Late Night: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid!

There’s a lot that’s going on out in the world and while some of it has nothing to do with Halloween it does provide some good fodder for costumes. Other costumes are in bad taste, “too soon” or not. What are you doing/wearing for Halloween?

Now for the very scary: According to a certain Christian sect very popular among elected conservatives, Ted Cruz is the Anointed King who will redistribute wealth. And why if liberals want to do it, distribution of wealth is Evil; but if Ted Cruz does it, it’s totally cool? The answer lies in a sermon delivered by Dominionist preacher Larry Huch at his megachurch August 26, 2012, where Ted Cruz’ father Rafael Cruz also delivered a sermon. Huch preached:

The number 12 means ‘divine government’, that God begins 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 – and that’s why I know it’s timely for him to teach this, and bring this anointing. The rabbinical teaching is, especially amongst gentiles, who God opens their eyes, 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 grown 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 3 and 1/2 years, who will be his bankers. And the ones that say, “Here am I, Lord, you can trust me,” we will become so blessed that we will usher in the coming of the Messiah. This message if for you. Would you welcome our good friend Rafael Cruz ? What a tremendous man of God.

The elder Cruz then took the pulpit and said:

The pastor [Huch] referred to Proverbs 13:22, a little while ago, which says that the wealth of the wicked is stored for the righteous. And it is through the kings, anointed to take dominion, that that transfer of wealth is going to occur. God, even though he’s sovereign, even though he’s omnipotent, he doesn’t let it rain out of the sky – he’s going to use people to do it.

The theological implications of this are huge, as are the political and social.  And scarier than any goblin at your doorstep.

Late Night: The Devil Made Him Do It?

In 1997, metal music was pretty much over–grunge had killed it. But that year, Pat Boone released In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy, his white bread covers of metal music. It was his first hit album in 35 years. It also pissed off a lot of people because metal  was supposed to be the music of SATAN and Pat Boone was an evangelical with a television program on Trinity Broadcast Network, Gospel America. After an appearance wearing black leather and studs on the American Music Awards, clad in his metal garb, he was fired from Gospel America.

But Pat met with Paul Crouch, head of TBN, and was reinstated after he explained he was simply parodying himself. Pat was back on the air.  Boone was friends and golfing buddies with Alice Cooper and the two conceived of the idea, which seems pretty funny and bizarrely hiply unhip. I mean Pat Boone sanitized some of the greatest songs of all time, like “Sha-boom” and “Tutti Frutti,” so why not give a full on white bread treatment to metal?

The result is the stuff of nightmares. But in a very good way.

Left Behind: Nic Cage Whores Himself Out

 

Times must still be tough for Nic Cage. He’s offered himself up to God the Left Behind movie series, and it’s really kinda gross. Well, maybe there are some gross points involved, though I wouldn’t hold my breath on the Academy Award-winning actor getting rich off those: The original Left Behind only grossed $4.2 million at the box office in 2001, making it the 18th most successful  Christian-themed/Christian-produced movie of all time, lagging far behind the The Passion of the Christ, the Narnia series, both The Omega Code movies (that  is pretty sad, those Omega Code flicks sucked massively), and a lot of movies that no one outside of a mega-church supper has ever heard of, like Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed  (no comment), End of the Spear, and One Night with the King (why do those last two titles make me think of M2M porn?).

According to the Christian Post, Paul Lalonde, CEO of Stoney Lake Entertainment and co-founder of Cloud Ten Pictures, which produced and distributed the first three Left Behinds, two of which went straight to video, said his company was rebooting Left Behind in order to give it the blockbuster treatment many fans and one of the bestselling novels’ authors, Tim LaHaye, had felt the original version deserved.  Producer Lalonde, who co-wrote the script for this version of Left Behind as well as co-writing the direct-to-video Left Behind II: Tribulation Force and having solo writing credits for the initial Left Behind, told the Christian Post:

It has always been my goal to produce a big-budget version of ‘Left Behind’ that would appeal to a wider audience. The resources to do this exist now where they didn’t back in 2000.

The “big budget” is estimated at $15million, small by today’s blockbuster standards but big enough to cover special effects and with teen-fan faves Chad Michael Murray and Ashley Tisdale (from High School Musical) and a PG-13 rating, it might draw enough to make its money back. Expect a lot of action: Director Vic Adams has worked as a stunt director on numerous films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Rambo III, The Green Hornet, and Charlie’s Angels, and  began his career as a stuntman in You Only Live Twice and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He has directed one film, Army of One, but has an impressive résumé as a second unit director.

