November 30, 2010
A recent survey conducted by the Pew Forum shows that most Christians are ignorant of the history and tenants of their own faith, including the bible. What is even more shocking is that it appears that atheists have a better understanding of Christianity then actual Christians. These are among the key findings of the U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey, a nationwide poll conducted from May 19 through June 6, 2010, among 3,412 Americans age 18 and older, in English and Spanish. Jews, Mormons and atheists/agnostics were over-sampled to allow analysis of these relatively small groups. On average American Christians scored no better than 16 out of 32 on the survey of religious knowledge. This is a failing score by any standard. What is more shocking is in a battery of questions regarding the bible, white evangelicals only scored on average 7.3 correct answers.
Unfortunately when individuals think they understand their faith and in reality don't it can have a tragic side effect. Over the centuries people who misunderstood or misinterpreted the Bible have done terrible things. The Bible has been misused to defend bloody crusades and tragic inquisitions; to support slavery, apartheid, and segregation; to persecute Jews and other non-Christian people of faith; to support Hitler's Third Reich and the Holocaust; to oppose medical science; to condemn interracial marriage; to execute women as witches; and to support the Ku Klux Klan. Shakespeare said it this way: "Even the devil can cite Scripture for his purpose."
We'd like to believe that no person of good will would misuse the Bible to support his or her prejudice. But time and time again it has happened with tragic results.
In the 16th century, John Selden pointed at two Latin words carved into a marble wall in an ancient church in Rome: "Scrutamini Scripturas," which means search the Scriptures. "These two words," Seldon said, "have undone the world."
In one way, John Selden was right. Misusing the Bible has drenched the planet in blood and tears. But in another way, he was wrong. Most people who misuse the Bible DON'T search the Scriptures. They simply find a text that seems to support their prejudice and then spend the rest of their lives quoting (or misquoting) that text.
Even when we believe the Scriptures are "infallible" or "without error," it's terribly dangerous to think that our understanding of every biblical text is also without error. We are human. We are fallible. We can misunderstand and misinterpret these ancient words often with tragic results.
The survey as a whole is not really that surprising to me. It has been my experience that most Christians are clueless when it comes to their own holy book. Many feel the bible is the final word for most Christians. It is really disappointing that the Christians have placed so much religious stock in this text. That if they actually understood it in its true context, its origins, and taken as a whole most would disavow themselves from this book. The biblical authors have created a great many inconsistencies in its attempts to reconcile facts that do not stack up historically, scientifically or according to the archaeological record. The bible actually does more harm to their cause than it does good in this day and age. Christianity would be better severed without the bible as it was written so many centuries ago. I would even dare say that the people that took the survey would have done better if it was not for all the confusing and nonsense facts that are in the bible.
Comments On: The U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey
Americans Fail Religious Test
Pew Forum Quiz Article
November 24, 2010
An Ohio man filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday, November 22, 2010 against Home Depot, claiming the company discriminated against him because his religious beliefs don't allow him to work on Sundays.
Lawrence Lewis of Steubenville states that his employer failed to place him in a full-time position after his job as receiving associate was eliminated, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh.
Lewis informed his superiors that due to his Roman Catholic beliefs, he believes that working on Sunday is a sin. When he applied for another full-time position, he was not hired because he was unavailable for Sunday work, according to the lawsuit.
This stems from Mr. Lewis’ belief that Sunday is the Sabbath. However Sunday is not the Sabbath. Some even believe that the Sabbath is Saturday. Again, not true.
If you follow the word of God as given to Moses then you cannot just pick any day of the week and call it the Sabbath. The notion that God allows you to pick the seventh day has even been taught by Catholics but this is in violation of God’s word.
The command as given by Moses in the name of God to the Jews was that the Sabbath should be kept holy. The word Sabbath means rest and not Saturday as I have heard. The law includes two elements; one essential, that one day in seven should be dedicated to God; the other ceremonial, that the particular day should be chosen. God selected Saturday so therefore that is the day of rest.
Gen 2:3 “And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”
Saturday is the 7th day of the week. So again it was God that pick that day and no man can change that.
