inherent in competitive sports. So that made me a fag. A sissy- a queer- a homo. A NOT MASCULINE ENOUGH MALE. I have a brain! And as I had little familial support- and I had to escape the group hatred- I retreated into books- including all the how-to books- and I learned on my own what I was interested in knowing.

      So while there may be some large percentage of successfully brainwashed children inheriting their parent’s belief structures- those of us still exist that inherited NOTHING of their con-man belief structures- as we set out to figure it out on our own.

      Now I will admit that most people never even challenge their belief structures at all. And so much of that is cultural beliefs that align with personal familial beliefs. I walked away from my religion at the point I was bigger than my father. But it took a long time to challenge things like CHRISTMAS and EASTER- holidays based in specific religious beliefs that are so pervasive in everyday culture that you cannot escape them even if you want to. These things are “heritable” from the culture at large- not just the family. But I was finally able to do that- and I haven’t celebrated either holiday for decades. And no- I can’t accept the secular versions of Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny. The holidays are religious. And I don’t believe in their religions. So I was finally even able to disinherit the cultural crap so many define their lives around.

      • “Now I will admit that most people never even challenge their belief structures at all.”

        So true! It’s important for ALL of us to recognize this, and respond accordingly. There would be a lot more listening than arguing.

      • J. Bruce, I ask your forbearance as I share my quibbles with your post.

        I think what parents try (successfully or unsuccessfully) to pass onto children is their “moral code” belief system. The inherent hypocrisy, self-righteousness and prejudices involved often send very “mixed messages” and cause confusion and often estrangement. I was floored once when my elementary school daughter confronted me with the fact that I had a “different voice” inside our home than I do professionally or in social settings. She was right and I was ashamed.

        While abusive or indifferent parents can create sociopaths, I also think that is a mental defect that happens without any parental effort and it is herculean to overcome either way.

        Faith is real, it is even concrete for those who have it. It is not technically provable, but it is nonetheless real. And when it is real to you, you do not see it as “brainwashing” of any kind to pass that on to your children.

        And only the most religiously zealous and fanatical would ever consider much less excommunicate or banish a child who did not accept the faith. That is an extreme most families avoid. Thankfully! My own family has atheists, agnostic, and religious folks who all love each other and defend each other fiercely.

        For a true person of faith, nothing confirms it more than a vigorous debate. For those lacking in actual faith, who rely on dogma and doctrine, nothing makes them angrier than a vigorous debate. You cannot defend or support what you literally do not understand. That, sadly is the state of far too many professed Christians.

        Zealots are indeed “unwilling to accept that what they were brainwashed with may not be the total truth- so changing their beliefs is usually impossible because their beliefs define who they are as human beings.” But not all religious people are zealots.

        I think those you see who “never even challenge their belief structures at all” are those being led with a false doctrine and dogma as opposed to faith in the love of God (like John speaks of).

        I do not follow the religion of Islam but I respect Ramadan and Eid. I do not follow the Jewish religion but I respect Passover and Seder. I do not think we have to “believe in their religions” to respect that they do. You may view it as “cultural crap” but it is not that to us.

        I value you, I support you, I agree with you on very, very much. But faith is a very personal and profound thing for many of us and we do not like it to be insulted based on your experience and observation of it.

        • “For those lacking in actual faith, who rely on dogma and doctrine, nothing makes them angrier than a vigorous debate. You cannot defend or support what you literally do not understand. That, sadly is the state of far too many professed Christians.”

          Sandi, when you state “lacking in actual faith” – can you clarify?

          In regards to relying on dogma or doctrine, what is the issue exactly? The reason I ask, is that not everyone will have a background or training in theology or exegesis, and so they may not be able to explain every bit of how the original text/meaning was XYZ, etc. Sure, doctrine/dogma is a problem if one blindly follows it. But if one prays for guidance and discernment from the Holy Spirit and is lead to a particular doctrine that they believe is most “accurate” according to how God would have us understand, in that instance I don’t see an issue.

          • James in Boston, I am not sure I can clarify much more than I did. A person of faith takes the Bible as a whole IMHO and sees the abundance of living in the love of God, not the vengeance, judgment or poll worker of God (which is God’s job). So when they insist that the dogma, tenets, verses, or doctrine they cite is infallible “proof” that their exclusion or condemnation is “of God” they are reaching above their paygrade if I understand Jesus and the point of faith. It was his point in talking about the law givers (Pharisees and Saducees) and it was his point in telling us not to be like them.

            If “one prays for guidance and discernment from the Holy Spirit and is lead to” persecute, condemn, exclude, punish or harm. I submit that they need to go back to the humility drawing board and remember who is servant and who is master.

        • Sandi- Straight people love to use the idea (against gay people) that there are almost no gay people- so why change long-held patterns of behavior for “them”- and that gay people don’t reproduce. Both are very real falsehoods. But using their analogy- all murderers- rapists- warmongers- tyrants- psychopaths and every possible kind of violent person- was created by STRAIGHT PARENTS. Also- straight people have a real problem with the nurture / nature ideas around where did gay people come from. So- are you suggesting that mental illness is nurture- or nature? Now of course- there’s a problem here because there are a vast array of mental illnesses- so it’s unlikely we can lump all “mental illness” into one category- but really- are sociopaths born- or made? Regardless- STRAIGHT PARENTS are 100% responsible for creating them- whether they are born- or made- because gay people don’t reproduce. Ha Ha Ha. STRAIGHT PARENTS are even (falsely) responsible for birthing every single gay person! So straight people should stop having children if they don’t want any more gay people to be born.

