I've never been to Burning Man but this 700 Club report from 1996 really sells that year's festival theme of "The Inferno!" From the blog of Oliver Bonin, director of the Burning Man documentary Dust & Illusions:
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In 1996 a group under the name “The Sentinel Group” goes to Burning Man, right during the year themed as “HELL” [sic]. After gathering hours of footage during the event, they went to the TV show “The 700 Club” hosted by the wealthy, supposedly christian, Pat Robertson, one of those extremists that you can find only in America, preaching the bible and making millions at the same time.
I found this incredible excerpt of the 700 Club during my search for archival footage about Burning Man.
A bill to repeal Wyoming's death penalty law has failed in the state senate, thanks, in part, to the vote of Sen. Lynn Hutchings [R-Cheyenne, contact details], who said, "The greatest man who ever lived died via the death penalty for you and me. I’m grateful to him for our future hope because of this. Governments were instituted to execute justice. If it wasn’t for Jesus dying via the death penalty, we would all have no hope."
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For close to two thousand years, holy men from across the wide spectrum of the Christianity have rocked a completely or entirely shaved head--a hairstyle called a tonsure. A tonsure marked those that wore it as adherents to various monastic and priestly orders and, in some cases, were a symbol of controversy in the early Catholic church as opposing factions within it fought for legitimacy. This brief video from Vox outlines the history of the haircut, what it means and why it survived in a rapidly changing world for as long as it did.
Even if you're not a religious sort, it's a fascinating bit of history. Read the rest
Rowan County county clerk Kim Davis famously refused to issue licenses to gay couples after same-sex marriage was legalized in Kentucky. She was briefly jailed for contempt of court after refusing a judge's order to do her job or quit it, making her a hero to conservatives. Now she is writing a book.
“Under God’s Authority: The Kim Davis Story” is being promoted and sold by the Orlando-based Liberty Counsel, which defended Davis in her legal battles and describes itself as “a nationwide public interest religious civil liberties law firm.”
A description of the book says “Kim chronicles her dramatic encounters with furious, fist-pounding, homosexual men and the hate mail that flooded her office.”
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Gotta make those babies pray. Read the rest
At The New York Times, Peter Wehner is angry at evangelical leaders who rationalize their support of Donald Trump, a faithless huckster who talks of "Two Corinthians" and mocks the disabled.
This fulsome embrace of Mr. Trump is rather problematic, since he embodies a worldview that is incompatible with Christianity. If you trace that worldview to its source, Christ would not be anywhere in the vicinity.
Time and again Mr. Trump has shown contempt for those he perceives as weak and vulnerable — “losers,” in his vernacular. They include P.O.W.s, people with disabilities, those he deems physically unattractive and those he considers politically powerless. He bullies and threatens people he believes are obstacles to his ambitions. He disdains compassion and empathy, to the point where his instinctive response to the largest mass shooting in American history was to congratulate himself: “Appreciate the congrats for being right.”
What Mr. Trump admires is strength. For him, a person’s intrinsic worth is tied to worldly success and above all to power.
But that is evangelical Christianity in practice, isn't it? Dobson and Falwell and co., stripping naked at the slightest promise of money or political influence, is what they always do.
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Whether or not he has read a word of Nietzsche (I’m guessing not), Mr. Trump embodies a Nietzschean morality rather than a Christian one. ... It celebrates the “Übermensch,” or Superman, who rejects Christian morality in favor of his own. For Nietzsche, strength was intrinsically good and weakness was intrinsically bad.
When I was ten, my friend and I got excited by the rumor that if you play Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" backwards, it says "Smoke marijuana." We tried it and it sounded clear as day! Then we played it for my dad who laughed and said that to him, it sounded like "Go to California." Of course, this was during the heyday of fantastic urban legends about the occult and backmasking in rock music. Evangelist Michael Mills fueled the insanity with this 1981 radio broadcast, featuring bits by Black Sabbath, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest who famously went to trial (and won) over bullshit accusations of backmasking.
