Really? You’re really going to go there?

I shite thee not.

Ladies and gentlemen, Pastor Ken Hutcherson:

Many reading this may not understand where I came up with this concept of calling Christians “the new Negro.”

The reason is because there are undeniable similarities. Jim Crow laws were passed to keep me from having my constitutional rights and my rights under the Declaration of Independence of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Even though the Constitution gave me those freedoms, man was smart enough to be able to keep me from living those freedoms by saying I was “separate but equal.”

Today, my constitutional right of freedom of religion is being eroded again by laws such as the Hate Crimes Bill and repeated attacks by the politically correct crowd. Threats that came along as a result of an African American wanting to get out from under Jim Crow laws were formidable and scary and designed to keep African Americans quiet. The same thing is happening to Christians today.

Yeah, really. He went there.

See, the thing is that I’m just not sure how it happens this way. Who am I, after all, to lecture a man of his credentials on civil rights?

But I just feel the need to point out that for the vast majority of people, equality is a step up. When one is of the privileged class, as Christians have been pretty much from the outset in the American endeavor, one sees privilege erode. More often than not, this is what I find at the center of this entire “oppressed Christian” genre in the United States. Yes, when one throws their lot in with fellow oppressed folks like Carrie Prejean and Sarah Palin ….

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Psychologist needed: Ownership culture run amok

There is nothing like the perversity of prudish sexual obsession to shake off the doldrums after a couple of unproductive weeks. When you make the mistake of laughing so hard that your daughter asks you what’s up, and, well, she’s five years old, it’s not like you really want to explain the joke at this point. So you end up saying something mitigating. I came up with, “Silly people. Silly people.”

Let us hop back a few years to Le’a Kent’s examination of homophobia and politics, called “‘Abnormal, Wrong, Unnatural and Perverse:’ Taking the Measure (9) of the Closet“, written in the wake of the Oregon Citizens’ Alliance failed 1992 effort to institutionalize Christian bigotry in that state. Ms. Kent quoted Judith Butler:

Elsewhere in her discussion of Helms’s legislation, Butler delineates the same slide from homosexuality to pedophilia to sadomasochism that informs Measure 9:

Courtney McAlpin, 14, of Minneapolis, listens as her father, Steve, reads a pledge in which he vows to protect her sexual and moral purity.  (Photo by Kevin Moloney for The New York Times)“The exploitation of children” comes [immediately after sadomasochism in the text of Helms’s legislation], at which point I begin to wonder: what reasons are there for grouping these three categories together? Do they lead to each other, as if the breaking of one taboo necessitates a virtual riot of perversion? Or is there, implicit in the sequencing and syntax of this legal text, a figure of the homosexual, apparently male, who practices sadomasochism and preys on young boys, or who practices sadomasochism with young boys, a homosexuality which is perhaps defined as sadomasochism and the exploitation of children? Perhaps this is an effort to define restrictively the sexual exploiter of children as the sadomasochistic male homosexual in order, quite conveniently, to locate the source of child sexual abuse outside the home, safeguarding the family as the unregulated sexual property of the father?

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Keeping the faith, or, “What?”

Now just … just … I mean … what?

The Malaysian government has reversed a decision to ban a Christian newspaper using the word Allah to refer to God.

The government had threatened to refuse to give the Weekly Herald a publishing permit if it continued to use the word.

The paper’s editor said the word had long been used by Christians to refer to God in the Malay language.

The ruling was immediately condemned by civil rights and Christian groups in Malaysia, who said it infringed their right to practice their religion.

But Malaysia’s internal security department demanded the word be removed, saying only Muslims could use it.

I mean … er … hang on ….


Now the government has back-tracked.

In a fax to the Herald’s editor, the government says it will get its 2008 permit, with no conditions attached.

Father Andrew Lawrence told the BBC he was delighted, saying prayers had been answered.

He blamed politics and a general election expected here in 2008 year for what he said were the actions of a few over-zealous ministers in the Muslim-dominated Malay government.

Religious issues are highly sensitive in Malaysia, which has a 60% Muslim population.

Religious freedom is guaranteed in the law but minority groups have accused the Muslim Malay majority of trying to increase the role of Islam in the country.

Okay, in the first place, I’m sorry: that’s the whole damn article.

But … what?

