FWOTW — Mario Murillo Ministries

Complete with mouse-over effect …

Meet Mario Murillo Ministries!

The big question now is what does the church do now that Trump is president?  In new blogs I will open my heart to you about the radical steps the church must take to seize this greatest soul winning opportunity in our lifetime.  Once again we must change the way we relate to government.

I know we need fresh fire.  Prayer, repentance and waiting for new orders are the keys for the American church in 2017.

One thing is certain…success will not tame this blog.  It will continue to keep its edge.  It will continue to provoke, stretch and force minds to think and hearts to examine themselves.

Wait — am I to infer that the elevation of Mr. Trump is somehow related to the greatest soul-winning opportunity in our lifetime? Exactly how are these things connected, and why am I supposed to believe that they are? Does this guy truly believe that Trump is a ‘Cyrus’ figure who ‘buys the church time to repent and return to her rightful influence on America?’

Assertions of Obama’s war with us together with proclamations of his peanuts-discovers-fwotwhatred of America, of Israel and of Christians, plus the assertions that Bill and Hillary Clinton may be involved in sex trafficking — these barely etch a scratch in the surface of the bizarre website which identifies itself as Mario Murillo Ministries.

So consistently is Mr. Murillo’s website not only political but also blatantly partisan that I’ve asked myself if he is a political operative who intentionally retains an evangelical block as a rapid deployment political force.

More mouse-over effects …

If Mario produces the bulk of his blog posts himself, he has too much time on his hands. In any event, nothing says FWOTW quite like Mario Murillo.

[Brandy may be helpful for those reviewing Mario’s past posts].

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…

Political Wolves in Shepherd’s Clothing

TriumphalismRemember when Pat Robertson issued that fatwa on Hugo Chavez’ head? Now, James Dobson explains why righteousness, honor and wisdom apparently mean voting for Donald Trump. This leads to two questions.

Question 1:

How is it that though led by God’s Spirit, Christian leaders frequently are so imbalanced and unhinged?

I’ve said that Pat Robertson is as stable as a walrus on a flagpole. In Mr. Trump’s case, the walrus is drunk. For Dobson to depict Trump’s course as the path of righteousness, honor and wisdom leaves me wondering where James finds that totally phenomenal stuff he smokes. Why he puts his name to such a statement defies my mortal comprehension.

I don’t know how to read my own heart let alone others’. But I would be lying if I denied that it ever crossed my mind that Mr. Dobson is a mole — a political operative who courts partisan favor under the language of faith. And yes, I have wondered if that is all the ‘faith’ James Dobson has. But again, that isn’t for me to know or answer.

Question 2:

How much harm is wrought by the civic involvement of faith leaders stuck perpetually in grievous, political ignorance?

Fundamentalists believe that their doctrine, nation, narrative and societal structure is superior to all others and should have supremacy. This means that they are suckers for triumphalism. If they can just align everything rightly, God will pour out his blessing, vanquish enemies, silence critics and elevate them to the status they are convinced they deserve.

Likewise, the USA has a strong, triumphalist bent. The agendas differ at some points, but the basic framework and ideas are markedly alike. This may offer insight as to why the Fundamentalist and Americanist bond is sometimes stronger than the Fundamentalist bond to God and Scripture.

Triumphalism has drawn Fundmentalism toward Americanism. This means it thoroughly secularizes fundamentalism. But it also moves fundamentalism toward political extremism. Early in his article, James Dobson admits to seeing the 2016 race as a one-issue election.  Many will no doubt agree with him. This is where the potential for harm lies.

Why this Matters

As our attention fixates on one or two ‘key’ issues, US/Russia relations have in recent days taken a very dark turn. While very sober, high profile people such as Sergei Lavrov and Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov tell their counterparts in our government — it behooves you to shun the hotheads and to consider very carefully the political import of your actions, our corporate-owned press remains guilty silence. We hear nothing of this.