But Nicolas Cage? Srsly wtf are you thinking?  Nic Cage, by starring in this movie, you’re promoting a worldview that is negative, narrow, destructive, jingoistic, rigid, anti-sex, anti-comic books, anti-cool, and uptight. Left Behind upholds the pre-tribulation, absolutely nutbag, we-have-to-be-right-so-we’ll-bring-about-the-end-of-the-world thought process that’s at the foundation of the Assemblies of God, other Seven Hills Dominionists, and prophetic, evangelical Conservative Christians. Nic, don’t you understand that eschatology is scatology? Didn’t you used to be edgy, underground, bizarrely hip? This is not a risky role, this is pathetic. All I can think, aside from you needing cash, is that you wanted to give the internets some new memes. But Cage denies he takes roles for paychecks, telling the Guardian:

I’m one of those Americans who believes in working. If you’ve made mistakes in the past, you don’t just roll over on people or cave in, you find a way through it. But in film acting, for some reason you get criticised for working.

But this was the best role you felt you were offered for the time period? Wow.  In all fairness, Cage has three movies released or scheduled for release in 2013, the animated The Croods, Joe, and Frozen Ground which co-stars John Cusack and came out in June on limited release and video-on-demand. Left Behind, still in production, and Tokarev, an action film set in the Russian mob, now in post-production, will be released next year. Four other films have Nicolas Cage’s name attached, but only the Paul Schrader-directed  The Dying of the Light has a release date listed on IMDBpro.com.

At least Kirk Cameron, who starred in the original three  Left Behinds and Michael York who appeared in the execrable laugh/shite fest  The Omega Code and Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 have the excuse they are fundie Christians to fall back on. (Same could be said about John Travolta and Battlefield Earth, though Vinnie Barbarino was promoting a different, totalitarian belief system altogether.) The only thing that makes sense is that Cage needs money: At one point he owned two castles, fifteen luxury properties, a fleet of Rolls Royces, and a Gulfstream jet, and yet owed millions in back taxes to the tune of $14 million which he is paying off, And faced three multi-million dollar lawsuits. He blamed his business manager, who in turn blamed the actor’s lavish lifestyle, saying he had urged actor to cut back and to set aside $10 million as cushion:

to alleviate the financial pressure to take film roles that might be detrimental to his career.

Wow, a slave to Mamon indeed. I wonder how much of the estimated $15 million budget Cage is being paid. And did the film producers do their due diligence? Cage has said he has no religion and he donated to Al Gore’s campaign. But maybe that doesn’t matter to Cloud Ten Productions. But it might matter to the audience, though clearly, from the film’s poster, Cage does get left behind, so maybe that’s fairness in advertising.

(And Chad Michael Murray, who played super dreamboat Lucas Scott on One Tree Hill, is this the best you can do? I’m embarrassed for you. Maybe you’re embarrassed too, because your website doesn’t mention Left Behind in its news section. Though you did play young David Alexander in Megiddo: The Omega Code 2, so maybe you’re acting on faith.)

Tim LaHaye, who conceived of and co-wrote the hugely successful Left Behind books with Jerry Jenkins, was a member of the original board of directors of the Moral Majority and an organizer of the Council for National Policy. And if that’s not enough conservative credentials, LaHaye was the former co-chair of Jack Kemp’s presidential campaign. But LaHaye is not happy about the script, telling the Christian Post:

It’s probably the worst script I’ve ever read. And I’ve read scores of them. The plot line is nothing like the book. The only thing they retain are the names of the people, and maybe places. There is no redemptive value to this movie.

But hell, LaHaye has never been happy about the Left Behind movies in the past, calling them

church basement movies.

He took Cloud Ten to court in a case that lasted nine years because he was disappointed that 2001′s Left Behind starring Kirk Cameron didn’t get the initial theatrical production he said the contract had called for and he had dreamed about. Um, because no one cared enough to invest in a large production?  Granted the film rights were negotiated between June 1996 and April 1997, before the Christian prophecy novels became a publishing phenomenon, but that’s a gamble everyone took. LaHaye lost the lawsuit, but had the option to remake the series, and if he did not exercise that option (which he didn’t), the rights would revert back to Cloud Ten (which they have). According to Left Behind’s website:

The LEFT BEHIND reboot will focus on the hours immediately following the rapture. It will not cover everything that the first book includes, but will be more specifically concentrated on those first few hours and the chaos of the world in the wake of millions of people vanishing with no explanation…

Without warning, millions of people around the globe simply vanish.