One cannot just say Sunday is more convenient for me, or perhaps Monday, etc., so that will be my day of Sabbath rest to the Lord. I will keep every seventh day holy, but that day will be a day of my choosing.
The problem with the choosing-one-day-in-seven theory is that it has no foundation in scripture. As we noted above with the 40 years in the wilderness, God clearly designated a specific day as His Sabbath. Israel was never given a choice in what day they wanted to keep holy as the Sabbath day. The entire community was to keep God's designated day in unison as a memorial to creation week. No one had the prerogative or authority to decide to start keeping some other day as their Sabbath.
So what rationale exists for worshipping on Sunday, the first day of the week, instead of Saturday, the biblical seventh day?
It is the day of Christ's resurrection and Christians have transferred the solemnity of Sabbath to Sunday to honor that event.
That sounds terrific, but where exactly does the Bible authorize that change? You see, I really do adhere to the Protestant claim of "the Bible and the Bible only" as the authoritative Word of God on the matter. The Sabbath was made by God as a memorial to the creation, and that event was not overshadowed by or done away with by either the crucifixion or the resurrection.
So if Mr. Lewis was to say he cannot work on Saturday I can understand that. However, if Mr. Lewis knew at the time he submitted his application to Home Depot that there was a possibility that he would have to work on Sunday then maybe he should have applied somewhere else.
I think it is despicable when people use their faith to otherwise circumvent their responsibilities. This hurts everyone involved.
Video: Is the Sabbath Saturday or Sunday
November 23, 2010
Willow Palin, the 16-year-old daughter of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, wrote multiple Facebook posts containing homophobic slurs such as "faggot" just this Saturday, according to TMZ. Could this be an indictment over our society’s religious bigotry toward homosexuals? In my opinion I think it may be.
The web site reports that Palin's teenage daughter wrote the comments on the night, when her mother's television show "Sarah Palin's Alaska" premiered on TLC. According to TMZ, a classmate of one of Palin's children published a Facebook update claiming that the show "is failing so hard right now."
Willow Palin reportedly unloaded on the student, calling him "so gay" and "such a faggot." She also lashed out at multiple others, writing, "Sorry that all you guys are jealous of my families success and you guys aren't goin[g] to go anywhere with your lives."
Rev. Mel White has spent more than 50 years reading, studying, memorizing, preaching, and teaching from the sacred texts. He earned his master's and doctoral degrees at a conservative biblical seminary. He is also fluent in Hebrew and Greek in order to gain a better understanding of the original words of the biblical texts. He says there is an epidemic of biblical ignorance in the United States. He also states:
“This same kind of biblical ignorance is all too present around the topic of homosexuality. Often people who love and trust God's Word have never given careful and prayerful attention to what the Bible does or doesn't say about homosexuality.”
He goes on to state a few examples:
• Jesus says nothing about same-sex behavior.
• The Jewish prophets are silent about homosexuality.
• Only six or seven of the Bible's one million verses refer to same-sex behavior in any way -- and none of these verses refer to homosexual orientation as it's understood today.
Over the centuries people who misunderstood or misinterpreted the Bible have done terrible things. The Bible has been misused to defend bloody crusades and tragic inquisitions; to support slavery, apartheid, and segregation; to persecute Jews and other non-Christian people of faith; to support Hitler's Third Reich and the Holocaust; to oppose medical science; to condemn interracial marriage; to execute women as witches; and to support the Ku Klux Klan. Shakespeare said it this way: "Even the devil can cite Scripture for his purpose."
So it is no wonder that the level of malevolence toward homosexuals is at the level it is today. I am not surprised that this young woman, Willow Palin is using homophobic slurs to beat down a perceived attack from her friends on Facebook. This kind of hate speech is no better than calling an African American a nigger. It is the same kind of tactic that was used a century and a half ago in this county to dehumanize the black population and to justify slavery. Once you dehumanize a group of individuals then you can justify the hate.
