A Papal Trifecta: Part 2 -- After the Tour is Over
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Oct 02, 2015 at 11:27:45 AM EST
"Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable -- the art of the next best" -- Otto Von Bismarck

In two-plus years, Pope Francis has become a man for all seasons. For a man who claims to eschew politics, Francis is mastering the art of creating a new narrative. And, heaven knows, the Catholic Church is badly in need of a makeover.

He's loosened things up a bit at the Vatican, has moved the church towards an openness that his predecessor assiduously avoided, and has tried to affect a lifestyle of a regular guy, that is, if a regular guy could be a pope.

(2 comments, 334 words in story)
A Papal Trifecta: Part 1 -- Junipero Serra & The Pope
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Oct 02, 2015 at 11:20:03 AM EST
Franciscan Friar Who Brought Destruction and Death to California's Native Peoples Canonized by Pope

"I heard the mission bell, and I was thinking to myself, this could be Heaven or this could be Hell..." -Hotel California, The Eagles

During his July visit to Bolivia, Pope Francis "apologized for the `grave sins' of colonialism against the native people of the Americas," USA Today's Bill Theobald recently reported. "I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offense of the church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America," the pope said. Why then is Pope Francis canonizing Junípero Serra, the embodiment of crimes committed against native peoples in California?

(2 comments, 1091 words in story)
The Birth, Near Death, Rebirth, and Online Explosion at the late Jerry Falwell's Liberty University
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Jun 09, 2015 at 10:20:45 AM EST
The Rev. Jerry Falwell envisioned a university. That university would bring young Christian men and women to a beautiful campus in his hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia. The student body would multiply and the campus would expand. But due to Falwell-esque hubris, and the sexual scandals that took down fellow televangelists Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker, that university would be brought to the edge of financial ruin. The Unification Church's Rev. Sun Myung Moon, would help bail out that university, and it would again grow, adding students, professors, and more buildings. Falwell's university would develop a first class athletic program, with a new football stadium seating over 19,000 people.

University leaders envisioned the future, and that future was online. Now, the little institute of higher learning that the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, the founder of the Moral Majority, envisioned as being the pride of Lynchburg, Virginia, and the Petri dish for developing conservative true believers and activists, has grown to become the largest private nonprofit university in the nation, the largest university in Virginia, the largest Christian university in the world, and one that has the second largest enrollment in online education courses for any non-profit university in the world.

Welcome to Liberty University, where they are "Training Champions for Christ," and where a few months back, those "champions" were mandated to hear Senator Ted Cruz announce his presidential candidacy and, later, during graduation season, many "champions" heard Jeb Bush deliver a commencement address.

(6 comments, 1192 words in story)
The Duggar Family, the Girl Scouts, and the Christian Right's War on Transgender People
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu May 28, 2015 at 10:23:19 AM EST
If the US Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage next month, do not expect religious right organizations to fold up their tents and go home. If anything, they will amp up the hysteria with email alerts (and fundraising appeals) squawking about the assault on traditional marriage. While they will continue to agitate around same-sex marriage, there will be a not so subtle shift to another culture war battle; the fight over transgender equality.

Although there are many culture war battles still to be contested, e.g., abortion, prayer in the schools, book, television and film censorship, and the mother of all fights, the religious right's distorted views of religious freedom, the battle over transgender equality is ripe for the picking. After all, transgender people are some of the few people left that the religious right can attack and demonize.

(1 comment, 1191 words in story)
MayDay! MayDay! The Rapture is Just Around The Corner, Warns Billy Graham's Daughter
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue May 26, 2015 at 10:20:24 AM EST
When someone insists that they have a direct line to God you might get a little concerned. It could be the old voices in the head syndrome, or perhaps a touch of megalomania. In recent times, it has been invoked by numerous conservative politicians who explain that God indicated to them that they had a greater calling; running for political office (usually the Presidency). In the case of Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of the Rev. Billy Graham, it appears to be an extension of her business plan. Recently, Lotz has been shouting MayDay! MayDay!, warning people that The Rapture is just around the corner.
(3 comments, 1020 words in story)
Religious Right's Pet Rabbi Accuses Liberals of Being Sexually Attracted to Muslim Extremists
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue May 26, 2015 at 09:53:42 AM EST
Rabbi Daniel Lapin, once a most-favored Rabbi of the Religious Right, has been out of the news cycle since the revelations that he was a close friend, and in a working relationship, with Jack Abramoff, the super-lobbyist who served time in federal prison for corruption. When you want to re-insert yourself into the good graces of the Religious Right, however, there's nothing better than appearing on the Family Research Council's "Washington Watch" program, where you can make some pretty loopy claims about liberals without being challenged.

Last month, with redemption certainly on his mind, Lapin offered up one of his golden oldies to the FRC radio audience, charging that there is a "sexual dimension" to how liberals relate to Islamic extremism.

