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Do not lose heart, my sisters and brothers

Let all who read this, take heart. Look at the result of all the special elections. Yes, hotly contested and Democrats may only win by hundreds of votes instead of thousands, but Republicans are losing. Please don’t despair.
 
This past almost two years since that election has shown us that those who vote Republican are people filled with fear that they are losing their white-dominant way of life and they cover this fear with bluster, bullying, intimidation, murder, etc.
 
They have shown us that they care more for authoritarianism, bigotry, denial of climate change, destroying families, destruction of the planet and God’s creation, discrimination, fascism, global warming, gynophobia, hatred of the poor, homophobia, increased gun violence, intolerance of a different of opinion, intolerance of people that are different, Islamaphobia, kleptocracy, misogyny, nonpartisanship, police brutality, prejudice, racism, in favor of rape, in favour of sexual assault, in favour of sexual harassment, in favour of sexual molestation, treason, transgenderphobia, white supremacy, and xenophobia.
 
When they claim to act in Jesus’ name in a way that denies food to the hungry, clothing to the naked, shelter to those without, medical care for the sick, and refuse to provide for the needs of those without means, they prove that they care more about the contents of their wallets than their neighbors. When they twist the words of Matthew 25 so that they do not apply to their lives, Jesus looks at them and says, “I don’t know you. I have never known you. You do not act in My Name. In fact, you want everything I came here to oppose.”
 
The Dominionists and the adherents of the prosperity so-called gospel have perverted the words of Jesus to imply Jesus only came to give us eternal life, Well, He did do that, but He also came to make us better people. We are supposed to seek to be holy people, with changed lives. Eternal life begins right here, right now in this life because we are already living in the kingdom of Heaven since Jesus has told is it is at hand, right here within our grasp. Jesus rose from the dead and the distinctions of life/death are irrelevant.
 
Dominionism and the prosperity so-called gospel do not create better people. Those doctrines create people even more entrenched in their own selfishness because now they have a perverse and twisted, distorted gospel of lies to allow them to be greedy, selfish people who refuse to see unprosperous people as human beings let alone as their neighbors whom they are supposed to love as themselves, as God first loved us.
 
Dominionism and the prosperity so-called gospel are not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Dominionism and the prosperity so-called gospel are at best heresies and at worst they are apostasy, leading their followers to commit blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
 
Theologians the world over have always told us that once one has embraced apostasy there is no forgiveness possible. Perhaps human beings are not as forgiving as God. I believe it is possible for a person to confess to God that one has embraced sin, even such grievous sin as represented by dominionism and the prosperity so-called gospel and know God’s forgiveness.
 
Conversion does not mean our prejudices get a divine stamp of approval. Conversion means we must lay our prejudices on the altar, walk away from them, leave them there, and never again exercise those prejudices.
 
To live life in the pursuit of holiness is hard and uncomfortable work. There is also such joy in knowing God without one’s prejudices in the way.
 
One can’t help but notice the many voices of those who are disillusioned by their experiences in various churches in the USA. Hard not to be, really, if one is a critical thinker. Hard not to be when one is a caring, compassionate, tender person.

 Refuge is offered in the Facebook group ”Celebrate What Christians Have in Common” where a daily buffet is spread of Asceticism and art, cartoons and quotes, comics and contemplation, memes and meditations, music and musings, photographs and prayers, just about anything that is one of the many voices from the many flavors of Christianity.
 
There is one discipline required of all who join: one must not utter a negative word because this space is a refuge, a respite, a place of peace and quiet. If one chooses to engage in discussion one may only write about one can affirm from the selection. No arguments, no vitriolic words, no spammers, and trolls will be tolerated. 

Please come and celebrate what Christians have in common and let us together remember our faith is based upon God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and not the actions and choices of frail, sinful human beings.
 
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1409874399270377/

Having said all of the above, I would be remiss were I to fail to offer a way to enact one’s change of heart. It is not enough to sit in one’s prayer closet and offer thoughts and prayers. The Gospel of Jesus requires us to act in constructive, positive, pro-active manner to incarnate the kingdom right here on earth.