A fine example of perceived justified hate was witnessed on September 22, 2000 when a 55-year-old man named Ronald E. Gay, angry for being teased about his last name, entered the Back Street Café in Roanoke, Virginia, a gathering place for lesbians and gays just a few miles from Lynchburg. Confident that God's Word supported his tragic plan of action, Mr. Gay shouted, "I am a Christian soldier, working for my Lord." Claiming that "Jesus does not want these people in his heaven," he shot seven innocent gay and lesbian people. One man, Danny Overstreet, died instantly. Others still suffer from their physical and psychological wounds.
If religious leaders would take more care in understanding their own faith and texts then these acts of needless hate would not have to happen. Religious leaders should teach love, compassion, and acceptance of our fellow man. Not fear, revulsion, and hate. Was it not Jesus that was always found to be in the company of sinners and not that of the righteous? Why are Christians and Muslims today always talking down to sinners anyway? Most have the attitude that they are better than everyone else when in fact they are no different. They are sinners too. No one is perfect.
The type of hate that Willow Palin demonstrated Saturday did not come naturally but was taught. It is the product of Christian and Muslim intolerance towards a perceived dogma of their faith.
One should be more concerned with their sins than the sins of others. God will have the last word on what is right and what is not and not us. Romans 2:6 says, God "will give to each person according to what he has done." Moreover, Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge or you too will be judged” Finally my favorite, John 8:7, “Let the one among you without sin cast the first stone.”
Even the Quran forbids one person from judging another. Also the Quarn instructs that a good Muslims does not initiate violence against others so long as the latter do not provoke hostilities.
No one is perfect but we must all love and respect one another no matter what we perceive to be another’s failings. In the long run maybe our faults are greater than another’s, so who are we to judge? Let’s bury the hate and learn to live together. What do you think?
November 16, 2010
We just don’t get it. There was an interesting article posted recently in USA Today, “Can you be 'entitled' to bigotry? Some pol[l]s(?), advocates say yes.”
The pundits in the last election spent a lot of time and money in efforts to rile voters up over their opponent’s faith or lack there of. I am disheartened to see that some of us fell for this sleazy ploy. I think someone’s religious views should be the very last thing that is pertinent to whether they receive our vote. Why is it at the top of most people’s lists? What I think is important, are their qualifications for the office and do they have a plan that makes sense for improving or maintaining our way of life. Who cares if they are Christian, Muslim, Jew, or Atheist? This is irrelevant. I could care less if Christine O’Donnell is a witch. I am certain she would not show up to work one day in the Senate with an Ouija board and a bag full of eye of newt. What dissuaded me was her lack of experience, skills, and any solid plan to get this country back on the right course.
Religion is very divisive and caustic issue even at the best of times. It should play no part in the secular nation that the American founding fathers created back in 1787 when they ratified the Constitution and was further affirmed it as such with the adoption of the 1st amendment as written by James Madison.
Many modern western societies,
England, France, Canada, , and others would never interject religion into their election process. To do so is a taboo. If any politician professed his faith in his campaign he would be dismissed as a loon in those places unlike the Germany . Their view is one’s religions orientation is a private matter and as such is kept that way because of an understanding that religion is a toxic subject and puerile subject. To espouse one’s religion is one sure way to have your chances of election smashed on the rocky reef of the electorate oversees. US
has become a nation of religious bigots as of late, much to my dismay. I would like to think we are better than that. America is tearing itself apart over what I perceive as growing religious intolerance. America New York is having paroxysm over an Islamic center near ground zero, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey of Tennessee hinted that Islam is not a real religion but a cult, Nikki Haley who was running for office in was attacked on her Sikh background and Senator Kay Hagan was falsely accused of not being a Christian in phony ads. All of these actions were designed to drive a wedge between people of faith and their communities and government. I feel things have gone too far and we should rein in some of this faith based hate before it is too late. South Carolina
So while it is true that Americans will never forget 9/11, as well they should not; It should not be for reasons of revenge, but to prove the point that religions are not divinely inspired but manufactured by man and therefore subject to his weaknesses; greed, power, and manipulation just to name a few.