All that remains are their clothes and belongings … and an overwhelming sense of terror. The vanishings cause unmanned vehicles to crash and burn.

Emergency forces everywhere are devastated. Gridlock, riots and looting overrun the cities. And there is no one to help or provide answers. In an instant, the earth has been plunged into darkness.

For RAY STEELE, the pilot of a jumbo jet, it means trying to calm his hysterical passengers who saw loved ones vanish before their eyes.

It remains to been seen if Nic Cage,who stars as Ray Steele, can redeem the Left Behind  franchise and/or if Christians will  flock to the  theaters to see a movie that stars a former -Papist-turned-non-believer and who’s been so crucified by the man who immaculately conceived the original canon. I just know I’m going to hell for making these jokes.

HT: Truth-out.org

Romney Supporter Jeff Foxworthy Launches Bible Game Show

Jeff Foxworthy, best known for his

You might be a redneck

schtick and creating the game show “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” is bringing Americans another chance to test their ignorance on television with “The American Bible Challenge” which will pit teams of contestants representing

worthy faith-based organizations

against each other as they try to answers questions

designed to acknowledge and celebrate the Bible’s continuing importance in contemporary life and culture.

This descriptions raises more questions than it answers:

1) Who decides what are worthy faith-based organizations?
2) Will atheists and non-Christians be banned, even though they may have astounding Biblical knowledge?
3) What translation of the Bible will be used as the ultimate authority?
4) Will both Old and New Testament be used?
5) What about the Deuterocanonical texts which are accepted and included in their Bibles by Catholics, both Roman and Orthodox, but not by Protestants?
6) What about the Book of Mormon?
7) Will there be questions about Lot’s daughters, Noah’s sons, David and Bathsheba, how the serpent got around before God declared “upon thy belly shalt thou go” and other conundrums?
8) Did Jesus ride a dinosaur?
9) Who wrote the Bible?
10) And most importantly, will those who miss an answer be tossed into the fiery pit?

Considering that in the five years Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader has been on the air, only two people, Georgia Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox and Nobel Prize in Physics laureate George Smoot, have answered the final question correctly, “The American Bible Challenge” has the potential to embarrass and humiliate so many self-righteous people.

As of late, Foxworthy has been palling around with Mitten$ Rmoney, joining him to campaign in Alabama and endorsing him on Twitter thusly:

Time for Republicans to unite behind Governor Romney, a great leader who can win the White House and rebuild our economy for all Americans.

Among the consulting producers on “The American Bible Challenge” is the non-profit Odyssey Networks which has a video exploring the theological divide between Mormons and Evangelicals, and raises a question that Foxworthy seems to be answering in the affirmative for his fans:

Is America ready for a Mormon President?

 

[HT: Washington Post]

Late Night: Religions Do the Right thing in Alabama. And Then There’s Michele Bachmann’s Faith

Gods bless the churches in Alabama where leaders of Episcopal, Methodist and Roman Catholic churches, representing 338,000 Alabama residents, filed suit Monday to block enforcement of the state’s new immigration law, claiming it prevents free exercise of religion. The Southern Poverty Law Center has also filed a suit opposing the law.

The law, signed by Governor Robert Bentley on June 9 and set to go into effect September 1, broadens police powers, requiring local authorities to identify illegal immigrants. Alabama is the fifth state to enact legislation which

requires police officers to verify the immigration status of anyone they stop and suspect may be in the U.S. illegally. Businesses must use a federal database called E-Verify to determine whether job applicants are eligible to work. In addition, the measure makes it a crime to rent housing to illegal immigrants.

Bishop Robert J. Baker of the Birmingham Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in Alabama said in a statement that the law:

interferes with the biblical imperative of hospitality which our churches have adopted and encoded in various documents of governance. It aims to shut the doors of our churches and social ministries, against our wills, to a whole class of people, denying them access to such basic human needs as food, clothing, shelter, and, most importantly, worship of God.

It was lack of hospitality which lead to the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah

And in other religion news, lots of Americans are just ignorant, according a poll conducted by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service.

Most Americans (56 percent) say it’s important for a candidate to have strong beliefs, even if those beliefs differ from their own…Yet the religious groups most firmly behind this point — white evangelicals (73 percent) and ethnic minority Christians (74 percent) — often falter when asked about politicians’ religions.

For instance, 44 percent of white evangelicals know that Romney is a Mormon. At the same time, more than eight in 10 evangelicals say Mormon religious beliefs greatly differ from their own.