Let me see if I have this straight. In a country that is 60% Muslim, at a time when minority groups are accusing Muslims of trying to increase Islamic clout in the government, a Christian newspaper is threatened with closure because it uses the word “Allah”?

Okay, okay … even the short BBC News article gives us a glimpse at the deeper issues, such as Malay Christians who use the name, and grandstanding during an election year, and whatever. But still ….

Good Christian people

What is the difference between superstition and religion? Is it a quantitative difference? A systematic notion? If you compile a certain number of superstitions under one label, can you call it a religion?

Often the difference is a fundamental matter as old as human association; whatever one person believes, he or she would call a religion. What their neighbor believes, though, if it does not match up, is merely superstition. The underlying theme is one of knowledge and ignorance. If you have the “right” faith, it is knowledge. If you have the “wrong” faith, it is merely superstition, the stuff of ignorant people.

Which brings us to a BBC News report from the town of Reeves, Louisiana:

Christian residents of Reeves have been complaining since the early 1960s about being given the prefix, 666 – known in the Bible as the “number of the beast”.

For the next three months, households will be able to change the first three digits of their phone numbers to 749.

Mayor Scott Walker said CenturyTel’s decision was “divine intervention”.

However, he admitted it helped that Louisiana’s two senators had also lobbied for the change with the phone company and the state Public Service Commission.

“It’s been a black eye for our town, a stigma,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s anything bad on us, just an image,” he added. “We’re good Christian people.”

I agree with Mayor Walker: the fact of the 666 prefix code certainly should not reflect poorly on the town or its residents. Unfortunately, the superstition speaks volumes. These are, after all, “good Christian people” who, apparently, are afraid of their telephones.

And I used to think the Seinfeld episode was stupid ….

Not so old-tyme religion

Speaking of jolly ….

A skit at a local Christian youth group meeting had teenage boys taking off some of their clothes, wearing adult diapers, bibs and bonnets and being spoon-fed by girls as they sat in their laps.

Some say it’s just crazy, goofy teenage fun. But others, including one boy’s mother and the Mt. Lebanon School District, aren’t comfortable with it.

The skit took place during the Nov. 29 meeting of the Mt. Lebanon Young Life club, a nondenominational Christian youth group directed by youth minister O.J. Wandrisco.

Laurie Metz, whose 14-year-old son was one of the boys who took part in the skit, said she found it inappropriate, demeaning and sexually perverse.

Mr. Wandrisco and a national spokesman for Young Life say the skits are all in fun and meant to be used as “icebreakers” at the youth group meetings.

“The skits are designed for one reason and one reason only — for kids to have fun. It’s not a dirty joke. The skits are to break down the walls and let them have fun,” Mr. Wandrisco said.

Yeah. This one writes itself. Well, not actually. Mary Niederberger reports for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“The whole premise of the skit is questionable,” Ms. Metz said. “I see no purpose that it would serve, especially not in a Christian youth group setting. It’s perverse.”

She said even if there is no police action taken, she felt it important to speak out so that other parents know what goes on at the meetings. She said at an earlier meeting girls ate jelly beans in chocolate pudding out of adult diapers.

Mr. Wandrisco, in an interview, acknowledged that the Nov. 29 skit had taken place as Ms. Metz described and that the group had also participated at an earlier date in the skit that involved eating chocolate pudding out of diapers.

I cannot disagree with Ms. Metz. I mean, I do not object to the perverse, per se, but this seems counterintuitive, even counterproductive. Dan Savage makes the point well enough:

Putting horny 14 year-old boys in diapers and then plopping them on the laps of teenage girls for a little spoon- and bottle-feeding… thus are life-long fetishes born. Not that I have anything against fetishes or the kind of formative life experiences that create ‘em. Far from it. I live in the house that fetishes bought.

But still. Could you imagine the uproar from Christian groups if, say, a gay youth group did something similar? Or a gay-straight student alliance?

Is this the going symptom this year? Or is this normal? I’m aware that it is a lot easier to pay attention these days if so many people are paying attention for you. Is this the kind of story that we just did not hear of before the most recent flare-up of the Catholic abuse scandal, and especially before the rise of the internet in the 1990s? Or is the obsession with sin and sex that fuels the evangelical fervor simply burning away its own boundaries as its history suggests it must from time to time?

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

And he laid [his] hands on them, and departed thence.