The Last Temptation of Keith
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Sep 13, 2008 at 01:10:18 PM EST
In discussing GOP Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin's religious beliefs on Monday night's edition of Countdown, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann crossed a line. Instead of simply reporting on how the Alaskan governor's religious beliefs affect her politics, the cable host mocked them.
Towards the close of the September 8, 2008 edition of Countdown Olberrmann, began discussing Governor Palin's Pentecostal Church. He was justified in explaining the congregation's practice of "praying away" homosexuality - an issue ripe for review. However, the cable news host just couldn't leave well enough alone:

Oh, no, I'm not going to say it.  For the record, the governor has not made any public statement about the pray away the gay movement, nor yet about the report tonight from the former pastor there and a fellow parishioner that worshipers not only believe in the rapture and that Governor Palin has spoken of Alaska as being a refuge for that supposed lifting up of those true believers, but also that they speak in tongues, in other words, in word or sounds neither they or anybody else understand, kind of like Fox News. (italics added)

To her credit, Maddow, whose new show was premeiring in the very next time slot, did not follow her MSNBC colleague into the religious bigotry zone. Beyond that, for the last six years Palin has attended the Wasilla Bible Church, a non-denominational, evangelical Christian church that is neither affiliated with the Pentecostals nor engages in the speaking of tongues.

Religious bigotry, you say?  How so?  Very simply it gratuitously mocks a religious practice that has nothing whatsoever to do with politics. While one does not have to be humorless to function in public life, cheap shots at the specifics of people's religious practices and belief are beneath contempt and have no place in civil society. It's not art. Its not a joke. It's really just condescension that has strayed off into religious bigotry. We expect and demand better.

It is also worth noting - and this apparently came as a surprise to Olbermann - as evidenced by quote from a post I came across on Daily Kos, there are liberal and progressive Pentecostals. Yet  another diary over at Street Prophets bore this out:

There is much to legitimately criticize about Ms. Palin, but there are times when the criticism crosses a line that shouldn't be crossed. On Monday's edition of "Countdown," as part of a lead-in to Rachel Maddow's new show, Olbermann ridiculed Palin's involvement in a church that practices speaking in tongues and believes in the rapture. There were other things mentioned as well, such as believing that one can "pray away gay," and the fact that Sarah prayed about an oil pipeline, but consistently during the program as he promo'd the final segment, he basically got down to mocking the practice of speaking in tongues and belief in the rapture. This is a huge no-no, about which Olbermann probably will, deservedly, receive some backlash.

The diary author speaks with authority on this point. He described himself as having "attended an independent charismatic church for nearly 15 years, and had been involved in the charismatic movement for an even longer period of time."

And indeed there has been something of a backlash. Our opponents on the religious right are quick to seize on such antics and spin them into misleading equation that liberalism equals hostility towards faith in general. It then becomes an effective weapon of divisiveness, and divisiveness is what the right, religious or otherwise, does best.

All behavior like Olbermann's accomplishes is to turn off potential liberals to our philosophy. True, Olbermann does not speak for all of us, but because not all of us have such a prominent platform, it can seem that way.  Beyond that, it underscores that some of us have lost the idea of common dreams - emphasizing the ideals that we all share instead of those that divide us.

Thankfully, there are liberals who do get it. Take, for example The Daily Howler's Bob Somerby.

In a November 18, 2004 post Somerby took New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani to task over her insular and scathing review of Bill Clinton's autobiography, My Life. One of Kakutani's complaints concerned "pointless digressions about matters like zombies in Haiti."

As Somerby noted:

Yes, it's true: In this tedious passage, Clinton's readers are forced to learn about the lives of actual Americans-those famous, sometimes low-income people who "work hard and play by the rules" and vote people in and out of office. On a certain east coast island, of course, this is considered unusual punishment, and Kakutani hurried to the front page to tell Times readers what they were in for. "Tedious," the Times savant said. Watch out for the "pointless digressions."