Yes, it’s in our hearts, but it is also all around us. We do not incarnate the kingdom of Heaven by converting everyone to Christianity. We do it by becoming better people who live our lives so that everyone has what they need,

Due to the nature of humanity, we not only must do this in our private lives we must do it publicly in our political processes which require us to resist the evil that is afoot among members of the human race.

One way to persist in resistance is my FB group, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff, where I post actions, petitions, info, actual news, evidence, facts. There’s a pinned post that I highly recommend people read. I also ask a screening question so I can keep the spammers and the trolls out. All who read this are invited.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/gloriamariesprogressivepetitions/

The article removed from Forbes, “Why White Evangelicalism Is So Cruel”

The article removed from Forbes, “Why White Evangelicalism Is So Cruel”
By Chris Ladd

**This was originally posted to Forbes on Sunday, Mar 11. Forbes took it down today. This is the explanation I received from the editor. Here is the original article in full:

Robert Jeffress, Pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas and an avid supporter of Donald Trump, earned headlines this week for his defense of the president’s adultery with a porn star. Regarding the affair and subsequent financial payments, Jeffress explained, “Even if it’s true, it doesn’t matter.”

Such a casual attitude toward adultery and prostitution might seem odd from a guy who blamed 9/11 on America’s sinfulness. However, seen through the lens of white evangelicals’ real priorities, Jeffress’ disinterest in Trump’s sordid lifestyle makes sense. Religion is inseparable from culture, and culture is inseparable from history. Modern, white evangelicalism emerged from the interplay between race and religion in the slave states. What today we call “evangelical Christianity,” is the product of centuries of conditioning, in which religious practices were adapted to nurture a slave economy. The calloused insensitivity of modern white evangelicals was shaped by the economic and cultural priorities that forged their theology over centuries.

Many Christian movements take the title “evangelical,” including many African-American denominations. However, evangelicalism today has been coopted as a preferred description for Christians who were looking to shed an older, largely discredited title: Fundamentalist. A quick glance at a map showing concentrations of adherents and weekly church attendance reveals the evangelical movement’s center of gravity in the Old South. And among those evangelical churches, one denomination remains by far the leader in membership, theological pull, and political influence.

There is still today a Southern Baptist Church. More than a century and a half after the Civil War, and decades after the Methodists and Presbyterians reunited with their Yankee neighbors, America’s most powerful evangelical denomination remains defined, right down to the name over the door, by an 1845 split over slavery.

Southern denominations faced enormous social and political pressure from plantation owners. Public expressions of dissent on the subject of slavery in the South were not merely outlawed, they were a death sentence. Baptist ministers who rejected slavery, like South Carolina’s William Henry Brisbane, were forced to flee to the North. Otherwise, they would end up like Methodist minister Anthony Bewley, who was lynched in Texas in 1860, his bones left exposed at local store to be played with by children. Whiteness offered protection from many of the South’s cruelties, but that protection stopped at the subject of race. No one who dared speak truth to power on the subject of slavery, or later Jim Crow, could expect protection.

Generation after generation, Southern pastors adapted their theology to thrive under a terrorist state. Principled critics were exiled or murdered, leaving voices of dissent few and scattered. Southern Christianity evolved in strange directions under ever-increasing isolation. Preachers learned to tailor their message to protect themselves. If all you knew about Christianity came from a close reading of the New Testament, you’d expect that Christians would be hostile to wealth, emphatic in protection of justice, sympathetic to the point of personal pain toward the sick, persecuted and the migrant, and almost socialist in their economic practices. None of these consistent Christian themes served the interests of slave owners, so pastors could either abandon them, obscure them, or flee.

