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CHRISTO-FASCISM OR CHRISTO-HUMANISM?

01 Jan

Persecution

CHRISTO-FASCISM OR CHRISTO-HUMANISM? (Troubling issues at a time of Persecution)

[ Due to its topicality and because of other features I want to post, this two part article is put out here entire with the part break shown despite the unavoidable increase in length entailed for this feature]

RELIGION FACED WITH PERSECUTION AND WESTERN INDIFFERENCE

A great problem of our times, the shockingly underreported, under-protested one only now beginning to receive more attention (See: bit.ly/1gxg0n9), is the extent of persecution and denial of basic human rights to Christians across vast areas of Asia and Africa. (The above image is of a church in India’s Orissa state destroyed by Hindu Nationalists who have been violently attacking Christians. They are likely to create still more hell for many if Narenda Modi of the  nationalist BJP party is elected Prime Minister in 2014).Yet western societies who should be protesting the persecution problem either from traditional loyalties or just proper human rights concerns, show themselves indifferent and/or far more diligent in efforts to  be inoffensive to those of non Christian beliefs, even to the finicky PC extent of discarding or revising Christmas carols that are part of cultural tradition.

I started this article in December before some of its themes suddenly became more topical in the run up to Christmas following especially Prince Charles’ statements of concern about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and a notable article in The Spectator http://bit.ly/1dz2lH2 , but I shall not just be stressing here  the fact of persecution, something it would be hard to sufficiently emphasize, but examining why it is not more seen and protested by those who could and should do something.

Nevertheless the starting point is the grim reality that Christians constitute today’s single most persecuted group worldwide with one believer dying for the faith every eleven minutes in a  situation  the worst since the early persecutions under imperial Rome as the Pope correctly observed in his Christmas message. The poison of persecution is hideously widespread (in 130 nations) not just from Egypt to North Korea (which offers the very worst picture for Christians and all dissenters) but now in obscure places like Guinea and the Central African Republic and it can be shamelessly endorsed too.

Politicians in the same Afghanistan that the West has tried to assist against the Taliban, have self- righteously called for the death of any converts to Christianity – they have even demanded records of Afghan Christian refugees in India so they can persecute and execute them if they return. Yet secular Netherlands has so far refused asylum to a Muslim convert to Christianity assured of at least imprisonment if not death in what he rightly describes as a “barbaric society”  bit.ly/1c8sbSZ  while “liberal” Sweden has been shamefully careless in sending back seriously threatened Iranian Christians to Iran. The beliefs and safety of Christians as Christians matter ever less. And as journalist Evelyn Gordon has stressed, liberal Christians have developed such a  one-sided obsession with the rights of Palestinians pushing a victimhood narrative and biblical revision (not even Solomon’s Temple existed and Jesus wasn’t a Jew!),  they scarcely register the persecution of Christians in the  Middle East. Still less do they note how Israel is the one middle eastern country Arab Christians actually enjoy full rights and security bit.ly/18Pc7Y4. Even if it’s the case of Boko Haram self-declared will to exterminate all Christians, secular, liberal media’s “fairness” is prone to exaggerate the slightest Christian protest and resistance, or even as recently in events overtaking the Central African Republic, inventing Christian militias making it sound as though there is religious civil war for which Christians might be blamed  rather than anything like genocide, persecution or some calculated Islamic take over of Christian lands and government. (bit.ly/1hROcYF). Anything as  long as a persecution picture as regards Christians is modified or erased.

APPEASING FREEDOM’S ENEMIES

While persecution by no means exclusively derives from Islamic fundamentalism it often does, but even so charges of “Islamophobia” are too easily and often  used to silence legitimate criticism, inquiry into what is happening and even what Islam  might be thought explicitly to teach at its most controversial. Post-colonial guilt could hardly go further or be more enduring where influence is concerned.  And then there’s everyone’s half dotty religious  aunt, the Church of England, so keen to further good feelings and religious “adjustment” that last Christmas it congratulated a leading shopping chain for the flexibility of allowing Muslims at  checkouts  not to deal with persons buying pork or alcohol (kuffar under the sharia  law used against non-Muslims everywhere). This sort of things overlooks that Kuwaiti Christians are left so unadjusted they can’t celebrate Christmas at all,  or even be allowed citizenship. Auntie C of E isn’t demanding reciprocal rights for them.  And, if I want to be personal, the same spirit of appeasement  and  indulgence overlooks how much publishing and  media can privilege every Muslim denial and secular doubt from Reza Aslan’sZealot to Aron Adair’s The Bethlehem Star: A Skeptical View, (the latter issued in time for Christmas) while myself (see last Blog) a doctor of religious studies and the only person with something like real proof to resolve an ancient  mystery around the Star is as good as told “no room at the inn”.

The current persecution crisis is a rampaging disease that spares no region, age or condition. On Christmas Eve a prayer group was attacked in China’s Henle district following the jailing of a pastor of the government registered church (to which one belongs if one agrees not to teach the Book of Revelation and Second Advent doctrine which is why China has so many dissident underground churches). The pastor, jailed after protesting failures of authorities to respect promises regarding land possession so as to leave locals nowhere to worship, had attracted the attention of rights activists. A  meeting at which lawyers were present was set upon by up to forty thugs, and a sixty three year old was violently bashed. The police wouldn’t answer calls and denied they knew anything of the case. (bit.ly/1hOA2HE). It’s the same blind prejudice often entailing violent attack and imprisonment such as  non registered churches suffer all too often even in today’s more democratized China which like so much of Asia has freedoms in writing but protects very few of them.

Many checks are needed where Asia is concerned, but the West has crippled its moral stance and general leverage under especially Obama and Hillary Clinton – the latter went to China in 2009 declaring human rights issues would be secondary to economic issues. The leaders of Australia are just as guilty of weakness  in relation to both China and their nearest neighbour Indonesia where a surprisingly widespread insufficiently highlighted persecution of Christians exists,with disruption of services, attacks on worshippers, refusal of places of worship  takes place all the time in that majority Muslim nation takes place. I’ve never heard an Australian politician mention the abuse, usually they seek sometimes cravenly to be on good terms with “our good friends” the Indonesians.

MIDDLE EASTERN FLASHPOINT

So in China and much of East Asia the situation is grave, but in the Middle East it’s overall more immediately deadly. Early in ’13 a Saudi Salafist sheik, Yasir al-Ajlawni issued a You Tube fatwa calling for jihad-fighting Sunnis to rape and effectively enslave all women not Sunni Muslims which as in Egypt and Syria has been going on as especially Christian girls are abducted – shortly after the fatwa one fifteen year old Christian girl from Syria’s al-Qusair was killed after 15 men had raped her (each one in the interests of piety briefly married and divorced her!). Since 2003 through genocide or forced emigration in Iraq alone the Christian population is down from well over 1 million under Saddam Hussein to now under 200,000. In Syria, originally the most tolerant Middle Eastern country for Christians who composed 10% of the population, 600,000 have either fled or been killed and around 600 specifically martyred for being Christian as the largely secular revolution against the nation’s president has been overtaken by Islamic extremists bent on exterminating Christians everywhere and anywhere.

