THE MORAL MAJORITY HAS FAILED THE TEST by Beth Rankin

THE MORAL MAJORITY HAS FAILED THE TEST by Beth Rankin

In 1979 Jerry Falwell, with thousands of followers, started a new political party in the hopes of presenting candidates with good Christian morals. The issues that attracted followers: anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-school segregation, anti-science teaching, among others. The Moral Majority prided themselves as being pro-family and yet, many in positions of leadership were found to be having affairs or liaisons. So, despite strong evangelical Christian support, the party dissolved late in the 1980s. The people who supported Falwell waited silently for their next hero.

Perhaps they never really got silent but their more recent activities begins to beg the question about the basis of their Christianity.

Look, you know I’m Jewish but I would bet you that I pay more attention at church than cradle Christians whose memorized responses do not require any brain involvement. My Christian husband asked me to attend with him ten years ago and I said I would as long as I was respected. My introduction began at Ascension Episcopal Church in Pueblo where I marveled at the similarities, of course! This was a denomination not far off the Catholic shoot and that church was derived from Judaism. Funny how the symbolism, while morphed a bit, still exits. In West Virginia we attended St. John’s Episcopal Church in Huntington and once again, not only were people respectful, they sought me out at time asking if I would join a study group because they knew my viewpoint, being different, would spark more interesting discussion. And now in Oregon, we attend the McMinnville Cooperative Ministries, a combined church of Lutheran and Methodist congregations.

I listen. I study. I ask questions. And you know what? The teaching of Christ in the churches where I have worshiped seems to be very different from what I see proclaimed by the evangelical Christians who walk a very different pathway:

  • They say they are pro-life but they have no tolerance for children who are hungry or homeless.

  • They proclaim their great patriotism but their pride in our veterans seems to appear only on two days of the year and there is little concern about the number of veterans committing suicide or those that are homeless.

  • They fight against bathrooms being used by people who identify themselves by their chosen gender, not their birth gender, and yet, we have a President who has happy walked in on young women in stages of undress during “his” beautiful contest.

  • They argue against homosexuality and then we find that some of the loudest voices have been arrested for inappropriate behavior in a public place.

Now we have this judge, twice removed from the Alabama Supreme Court who is running to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he was named Attorney General in this administration. Roy Moore has been accused by several adult women that he inappropriately touched them sexually when they were teenagers and he was in his thirties. One girl was fourteen years old. And this morning, as I was writing this article, another woman has come forward who has announced she, too, was fourteen years old when this man took her innocence.

I’ve read a number of essays that this is not uncommon with evangelical Christian men. They want to have relationship(s) with women that they can mold, women who will not be mature enough to know that a healthy marriage is one based on mutual respect.

While this is also very common in other societies with fundamentalist religions, few more educated communities expect women to be subservient like this. Few educated societies permit children to become married. Fewer still think sex is an appropriate activity for budding adolescents.

As much as this angers me, what bothers me more than the men and women who believe this is a good way of life are the many people who say they will still vote for Roy Moore despite the behavior they don’t like. They will vote for him because he is a Republican. That voting for a Democrat is worse.

Now, before any Democrat starts feeling superior, the same is true in that camp. Here locally we have a woman beginning her campaign for a state house district. Personally, I can’t vote for her because I do not live in her district, but I have gotten to know her and I know she would have my vote if I could. Even though she is a Republican.

There is not much difference between the warring factions in the Middle East killing people because they do not agree on who was Mohammad’s heir and people who are so fixated on the NAME of their political party that they never put any effort into thinking about the person running for office. Or effort working for that party to help make sure it runs honest candidates who WILL represent the common people.

Look at the issues, yes. You don’t like abortion, I understand. But the clinics do more than that….don’t shut your eyes to the good that is done. Don’t be so narrow in your outlook that your hate encompasses good.

Look at the experience the candidate has had to help you understand if they know the important aspects to do the job fairly. It is very clear that Trump meant it when he said he plans to shut several federal departments; his appointments for their secretaries were selected carefully so the mot damage could be done. While many people like the concept of “small government” few people like the idea of letting corporate interests destroy public lands for private enterprise.

Look at their ethics and decide if they are like yours. You don’t rape little girls? Then don’t vote for someone who prefers his meat tender and juicy and well below the age of consent. And yes, “meat” is rude but surely you don’t think what Moore was doing was a meaningful relationship and one you would enjoy?  He did NOT mentor these children; he raped them!