What developed in the South was a theology carefully tailored to meet the needs of a slave state. Biblical emphasis on social justice was rendered miraculously invisible. A book constructed around the central metaphor of slaves finding their freedom was reinterpreted. Messages which might have questioned the inherent superiority of the white race, constrained the authority of property owners, or inspired some interest in the poor or less fortunate could not be taught from a pulpit. Any Christian suggestion of social justice was carefully and safely relegated to “the sweet by and by” where all would be made right at no cost to white worshippers. In the forge of slavery and Jim Crow, a Christian message of courage, love, compassion, and service to others was burned away.

Stripped of its compassion and integrity, little remained of the Christian message. What survived was a perverse emphasis on sexual purity as the sole expression of righteousness, along with a creepy obsession with the unquestionable sexual authority of white men. In a culture where race defined one’s claim to basic humanity, women took on a special religious interest. Christianity’s historic emphasis on sexual purity as a form of ascetic self-denial was transformed into an obsession with women and sex. For Southerners, righteousness had little meaning beyond sex, and sexual mores had far less importance for men than for women. Guarding women’s sexual purity meant guarding the purity of the white race. There was no higher moral demand.

Changes brought by the Civil War only heightened the need to protect white racial superiority. Churches were the lynchpin of Jim Crow. By the time the Civil Rights movement gained force in the South, Dallas’ First Baptist Church, where Jeffress is the pastor today, was a bulwark of segregation and white supremacy. As the wider culture nationally has struggled to free itself from the burdens of racism, white evangelicals have fought this development while the violence escalated. What happened to ministers who resisted slavery happened again to those who resisted segregation. White Episcopal Seminary student, Jonathan Daniels, went to Alabama in 1965 to support voting rights protests. After being released from jail, he was murdered by an off-duty sheriff’s deputy, who was acquitted by a jury. Dozens of white activists joined the innumerable black Americans murdered fighting for civil rights in the 60’s, but very few of them were Southern.

White Evangelical Christians opposed desegregation tooth and nail. Where pressed, they made cheap, cosmetic compromises, like Billy Graham’s concession to allow black worshipers at his crusades. Graham never made any difficult statements on race, never appeared on stage with his “black friend” Martin Luther King after 1957, and he never marched with King. When King delivered his “I Have a Dream Speech,” Graham responded with this passive-aggressive gem of Southern theology, “Only when Christ comes again will the little white children of Alabama walk hand in hand with little black children.” For white Southern evangelicals, justice and compassion belong only to the dead.

Churches like First Baptist in Dallas did not become stalwart defenders of segregation by accident. Like the wider white evangelical movement, it was then and remains today an obstacle to Christian notions of social justice thanks to a long, dismal heritage. There is no changing the white evangelical movement without a wholesale reconsideration of their theology. No sign of such a reckoning is apparent.

Those waiting to see the bottom of white evangelical cruelty have little source of optimism. Men like Pastor Jeffress can dismiss Trump’s racist abuses as easily as they dismiss his fondness for porn stars. When asked about Trump’s treatment of immigrants, Jeffress shared these comments:

Solving DACA without strengthening borders ignores the teachings of the Bible. In fact, Christians who support open borders, or blanket amnesty, are cherry-picking Scriptures to suit their own agendas.

For those unfamiliar with Christian scriptures, it might helpful to point out what Jesus reportedly said about this subject, and about the wider question of our compassion for the poor and the suffering:

Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.

What did Jesus say about abortion, the favorite subject of Jeffress and the rest of the evangelical movement? Nothing. What does the Bible say about abortion, a practice as old as civilization? Nothing. Not one word. The Bible’s exhortations to compassion for immigrants and the poor stretch long enough to comprise a sizeable book of their own, but no matter. White evangelicals will not let their political ambitions be constrained by something as pliable as scripture.