"There are countless studies showing that feminine-type behavior produces an excess of estrogen in men and vice versa," Lapin said. "Essentially, the left has fallen in love with the masculinity of Islam."

(1006 words in story)
Abbott and Jade Helm 15
wilkyjr printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue May 12, 2015 at 10:40:16 AM EST
The other day I stopped by Wal- Mart to pick up my medications.  Later on that day we heard a strange rumor that the super store was closing tomorrow.  Thinking it some strange gossip, few took it seriously until it hit the airways.  The store, with over 400 employees was closing until after Christmas.  The employees were not told until the day of the closing.  Rumor mills began waving all types of conspiracy banners.  One that gained a lot of momentum  was the idea this was connected with Jade Helm 15 and the store would be revamped to incarcerate Christians.
(8 comments, 604 words in story)
Gay Marriage Still Under Attack by Religious Right Zealots
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Apr 16, 2015 at 08:00:04 AM EST
Dr. James Dobson is talking about a second "Civil War." Rick Scarborough of Vision America Action is calling it "a Bonhoeffer moment," a reference to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Lutheran pastor who resisted the Nazis. Other Christian leaders are complaining that gay activists are duping the masses.

As America awaits two and a half hours of oral argument at the Supreme Court set for the morning of Tuesday, April 28th, followed by its decision - likely in late June -- on the power of the states to ban same-sex marriages and to refuse to recognize such marriages performed in another state, the Christian right's doom and gloom squad is coming out of the closet in droves. And they're bringing the type of unrestrained rhetoric not heard since, well, those heady days last month when Indiana and Arkansas were forced to temper their strict anti-gay "religious freedom" laws.

(3 comments, 1005 words in story)
American Family Association's `Bigotry Map' Charts `Anti-Christian' Organizations in the US
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Feb 27, 2015 at 10:53:28 AM EST
By recently unveiling what it is calling a "Bigotry Map," which exposes "Anti-Christian Bigotry in America," the American Family Association apparently got tired of being monitored, tracked, and vilified, and decided to turn the tables on "anti-Christian bigots" in the United States.

On its website (http://www.afa.net/bigotrymap), the newly developed interactive map is marked by symbols identifying "groups and organizations that openly display bigotry toward the Christian faith." You can do a state-by-state search to discover which of these groups might reside in your neck of the woods.

(2 comments, 759 words in story)
The Rev. Franklin Graham: An American Scold
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Feb 26, 2015 at 10:38:38 AM EST
Make no mistake about it, the Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of the Rev. Billy Graham, is trying to brand himself as a gutsy let-it-all-hang-out twenty-first century religious leader. Whether asked or not, he's more than willing to inject himself into any conversation; be it over the use of a chapel at Duke University by Muslims, transgendered bathrooms in Charlotte, North Carolina, the so-called persecution of U.S. Christians by secularists, or the persistent failures of President Barack Obama. Despite Graham's public persona of being a humorless man lacking any trace of wit, he nevertheless has positioned himself as a man with access to multiple platforms, from which he can pop off about whatever, whenever, and to whoever will listen.

No shrinking violet, Graham, president of Samaritans' Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has blazing gums, will travel.

(835 words in story)
Conservative Catholics and Evangelical Protestants Unite to Battle Same-Sex Marriage
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Feb 19, 2015 at 09:55:06 AM EST
A group of conservative Catholics and evangelical Protestants are gearing up for the culture war battle of the century. A new manifesto - to be revealed in the March edition of the conservative publication First Things -- is meant to set the tone for the upcoming decision on same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court, and perhaps the 2016 presidential election as well.

The document maintains that same-sex marriage is "a graver threat" to the social order than "easy acceptance of divorce" or "widespread cohabitation." "We must say, as clearly as possible, that same-sex unions, even when sanctioned by the state, are not marriages," the document stated. "Christians who wish to remain faithful to the Scriptures and Christian tradition cannot embrace this falsification of reality, irrespective of its status in law."

With temperate rhetoric tossed aside, and a new mean-spirited attack on the gay community being launched, language in the new document makes signees like the Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest Calif., and Robert George, professor at Princeton University and vice-chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedoms, sound like the second coming of the late Rev. Fred Phelps.

(2 comments, 672 words in story)
A Christian QB + Fifty Shades of Grey = Condemnation by Christians
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Feb 18, 2015 at 09:34:02 AM EST
A guy walks into a movie theater in Seattle for an early showing of Fifty Shades of Grey. That may sound like an opening line of a joke, but not if you wearing Russell Wilson's cleats. The Seattle Seahawks quarterback, who has been celebrated by Christian organizations and Christian-based media for his outspoken religious beliefs, is now being unmercifully pummeled by many of his fellow Christians.

After seeing the movie, Wilson tweeted out:

Russell Wilson        
Thanks for the early showing of #50ShadesOfGrey late last night..
#EmeraldCity Great movie.

From this tweet, a firestorm erupteth.

(3 comments, 740 words in story)

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