Pastor Rick Warren seems confused about this whole ‘Christianity’ thing

Here’s the man of God himself, “Pastor Rick,” aka “America’s Pastor” (God help us!) answering Jake Tapper’s question about whether he agrees with President Obama about helping our neighbors, according to the Bible:

“Well certainly the Bible says we are to care about the poor. There’s over 2,000 versus in the Bible about the poor. And God says that those who care about the poor, God will care about them and God will bless them. But there’s a fundamental question on the meaning of “fairness.” Does fairness mean everybody makes the same amount of money? Or does fairness mean everybody gets the opportunity to make the same amount of money? I do not believe in wealth redistribution, I believe in wealth creation. The only way to get people out of poverty is J-O-B-S. Create jobs. To create wealth, not to subsidize wealth. When you subsidize people, you create the dependency. You — you rob them of dignity.” — Pastor Rick Warren, yesterday, on ABC ‘This Week’

Kevin Drum comments,

You know, there’s nothing really wrong with a Republican politician saying this. Or a Democratic politician, for that matter. My first preference for helping the poor is indeed to make sure they have decent jobs. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet met anyone who has an especially great plan for making the economy boom on such a sustained basis that jobs are available for everyone.

But I’m a blogger, not a minister. And while I might not be an expert on the Bible, I’ve read enough to know that Jesus sure didn’t seem to think that helping the poor robbed them of dignity. Can someone help me out here? What part of the gospels do you think Warren is referring to?

Digby says,

I just love it when people who pay no taxes make this case. Especially when all they have to do is crook their fingers and millions of tax free dollars flow in to them — no questions asked:

It’s been a heck of a year for mega-pastor/bestselling author/power broker Rick Warren of the enormous Saddleback Church. It started out with Warren’s invocation at the historic inauguration of one President Barack Obama – and it concludes with Warren asking his flock to cough up nearly $1 million in just two days to keep the church out of the red.

[...] Nobody knows what [the money] was used for, of course. But I guess we know it didn’t go to “subsidizing” the poor and robbing them of their dignity, so there’s that.

Blue Texas adds,

Since Warren is against “subsidizing people” — I say we start taxing his ministry like any other business. Also, I don’t ever remember the part in the Bible where Jesus fretted about “dependency” when he instructed his followers to give everything they had to the poor, do you? Why would a supposed follower of Jesus say such a thing?

And Hunter wonders,

It’s puzzling how an Obama reference to loving thy neighbor and, rather more specifically, not asking poorer Americans to shoulder the burden of our suddenly-scary deficits “alone” morphs so quickly into tsking about fairness and wealth redistribution and, in the end, “freedom of religion.” What the hell does “freedom of religion” have to do with poor people “shouldering the burden alone” unless your religious viewpoint is that they should, yes, shoulder the damn burden alone? How do you get from one part of that discussion to the other?

Related: 

It’s just what we suspected all along: homophobia is likely repressed homosexual attraction

This should surprise absolutely no one:

Study: Homophobic people likely repressing homosexual attraction – A research team from the University of Rochester, the University of Essex, England, and the University of California in Santa Barbara found that “[h]omophobia is more pronounced in individuals with an unacknowledged attraction to the same sex and who grew up with authoritarian parents who forbade such desires.” “Individuals who identify as straight but in psychological tests show a strong attraction to the same sex may be threatened by gays and lesbians because homosexuals remind them of similar tendencies within themselves,” the study’s lead author, Netta Weinstein, explained.

Also, too, people who say homosexuality is a choice. I don’t recall choosing to be heterosexual. Or people who think others can be influenced by or changed into homosexuals, somehow, by seeing gay couples or being ‘exposed’ to ‘the lifestyle.’

Most of us can see that people who are so threatened by gays and marriage equality and homosexuality in general might actually be afraid of their own feelings and reactions.