Why is the religious right obsessed with subjects like abortion while unmoved by the plight of immigrants, minorities, the poor, the uninsured, and those slaughtered in pointless gun violence? No white man has ever been denied an abortion. Few if any white men are affected by the deportation of migrants. White men are not kept from attending college by laws persecuting Dreamers. White evangelical Christianity has a bottomless well of compassion for the interests of straight white men, and not a drop to be spared for anyone else at their expense. The cruelty of white evangelical churches in politics, and in their treatment of their own gay or minority parishioners, is no accident. It is an institution born in slavery, tuned to serve the needs of Jim Crow, and entirely unwilling to confront either of those realities.

Men like Russell Moore, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy group, are trying to reform the Southern Baptist church in increments, much like Billy Graham before him. His statements on subjects like the Confederate Flag and sexual harassment are bold, but only relative to previous church proclamations. He’s still about three decades behind the rest of American culture in recognition of the basic human rights of the country’s non-white, non-male citizens. Resistance he is facing from evangelicals will continue so long as the theology informing white evangelical religion remains unconsidered and unchallenged.

While white evangelical religion remains dedicated to its roots, it will perpetuate its heritage. What this religious heritage produced in the 2016 election, when white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump by a record margin, is the truest expression of its moral character.

You will know a tree by its fruit.

https://www.politicalorphans.com/the-article-removed-from-forbes-why-white-evangelicalism-is-so-cruel/

To White Evangelicals and the Religious Right

Just read a piece by one of my favorite bloggers, John Pavolvitz,

White Evangelicals, This is Why People Are Through With You< which you may read at https://johnpavlovitz.com/2018/01/24/white-evangelicals-people/

 

His words prompted me to write the following.

While I agree that white evangelicals need to hear this, I would go further and address it to the white people of the religious right in the USA, the Roman Catholics on the right, the members of mainline denominations who are part of the religious right. It is is not just white evangelicals, although I admit they have the loudest, most shrill voices.

I believe this essay omits something very important. It neglects the damage that white evangelicals and the religious right are doing to the credibility of the Gospel message.

To put it baldly, people listen to what white evangelicals and members of the religious right do and watch what they do and they say “If this is what Christians are like, I want nothing to do with Christianity, God, and the Jesus they claim to know.”

So many people have said they have lost their faith because of what is said and done by white evangelicals and the religious right. While I might agree that faith should not be based on the behavior of other human beings, there is no getting around that this is what people say and they are convinced their perception is so accurate, that conversation with them to the contrary falls on deaf ears.

White evangelicals and the religious right have become stumbling blocks to their fellow believers. They have become stumbling blocks for non-Christians, who see no reason whatsoever to consider embracing faith.

White evangelicals and the religious right are going to have a very great deal to answer for, come Judgment Day, to use white evangelical language. They will be responsible for an uncountable number of souls lost to Christ. Not to mention their refusal to make sure the hungry are fed, the naked are clothed, the sick cared for, and needs of the poor are met.

If you are interested to see the reactions of non-believers and believers you have driven away from the church, I invite you to join my Facebook group, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff, https://www.facebook.com/groups/gloriamariesprogressivepetitions/

where we frequently discuss the hypocrisy and moral failings of the white evangelicals and the religious right.

As for the people of color who have embraced the GOP on the basis of a white evangelical and religious right version of Christianity, I can only suggest that you research the meaning of the phrase “Uncle Tom” and open your eyes to how you are not only failing to act in your own best interests but how you also betray all other people of color in the USA.

Evangelikkkal Kkkhristianity

Anyone who claims to be a Christian and remains silent and doesn’t speak out against all the evils embraced by this administration and the GOP, in general, is not really a follower of Jesus because this administration and the GOP, in general, have rejected half the Gospel.

The witness of the prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures makes it clear that the nations of Israel and Judah, the people and kings of the nations of Judah and Israel had a duty and a responsibility to care for the sick, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, provide what those in need require, welcome the stranger, and basically to make sure that everyone had enough so they could thrive and in turn become wealthy enough so they too could be part of making sure that everyone had enough to thrive.

Or else, and we all know that the people and kings of Israel and Judah ignored the prophets God sent to them, continued in their selfishness with devastating results. Their countries were destroyed.