If you vote for someone who admits sexual depredation like Trump, you have something missing in your thinking process…or you also believe women are playthings. If you think the idea of children and non-consenting young women being sexual objects is not healthy, then you need to speak up when an abuser proclaims they want to represent you.

So, simply, I’m holding my “from the outside looking in” card and tell you that these people are not learning the teachings of Christ. Being an imperfect human being I can understand. I can understand that just about all of us have done things that have been unwise. But being proud of reprehensible behavior I can not understand nor support. And anyone supporting it blindly will only continue the deterioration of the American culture.

Yes, that will. Not the immigrants, legal or illegal. Not the LGBTQ community, not the NFL players who kneel to add their silent voices to the protest that people of color do not have the same equal access to the law that is promised.

Nope, those are all part and parcel of this great land with its wonderful Constitution. But the society will continue to circle the drain if all citizens don’t start thinking about how their actions affect everyone. Or lack of action. The time for Monday morning quarterbacking is over. Your choice to act or stay silent is your legacy to this American culture.

[Beth Rankin is a frequent contributor to Columnist with a View. She is gifted with insight, especially with regard to logical thinking, religion, politics and parenting. She shares her thoughts in her blog: goingplaceslivinglife <comment-reply@wordpress.com.> in which this article first appeared. Beth lives with her husband Graham, a retired college professor, in McMinnville, Oregon.]

 

SINCE EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANITY INFILTRATED POLITICS by Ed Rabel

SINCE EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANITY INFILTRATED POLITICS by Ed Rabel

Since Evangelical Christianity began infiltrating politics, officially in the late 1970s, there has been a disturbing trend to limit or remove rights from those who don’t meet the conservative idea of an American. Many of those initiatives come in the form of “religious freedom” laws, which empower discrimination, while other legislation targets immigrants who believe differently. The result has been a sharp division in American culture, and the redefinition of Christian theology.

TONY CAMPOLO

Evangelical speaker, author, and university professor Tony Campolo said Christianity was redefined in the mid-70s by position of “pro-life” and opposing gay marriage. “Suddenly theology fell to the background,” he said. And somewhere in the middle of all the change, Evangelical Christianity crossed the line of faith and belief to hatred and abuse. Those who cruelly implement the actions of their faith are oblivious to the destruction they cause to their religion, or the people their beliefs impact. Is it fair to call it sociopathic?

Psychology Today listed sixteen characteristics of sociopathic behaviors, which include: Untruthfulness and insincerity, superficial charm and good intelligence, lack of remorse or shame, poor judgment and failure to learn by experience, pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love, unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations, specific loss of insight, and general poverty in major affective reactions (in other words, appropriate emotional responses).

We see examples of these kinds of behaviors in church leaders and followers. Franklin Graham, for example, stated that immigration as “not a Bible issue.”

FRANKLIN GRAHAM

His stand fits well with his conservative politics and vocal support of Donald Trump, but his callousness toward immigrants and those seeking asylum in the United States goes against everything he says he believes (Leviticus 19:33-34, Mark 12:30-31). Yet, Graham doesn’t see one bit of irony between his political stance and his religious belief. Nor does he seem to notice the horrific casualties in war-torn countries these immigrants are desperately trying to flee.

[adapted from “Has Evangelical Christianity Become Sociopathic? in Huffingtonpost.com. Mr. Rabel’s article was published on Facebook and is in the public domain.]

MR. CHRISTIAN’S SUNDAY MORNING by James Merritt

MR. CHRISTIAN’S SUNDAY MORNING by James Merritt

Mr. Christian woke up, thanked God for the air, his wife, and the Republican party. He told his stupid kids to hurry the hell up as they were leaving for church; he told his wife to wash off her make up as she looked like a whore, then told her to put it back on when he realized she was covering her bruises.

On the way to church he stopped by McDonalds to get coffee and tell the sinners they shouldn’t work on the Lord’s day. Then, he told them to get real jobs and stop living off his taxes.

When the Christian family got to church they hugged, shook hands and sat together in the third pew back, left side. They sat rigid unmoving smiles on and sang the required songs. They stood and sat when told to–doing just enough without making a fuss of an amen or a testimony as that took up too much lunch time before the Sunday afternoon game.