Why are Fox “News” viewers so misinformed? Is it them, or is it Fox?


image: bartcop.com

So you’re a misinformed Fox “News” viewer — but why are you so misinformed? Turns out, it’s a little bit you (because you’re attracted to a source like Fox in the first place) and it’s a little bit of Fox itself — a political operation which pretends to be a news channel, purposely misleading it’s base viewers, telling you what you want to hear but not necessarily what you should know. In other words, you’re in your own little world of paranoia and incorrect beliefs because you like that world. 

The Science of Fox News: Why Its Viewers are the Most Misinformed – Authoritarian people have a stronger emotional need for an outlet like Fox, where they can find affirmation and escape factual challenges to their beliefs.

[...] When are people most likely to seek out self-affirming information? Hart found that they’re most vulnerable to selective exposure if they have defensive goals—for instance, being highly committed to a preexisting view, and especially a view that is tied to a person’s core values. Another defensive motivation identified in Hart’s study was closed-mindedness, which makes a great deal of sense. It is probably part of the definition of being closed-minded, or dogmatic, that you prefer to consume information that agrees with what you already believe.

So who’s closed-minded? Multiple studies have shown that political conservatives—e.g., Fox viewers–tend to have a higher need for closure. Indeed, this includes a group called right-wing authoritarians, who are increasingly prevalent in the Republican Party. This suggests they should also be more likely to select themselves into belief-affirming information streams, like Fox News or right-wing talk radio or the Drudge Report. Indeed, a number of research results support this idea.

[...] PIPA’s study of misinformation in the 2010 election didn’t just show that Fox News viewers were more misinformed than viewers of other channels. It also showed that watching more Fox made believing in nine separate political misperceptions more likely. And that was a unique effect, unlike any observed with the other news channels that were studied. “With all of the other media outlets, the more exposed you were, the less likely you were to have misinformation,” explains PIPA’s director, political psychologist Steven Kull. “While with Fox, the more exposure you had, in most cases, the more misinformation you had. And that is really, in a way, the most powerful factor, because it strongly suggests they were actually getting the information from Fox.”

Indeed, this effect was even present in non-Republicans–another indicator that Fox is probably its cause. As Kull explains, “even if you’re a liberal Democrat, you are affected by the station.” If you watched Fox, you were more likely to believe the nine falsehoods, regardless of your political party affiliation.

[...] the Fox “effect” probably occurs both because the station churns out falsehoods that conservatives readily accept—falsehoods that may even seem convincing to some liberals on occasion—but also because conservatives are overwhelmingly inclined to choose to watch Fox to begin with.

At the same time, it’s important to note that they’re also disinclined to watch anything else… Continue reading…

It’s like a perpetual feedback loop of happy, Orwellian horseshit: Fox is anything but ‘fair and balanced,’ but as long as they tell you that’s what they are, you get to pretend that’s a valid description of your chosen news source.

If you’re happy knowing that about yourself, great. Just don’t be surprised or offended when your friends and loved ones won’t discuss issues with you anymore, or when they make the circling motion with their finger on the side of their head. As Paul Harvey would say, now you know the rest of the story.

Politicization of Christianity fuels atheism in U.S.

Andrew Sullivan discussed religion on Face the Nation yesterday and said this about the increase of atheists:

“I think our ability to be reasonable in politics and faithful in religion, and to keep those two things separate, has atrophied to the great disadvantage of religion,” he said during a panel discussion on CBS News’ Face the Nation.

Two other members of the panel, Dr. Richard Land and Rev. Luis Cortes, had said that the separation of church and state was meant to prevent the government from infringing on faith. But it was not meant to prohibit religion from influencing the government.

So, interestingly, that’s what separation of church and state means to rightwing evangelicals. Sullivan continues:

“What has happened since 1960 is that organized groups, like the Southern Baptist Council and other religious groups, have in fact become self-consciously political,” Sullivan explained.