As Somerby illustrates in his post, Clinton saw similarities in different religious faiths, quotes the former president at page 237, "I describe my brief foray into the world of voodoo because I've always been fascinated by the way different cultures try to make sense of life, nature, and the virtually universal belief that there is a nonphysical spirit force at work in the world that existed before humanity and will be here when we all are gone."

Somerby proceeds to discuss Clinton's race for Arkansas attorney general and how in that it race he had to deal with voter questions whose source was often from a hostile Falwell-run Moral majority.  Clinton then recounted how, taking Dale Bumpers's advice, he immersed himself in attending religious events throughout the state. Somerby then cites Clinton at page 249 where he describes how some of the reactions congregants in a Southern Baptist Church reminded him of what he experienced in Haiti.

This brings us back to Pentecostals. Clinton, although disagreeing with them on abortion and LGBT rights was still able to take away something positive from visiting a Pentecostal revival. As Somerby explains (all bold highlights are Somerby's):

But Clinton wasn't done with his review of religion-and-politics in Arkansas. "Not long afterward, I saw white Christians have similar experiences," he writes, "when my finance officer...invited me to the annual summer camp meeting of the Pentecostals in Redfield, about thirty miles south of Little Rock." Clinton describes a life-long interest that grew from that first experience. "I made that summer camp meeting every summer but one between 1977 and 1992," he writes. "Every year I witnessed some amazing new manifestations of the Pentecostals' faith." But for Clinton, it wasn't the ecstatic experiences of these people that mattered the most. In the following passage, Clinton reveals the breadth of spirit and curiosity that help explain how he got to the White House:

CLINTON (page 251): Far more important than what I saw the Pentecostals do were the friendships I made among them. I liked and admired them because they lived their faith. They are strictly anti-abortion, but unlike some others, they will make sure that any unwanted baby, regardless of race or disability, has a loving home. They disagreed with me on abortion and gay rights, but they still followed Christ's admonition to love their neighbors.

They disagreed with him on abortion and gay rights-but Clinton admired the way they lived their beliefs. (Of course, to the withered minds of the rubes at the New York Times, such a passage-it anyone had actually bothered to read it-would have been rendered thus: "Who amongst us doesn't love Pentecostals?") While Kakutani stamps her feet at the tedium she's forced to endure, Clinton continues to explain his view of these inspiring Arkansans. "Besides being true to their faith, the Pentecostals I knew were good citizens," he writes. "They thought it was a sin not to vote." After describing a compromise he reached with Pentecostal ministers about the licensing of church-run child-care centers, Clinton concludes the rumination that began with that "pointless digression" on Haiti:

CLINTON (page 252): Knowing the Pentecostals has enriched and changed my life. Whatever your religious views, or lack of them, seeing people live their faith in a spirit of love toward all people, not just your own, is beautiful to behold. If you ever get a chance to go to a Pentecostal service, don't miss it.

Whatever your religious views-or lack of them. Here at THE HOWLER, we don't have religious views, but we know a fascinating bit of history when we see it, even if it makes us consider the lives of actual people who may live very far from Manhattan, and even if it helps us understand how one Big Democrat got to the White House.

I'm not a Pentecostal and their ways are alien to my Catholicism, but as long as they're not trying to impose their religious views on me then their beliefs do me no harm. FDR, RFK or even Edward R. Murrow (Olbermann's hero) would never have mocked what Pentecostals believe and neither should we.

Since I begun contributing here at Talk to Action I've always understood that we do not write to knock religion. Far from it. In fact as several of the writers here are religious in their own right. Some are clergy. Instead we are here to reveal and rebuke the religious right and their often mendacious messages. We write not to dispute any particular faith but instead to expose those who see faith as an expedient means to foster reactionary politics.

By giving into the temptation to mock, Olbermann ceased to provide an effective rebuke to the religious right. In fact, he makes our job more difficult. There is certainly much to question about Governor Palin's beliefs - especially to the extent that they inform her politics to the point of factious behavior, and dubious if not dangerous public policies.  But ridiculing a subjective religious practice only distracts from our ability to expose which of those beliefs would adversely affect this potential vice-president from governing in a constitutional manner.

