The government shutdown: Christian dominionism and God’s bankers

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Senator Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, is a pastor with Texas charismatic ministry Purifying Fire International–he’s also been campaigning against Obamacare the last several months. The theological ethos of Rafael Cruz’s vision is in Christian dominionism; he talks about preaching a “message of dominion” that all Christians have received an “anointing as kings.”

Morgan Guyton, Associate Pastor, Burke United Methodist Church, watched a sermon Rafael Cruz preached on August 26, 2012 at the DFW New Beginnings megachurch in Irving, Texas, and shared his thoughts on how a government shutdown fits perfectly with the ultimate plans of Christian dominionism

…Christian Zionist charismatic pastor Larry Huch… had a very interesting prophecy to share when he introduced Cruz to preach:

We’ve been doing this series here that God laid on my heart: Getting to the top and staying there. A message for us as individuals, the kingdom of God, but also for America. It’s not enough to get there. We need to stay there. It’s not a coincidence that in a few weeks, we go into what’s called in the Bible Rosh Hashanad [sic]… It will be the beginning of the spiritual year 2012. The number 12 means divine government. That God will begin to rule and reign. Not Wall Street, not Washington, God’s people and His kingdom will begin to rule and reign. I know that’s why God got Rafael’s son elected, Ted Cruz the next senator.

But here’s the exciting thing… The rabbinical teaching is… that in a few weeks begins that year 2012 and that this will begin what we call the end-time transfer of wealth. And that when these Gentiles begin to receive this blessing, they will never go back financially through the valley again. They will grow and grow and grow. It’s said this way: that God is looking at the church and everyone in it and deciding in the next three and a half years who will be his bankers. And the ones that say here I am Lord, you can trust me, we will become so blessed that we will usher in the coming of the messiah.

So it sounds like we’re entering into the age where the Christians (who give faithfully) are going to get all the money through the “end-time transfer of wealth.” Isn’t the title of that sermon series just awesome? Getting to the Top and Staying There! It was a packed house. I wonder how many other apocalyptic prosperity gospel megachurches are packing their houses by preaching sermon series about getting to the top and staying there. 

[...] The seamless move that Cruz makes without any justification is to say that because kings and priests were anointed in the Old Testament, that means there are two kinds of Christians today: kings and priests. Forget about the body of Christ and all the spiritual gifts identified in 1 Corinthians 12. Forget Jesus’ exhortation in Mark 10 not to be like the Gentile princes but to be servants instead of kings. Cruz decries the way that churches have neglected their members’ kingly anointing:

Our churches unfortunately are very focused on only one of these anointings and that is on the priestly anointing… Those of you who think you don’t have the anointing to teach the word of God, to be teaching Sunday school, you’re second class citizens. And so you begin to lead frustrated lives… The majority of you… your anointing… is an anointing as king. God has given you an anointing to go to the battlefield. And what’s the battlefield? The marketplace. To go to the marketplace and occupy the land. To go to the marketplace and take dominion.

So to pull all this logic together, God anoints priests to work in the church directly and kings to go out into the marketplace to conquer, plunder, and bring back the spoils to the church. The reason governmental regulation has to disappear from the marketplace is to make it completely available to the plunder of Christian “kings” who will accomplish the “end time transfer of wealth.” Then “God’s bankers” will usher in the “coming of the messiah.” The government is being shut down so that God’s bankers can bring Jesus back.

And here’s the thing. When you get a lot of people together in a megachurch, you can do some pretty impressive things with your mission projects. You can feed thousands of people and host ESL classes and job training programs and medical clinics. And I imagine that seeing your accomplishments could give you the hubris of thinking we don’t need a government at all to make our society run; our church can be the new government.

Everything makes sense now. No wonder extremist fundagelicals within the GOP base conduct themselves the way they do: not only do they imagine they’re earning a shiny throne right next to Jesus in the Afterlife, but their spiritual leaders are promising that, in the very near future right here on Earth, they’ll be rewarded with truckloads of money in an end-time transfer of wealth and then… Raptured!

Their God-given mission is Greed, which also becomes the reward in itself. Praise Jesus!

