Monday morning notes of interest

Surfing around this morning…

According to CBS, the religious right in this country have cause to be concerned.  In the article Religion Taking A Left Turn, the CBS Evening News, there’s a big church going group seeking political power – and they’re not Republicans!

At a church in Washington, hundreds of committed Christians met recently and tried to map out a strategy to get their values into the political debate.

But these are not the conservative Christian values which have been so influential lately. This is the religious left.

“Jesus called us to love our neighbor, love our enemy, care for the poor, care for the outcast, and that’s really the moral core of where we think the nation ought to go,” Dr. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches told CBS News correspondent Russ Mitchell.

The National Council of Churches represents about 50 million Christians in America — the majority of them mainline Protestants.

“Jesus never said one word about homosexuality, never said one word about civil marriage or abortion,” Edgar said.

He calls this movement the “center-left” — and it’s seeking the same political muscle as the conservative Christians, a group with a strong power base in the huge Evangelical churches of the South.

But the left has its own Evangelical leaders, such as the Rev. Tony Campolo.

“We are furious that the religious right has made Jesus into a Republican. That’s idolatry,” Campolo said. “To recreate Jesus in your own image rather than allowing yourself to be created in Jesus’ image is what’s wrong with politics.”

The Christian left is focusing on:

  • Fighting poverty
  • Protecting the environment
  • Ending the war in Iraq
  • Along these same lines, The Martin Marty Center:  The Institute For the Advanced Study of Religion at the Universit of Chicago has this to say about Ann Coulter’s best-selling book Godless: The Church of Liberalism:

    The Church of Coulter — and that of the loudest “Christians” today — should be called what it plainly is: Jesusless: The Church of Mammon. Coulter makes millions by calling others treasonous and Godless and saying, “We should invade [Muslim] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.” Conversion should start at home, and Coulter first needs to convert herself from Mammonism to Christianity.

    Like many others in the increasingly dominant and totally misnamed “Christian Right,” Coulter has a persecution complex. Upon the publication of Godless, she used her syndicated column to write a self-review of her book, saying it would be ignored: “If you find Godless without asking for assistance, it’s considered a minor miracle.” This from a woman whose new Jesusless book was at that very moment rising to Number 1 on the New York Times Best Seller list. (That such a patently anti-Jesus book could become the best-selling book in America tells us just how far removed from being followers of Christ most of today’s self-proclaimed Christians are.) She’s lamenting all the way to the bank, her house of worship.

    In my opinion, those who complain about a “War on Christianity” are right. The generals conducting that war include, in addition to Kill-a-Muslim-for-Christ Coulter, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Ted Haggard, James Dobson, and the whole Unheavenly Host of televangelists and megachurch moneychangers and wolves in sheep’s clothing who have expropriated the moral assets of Jesus and turned them to their own purposes. They never met a dollar they didn’t like. They prefer profits to prophecy and pretend that Jesus did, too. They favor the rich over the poor and invert Jesus to contend that he did, too. They favor war over peace and lie by saying that Jesus did, too.

    Coulter and millions of her fellow adherents to ChristianityLite — a “religion” that is the equivalent of a “Lose weight without diet or exercise” scam (“Easy Jesus! Be saved without sacrifice or good works!”) — have aborted Jesus and rewritten his teachings to suit their own selfish desires. Their revision of the Beatitudes — what we might call the Be-Ann-itudes — goes something like this:

    Blessed are the haughty in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    Blessed are those who exult over others, for they shall be further rewarded.
    Blessed are the arrogant, for they shall inherit the earth.
    Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for domination, for they shall be satisfied.
    Blessed are those who show no mercy, for they shall obtain the wealth of others.
    Blessed are the hard in heart, for they shall see God.
    Blessed are the war-makers, for they shall be called sons of God.
    Blessed are those who persecute for their own sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    Blessed are you when you revile others and persecute others and utter all sorts of evil against them falsely on my account.

    Onward Jesusless “Christian” soldiers, marching others into war.

    Changing the subject, I just ran across a great piece in Harpers about a Rueters news reporter stationed in Iraq claiming the military prevented her from covering negative stories:

    In Tikrit, she was based with U.S. troops at a military compound established at one of Saddam’s former palaces, where she provided pool coverage for Reuters TV and AP TV (which was fed to other media outlets). When insurgents attacked civilians, she told me, the American military would rush her to the scene so she could record the carnage and get shots of grieving Iraqis.

    When it came to other stories that were clearly sympathetic to the U.S. side, such as funerals for American soldiers killed in combat, the U.S. military was extremely helpful—indeed, encouraging……

    But when this producer wanted to pursue a story that might have cast the war effort in an unfavorable light, the situation was entirely different. Every few days, she said, she would receive a call from the Reuters bureau in Baghdad and discover that reporters there had heard, via local news reports or from the bureau’s network of Iraqi sources, about civilians being killed or injured by American troops. But when she asked to leave the compound to independently confirm such incidents, her requests were invariably turned down……

    She and the other journalists stationed at the base in Tikrit grew cynical about their work and came to believe that they were being used. “Other reporters in Iraq,” she said, “especially local Iraqis , were able to get both sides of the story, but we were getting only one side.” During her 45 days in Tikrit, she told me, she didn’t file a single story critical of the American project in Iraq. “There was no balance,” she said. “What we were doing wasn’t real journalism.”



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