“They have become fused with one political party, the Republican Party — a party that is now defined by a particular religious faith, evangelicalism or far-right Catholic hierarchy. And that is making many people feel that faith in Jesus is about politics and power and partisanship, in ways that’s turning off an entire generation. The biggest growth in any belief sector in this country in the last ten years has been atheism.”

Sullivan said those religious organizations were “muddying” the real “radical” message of Jesus, which was anti-political. Jesus was “only on the cross because he refused politics.”

It’s noteworthy that the tea party is front and center in this type of political-religiosity. And yet not many accept their weird version of Christianity: the ‘Republican Jesus,’ the thought of a God who would reward people like Rush Limbaugh or ‘Murikin patriot/racists or the very wealthy with Heaven, and throw illegal immigrants and welfare recipients (and those who want to help them — socialists!) into the eternal fires of Hell. Imagine Jesus shouting “Bootstraps, people!” to the lepers. This brand of Christianity is just not marketable to the masses.

Related: 

US income growth: the one percent got 93% of it in 2010 while everyone else divided up the remaining 7%

“In 2010, 93 percent of income growth went to the wealthiest 1 percent of American households, while everyone else divvied up the 7 percent that was left over.” — University of California economist Emmanuel Saez

Harold Meyerson penned a cautionary tale in the Washington Post last week for any who will listen:

The rich are different; they get richer 

Occupy Wall Street is not known for the precision of its economic analysis, but new research on income distribution in the United States shows that the group’s sloganeering provides a stunningly accurate picture of the economy. In 2010, according to a study published this month by University of California economist Emmanuel Saez, 93 percent of income growth went to the wealthiest 1 percent of American households, while everyone else divvied up the 7 percent that was left over. Put another way: The most fundamental characteristic of the U.S. economy today is the divide between the 1 percent and the 99 percent.

It was not ever thus. In the recovery that followed the downturn of the early 1990s, the wealthiest 1 percent captured 45 percent of the nation’s income growth. In the recovery that followed the dot-com bust 10 years ago, Saez noted, 65 percent of the income growth went to the top 1 percent. This time around, it’s reached 93 percent — a level so high it shakes the foundations of the entire American project.

[...] How has the top 1 percent been able to decouple itself from the nation beneath it? To begin, much of its income comes from investments in funds and firms that are raking in profits from overseas ventures in economies like China’s, which weathered the downturn better than ours. Much of those firms’ profits also derive from their reduced labor costs — the result of layoffs and paycuts. Finally, as Saez points out, there has been “an explosion of top wages and salaries” since 1970. In that year, 5.1 percent of all wages and salaries paid in the United States went to the wealthiest 1 percent. In 2007, the share going to the wealthiest 1 percent had more than doubled, to 12.4 percent.

[...] Most proposals to restore a modicum of balance to the American economy focus on making the tax code more progressive. Raising the tax on investments to the level of the tax on wages, for instance, and increasing the inheritance tax would help start reconstruction of a more viable economy.

But changes to the tax code, indispensable though they would be, aren’t remotely sufficient to the challenge of restoring the broadly shared prosperity that Americans enjoyed in the mid-20th century. That would require changing some laws to give stockholders and other corporate stakeholders the power to diminish the share of corporate revenue routinely claimed these days by top executives — at the expense of everyone else. It would require revitalizing unions.David Madland and Nick Bunker of the Center for American Progress recently found that in 1968, when 28 percent of the workforce was unionized, 53 percent of the nation’s income went to the middle class. In 2010, when 11.9 percent of the nation’s workers were unionized, the share claimed by the middle class had fallen to 46.5 percent.

Capitalism can create prosperity, but left unfettered it doesn’t create broadly shared prosperity — and never will… Continue reading

And here’s the very uncomfortable reality about 21st century America, the land of “opportunity,” in the post-Teaparty, Corporate-sponsored, Republican Home of the Brave:

Low-wage workers are getting older and more educated

In 1979, more than a quarter of low-wage workers were teenagers. By 2011, it was cut by more than half, down to 12 percent. The only other age group that lost even a tiny a share of low-wage workers in those years was people 65 and over, who went from 4.6 percent of the low-wage workforce to 4.2 percent. Every other group—meaning people in their prime working years—grew as a percentage of the low-wage workforce. People ages 35 to 64, in particular, shot from 30.8 percent to 38.1 percent of workers earning $10 an hour or less.