Read it all: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/morgan-guyton/the-theology-of-governmen_b_4020537.html

The strange love-hate relationship Evangelicals have with Jesus

Phil Zuckerman: Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus –

“Jesus unambiguously preached mercy and forgiveness. These are supposed to be cardinal virtues of the Christian faith. And yet Evangelicals are the most supportive of the death penalty, draconian sentencing, punitive punishment over rehabilitation, and the governmental use of torture. Jesus exhorted humans to be loving, peaceful, and non-violent. And yet Evangelicals are the group of Americans most supportive of easy-access weaponry, little-to-no regulation of handgun and semi-automatic gun ownership, not to mention the violent military invasion of various countries around the world. Jesus was very clear that the pursuit of wealth was inimical to the Kingdom of God, that the rich are to be condemned, and that to be a follower of Him means to give one’s money to the poor. And yet Evangelicals are the most supportive of corporate greed and capitalistic excess, and they are the most opposed to institutional help for the nation’s poor — especially poor children. They hate anything that smacks of “socialism,” even though that is essentially what their Savior preached. They despise food stamp programs, subsidies for schools, hospitals, job training — anything that might dare to help out those in need. Even though helping out those in need was exactly what Jesus urged humans to do. In short, Evangelicals are that segment of America which is the most pro-militaristic, pro-gun, and pro-corporate, while simultaneously claiming to be most ardent lovers of the Prince of Peace.

What’s the deal?

Before attempting an answer, allow a quick clarification. Evangelicals don’t exactly hate Jesus — as we’ve provocatively asserted in the title of this piece. They do love him dearly. But not because of what he tried to teach humanity. Rather, Evangelicals love Jesus for what he does for them. Through his magical grace, and by shedding his precious blood, Jesus saves Evangelicals from everlasting torture in hell, and guarantees them a premium, luxury villa in heaven. For this, and this only, they love him. They can’t stop thanking him. And yet, as for Jesus himself — his core values of peace, his core teachings of social justice, his core commandments of goodwill — most Evangelicals seem to have nothing but disdain…”

Another completely believable Onion headline

LOL Christian fundamentalists

 
 
 

via: pro-aggressive

Capitalism will always choose money over morals

via: christopherstreet

If it turns out that this isn’t going to be a problem for the Christian fundamentalists, let’s not hear another word about a woman’s LEGAL freedom of choice. Reference 

What now, Teagelicals? Mitt Romney invested in a medical-waste firm that disposed of aborted fetuses

Mother Jones reports this morning that while investigating government documents, such as SEC filings, they’ve discovered that not only did Romney have a direct hand with the company Stericycle, but that he did not leave Bain Capital in 1999 as both the campaign and Bain constantly assert:

“Earlier this year, Mitt Romney nearly landed in a politically perilous controversy when theHuffington Post reported that in 1999 the GOP presidential candidate had been part of an investment group that invested $75 million in Stericycle, a medical-waste disposal firm that has been attacked by anti-abortion groups for disposing aborted fetuses collected from family planning clinics. Coming during the heat of the GOP primaries, as Romney tried to sell South Carolina Republicans on his pro-life bona fides, the revelation had the potential to damage the candidate’s reputation among values voters already suspicious of his shifting position on abortion.

“But Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney founded, tamped down the controversy. The company said Romney left the firm in February 1999 to run the troubled 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and likely had nothing to with the deal. The matter never became a campaign issue. But documents filed by Bain and Stericycle with the Securities and Exchange Commission—and obtained by Mother Jones—list Romney as an active participant in the investment. And this deal helped Stericycle, a company with a poor safety record, grow, while yielding tens of millions of dollars in profits for Romney and his partners. The documents—one of which was signed by Romney—also contradict the official account of Romney’s exit from Bain.”

This is a BFD for values voters (you’d think, they claim!) — but they shouldn’t be surprised when pure, vulture capitalism is what they choose to support: if you can make a profit on something — outsourcing American jobs to China, offshoring your American money into foreign bank accounts to avoid taxes, or disposal of aborted fetuses, that’s the way America works. Capitalism! Profit! Romney is a savvy businessman! Job creators!

If it turns out that this isn’t going to be a problem for the Christian fundamentalists, let’s not hear another word about a woman’s LEGAL freedom of choice. Read the rest… 

Found image of ‘Stericycle’ in a Google image search

Observations on Affordable Care

“In short, unless you belong to that tiny class of wealthy Americans who are insulated and isolated from the realities of most people’s lives, the winners from that Supreme Court decision are your friends, your relatives, the people you work with — and, very likely, you. For almost all of us stand to benefit from making America a kinder and more decent society.” — Paul Krugman (via azspot)

Verses the religious fundamentalists / patriots:

image: christopherstreet

“I want you to kill all infidels.” — Jesus

School Hangs Up Student’s Drawing of Jesus Saying ‘I Want You to Kill All Infidels’

Aren’t American fundagelical children adorable (like their parents)? Or look at it this way: the Taliban will have nothing on the next generation of Christians.