When Senator Clinton says that her earliest presidential acts would include a review US nuclear policy, Russians hear her to say that the US is ready to abandon its ‘no first-nuclear strike’ policy. Our ‘leadership’ uses blatantly incendiary rhetoric to win domestic support with no thought to the potential consequences their words hold for millions or billions.

It has never been easier to educate ourselves on a global perspective. And even a quick review of the Russian press would add considerable breadth to our perspective. This is not to appeal for acquiescence to the Russian government’s line. This is about being informed and knowing how others perceive our actions. There, we might discover such titles as:

The Russian government helps nothing when it limits Christian activity. But then, were Christians more vocal critics of many aspects of US foreign policy, other nations might be more willing to receive Christians and to tolerate their presence and work in their lands.

Triumph or Disaster

The video discussion may disturb some. If images and discussion of war bother you, don’t go there. There is plenty to which to respond already.

Also, I attempted to split the video and post only the first half. But my aging video splitter program wouldn’t do it. So be forewarned that the second half is partizan. So shut it down if you don’t want it. If the video doesn’t play properly, let me know and I’ll put up the URL.

In the face of impending world war [potentially including thermonuclear holocaust], I find it deeply offensive and profoundly wrongheaded that Christians insist we focus on Supreme Court appointments or the gender alignment of human genitalia. If war is the ultimate blasphemy against Yahweh, silence in the face of such crime has no justification. Christian leaders that cheer us on as we toboggan toward disaster appear to me to be political wolves in shepherd’s clothing.

Rallying the Conservative Believer Vote

When I found Mr. Connelly on Kevin Folger’s twitter page, I knew I’d done a post on him but couldn’t find it. However I discovered it yesterday when I checked articles that I haven’t posted. I intended for this article to go up in March. At the time, SFL.net was two weeks old. I guess that I flubbed the ‘schedule for publication’ function. So I’m publishing it now.

Folger and Connelley at the RNC, Folger Twit, July 21
Kevin and [presumably] Mrs. Folger with Chad Connelly, supposedly at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland Ohio last week.

Meet Chad Connelly

Guest at Cleveland Baptist Church, Voter Registration, and possibly more...
Getting out Cleveland Baptist Church voters!

Chad Connelly is known in Republican Party circles. He has chaired the South Carolina Republican Party. When RNC Chairperson Reince Priebus wanted someone to head up the RNC’s Faith Engagement program, Mr. Connelly was his choice. Mr. Connelly served at least two terms as the RNC National Director of Faith Engagement.

Mr. Connelly works the RNC ‘web-based effort to rally conservative believers behind the party.’ He is active on the web; the page linked to his blurb names various operations and talking points. He had this interview with the Faith and Liberty Talk Show.

But Mr. Connelly’s efforts are not limited to the internet. Kevin Folger apparently felt that it would be a good idea for Mr. Connelly to address the supposedly ‘conservative believers’ at Cleveland Baptist Church.

The Cleveland Baptist Church Voter

The Cleveland Baptist Church Facebook page says this:

This Wednesday (January 27) Chad Connelly will be our special guest. Mr. Connelly will take about 10 minutes in the meeting to encourage God’s people regarding the importance of getting registered to vote and then voting in this November’s presidential election. Mr. Connelly is the Republican National Committee’s first-ever National Director of Faith Engagement.

There is nothing untoward about encouraging people to register to vote. Churches across the spectrum do it. And many churches open their facilities as polling stations as a public service.

Wherever they ‘register’ on the spectrum, one may hope that when they address churches, speakers would be non-partisan, encouraging people to register and vote, and nothing more. With Mr. Connelly’s record, one may wonder about the wisdom of this event. Still, Rev. Folger may have made clear that Mr. Connelly was to speak be non-partisan and non-ideological. I’m not privy to those matters, so I can’t attest what did or didn’t happen.

Church, Voter Registration and Wisdom

But Mr. Folger or some other staff member might just as easily have given the same pep-talk. Or, could not a former state Democratic Party or [God forbid!] Socialist Party representative to fulfill that same function?

