The Watering Hole, Monday, July 25, 2016: Of Interest To Christians

The Christian Post (CP), which calls itself “the nation’s most comprehensive Christian news website” (see their Statement of Faith at the bottom of their About page, showing the inherent contradictions in their viewpoints), published two posts detailing thirteen items from the Republican and Democratic convention platforms they deemed to be of interest to Christians. Specifically, Conservative Christians, as explicitly stated in the article on the Republican platform. [NOTE: In order to discuss what CP says about the platform, I will be quoting from their articles. Also note that I am taking the inclusion or not of amendments from the CP articles. I did not compare anything from the actual GOP platform as passed. And, obviously, the DNC is about to begin their convention later today.]

Starting with the Republicans, CP points out that the GOP will no longer be calling for a constitutional amendment to define “marriage” as being between one man and one woman. Instead they’ll say they object to the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges and go back to their usual “this is an issue for the states to decide” argument. Except that the Full Faith and Credit clause throws a wrinkle into that plan, as you would still have to recognize a marriage performed in another state. Another plank pointed out was one to support the First Amendment Defense Act, another inappropriately named Republican bill, this one to protect someone’s right to discriminate because they hate Teh Gays. Tony Perkins, the miscreant in charge of the Family Research Council, helped get this plank adopted, then backed away from supporting it because it has been “weakened” in Congress by a change in the language that would further a “two views” approach to marriage. IOW, they wanted the right to say, “Your marriage disgusts me so I don’t have to recognize it as such, or even serve you in a matter unrelated to your marriage,” to be the law of the land. It can’t work. The Anti-Gay Forces had another victory with a measure that “would keep publicly funded adoption agencies from being able to grant custody of children to same-sex parents.”

While up for consideration, the measure was opposed by Annie Dickerson, an adviser to billionaire GOP donor Paul Singer, who called the measure “blatant discrimination.”

“We need children to be adopted, so hooray to the gay community for trying to raise children in a happy and stable home,” Dickerson, who has adopted children, said. “I object to allowing patent discrimination against gays over the right to adopt.”

Interesting that out of the seven things CP felt would be of interest to Christians, the first three are about gay marriage, and how yucky they think it is and they shouldn’t be forced to think about it. Except nobody is making them. The issue is decided. They lost. The only ones making them think about it so much, and they do think about it a lot, are them! CP shifted it up a bit and listed a measure to repeal the Johnson Amendment of 1954. This was an amendment to the US Tax Code that said certain tax-exempt organizations, like churches, could not conduct political activities meant to influence the outcome of an election, including the endorsement of a particular candidate.

IRS explanation of the statute
The Internal Revenue Service website elaborates upon this prohibition as follows:

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner.

On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.

In their twisted minds, they are being “silenced.” No, they are not. No one is going to throw them in jail and deny them their freedom for endorsing a candidate from the pulpit. They’ll just have to start paying taxes on the property on which they made the endorsement. And no matter what anybody from the right tells you, being forced to pay taxes is not equivalent to Slavery. The Republicans then added an amendment to support the right of parents to subject their children to the abuse of “conversion therapy” (or as it’s sometimes known, “Pray away the gay.”) It doesn’t work and does more harm than good. The Conservative Christians decided to lump all forms of pornography together and claim it is all a “public health crisis.” But then they specifically call for more “energetic prosecution of child pornography.” Okay, child pornography is a horrific thing and ought to be stopped entirely. But not all pornography involves children. And, yes, some of it involves human trafficking and sex slaves participating against their will. And that should also be stopped. But much of it involves two consenting adults (usually two) doing what consenting adults are allowed to do and letting me watch – I mean, letting other people, not me, watch. It is very much not the same thing, but their broad generalization of pornography, and its availability on the internet, is that it is “harmful to children.” Again, I call bullshit. Better they watch two consenting adults doing it right, then watch them try to kill each other. It isn’t about the children at all. And lastly, they’re looking for a back door way to get Bibles back in the schools, based in part on the common right wing lie that the first Congress specifically authorized putting Bibles in schools. That’s the top things the Christian Post thought would be of interest to Conservative Christians. Nothing about helping people. Probably because there wasn’t any.

In a subsequent post, the CP highlighted items they thought would interest Christians (Conservative ones) from the Democratic platform. They began with an alarm that the Dems want to repeal the odious Hyde Amendment. But, naturally, the CP quotes someone lying about the right to abortion and referring to it as “abortion on demand,” which no serious person on the left is calling for. We’re just sick and tired of Republicans throwing up obstacles over bullshit reasons to make it all but impossible to get an abortion. The Dems also want to support the Iran Nuclear Deal. This is alarming to the right who never seemed to demonstrate any understanding of what was involved in reaching that historic deal. I refuse to believe anything they say now. The CP also points out that a measure to name Israel as an occupying force (which they are) failed along with a measure to join the BDS movement. But then they quote what made it into the draft, and one wonders why they mentioned the opposing failed language.

“A strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States because we share overarching strategic interests and the common values of democracy, equality, tolerance, and pluralism,” the draft reads. “That is why we will always support Israel’s right to defend itself, including by retaining its qualitative military edge, and oppose any effort to delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations or through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement.”

Let’s be honest here, Christian Post. The Conservative Christians in this country support Israel for one and only one reason – The End Times and The Rapture. Israel has to be around for Jesus to return. That is their only concern. It’s a pretty ill-founded and baseless one. (The Bible is not a historical document.) The Democrats also expressed opposition to standardized testing, and want to fight for the right of parents to opt-out. They want free tuition to in-state colleges for families earning less than $125,000 per year. I would support this but ask that the cap be adjusted for cost-of-living differences around the country. And lastly, for the first time ever, the Democratic platform will call for the end to capital punishment. I wholeheartedly agree with this position.