Jesus says the exact same thing to the people and politicians of the world and the people and politicians of the USA are also supposed to pay attention to Jesus when they claim to follow Him.

Jesus tells the Christians of the world and the USA that they have a duty and a responsibility to care for the sick, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, provide what those in need require, welcome the stranger, and basically to make sure that everyone had enough so they could thrive and in turn become wealthy enough so they too could be part of making sure that everyone had enough to thrive. Or else.

Jesus also tells us in Matthew 25 what that “or else” is. “I never knew you,” he tells those who ignored their duty and responsibility to care for the sick, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, provide what those in need require, welcome the stranger, and basically to make sure that everyone had enough so they could thrive and in turn become wealthy enough so they too could be part of making sure that everyone had enough to thrive and in turn become wealthy enough so they too could be part of making sure that everyone had enough to thrive.

Elsewhere in the Christian Scriptures, we are told what the results are when we ignore the words of Jesus, specifically Mark 3:28-29. “Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”

While I would never say that the Democrats are as pure as the driven snow, indeed they are far far from it, at least they do recognize that we Americans have a duty and responsibility to care for the sick, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, provide what those in need require, welcome the stranger, and basically to make sure that everyone had enough so they could thrive and in turn become wealthy enough so they too could be part of making sure that everyone had enough to thrive and in turn become wealthy enough so they too could be part of making sure that everyone had enough to thrive. Or else.

Sadly, the Americanized version of evangelical Christianity has watered down the Gospel so that it is only an issue of personal, individual salvation which Jesus never spoke about. The thing we readers of English overlook is that English is a language which (irresponsibly in my opinion) fails to distinguish between the singular and the plural use of “you.” Thus we read the Scriptures and choose to ignore that, just as the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures did, Jesus to talks about a community, salvation as a community, the community’s duty and responsibility to care for the sick, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, provide what those in need require, welcome the stranger, and basically to make sure that everyone had enough so they could thrive and in turn become wealthy enough so they too could be part of making sure that everyone had enough to thrive and in turn become wealthy enough so they too could be part of making sure that everyone had enough to thrive.

White Christian friends whose silence we hear, you might as well start spelling it as “evangelikkkal KKKhristinity” because you are guilty of never being known by Jesus and of the apostasy, He mentions in Mark 3:28-29.

Please allow the light of the Holy Spirit to pierce the darkness and allow the truth to set you free.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was one of my heroes and I wept when he was murdered. He has remained one of my heroes all my life, exemplifying that we need to do the right thing no matter how much it costs us personally.

As a white person, it doesn’t cost me as much as it does a person of color. As a white person, I can always hide behind being white and close my eyes, heart, and mind to the ugliness that is happening in the USA.

Thing is, as a Christian, no matter how white I am, I don’t have that option because my Lord did not hide behind His Jewishness and close his eyes, heart, and mind to the ugliness that was happening in Israel in His day.

Sadly though, sometime in the middle of the nineteenth century some selfish people perverted the Gospel and turned into a gig of only personal salvation, making it a matter of the individual and Jesus. That was never the Gospel message. Not even the Reformers taught that the Gospel was a matter of individual salvation. It is something that happens within community.

Jesus is pretty clear what that community looks like. It is a community where ALL are fed, ALL are clothed, ALL receive medical care, ALL have their needs met. Jesus is pretty clear that ALL means everyone, not the chosen few, not the select, but all.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr made us aware that ALL meant all human beings, not just white ones. If you claim to love Jesus, then you cannot be a Trump supporter or a Republican because they have rejected the Gospel message of the community being ALL of us. They only want the community to be rich white people. Their message appeals to white people who also want to be rich and don’t want people of color and the poor to share in the wealth.