Olbermann's biggest mistake was piling on when he shouldn't have. In an obvious effort to show us how clever he believes himself to be, the MSNBC cable host blunted what should have been his basic point: How certain aspects of Palin's beliefs go beyond the personal realm and begin to adversely affect the rights of others. It was that simple.

As I pointed out in my piece there are Pentecostals who share our political philosophy. Olbermann's conduct risks alienating them. And if these good folks had issues have issues with Olbermann's buffoonery, then so will many Pentecostals who still may have not decided between Obama and McCain.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sat Sep 13, 2008 at 01:11:32 PM EST

I thought the comparison of speaking in tongues to Fox News was pretty funny - it made me laugh out loud. I belonged to a Charismatic church for some time, and was involved in all those weird "manifestations of the Spirit". Looking back, it was certainly a period of temporary insanity. I now consider myself an agnostic/Deist, though I can understand where atheists are coming from. Quite frankly, I am sick of religion mixing with politics, and I am sicker of crap like the "debate" hosted by Warren, where the candidates had to grovel and parade their devoutness. This is NOT a "Christian Country", and any effort to drag religion into politics should be vigorously resisted.

by phatkhat on Sat Sep 13, 2008 at 02:55:31 PM EST
You may think it's funny, but there are an awful lot of people in this country who don't. More importantly, quite a few are people who are thinking about voting for Obama but who are just a bit more open to agreeing with crackpots such as Limbaugh who love to talk about the Left's hostility to religious folks.

Behavior such as Olbermann's plays right into the religious right's hands. It fuels their charges of elitism. As I've said over and over again, effective liberalism requires self-discipline. And that means we avoid the all-too-common trap of trying to show off how much cleverer we think we are. Olbermann was so damn clever that he even missed the fact that Palin no longer attends a Pentecostal church that engages in speaking in tongues.

That's not being clever; that's being arrogant - and dumb.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sat Sep 13, 2008 at 03:19:23 PM EST

I too didn't like the "debate" hosted by Rick Warren, nor do I believe that this is "a Christian country." But with that said, mocking people who believe in speaking in tongues does nothing to refute those thiings.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sat Sep 13, 2008 at 03:25:18 PM EST
You are quite correct to point out the holy Olbermann's flight into religious bigotry. Its a simple case of what's good for the goose is also good for the gander.

If say, Pat Buchannan were mocking a Jew connecting his politics with say the wearing of a yarmulke, we would recognize it for the anti-semitism it would be.

People on the left side of the street do not get a pass on religious bigotry.

A friend of this site whose progressive credentials are unquestioned, and who spoke at one of the progressive counter events to Dobson's theocratic Justice Sunday is Rev. Osagyefo Sekou and he is a third generation pentecostal. I am honored that he contributed an essay to Dispatches from the Religious Left and I am glad to call him my friend.  

Some non-religious people think that because they are not religious, the religious views of others are fair game in public.  But unfortunately, their ignorance is showing.

So let's be clear, religous bigotry is not a progressive value. Whats more, its practice is a bannable offense on this site.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sat Sep 13, 2008 at 08:19:46 PM EST

I couldn't have said it any better, especially the part about Sekou who is also a friend of IPC.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sat Sep 13, 2008 at 08:28:19 PM EST

Must everyone refrain from ridiculing flat-earthers out of fear of hurting their feelings? How about astrologers? Jedi Knights? Many of us find all supernatural religious beliefs equally groundless, harmful to society and therefore worthy of mockery, even if doing so creates tension, polarization and offense. I respect that the ground rules of this blog forbid mocking religion here, but requiring the same standard from American society in general is unreasonable.

Religion, unlike race, gender or sexual orientation is 1) voluntary 2) idea- based.  It also profoundly affects our political dialog. As such it is fair game for analysis and even derision. The offended religionist  can choose to grow a thicker skin, defend their specific beliefs and practices or (horrors!) consider changing their beliefs and practices. Crying "bigotry victim" cheapens  the word for groups like gays and African Americans who in no way deserve the grief they receive and would be powerless to change their status even if they wanted to.