There is even a concerted effort being made by the terrorist groups to exterminate Christianity in its lands of origin. As against Israelis the Palestinians receive much sympathy portrayed as innocent martyrs but media don’t emphasize how Palestinians can hate Christians as infidels as much as Jews and it is constant harassment by Palestinians of Christians has hugely reduced the Christian population in the region (from 18% in 1948 when Israel was founded to 1.5%. Palestinian Christians whether as shopkeepers or women are not  left to feel safe or welcome on the streets, Christian centres and bookshops have been attacked so that over the years many thousands have emigrated. A few Muslims like Britain’s first minister of faith Baroness Warsi and the Pakistan born MP Rehamen  Chishti, are protesting the extent of persecution of Christians in Muslim lands, but protest is unfortunately a rarity among liberal Muslims who probably fear being ostracized or charged with heresy (and Baroness Warsi has been severely criticized as a sort of heretic), a situation which makes today’s fundamentalists de facto voices and representatives of the faith.

There are various causes for the astonishing western myopia, silence and inaction, (including among western churches and their leaders), in the face of patterns of relentless violence and abuse, but crucial is the Western world’s secularist indifference to, or even active hostility towards any specifically religious issues. It has meant that  parliaments and media have too long and increasingly tended to put protest for such as the rights of women and gays or the would-be euthanized well ahead of those whose everyday existence from Sudan to North Korea can be in constant danger, their most basic human rights violated as they are starved, raped, tortured or imprisoned. Also the issue gets diluted by  lamely stressing many religious groups are being persecuted – which they are – but not on the global scale of the Christians. Media go on and on about the Muslim Rohinga persecuted in Myanmar-Burma but the same has been little reported over the last two decades as regards the strongly Christian ethnic minorities of Karen and Kachin who have received relentlessly awful often genocidal treatment.

Two million Christians have been killed (along with animists) under the tyrannous rule of Sudan’s Omar al Bashir alone (he’s wanted but never taken up for crimes against humanity) while America under Clinton and Obama did next to nothing and the at least quasi-Muslim Obama was and remains untroubled by his half brother Malik being executive secretary of Sudan’s IDO  (Islamic Dawa Organization) and widely reported in the Mid East as being associated with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. To the horror of Christians and secularists in Egypt alike, Obama, and western media would frequently refer to the Brotherhood as “democratically elected” as though that somehow justified the existence of persons with aims and behaviour that could never belong anywhere inside democracy as commonly understood which they are merely exploiting for their tyranny They often prevented voters in Coptic regions from voting. Their members have been behind the burning of at least 70 churches in 2013 and the vandalizing of Christian homes, businesses with violent attacks upon people including the murder of at least 130 Copts. But either through either total ineptitude or undeclared levels of Muslim and family loyalties, Obama has overseen the pouring of millions into the coffers of the Brotherhood.

CHRISTIANS IMPRISONED OR PURSUED

A prime example of imprisoned is Pakistan’s unfortunate Aasia Bibi, a mother jailed since ‘09 under sentence of death (protesting against which has itself been the death of two politicians, one Muslim, one Christian) and all because most essentially local feeling of the kind the government itself fears, furious someone they had asked to collect water on a hot day had drunk from the cup of Muslim (in Muslim society “infidels” should assume low caste jobs and status and are actively despised) apparently on the later advice of an imam accused Bibi of defaming Mohammed. She denies it claiming it’s the lies of a long standing tribal grudge (as so many blasphemy cases are)  but sharia rates the testimony of infidels at only half the worth of Muslims and local society wants her dead under the unworkable blasphemy laws, So Aasia languishes in jail. Despite recommendation by the chairman of the Human Liberation Commission  to bring forward the date of appeal as there was so much evidence of innocence, the inefficiency of the legal system and/or the force of mindless public rage means appeal may wait till 2015. The shameless intensity of anti-Christian hatred among uneducated Pakistani Muslims almost defies belief (the world has seen how it could not even spare its wrath a falsely, even absurdly accused, spastic child Rimsha Mahsi during 2012).

Though happy to receive infidel aid for quakes, floods and food shortages (it’s possible Pakistanis think of it as a right like jiza  itself, the tax traditionally imposed on infidels!), rather as wounded Palestinians have been known to curse and spit at the Israeli doctors who treat them, pious Pakistanis seem automatically to believe almost any accusation against Christians.  Accusation then remains a slur that can attract vigilante harassment lifelong which is why Bibi’s family is in hiding while the retarded girl and her family have been taken in by Canada. Such situations are redolent of biblical sayings like  “everyone will hate you because of me (Matt 10:22)  and “the hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God” (Joh 16:2). For Bibi there has at least been an international petition, Pope Benedict appealed, a French journalist wrote a book; all to no avail, the case drags on while the West is overall more prone to lionize the undeniably brave and admirable young Muslim girl Malala who survived a Taliban attack and it appeals more for Pakistani women than Christians.

Aasia Bibi must survive a dungeon perhaps lifelong because piety Pakistan style cannot demonstrate the most basic human justice towards its various minorities. But without proper respect for Christian suffering a naive Britain sets a Pakistani born man at the head of BBC’s religious broadcasting while its government continues to pour aid into Pakistan, (a situation  finally being questioned even by a Muslim MP in the House of Commons which wants to see more evidence of social  justice generally in the country).

ELEMENTS OF CHRISTO-FASCISM

Although the international situation of Christians offends sense and conscience, as regards their own rights and reputation in the often post-Christian modern society, arguably some western Christians have made a proverbial rod not just tor their own backs  but indirectly for the suffering co-religionists in the third world, through what one can only call an element of alienating Christo-Fascism in either their policies or response to new and developing social situations. Current western indifferentism towards genocide and radical rights abuses suffered by Christians has been assisted in part by the way western Christians have too often appeared either indifferent or intransigent towards issues back home affecting especially women and gays and the rights of non believers generally.

Humanists finally taking revenge are seeking everywhere to render religion a marginalized, purely private matter that should not teach or speak out on matters. Christians are  made to seem like enemies of the public interest, persons not worth heeding or protecting, persons who might even need re-education like one of Russia’s leading TV stars, a former Orthodox priest, who recently declared all gays should be burned alive in ovens and that the continued existence of such mentally disturbed people was a threat to his children (bit.ly/19nt76n)  i.e he accepts the libel, promoted by many fundamentalists, that gays are not just gays but dangerous paedophiles.

Then in America there are similarly high profile persons like recently the entertainer Phil Robertson, star of a popular reality TV show based on the unsavoury theme of duck hunting. Already famed since 2010 for dismissing gays as “insolent, arrogant God haters” and spokesperson for various obsessions that his Christian supporters hopefully don’t support like marrying fifteen year old girls to keep them in order bit.ly/JJ4977, last month he  had it of gays,, “They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil.” ti.me/1gO7aSh.  He also maintainedt that homosexuality is like bestiality, that gays bow down to animals and one another (all ideas influenced by an absurd, confused reading of Romans 1) unable to have right desire for vaginas. The  remarks were gratuitously homophobic beyond anything that could be called  religious and reliant on the bible cited. To be generous, one could concede to this strange, ill-tempered looking figure of Rasputin-like appearance who admits to a wild  past, that his (ignorant) picture of gays bears some connection to the blasphemers of  San Francisco’s Easter time Hunky Jesus contests or certain specimens of extreme gay porn,  but as regards vast numbers of “normal”, even Christian gays, it’s monstrous, gratuitous libel. We might even concede too that if Twitter has blocked hash tag IStandWithPhil.com, that is an undue censorship by political correctness – even lesbian anti-feminist feminist Camille Paglia has declared that in the wider interests of democracy Duck Dynasty’s Robertson  is best tolerated. Who cares or should care what his kind say?