          Faith in something YOU cannot prove is the ultimate ILLUSION of human beingness. You can “believe” in it all you want- but until you can prove it- it is an illusion. The problem with being raised/brainwashed in any religion that does not bring you to a place of KNOWINGNESS is that you rely on the illusion to get you through the day- and therefore- you live a false life- no matter how much you tell yourself it’s a real life. Religious brainwashing makes the Lens that you are- the Lens that you see your life and the world through- tinted by something you can’t prove. Why would anybody want to live a life built on something they can’t prove? Please think about that. We’re living through a time where personal authenticity has become a catchphrase- but most people are utterly plastic. They bought the belief structure handed down from their parents and they CAN’T challenge it because their god will send them to hell- if they do. That’s bad juju- and no good will come from it.

          I can explain to you WHY I can challenge your “faith-based” existence- but the very fact that you “believe” in your faith will prevent you from grasping what I say. I’ll say it anyway.

          Any human can go inward to the point of finding Source- connect to Source and live the rest of their life having a Direct Experience of the Divine- directly plugged into Source. Illumination rises up out of the Earth Force- Enlightenment comes down from above. When the 2 energetics are moving- the HEART opens to the vast ONENESS that is our true nature. I can explain it in common sense terms- and as I am an Energy Channel- I can PROVE IT. The problem? If your Lens is predominately connected to any specific religion you’ll try to explain it in YOUR religious terms.

          There isn’t a religion on this planet that isn’t Human-based- Human-focused. And so you get this- Buddhism doesn’t actually claim to be a “religion”. Neither does Shamanism. So I have no human-based- human-focused religion- because at a core level they are all somewhat similar- and at a human level- they keep being used against any and all non-believers. So I think they all need to get thrown in the trash.

          You can respect religious traditions all you want. I don’t respect any of them. They are all being used to keep humanity unenlightened. Now it’s true- that if you want to follow the heart-centered teachings of a Jesus or a Buddha- go ahead. But nobody can prove Jesus existed- so he’s more of a MYTH than he is real. And his immaculate conception birth is a rip-off from earlier Egyptian and Sumerian creation myths. You can choose to not acknowledge those stories if you want- but they’re still out there. And you cannot in any way- shape or form prove he was resurrected.

          John P follows and preaches the humanitarian base of christian teachings. Inclusiveness. LOVE. And he challenges religious bullshit. I challenge ALL bullshit. Because I can. It is the power invested in the court-appointed fool- to be able to speak TRUTH to the king- when no one else will.

          Believe whatever you want. I don’t care. But know that occasionally- someone like me will challenge you to go beyond your beliefs and find what’s actually REAL- and just waiting for you to plug into IT. It is the Planet. It is the star we refer to as the Sun (Son). It is the heavens- it is the earth- it is the entire Universe. It ISN’T a (tiny small myopic) human-based religious belief structure. And IT would love to chat you up sometime.

          • Well, you certainly have ‘hit a nerve’ J Bruce. Where did I say or imply that “there are almost no gay people- so why change long-held patterns of behavior for “them”- and that gay people don’t reproduce?”

            You or anyone else may well believe that “all murderers- rapists- warmongers- tyrants- psychopaths and every possible kind of violent person- was created by STRAIGHT PARENTS.” But that is not true and I never said any such thing.

            I never mention or even think of the idiotic “nurture / nature” when speaking of the LGBTQ and I did not articulate it. I ABSOLUTELY did not articulate it in relation to actual mental illness.

            Some mental illness can be the result of abuse, but most of it is just innate from what I understand. It is not “created” in any sense of intentional choice.

            I do not connect LGBTQ anyone with mental illness and I wish you would not offer that up on a freaking platter to those who do or would.

            Sociopaths may well be born with that mental illness, or it could be the result of/aided by or mitigated by their upbringing. I cannot say for certain so I do not make those absolutes.

            I disagree that “Regardless- STRAIGHT PARENTS are 100% responsible for creating them.” It is also not true that “gay people don’t reproduce.” They do, they always have and they will continue to do so. With the exception of those rendered in a medical procedure, most are even conceived and birthed “the old fashioned way.”

            Other than you not having any, your words on Faith mean nothing to me. I do not care that you think it is “the ultimate ILLUSION” or my own mental illness. But thank you or allowing me to “believe” in it all I want.

            I suppose your “logic” makes many things an illusion. Unless a child is raised in a cave, commune or compound (hey, you did say Utah…) nothing about being raised in a religion itself is brainwashing or empty of many opportunities to get to a place of knowing, understanding, refuting and even rejecting. The world is too vast not to.

            It is absurd that I or most people “rely on the illusion to get you through the day” (what kind of life do you think others live?). I am the ultimate judge of how real my life is but you are wrong to claim that it is not real on any level.

            Maybe the problem is that you see all people of faith, of any religion as brainwashed and that is just not true for the majority in any religion. Not all Christians voted for Trump, not all Muslims hate the “infidel”, not all Jews, or all Buddhists or all Hindus do one certain thing as a monolith.

            Why wouldn’t anyone want to live their life the way they choose? Don’t you? I think you need to think about the broad brushes you use while decrying the same being used against you.