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This month, Examiner.com has been profiling "noted atheists who experienced dramatic shifts in their views, eventually becoming Christians." This week, it has a story about Douglas Ell, a former atheist who has undergraduate degrees in math and chemistry, and an MA in theoretical mathematics from the University of Maryland.
Using his advanced knowledge of mathematical analysis, combined with the latest science, Ell came up with probability calculations which were incredible: practical proof, he concluded, of a designed and ordered universe. Sitting with his friend Peter Fisher one evening, Ell told him, "You know, someone should write a book about this, because I'm finding modern science strongly supports belief in God." Fisher, who is now head of the physics department at MIT, responded, "Maybe that someone could be you."
Thus inspired, Ell poured out his findings into his book, Counting to God, which takes the more theoretical elements and breaks them down to an understandable level, where Ell hoped to show the beauty he saw in science and math to the eyes of each and every reader.
Douglas Ell: how an MIT atheist found God through math Read the rest
Christian ministry Answers In Genesis report that their massive Noah's Ark attraction will open next July in Williamstown, Kentucky. This is the same organization behind the infamous Creation Museum where cavemen frolic with dinosaurs. The 510-foot-long, $90 million wooden Ark will be the centerpiece of a Christian theme park. The state of Kentucky had originally given Answers In Genesis an $18 million tax break on the project but changed their mind "over concerns of 'religious indoctrination,'" according to the Associated Press. Answers In Genesis has filed a federal lawsuit to try to get the tax incentive reinstated.
I just hope the ark has room for the dragons and unicorns.
(Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!) Read the rest
Just days after yet another mass shooting in America, Tennessee's Lieutenant Governor says Christians who are ‘serious about their faith’ should consider buying guns. The unbelievably idiotic decree to God-fearing citizens by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R) was delivered via Facebook, where indeed, so many idiotic decrees are delivered.
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That weird meeting between presidential candidate Donald Trump and a number of so-called Prosperity Gospel evangelists sounds weirder the more we learn about who was there, and what they actually say they believe. Read the rest
Just a little old-time religion. Read the rest
Reverend Matthew Makela has two problems with queer people: he can't stop calling them predatory sickos, and he can't stop having sex with them.
According to his official bio, the associate pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church and School in Michigan enjoys family, music, home improvement, gardening and landscaping. According to his Grindr profile, discovered and exposed by Queerty, he likes topping and cuddles.
Of course, how someone behaves between the sheets is really nobody’s business but his own, except when he’s actively doing damage to others. We’ve seen it time and time again. The lawmaker who spends his days fighting against gay rights and his nights cruising for bottoms, or the ex-gay activist who isn’t quite as ex-gay as he’d like everyone to believe.
Which brings us back to Makela. The married father of five from Midland, Michigan doesn’t just preach Jesus’ love and help with bake sales. He also uses his position of authority and respect in his community to broadcast his self-loathing view on same-sex attraction.
The collection of statements is damning: he's a full-spectum hater, ranging from gay-curing nonsense to effortlessly nasty transphobia aimed at a specific local resident. Makela told Queerty that he has resigned and told his wife and senior pastor, but Queerty is having none of it:
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…his community also deserves to know. If Makela made even one LGBT kid at St. John’s “Christ-based” elementary school, their parents, friends, family or anyone who ever stepped foot in the church feel like being true to yourself is shameful (and it seems all too likely that he did), then we’re glad to share his hypocrisy with the world.
It's not just in the UK where planning mass-murder to achieve political aims doesn't count as terrorism (if you're a white supremacist and/or Christian fundamentalist) -- in the USA, groups like the Phineas Priesthood can inspire acts of wanton gunplay in populated cities without inspiring the zomgwereallgonnadiedrunhide 24-hour-news-cycle lunacy. Read the rest
Likely fake but damned funny video purportedly by Pastor and Mrs. Jim Colerick, of the now-closed West Dubuque 2nd Church of Christ, and Brian Spinney.