Just so you don’t miss understand me. I have no beef with anyone if they want to practice their faith. I like to pretend there is a Santa Clause during Christmas, it makes the season that much more fun for my kids. It only concerns me when a belief begins to oppress me and harms my hometown, my country, my family. It is not enough for most to practice their religion among themselves or like minded individuals. It has become apparent that religion has presented itself, in my point of view, as a “my way or the highway” mentality. It screams that if you do not believe as “I” do then you will be oppressed and/or punished. Many religions offer eternal peace and love which is attractive but on the flip side they also offer eternal fire and damnation after they murder or restrict your freedoms.
So next time your at the polls, set aside your bigotry and vote on a candidates qualifications and plan to make your life better, safer, more prosperous.
Lewis Black on Politics and Religion
November 12, 2010
By Francis Nye.
The father of a black student has sued a Detroit-area school district over a fifth-grade teacher's reading aloud from a book about slavery. He claims his daughter was racially harassed by the reading. The suit claims the child’s teacher read excerpts from Julius Lester's "From Slave Ship to
Freedom Road" that contains racial epithets and racist characterizations.
It may be that this father is just being thin skinned about this lesson in history but I was not present during the reading so I cannot make that judgment. While I do not condone slavery the fact of the matter is it happened and we cannot hide it under the rug. If we don’t want history to repeat itself we need to teach it and show it ugliness to our youth. We need to describe the events and processes of that shameful time so we can all understand its impact. We also must remember that all races were culpable of this heinous act including the Africans who would bring their captured enemies to the slavers.
But I think that this whole situation of the history lesson taught at the Detroit-area school begs a bigger question, where is the moral outrage over religious bigotry and oppression over the issue of same sex marriage. I would contend that the aggressive opposition funded and lobbied by the Christian community regarding a gay couple right to obtain a legal marriage is a form of harassment in and of itself.
Christians decry the sanctity of marriage in effort to explain their oppressive behavior. I remember reading in history that white slave masters would affirm their rights to own slaves because it was in the bible. Moreover, they did this with the blessing of all churches; Catholic, Mormon, Baptist and the like. One would assume that you can read anything you want into the meaning of the bible if you are so inclined to do so. Never the less, Christians have no leg to stand on when they speak of the sanctity of marriage in my view. Divorce rates among conservative Christians are significantly higher than for other faith groups, and much higher than Atheists and Agnostics experience.
George Barna, president and founder of Barna Research Group, commented:
"While it may be alarming to discover that born again Christians are more likely than others to experience a divorce, that pattern has been in place for quite some time. Even more disturbing, perhaps, is that when those individuals experience a divorce many of them feel their community of faith provides rejection rather than support and healing.”
The old adage, "The family that prays together, stays together" simply does not hold water.
In a hundred years from now our society is going to look back with the same revulsion that we have toward slavery today in regards to the oppression that we now force upon the gay community with regards to marriage. Gay marriage is going to happen. It is a fact. Moreover, it is already happening in five states, the
, and one Native American tribe. The chains of religious oppression are beginning to loosen on this issue. We are a country built on freedom and liberty and it will always find a way to thrive in our great land. So in my opinion religious groups need to step down from their soap box and let same sex couples experience the freedom to marry. Let them experience the same joys and pains that marriage brings. More importantly let them have the same access to basic rights that are afforded non-gay couples. Let the hate end. District of Columbia
Full story: Father Sues District
at 2:36 PM
November 9, 2010
This week the Supreme Court seems closely divided about a tax-break program that provides millions of dollars in scholarships for students at private religious schools.
The conservative justices indicated they are likely to rule against a challenge to the program that says it amounts to an unconstitutional state endorsement of religion. The court's liberals suggested they have problems with the state's tax credit.
The Obama administration joined with in arguing in strong defense of the program, saying the individuals who oppose it should not even be allowed to bring their lawsuit in federal court.
I think today many Americans are confused as to the meaning of “separation of church and state.” Even today’s political candidates like Christian O’Donnell from Delaware are confused on this topic. [see video clip below]
The concept of separation of church and state refers to the distance in the relationship between organized religion and the nation state. The term is an offshoot of the original phrase, "wall of separation between church and state," as written in Thomas Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists Association in 1802. In Jefferson's letter, he was reassuring the Baptists of Danbury that their religious freedom would remain protected - a promise that no possible religious majority would be able to force out a state's official church. The original text reads:
"...I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.” 