And while only one in three Americans can identify President Obama’s sect of Christianity (oh come on that’s splitting hairs, since he is currently an “unaffiliated Christian” and a former member of the United Church of Christ; seriously, what sect did Reagan belong to? Bush 1? Ford?), 18% still think the President is a Muslim!

In other findings:

At a little more than 70 percent, Republicans and Tea Party members are significantly more likely than Democrats (51 percent) to say it’s important for a presidential candidate to have strong religious beliefs. Tea Party members (46 percent) are even more likely than Republicans as a whole (38 percent) to say it is “very” important for a candidate to have strong religious beliefs.

Gary Scott Smith, an expert on presidential religions at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, told Religious News Service that white evangelicals

are going to be more likely to vote Republican, even if the party nominates someone who isn’t known for strong faith commitments. And if they don’t recognize that Romney’s a Mormon by now, then you wonder how attuned they are to politics anyway.

He added that

Americans have traditionally elected presidents who use religious language and seek divine guidance, especially when grappling with the moral conflicts of the day, provided that their beliefs are relatively mainstream and don’t conflict with national security.

And then there’s this–

—White evangelicals are the group most likely to say they don’t know what Bachmann’s beliefs are (51 percent), even though she attends a Baptist church, and only 35 percent say she has similar religious beliefs to them. [Thank gods on the latter!]

Methinks the Homophobe Doth Protesteth WAY Too Much

Rentboy.com, a NSFW site

(NB: Rentboy.com–a site favored by at least one Evangelical minister–is most definitely, incredibly NSFW!!!)

“Homo-hater exposed as hypocrite” has almost become a routine story–kinda like family-values politicians who get busted with some not-their-wife-type–but ooooh, it’s still such delish fun when an anti-gay Evangelist is caught red-handed with a rentboy from Rentboy.com!

And that’s what happened to the Rev. George Alan Rekers, Maimi-based Baptist minister, co-founder with James Dobson of  the virulently anti-gay, rightwing Family Research Council; a state’s witness in favor of Florida’s gay adoption ban; board member of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) a reparative therapy organization looking to turn gays straight; and author of such anti-gay screeds as Growing Up Straight: What Families Should Know About Homosexuality.

Seems Rekers met a blond twenty-something described on Rentboy.com as

sensual…wild..up for anything

with some rather nice sounding body parts. For rent.

And Rekers took this sexy chap to Europe to hold his bags. Yup, according to an interview with New Times– conducted after the couple was spotted and photographed at Miami International Airport returning from their foreign romp–Rekers hired the dishy young man because

I had surgery and I can’t lift luggage. That’s why I hired him.

Neither Rekers nor the foxy fellow deny meeting through Rentboy.com, which is clearly a site dedicated uniting men who are willing to pay for sex with  very fit, very naked men who would like to make some extra cash by having sex.

One would think if Rekers wanted his luggage carried–versus his sacks handled–he could have found the help he needed through an employment agency or a church group…

[HT New Times]

Evangelicals Violently Disrupt Haitian Religious Ceremony

Full disclosure: I practice an African Diasporic religion, and after the Haitian earthquake, along with a donation to the Red Cross, I gave a small sum to help the voudou community. In other words, I have a religious opinion; and like Brit Hume, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, the right to express it in the media.

Tuesday, Evangelicals violently disrupted a traditional religious ceremony in the Cite Soleil slum, located just outside the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. According to AFP:

Police said a pastor urged followers to attack the ceremony, resulting in a crowd of people throwing rocks at the voodoo followers.

Throwing rocks? WTF?! Is this anyway for Christians to act? Are they all so sinless?

Today the Washington Post reported that a two-year study by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs shows

American foreign policy is handicapped by a narrow, ill-informed and “uncompromising Western secularism” that feeds religious extremism, threatens traditional cultures and fails to encourage religious groups that promote peace and human rights.

While our foreign policy at a governmental level may be “handicapped” by secularism, the private sector is screwing up by pushing their religious agendas, retarding efforts to actually do a greater good.

In the wake of January 12 earthquake, hundreds of religious groups headed to Haiti bringing food, water and aid, some including solar powered Protestant bibles and their own religious tracts in their care packages. Some called themselves “Volunteer Ministers” and interfered with medical personnel in attempts to recruit.  It’s a huge dog pile as minsters of God ply  Haitians with various versions of salvation.