I am surrounded by highly religious people whom I love and respect as people, but I value those who mine the rich veins of absurdity that their religion provides. Just as my family will never give up hope that one day I'll believe, I hold out hope that a few of them will be embarrassed into giving up their groundless beliefs by the accumulated barbs of the likes of Twain, Vonnegutt, George Carlin and PZ Myers. God forbid that such people are silenced by tedious nannies like you two.

I do want to thank you all, however, for your thorough and effective work exposing and fighting those nasty fundies. And I agree that Olbermann's comment was unprofessional in that context.

by cbelt on Sun Sep 14, 2008 at 09:26:53 AM EST

You declare Frank and I to be "tedious nannies", and yet you agree with us that Obermann's comment was "unprofessional."

What people who know how to take a joke do around the kitchen table is different than what we do in public life -- journalism, scholarship, and yes this site.  

Is there a role of mockery, satire, ridicule and such? Of course. And we do some of that here as well, even  though it can be tricky territory.

But notice that we said nothing about silencing  George Carlin, or anyone else. That is a strawman argument, and is easily set aflame.

The problem with the commenters above and apparently even you is you don't have any idea where to draw the line and are willing to tear down those who to stick our necks out in an effort to forge a culture and politics that will work for us all -- as distinct from the one that has enabled the rise of the religious right.

If you value religious pluralism and the mutual respect that necessarily goes with it -- as a matter of culture, of constitution, and of public policy, then you learn to act like it. The same culture, constitution and public policies that protect the religious, protect the non-religious.  If you don't learn to act like it, then you are not living these values and certainly rendering yourself politically ineffective, and hence a terrific ally of the flat earthers, but more to the point, the young earth creationists such as Sarah Palin who may yet be president of the U.S.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sun Sep 14, 2008 at 01:21:05 PM EST

those YECs really don't see much difference between you guys and Olbermann. I have posted links to articles from this site on other forums, and the Fundamentalist types have said things to the effect that this blog is "a cesspool" of typical liberal garbage. (Yes, the cesspool is a real quote.)

ANY criticism of their religious views/opinions/practices is grounds for their contempt, hate, and possible future revenge. It doesn't matter if that criticism is well thought out and carefully worded, or whether it is couched in satire.

Quite simply, if you disagree with them, you are damned, and it doesn't matter how nicely you disagree. There are several commenting on this particular article that have some pretty salient points, too, like the one about how quickly a "nice" Pentecostal can become not so nice.

I will not say that there are no "progressive" Pentecostals, though I have never met one personally. But, then, I suppose it depends upon how you define "progressive". If you define Jim Wallis as "progressive", then we don't agree on the definition. Though I do respect Wallis and read Sojourners, and I agree with many of his efforts, his stand on women's right to choose offends me as a feminist - though I agree that he has a right to that opinion.

And, perhaps, there is the crux of the matter. I respect Wallis - and even the rightwinger Fundamentalists - and believe in their right to their opinions and beliefs, as long as they do not try to put those beliefs on me. The difference is, most of them do not grant me the same right to my opinions and beliefs, and do not believe I even have the right to differ from them. And they have NO compunction to be civil and not deride MY beliefs, either! (I should state here that I do not circulate in the rarified atmosphere of academia any longer, and that I live and work in a blue-collar environment within the Bible Belt. This may or may not give me a realistic view of the everyday Religious Right.

I suppose the reason I can see the humor in what Olbermann said is that I am an ex-Charismatic myself. Looking back on that era of temporary insanity in my own life gives me a creepy feeling still, and I am convinced - having had the experience of tongues and being "slain in the Spirit" - that it is all mass hysteria.

At any rate, I think Olbermann was making a slam at Fox more than he was at the Pentecostals. At least I took it that way, and I expect a lot of other people did, too.

BTW, I DO understand the extreme caution you are taking with "offending" others, and the "seriousness" of this issue to you. I once worked in the field of Equal Opportunity, and I know EXACTLY how it is. You weigh every word, and you examine every nuance to make sure it is acceptable. (And how the rightwing - even the intelligent branch - laughs at us for being "PC"!)

Someone made the point that skin color, for example, is not something you choose, but religion is. I think that is a good point. What is the difference between satire aimed at political parties (chosen) and religious beliefs (chosen)? Both are defended with religious zeal, are they not? I think a lot of the rightwing talking points have become a religion of their own.

Quite frankly, when we take religion so seriously, when we put religious beliefs above criticism, even in the form of humor or satire, we are playing into the hands of those who use religion for political ends. And those who are doing so still hate us! Maybe we don't need a leftwing O'Reilly, but, then, maybe we DO. We on the left are seen as "elitist", and maybe a no-holds-barred leftie doing to the right is just the ticket, though Michael Moore is probably a better candidate than Olbermann, LOL.

I do think this discussion following the article is a good one, and that a lot of good points are being brought out on both sides. This is an issue that will not go away, and that needs to be discussed. Only by talking to each other do we have a prayer of understanding each other so that we can work together. It also demonstrates the breadth of opinion within the "religiously interested left".

"When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." (Sinclair Lewis - It Can't Happen Here)

by phatkhat on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 01:02:56 PM EST

"But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

                                     -Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Sep 14, 2008 at 09:41:44 AM EST

but dispensationalism as a specifically political belief and can't be separated from politics any more than creationism can be.  It is and always has been about pushing the west toward war with Islam over Israel.

by strayroots on Mon Sep 15, 2008 at 01:44:35 AM EST

this latest example of olbermann's juvenile tendencies is more evidence that we don't need a "liberal o'reilly."
ed shultz is another problematic figure. a former right-wing republican, he mocked palin as a "bimbo" when she was selected. thus clinton derangement syndrome instantly transmuted into palin derangement syndrome. see bruce wilson's work for an effective and fair critique of palin's religious influences.

by Max Blumenthal on Mon Sep 15, 2008 at 04:36:06 PM EST
I agree with you entirely about Ed Shultz too. I wish that he and Olbermann could act as maturely as either a Thom Hartmann or a Bill Moyers. You captured the essence of my message - we don't need any liberal Bill O'Reillys.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Mon Sep 15, 2008 at 08:01:06 PM EST

I have lurked and loved your site for quite awhile and for the most part agree with what you folks have to say. Keep up the good work. My Grandmother would have been proud of you.

Frank Cocozzelli says in response to Keith Olbermann crossing the line 'mocking' religious people speaking in tongues:

"Very simply it gratuitously mocks a religious practice that has nothing whatsoever to do with politics."

At first I was simply appalled but then the 3 hour delay registering on your site and waiting to make a comment forced me to think a little bit.

If this comment has "nothing whatsoever to do with politics" then how can religious groups embrace the flag so tightly? These churches co-opt this symbol of our constitution to do just that. I was offended when I entered the 'non-denominational' chapel for my mother's funeral to be welcomed with a 20 foot flag on one wall and an eight foot cross on the other. I was offended by the crass co-option when the founders explicitly expressed their fears of such synergy. I am offended when these groups pour the syrup of patriotism over our founding ideas to claim them as their own.

I am offended when their god, Jesus, preached the exact opposite.

After careful deliberation while I was sitting in the comment penalty box I came to this conclusion.

Sorry but I don't buy it. Religious practice has everything to do with politics.

A person can't say that what they believe in is the absolute truth and expect to get a free pass in the public square. Sixth graders do not get to vote on what is science and what is not. The public at large does not get a vote on what is real and what is not. No matter how hard we try, we will never live in the binary world of good or bad, true or false. There is always another hypothesis, another theory, more information, another reality to consider. Truth is only the best explanations we have today. Truth requires research, work and considered contemplation. Truth requires work. It is really easy to cede your responsibilities to god but that doesn't make it the truth. I have a duty as a citizen of this great nation to question these truths.

I have vast resources available in this day and age to learn about our candidates for the highest office in the land. When a candidate stands in the public square and encourages young people to pray for a gas pipeline, I take notice and have every right to ask questions about what they believe in. They brought it up didn't they? They opened the door as the legal folks would say? When a candidate says publicly that abstinence is the only proper way to bring up a kid, prays about it in public I might add, and has yet another un-wed teen daughter in one of the states with the highest teen pregnancy rates I should have the right, no, the duty, to ask tough questions. When I discover that a Vice Presidential candidate had a full term baby 8 months after her marriage, I have a right to ask questions about her faith.