Your Sunday Bible quote from American Jesus

via: abaldwin360

The more rightwing Christians know about Mormonism, the more they support Romney?

Seriously, the Brookings Institute is telling us the more the fundagelicals learn about Mormonism, the more they support Romney?

Armed with fresh survey data and a counterintuitive thesis, a new Brookings Institution study released Wednesday makes the compelling case that Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith, long pegged by pundits as a political albatross for the candidate, won’t actually hurt him at the polls in November — and it could even help.

[...] According to the study, a full 82 percent of respondents said they knew “little” or “nothing” about Mormonism, and researchers found that feeding them even a couple sentences of basic information about the church’s beliefs had the ability to swing wide swaths of the electorate in terms of their support for Romney.

In the case of this particular survey, the headline-ready finding is that — among conservatives at least — such information actually increased support for the candidate.

Americans Don’t Know Anything About Romney’s Religion — Yet

Two things:

  1. Let’s be honest: the rightwing fundies would support ANYONE running against what they see as the “black, socialist, Kenyan” who currently resides in the White House; and
  2. It’s funny that the “couple sentences of basic information” given to these people are about Joseph Smith and The Book of Mormon — both pretty neutral, noncontroversial facts about Mormonism. I’d like to know when they’ll get the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say, the lesser known beliefs, such as:
    • God lives on a planet near the star Kolob.
    • God (“Heavenly Father”) has at least one wife, our “Mother in Heaven,” but she is so holy that we are not to discuss her nor pray to her.
    • Jesus was married.
    • We can become like God and rule over our own universe.
    • There are many gods, ruling over their own worlds.
    • Jesus and Satan (“Lucifer”) are brothers, and they are our brothers – we are all spirit children of Heavenly Father
    • Jesus Christ was conceived by God the Father by having sex with Mary, who was temporarily his wife.
    • We should not pray to Jesus, nor try to feel a personal relationship with him.
    • ETC…

The thing is, even if fundagelicals are given more information about this religion, I’ll bet they’ll ignore it, decide it’s too unbelievable. That’s how crazy some of it would sound to them  (between you and me, it’s no crazier than every other religion).  In the meantime, Romney panders hard to the Wingnut-Christian political agenda of making everyone else’s business a test of their personal ‘religious freedom’ — feeding their obvious plan of one day transforming America into a Christian theocracy.

Op-ed of the day — Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem

Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein wrote an op-ed that FINALLY says something constructive called: Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem. Here’s a snip:

We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

[...] What happened? Of course, there were larger forces at work beyond the realignment of the South. They included the mobilization of social conservatives after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the anti-tax movement launched in 1978 by California’s Proposition 13, the rise of conservative talk radio after a congressional pay raise in 1989, and the emergence of Fox News and right-wing blogs. But the real move to the bedrock right starts with two names: Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist.

[...] This attitude filters down far deeper than the party leadership. Rank-and-file GOP voters endorse the strategy that the party’s elites have adopted, eschewing compromise to solve problems and insisting on principle, even if it leads to gridlock. Democratic voters, by contrast, along with self-identified independents, are more likely to favor deal-making over deadlock.

Read all: Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem

Paul Waldman remarks,

Mann and Ornstein end with a plea to the media to start reporting more honestly on what’s going on in Washington in general and in Congress in particular—to dispense with the false equivalence that treats both parties as equally guilty of whatever bad behavior anyone is demonstrating, to stop treating the abuse of filibusters an anonymous holds in the Senate as if that’s just how the system works, and so on. Good advice, without question. And I’m quite sure that many if not most journalists in Washington have understood all the points Mann and Ornstein make for some time. Maybe they’ll start to feel like they have permission to say it, and let their reporting better reflect reality.

I don’t know. I’m afraid it’s overly optimistic to think that most journalists were just waiting for permission to report “reality” as it stands, or that they were caught in some net of false equivalency from which they were unable to extract themselves individually. There is no liberal media, as the rightwing suggests. There is only corporate-owned media with profit as the bottom line: annual profits for shareholders, large bonuses for the CEOs, and reporting that doesn’t potentially enrage the loudest and least-informed (or the wealthiest) members of its audience — or cause any Malkin-type boycotts of its advertisers.