Religious tensions have increased and accelerated. Dr. Christos Kioni, the Florida-based vodou expert profiled in Christine Wicker’s Not In Kansas Anymore wrote us:

The violence fundamentalists have engaged in upon the practitioners of Vodou in Haiti is fueled by a sectarian demon. It is the same spirit that spurs Muslim radicals to engage in terrorist activities in the Name of Allah, it is the same spirit that fanned the flames of the Inquisition and Crusades. Christians have long ago abandoned their faith in the authentic teachings of Christ that God is Love. They have also forgotten that Christ said to his disciples “Other sheep I have that are not of this fold.” These radical evangelicals show no religious tolerance nor the Fruit of the Spirit by their rhetoric and actions. Such acts of violence reveal just how far Christianity has backslidden.

Earlier this month, as reported in the New York Daily News Max Beauvoir, vodou’s supreme leader

believes Christians in Haiti are taking food and supplies, and not allowing them to reach needy people outside Port-au-Prince.

“They take everything they get to their own people,” he said, “and that’s a shame.”

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs recommended:

Empowering government departments and agencies to engage local and regional religious communities where they are central players in the promotion of human rights and peace, as well as the delivery of health care and other forms of assistance.

Local and regional should mean traditional and indigenous, not just the missionary groups and those they convert.

Catholicism and vodou are the Haiti’s traditional religions.  Vodou, more commonly spelled as voudou or voodoo, is a syncretic faith combining various West African religions carried by slaves with the colonizing French’s Catholicism and aspects of the Northern European folk faiths. A voudou ceremony held by escaped slave and hougan (voudou priest) Dutty Boukman was the catalyst for Haiti’s 1791  slave rebellion that led to the island’s freedom.

Pat Robertson–who later backpedaled after a public outcry–had harsh words about Haiti’s history and blamed the country’s troubles on their faith:

They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon the third, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you if you will get us free from the French. True story. And so, the devil said, okay it’s a deal.

That sort of intolerant thinking is what leads to actions like Tuesday’s stoning in Jesus’ name. AFP reported:

Rosemond Aristide, police inspector in Cite Soleil, said he has since spoken with the pastor, who agreed to allow voodoo ceremonies to take place there. However, Aristide could not explain why no arrests were made nor provide further details.

Beauvoir claimed hundreds of Protestant Evangelicals along with other people they hired attacked the ceremony, causing a number of injuries.

KWTX reports that the attackers were Haitian Christians.

Praying and singing, the group was trying to conjure spirits to guide lost souls when a crowd of evangelicals started shouting. Some threw rocks while others urinated on Voodoo symbols.When police left, the crowd destroyed the altars and Voodoo offerings of food and rum.

Christians supposedly follow the Prince of Peace; unfortunately, their hostile behavior could lead to some repercussions. Max Beauvoir  told AFP:

It will be war — open war. It’s unfortunate that at this moment where everybody’s suffering that they have to go into war. But if that is what they need, I think that is what they’ll get.

Dr. Kioni added in email:

I agree with my friend and colleague, The Supreme Servitor of Vodou, Ati Max Beauvoir, that this attack by the evangelicals is a declaration of war. These Bible Thumpers have no idea how powerful Vodou is nor how lethal it can be.

We are mobilizing our forces to meet this demonic spirit head on; bullets nor pious, hypocritical prayers have no power where Vodou is concerned. Vodou will be recognized and accepted as a valid and legitimate system of spirituality just as the Wiccan and Pagans have been accepted. Freedom of Religion is a right and no man nor religious organization has a corner on God nor salvation. There is only ONE God and His Universal Name is Yawe.

The Chicago Council’s Richard Cizik (from the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, who ought to be taking those rock tossers to task!) said:

Some parts of the world — the Middle East, China, Russia and India, for example — are particularly sensitive to the U.S. government’s emphasis on religious freedom and see it as a form of imperialism.

It’s also a form of  imperialism to proselytize and try to convert people during a disaster when they are at their most vulnerable. Note that the pastor who incited the stoning “agreed to allow” traditional religious ceremonies on native soil. WTF? Talk about imperialism.

I deplore the actions of those Evangelicals in Cite Soliel–all thinking and all loving people do–and pray that the Haitian people will not return ignorance and violence with more violence.

As an American, I ask my fellow Americans, whatever faith they may be, to act with grace and dignity, respecting the religious traditions of those to whom they bring aid.

Oh ministers and pastors and your flocks, do unto others as you would have them do unto you–and really, in a disaster aid situation, would you want someone trying convert you to say Islam or some arm of Christianity that doesn’t jive with yours? May peace prevail in Haiti.


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