I care very much if a potential president thinks that god is going to rapture the believers up to heaven when the time is right.

I care very much if a potential president thinks that babbling like a three year old in public is god speaking.

I care very much if a potential president says that wars are god's will.

So I can expect that the '3am call' results in an emergency prayer circle?

This is serious business and I want to try to learn about the thought processes of those we entrust with the Holocaust button. A citizen has every right to believe whatever they want to believe in private. These are the laws of the land and they are good laws.

Under a democratic system, as outlined by our forefathers in the Constitution, the rules for the public square are quite different however. To quote some paraphrased movie script,

Democracy is advanced citizenship. You have to want it badly. If you want free speech you must abide by a person with a huge microphone saying things that you abhor. If you want the freedom represented by our flag you must also abide by a person exercising that freedom to burn that flag.

If a citizen proffers silly ideas, that citizen must be prepared to be mocked.

If a citizen claims that what they believe in is truth, offer no evidence for that truth, and further claim that what I believe is absolutely wrong, that citizen must be prepared to be proven wrong and ridiculed.

If a citizen claims that their character is better than my character, that citizen must be prepared to defend that claim with evidence and not only their imagination.

I live under the same rules so if what I am saying is stupid, go ahead and mock away.

Frank Cocozzelli says: " shots at the specifics of people's religious practices and belief are beneath contempt and have no place in civil society"

So Frank, are you defining 'contempt'? 'civil society'? 'cheap shots'? Please let me know so I can prepare. I remember reading these same types of words when pope Urban VIII condemned Galileo to house arrest till his death.

So how did that work out for you folks?

Keith did not 'step over the line'. Keith called a spade a spade and is on the cutting edge. It is past time to start calling out these babbling fools as what they really are;

babbling fools.


by glbrown on Sat Sep 13, 2008 at 06:35:55 PM EST
is to give hot heads time to cool off or go away.   Look's like it didn't work for you.

I suggest you study up a bit on the nature of religious bigotry before commenting again.

We are all interested in what Palin and others actually believe. But mocking her or anyone's particular practices is not only bad journalism, it also strays into religious bigotry, as Frank has explained. And it does nothing to help us learn more about the matter. If you read this site as carefully as you say, then you ought to be asware that we have done as anyone if not more, to get at the nature of Palin's beliefs and their implications.

Knowing the difference between religious bigotry and fair criticism is a necessary set of philosophical and factual matters and a complementary set of skills to navigate a religiously plural society. Olbermann's smug ridicule was a betrayal of basic values in our constitutional democracy. We expect and demand  better of people in his position.

See my comment above for further information.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sat Sep 13, 2008 at 08:40:48 PM EST

I think Gary has a number of very good and salient points here (all of which are not directly related to the article's author's thesis), but I disagree with him and agree with Cocozzelli on this one, that Olbermann crossed the line on.

As you might guess from my handle, I am a minister, a deacon in the Episcopal Church, and so am a practicing, committed Christian. I am not a Pentecostal, but have known several in the past: most were good, kind, honest, and sincere Christians, who had some ideas about "God, the Universe, and everything" which I think are theologically unsupportable.

And I just love Keith Olbermann. His is a courageous and articulate voice of reason in a cowardly and incomprehensible age of foolishness, and he is almost certainly the finest orator in the Fourth Estate, today and for quite some time past and to come.

And there is a lot in Sarah Palin's life and political positions and so on, which richly deserve articulate ridicule, as is the case with so many politicians, especially those on the right-wing. Some of them are mediated by religious beliefs, some are not.

So inform us, Keith, of their religious beliefs (with which you of I may or may agree), and ridicule them for their screwy political positions. NOT the same thing. (Would that the Evangelicals had recognized that distinction in the last two electons!)