            I fully believe and have experienced people who kindly, patiently and lovingly challenge me to go beyond my beliefs. You are just not one of them. You are speaking of God and you do not even seem to know it.

            • Sandi, I thought your post about raising children was beautifully perspicacious. I did not respond to be because I choose not to be a parent and don’t feel I am qualified to say anything about raising kids. But I thought your words were loving and clear.

              I was flummoxed by J. Bruce Wilcox’ s response to you and felt he was trying to turn you into a strawman.

              He is a man who was very deeply hurt by his LDS upbringing, which sad to sayu, is not surprising as the LDS are the demographic with the highest levels of domestic and child abuse in the USA. Please google it if any don’t believe me.

              Thing is, the LDS are not Christians. I state this because they do not believe in the Trinity. So if Bruce believes he has experienced actiual Christian faith while LDS, he is mistaken.

              That is the only way I can account for what he writes and I am probably mistaken. My apologies in advance if I am.

    • Thank you, Mathias. Some thought-provoking ideas here. This is exactly why we need to insist that our members of Congress work together to find solutions that satisfy as many of the 5/6 dimensions as possible, rather than working behind closed doors to satisfy only the dimensions that they, as a group, value. We should demand this regardless of who holds the majority.

  12. John, I have read your articles for over a year now, and I felt immediately that you said very well of Stuff Need To Be Said, for others like us felt the same way. My thoughts about you, I believed that I could recognize your strong values, so all of your words that you wrote, would always reflect your strong values, which you do. It is impossible for you to hate anyone, anger of course is coming from your strong values that need to point out the wrongs that are happening going on now, anger and Love is what is keeping us still finding ways for us to make our country, our world, people and Nature to get better and better.

    I do know for sure what your intentions are for everyone, and I have read many different comments to your blog, so many different intentions, many recognize your good intentions also. Of course there are the ones who come zooming out with words of hatred, especially to you, and saying they are “christian”, their words of hate show a lot about their real intentions also, and shows us a lot about who they really are, and whatever they are, they are the ones who are destroying Christianity.

    As for me, I still refuse to be Christian, the way it is still destroying Christianity, I know there are still a few Christians who I know that are still working well for them, very few that is. I actually heard one recently who showed signs of realizing that the Trump regime is getting bad, when not that long ago the woman was saying that God gave us Trump, so perhaps she is slowly waking up??? I still believe that God is Love, pure, unadulterated Love essence, and I walk behind Jesus’s footsteps. I also will say that I am Spiritual, which one of the best meaning for me being Spiritual is that I had to climb myself out from hell on earth here.

  13. [Pastor Pavlovitz, my computer has been acting wonky today, so if you decided to moderate this comment earlier, I apologize for the repost.]

    [From Ms. Amalfitano’s post]
    “Telling me to lay off of calling out racism within white American Christianity is like telling someone to lay off the Nazi party shortly before the actual start of their genocide. I mean, I’m sure some of them were decent people, just trying to make Germany great again, right?”

    Hehehe … that’s cute and I’m sure Ms. Rosendahl is an honest, mean-spirited Antifa who feels it is okay to ‘punch a Nazi’ who only wants to take America Left Again, right?

    So … racism …

    First off, ‘White’ is a construct, created as a force of opposition to be the ‘oppressor’ to any number of groups in need of being ‘oppressed’. Not too long ago, there were Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans, German-Americans, WASPs, Scots-Irish, Southerners, Yankees, Cajuns, Californians, Midwesterners, Texans, Westerners … and so on and so on. There was no over-arching ‘White’ identity. It was created by outside forces who needed a villain so they created a homogenized White America. I don’t look Greek, or Swedish, yet somehow we are all considered ‘White People’. If the results haven’t been so tragic, it would be to laugh.

    Now that we’ve got that out of the way …

    Would that be White racism against Asian-Americans? That would truly suck … as Asian-Americans are the most prosperous and best educated ethnic group in the United States. More so than White Americans. We must really suck at this systemic racism stuff if we can’t even make our ‘ethnic’ group #1.

    Let’s continue …

    White racism … White men make up, by far, the largest number of homeless people in America. I’m unsure how this can be seen as a success for the White Patriarchy, but I’m sure the anti-White racists will try.

    Black men make up a disproportionate amount of the US prison population, but they also commit a disproportionate amount of the violent crimes. Funny how that works. They commit roughly half the murders by gunfire in the US and the vast majority of their victims are other Black men. In fact, you are more likely to be hit by lightning than be a Black man shot to death by a White cop. Yeah … let’s just put all the blame on White racism though.

    Black Americans are poorer and less educated than White America yet the number of Black women seeking out higher education is consistently rising while that of White men is consistently falling. The number of White women going to college is also on the rise … so if it is racism … is it White female racism? Or is it sexism?

    White women have formed the largest voting block since 1980. For the past 17 years, they have earned the greatest number of college degrees as well. Women now make up roughly 62% of the college population. As of 2016, a White woman’s starting salary is greater than that of a White man’s. Still, I’m not hearing the clarion call to counter the domination of White female racism … and I’m not really expecting too. The introspection and honesty is way beyond such people.