The ‘both sides do it’ meme of journalism is a marketing tool and is probably a requirement, a feature not a bug. It’s the only way to soften one side’s insanity (GOP) against the other side. Without the daily exercise of creating false equivalency in the news between those who are mental and those who aren’t, straight reporting would automatically enrage and alienate about 20-25% of any given audience. Because the fact of the matter is: some people can’t handle the truth.

It seems there’s no way a media corp would give up that much potential profit for something as unmarketable as straight reality.  Look what they did with the build up to the Iraq War.

How rightwing evangelicals seem to non-rightwing evangelicals

Dan Savage’s Sunday Sermon: the things we choose to ignore in the Bible (and choose not to)

DAN SAVAGE CAUSED A WALKOUT at an anti-bullying talk at a high school journalism conference when he pointed out that we’ll make some progress on bullying when Christians treat the parts of the Bible that mention homosexuality the same way that they treat the parts that mention slavery. (via)



Partial transcript:

“We can learn to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about gay people — the same way we have learned to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation.  We ignore bullshit in the Bible about all sorts of things.

[...] Slave owners waved the Bible over their heads during the Civil War, and justified it… We ignore what the Bible says about slavery because the Bible got slavery wrong.

[...] The Bible says… that if a woman’s not a virgin on her wedding night, she shall be dragged to her father’s doorstep and stoned to death. (pause) Callista Gingrich lives.  And there is no effort to amend state constitutions to make it legal to stone women to death on their wedding night if they’re not virgins.  At least not yet.  We don’t know where the GOP is going these days…”

Listen to the whole thing, so true. Especially the point made at the end of this clip (2:30).

Morning Bunker Report: Tuesday 4.17.2012

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

What is Mitt Romney’s real tax plan? Apparently we got a rare glimpse of this when reporters overheard a private conversation Sunday night with supporters at a fundraising party: “I’m going to probably eliminate for high income people the second home mortgage deduction,” Romney said, adding that he would also likely eliminate deductions for state income and property taxes as well. “By virtue of doing that, we’ll get the same tax revenue, but we’ll have lower rates.” Okey dokey. If Romney could actually get Congress to agree to this, I figure it would bring in roughly $100 billion in revenue. That’s assuming a complete elimination of the deduction for all state, local, and property taxes. In return, this would allow tax rates to go down across the board by about one percentage point. Maybe one and a half. Or, alternatively, it might allow tax rates on the rich to go down by five or ten points. I wonder which he has in mind? [Kevin Drum]

What’s Mitt Romney hiding? A lot, for someone asking for our votes — Mitt Romney has a secret plan to pay for tax cuts for the rich. Mitt Romney is filing for an extension on his taxes, a move that, not coincidentally, prevents him from having to release them. This all makes sense from a guy who thinks that the inequality from which he benefits so enormously should only be discussed in quiet rooms. But it’s not exactly the stuff with which he’s likely to convince a majority of voters that he can be trusted with the governance of their country. After all, Romney doesn’t even want to tell us what policies he’s running on, let alone how his personal conduct has measured up.


FROM ROMNEY’S BOOK: “Welfare without work erodes the spirit and the sense of self-worth of the recipient. And it conditions the children of nonworking parents to an indolent and unproductive life. Hardworking parents raise hardworking kids; we should recognize that the opposite is also true. The influence of the work habits of our parents and other adults around us as we grow up has lasting impact.” Does this mean Romney’s children became indolent and unproductive because their mother stayed at home and their father sat in a conference room and fired people for a living? I don’t know, but they do fit the equation Mitt Romney has laid out. Given what we now know of the Romneys, I believe a better title for Romney’s book would be — No Apology, The Case for Being a Privileged White Man. [Indolent and Unproductive | Bob Cesca]

Anti-Mormon pastor endorses Romney because Obama ‘opposes’ the Bible — Fox News host Clayton Morris noted that Jeffress was quoted in October as saying, “Evangelical Christians should not vote for Mitt Romney because he’s a Mormon, therefore not a real Christian.” “Critics would argue that President Obama is a real Christian,” Morris continued. “By that metric then, why wouldn’t you support Barack Obama?” “Well, again, I never said that quote that you attributed to me,” Jeffress argued. “There was a spurious article in one magazine that just completely fabricated that quote. I’ve never said don’t vote for Mitt Romney because he’s not a Christian. But in my book that you were so kind to reference, I said, given the choice between a Christian like Barack Obama who embraces non-biblical principles like abortion and a Mormon like Mitt Romney who embraces Bible principles, there’s every reason to support Mitt Romney in this election. I’ve been consistent in that.” Jeffress added that he expected evangelicals across the nation to put Romney in the White House because Obama “opposes biblical principles.” [image: mittfitts.com]