After all, there are a lot of people who think my political opinions are screwy (and maybe they have a point), but I also have religious beliefs which, to one who does not share those beliefs, would seem simply out-and-out crazy.

by deaconse on Sun Sep 14, 2008 at 03:51:35 PM EST

is if a pentecostal is nice or kind- watch out because they're (1) out to get some money from you or (2) out to try to get you into their church.

I know.  I saw those "nice, kind" pentecostals take over the parish I used to belong to.  They were nice until they learned you weren't going to change to their mindset or let them control your life- and then the gloves came off.  They were also not so nice to people who have a rough time in life.

It's been 3 1/2 years now since we've been in a church.  I doubt I will EVER return.  (I was baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal Church!)

The last night we were in the church (a large, old Episcopal parish): (1) the rector had brought in a "Intelligent Design" proponent who advocated in the clearest possible language teaching "THE GOD OF THE BIBLE in the schools", (2) a "friend" who was one of the lay leaders in the church told me (in public) I could not accept Evolution and be a "real Christian", and (3) another HIGHLY placed lay leader "friend" advocated MURDERING GAY PEOPLE- IN PUBLIC!

All of this was through the agency of those "nice, kind" pentecostals- WHOSE GOALS ARE THE CONVERSION OF ALL CHURCHES INTO MIRRORS OF THEIR OWN.

On one hand, I do agree that Keith went too far, but on the other hand (remembering the time I spent in the AoG)- I also got a chuckle out of what he said- even though I've had the "gift of tongues" for decades- and it came to me without the laying on of hands.

One of the things I have against pentecostal (and charismatic) churches is that they've focused too much on the "gifts"- and not allowed themselves to become gifts to others (except for the kind that people don't want to receive!)  I've observed over the last couple of decades that rather than becoming kinder and more Christ-like, people who focus on the "gifts" tend to become harsh and unforgiving of even the slightest error.  So on one hand I think what Keith said was in bad taste, but at the same time I'm not so sure if I found it that disagreeable.

by ArchaeoBob on Sun Sep 14, 2008 at 06:35:31 PM EST

Keith took an easy and cheap shot at glossalalia as a way to take another shot at Fox News (which deserves most of the shots aimed in its direction).  Dogemperor and others on this site have gone into detail about many of the problems and dysfunction in various pentecostal churches (like the Assemblies of God).  Even without church dysfunction in its hierarchy or polity, spiritual gifts have been a source of controversy among Christians since the time of the Apostle Paul -- that is, whether the Church is valuing the manifestation of spiritual gifts more highly than Christian vocation.

As Fred mentioned, I have known some very Progressive Christians for whom glossalalia is an important part of their private devotional time or community worship.  I have known charismatic lesbians who would be welcome in an open and affirming mainline church, but would prefer to attend a charismatic service instead (which may be part of the reason there were so many charismatics in a local MCC).

by Rusty Pipes on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 02:00:33 PM EST

I wouldn't believe that such a thing could exist, but I am an example of someone who is VERY progressive, yet I've experienced the "gifts of the spirit."  The association I have had for some time is that "charismatic" == Religious Right.   That's based upon the attitudes I've heard come from the people who put such an emphasis on those same "gifts".

I totally agree- there is too much emphasis on gossalalia.  I think that is what leads to the other problems- they forget what they're supposed to be DOING.

by ArchaeoBob on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 05:34:32 PM EST

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The media is ablaze with the upcoming publication of David Grann's book, Killers of the Flower Moon. The shocking non fiction account of the......
By wilkyjr (40 comments)
Gimme That Old Time Dominionism Denial
Over the years, I have written a great deal here and in other venues about the explicitly theocratic movement called dominionism -- which has......
By Frederick Clarkson (44 comments)
History Advisor to Members of Congress Completely Twists Jefferson's Words to Support Muslim Ban
Pseudo-historian David Barton, best known for his misquoting of our country's founders to promote the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation,......
By Chris Rodda (46 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (60 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (58 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (45 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (43 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (35 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (46 comments)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (85 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (12 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (33 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (76 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (88 comments)
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (47 comments)
"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (44 comments)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (82 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (72 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (77 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (74 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (42 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (50 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (54 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (41 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (64 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (44 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (51 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (44 comments)

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