They thanked the Pastor and paid their tithe. Mr. Christian signed his wife up to teach Sunday school, teach Vacation Bible School, and lead the bake sales for the next quarter. She worked full time as he did, but he knew she’d figure it out, and if she got stressed, no problem. He’d yell at her, telling her not to sign up for so much stuff.

Mr. Christian got home and sat in his favorite chair while wife and kids fixed dinner. When he got up to move to the table and sit down, everything wasn’t ready, so he yelled at his wife “Why won’t you just sit down already so I can ‘say grace’ and start eating.

Then she had to get back up and finish her work (hopefully before he wanted what she was getting ready) or he would yell, “Oh, I guess we don’t have any…. Honey, why did you let us run out of…. Then, he would shovel a few plates full down his gullet before getting up complaining of being exhausted and sit down to watch TV. Of course, he wouldn’t help clean up lunch. That wasn’t his job. He worked!

The fact that she worked full time as well did not even register with him. If the kids ever followed him into the living room, he would smack them and tell them to go help their mother. Yes, God was good. His team was winning. He was a white man in White America. The new president promised to get rid of non-whites, Muslims and queers. Things were looking up for Mr. Christian.

 

 

[James Merritt is a frequent contributor to Columnist with a View. His satirical and short, macabre vignettes illustrate views that are often overlooked. He lives in Maryland.]

FEAR OR STUBBORNNESS? by Beth Rankin

FEAR OR STUBBORNNESS? by Beth Rankin

It has been easy, since the campaign season, to compare statements and actions by Donald Trump with Adolf Hitler. Also comparable is the excited reaction of support by a significant minority of the population. Additionally, what can also be compared is the silence of a larger minority of the population providing tacit approval. These two groups provide a majority base for power.

So, using Nazi Germany in the 1930s and early 1940s as an example, why do “good” people stay silent when witnessing discrimination of others? Later on, it can easily be understood that they were frightened that they too would become a target for internment or death. But at the beginning of the growth of power, why the silence?

All the insight I have is based on discussion with people I know who supported Trump during his candidacy. I was told “He doesn’t mean that” many times. When asked how they knew that, the discussion faltered, but the tenacity to that one statement was evident, “I know.”

Each of us is indoctrinated to think certain ways. It may be the way you were raised, or it may be completely opposite the parental viewpoint, but our upbringing–the ethics displayed in our households, the education we had (meaning how we learned to learn, not just how we did on tests), and the people in our close circle all influence the way we think and act.

I, for one, was taught early and often about World War II. My grandparents were immigrants in the early 20th Century and we lost family members in the Holocaust. It was personal and there was no doubt about it but I was taught to hate Germany. As young as three years old, I watched the documentaries showing newsreels of the U.S. Army liberating the death camps. I know what slow starvation looks like. I also know what determination to survive despite the odds looks like.

When I had the opportunity to travel (for work) to Germany to spend six months there on a project working with the U.S. Army, I was uncharacteristically slow jumping at the chance for free travel. I understood why and I tried to face that prejudice learned as a baby and overcame it logically. And I accepted the assignment. 

Waiting at the Frankfurt airport for another part of the team to arrive from the States, I had plenty of time to people-watch and came to an obvious but, to me, important understanding: they look just like me. And when our coworkers arrived, we got on a train to head to Kaiserslautern, and I thought, oh yeah, here I am, a Jew, on a train in Germany. The next morning, reporting to the military office, I noticed the swastikas that were part of the architecture. The base had been built in the 1930s. The specter was all around me. Despite my best intentions, a certain low level anxiety showed I had carried much of my baggage with me.

So why did “good” Germans and others in occupied Europe, for the most part, stay quiet about the actions being taken against the Jews, the Communists, the homosexuals, the gypsies, the handicapped? Was it mostly fear that they might be next?

Or was it that they really agreed that these groups of people were inferior and the nation, the world, would be better off without them?

We see denial of similar issues here and now in our own nation. For example, we hear lots of white people complaining about the silent and nonviolent kneeling protest during the national anthem at professional football games. They believe, because it is the information being presented by news sources they trust, that the protestors are not being respectful of the flag and, by their actions, the veterans who fought to protect our rights. They will not recognize the actual purpose of the protest. They believe that people have trouble with the police because they are bad people, but 100% stop talking about the issue when I asked what a twelve-year-old sitting on a playground swing holding a toy gun did so bad that he was shot dead within seconds of the police arrive on the scene.