    So yeah … clearly, the problem is White racism, systemic racism and police brutality. That’s why in Chicago, St. Louis and Baltimore ~ cities where they’ve reined in their rampaging police forces … the murder rates have soared. The majority of the victims ‘spared’ from this systemic White racism and police brutality have turned out to be … Black … hmmm ,,, whoops?

    Oddly, it was almost as if those evil police-men & -women were keeping those murderers off the streets and stopping them from murdering all those other Black folk. That was until those saintly anti-White racism people made those vile cops go away … so those murderers were able to do what murderers do best – murder people. And that is exactly what we are seeing.

    Good job, you anti-White racism folks! Instead of putting a few bad characters in jail, you are stacking many more Black people in the morgue. But hey ~ at least you are proving to everyone you are fighting that pernicious White racism, right?

    By all means, please DON’T help me ~ the struggling White male. People you help have the annoying habit of ending up DEAD so I’ll do what my kind has always done – struggle on alone, or in the company of like-minded individuals, who do the best we can with what we’ve got. We see you as the dangerous pedagogues you are, thus avoiding you whenever we can for you rarely truly help anyone except yourselves.

    Okay now – gotta go. Peace, love and understanding!

  14. The subject of John’s post today has been a concern of mine for some time now. Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals have sown an extraordinary amount of mean-spiritedness, bigotry, and hatred in this country over the past 100 years—and particularly for the past 47 years. These sowings have been directed at the people they view as their chief enemies—nonbelievers in Jesus, people of other religions, and the believers in Jesus who attend the mainline Protestant churches, Roman Catholic churches, Orthodox churches, and many other churches and church denominations here at home and around the world who disagree with the fundies on various points. I am a student of human culture and history—and I can tell you that Jesus was right—the Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are one day going to reap what they have sown. When reaping time comes—the fundies will ignore the vast weight of their own sins that they have inflicted on other people through their mean-spiritedness, bigotry, and hatred. Always looking for any means to conveniently excuse their own sinful behavior, they will declare to the world that the intense suffering inflicted upon them is not the receiving of the justice they so richly deserve for abandoning the ways of Jesus, being loveless, and behaving meaner than snakes—but rather that they are being persecuted for their faithfulness to Jesus.

    The inflictors of suffering who are carrying out this “reaping of justice” will most likely be the vast majority of nonbelievers, people of other religions, and people of no religion in this country—because these will have been the primary people these fundies so viciously hurt and destroyed in the first place by shutting down the Budweiser draft at all the baseball games, shutting down the movie theaters, throwing their daughters into prison because their skirts needed to be one inch longer, executing their LGBTQ relatives to make God happy, and killing their fathers for blasphemy—defined as disagreeing with the fundies on various points of theology.

    Here is the main problem for people like me, John Pavlovitz, and even Pope Francis. Those ordinary, angry Americans implementing revenge against the fundies will have little knowledge of the Christian religion or any other religion. All they will have burning in their angry, vengeful hearts and minds will be the word “Christian.” They will not be sorting out Independent Baptists from United Methodists or Roman Catholics. They will be coming after ALL of us—wrongly—because of the sins of the fundies and the fundies alone.

    This is one of the key points in the John Pavlovitz main post today. I AM NOT one of these so-called “fundie Christians.” I disagree with them on many points. I do not want to be punished for their sins. Neither do my wife and two children. The Bible says you pay for your own sins. Therefore, I think it would be wise and prudent for all nonfundie Christians—right now—YOU AND ME to begin the process of publicly differentiating ourselves from all the fundies in the eyes of the American people. We need to be saying to the American public in general—every day of the week—365 days out of every year:

    “See these fundie varmints over here. (Index fingers point). We are not them. We are very different from these guys. They do not speak for us and our families—and they never have. We have not allied ourselves with them. We have not participated in their evil. We are not the ones who have been treating you with such mean-spiritedness, bigotry, and hatred for so many years. The Jesus we believe in does not behave like these fundie people do.”

    The time for all of us nonfundie Christians to do that is now—early on—because it takes a lot of time for a message like that to sink into the general public mind. Indeed, I think it would be best for every one of us to quit calling ourselves “Christians”—AND NAME OURSELVES WITH A WHOLLY DIFFERENT LABEL THAT HONORS JESUS. Why? When the Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals start reaping their just desserts from the evil they have sown, it will be too late. No one will believe us. In fact, I very much suspect that people like Jerry Falwell, Jr. will be crying out: “See them. They are just like us. They agree with us in all that we say and do. Take them too!!!” And that will be just one more fundie lie.

    We need to make it publicly CLEAR as nonfundie Christians that we are divorced from the fundie community in this country and all its evil—and that needs to begin NOW—before it is too late.

    • I name myself a “Catholic Christian” and all those outside of Catholicism are welcome to enter into the fullness of Christianity which can be found there.

      There will be a cost, but it will be worth it.

      Meanwhile, I respect the common beliefs I share with other Christians and other faiths. I’m “with them” as people, and “not with” any errors or injustices they embrace.

      • Well, isn’t that just very convenient “Joe Catholic?” You are down with the good but don’t connect you to the bad…not how it works. But nice try.

  15. John, I have a few observations for you and I will number them.

    1. Do you notice that you pretty much write about the same stuff but you give what you’ve written different titles?

    2. In your writing, you seem to tout your Superior Christian virtues and character over that of other Christians, whom you deem to be less than you. Jesus and the apostles in their writings warned of self righteousness. Remember, you are as every bit sinful and flawed as the people you think are beneath you.

