Patriot Pastors and Strange Alliances

Meet the Patriot Pastors

Days before the November 2006 election, Christianity Today published a piece on ‘Patriot Pastors.’ Authored by Nate Anderson, this CT focuses in good measure on the Ohio Restoration Project [ORP]. And the ‘Holy Ghost invasion’ rhetoric plus the ‘man your battle stations’ with the ‘lock and load’ stuff is no SFL invention. People actually say things like that.

Anderson continues:

Their top policy concerns are (1) the right to life (i.e., an end to abortion), (2) maintaining a godly definition of marriage, (3) preserving a parent’s right to discipline and educate, and (4) defending the rights of Christians and their churches to “teach biblical values in the public square.”

Anderson mentions mailing lists and online accessible prayer warriors [only 100,000 of them in ’06] described as a ‘”mighty army” ready to do battle.’ The rightness or wrongness of these or other issues is not the concern. At issue is the propriety of the attaching purported Christian witness work to modern partisan campaigns.

Paul who referenced soldiery by way of spiritual analogy [1Co 9:7; Phi 2:25; 2Ti 2:3-4; Phm 1:2] also stated the weapons of our warfare are not physical but spiritual [2Co 10:3-5]. Despite Biblical analogies to military matters, militarized language doesn’t express the heart of the Gospel.

Anderson’s dated article shows that the terminology of secular jihadism has been in fundamentalist culture for some time. And we saw the result of such thinking as many aligned with the powers of this age during the most recent US federal election.

And final page of this five page piece acknowledges that the IRS has contacted ORP. Interesting language describes the relationship between ORP and Russell Johnson’s Fairfield Christian Church.

‘While legally separate, the ORP and Fairfield Christian overlap significantly.’

Fundamentalists would never tolerate such unbiblical blurring of lines IF they existed between churches. But where politics is concerned, fundyland throws the rules out the window. Anything becomes acceptable, and we have the President-elect to prove it.

It’s amazing that people supposedly so spiritually attuned to God can at the same time be so dead to things of God. But since this is ‘politics,’ they can get away with anything.

Inaugural Prayers

inaugural prayers

During the revolutionary war, a cleric delivered a fiery message about liberty. At the conclusion, he threw off his black clerical robe to reveal a uniform. He led his congregation out the door to join the patriots in fighting united empire loyalists.

For all the talk about church/state separation, faith leaders and politicians in the US have always looked to each other for support. Of course, that is different from the church forming a constitution or government for the state. It is also different than the state forming a creed or polity for the church. But the symbiosis has always been there.

The coming invocation of President-elect Donald Trump is no different. The word is that there will be a plethora of ‘faith leaders’ on hand to bask in the earthly glory of the event. No doubt, good, ‘separated’ [whatever THAT means] fundamentalists will cheer this as a good thing.

Friday Challenge:

Today’s challenge is to offer a few thoughts as to WHAT should be prayed at the upcoming Presidential inauguration. Earthly power, wealth and glory? Victory and the destruction of all our enemies? The establishment of US freedom/hegemony? Peace and Justice? The grace of God’s kingdom?

Perhaps clergy should boycott the inauguration.

In this context, what does faithfulness ‘look like?’

Whitewashing Dr. Martin Luther King Junior

bju-observes-martin-luther-king-jr-dayThis Wasn’t My Idea.

Last week, ‘BJU Blogs‘ reported University President Steve Pettit to have announced that as of January 2017, Bob Jones University will observe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day each year. Plans are to close the school offices, cancel classes, and to encourage students to participate in Greenville area service opportunities and prayer sessions centered on racial harmony.

Far be it from me, to accuse Bob Jones University of doing a ‘PR’ job to ‘fix’ public perception of the University line on Dr. King. Pettit relates:

“Dr. King accomplished much in his short life here on earth,” said Pettit. “We believe his voice and leadership to nonviolently oppose the wrongs of the day while paving the way for racial equality and harmony should be respected and honored.”

We waited so long … for this?

Tame? That’s downright innocuous. To serve up this just two years shy of a half-century lacks all conviction. Whatever took BJU so long?

Much has and will be said and written about Dr. King. David Stewart [the head-case at the fundie ‘Jesus Is Savior’ website] informs us that King was a false teacher with a Communist agenda who ‘openly incited violence under the banner of “nonviolence.”’ Presenting no evidence, Stewart makes many hysterical assertions about King. But Stewart isn’t alone.

J. Carville and others cite a supposedly sane and decidedly more influential Jerry Falwell who also questions Dr. King’s commitment to non-violence.

In my thankfully brief intersection with fundamentalism, I soon learned that the communist Martin Luther King Jr. line was a recurring motif.

