Tuesday, January 19, 2010

That old-time extremism

In this country, we often hear about "Muslim extremists," but I don't hear anyone complaining about the Christian extremists in our midst. One such bunch appears to be operating in Westmoreland County. It seems the pastor of Christian Fellowship Center of Greensburg has gone to county court to seek an order upholding a vote by the church board to expel two church elders. One of the elders reportedly was argumentative and had a poor attendance record at church functions. OK, that's understandable. The second, however, was voted out because he, um, failed to speak in tongues. For the uninitiated, speaking in tongues involves spewing made-up gibberish, supposedly through the power of the Holy Spirit, and, according to an AP story, it displays what some churches consider to be “necessary evidence of one’s faith.” I don't know if you’ve ever seen anyone speaking in tongues, but it makes the Jodie Foster character in the movie “Nell” sound like Sir Laurence Olivier. Hearing about this legal action brought to mind something even scarier, the hellishly frightening 2006 documentary “Jesus Camp,” in which children essentially were tortured into buying into the charms of Pentacostal/charismatic Christianity. To get an idea of the film’s contents, take a look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LACyLTsH4ac. Involving young children in this sort of twisted indoctrination amounts to mental crucifixion and child abuse. If Muslim parents gathered their children together at such a camp and treated them in this fashion, badgering them to fight for the views of their God, there are a lot of folks in this country – selling a different brand of faith – who would accuse them of sowing the seeds of jihad and probably attempt to have the kids taken from them. This is just a reminder that extremism is bad, no matter who or what is being worshipped. And if you’re not sickened by what you saw in the video clip, there’s really something wrong with you.

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Blogger Brant said...

Along similar lines, here's some interesting reading: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1244440/U-S-military-weapons-dubbed-Jesus-guns-inscribed-secret-Bible-messages.html?ITO=1490

January 19, 2010 at 2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do agree with you, but please watch your tongue( no pun intended ) when bashing the folks who speak in tongues. It seems a little crazy to those on the outside - but some folks really believe in it. But, I agree that is silly for the church to ban someone for not having that ability. If speaking in tongues is truly a gift from the Holy Spirit, then why penalize the person for something that God has not chosen to do? That's what is crazy. And another thing, I know it seems extreme for churches to kick someone out for non-participation (are churches not supposed to be welcoming and trying to gain members?) but i am glad to see that some is actually being held accountable for their actions (or in actions in this case.) So many people get involved in things, and volunteer for things and just want to do things on their own terms and in their own time. There is no level of commitment to anything anymore. Good grief.

January 19, 2010 at 5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hear you complaining all the time about the Christian extremists.
I'll say this, when the Christian extremists blow things up - ala. abortion clinics and such - there's plenty of complaining about them.

January 19, 2010 at 5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one cares about Christian religious extremists until they commit mass suicide, blow someone up or hold off the FBI for a few days.

January 19, 2010 at 10:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Church organizations have a right to remove members for reasons that fit the religion. That is part of the right of the organization. While you might not agree, you are also not part of the organization and it is wrong for you to attempt to impose your values on said group.
Nor should you be concerned with what the group is doing and how it is handling its internal matters. Where is the harm to the greater community?
Honestly Brant, to compare it to Muslim extremism shows nothing more than your disdain for organized religion. To compare remove individuals from a church to killing children (as was done in Russia) or thousands of Americans as was done on 9/11, not undermines your credibility but it exposes your own deep seated prejudices. It also cheapens the true horror and pain that some have suffered at the hands of Islamic extremism. Do you honestly mean to compare 9/11 to people being banned from a church?

January 20, 2010 at 2:41 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

While I brought up Christian extremism and Muslim extremism in the same topic, I didn't suggest that crazy people flying planes into buildings equaled crazy people blabbering in church. But as you might recall, Christianity has had plenty of blood on its hands over the years, and you could argue that even today, the Catholic Church, by virtue of some of its stances, particularly the refusal to endorse use of condoms to prevent the spread of disease and the ravages related to overpopulation, is guilty of worldwide homicide. And a couple of you seem to suggest that I'm mocking those who speak in tongues. Let's see, they believe that a magical entity whose existence is no more factually supported than that of the Tooth Fairy takes over their body and allows them to jibber-jabber in a special language. Yeah, I'll stick with mocking.