    3. You always appear angry in your writings, here and on Facebook. Are you angry?

    4. I find it curious that the vast majority of responses to your writings are the exact people. Do any of your supporters ever have contrary views to your views? And is it okay for them to disagree without being attacked?

    These are my observations and I make them with no malice or evil intent.

    Thanks,

    Manny

    • Manny. Thank you for defining us as “exact people.” We certainly try to be as exact as possible in our writings.

      Charge No. 1

      Seriously? Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals harp on their usual talking points in myriad ways in myriad articles and books—as if the American people have not already heard them 1,000 times and become numb to the abuse.

      Charge No. 2

      John Pavlovitz does not think he is above you or that you are beneath him. He knows that you folks are sincere—you are just sincerely wrong about numerous things, and he is not afraid to record his observations about their wrongness and why they are wrong. Of course, no Christian fundamentalist or conservative evangelical has ever done the same with people like John Pavlovitz—now have they? (Tongue in Cheek)

      Charge No. 3

      Angry? Well, I should hope so. Seeing people like you trample the sayings and doings of Jesus in the mud as if they are nothing would make any sincere Jesus supporter angry—as would all the mean-spiritedness, bigotry, and hatred you guys inflict on so much of mankind. Looked at yourself in the mirror lately? Failure to be angry about unloving and unjust thoughts and acts committed against those Jesus called “the least of these,” like denying healthcare insurance to 22 million poor Americans, is the sign of a dead heart. Do you seriously think that Jesus is clapping his hands in approval of Trumpcare, given the 2,000 verses in the Bible where God demands that his people speak up for and support “the least of these” and issue grave warnings to those who neglect and exploit “the least of these.” Do you have any asbestos fabric at your house? No my friend. Anger is not always wrong. Anger at idiocy and injustice are the surest signs that a heart is still alive (See Matthew 23 for a good example.)

      Charge No. 4

      I and others here have openly disagreed with all or parts of some of the past posts of John Pavlovitz—all with zero repercussions. No one here is afraid to disagree with John. The people here who agree with John on assorted points agree with the points he makes simply because we do indeed—and quite independently and individually—agree with his line of thinking. We may not agree with every little thing he believes—but in general—I and others here have found that John Pavlovitz pretty much abides by the following Bible verse:

      “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

      In this exhortation the apostle Paul is telling the people of God, “Let the mind that is in Christ—the very thinking of Jesus—be your thinking also. His mindset is the one we all are to seek.”

      What does it mean to have the mind of Christ? Simply put, it means to think and act as Jesus did. It means making Christ-like decisions that determine how we are to live. It means bringing every faculty of our mind to bear on how we actually can have the mind of Christ.” (David Wilkerson).

      With some imperfection, which is true of all humans, most of us here agree with John Pavlovitz most of the time because our minds too are focused on ALL the words and deeds of Jesus in the New Testament—not just the ones that we really like or think are easy like you fundie cherry pickers do. (Or as one of your species said a few weeks ago on this very blog (paraphrased): “All those things Jesus said. Nobody could do all those things. It would be impossible, and He knew that.” (implication—so let’s just give up and not try at all because He didn’t really mean all that hard stuff.) Wanna bet?

      Finally. A fundie who does something without malice and evil intent—what—are you looking for your own place in “The Guinness Book of Records”?

      • Thanks for taking on the onerous task of pointing out something that should be obvious. I am with you. Peace and Love,

      • Charles, I am really a nice guy, and amazingly you have labeled me as a fundie, conservative, and other titles, yet you have never even had a conversation with me.

        You have just confirmed my observations to John by responding FOR HIM when the observations we’re NOT to YOU or about YOU!

    • Manny, if you recall, your complaint #4 did involve us? Not that I am perfectly clear on what you mean by calling us “the exact people.”

      Like most people who have supporters, it is not likely we are to not find something uplifting, challenging, honest, or worthy in his posts that does not speak to us. And “supporters” in general implies that we agree with him.

      Since John P has allowed some very crude, cruel and angry responses to his commentary, of course he would be “okay” if we disagreed with him. Whether he would personally respond or not is totally up to him.

      I think that many people just cannot handle the fact that anyone dares to publicly disagree with them and when they find that they can “answer back” they jump right in as if that was the point of the commentary all along, to argue with folks. It wasn’t. It isn’t. I cannot count the public figures I despise, disagree with and would love to take apart, but I do not visit their blogs or forums and do so. That seems more like an ambush than a fair fight to me and I do not believe their remarks and commentary are something I would want to waste seconds reading. I have said it many times, I literally cannot fathom the mentality of some who come here and rant. I just can’t.

  16. John, I’m a relative newcomer to your blog but I can’t thank you enough for your writings. You’ve given people like me a voice. This headline and article encapsulates it perfectly. I’m a Christian, I love my Lord Jesus and I believe every last word of what you’ve written here. Your blog was actually the final piece in me finding my voice. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for what you’re doing and stay strong. Darkness doesn’t last forever.

    • Avery, that has been the exact same experience for a lot of us who have been waiting for a voice like John P ! Thanks for coming here and for posting your thoughts. I appreciate finding others in the same boat!

  17. Thank you for being in line with Chris’s teachings.
    I am writing all the way from Malta and I am myself a preacher and embrace the same beliefs as you do. God Bless you

  18. “Stuff That Needs To Be Said”, indeed! Thanks so much for being a light in the darkness, John. It helps more than you could possibly know.

  19. The cleanest way out of this mire of who is and who isn’t a good “christian” is to leave that abused and bastardized framework of identification in the dust. Never to look back upon that ‘has been’ concept of living a Godly life. Isn’t that the lesson of Sodom and Gomorrah, flee and do not look back!

    There are plenty of ways to adhere to the teaching of Jesus without the tag of “christian”. One of the easiest is simply ‘Living and Being’ a principled Spiritual person. Once we get it that there is only One and that we are are part of that One, that we are the face and expression of God, everything changes. It changes how we think, feel and do life. No longer protected by the dogma of the “church” but living authentically, fully and responsibly as the very Being of the Christ nature, we through off the cloak of hiding, coming out to the reality of all our glorious splendor we were always meant to be.
    That my friends is Freedom, real authentic freedom guaranteed to release the angst of those “bad christians” we just don’t know how to live with under the same tent.

  20. Progressive Christianity defines itself: (partially)

    –“We believe that following the path & teachings of Jesus [can] lead to an awareness & experience of the Sacred & the Oneness & Unity of all Life.
    –“We believe that there are diverse sources of wisdom to be utilized (from other religions). ”
    –“We believe that there is more value in questioning than in absolutes.”
    –“We strive to protect the Earth & restore the Earth.”
    –“We strive for social justice.”
    –“Progressive Christianity is for conventional Christians, skeptics & Agnostics (those that believe it cannot be known if there is God.)”

    http://www.progressivechristianity.org

    • Leslie. Your notions of progressive Christianity and what they believe are way off base. I do sincerely wish you would find an education somewhere other than the fundie blather you apparently read and accept blindly.

    • leslie, thank you for properly citing your source. It makes a welcome change.

      But what’s your point?

      Do think this is untrue?”“We believe that following the path & teachings of Jesus [can] lead to an awareness & experience of the Sacred & the Oneness & Unity of all Life.”

      Do you think it is a mistake to become aware of and experience the “Sacred & the Oneness & Unity of all Life,” which is, after all, God?

      “We believe that there are diverse sources of wisdom to be utilized (from other religions). ” As this is patently true, I am not sure what your point is in quoting it.

      Since all of humanity is created in the image and likeness of God, and since part of that image is the ability to respond to God, then it stands to reason that truth, wherever it is found comes from God. One great place that explains this is The Last Battle by C S Lewis.

      “We believe that there is more value in questioning than in absolutes.” Again, so patently true. The witness of Church History demonstrates the fallacy of clinging to an absolute. For one thing, it is surely hubris to think we know the mind of God so well that we mere humans can know what is an absolute truth. The only one with which I am familiar is that God is love, Jesus is God, and Jesus commands us to love.

      Again, what is your point? Do you disgree that we are stewards of the planet? “We strive to protect the Earth & restore the Earth.”

      “We strive for social justice.” As did Jesus and the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures. Again, what is your point?

      “Progressive Christianity is for conventional Christians, skeptics & Agnostics (those that believe it cannot be known if there is God.)” Seems to me an excellent approach to evangelism to make people welcome. After all we all know about flies and honey.

      I have no idea why you bother to quote all this stuff. OTOH, it was good stuff with proper attribution cited.

    • Wow, even in quoting from the site, you choose to be disingenuous. Who woulda thunk it?

      Let’s try the whole truth:
      “By calling ourselves progressive Christians, we mean we are Christians who…

      1. Believe that following the path and teachings of Jesus can lead to an awareness and experience of the Sacred and the Oneness and Unity of all life;

      2. Affirm that the teachings of Jesus provide but one of many ways to experience the Sacredness and Oneness of life, and that we can draw from diverse sources of wisdom in our spiritual journey;

      3. Seek community that is inclusive of ALL people, including but not limited to:
      Conventional Christians and questioning skeptics,
      Believers and agnostics,
      Women and men,
      Those of all sexual orientations and gender identities,
      Those of all classes and abilities;

      4. Know that the way we behave towards one another is the fullest expression of what we believe;

      5. Find grace in the search for understanding and believe there is more value in questioning than in absolutes;

      6. Strive for peace and justice among all people;

      7. Strive to protect and restore the integrity of our Earth;

      8. Commit to a path of life-long learning, compassion, and selfless love.”

      https://progressivechristianity.org/the-8-points/

  21. This “writer” isn’t a Christian, hes a socialist progressive. But it really doesn’t matter what he is or what he thinks because no one knows who he is.

    • I wonder when “L” became God that he/she could decide who is a Christian and that a socialist progressive cannot be? Seems a little suspect to me, but I am no god…

      John P must really worry you though.

      • Sandi wrote “I wonder when “L” became God that he/she could decide who is a Christian and that a socialist progressive cannot be? Seems a little suspect to me, but I am no god…”

        Aside from the fact that “L” uses a disingenuous, passive-aggressive voice that sounds All Too Familiar, I am more concerned that L seems to believe that God cannot love a “socialist progressive” and I wonder where “L” gets that idea since Jesus is clearly a “socialist progressive.”

        But what is even more disturbing is “L’s” embrace of the sin of hubris and “L” thinking “L” knows the mind of God well enough to know who is or isn’t a Christian.

        I would remind “L” that hubris is the reason cited for the War in Heaven when so many angels wanted to be like God and were cast out of Heaven.

        Personally, I find such freedom in embracing my creatureliness. I am a part of creation, I am a finite, limited human being with various faults and gifts.

        It is not up to me or anyone else to decide who God loves and doesn’t love because it is really clear that God extends an invitation to respond to God’s love to every single human being on earth.

  22. John P, perhaps it is the moderation, but I am just now seeing that this is no more a conversation than going down the street yelling at people is a conversation.

    Some apparently either wish they had a blog so they fill yours with their thoughts or they demand that you hear their POV as if you forced them to hear yours. I do not understand the mentality some have or the mentality some bring here.

    I appreciate what you offer. I think many of our faith need to be pushed into action and soft words letting us off the hook are not going to do that. The way I see it, if you are comfortable in your faith commission, you might not be doing it right. But arguing with those who are seems pointless. I pray God gives you the strength for the mission you are on.

  23. Stop this health care repeal – for Christ’s sake
    our goal: 10,000 signatures

    Posted: July 14, 2017

    Literally every single Republican senators claims to be a Christian, but their health care plan couldn’t be less Christlike.

    Despite repeated warnings that their plan will take away coverage from tens of millions of people, Republican leaders announced yesterday that they’re moving ahead with a bill that includes the exact same vicious cuts to Medicaid – cruelly endangering the lives of children, seniors, and people with disabilities.

    With a vote coming sometime next week, Christians across the country must now send a clear and unambiguous message: You cannot claim to follow Jesus and then openly flout his commandment to care for the sick and vulnerable.

    Can you add your name, so we can organize clergy and religious leaders to deliver our petition to Republican senate offices across the country?

    Sign the petition:

    The Better Care Reconciliation Act — and especially its cruel cuts to Medicaid — is fundamentally incompatible with the Christian faith which every Republican member of the Senate claims to follow. Please search your conscience and find the moral courage to stop this deeply unjust legislation.

    Please sign here: http://act.faithfulamerica.org/sign/senate_repeal/?rd=1&t=1&referring_akid=1015.181209.cUFs6X

  24. Pingback: Stuff That Needs to be Said | Mark S. Haynes

  25. This has been among the most depressing threads I have read here. If your Great Commission is to convert atheists like me, well played. Well played.

  26. Heck y’all. I am still trying to figure out why Jesus does not want poor people to have good quality healthcare, and die without it, and I am also waiting for one of the fundies here (like Pastor Gabe out in Kansas) to show us the verses in the Bible where God/Jesus/Holy Spirit says He hates poor people and it is thus wrong for a government to provide them the healthcare they need but cannot afford.

    We are all waiting.

  27. While we are at it, I will give you another one. One of our cars was getting old a few years back, but still ran pretty well. We have nieces and nephews. One of our nieces comes from a family that has poorer parents than the other nieces and nephews. The poorer niece needed a reliable car to commute to college and her part-time job—but could not afford to buy one herself. Therefore, we decided to give (as in free of charge) our old car to our niece with need so she would have a ride. She was so happy and delighted to get the car!!!

    Not too long afterwards, we found out that the mother of two of the nephews was upset that we had given the car to the niece in need. Money quote: “If you were going to give a car to her, you should have given cars to all of the nieces and nephews!!!” Well excuse us!!! That was the only spare car we had—and our niece was in need—and the other nieces and nephews were not in need.

    Even stranger, the complaining mother is the daughter of a millionaire—and she is very well off because millionaire dad and mom give her money in addition to what she and her husband earn at their jobs. They are all devout Southern Baptists to boot—as is our niece in need and her parents and the other nieces and nephews.

    My question is this: “Why Ms. Southern Baptist Moneybags would you so resent your niece in need getting a car that she needed?” Have you not read that Bible you take to church every Sunday morning?” Furthermore, Ms. Southern Baptist Moneybags, why were you not providing a car to your needy niece? You have actual and potential access to more money than anyone else in the family. Why are you not buying these extra cars you think the other nieces and nephews (two your own children) should have? Never mind that all the other nieces and nephews with driver’s licenses already have cars of their own that run just fine—and they do not even need cars!!!

    This is what I do not understand—and it goes back to the poor people and healthcare thing. Why do church people (well-off fundie church people) think like Ms. Southern Baptist Moneybags? How do you go to Sunday school and church every Sunday morning, every Wednesday evening, and every Sunday night for 40 years—and still think like that? And no—she gets along fine with the niece in need—all hugs and kisses and true love. How does she read her Bible every day for 40 years, and the contents of it never really sinks into her head and gets into her life enough to care for her niece’s need for a car? What in the Hades are they doing in these Southern Baptist churches and other fundie churches today that a person could be so callous and resentful of a simple gift to a child in need—one in her own family?

    Can anyone explain this to me? Maybe some of you callous fundies who would gladly let a poor, sick child die in the street for lack of healthcare insurance can explain this type of Christian behavior to me. All of you appear to be well schooled in it. Let’s see your explanation—and support it with scripture.

    • Thank you, Charles, I appreciate it this deeply when you say “Can anyone explain this to me? Maybe some of you callous fundies who would gladly let a poor, sick child die in the street for lack of healthcare insurance can explain this type of Christian behavior to me. All of you appear to be well schooled in it. Let’s see your explanation—and support it with scripture.”

      I would add, let us also have orthodox teaching on the subject and spare us the heretical prosperity gospel crap. Because I think the witness of church history supports social justice.

  28. 100% simplistic Straw Man arguments. Set up a straw man, knock it down. Set up another one, knock it down. Rinse and repeat until you’ve got it out of your system.

    A LOT of Christians ended up voting for Trump because the alternative was simply unacceptable…..not because they were “shills” for him, but because they weighed the options, and a Hillary Clinton presidency was simply not acceptable to them. But you say they “sold their souls”. Hyperbole much?

    A LOT of Christians LOST their healthcare because of the ACA (my wife and me among them), and we now have to pay the fine. The GOV’T kicked us off the subsidy because our taxable income was too low, but we are neither poor nor rich. It’s just the way we earn our livings. But we can’t have Obamacare compliant insurance. We can’t afford non-compliant insurance. And we still have to pay the fine. We WERE insured until the gov’t took it away…….and we are not alone in this. For every person who has insurance today because of the ACA, there is at least one who no longer has insurance because of the ACA – and NOT because they don’t want it, but because the ACA booted them out of the market. These are facts that are inconvenient to your narrative, and then to pile injustice upon injury, we have to pay a fine too? The ACA is a BAD LAW, and democrats have resisted all efforts to improve it. But in your article, you characterize someone like me as believing that “healthcare is a luxury saved only for the rich and the well……….while throwing the poor and elderly and ill, to the wolves of circumstance or sickness.” HOW DARE YOU!!!!!! WE have been thrown to the wolves by bad law. So, when republicans get elected to Congress with a mandate to FIX/REPLACE the law, millions of people LIKE ME hold forth some hope that their own gov’t will take the shiv out of their backs and try to get it right this time. That is NOT abandoning people to their circumstances; it is a desire to see a bad law fixed so that it ACTUALLY IS more equitable. It’s called “adulting”. You should try it sometime, instead of dragging us through the mud because of your own lack of foresight or compassion.

    Regarding LGBTQ issues….. We have a Constitution, therefore, they have rights under it, just as I do. But as a Bible-believing Christian, that does not mean that I don’t filter my opinions about whether or not a thing is spiritually healthy through the words of Scripture; and Scripture is not very permissive in this area. That does not mean that I think the state should prevent people of same gender from getting married, or from enjoying the same protections UNDER THE LAW that I enjoy…..such as the tax advantages of marriage. But Scripture seems to indicate that God will not bless such a union. Now, I didn’t write the Scriptures. I just read them, and I believe them to be true. I believe them to be true because if they are wrong these matters, then it cannot be trusted in OTHER matters, such as the divinity of Jesus Christ. I don’t wish LGBTQ people any ill will at all, and not to flog a dead horse, but I personally count several LGBTQ people among my friends. That still doesn’t mean that I think their choices are healthy choices…….but just as importantly, their choices are none of my business unless they want to drag me into it. I’ve reconciled these things the best I can, but to you, I “distort the Bible in order to justify their fear of people for who and how they love; the ones who’ve turned gender identity and sexual orientation into a weapon of damnation—who would tell adults who they can fall in love with and marry and raise children with.”

    I could go on. Each one of your straw men is very easily disposed of, but I see no profit in the effort. You have a very two dimensional mind. I either agree 100% with you, or I am a heartless devil. I can’t have any kind of conversation with someone like that.

    • What specific kind of health insurance did you have that the ACA took away and what was the amount of your monthly premiums before the ACA took it away?

    • “Each one of your straw men is very easily disposed of.”

      Telling someone that their perspective is completely irrelevant by claiming that nothing they’ve observed is valid—doesn’t make it sound like “conversation” is really all that important to you. Pity.

    • Funny the things you “filter [your] opinions” through the Bible over and the ones you do not.

      Please do show us even one effort the Republicans made during the entire Obama administration to improve the ACA? Please?

      If indeed you “are neither poor nor rich” then the truth of the matter is that you CHOSE to do without insurance rather than pay for it. You blame your choice on the ACA and the ACA alone but your choice was still your choice. Instead of apply the money of the increased fine to the cost of coverage, you CHOSE to waste it. Stop playing the victim. No one has perfect insurance and we did not before the ACA either. Many plans looked like good coverage until disaster happened for many, many folks. The ACA did cause many to pay more for insurance but it also offered insurance for millions who never could have had it any other way. It did not harm more people than it helped. “Through the first three quarters of 2015, the uninsured rate was 9.1 percent, meaning that 28.8 million Americans lacked health coverage. That compares to 14.4 percent, or 44.8 million people, in 2013 and to 11.5 percent, or 36 million people, in 2014.”
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/obamacare-uninsured-rates_us_56b90b93e4b08069c7a872dd

      You believe all the lies against Obama, against the ACA, against Clinton but deny the proven truth of Trump and think we should ignore it. Nope!

      All I can say, is good luck with your choices. You are not going to get any happier.

  29. We will all be judged before God for our words and actions. It is only then that we will truly know exactly what he meant when he sent the commandment, “Thou shall not kill”. For now, which side you take is a personal opinion about a law created by men. Our opinions come from our experiences. You can argue all you want. You can judge all you want. You can aspire to be the only righteous voice in the room. God gave us all free will. Pray that you have chosen correctly.

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