The phrase was quoted by the United States Supreme Court first in 1878, and then in a series of cases starting in 1947. The phrase itself does not appear in the U.S. Constitution. The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
It is also interesting to point out that the concept of separation has since been adopted in a number of countries, to varying degrees depending on the applicable legal structures and prevalent views toward the proper role of religion in society. A similar principle of laïcité has been applied in France and Turkey, while some socially secularized countries such as Norway have maintained constitutional recognition of an official state religion. The concept parallels various other international social and political ideas, including secularism, disestablishment, religious liberty, and religious pluralism. Whitman (2009) observes that in many European countries, the state has, over the centuries, taken over the social roles of the church, leading to a generally secularized public sphere.
American revolutionary Thomas Paine, who authored The Age of Reason criticizes institutionalized religion and challenges the legitimacy of the Bible. Published in three parts in 1794, 1795, and 1807, it was a bestseller in America, where it caused a short-lived deistic revival. The Age of Reason presents common deistic arguments; for example, it highlights what Paine saw as corruption of the Christian Church and criticizes its efforts to acquire political power. Paine advocates reason in the place of revelation, leading him to reject miracles and to view the Bible as an ordinary piece of literature rather than as a divinely inspired text. It promotes natural religion and argues for a creator-God.
Paine may have not been too far from the mark with his concerns regarding Christian Church’s effort in acquiring political power. Its no secret that today’s Christians are trying to do just that. Now I never buy into conspiracy theories but in this case there is a trend in this direction and the evidence is clear in my opinion. In fact several books have been written on this very topic. One book that comes to mind is; Religion, Politics, and the Christian Right: Post-9/11 Powers in American Empire by Mark Lewis Taylor , Professor of Theology and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary. Prof. Taylor’s focus in his book is on a subset of conservative evangelicalism which has adopted a program of political rule alongside its evangelistic mission and which has formed a political alliance with neoconservatives who seek to impose American rule around the globe.
Christianity in particular has thus far has been successful in permeating our government and way of life. It has been slowly chipping away at the frame work of our very constitutional protections against there being one supreme and dominate religion in this country. If left unchecked on its current course Christianity may one day have an even greater power than they do now to influence government policy and even go so far as to oppress other people’s freedoms to practice their own faith. Even more alarming is the Christian's oppressive attitudes towards gays. That Christians have gone to extreme lengths to oppose gay marriages thus forcing their belief system on another group. Even though Christians may justify this attitude as an affront to god it is exactly what our founding fathers feared, religious intolerance directing our laws. It begs the question, should the government be in the marriage business in the first place? Maybe it would be more appropriate for religious institutions to perform marriages and the government to perform a civil union between consenting adults. However, this is a subject best left to another time and another posting.
If you ask most people today they will espouse that our founding fathers were Christians and therefore we are a Christian nation and our laws should reflect Christian dogma. The truth is the United States of American was NOT founded as a Christian nation with Christian ideals.  Most of our founding fathers were Deists, NOT Christians. These men were truly enlighten individuals who were ahead of their time.
Deism (dē′•ĭzm)  is a religious and philosophical belief that a supreme being created the universe, and that this (and religious truth in general) can be determined using reason and observation of the natural world alone, without the need for either faith or organized religion. Many Deists reject the notion that God intervenes in human affairs, for example through miracles and revelations. These views contrast with the dependence on revelations, miracles, and faith found in many Jewish, Christian, Islamic and other theistic teachings.
Our founding fathers understood just how dangerous religion can be if left unchecked. That it should have absolutely no business in the running and maintaining a government. Remember our founding fathers fled Europe because of religious oppression. They saw first hand the horrors of Christianity and religious persecution.
In the United States, Enlightenment philosophy (which itself was heavily inspired by deist ideals) played a major role in creating the principle of religious freedom, expressed in Thomas Jefferson's letters, and the principle of religious freedom expressed in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. American Founding Fathers, or Framers of the Constitution, who were especially noted for being influenced by such philosophy include Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Cornelius Harnett, Governor Morris, and Hugh Williamson just to name a select few. Their political speeches show distinct deistic influence. Some other notable Founding Fathers may have been more directly deist. These include James Madison, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and Ethan Allen. 