I rather agree that ignorant people should be ignored, but I also care that Christians should speak righteously and wisely, not creating public scandals that demonize whole groups of people especially at a time believers could use a responsible, democratic image. Inquiries show that In England young people under 25 nowadays deem  Christianity a force for evil. It isn’t,  but one can appreciate some will think so, especially as regards its attitude to gays shamelessly touted by people of Robertson’s kind and  in the wake of unconscionable child sex abuse scandals in some churches. And as the gay Christian Other Sheep organization could tell, wherever the “good news” of the gospel is proclaimed in Asia and Africa it’s the same story of depression, breakdown, suicide where local gays are concerned and what I call  a bossy (and as in Africa sometimes violent), Christo-Fascism rears its ugly head.

MAINSTREAM CHRISTO-FASCISTS

Yet despite the Duck Dynasty folly, 3 million supported Robertson through Facebook alone. Multitudes of Evangelicals, including the high profile persons like the (wonderfully eccentric and often ill informed)  Sarah Palin, have been hysterically declaring the end of free speech, the threat of Bible censorship and their persecution by gays all because Robertson was stood down (temporarily of course!) from his show. Franklin Graham son of Billy who regularly opens his mouth to put a foot in it and tending to undermine whatever good his father has done, lamented not enough churches were defending Robertson. He wants Christians “to fight the war against Christian and biblical truths”. Just what and how expressed are these “truths”?  One of Robertson’s advocates, ex-Muslim Walid Sheobat reaches ultimate paranoia when he writes (apart from claiming gays prey on children and are Nazis) that:

“What the homosexuals want to do to Christians in America is what Muslims are already doing to Christians: slaughter and enslave them. This is why we must fight this evil …The sodomites, the purest haters of all that is just and godly, immediately went for the attack [against Robertson]. Some sodomite (a person so vile his very name would desecrate this website  [actually actor Wilson Cruz of GLAAD who was thrown onto the street in his teens because his parents couldn’t accept he was gay], made this conniving statement:  “Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil’s lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe…He clearly knows nothing about gay people…..”  shoebat.com/tag/phil-robertson/

Which Cruz was right to say Robertson doesn’t know. And former Muslim Brotherhood member Walid, now a self-styled  “peace activist”, clearly remains  a fanatic who apart perhaps from needing to be told to repent his uncontrolled raving and trouble-making, should be forced to sit down with gay people and encounter some human reality instead of forcing it to correspond to what he believes it should be because of how he chooses to read St Paul in a way regardless of history, context, translation and just about anything. (The Bible has plainly become Shoebat’s Koran, never to be questioned,  critiqued or seen in perspective, every syllable direct from God).

Like fundamentalist Islamists the American Christian variety seems unable to hear or laugh at themselves (I try to capture  unselfconscious Christian voices  in Songs of Puritania on a Gay Theme  June blog 2013). And whereas Europeans seem able to recognize a connection between the genius of a Michelangelo or Tchaikovsky and their art, mainstream America’s “Me Tarzan, you Jane” approach to sex/gender issues is unable or unwilling to recognize anything in homosexuality beyond “acts” and riotous “lifestyles” that exist to be repented and cured.  America’s conservative Christians may now profess they love gays, but this love includes the right to remain as aggressively homophobic as they mostly always have been. And American discourse can incline to the gratuitously aggressive and intrusive….

Who but a conservative American Christian could not but be embarrassed by the merely pushy behaviour of Jewish Christian rabbi, Jonathan Cahn, who tried to take over 2013’s Presidential Prayer Breakfast with his tirade against Obama’s America predictably symbolized by the Sodom of gays (who want to marry rather than rape people)? The President who impossibly combines pro Muslim with pro gay sentiment looked, somewhat justifiably, irritated by the verbose imposition for which I seriously believe the rights of Christians in cases like that of Saeed mentioned presently, would pay dearly later that year. With Obama representing when not pro-Muslim sentiment in some respects the trendy secularism indifferent to religious conviction, conviction’s nadir in Cahn syndrome is seen as sufficiently despicable to let Christians at home and abroad go bleed.

CHRISTIANS IMPOSING THEMSELVES

As Pope Francis, doyen of a more “pastoral” Christianity  realizes, perception nowadays is that Christians are less people who preach a gospel and promote it by persuasion and good example than individuals imposing values by law and political programmes. The secular revolt against Christianity and the success of sometimes sweepingly secularist laws in the West, is linked to the history of Christian leaders unwilling to permit the non believer anything but their own professed standards to live by – in short imposing articles of faith or ethics  somewhat after the manner of  sharia law itself, even if more moderately (with no excising of limbs or public executions!). Thus gay marriage should not be permitted because it is supposedly against the Christian Bible  (which doesn’t cover the matter unless by noting that David and Jonathan were in love and made a “covenant”, a word that can be used for marriage!). It was precisely the example of medieval Islam and the effects of the Crusades that inclined Christianity to this authoritarian tendency.

Interestingly, if unacceptably and despite the fact that India’s Cardinal Oswald Gracias  has recently stated  that homosexuality is not necessarily sin, we observe today how it is solely in opposition to gays and homosexuality that Christians and Muslims can and have made any alliance. On appeal India’s Supreme Court has just overturned the nation’s decriminalization of homosexuality of 2009 conceding in effect to the interventions of two monotheistic religions seeking to impose on a Hindu majority society and at that harking back as authority to Victorian colonial laws which, like something out of the dark ages, had meted out life imprisonment for gays. Psychologically and spiritually this legalistic approach to faith and morals needless to say makes nonsense of Christian ideas of repentance (lit. mind change) because change is reduced to social conformity only. It would also be more to the point if India’s Christian hierarchy attended as it should  to all the violent persecution of ordinary Christians  in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh provinces not to say the frequent harassment and denial of rights of Dalit Christians.

Radical Protestants and unbelievers who have tried to undo this dubious, unhelpfully authoritarian aspect of  the Western Christian legacy, hear with cynical surprise the talk in the wake of more secularized laws about how much Christians love gays really, or indeed how God loves women and mothers (in Spain the Archbishop of Granada has been describing abortion as the greatest “violence against women” as though rape wasn’t while demanding a mother die for her foetus could never itself constitute a form of violence!). God’s love needs to be more individualized and nuanced inside and outside the laws for these professed Christian attitudes to carry muster.  In the wake of a horrific case of torture and murder of a teenage gay in Peru, it is still  evangelicals who are at the forefront in opposing any anti-discrimination law that would help minimize the violent national tradition  bit.ly/1kX6Vle

It’s the same in Brazil which has long led the world in the murder rate for gays. (bit.ly/1bN8oth)  It seems that evangelicals are persons who have converted from the too often super superstitious Catholicism of Latin America only to become biblical bigots ready to demonize minorities. But then homophobia is virtually institutionalized and almost as a religious duty in Latin American societies or anywhere of decidedly right wing disposition. (Hitler’s fascists were against gays as much as Jews). The same institutionalized homophobia applies in some black societies. Jamaica has been notorious for violence against gays but Ms Andrea Williams, a Church of England evangelist and synod member and founder of the legal body Christian Concern, which helps defend people unreasonably charged for wearing a cross at work or saying a prayer, undoes the good of this by her influence in Jamaica. She has ventured there telling the nation to be an example to the world in not decriminalizing homosexuality and opposing gays who she libels attackers of families, guilty in effect of not being cured of their orientation. (Ms Williams considers it a lie that anyone could be born gay. The existence of bisexuality and floating sexualities in some individuals gives a semblance of truth to this common misconception in conservative Christian circles).

It has been ultra-evangelical obsessions launched by the fantasies of Scott Lively (he believes Hitler’s fascists were less fascist than gay and he has actively played on fears that gays ‘recruit” children!), that have tampered in Ugandan affairs and inspired the evil of Ugandan anti-gay laws passed by the government in December but awaiting presidential signature. These would now impose life imprisonment (as opposed to the existing 14years) for any gay acts (execution was preferred but  international pressure has been exerted) but seven years for anyone performing a gay marriage and jail terms for anyone not reporting on gays if they had obvious opportunity. This transports the spy rings and draconian laws of Calvin’s Taliban-like Geneva into the modern world and the tropic zones. And the fact is most that’s obnoxious about American Christianity from its love of money to its authoritarian cults can be traced to the influentially negative legacy of Genevan Calvinism. Some leading American evangelicals belatedly disapprove what has happened in Uganda and it is widely said that the prejudice against gays is a smug, hypocritical distraction from the appalling record of child abuse it shares with its neighbour Kenya where rape is shockingly commonplace. Regardless, the situation is a stain on Christianity which undermines the religion’s image, weakening the case for Christian rights in the world at this time and  reducing the faith to the image of a  fanatical, eccentric  Christo-Fascism for modern secularists to attack.

                                                    PART TWO

JUSTICE AND THE SAAED CASE, CHRISTIANS AND OBAMA

In the last weeks of last year I was quite taken up with everything from Tweets to poetry as regards the distressing subject of the in-prison abuse of Pastor Saeed in Iran and the Obama administration’s inability or unwillingness to get this American citizen and  Christian out of  jail. I hope that under almost any circumstance, and given almost any beliefs from Muslim to atheist, I would have supported the unfortunate pastor.  Even the EU parliament had twice protested the shocking case though Saeed is not an EU citizen.

Saeed had been arrested within days of arriving in Iran in 2012 to open with government permission an orphanage. Reneging on its promises and reverting to an earlier supposedly cancelled law, Saeed was arrested as a threat to national security because as a convert from Islam years before he had addressed Iranian Christians in their homes. He was sent first to the notorious Evrin jail where he has been beaten, tortured, denied medication and basic international rights by pious Muslims who couldn’t touch an infidel. Subsequently and without notice he was sent to the overcrowded, insanitary Rajai Shahr prison, home to murderers and where people are sent to disappear. This belongs with the untrustworthy nature of the Iranian regime whose president sent Christmas greetings to Christians in Iran and even the Pope while the regime itself has arrested Iranian Christians celebrating Christmas (bit.ly/KhTIbh). (Admittedly Iran’s Shia Islam endorses the principle of Taqiyya, lying to infidels to advance the cause of the faith, so there’s not necessarily hypocrisy, just piety of a sort Christians and the West can’t accept – unless perhaps they’re Obama whose middle name Hossein is Shia associated).

Everything surrounding this case was and is a scandal, a travesty of justice, including not least America’s release of an Iranian spy ahead of the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear potential which didn’t mention Saeed and other detained Americans and the weak and exceptionally pro-Muslim Obama administration has insultingly never at any point contacted the victim’s wife. But, however supportive I was, I was never unaware of some of the questionable values and associations of the people involved in either defending Saeed or criticizing Obama however justly in this instance – for some Obama is not allowed to utter one word that is sensible or good, which for all my dislike and even contempt for  Obama  (whom I regard as inept, mendacious and a liability to Western security), I refuse to accept. Even if only accidentally he is sometimes right enough.

It was unfortunate that such a transparently clear case of injustice should draw to it the opportunistic, sensationalist  ultra-right wing  tea-partying Senator Ted Cruz. I was also uneasy that a major leader of protest, Jay Sekulow of the ACLJ (American Centre for Law and Justice) who has been given contradictory answers from the Obama administration, is another of those happy to request donations but who, typically for celebrity Christians, is quite unreachable – unless by a Twitter that usually only aides will read. America’s big Christian names are regularly surrounded by minders and publicity agents and considerations that “servants of God” who are meant to be available to people should never be.

In the same month of the Congress’s hearing for Saeed, Sekulow did not hesitate to eulogize the just deceased Paul Crouch, founder of the scandal plagued Trinity Broadcasting Network, a man who should not be mentioned among Christians for polluting and perverting religion at home and abroad with his greed-based “prosperity gospel” expressed by a lifestyle which included he and his wife living in “his and her” mansions and travelling in private jets. These are  Christians who plainly want to live like the Muslims of Qatar!  And though rightly vocal and anxious to save Saeed, the ACLJ, (so far as I know), has never protested and probably never would, a somewhat similar case,  the tragic and horrific one of the gay teen unjustly deported to Honduras by indifferent American authorities where he was imprisoned and tortured for months finally perhaps mercifully dying in a prison fire. (bit.ly/1hn3V1q)

I accept one cannot take on every cause, but the ACLJ offers basically the same picture as the mentioned Christian Concern organization in Britain, a blinkered one-sided set of attitudes when it comes to citizen rights and protection from violence. Indeed almost unforgivably the freedom defending ACLJ has opened up an office in the tyrant Mugabe’s Zimbabwe just to help promote any movement towards gay equality.

AMERICAN CHRISTIANITY: CORRUPT, GUN LOVING AND HEALTH CARE HATING

When it comes down to it, a lot that passes for American Christianity is seriously objectionable,  heretical and intolerant. Not to look at the increasingly evident dishonesty and corruption in mega-church and tele-evangelist circles – and finally in the wake of questions around plagiarism the dubious nature of Christian publishing is coming under the searchlight, (see slate.me/1cFK6l2) – there is the absurd and embarrassing right wing evangelical Christian attachment to liberty as represented by arms possession and the gun lobby. Commonsense would indicate the vastly lower murder rate across the border in Canada and in European countries where gun control prevails, shows that ownership facilitates murder and that the American tradition of ownership, however venerable, cannot possibly be supported. Yet those who, like Obama, seek reform are given the paranoid “reds under the bed” or even harbingers of the Antichrist treatment. But would Christ seriously reckon for his followers to carry guns? Some Christian conspiracy theorists believe they will need their God-given guns to fight the coming New World Order of the Antichrist, but does not the Bible warn in connection to Antichrist world orders,  “If you are to be taken captive into captivity you will go; if you kill with the sword with the sword you will be killed” (Rev 13:10). So  you don’t fight the order in physical ways. But it is typical of  Christo-Fascist neo-evangelicalism and fundamentalism to read selectively, even while protesting loyalty to “God’s Word”.

Modern medicine is expensive and in America often ruinously so; ordinary people have had their lives and careers destroyed as much by the medical system as what has ailed them. It is obvious some kind of state subsidy is necessary. One needs to be some right wing fanatic not to imagine so;  but doctrinaire American conservatism portrays the ideal, common to most of the rest of the West, as belonging with godless “socialism”, a major evil to be combated if the American lifestyle and liberties are to be preserved. For some Christians the way to cope is to ditch medicine almost as wholly as Mrs Baker Eddy’s Christian Science and live by faith and healing alone. But though I accept faith does produce some miracles, it can’t be  made into an alternative care system unless, as has happened in America, you don’t mind producing a host of fraudulent healers exploiting people and you wilfully forget that even the bible’s gospeller Luke was a doctor, not a faith healer. It is reasonable that governments be involved in modern  healthcare and it’s no sin that they should be so. There is no grounds to associate such schemes with “socialism” in any derogatory sense (as though in any case there weren’t strongly socialist elements in Christ’s own teaching as in the parable of the workers in the vineyard). And if “pure” capitalism is what America is supposed to represent then that itself fails to take into account the impurifying, odd influence of the Federal Reserve upon the national system. No rule by socialist governments, just organization of all the “free enterprise” by the Fed and Wall Street.

It must be granted that some of the opposition to Obamacare is involved with accusations it has been dishonestly described and applied and it’s operation is much less encompassing than national health services elsewhere – it’s more a form of insurance agreed with employers. But this does not cancel out core issues. Reactions to Obamacare and the fact that  contribution to it might seem to entail endorsement of the contraception and abortion included within its scope continues to make anything approximating to state supported medicine a kind of immoral, decadent project. Yet how justified is this?

Consider that Jesus declared “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (Matt 22:21) thereby approving a division of powers with implications across time for separation of church and state but perhaps too a division of ethical responsibility. The fact is, that a lot of what got paid to Caesar went to unjust wars and immoral public circuses as well to positive things like the Roman system of road building and harbours. Even assuming all contraception and abortion is wrong (a radical position), is it really a Christian’s business to object to paying towards state systems of health care because they have some implications – sometimes, somewhere – for contraception and abortion? Any moral responsibility in that area surely lies with those who organize the care and those who request the relevant aid from it, not Christians who pay towards what more broadly needs to be supported if a lot of people are not to suffer needlessly? American Christians as usual dramatize and polarize making black and white what can’t help but sometimes be grey.

THE ABORTION ISSUE (AND OBSESSION)

And in parenthesis let us turn briefly to the subject of abortion, which I must stress I don’t  support as alternative birth control and purely on demand. It nonetheless used to be that even American Baptists gave moderate support to abortion, but since the rise of a charismatic movement that became ecumenical with Catholics, the Catholic doctrine of sanctity of life from the moment of conception has entered with extreme dogmatism. Neither Jewish rabbis nor early Christian fathers were ever quite agreed when the soul entered the foetus – the rabbis thought at around three months and St Augustine was of similar belief. Insistence on the first moment is a  natural development from Catholic attachment to Marian immaculate conception doctrine which Protestants do not accept.

But even if one could assume the sacredness of life from conception, it is still hard to square  extreme respect for life at the expense of the mother if one takes into account any Old Testament notions of God and the Law at all which pro life people don’t. They are far more influenced by abstract theories of medieval scholastic philosophy than anything biblical and these abstractions don’t regard human and individual need either at life’s beginning or end. (I won’t get into the fraught question of euthanasia, but secularism’s radical advances in this area have been assisted by the again abstractly based but irrational refusal of some churches to concede anything at all on this issue whether for believers or unbelievers – counting it “murder” even to switch off life support to persons with such as locked-in syndrome and no will to live. But apart from the interventions of modern medicine, rather obviously such persons could never have lived and it could be against nature to insist they should).

If one rejects the abstractions, what might one  rule was right biblically, which is to say with perhaps especially the ancient laws of Torah  in mind? Given the style of some ancient legal systems one can even argue the Jewish laws were originally semi-utopian, a sort of proto-philosophy that implied certain ideals not always expected to be  literally fulfilled in all points especially as regards penalties. (Torah means Teaching not Law). But….to the extent they were understood literally and their penalties carried out, many foetuses would have to have been sacrificed in the womb of “lawless” women to satisfy  the divine will for purity within the camp. Incestuous relations for example constituted a capital offence. This fact  ought if anything to justify abortion in cases of rape and incest rather than otherwise if Christians count the laws as guide for anything beyond their authority to ban “homosexuality”, a word the Law doesn’t employ and not as anything “against nature” which has been a modern construction and influenced by Greek thought upon the toevah (abomination) word with its pagan ritual associations.

Across history until a century ago childbirth was hazardous of life itself for women and to this day cot death remains a  major problem. If the foetus was infinitely precious, would and should not God have intervened or believers have lobbied to make childbearing safer? Should not God and believers have invariably opposed war in his name?

Quite simply, life though precious and to be respected, cannot be infinitely, abstractly precious in the context of a fallen world; it always needs a few conditions and qualities. Do pro-lifers ever consider quality of life and what life-consuming torment caring for the extremely disabled can finish being or even how talk of adoption as the natural alternative to abortion is not necessarily realistic or even kind in all instances? Pro life charismatics who often maintain that immoral sex has spiritual consequences across generations, and that perverted sex can trigger possession states in offspring, contradict themselves if they want to bring into existence the potentially spirit infested offspring of rapes and orgies who may or may not then be satisfactorily exorcised.

More could be said, but I think there is plenty of reason to suppose that, biblically rather than philosophically, abortion at any rate to save the mother’s life, to ease the trauma of rape and incest or to avoid extreme physical disability is more like a purification than the murder that a right-to-life fanaticism controversially makes it out to be to many women in distress. To get into pulpits and proclaim modern abortion is not just “murder” but sacrifice to Moloch is theology got out of hand. No matter how much one disapproves abortion, is there any circumstance under which death of a foetus for meaningful reasons can be compared with  infanticide and sacrifice to the gods of living offspring to secure good fortune?

TOLERATING UNBELIEVERS AS CITIZENS

Sufficient to say the abortion question is complex…. Reverting to the question of the division of church and state and the status of homosexuality which is almost a litmus test of social toleration for especially Christians, one takes especially the odd and sad story of octogenarians Peter and Hazelmary Bull, owners of a B&B guesthouse in England. In 2013 they lost every case against the new sex equality laws being convicted of  discrimination against gays because they didn’t wish to receive a gay couple (joined by civil right) in their guest  house – it turns out they wouldn’t wish to entertain unmarried straight couples either. In one sense one feels the Bulls have been grossly discriminated against by new secular laws because within property they own it does seem they ought to be able to set the rules who enters their house. One could even feel the gay couple who sued them were abnormally thin-skinned and even wretchedly ill-willed seeing the amount of money they were happy to make the elderly couple lose in damages (they have had to close down and face a lean old age) over the slight to their gay pride, the merest pinprick against the mentioned sufferings of Christians in Asia and Africa. On the other hand and really…..one must still ask in what world with what mindset are the Bulls and those who endorse them living?

Surely these people of sensitive conscience should have been running a Christian guesthouse from the first?  It is controversial to organize how people should live. As even the particular St Paul, himself no stranger to controversy and aggressive preaching against sin would advise, one has to go about in the world and one can’t seek to dissociate from all those around one because you deem them “immoral”;  they are not even one’s business.  “Is it not those are inside that you are to judge? God will judge those outside (1 Cor 5:9).

One could say just those words with regard to a case over in America and the  Denver Colorado Christian cake maker Jack Phillips who told a judge who ruled he could not discriminate, he would rather go to prison than be forced to make a cake for any couple’s gay wedding. The question such a person needs to be asked is would they refuse a cake to those who had lived together before  marriage and would it even be their business to inquire about it? One assumes Phillips must have been baking cakes for all manner of undeclared fornicators and adulterous divorcees; it’s just gays, who as usual are allowed to become the image of the black sheep, that disturb his conscience. (Believers can usually tolerate the dolce vita of Rome, it’s Sodom is their city of sin!). By contrast Pope Francis who wants a more pastoral treatment of religion where gays of good will are concerned, doesn’t want to judge  and there is another kind of Christian wisdom in that and certainly one in line with the mentioned wisdom of “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (Matt 22:21) not to say in harmony with Jesus’ treatment of the centurion and his boy whom he heals (Matt 19. 10-12) – the incident is almost guaranteed to represent encounter with a same sex relation after the manner of many centurions in the Roman world. (For discussion of this see bit.ly/19ewMW6 ).

HOUSEHOLD OF SAINTS OR CONSERVATIVE FUNNIES

To join with and seriously identify with Christianity in the contemporary West can be a tricky option even for those willing and familiar with the faith, not to mention those preached to or against – which happens less and less as “the gospel” loses its transcendent and soul related core in favour of justification by just charitable outreach. The liberal and liturgical wing of the churches may be rich in kindness and good works, but to many minds they aren’t convincing or appealing in terms of the tradition they represent and their rationalism doesn’t offer the “ direct experience” or “power” many seek in Asian and New Age  alternatives or in the numerous, faster growing conservative and/or charismatic churches. Belonging to the latter nonetheless risks painting oneself into a corner committed to a medley of dubious, sometimes eccentric mostly right wing opinions.

Too often it is a world of super heteronormative, upwardly mobile middle class happy families in which singles, the divorced, gays, independent women, artists or almost any kind of individualist have no real place but are at most tolerated under suspicion and on probation. You could well be expected to believe (like Andrea Williams of the mentioned Christian Concern organization) in anything from a literal six days creation and the justice of most right wing causes to the unmitigated sin of abortion  and the impossibility of anybody been born anything but straight (despite the implications of Matt 8: 5-13) hence needing to fight yourself  lifelong to be cured by supportive heterosexual experts. This last the individual can and should be because the Paul of Romans 1(if he really was talking about gays as we understand things) in a piece of purple rhetoric with dire consequences across history has made you almost the symbol of all sin and because (even if he was talking of slaves raised to the sex trade and/or to sexually serve their masters’ as their legal duty, he also said “so were some of you” (1 Cor 6:11). So you must be changeable!

In fact however, St Paul, though himself unattached and likely given his one time associations with the Sanhedrin likely to have been divorced or separated, is almost patron saint of this aggressively heteronormative world of happy families, absent culture (the music  usually so abysmal it’s not possible the Holy Spirit is so present as imagined!) and conservative politics. Paul is so even if his views on obedience to authority would allow no room to the inheritors of an American Republic based on traditions of revolution and revolt. (The apostle’s strictures may have been necessitated to avoid early Christians being obliterated by suspicious Roman authorities, but can anyone today accept his contention “whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed”  (Rom 13:2 )?

Across history Pauline statements has been the excuse for some church leaders to ally churches with oppressive regimes indeed Christo-Fascism and in modern terms it’s irrelevant, in part because in recent centuries since the Puritans Christianity itself has helped dent oppressive regimes and spur democracy (Christo-Humanism). Religion can and must develop beyond even its saints and leaders and people convinced Paul was right about “homosexuality”, a word he never uses, ought to ask themselves if they think he was perfectly correct in his understanding of women (or slaves) in which much he says bespeaks his times and is culture bound. But how has the often eccentric, painful intransigence of some Christians, which I see alienating people in the West both from Christianity and from appropriate support of persecuted Christians in the third world they should be protesting, come about and manages to stay in place? I believe there are two main related factors.

A LITERALIST TRAP (FROM ST PETER TO FRANKLIN GRAHAM)

First and most obviously there is an extreme literalism applied to religion and scripture that lacks any kind of interpretative filter. It was never completely justified and is certainly unhelpful in relation to advances in human knowledge even if some of these advances as regards the creation/evolution debate  have been appropriated in extreme ways by secularists to attack faith. The fact remains there is simply too much that is ambiguous in the Bible and perhaps especially in Hebrew to ever quite allow the degree of face value literalist reading that has prevailed. Take the second chapter of Genesis even ignoring meanings attached to the word “day” as a regular or very extended unit of time. It is stated that God “rested” on the seventh day. This does not mean, as believing and unbelieving literalists alike imagine, that God stopped, or needed a break because he was tired. The idea of God or any god “resting” in the ancient Middle East worldview was that he went into his temple from where things were directed. (The Genesis creation can even be understood as a form of temple creation). This would, besides, need to be the meaning else in Joh 5:17 Jesus would be in contradiction with Genesis by suggesting that like his father he was always working (thus not resting).

Hebrew can be as suggestive and various in meaning as Chinese. Literalism directed on especially translations allows no flexibility, no imagination, no poetry to guide it and it is through visionary poetry that a lot of change and development enters and modifies the biblical tradition itself (witness the virtual rebirth of early Judaism through Isaiah’s poetry).  “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” belongs with this mindset. Who said that there can and should never be variation upon a theme, in this instance the given theme of marriage? In fact the bible itself suggests there could be. David loves and has a covenant with Jonathan – the word used can be and is used for marriage. If the Bible could always be read with perfect clarity by the layperson (and until the printing press the layperson scarcely even had access to it) why was and is the church appointed “teachers” (Eph 4:11)?

Literalism becomes even more deadening and deadly with the passing of time when as in certain Evangelical and Calvinistic versions of American Protestantism it will be insisted that all authority is sola scriptura, only from scripture and even that outside of its covers God never speaks to us;  or if possibly God does speak (as the more charismatic would allow) it is only in total harmony with existing scripture. Granted that God would not need to speak in blind contradiction of the general spirit and meaning of scripture, but a historical religion must and will develop. “Hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (not “the bible”) declares even the last book of the Bible (Rev 2:7). But literalism with or without scripture is always getting the West into trouble.

When God told St Francis (directly, not through scripture!) to “go rebuild my church” Francis mistakenly started putting bricks to St Damien’s.  The bible is full of people receiving direct revelations and even, as in the case of the apostle Peter at Joppa (Acts 10) in some contradiction, or at least severe modification, of previous scripture (though one could say Peter’s vision bore at least some promise that eventually Gentiles would come to the God of Israel). Yet despite being shown the vision three times Peter response is “not so Lord” because it appears to contradict  specific Torah rulings on ritual purity. The earlier mentioned, egregious Franklin Graham has just this attitude when he condemns the new Pope’s more open attitude to especially gays because for it to be meaningful,  “God would have to shift, and God doesn’t. God’s word is the same yesterday, today, and a million years from now. It’s a sin”.

Should the Torah be  contradicted and challenged? In effect yes. Way back in the book of Numbers 27 the daughters of Zelophehad question and challenge a Torah ruling and it is changed on their behalf as women. (The first moment of feminist theology!) The rabbis say that “to love God is to argue with him”. While obviously one is meant to accept scriptures in the general sense, especially as regards salvation, neither does one have to take them lying down and uncritically. The Jews mostly don’t even if Christians often do. Nor does one have to assume they are in all parts equally inspired or totally inerrant. Manuscripts differ and the human vessel will be sometimes imperfect in terms of reception even if they are as saintly as St Francis. We simply have to regard it as a weak moment in St Paul when he says – what would contradict almost everything he stood for if it were true – that women will be saved through childbearing (1 Tim 2:15). (Some scholars contend 1 Tim is not from St Paul). Truth must be examined with and in the light of the Spirit and sometimes it must  even be community dialogued into existence. (The possible significance for us even of difficult, unacceptable passages of the Bible is something I have tackled in books like Cosmic Father bit.ly/14UK5r6 and Temple Mysteries and Spiritual Efficiency amzn.to/Xz9L7X).

It is Jesus, the Logos (Word) who is supposed to be “The Word of God” for Christians. It is controversial to wave at people a book whose contents can differ according to the era and church – the original Septuagint OT used by early Christians contained apocrypha we dismiss today, calling it “the Word of God”. It’s controversial not only because parts of the bible must seem objectionable as the product of different times and values (do even fundamentalists believe it is God inspired scripture that a raped woman should marry her rapist as per Deut 22: 27-28, (even if since fathers gave permission for marriages it’s unlikely a father would thus concede to an enemy hence the circumventable law would exist more as warning against and theoretical punishment for the crime). But it is controversial to accord so much authority to a text when Jesus as Logos suggests one reads the text in vain if he himself is not found there as it most essential meaning  (Joh 5:39-47).

BEYOND AN OLD ALLEGORICAL COP OUT

Thinking people have always been troubled by the sub-scriptural features of the Bible that the conservative Christian usually manages to ignore, bracket or put into the small print in almost everything except the “homosexuality” the texts don’t characterize as such. The first intimations of something like modern liberal Christianity arguably emerged in the early Christian allegorizing of scripture which became a medieval over-allegorizing to the point philosophy or “church tradition” overtook any recourse to scripture for guidance in most issues. Allegory served much the same function as rationalist commentaries in recent centuries in that its aim and/or effect was to ignore or dilute whatever seemed most alien and contradictory in the Hebrew Bible to the gospel that had been revealed in the Greek. The tendency was however not simply misguided, it was unnecessary because one needs to take the scripture with its rough edges and most of the seeming contradictions can be resolved through a basic principle overlooked but permitting one to perceive shadows, symbols, lines of development, emerging values, useful lessons there despite everything…..It was the self same church father, Origen, who launched allegorizing and who was dismissive of the Old Testament who shockingly declared the Magi devil worshippers converted to Christ.

The fact is that there is not much in Old Testament  history, theology and symbolism, the lambs, the blood, the warring, the iron that mustn’t be used in temple building, the fire, even the polygamy, that doesn’t belong to the spirit and values of the age of fiery Aries the ram and which are then overtaken and transformed by the more merciful spirit of watery Pisces – the disciples are “fishers of men” on the sea of Galilee. By not perceiving this connection and the powerful hint of new age given by the Magi’s visit to the Christ child literalism has such difficulty with the Magi whom it needs to convert and excuse for their very existence in the story. Astrology is less forbidden by Torah than put in the hands of what the Magi were – Gentiles (Deut 4:19). (What conservatives regard as prophetic denunciations of stargazers refers to nothing like astrology as we or those of Jesus’ time knew it but rather an omen astrology which, using no measurements, looked heavenwards and made supposedly inspired declarations).

To gather from Deuteronomy astrology was to be a kind of natural  law and religion of the peoples that is part of the wider prophetic picture Israel specifically represented. Indeed biblical prophecy itself would not be so misused, misunderstood and in the case of rationalists denied if it was more realized it can itself work like planetary transits, i.e. cyclically, repeating itself so that what can be prophetic for one historical nation or person can be so again later without contradiction or exaggeration. But at the same time, as in the case of era change, there can be some evolution or absolute change too and this is not being seen, only the negatives and only the repetitions are but there is more to absorb.

CHARISMATIC MYOPIA: PASTOR FARAG AND PREACHER  PERRY STONE

Out in Hawaii and on the Net would-be prophetic, Palestinian born Pastor Farag believes the evil of gay marriage law just instituted in his state (which depresses and angers him and apparently diminishes his own marriage by existing), is but further proof Christ must shortly return. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=MV4ACMcFES4). Popular charismatic preacher Perry Stone who has never raged against the history of the intolerable bullyings and discrimination long meted out on gays in America, many thrown onto the streets by “good” Christian families, preaches on Four Things that will initiate the End (bit.ly/1klfMQa). This address includes  the  red herring of a report of an alleged Sodom-like gang rape of an elderly male by thugs and the insolent verbal threats to rape children allegedly issuing from Californian gays enraged over repeal of gay marriage rights. Telling this causes Stone to choke with rage under alleged inspirations of the Spirit and to forecast overwhelming disaster for California for its vileness. (See the conveniently “disabled for comment”  You Tube of the relevant address at 47/48 minutes). Stone is also evidently infuriated at the very thought of gay people  presuming to be anything but lifelong repentant sinners in search of cure). The Holy Spirit is said to lead into all truth (Joh 16:13). The absence of  sensitivity, compassion and information one-sidedly brought to this subject by the clearly homophobic Stone ( in some sermons he will mince and squeak in imitation of what he evidently considers homosexuality to be as soon as he approaches the gay theme or people he dislikes)  suggesting he’s not nearly so full of the Holy Spirit as he imagines and his revelations are more like upsurging of his private political and social prejudices.

How true Stone’s reports of criminally inclined gays are I have no idea – I doubt even the unacceptable rape threats were seriously meant by those sending them – but if true, and evangelicalism is full of tall stories  to make a point and Walid-style force biblical comparisons,  I suggest they represent the exception rather than the rule.  Be that as it may, we needn’t doubt that if I were to propose to Farag and Stone that the  near  approach of the Aquarian era describes and makes inevitable much that is happening, especially as regards innovative gay unions,  they would charge me with “superstition” and “heresy” because they can only compare with the past and not envisage the future.

Yet ironically, their own speculations, uninformed by any astrology of the Magi, allow them the belief (though no bible records support it) that there had to have been gay marriage in the days of Noah or Lot.  (Contemporary gays, even those whom I and others could not ideologically and ethically endorse, are not normally seeking like the Sodomists to rape angels; nor are they like them so bisexual as to want to rape people’s virgin daughters. In fact, gays even incline less to violence than  heterosexuals, a reason I read years ago there is an international consensus among police that gay events are welcome because they are less trouble to manage!).  Ultimately it is the likes of Farag and Stone who by not observing the signs and seasons aright finish superstitious around Noah and Sodom (as they read them) and threaten to repeat Peter’s “Not so Lord” in the face of any change. And Farag and Stone, like so many evangelicals and charismatics  cannot begin to see the massive irony of how they can wax emotional about Jesus coming for his bride – them! – and not perceiving the  contra naturam queerness of imagery which renders them, as men, “brides of Christ”, brides who however are so holy they can’t begin to imagine how and why two men could be married here on earth!

I is poetry resolves a lot of disharmonies and launches new vision and imagery. The bible and prophecy is full of poetry and symbols, but modern Christianity absolutely isn’t and this could be a facet of the  current problem. Sympathy and imagination are accordingly in short supply. Chasing the buck and aiming for success with numbers (even in Jesus’ name) is not what true religion is about.

THE NEEDED INTEGRAL CHRISTIAN  APPROACH

Even if Christ returned in 2014 as Pastor Farag suspects and hopes, the greater drive to individualism and also same sex relation which has been gathering force ever since the Uranian “ruler” of Aquarius was discovered before the French Revolution, is simply part of what the incoming Aquarian era with its shocks and surprises brings with it. Even if Aquarius has much to do with establishing Utopia, no Jesus once returned to Jerusalem will be setting up any utopian millennial kingdoms with new laws declaring all gays all wrong always and forever or sending women back, as per St Paul, to make their salvation by childbearing. The day (and the night) is too far spent for that. The bible, the Spirit,  and the heavens which the bible tells us “utter knowledge” night after night (even if we don’t look or listen to them because all astrology is sin), in fact together do have something to tell us to which we are supposed to listen.

As long as this more integral, imaginative, poetical approach is not applied, Christianity at the end of the Piscean age that Christ’s birth introduced will be a decadent Christo-Fascism rather than a needed Christo-Humanism ready to serve truth and justice in a time of crisis where the excellence of its example must support its claims. Any Christo-Fascism as the way to improve the world or protect Christian rights merely partakes of the foolishness against which Christ warned followers when he said the children of light are less wise in their generation than the children of light (Luk 16:8).

And western Christians have been foolish, giving away their faith to secularism through their intransigence, protecting their position in irrational ways, arguing like dogs worrying a bone over issues that should not have concerned them and to the point they harm their co-religionists outside the West in this greatest time of crisis since the persecutions of imperial Rome…. Amid which however they should not “fear”  like a former Archbishop of Canterbury William Carey, that the faith will not survive. (bit.ly/1iif0Ut). Such thoughts belong more to the calculations of a political  than prophetic order for which, beyond the questions of human rights, there are spiritual dilemmas and conflicts to be discerned. The faith will of course survive, the  promise is, “the gates of hell will not prevail against it” ( Matt 16:18,)  but undeniably the gates of hell will attempt destruction  and rather obviously are currently doing so especially at an era’s end with its confused, deceptive often satanic qualities. But Christianity in the era of suffering’s sign (Pisces) is partly about the challenge of martyrdom as in a very different way is Islam – the reason extreme Muslims seek martyrdom and/or impose it on infidels is because as against Christianity it is  sole guarantee of salvation and paradise.  Beyond a certain point, however, the violent chaos will provoke divine intervention as will the destruction of the earth itself. Revelation strikes a rather green note with its “The time has come……for destroying those who destroy the earth (Rev 11.18).

Meanwhile, whatever precisely happens Christians have the dual duty to preach a transcendent gospel (of soul life and salvation not just charity) a duty which if peacefully done constitutes a human right no system has the right to deny, and as St Paul says in Gal 6:10 we should “work for the good of all and especially those of the household of faith”. Serving “the good of all”, a Christo-humanism, will necessarily involve protecting those in need of defending from obvious cruelty, persecution and exploitation, but not more. In the long term a merely authoritarian Christo-Fascism  serves nothing and nobody and it must be abandoned.

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4 Comments

Posted by on January 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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4 responses to “CHRISTO-FASCISM OR CHRISTO-HUMANISM?

  1. Tom

    November 5, 2014 at 2:37 am

    Hi rollan

    I really enjoyed this article but I want to draw a point you didn’t cover. With respect to businesses that wish to deny services to LGBT persons on ground of conscience is there no a principal of consumer protection that should guarantee goods and services to all consumers on reasonable terms.

    Consumers should have confidence that they can go to a store and buy goods and access service without fear of being denied service due to an attribute of themselves unrelated to the transaction itself. The precedent set by the cake maker could if taken further could mean certain people would have to walk around with short lists of shops they could purchase from. In a heavily service sector driven economy the fallout could mean reduced consumer confidence and a fall in purchases which is bad for businesses and the economy.

    It should be note that the bill recently proposed in Arizona (and vetoed by governor brewer) that would have allowed certain business owners to deny services to gays on religious grounds was opposed by the business council.

    I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this perspective. Thanks for the great article

     
    • rollanmccleary

      November 6, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      Basically and normally I would hope and expect that people could be served in shops and businesses regardless of their beliefs and orientation. I would expect the matter should not usually even be raised. The cake maker issue is possibly a bit special. I don’t know the case very well and haven’t followed it. Something has to be made up very precisely to fit some worldview of the buyers, maybe some themes in the decoration they don’t want to deal in, much in the same way they wouldn’t want to if the local brothel asked them to make cakes advertising the girls who are available? I don’t know. It all sounds to me a bit litigious and American both in the fussiness of the shop and the fussiness of the buyers who surely could just go elsewhere; but both parties are happy to make a whole legal and media issue out of it. Unless we are to be totally subordinate to the rule of PC there has, though, to be some point at which the owners of a shop, hotel or business are able at law to say to the extent they own and run the place they can if absolutely necessary dictate the terms. If it was a matter of gays not being able to eat or sleep anywhere conveniently due to prejudice that’s unacceptable, but on secondary matters they may need to be less thin skinned or vindictive around persons they don’t like and aren’t obliged to like.

       
      • Tom

        November 7, 2014 at 11:38 am

        I’m not suggesting that we should be totally subordinate to the rule of political correctness my concern is simply for the lack of clear definition as to exactly what religious or conscience objection should include. To me it seems that this use of conscience just seems to be an effort of people affiliated with various churches to make statements about marriage equality and to portray the proponents of it as being bigoted and intolerant. Certainly I would agree there is fussiness on both sides – the media particularly the conservative media has managed to turn what should be simple disputes between supplier and consumer to insane ding dong battles over political issues.

        The question that needs to be asked is who can raise and objection and when. Personally If a cake does have to meet a certain worldview and decorations are required that an individual is not comfortable with then arguably yes they should be able to refuse and certainly employers are to a large extent required to take their employees beliefs and culture into account when requiring certain task (a public hospital may not be able to ask a catholic doctor to perform an abortion).

        It also must be considered that with most of the population employed in the tertiary sector there is a real (if possibly small) risk that consumers would loose confidence in a market where business owners could refuse them service on any possible ground. A loss of consumer confidence result in less money being spent, less persons hired and an ultimate downward economic spiral, and yet this issue does not seem to have entered into the debate.

        Where it gets more worrying is over issues such as rental properties. should a person with a religious conviction be allowed to refuse to rent property to a same sex couple (or any other group they disagree with say a muslim family). Considering that 1) a lease confers exclusive possession of the property for a determinable period and under residential tenancy legislation landlords cannot enter without notice and 2) most rental contracts are preformed though real estate agents and the contracting parties never meet each other, it is hard to see reason to allow such a refusal. Particularly as this could lead to certain people being unable to obtain appropriate and affordable housing (an issue when you consider the high property values in Australia and an inability of people to afford mortgages).

        My main issue is where larger entities and in particular corporations try to argue for the right to refuse. The example being Hobby Lobby in the USA which did not want to pay insurance coverage for contraception as mandated by federal law to employees over the evangelical beliefs of the employer. If the already very wealthy director of the corporation could use “Religious” grounds to object to paying certain employee entitlements to his employees (most of whom are likely to be on minimum wage) then it would be a poor lookout for workers rights. It could indirectly give that corporate director indirect control over sexual (and other) autonomy of those employees as they would not be able to access certain basic healthcare products (in this case contraception) that employees working for other employers who do not claim religious grounds could and would most likely indirectly benefit the corporation in terms of savings.

        This is surely a dangerous path to go down as it would give corporations and employers a lot more control over individuals and potentially marginalise certain groups of people. The absolute freedoms promoted by some neoconservative agendas seems to privilege people in positions of power namely corporate power and those with large amounts of money. Unfortunately it seems that the culture war battles over marriage and the role of religion in society seem to have taken precedence over the importance of having robust fair trading and fair work laws.

        Once again, I don’t want to see a rule of political correctness but I think there is a need to ensure that religious liberty issues cannot be used to give greater social privilege to already wealthy people and business owners. I see it less as a question of gay rights and more as a question of ensuring that people are reasonably able to access goods, service and employment without conformity to the religious views of people with money.

         
  2. rollanmccleary

    November 7, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Yes I rather agree, especially with your last comments. I think where the dealings of large bodies are concerned they must take the responsibility for what they support and do. Christians are supposed to pay taxes to Caesar according to the law. I am sure at least some of those taxes went to ends that could not be entirely approved of and maybe to wars, but the Christians must still do their legal duty as citizens. If the taxes went to support just the imperial cult of the Caesar’s divinity one could protest and abstain but not otherwise. I also agree with you about rentals. One can’t discriminate about people’s private lives unless they wanted to use your property for say a brothel. But I do think a cake maker or anyone isn’t obliged to take on jobs that positively glamourize beliefs and ideas they are wholly against – if the glamourizing is in a big way. But if gay customers just want a wedding cake that should be neither here nor there. I can’t say more. The trouble here is there must be some give and take and society shouldn’t progress by massive swings of the pendulum which make owners right one time and customers another But this subject is a big one and one can’t go much further with it here..

     

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