This lack of facing facts is a clear sign of cognitive dissonance, the stubborn and willful choice to not consider information that is not aligned with their convictions. And all of us have some level of this infliction.

It is so very easy to think that what I believe is THE RIGHT WAY TO THINK and that everyone else is crazy or stupid. But that way of thinking is also cognitive dissonance.

This morning, as I am writing, there are statements by various high level Republicans who have an opinion about Roy Moore’s alleged sexual behavior affecting the upcoming election for Senator from Alabama to fill Jeff Session’s seat. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stated that if the allegations are true, Moore should step out of the race. But other Republication leadership are once again blaming the women (why did they wait so long?) and are fully supporting Moore.

With the recent #MeToo social media campaign I remembered and told my kids about one incident in my life where my boss tried to inappropriately insinuate himself into my life (I was twenty-four at the time and he was forty-nine). Recently I read there is a new social media campaign gaining ground to “Name the Pig.” Instead of telling how we were assaulted, we are encouraged to name the person who behaved illegally and unethically. So, I think about that former boss of mine. He would be eighty-eight years old now, if he is still alive. What good would it serve to “out” him? None, I believe. (I dealt with that boss directly, facing him and telling him he had been inappropriate and it had to stop. He listened and complied…at least to me.) But I also support every woman, from Anita Hill to the women who named Bill Cosby to the ones in the Moore situation, for speaking out when we are dealing with a man who has been a role model or could become politically powerful.

Meanwhile, we continue to have at the head of our government a man whose code of ethics seems to be best described as “ME FIRST.” The diehard supporters still believe in what the rest of us know are empty promises (I’ll get your coal jobs back, I will make sure everyone has affordable health care coverage…and more, so many more). One supporter, in the course of a calm and reasonable conversation stated, “I think Trump is the savior of this nation.” I knew that the ground had tilted and there was no middle place to find a commonality there.

So why are these people this way? Simply, they are not hearing nor reading what the rest of us are learning. They typically rely on media that comes from the same viewpoint and never cross-check with other news sources to see another aspect of the same issue. Before condemning him or the countless others, think first. Do you? Do you cross-check issues that are getting your blood pressure up? Or do you just confirm with other sources that are in the same camp?

Most of us react emotionally first and often speak next. Few recognize that if the information just received appeals to your sense of greed or outrage it MUST be verified by cross-checking across the media–liberal and conservative. I urge everyone to take the few minutes it takes to do that search and read before climbing aboard some bandwagon that you might not like to own later.

Remember, the “good” people of Germany allowed things to take place that eroded their prior sense of right and wrong because it was not directly affecting them…until it did; and then, it was too late for most to take a stand.

We live in a nation that has an amazing set of laws backed by the Constitution that provides protections for all people here to speak their mind, gather in public, practice their faith, purchase weapons for home protection and hunting, keep from illegal search and seizure, protection from having soldiers living inside your home, certain rights of prisoners and people arrested, and other rights kept by the people and by the individual states. The NRA has massaged the fear of firearms being confiscating to drum up massive purchasing by frightened people. The fact that some news agencies report on the inept leadership currently in Washington does not mean they are fake news; it means the people responsible want to distract you by blaming the messenger.

Don’t ignore the message.

[Beth Rankin lives with her husband Graham in McMinnville, Oregon. She is a frequent contributor to Columnist with a View. You can read her blog at:  goingplaceslivinglife]

WHEN EVIL VISITS THE CHURCH, WHERE IS GOD? by Milt Hankins

WHEN EVIL VISITS THE CHURCH, WHERE IS GOD? by Milt Hankins

On August 5, 2012, Wade Michael Page, an Army veteran, killed six people and then himself at a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Almost two years later, a white supremacist killed three at two Jewish centers outside Kansas City. He said “he wanted to kill Jewish people before dying of chronic emphysema.”

On a January 2017 evening, a Quebec City, Canada mosque was the scene of six worshipers who were killed and 19 injured.

DYLANN ROOF

Dylann Roof, an admitted white supremacist, murdered nine African Americans at the Emanuel African A.M.E. Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015.

The most recent are this month’s killing of 26 people in the First Baptist Church at Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Truth be told, since nothing (or very little at the most) will be done to tighten our gun control laws and, as gun advocates will continue to argue about the Second Amendment, clearly we cannot stop those who want to commit a horrendous mass killing from obtaining guns. I’m not interested in engaging in this somewhat limited and neglected debate by those who might do something to make a significant difference.

You might have observed that I selected five examples where these horrifying killings took place in houses of worship. As a former pastor, I am inclined to raise this question: Where was God when these innocent, religious folks, who were ostensibly worshiping in a “House of God” were mindlessly assaulted and murdered? If this question has not entered your mind, you have not been thinking through these tragedies.

The wise Solomon reputedly said, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6NIV).

For many years, this was my personal motto. The implication is that God will protect those who trust in him.

If there should be any sort of sanctuary from this kind of behavior, it seems to me it ought to be the church, the temple or the mosque. After all, aren’t these the places where folks go to acknowledge the presence of God in their lives? Folks who believe, as the old song says, “God will take care of you.” I repeat, God will “make your paths straight.” Assuredly, in the sanctuary!

JEWISH TEMPLE

I recall from extensive reading on the Holocaust, on several occasions Nazi SS Troops herded entire communities of Jews into their temples, locked the doors, and set those temples on fire.

Whenever I read about these atrocities, I wonder where God was at the time. I was brought up to believe that God is omnipresent, that God is everywhere. I was brought up to believe that God is omnipotent, that God is all-powerful. Why would a caring, ever-present God not stop such carnage before it began? What was God thinking as he observed the slaughter of the innocents in the Quebec City mosque? Where was God when folks at the Charleston, South Carolina prayer meeting were shot to death point blank?

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS BAPTIST CHURCH

Was God not present at the Sunday morning worship service in Sutherland Springs where little, crying children were shot in the face ? The pastor of the Sutherland Springs church responded, “I don’t understand, but I know my God does.”

I respect the pastor’s personal faith but, as I see it, he is either tremendously naïve, or he is failing to ask the larger questions.

[Milt Hankins is a theologian, former pastor and author of three books. His e-mail address is: amsmilt@windstream.net. He is the publisher and editor of Columnist with a View (columnistwithaview.com). This article first appeared in the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch on Monday, November 13, 2017.]

THE ARTHUR ASHE OF ASHLAND, KENTUCKY by Ernie Tucker

THE ARTHUR ASHE OF ASHLAND, KENTUCKY by Ernie Tucker

           Booker T. Washington

Recently, a friend and I attended a beautiful ceremony at the flood wall to recognize the completion of murals honoring the Booker T. Washington School and its impact upon the history of Ashland. It was an emotionally moving and well-attended ceremony. I had known one of the school’s most distinguished teachers, Robert W. Ross, as well.

When I first came to Ashland almost fifty years ago, Professor Ross had already established himself as “Mr. Tennis” in the area. The name “Professor,” which he wore with considerable pride, had come from the fact that he had taught for many years at Booker T. Washington, the local high school for Black students. Everyone called him “Professor” and no one thought about calling him by any other name.

Professor Ross and his brother, according to local legend, had been the best tennis players in the area, when tennis was almost totally a white man’s game. After his retirement from teaching school, he assumed the job of supervising the tennis courts in Ashland’s Central Park, the only courts in town at that time. He ran the Central Park courts with dignity and firmness, giving lessons in his spare time. For several decades, almost all beginning players in Ashland got their start under his tutelage. As a regular Central Park tennis player, I got to know him well.

                        Local Tennis Courts

Since tennis courts were at a premium at that time in Ashland, he was kept busy moving people on and off the courts. When, at the end of an hour, he announced the time of day, play stopped immediately, and those who had been waiting to play stepped lively to the courts he had assigned. There was no questioning Professor Ross’s decisions. Bad language or unsportsmanlike conduct were not permitted on Professor Ross’s courts.

So, what was so remarkable about all of this? Hadn’t others done about the same? The answer to both questions is yes. But this was a black man in a town which was nearly all white in an era in which there wasn’t much interaction between the two groups. Professor Ross, nevertheless, had everyone’s respect and admiration. His race was not an issue. He was, as one man said, the best example of what race relations should be and how a gentleman should conduct himself on a tennis court, and it is safe to say that Ashland’s long history of excellence in tennis owes much to the foundation laid by Professor Robert W. Ross.

Let’s call him what he was: the Arthur Ashe of Ashland, Kentucky.

His son, Washington Ross, who died recently, was a Tuskegee Airman in World War II, reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

                      Tuskegee Airmen

[Ernie Tucker, a regular contributor to Columnist with a View, lives in Ashland, Kentucky. He is a retired Professor of History at the Ashland Community & Technical College.]