Finally, anyone seeking to mix church and state has failed to understand the nature and proper role of either. Being founded upon the principal that all men are created equal and deserving of equal protection under the law is what makes the American system of democracy such a gift to mankind. To incorporate the inherently exclusionary imperatives of a particular religion into the determinedly inclusive system of the American constitutional form of government would be to undermine the very spirit of America by pushing it away from a democracy, and toward a theocracy.
Full story: On tax break program being challenged in the Supreme Court
 Jefferson's Letter to the Danbury Baptists (June 1998) - Library of Congress Information Bulletin.
 “The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” (Treaty of Tripoli, Article 11: Written during the Administration of George Washington and signed into law by John Adams.)
 R. E. Allen (ed) (1990). The Concise Oxford Dictionary. Oxford University Press.
 "Excerpts from Allen's Reason The Only Oracle Of Man". Ethan Allen Homestead Museum.
Other relevant links and articles:
Christians influance vote in mid-term elections
Religion & Politics 2010
November 2, 2010
Want to make a million quick? Start your own religion. The formula is simple. L. Ron Hubbard did it with Scientology and made lots of money. Others have done that too. It just takes some moxie and some manipulation, and the money and the followers will start flowing in. Hubbard knew that the axiom about making money on religion was true enough, because some have ascribed the statement “The way to make a million dollars is to start a religion."± However, there is controversy over whether or not he actually said so. Nevertheless, he ended up making money on Scientology and religious books.
Now others have established mega churches that brought in mega bucks. Jim and Tammy Faye Baker made millions, although Jim was convicted went to jail for his antics. Nevertheless, it was true they established considerable fortunes and lived lavishly for years. The media embraced Tammy Faye despite the scandals, but the evangelist movement moved away at the same time. However, she remained in the ministry and her former husband, Jim Baker, continues to serve his new flock with a new wife. He is back in business with a new television show (The Jim Bakker Show). At the time of his death Elijah Muhammad, founder of the Nation of Islam, had amassed a fortune of $25 million. His son died in 2008, leaving a fortune himself.
Senator Charles Grassley of the Senate Finance Campaign committee has been concerned enough about the mega bucks earned by ministers to launch an investigation. An example of luxury is highlighted by Paula and Randy Whiteǂ, who are the pastors of the Without Walls International Church in Tampa, Florida. Grassley has asked for records for tax-exempt cosmetic surgery. He wants Joyce Meyer, who administers the Joyce Meyer Ministries from Fenton, Mo., to document and explain why she needed a $23,000 tax-exempt commode with a marble top.
The list of religious elites goes on, including the mega-million dollar organization of Pastor John Hagee, so the fact remains that religion for some seems profitable, and perhaps those with the most grandiose plans, in the pattern of Bernard Madoff, will make it through the recession with money although might get caught after all. Not that making money selling books isn't reasonable, but claims that are outrageous might be IRS questioned and more besides, if Grassley has his way. It should be interesting to find out what his investigations end up disclosing in the financial empires of the rich, powerful and religious.
It appears that the Christians are the worst offenders of this money grabbing mind-set. Maybe that is because they actively recruit new converts more than another faith. It has always been my experiance when attending a service that they always pass the bucket around and remind you of your duty to give ten percent. Also they have some sort of special need that can only be solved by throwing even more money at it. Then there is the countless number of Christian charities. When was the last time you saw a Jewish or Musslim charity on TV? Never. The Christians have cornered the market. Just the other day I was flipping channels and came across one of those mega churches on TV. A banner ad ran the entire time the preacher was speaking and then continued when the choir was singing. It said call a toll free-number and give money for a pray request. I was truely offended that they were selling prays. If Jesus was alive today he would have flipped out like he did when the money changers were in the temple (Mark 11:15-19).
I believe that Christ and Christianity are meant to be understood, appreciated and experienced as galvanizing inspirations for living a life of love, compassion, fairness, peace and humility. Attempting to bend the glory of Jesus Christ toward anything else --especially toward the accrual of personal wealth or power -- is antithetical to what Jesus represented and died for.