January 20, 2010 at 6:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brant you seem to have it out for the people that have faith! Since you feel that God isn't real. I have a little test for you. On Saturday, when the the Sunday edition is printing over there at the OR. Please on the front page headline please run this headline:

"O.R. Staff are atheist and dislike Christian extremists as much as Muslim extremists"

If the O.R. is open a year later, well you just seen a miracle!

January 20, 2010 at 8:23 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

Your so-called test would prove nothing about the existence of God, just that He has a lot of supporters. I can assure you that atheists are a tiny minority of the people at the newspaper. But you seem to be suggesting that I should be barred from expressing my opinions because I don't believe in your God. I was under the impression that this was still the United States of America, not the Jesus States of America. My bad.

January 20, 2010 at 8:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brant. You don't like organized religion and you don't believe in God or anything about Christianity. WE GET IT. Why don't you just write about something else? Your constant mocking and raving on this subject only makes you sound bitter and arrogant. Stick to politics and things that you know about. Your religion blogs are getting old.

January 20, 2010 at 8:43 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

Sorry, but I find religion to be a very interesting subject, and it usually leads to some enlightening discussions. I've always made it clear in the past that I find the vast majority of Christians - as well as Jews, Muslims, etc. - to be very good people who are dedicated to doing good works on behalf of their belief systems. Where I run into problems is when religion is used as a justification for people's hatred toward others or to defend church laws and policies - such as the Catholic ban on birth control - to provide cover for actions that are morally bankrupt. I don't get on board with petty complaints about things such as our money saying "In God We Trust," but at the same time, I don't believe a person's particular belief system allows them to claim a special place in our society or our government, even if they happen to belong to the biggest religion in the country.

January 20, 2010 at 9:01 AM  
Anonymous old school said...

Catholic ban on birth control - to provide cover for actions that are morally bankrupt.

See this is a catch 22. Catholic's also teach no sex before you're married. So what a husband and wife does in the sack is between them and the lord. It is still cool to do things the right way isn't? Raise a family if God want's you to have one?

January 20, 2010 at 11:45 AM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

I'm married and use birth control.

What is astounding by stories such as the one that prompted Brant to write this post... is that there are so many people who are otherwise perfectly normal, high functioning, logical individuals... yet, for some inexplicable reason, they believe in things that are not only contrary to the sum knowledge of the world possessed by mankind, but also blatantly fabricated fiction. Notice I am not singling out Christians here... The religion of islam is not any more, nor is it any less ridiculous than Christianity. Hinduism is exactly as ridiculous as Christianity and Islam.

There are so many choices when it comes to religion... and every single one of them is exactly as illogical and fictitious as every single OTHER choice... and yet, people will defend their sliver of the denominational pie as the one true path to salvation.

If someone is right, then the rest of you are wrong... and I hate to say it (ok, I LOVE to say it), but chances are...

The atheists have it right.

January 20, 2010 at 12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Were the Christians who murdered doctors who perform abortions extremists or acting on God's behalf?

If you're living in poverty and unable to support children, are you supposed to take as many children as God supposedly wants you to have? If 12 of the 13 kids you have die because they get sick or can't be fed, is God OK with that?

If you abort a child you know will be so horribly disabled that they can never function at any level that can be called human, why would God blame you. Why would God allow that child to be conceived?

What possible godly plan could allow the Aztecs and Incas to be nearly exterminated in his name? Or 6 million Jews to be murdered, and millions of innocent people to die each year in floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters for simply having been born in the wrong place?

What God could possibly give mankind free will, then condemn you to eternal damnation if, by exercising thatfreewill and your God-give intellect, you don't choose the "one true religion? Whichever one that is.

Until any religion can give me an answer to these and other so called "hard questions -- other than "have faith" or "it's God's paln" -- I'll stick to dealing with God one-on-one.

January 20, 2010 at 5:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Somebody said in one of the comments: The atheists have it right.

Do you know how utterly stupid this sounds? Take 20 steps back and read for yourself. Those are the people on these kinds of places who are forthright and say: We don't believe in anything.