Meeting Daniel K. Williams

Daniel Williams, associate professor of history at the University of West Georgia, unfolds this intriguing story. His perspective helps us assess MLK related hysteria and misgivings, and explains the broader civic/religious connection in fundamentalism. In his book, God’s Own Party, he writes:

‘The contrast between Graham and Falwell’s messages signaled a fault line in conservative Protestantism that would divide mainstream evangelicals from self-identified fundamentalists for the next generation.’

How things went as they did

Williams’ steady hand shows that politics and faith together divided ‘evangelicals’ and the Falwell/Jones/Rice/etc. crowd. The divisions in political life and the faith community were replicated in each other.

Particularly telling is a section, ‘The “Christian Americanism” of Bob Jones Jr.’ In addition to illuminating differences between the Senior and Junior Jones, Williams relates a side of early BJ Jr. which may not be so well known. More than one may guess, Christian fundamentalism was the political engine that powered the US ever more reactionary tendency.

A Case in Point

‘Jones became an ardent crusader against communism and political liberalism…’ Williams wrote. He adds that in Dec. 1950, Jones hosted a convention where many free-world foreign diplomats delivered speeches. Jones gave the keynote address and castigated the Department of State for ‘inexcusable stupidity or vicious betrayal.’ He charged it for throwing China’s democracy forces to ‘the raving wolves of the Kremlin.’

The ‘A-HA’ Moment

Bob Jones Jr. is the articulate and comparatively erudite version of the David Stewarts of the world. But far from rising above Stewart’s level, the rhetoric and perspective of Bob Jones Jr. normalizes Stewart’s hysterics.

Liberals and democratic socialists recognize that the socialist tendencies of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In that day, anticommunism was treated by many Christian fundamentalists as a necessary adjunct to the gospel. For many fundamentalist leaders, the mass demonstrations were not so much demands for racial equality as a political challenge to capitalist rule.

Over time, King’s socialist tendency was forgotten. To the degree that this is so, he becomes socially tolerable. So Pettit can now say of King:

“We believe his voice and leadership to nonviolently oppose the wrongs of the day while paving the way for racial equality and harmony should be respected and honored.”

I can’t help but think even that milquetoast remark is forthcoming solely because Dr. King’s socialist tendency is largely forgotten, so that he can now be portrayed as someone who should be ‘respected and honored.’

Otherwise, why did we have to wait 48 years — just for this?

Methinks a post on the ‘service opportunities’ and ‘prayer sessions’ centered on racial harmony might be in order…

Elevating the ‘Christian Nation’ Heresy II

trump-if-im-president-christianity-will-have-power-in-the-us Compromise

‘Christianity will have power’ — The Donald
‘I will give you all this authority’ — The Devil

Yesterday I commented on a post by Dr. Ray Rooney Jr. with an American Family Association project, ‘The Stand Daily.’ In lingo evoking multiple, Biblical imagery, Rooney describes ‘The Stand Daily‘ as a ‘wall of defense, champion of freedom, and beacon of light.’ In reply, I noted the folly of tying church to partizan agendas. That conforms church to this world and presses the Christian story into an alien, Gospel-incompatible narrative.

British missiologist [theology of mission] Lesslie Newbigin spent decades in India. He retired and returned home to be shocked by the discovery that in his absence, England had become a mission field. As he had it, dialogue between the Gospel and British culture was impossible UNLESS the church used the strategies and tools missionaries employ in utterly foreign lands.

Focus on the Family, the American Family Association and similar outfits sold to Christian leaders, pastors and churches [as if they needed it] the idea that it was critical to elect a conservative regime that would appoint conservatives to high positions in government and the Supreme Court.

What would Lesslie Newbigin say?

The problem with church involvement in brazen partisanship is not only that it does not ‘Christianize’ the state; the problem is that it prostitutes Jesus Christ. No less than J. Dobson’s Focus on the Family, Ray Rooney’s AFA article pimps out Jesus to solicit for political interests. We don’t need to speculate as to what Newbigin would say about this. He gave us this:

lesslie-newbigin

Shape of Things to Come

We begin to see the kind of ‘appointments’ which fundamentalist and evangelical Christians believed made the election of an arch-conservative regime so imperative, and for which they now thank God.

Secretary of State

Under consideration for this crucial job is Mitt Romney. Romney advocates increased aggression by the United States military.

Attorney General

Tapped for Attorney General is Alabama Senator Jess Sessions. Sessions is no civil rights supporter. He supports intense government spying invasive even beyond what intelligence agencies want. He calls for expanding the militarization of police, and ferociously denounces immigrants. Sessions also has ties to white supremacist groups.

CIA Director

Mr. Trump’s favorite for this job is Mike Pompeo. Like Sessions, he also advocates unconstitutional spying. He has also called for the execution of whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Pompeo is also pro-torture. Presumably this qualification matters for employment as CIA Director. I wonder why…

National Security Advisor

This position goes to General Michael Flynn. Flynn is a former military intelligence officer and a current anti-Muslim fanatic.

Homeland Security Department Secretary

Trump has interviewed John Kelly for this position. Kelly defended the abuse of military detainees. Trump has yet to interview the Kansas State Secretary, Kris Kobach, who is also under consideration for this job. It was Kobach who designed the plan to register all Muslim visitors to the US and all Muslim immigrants already residing in the US.

Defense Secretary

Marine General James Mattis seems to be the favorite. Mattis oversaw some of the most heinous war crimes in US imperial history. He led the atrocious 2004 slaughter of Fallujah, including mass killings of civilians, the physical destruction of Fallujah [using white phosphorus and depleted uranium munitions], and other war crimes. Mattis said ‘it’s a hell of a hoot’ and ‘it’s fun to shoot some people.’ When 42 [including women and children] were killed in what cameras clearly revealed to be a wedding party, Mattis refused to apologize for his troop’s actions.

Education Secretary

Trump met with two candidates for this job. One is Michelle Rhee. As chancellor of the Washington DC public schools, Rhee attempted to destroy the teacher tenure system. The other is Betty DeVos. Her organization, American Federation of Children, seeks to defund public schools and invest those monies in charter schools, privately owned schools, and in religious organizations.

Chief Strategist

As many know, this position goes to Stephen Bannon, former head of Breitbart News. The white nationalist organizations in the orbit of the so-called ‘alt-right’ have praised the elevation of Bannon and Sessions.

Bannon’s aim is to ‘build an entirely new political movement.’ He adds:

‘With negative interest rates throughout the world, it’s the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything…We’re just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution — conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement.’

Such gibberish has never been heard at the height of US power. Best of all, this nationalist economic agenda is to be funded by debt-spending.

What All This Means

This administration will be unlike any the US has seen. Abroad, allies and foes are nervous reconsidering trade and military alignments and options. In Europe and Asia, nations hear calls to rearm, including development of nuclear arsenals. Alliances, including NATO, are increasingly strained.

At home, the attempt to tie populist rhetoric to economic nationalism is a fraud. Far from supporting the American worker, the whole ruling class is shifting toward unbridled nationalism and repressive, authoritarian rule. It is moving toward massive military spending increases and wars abroad. In blood and treasure, the working class will bear this toll.

This is why students across America have taken to the streets.

Back to Ray Rooney

The extreme gravity of this situation deepens the offense of Dr. Rooney’s reactionary rhetoric. Rather than developing a political balance sheet to address any of these issues, he slanders the student protests:

‘Spoiled liberals who didn’t even bother to vote have taken to the streets to protest Trump’s election.  They’re actually protesting the result of their own apathy!  Apparently, a rather large segment of liberals think they’re entitled to the candidate of their choice without even bothering to show up to pull a lever, touch a screen, or fill in a circle.’

Student protesters know that they have zero political representation. And whether or not they articulate it in these terms, those who refuse to vote commonly recognize that the campaign process itself is a political attack on the working class. Indeed, not one high level Democratic Party official appeared with them or gave voice to their grievances. Democratic Party officials are frantic to normalize a situation that’s anything but normal.

Contrary to Dr. Rooney’s slanderous statements, these supposedly spoiled brats are protesting the emergence of a genuine form of American fascism which will use ever more brutal means to repress and contain an already exhausted, disoriented, confused and distressed public. They see a day in which dissent will be criminalized and the state will gun down citizens.

Rooney assumes that said protests are momentary, sour grapes reaction to Trump’s election. In reality, an entire generation is entering the political process. If it refuses to be misguided into Democratic Party alignment by a Bernie Sanders-like charlatan, this student protest movement will become politically radicalized. We may yet see mass demonstrations the likes of which have not occurred since WW I.

Above all else, the ruling class [Republican and Democrat] fears just such a politically independent, mass protest/strike movement. Donald Trump’s rise and the collapse of all Democratic Party resistance before him reveals a ruling class uniting to crush every potential challenge to its privilege.

When those challenges [of which the student protests are a portent] come, I expect the likes of Dr. Rooney, Jim Dobson and fundie ‘law-and-order’ preachers stand firm for godly rule against protesting miscreants who refuse to buy the narrative or support the government America ‘elected.’

What Rooney doesn’t say about that ‘election’ is that 10 million fewer people voted for Senator Clinton than Senator Obama in 2008. Nor does he say that President-elect Trump lost the popular vote by 2 million votes. Trump lost the popular vote more decisively than any Electoral College winner. This puts the lie to the claim that he was elected because the public has adopted his ultra-right policies. Yet barely able to contain his glee, Rooney gushes that:

‘Americans were drawn to Donald Trump because of his fearless tell it like it is attack on what’s plainly and clearly wrong with the nation.’

Americans were driven to Trump because the Wall Street candidate, Sen. Clinton, represented the collapse of Obama’s Hope and Change presidency into endless attacks on jobs, wages, pensions, health care, schools, social repression, backed by universal spying and militarized police repression. In reality, the ‘Hope and Change’ candidate of the right will do no better. His supporters will learn soon enough that he has no alternative to offer.

Rooney offers that Trump’s vision was more Biblical than the alternative. He is entitled to his opinion. But to present Mr. Trump’s elevation as God’s blessing on Christian faithfulness makes one answerable for what that decision entails. That brings us back to Lesslie Newbigin.

To the extent it tries to embody the rule of God in the form of earthly power, the church ceases to be a sign of the kingdom. Gaining everything, the Christian fundamentalist and broadly evangelical community lost everything. To the extent that it aligns itself with the powers of this age and not the kingdom of God, it is heretical and in a state of in apostasy.

God’s people are bound by Scripture to separate themselves from that.

Making Babylon Great Again

Sister Sarah delivers a brief speech that some deem rousing, but others find and demagogic, demented and outright sad. This is a sub-Christian narrative. Confessing Christians who are deceived by it are not wise.

 

 

Elevating the ‘Christian Nation’ Heresy I

Christian Nation Heresy

What Wrong With This Heresy?

It seems not to occur to us that when he refused the Satan’s offer of earthly power and glory, Jesus wasn’t leaving it for us. Rather he showed us that we like him are to shun the Satan’s offer. But we don’t get it.

That, or we refuse to get it. This is because what Satan offered is exactly what many so-called ‘conservative’ Christians want. Translation?

While they don’t admit it, many ‘conservative’ Christians believe Jesus got the Satan’s temptation wrong. They think Jesus ought to have taken the offer. Consequently, they work to gain what Jesus relinquished.

Where relationship to earthly power is concerned, many fundamentalist and broader evangelical ‘Christians’ take up a flag in one hand and a cross in the other, and declare their spiritual solidarity with Lucifer.

Dr. Ray Rooney Jr.

ray-rooney-jr

What an opportunity the political landscape of America has provided for her church.

Friday last, Ray Rooney published a piece for the American Family Association. The title comes in the form of the question, ‘On the Cusp of National Revival?’

When Jesus wrote the church at Philadelphia, he said ‘I have put before you an open door which no one can shut’ [Re 3:8]. In a Biblical theology, ministry is an outgrowth of the work of Jesus. The suggestion that churchly opportunity arises from the shifting political landscape is born of rank unbelief. It also postulates US political culture as the mediator of divine blessing.

Moreover, Mr. Rooney recalls that twice, President Obama was elected. He equates those years with rising debauchery and bestial impulses bent on effecting political tyranny in the land. For his assertions, he offers not the slightest theoretical analysis. Are we to accept this because he says it?

Likewise, the church appeared to have fallen into apostasy during the Obama years. He continues…

‘And the church provided little in the way of hope for change or guidance; she was more interested in being accepted by the puppeteers of culture driven by darkness than transforming the lost through the proclamation of God’s righteousness and the powerful blood of Jesus Christ. ‘

Partisan Gospel

We should have no illusions about Ray Rooney’s partisan gospel. His unstated premise implies a correlation between partisan fortunes and faithful proclamation leading to God’s blessing. That is a lie. It is heresy. It is blasphemy. A partisan gospel is not a universal gospel. And the gospel of Jesus is for all people. This includes so-called ‘liberals.’

Mr. Trump’s election is the switch on which this twisted narrative turns. It now appears that we may stand on the cusp of a national revival. He wants us to know that evangelical leaders made a difference on Nov 8.

What ‘Christian’ Influence!

With many fine exceptions, the reality is that the North American church serves as a conduit connecting political process and the White House with the gutter. Such presidential nominations as we have seen in this election cycle are vomited up when a political order is in terminal decline. Still, this doesn’t prevent Rooney from ‘going evangelical’ and saying:

‘We will always have a welcome and needed contingent of people calling the body of Christ to love, forgive, and accept God’s love.’

This constitutes neither Mr. Rooney nor the American Family Association for which he writes as one of those fine exceptions. The narrative to which he returns about sin and salvation does not mesh with a partisan gospel. But he apparently prefers that we see it otherwise.

God willing, more on this tomorrow.