Low-wage workers today are not just older than in 1979, they’re also better educated.

[...] Each of these statistics points to a single fact: The American low-wage workforce has gotten older and better educated during three decades in which the value of the minimum wage has dropped. These statistics are signs of the increasing difficulty of even making a sustainable living, never mind getting ahead or living the American Dream. Yet we still constantly hear Republicans invoking the group in that workforce that’s shrinking—inexperienced teenagers. The reason is simple: Republicans aren’t concerned with reality. They’re just concerned with keeping wages low so companies can squeeze higher profits out of workers.

This isn’t our fathers (or mothers) land of opportunity anymore, unless our last name is Trump or Hilton… or Romney. We can thank Reagan, trickle-down, deregulation, and those who have successfully lobbied the establishment politicians who write and pass our tax laws (and start wars) to benefit the avarice of the wealthiest among us.

Morning Bunker Report: Monday 4.9.2012

————————————-WHAT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY STANDS FOR TODAY

Neo-Nazis are reportedly patrolling Sanford, Fla. where unarmed teen Trayvon Martin was shot and killed on Feb. 26. THE FOX ‘NEWS’ WAR ON INTELLIGENCE: According to a Fox “News” affiliate, Neo-Nazis are ‘a Civil Rights group’! – A Fox Orlando affiliate decribed Neo-Nazis as “a civil rights group” on a television broadcast and online. The group of Neo-Nazis, known as the National Socialist Movement, has been conducting armed patrols of the streets of Sanford, Florida, the town where Trayvon Marting was shot dead. The Fox Orlando affiliate, WOFL, aired a shockingly uncritical report of the groups activities. The Fox reporter introduced the group by saying, “There’s another civil rights group in town.” She also conducts an interview with the group’s leader, Jeff Schoep, without challenging any of his claims about the nature and mission of the group. [image: nydailynews.com]

Bob Schieffer Falsely Claims Health Reform Forces Churches To “Buy Birth Control Pills For Their Employees” – In an interview with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Bob Schieffer, host of Face the Nation on CBS, falsely claimed that the Affordable Care Act required religiously-affiliated institutions — including churches — to “buy birth control pills for their employees.” In fact, churches are exempted from the mandate, and contraceptive services will be provided by health insurance plans, not religiously-affiliated employers. Schieffer is misinforming his viewers when he says that the mandate for contraceptive coverage applies to churches. The rule regarding contraceptive coverage specifically exempts actual houses of worship. Furthermore, the rule doesn’t force any religiously-affiliated institution to purchase birth control pills or distribute them its employees. [...] As Sibelius made clear in her statement, Catholic universities and hospitals aren’t going to be buying birth control for their employees any more than they will be buying blood pressure tests and dialysis. Institutions that provide health insurance as an employment benefit are offering just that – health insurance. When a person with employer-provided coverage goes to the doctor or pharmacist, we normally think of their bills as being paid for not by their employer but by their health insurance plan.

Tennessee seeks to question evolution in bill – The measure states that “teachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.” It also says the legislation “shall not be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine.” In a letter to lawmakers, the Tennessee members of the National Academy of Sciences argued that the bill would “miseducate students, harm the state’s national reputation and weaken its efforts to compete in a science-driven global economy.” The Tennessee Education Association, meanwhile, blasted the “unnecessary legislation.” But Haslam has already indicated he would “probably” sign the measure into law. The Discovery Institute, whose model legislation inspired the bill, hailed the passage of a text that “promotes good science education by protecting the academic freedom of science teachers to fully and objectively discuss controversial scientific topics, like evolution.”