This is our daily open thread. Grab a cup, scoop some water from the watering hole, and chat about whatever you wish.

23 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Monday, July 25, 2016: Of Interest To Christians

  1. Here’s a GOP Platform summation, courtesy of Daily Kos as garnered from the New York Times:

    * No exceptions for rape or women’s health in cases of abortion.
    * Requirements that the Bible be taught in public high schools.
    * The “fact” that coal is a “clean” energy source.
    * The return of federal lands to the states, including national parks and wildlife areas.
    * The call for legislators to use religion as a guide in lawmaking. But only Christianity, of course.
    * The appointment of “family values” judges.
    * The barring of female soldiers from combat.
    * Rejections of the need for stronger gun controls.
    * The denial of basic civil rights to LGBTQ people.

    What’s the Christer equivalent of ISIS and/or Caliphate? What is it about humans that causes so many of them to so viciously hate all humans who don’t think like them, who prefer to live a reasonable life based on truth and logic rather than on hate and fear? And why are hate and fear mongers so often religious nutcases who demand everyone obey what only they believe to be the words of non-existent Gods? And why is it that in this country, the godmen have become so completely intermingled with the greedmen and the power mongers, to the point where the destruction of this planet’s biosphere, as detailed by science, is nothing to worry about because their non-existent god granted dominion to idiots?

    Atheism/non-theism are such delightful alternatives — they don’t require fear, or hatred, or greed, or lust even as they allow kindness and tolerance and respect for people, animals, plants, science, the atmosphere, the oceans, and the beauties implicit everywhere therein. Why do so many prefer fictional gods who seem to demand/allow the exact opposites?

    Speaking for myself, I am SO FREAKIN’ HAPPY! that I’ve not been in a church of any kind for any sort of service or event since my late Uncle’s funeral in July of 1995! And AFAIC, I have no intention of ever modifying that little detail.

  2. Indeed there are many Christians who believe war with Iran will hasten the return of Christ. I was researching the “blood moon” a while back and came across a video from the despised Pastor John Hagee who had a panel of experts to discuss the “blood moon” but before the discussion took place there was a short piece with just Hagee who had a message for his flock where he praised the “greatness” of Netanyahu and went on to claim that Iran’s constitution contained words that demanded Israel and America must be destroyed. I found an English version of Iran’s constitution and of course could not find what Hagee claimed. He is another hated filled, fear mongering false prophet.

    One last thing. In regard to many of these end time Christian prophets. If we were indeed presently living in the end times as they claim, wouldn’t capitalism be the “beast system” mentioned in the book of Revelation? I don’t exactly see these wealthy Preachers dumping all of their wealth, declining to participate in capitalism and running for the mountains.

    • LOL. We apologize but we still don’t want Bernie and now it’s too late for him!

  3. Rejoice! A GOoPer has confirmed that Trumpy’s wall is the stupidest idea ever. I mean. If the evil Democrats are shipping in countless Mideastern Muslims and won’t even allow Christians or anyone else to enter the country; no wall is required. Am I right?

    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/gop-lawmaker-hillary-clinton-s-immigration-policy-ethnic-cleansing

    Seriously though. I spent some time with a right-leaning friend over the weekend and actually made some progress educating him. I got him to acknowledge that Trumpy’s wall is a stupid idea because an unguarded wall is useless and the GOoPers would never allow the hiring of a few-thousand new full-time federal employees to guard the wall. But that wasn’t my biggest gain.

    My friend works for an excavating company in Wisconsin that used to produce “frac sand”. His boss told him they no longer produce frac sand because “Obama is buying so much cheap oil from Saudi Arabia that no one is fracking any more.” He was also convinced that all they are pumping down wells is sand and water. Well?

    I found a site that explains everything about frac sand mining in Wisconsin and was able to point out that in 2000 there were 7 active sand mines in Wisconsin and now there are 128, mostly owned by large corporations, so a small outfit like he works for can’t compete. His reply to that was “that makes more sense than what my boss told me” which I count as a victory.

    Then I showed him a story about oil companies using refinery waste in their “fracking fluid” and how Republicans have made it impossible for the EPA or CDC to even find out what is in the fluid. He got real quiet, which is a good sign, and read the article very carefully and then volunteered that now the opposition to fracking makes sense. He honestly had never heard that they were pumping industrial waste through water tables. I figure that made for a really productive visit even without getting out to fly model airplanes in the afternoon and then getting together for a jam in the evening.

    It also reminded me that there are still some smart, decent, people out there who really have no idea what the GOoPers have been up to and it is worth making the effort to educate those people.

  4. MSNBC – Breaking News: Democratic National Convention Begins In Philly

    Are they for real? Is it this big a surprise to them that something that happens every four years, and that we’ve known the details of for months, is starting when it was scheduled to start?

  5. We’ve already out-hotted the whole RNC with Sarah Silverman, then out comes Eva Longoria

    • Hmmmm. A species of duck, the Black-bellied Whistling Duck, that is usually confined to the southernmost United States and Mexico is found for the first time in Canada. People should be looking into what might possibly make them move a couple-thousand miles north. While they are at it, maybe they could arrive at some theory why I almost never see raccoons any more but possums are thick as fleas?

  6. Congrats to Hillary, the first female nominee of a major political party. Time to stop Drumpf!

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