If you don't believe in anything, then you have no idea whether you have it right, wrong, or half-way between. The stupid statement underscores the ignorant position posted in many of these comments. Whoever wrote that statement is a laughingstock on the stage of ignorance.

As somebody else said, why doesn't the writer of this stuff just move on. This is yet another ridiculous article about which he (or she?) knows nothing. One of the other ones recently (Robertson?) was along the same lines, revealing the writer's ignorance about these topics. I don't know what the writer likes, or the topics of which the writer is knowledgeable, but these kind of topics surely isn't one of them. The writer makes themselves look pretty foolish with these kinds of articles. I lurk once in awhile just to see what path has been traveled recently. Perhaps we've seen all that can be put forward, and now just let birds of the feather flock together.

January 20, 2010 at 9:53 PM  
Anonymous x anonymous said...

Here is what I know about religion. If I don't say my prayers and take my vitamins I can't be a Hulkamaniac!

I have to agree with Woody Harrelson. We are all addicts. We all have our own drug. These people that Brant wrote about, their drug of choice is religion. Some people take a pill, snort a line of this or eat like a cow. These people are stuck on Jesus.

Some people need religion. I don't think it's a bad idea at a safe dose. There is nothing wrong with having faith. It's good for the soul!

January 20, 2010 at 9:58 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

To the next-to-last commenter: When you don't make a single cogent, intelligent argument, and when your post is the intellectual equivalent of saying "I'm rubber and you're glue," do you really think you have a lot of room to call atheists dumb? If you've got a point to make beyond saying atheists are stupid, do go ahead and make it.

January 21, 2010 at 9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

atheists smell?

January 21, 2010 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

"atheists smell"

... Like lilac and apples :-)

January 21, 2010 at 11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Until someone comes back from the dead and explains things, not one religion knows if it "has it right." Christians can believe that they will see their loved ones again, and Muslims can believe that there are 30 virgins awaiting every martyr in Allah's name, but neither KNOWS.

One of the arguments Christians always roll out for "proof" that Christ was indeed the son of God is that people were willing to die rather than renounce him. But suppose I believe that Patrick Swayze was the son of God who will rise again and am willing to die rather than renounce him. Does that prove I'm right?

Let's face it -- if God had wanted us to have absolute proof of anything, we'd have videotape of Adam and Eve being booted from Eden instead of pieces of papyrus found in cave near the Dead Sea.

As things stand, it's all on faith. But I can't prove that either.

January 21, 2010 at 2:32 PM  
Anonymous x anonymous said...

Didn't Jesus already do this? I'm confused! I said it once, and I'm willing to stand behind it.

Benjamin Franklin was a freaking genius! He believed that there was a God. He also believed that no one religion was better then the other. He wrote about "visiting" many places of worship!

January 22, 2010 at 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's no real proof that JC came back -- just supposed testimony by witnesses (not to the resurrection but to his appearance after that) that was passed on verbally until someone wrote it down. The original docs first written some 70 years after Christ have been lost. What was recreated from bits and pieces had already been edited. It's been edited since. I'm not saying it didn't happen, just that you can't prove it. Just like you can't prove that there is no god.

The Gospels contradict themselves more than once. There's virgin birth in some, not in the others. There are two different versions of the Lord's Prayer. Did one writer add some things that he thought Jesus should have said? Or did one writer sit too far back and not hear everything Jesus said, ala "Blessed are the cheesemakers" in Monty Python's "Life of Brian?"

Legends existed before the birth of Jesus that contain many elements that correspond to those in the life of Jesus as contained in the Bible. Is this coincidence?

Still, even if you can't prove the Jesus story, I have no problem with your believing it. Just don't demand that I do. I don't demand that you believe what I believe. I don't know. May never know -- even after I'm dead.

I believe in a god, but one that doesn't interact with the world. That's very deistic -- a held by Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, among others.

Having been raised Christian and having wondered for years what was wrong with me because I never did "get it," as Christians say, it's more comfortable for me now, after finding that I'm not alone in this feeling, to believe in a god that doesn't interact than to try to explain why that same god picks and chooses who he interacts with -- who he saves from tragedy and who doesn't. He may have his reasons, or a master plan, that I'm not supposed to understand. That's fine ... but why, then, did he give me the ability to question?

January 22, 2010 at 5:58 PM  

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