NEVER FORGET! – Some sad news: The tea party may have won Republicans the House of Representatives in 2010, but in 2012, it’s looking like it could help Democrats retain the White House. Now nearly three years old, the tea party has fallen out of favor with Americans, and Democrats are prepared to use it against Republicans in this year’s elections. A recent Fox News poll showed just 30 percent of Americans had a favorable view of the tea party, compared with 51 percent who viewed it unfavorably. [...] I don’t want the Tea Party to fall out of favor with pundits, for two reasons. Pundits were, in my view, always ”the movement’s” most enthusiastic promoters, and I think Republicans who have to get reelected should have to wear the Tea Party they embraced like a badge. Actions should have consequences, and I’m all about taking responsibility. [...] These images of the Tea Party are an important part of the historical record of the Republican Party.

———————————————————–——PRESIDENT OBAMA / DEMOCRATS

DNC Chair Slams Wis. Gov. Walker for Equal Pay Repeal, says GOP ‘callous and insensitive’ towards women – “The policies that have come out of the Republican Party, saying that we should have a debate again over contraception and whether we should have access to it and it should be affordable, saying that — like Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin, you know, he tried to quietly repeal the Equal Pay Act. Women aren’t going to stand for that. Governor Walker just signed a bill that repeals the equal pay law they had in Wisconsin for years. You have Republicans who have engaged themselves for the entire Congress trying to redefine rape as only being forcible rape, defunding Planned Parenthood and family planning programs. The Lilly Ledbetter Act — the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act put teeth behind the notion that women deserve equal pay for equal work. That was the first bill the President Obama signed into law. The overwhelming majority of Republicans serving in Congress voted against it. So, the focus of the Republican Party on turning back the clock for women really is something that is unacceptable and shows how callous and insensitive they are towards women’s priorities.” 

“I think that there is oftentimes the impulse to suggest that if the two parties are disagreeing, then they’re equally at fault and the truth lies somewhere in the middle, and an equivalence is presented — which reinforces I think people’s cynicism about Washington generally. [The debate over deficit reduction] is not one of those situations where there’s an equivalence. I’ve got some of the most liberal Democrats in Congress who were prepared to make significant changes to entitlements that go against their political interests, and who said they were willing to do it.  And we couldn’t get a Republican to stand up and say, we’ll raise some revenue, or even to suggest that we won’t give more tax cuts to people who don’t need them.”President Obama on bipartisanship at the AP lunch

  • John Cole said this about bipartisanship and today’s GOP:“I really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane. Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax. If you can figure out a way to split the difference there and find a meal you will both enjoy, you can probably figure out how bipartisanship is going to work the next few years.” [via]

The Gullible Center – So, can we talk about the Paul Ryan phenomenon? And yes, I mean the phenomenon, not the man. Mr. Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee and the principal author of the last two Congressional Republican budget proposals, isn’t especially interesting. He’s a garden-variety modern G.O.P. extremist, an Ayn Rand devotee who believes that the answer to all problems is to cut taxes on the rich and slash benefits for the poor and middle class. [...] The Ryan cult was very much on display last week, after President Obama said the obvious: the latest Republican budget proposal, a proposal that Mitt Romney has avidly embraced, is a “Trojan horse” — that is, it is essentially a fraud. “Disguised as deficit reduction plans, it is really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country.”The reaction from many commentators was a howl of outrage. The president was being rude; he was being partisan; he was being a big meanie. Yet what he said about the Ryan proposal was completely accurate. [...]  So you can see the problem these commentators face. To admit that the president’s critique is right would be to admit that they were snookered by Mr. Ryan, who is the same as he ever was. More than that, it would call into question their whole centrist shtick — for the moral of my story is that Mr. Ryan isn’t the only emperor who turns out, on closer examination, to be naked. Hence the howls of outrage, and the attacks on the president for being “partisan.” For that is what people in Washington say when they want to shout down someone who is telling the truth.