Dick Cheney, unapologetic war criminal and second in command to an administration which almost completely trashed this country, calls Obama an ‘unmitigated disaster’ — in a moment of unmitigated density and stunning lack of self-awareness:He has been an unmitigated disaster to the country. I can’t think of a time when I felt it was more important for us to defeat an incumbent president today with respect to Barack Obama. I think he has been an unmitigated disaster to the country. I think to be in a position where he gets four more years in the White House to continue the policies he has, both with respect to the economy, and tax policy, and defense and some other areas would be a huge, huge disappointment.” — DICK Cheney, speaking at the Wyoming Republican Party state convention in Cheyenne, Wyoming on Saturday, about the President.

Republicans to slash food stamps – The White House deliberately increased monthly benefits in 2009 by about $20 per person as a way to pump stimulus dollars into the economy. And in this post welfare-reform crisis, hard-strapped governors have sought to maximize food stamp dollars as a cheap way to help families without tapping state funds. The higher costs and visibility—especially as more businesses advertise that they will honor the electronic benefit cards introduced in the 1980’s—are what’s driving the Republican push. The Recovery Act boost in benefits is already phasing out and will be gone entirely by November 2013. But the package now, to be taken up by the House Agriculture Committee Wednesday, would end this abruptly summer, impacting families Sept. 1, and saving about $5.9 billion in 2012 and 2013. [...] the severity of the proposed House cuts could be an over reach for two reasons. First they are all coming from the Agriculture panel in a context where rich farm subsidies continue to be protected at a time of record income for producers. Even in the commodity lobby, there is broad consensus that the current system of cash payments to growers at a time of high farm profits can no longer be politically defended. And by not striking more of a balance, the committee risks real damage to the coalition that has supported farm and food programs together for decades.

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

Tonight, Senate Republicans voted to block the Buffett Rule, choosing once again to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest few Americans at the expense of the middle class. The Buffett Rule is common sense. At a time when we have significant deficits to close and serious investments to make to strengthen our economy, we simply cannot afford to keep spending money on tax cuts that the wealthiest Americans don’t need and didn’t ask for. But it’s also about basic fairness—it’s just plain wrong that millions of middle-class Americans pay a higher share of their income in taxes than some millionaires and billionaires. One of the fundamental challenges of our time is building an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules. And I will continue to push Congress to take steps to not only restore economic security for the middle class and those trying to reach the middle class, but also to create an economy that’s built to last.” — President Obama in a statement on Monday’s vote

Henry Paul Monaghan, a professor of constitutional law at Columbia Law School and prominent conservative legal scholar, urges the Supreme Court to uphold health care reform — “Moreover, the market for health care is distinctive (if not entirely unique) in several key respects. Virtually all of us will need and obtain health care at some point, but we often cannot predict when or in what ways we will need it. And for the vast majority of us, direct payment for the health care services we obtain would be prohibitively expensive. Yet not obtaining needed medical care can be the difference between life and death. These features help explain why, unlike many other markets, insurance is the overwhelmingly dominant means of payment in the health care market. They also explain why Congress has required that individuals be given emergency care without regard to their ability to pay. As a result, and again unlike other markets, uninsured individuals who are unable to pay directly for needed medical services necessarily shift the cost of those services to others — to health care providers, the government, individuals with insurance, and taxpayers. In that way, Congress is not creating a market which it then seeks to regulate. The insurance-based structure of the health care market is already firmly in place. That is why it was well within Congress’s discretion to design legislation to operate within, and to address problems posed by, this vast market.”

“The ESCHATON DECADE has been a pretty fucked up decade, a time when this country stopped even bothering to pretend to live up to many of its supposed ideals. We go to war and kill lots of people for no good reason, elites have eliminated any accountability for themselves for criminal wrongdoing, we’ve tortured and assassinated people, and the response to massive economic suffering and related criminal fraud has been to give lots of free money to the people who caused it all.” – Duncan Black

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: