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Wednesday, 29 October 2008

WooHoo, The Thesis is Finally Finished

I finally sent the damn thing off for a review by my committee. Finally! WooHoo. Now I can get back to doing some posting and puttering about the house.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Channeling Joe McCarthy

I've been holed up all week trying to get my thesis completed, with the goal of getting the first draft done this weekend. What happened yesterday? I turned onto Hardball yesterday afternoon and Katrina Vanden Huevel was castigating an earlier interview on the show. DailyKos had already posted the video of Michelle Bachmann ranting on and on about how liberal are"anti-American" and needed to be investigated. Chris Matthews let her hang herself with her own words. And did she ever, talk about releasing your inner Joe McCarthy. Here is the video of Michelle Bachmann.



Here is Katrina's rebuttal of Batshit Bachmann.



El Tinklenberg, her opponent, has raised nearly $500,000 in 24 hours over the internet. Here are examples of more Batshit Bachmann craziness.

Indeed, channeling Joe McCarthy. And I hope her political career ends the same way, defeated and humiliated. Help out Elwyn Tinklenberg over at ActBlue.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Bigfoot-Nessie 08



Hey everybody, get out there and vote.

Scary Interview With Naomi Wolf



Really makes you think. But until Naomi identifies those she thinks have staged a coup and provides proof, then this goes into tinfoil hat territory. So far,this is just a standard conspiracy theory.

Also, here is some supporting video for the comments by California Rep. Brad Shermer.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

McCain & Palin Godwin Themselves

With their earlier support of and by racists, the low tactics the McCain/Palin ticket is stooping to does not have me surprised. At two events yesterday, both McCain and Palin did not dissuade their supporters from making racist and threatening speech. First, I'll start with Sarah Palin. According to the Washington Post's Dana Milbank:

You betcha. And the person dishing out the roughest stuff at the moment is Sarah Palin.

"I was reading my copy of the New York Times the other day," she said.

"Booooo!" replied the crowd.

"I knew you guys would react that way, okay," she continued. "So I was reading the New York Times and I was really interested to read about Barack's friends from Chicago."

It was time to revive the allegation, made over the weekend, that Obama "pals around" with terrorists, in this case Bill Ayers, late of the Weather Underground. Many independent observers say Palin's allegations are a stretch; Obama served on a Chicago charitable board with Ayers, now an education professor, and has condemned his past activities.

"Now it turns out, one of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers," Palin said.

"Boooo!" said the crowd.

"And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,'" she continued.

"Boooo!" the crowd repeated.

"Kill him!" proposed one man in the audience.

Also she continued on after this, without even trying to tell here audience that she did not want to go there.
Just like she did when speakers at her church said that terrorist attacks against Israelis were "God's judgment" for Jews having the audacity not to embrace Christianity. Just like she did when a visiting witch doctor at her church lamented the fact that, as he claimed, Jews control the banking industry and that's why Wall Street is so corrupt. Not a word from Sarah Palin when her supporters talk of killing Barack Obama. Not a word from Sarah Palin when her own church talks of the propriety of launching terrorist attacks against Jews in Israel.
Here is some more video of Sarah Palin's successionist buddies:



And some more AIP buddies of Sarah Palin:

"I've admired Sarah from the first time I met her at the 2006 (AIP) convention," which Palin also addressed, says Clark. "She impressed me so much. She's Alaskan to the bone; she's a damn good gal.

"As I was listening to her, I thought she sounds like what we've been saying for years. I thought to myself, 'My God, she sounds just like Joe Vogler.'"

And John McCain also had his moment as well:
McCain was speaking today in New Mexico, doing his usual personal attack on Barack Obama, as the stock market plummeted (you can see the ticker next to McCain on the screen, an apt reminder of what McCain and his fellow Republicans represent), and McCain asked the crowd "who is Barack Obama?" Immediately you hear a supporter yell "terrorist." McCain pauses, the audience laughs, and McCain continues on, not acknowledging, not chastising, not correcting. Oh, but McCain does say in the next sentence that he's upset about all the "angry barrage of insults." Is McCain losing his mind, or just a liar?
And here's the video.



And of course John McCain is not without his own racist links as well.
Well, no. Obama was—he was asked about this in a debate in a primaries with Hillary Clinton sitting there; George Stephanopoulos of ABC asked him about it. He answered it. He pointed out that the despicable acts this guy committed were committed when, apparently, Barack Obama was eight years old. And, and I think Governor Palin here is making a strategic mistake. This guilt by association path is going to be trouble ultimately for the McCain campaign. You know, you can go back—I’ve written a book about McCain. I had a dozen researchers go through him. I didn’t even put this in the book. But John McCain sat on the board of a very right-wing organization. It was the U.S. Council for World Freedom. It was chaired by a guy named John Singlaub, who wound up involved in the Iran-Contra scandal. It was an ultraconservative right-wing group. The Anti-Defamation League, in 1981, when McCain was on the board, said this about this organization. It was affiliated with the World Anti-Communist League, the parent organization, which ADL said, “has increasingly become a gathering place, a forum, a point of contact for extremists, racists and Anti-Semites.” Now, that’s not John McCain. I don’t think he is that. But, but, you know, the problem is that a lot of people know John McCain’s record better than Governor Palin, and he does not want to play guilt by association or this thing could blow up in his face.
The republican candidates are getting uglier and uglier.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Joel's Army: A Power Hungry Theology



Until I read this article by Casey Sanchez for The Southern Poverty Law Center, I did not really understand what was meant by the term "Joel's Army". A user over at Talk2Action and DailyKos by the name of dogemperor has been sounding the alarm over this movement for several years. She was brought up in an Assemblies of God Church which subscribed to this theologyand walked away from it a few years ago.

Dogemporer also has an excellent overview of Joel's Army theology. This movement is also called "The New Apostolic Reformation" (NAR). There are a lot of links in the article, I recommend it highly. You can get lost in all of the links and craziness of these people. The only problem I have had with reading all of this material, is that dogemperor relies on AoG terminology which sometimes confuses me. Dogemperor says that the AoG churches officially deny they are supporting Joel's Army activities, but a lot of AoG churches have been steeplejacked by Joel's Army supporters.

But until I read the article by Sanchez, I was confused by the fact that most of the Pentecostal people I knew were the "lets not worry and just wait for the Rapture" sort of people. But it seems that within the AoG churches and assorted non-denominational churches, there are people who are not content for God to choose the time for the Rapture; they think it is up to them. I can see how a movement like this can start up. The rise of Prosperity Gospel and the idea that God can give them what they want here on earth can turn into the nightmare of Joel's Army, if what one wants is political power.
Tattooed across his sternum are military dog tags that read "Joel's Army." They're evidence of Bentley's generalship in a rapidly growing apocalyptic movement that's gone largely unnoticed by watchdogs of the theocratic right. According to Bentley and a handful of other "hyper-charismatic" preachers advancing the same agenda, Joel's Army is prophesied to become an Armageddon-ready military force of young people with a divine mandate to physically impose Christian "dominion" on non-believers.
...
Joel's Army followers, many of them teenagers and young adults who believe they're members of the final generation to come of age before the end of the world, are breaking away in droves from mainline Pentecostal churches. Numbering in the tens of thousands, they base their beliefs on an esoteric reading of the second chapter of the Old Testament Book of Joel, in which an avenging swarm of locusts attacks Israel. In their view, the locusts are a metaphor for Joel's Army.
It looks like the younger people in some of these churches want their Armageddon now and they want to bring it about themselves.

Those sounding the alarm about Joel's Army are not secular foes of the Christian Right, few of whom are even aware of the movement or how widespread it's become in the past decade. Instead, Joel's Army critics are mostly conservative Christians, either neo-Pentecostals who left the movement in disgust or evangelical Christians who fear that Joel's Army preachers are stealing their flocks, even sending spies to infiltrate their own congregations and sway their young people to heresy. And they say the movement is becoming frightening.

"The pitch and intensity of the military rhetoric of this branch of the global Dominionist movement has substantially increased since the beginning of 2008," writes The Discernment Research Group, a Christian watchdog group that tracks what they call heresies or cults within Christianity. "One can only wonder how long before this transforms into real warfare with actual warriors."

This is really scary if conservative Christians themselves are frightened by this movement and recognize it as a political movement obsessed with gaining political power.
Joel's Army believers are hard-core Christian dominionists, meaning they believe that America, along with the rest of the world, should be governed by conservative Christians and a conservative Christian interpretation of biblical law. There is no room in their doctrine for democracy or pluralism.

Dominionism's original branch is Christian Reconstructionism, a grim, Calvinist call to theocracy that, as Reconstructionist writer Gary North describes, wants to "get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God."

Notorious for endorsing the public execution by stoning of homosexuals and adulterers, the Christian Reconstructionist movement is far better known in secular America than Joel's Army. That's largely because Reconstructionists have made several serious forays into mainstream politics and received a fair amount of negative publicity as a result. Joel's Army followers eschew the political system, believing the path to world domination lies in taking over churches, not election to public office.

Another key difference between the two branches of dominionism, which maintain a testy, arms-length relationship with one another, is Christian Reconstructionism's buttoned-down image and heavy emphasis on Bible study, which contrasts sharply with Joel's Army anti-intellectual distrust of biblical scholars and its unruly style.

That's really great, the irrationality and anti intellectualism of the Joel's Army seems to make them into a howling mob. Actually, read the following description of one of the services:
The audience members behave as if they are at a psychedelic counterculture festival. One couple jumps up and down twirling red and silver metallic flags. Dyed-haired teenagers pulled in by the revival's presence on Facebook and MySpace wander around looking dazed. Women lay facedown on the floor, convulsing and howling. Fathers wail in tongues as their confused children look on. Strangers lay hands on those who fail to produce tongues or gyrate wildly enough, pressuring them to "let it out."
Holy shit indeed.
Michael Barkun, a leading scholar of radical religion, notes that in 1958, Branham began teaching "Serpent Seed" doctrine, the belief that Satan had sex with Eve, resulting in Cain and his descendants. "Through Cain came all the smart, educated people down to the antediluvian flood — the intellectuals, bible colleges," Branham wrote in the kind of anti-mainstream religion, anti-intellectual spirit that pervades the Joel's Army movement to this day. "They know all their creeds but know nothing about God."
It seems that their reach is far indeed and quite subtle. In fact, a large non-denominational church near where I live has an interesting selection of sermons on-line. In two sermons entitled, Picture of a Typical Unbeliever, July 27 and August 3 2008, the preacher is linking the biblical Cain and his descendants with non-Christians and atheists as the main theme of the sermons. I don't know if he realizes that the "Serpent Seed" theology is also promulgated by racist Christian Identity churches, except their descendants of Cain are non-white instead of non-Christian. Different groups but the same demonizing.

Here is another article about the Joel's Army people over at Talk2Action. There is also a link to one of the preachers that advocate this theology. He talks about taking over the government.
Sarah Palin's churches are being portrayed by many religion writers as typical of traditional Assemblies of God congregations. This includes claims that she may share the endtimes belief that the godly will be snatched from the earth in the Rapture and therefore avoid the reign of the Antichrist in the Tribulation and the Apocalypse. This conclusion completely ignores the fact that Palin's churches are deeply involved in the activities and beliefs of a nondenominational movement that is sweeping the globe. The followers of this movement are not waiting around for the Rapture!
Here is a quick overview of the theology:
While Pentecostal churches have always celebrated a restoration of the church, this has been tempered with Rapture theology. As churches embrace this Apostolic revolution they are moving away from the traditions of Assemblies of God and other denominations and are adopting a view of the end time that includes the triumph and perfection of the church as opposed to escaping in the Rapture from an evil world descending into the apocalypse. They see the imminent end times as a time of great glory for the restored true Apostolic church greater than the one of New Testament times, and a time when the foot soldiers of this church will be imparted with supernatural powers. This outpouring of powers will allow them to crush evil with a "rod of iron" and deliver a purified church to Jesus when he returns. Their schedule is even more pressing than many in other Dominionist groups because their hybrid mixture of end time beliefs maintains the urgency of an imminent return of Jesus. The writer whose title I borrowed for this article states, "This growing army of delivered, discipled and deployed Christians are now prepared to become active participants in the cosmic battle for every area of God's terra-firma."
It almost sounds like a kooky mixture of Mormonism and Scientology. Just substitute demons with thetans and you have the basics of Scientology. And a group called Morningstar Ministries produces a lot of their training materials. Hmmm. Interesting name, Morningstar. Isn't Morningstar another name of the Roman god Lucius Fero, aka Lucifer. Perhaps this should be pointed out to the more superstitious Christians. After all, don't they believe the Antichrist will come as a false prophet?

I'll end this article with a quote from the comments to this article.
Note that most "pew sitters" have LITTLE CLUE what they are involved with. (I sure didn't!!!!) However, since Palin grew up in this movement, had hands laid on her by some big figures, etc., I would guess that she knows full well that her "destiny" is to "reach" the world so that her (soon to be immortalized?) children can literally "rule" it, as Laffoon would say. While Palin hasn't been discipled by him specifically, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that she HAS been discipled under the wings of the larger NAR movement.
Update:

Dogemporer has an update over at DailyKos and Talk2Action about Sarah Palin's dominionist links and promises more. Scary.

And the ultimate goal, in Joel's Army circles?

To quote Pinky and the Brain, "Try to take over the world".

And we discuss this in much more detail in tomorrow's post...as the implications are disturbing indeed.

It looks like Sarah Palin's churches don't especially like either Catholics or Jews.

And some music by Bad Religion to set the mood.

New Rules for Sarah Palin and Her Witch Doctor

Friday, 3 October 2008

Jewish Soldier Beaten after Complaining of Discrimination

This story posted today over at Military.com. A soldier was beaten unconscious after he complained about religious discrimination at Ft. Benning in Savannah, GA. According to the AP, Pvt. Michael Handman was beaten unconscious fter he complained of harassment by other soldiers and a sergeant.

Pvt. Michael Handman of Atlanta says another soldier punched him in the head and knocked him unconscious in an unprovoked attack Sept. 24. He was treated for a concussion.

Handman wrote to his parents before the attack that he was being discriminated against. He said one sergeant used an anti-Semitic slur and another ordered him to remove his yarmukle (YAH'-muh-kah) in a dining hall.

This is what happens when religious discrimination is allowed in the military services. If soldiers see that they can pick on and harass others, then some will do so. I see this environment as a lack of command authority by whoever is running the base and the basic training program. Letting soldiers pick on and beat another soldier is disgraceful. Those who attacked this private should be immediately dishonorably discharged. How can you run a military organization if service members are attacking each other? What is wrong with the leadership? It says in the article that a soldier is being questioned regarding the beating. Hopefully some action will be taken.

I've covered hate groups in the military before. Here are a few links:

New York Times - Hate Groups Infiltrating the Military
Southern Poverty Law Center - A Few Bad Men
NBC News - White-Power Groups Recruiting From Military
Air University - Terrorist and Insurgent Organizations - Domestic Groups

Purity Control

In my last post, I highlighted a couple of especially obnoxious actions by evangelical fundamentalist Christians that are illustrated in MRFF's latest lawsuit. In addition to calling non-Christians second class people, materials about chastity and sexual promiscuity were given to women. These materials are not geared towards men. Here is what I said in my last post:
As if this was bad enough, there is worse, especially for female military members. Look at some of the items used as training material in the Army's Strong Bonds program:
"Every Woman, Every Day," (365 Christian readings and sermons about "sexual purity")

"Every Woman's Battle," (a book of Christian sermons, and Bible verses to "Discover God's plan for sexual and emotional fulfillment.")

"Every Woman's Battle Promise Book," (a "daily devotional" of Bible verses to support the reader in a quest for "sexual integrity")

"The Thrill of the Chaste," by Dawn Eden. The author is described on the back cover as "Jewish-born" and throughout the book as a "former agnostic Jew." The book describes in detail how she led a highly promiscuous and drug abusing lifestyle until she had a "born again experience" and "realized for the first time ... that [Jesus] as truly God's son." The book is filled (almost every page) with Bible verses and with the author proselytizing Christianity. Chaplain Johnson recommended the book multiple times during the training.
Apparently, Dawn Eden did not lead a "highly promiscuous and drug abusing lifestyle", she corrects this impression in her blog. But I'm familiar with the common evangelical claim of a very extreme lifestlye until they find Jesus. This book was probably confused with another, similar book or story. Chris Rhoda in the comments to Dawn's post, I'm In the Army Now, responds that MRFF will be correcting this part of the lawsuit.

I'm curious about this fixation that fundamentalist Christians have about women and sex and decided to do a few Google searches. I've already read about "Purity Balls" and such for teenage Christian girls where they pledge their sexuality to be guarded or "covered" by their fathers. Others have commented on the bad choice of the word "covered", which is another way of saying "mounted" for horses and cattle. But I was really shocked at now there are materials geared towards children, telling them that their sexuality is bad and somehow shameful if they are not virgins when they get married.

Here is a website for Christians overly obsessed with controlling other people's sex lives. Why the conflation of "purity" with chastity, unless they think sex is nasty and unclean? And will their obsession for "purity" change from the sexual to all aspects of their lives? Will they start regarding all those they regard as "impure" as some sort of second-class people?

Parents for purity is a website dedicated to increasing awareness of the dangers of the impurity in our surrounding culture. Our main directive is seeking to teach the benefits of living a pure life that is alert and striving towards God's will for purity in our daily walk with Him.

Parents for Purity is founded out of gratitude to God for revealing His power and authourity over every aspect of our lives.


So I decided to take a look at the Army's Strong Bonds program. Take a look at their symbol, telling isn't it. The symbol of the eagle but, hidden within it is the Christian dove. Just like every time overt Christian proselyzation is discovered, these "fearless" warriors for Christ scatter and hide again. If they are convinced they are following the law, why hide? Why do they hide the religious nature of the program until one signs up for it? I don't see any of the materials available for reading to find out what the program is all about. On the Strong Bond's website there is very little information and a requirement to sign up before any information is given. Why?

Here is a description of the Strong Bonds program from their website:

As members of the world’s premier fighting force, Army Soldiers sacrifice for our country every day, and so do their loved ones. Military life places extreme hardship on relationships, especially in wartime, so the Army – backed by Congress - has committed unprecedented resources to help Soldiers build stronger relationships through the Strong Bonds Program.

Strong Bonds has specialized programs for single Soldiers, couples and families. Those Soldiers being deployed or redeployed can also learn special coping tactics.

Strong Bonds empowers Soldiers and their loved ones with relationship-building skills, and connects them to community health and support resources. It is a holistic, preventative program committed to the restoration and preservation of Army families, even those near crisis. The program is initiated and led by the Army Chaplains. More than 90% of those who have attended the program rate it positively.

With Strong Bonds, participants not only bond with their loved ones. They bond with other Army families, chaplains and the Army community as a whole. In turn, our Soldiers realize that they’re not in this alone. They have an entire Army of support, both on duty and off.

There would be no problem with a program led by chaplains, except for the fact that the chaplain corps is now 40% fundamentalist evangelical Christian. These fundamentalist chaplains seem to have of a lot of problems dealing with those who are from differing branches of Christianity or are non-Christian. They seem to be unable to relate to those of differing beliefs without try to shove their own brand of religion at people. These particular chaplains for the most part are not as highly educated as other chaplains from other religions and branches of Christianity. Many non-denominational and Pentecostal Churches have very little educational requirements for a pastor. And a lot of these forms of Christianity do not have any female leadership. Perhaps this explains the sexual focus of women's materials. They see women as objects to be controlled, not as strong, capable, human beings.