Kevin Folger
Rev. Kevin Folger

Or would the involvement of those persons somehow occur worldly entanglement? But if so, how does Mr. Connelly’s address at Cleveland Baptist Church manage to escape censure for just such worldly engagement?

This is not to argue against the intersection of secular affairs and church life. But it begs to be asked what that intersection means. Moreover, the nature and meaning of that intersection must be clear to all.

Beyond Voter Registration

Presuming you don’t have a roster of lunatic candidates, voter registration may be a worthwhile project. And many other worthy concerns might also be raised at Wednesday night church meetings.

The epidemic of assassinations by police [euphemistically dismissed as “justifiable homicides”] is one. Virtual immunity from prosecution is another. And it isn’t as if Cleveland has had no ‘justifiable homicides.’ The whole country knows otherwise. So Cleveland Baptist knows it.

Again, the state of public education in Cleveland is known far and wide. Cleveland has seen education budgets slashed, mass teacher dismissals and school closures. Might this merit a public service announcement on an upcoming community discussion on education?

Maybe Cleveland Baptist is more interest in the school it maintains than in the public school system. As for police affairs, the church website periodically features ‘police devotionals.’ So someone at Cleveland Baptist is ‘up’ on police issues. But Tamir Rice doesn’t isn’t among those issues.

Where Our Interests Lie

At Cleveland Baptist Church, can a public service announcement for Cleveland’s homeless make the cut? What about an announcement on a public discussion of an initiative for peace? What about class issues? What about food insecurity? What about poverty?

Lastly, what about this?

‘My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives’ [Jms 2:1-4]?

Whatever else, Chad Connelly got his ten minutes. Perhaps others will have some thoughts on what all this plus the James text actually mean.

Since writing this post, Mr. Folger and his Cleveland Baptist Church have had further involvement in civic functions which can be the basis for a future post.

10 Reasons Jesus Would Never Win The Evangelical Vote

Dr Benjamin L Corey

I find it hard not to like Dr. Benjamin L Corey. He reminds me of all things that I used to be — minus the tattoos, of course. He’s bright, well spoken, loves theology and mission. Moreover, he’s one of those voices calling for the recovery of radical trust in a God of radical grace.

Oh and admit it or not, he’s something of a political junkie. Particularly if one has a heart for justice, I see that as a good thing.

Under the title I borrowed from his recent post over at Patheos, Dr. Corey authored an article which, if amusing, spoke more truth than a humorous article would allow — if humor was meant at all. Raised on that ‘subtle English humour’ thing, I can’t always tell.

At any rate, I’m giving you only his main points. If at all interested, do read Dr. Corey’s article for yourself.

…if Jesus ran for president? Well, I can nearly assure you: He’d never win the Evangelical vote. Here’s 10 reasons why:

10. Jesus was famous for giving away free healthcare.

9. Rich Evangelicals would see him as a divisive candidate who waged class warfare.

8. He threatened those who exclude immigrants and do not help the poor.

7. He told people to pay their taxes.

6. Jesus was known for staging public protests at church.

5. He often resorted to name calling when confronting the popular religious leaders of his day.

4. Jesus would be viewed as anti-death penalty and soft on crime.

3. Jesus’s absurd teaching on enemy love would be seen as a threat to national defense.

2. Jesus rebuked those who were into concealed carry.

1. Instead of “American Exceptionalism” Jesus would spend his campaign talking about a place that is WAY better than America.

It’s always easier to see others’ worldliness and compromise. So perhaps we shouldn’t be too quick to judge our IFB friends. Still, it is curious that we so to claim Jesus for ourselves only to vote against him in November.

Jesus is host at the table where he nourishes and sustains his people. But what does it mean if alien ideologies fatten themselves on the sustenance he gives us? The imagery of a host and parasite comes to mind.

If there is an answer, it might run along the lines that the narrative of the bread broken and the grapes crushed should supplant the civic narratives which compete and too often gain the allegiance of our minds and hearts.