I very much fear that anyone in the GOP who has claimed Jesus as Lord has failed to understand the community aspects of the Gospel to such an extent that they have turned their backs on it. I very much fear that anyone on the GOP or anyone who voted for them has committed blasphemy, embraced apostasy and are guilty o the sin of the Holy Spirit. As it says in Matthew 25, Jesus will say “I never knew you.” Sounds cold and harsh, I know, but the truth will set you free even though coming out of denial hurts and causes suffering. In the end, it will be worth it. Please allow the light of the Holy Spirit to pierce the darkness and allow the truth to set you free.

Someone’s hypocrisy shattered my faith.

Just read this on Facebook, “I have walked away from the “Christian” crowd because of their embrace of Trump, whose every word and deed his entire life is antithesis to the words of Jesus. The hypocrisy has shattered my faith.”

While it is undoubtedly true that Trump’s entire life appears, as best as we can tell from his words and actions, to be the antithesis to the words of Jesus, I have to wonder whose hypocrisy it was that shattered this person’s faith.

I have to wonder if a person’s faith is rooted in the words of Jesus, how can another person displace that faith? Even someone as contrary to the Gospel as Trump and everyone in the Republican Party.

Read earlier today that someone else had their faith destroyed when Rush Limbaugh preached from a pulpit.  Again, how did Rush get that sort of power?

No one and nothing on this earth has more power than the Holy Spirit. If you “lost your faith” over someone’s nasty political crap, then you didn’t have faith to begin with.  If your faith was shattered because of Trump et al, then you were looking for an excuse to have it shattered.

Yes, that feels harsh.  Here is something harsher:  grow up.  Take responsibility for yourself, your life, and your own faith. If you claim to have faith in Jesus, there is nothing at all that can separate you from it except your very own free will, your very own choice.

If you desire the gift of faith, ask for it.  If you desire faith in Jesus, nurture it.  Read the Bible and some excellent Christianian writers. Pray every day.  Go to a mainstream church, not one of those Johnny-Come-Lately non-denominational churches with no accountability to any structure above the local church.

Faith must be fed.  Faith must be nurtured.  Faith must be cherished.  Be willing to grow in faith, be willing to allow your faith to challenge you to become a better person. Jesus didn’t come to make us Christians.  Jesus came to make us better people.

be what Jesus wants you to be.

Every single day, I nurture my own faith and attempt to help others feed their faith in my Facebook group, Celebrate What Christians Have in Common, please join.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1409874399270377/

Don’t be surprised when a woman accuses a man of sexual harassment.

Just stop being surprised.  It happens all the time.  It’s a daily occurrence.  It is one of the most ordinary experiences of the daily life of women. Even gay men are guilty of gender stereotyping women.

Here’s the thing few men are willing to accept, believe, or even hear from us women.

We expect men to assault us, harass us, molest us. We grow up being taught that you men will mistreat us. We receive all sorts of messages about how we might minimize our chances of abuse, but the fact remains that we are pretty much unable to prevent it because it is the choice of men to do it. We women can’t control the choices a man makes.

Something that seems to be deeply ingrained in the mentality of even the best of men is that we women are at men’s disposal to use however a man would. We are objects, playthings, possessions, things. That is how most men perceive us.

In order to function among men, we women act as if this isn’t true. We women hope for the best.

It’s much worse, of course, in any culture, religion, or society in which patriarchy is considered a positive. I can’t begin to account for the number of discussions about the “Biblical view of womanhood” which says women are second-class citizens. I grew up Roman Catholic and women are second-class citizens there too.

While the Hebrew Scriptures are full of stories about patriarchy, there are any number of hints, and one has to search for them, that Judaism is an egalitarian religion. One of the main hints is Proverbs 31.

Then there is St. Paul whose teaching about men and women is based on the fact that Jesus destroyed all the perceived differences between men and women. In fact, Jesus destroyed all the perceived differences between all human beings. Galatians 3:28 says “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. ”

So, no, we should not be surprised that men are accused of abusing women. However, we women are no longer going to allow you men to get away with it. And if you men claim to know Jesus, we expect you to get remedial treatment so you start thinking of us human beings, not merely receptacles for your sexual desires.