Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Recommended Commentary: "There Will Be Lots of Singing, Preaching, Praying, and Hand Holding. Meanwhile, Victims of Sacralized Bigotry and Discrimination Will Be Ignored"

Some valuable commentary I've read in the past several days about matters of religion, culture, and politics that I'd like to pass on to you — ranging from commentary about the current meetings of the Southern Baptist Convention and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship to the sexual abuse problems facing the SBC; right-wing Catholic lobbying against contraceptive availability for women in developing nations; new indicators of how deeply racism is entrenched in Mormon culture; and the role that conservative white Christians are playing in blocking ecological initiatives in the U.S. government:

Mohler, long a mouthpiece of the SBC, wrote in a commentary on his website that the events surrounding Patterson signal the wrath of God being poured out upon the SBC. And he asks: "Is the problem theological?"
In a word, yes. It always has been, and always will be until the SBC and the larger conservative evangelical movement is willing to reckon with the fact that their theology lays the groundwork for abuse. While abuse exists in all circles and all faiths, there is a unique theological problem that creates a culture of apology for abuse within the SBC.

In claiming that the problem with Patterson is that his behavior is unbiblical, not that it's abusive and sexist, these women, well-meaning as they may be, are actually skirting the issue of biblical inerrancy which is at the heart of the matter as well as ignoring both the moral and exegetical problems with the doctrine of complementarianism itself. 
If Southern Baptists and other conservative Christians want to challenge the misogyny in their institutions, then they should of course be applauded and supported. But their call for change will remain problematic as long as they simultaneously claim Biblical inerrancy as their reason for this call. We would all do well to remember that Biblical inerrancy as it’s understood by Southern Baptists and many other evangelicals today is a very recent development in Christian history. It's also a doctrine that belies centuries of sophisticated Christian exegesis.

SBC constituents are unlikely to confess that the SBC enabled and condoned misogyny and sex discrimination against women. CBF constituents are unlikely to confess CBF bigotry and discrimination against LGBTQ Baptists. Both groups are unlikely to say or do anything prophetic about the fact that unarmed black and brown people are routinely slaughtered by law enforcement agencies. Neither group is likely to say or do anything that approaches being prophetic about the injustice of gentrification. The harms suffered by victims of SBC and CBF bigotry, misogyny, and discrimination will not be confessed, let alone remedied. There is no sign that either group will express disappointment, let alone prophetic outrage, about how the people of Puerto Rico have been mistreated and disserved by the Trump Administration since their lives and communities were devastated last year by Hurricane Maria. 
There will be lots of singing, preaching, praying, and hand holding. Meanwhile, victims of sacralized bigotry and discrimination will be ignored, patronized, blamed, and otherwise trivialized. To put it plainly, white Baptist mendacity about love and justice will continue without apology, remorse, or any serious effort to begin repentance. 

In a small conference room at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington yesterday [i.e., June 6], Human Life International president Father Shenan J. Boquet said he is working with American bishops on a letter to President Trump in hopes that the Trump administration will expand the Mexico City Policy and 'hopefully rid' United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funding for contraceptive programs abroad. 
Boquet was speaking at a public event co-sponsored by anti-LGBTQ group C-FAM to promote the group's work lobbying the Organization of American States, which met this week.

The 2016 NMS [Next Mormons Research survey] asked whether respondents felt that the ban on members of African descent was "inspired of God and was God's will for the Church until 1978." Respondents were given a five-point scale of possible responses, with the upshot being that nearly two-thirds of self-identified Latter-day Saints say they either know (37 percent) or believe (25.5 percent) that the ban was God’s will. 
Another 17 percent think it might be true, and 22 percent say they know or believe it is false. Overall, then, a majority of Mormons still support the idea that the priesthood/temple ban was inspired by God. Only about one in five say they know or believe the ban to have been wrong.

This is the challenge facing environmentalists. A large number of evangelicals, arguably the most powerful voting bloc in America, barely ever think about the environment. And when they do, the framework they’re working through suggests that they might be committing a venial sin by putting trees above people. 
Thirty-seven years ago, in a discussion of conservation, Interior Secretary James G. Watt mused to Congress, "I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns." You can draw a straight line backward from Scott Pruitt's scripture-based support for oil exploration, through Watt’s wait-for-Jesus stewardship philosophy, to evangelical ambivalence for the environmental movement of the early 1970s. And if Lynn White Jr. is correct, you can keep drawing that line backward 2,000 years. 
In other words, Scott Pruitt isn't an anomaly. He's carrying forth a tradition.

[I]t belongs more to me than it does to you.

With this statement, Utah Mormon Don Peay is articulating why Mormons are sticking by their man Trump despite the many ways in which his moral example totally contradicts LDS teaching: woven deeply into Mormon thinking is the belief that God gave the land into their hands (and the hands of white Christians in general) to do as they please with. The man in the White House is catering to this belief in Utah, and Mormons love it.

It's my land. God gave it to me. And I'll do what I please with it — so back off and don't ask any questions, especially about my hypocrisy in preaching moral dicta and claiming you are obliged to follow them, while I give endless mulligans to the man I am presenting to you as God's chosen tool to run the world. 

Christian Zionists embrace a chilling, apocalyptic vision of vengeance upon the many and salvation for the few. Their angry Jesus looks nothing like the loving, turn-the-other-cheek savior of my Catholic upbringing. 
The basic tenet of Christian Zionism? Global Armageddon will soon be at hand. "They're counting down the hours now, eagerly expecting the implementation of the remaining items on their biblical prophecy agenda, anticipating the thrilling climax of the cosmic story," writes Victoria Clark, author of "Allies for Armageddon: The Rise of Christian Zionism." Jerusalem's Haram al-Sharif, the third holiest site in Islam, would then "be destroyed, and replaced with a new Jewish temple. The completion of that temple … will herald the appearance of an Antichrist who might be a European diplomat or the head of the United Nations.” Eventually, writes Clark, this “will trigger the battle of Armageddon … all non-born-again Christians—including two-thirds of all Jews—who refuse to accept Jesus as their personal savior … will be slain in the conflagration." 
And so, my brothers and sisters! Your tax dollars no longer fund a U.S. policy that at least gives lip service to a fair solution of an age-old conflict and a Palestinian state of its own. One, by the way, that would immeasurably ease tensions in the most volatile corner of the planet, help keep American soldiers out of harm’s way and reduce terror attacks on innocent citizens. Instead, we are privileging the foot soldiers in a new holy war—a war in which those of us who aren't among the believers will end up in a lake of fire.

McConnell proclaims how little he cares about the noble-sounding values he once claimed to treasure. "In my view, the last 16 months have been the single best period for conservative values since I came to Washington . . . in 1985," he told the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference of religious conservatives on Friday. "And this is not hyperbole." 
The crowd of Bible-thumping hypocrites — I don't know what else to call them — applauded.

Mother Jones: So, when you look at the future, what do you think the result of the evangelical embrace of Trump will be? 
Rob Schenck: I say in the book that the Trump phenomenon may portend the total collapse of American evangelicalism, which for me would be sad, but not the saddest thing.

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