Please Lord, Save Us From Your Followers
Nine of the offender pastors, from top left: (first row) A. V. Ballenger, Christopher Settlemoir, Chester Mulligan; (second row) William Beith, Jack Schaap, Tedd Butler; (third row) Joseph Combs, Craig Sisson, Russell Overla
From Chicago Magazine
Let Us Prey: Big Trouble at First Baptist Church (2012)
A string of assaults and sexual crimes committed by pastors across the country have one thing in common: The perpetrators have ties to the megachurch in Hammond, Indiana.
Nine of the offenders, from top left: (first row) A. V. Ballenger, Christopher Settlemoir, Chester Mulligan; (second row) William Beith, Jack Schaap, Tedd Butler; (third row) Joseph Combs, Craig Sisson, Russell Overla
The sermon was called “The Polished Shaft,” and in the many times that Jack Schaap, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, had delivered it, it was the kind of showstopper that made him a rock star to his flock. (Or would have, had Schaap not habitually railed against the evils of rock music.)
As with most of his sermons at the northwest Indiana megachurch—the 14th largest in the country and the biggest Independent Baptist house of worship in the nation—the message struck as bluntly as a pounded nail: Submit to God’s plan for your life or be snapped like a twig and flung away (as Schaap would demonstrate by cracking a stick over his head, tossing it aside, and barking, “Next!”).
When you do submit, be prepared to endure excruciating pain. God will hold a metaphorical knife to your throat (as Schaap would illustrate by holding a steel blade against a twig the way an assailant might press on a jugular). Only then, he would growl, will you become a “polished shaft”: one suitable for God’s bow.
At this point, the sermon’s climax, Schaap would heave up a high-powered crossbow and fire an arrow into a red X painted on a fake rock a few feet from his pulpit.
The effect was powerful, and it inevitably produced the desired result: swarms of male teenagers trance-walking their way to Schaap (pronounced “Skop”), ready to commit their lives to becoming pastors. And, equally important, to attend the church-owned Hyles-Anderson College a couple of miles away, one of First Baptist’s biggest coffer fillers.
But in July 2010, an hour into the “Polished Shaft” sermon—in a church packed with thousands of teenagers there for a youth conference—Schaap went further. He lifted a stick in his left hand and a silver cloth in his right. He moved the bottom of the stick near his groin and angled it away from himself. Head thrown back, eyes squeezed shut, mouth gaping, he began rubbing the shaft rapidly with the cloth, up and down, up and down. “Ohh! Oh! Ohhhh! Oh! Oh, God, that hurts!” he shrieked.
Then, his voice dropping to a guttural whisper, he said, “Oh, oh, God. Thanks for what you’re making me.”
Schaap continued to rub the stick—up and down, up and down—and converse with God, sometimes angrily, sometimes ecstatically, for more than a minute. What he was doing was unmistakable: simulating masturbation, in front of thousands of children, in the middle of a church service. A row of white-coated high-ranking churchmen seated behind Schaap watched in silence. At the end, as usual, young men streamed up to the stage.
To the hundreds of people who posted comments under a YouTube video of the event, the lack of reaction is as shocking as Schaap’s sermon itself. But to the congregation of First Baptist, it was all in a day’s preaching…
Complete story here…
From Samantha Field
I grew up in a cult.
That’s what I say when I have to start explaining my life to someone. As a phrase it carries a lot of baggage, but even so, it’s the easiest and most straightforward way I have to start my story. Generally I have to walk the person back from visions of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but as loaded as the word “cult” is, it still applies to my life. According to the research of people like Michael Langone, the Independent Fundamental Baptist church I attended for a dozen years fit 13 out of 15 qualifiers. So while I didn’t live in a bunker or on a compound, there’s really no other way to explain what seems like insanity to people with “normal” lives.
For a long time, even after I started blogging, I went out of my way to make clear that it was just my church that was fucked up. Not all IFB churches are unhealthy or cultist, not every fundamentalist church is abusive.
I have since changed my mind.
From Marlene Winell and Valerie Tarico
“I am 30 years old and I am struggling to find sanity. Between the Christian schools, homeschooling, the Christian group home (indoctrinating work camp) and different churches in different cities, I am a psychological, emotional and spiritual mess.” –A former Evangelical
If a former believer says that Christianity made her depressed, obsessive, or post-traumatic, she is likely to be dismissed as an exaggerator. She might describe panic attacks about the rapture; moods that swung from ecstasy about God’s overwhelming love to suicidal self-loathing about repeated sins; or an obsession with sexual purity.
A symptom like one of these clearly has a religious component, yet many people instinctively blame the victim. They will say that the wounded former believer was prone to anxiety or depression or obsession in the first place—that his Christianity somehow got corrupted by his predisposition to psychological problems. Or they will say that he wasn’t a real Christian. If only he had prayed in faith believing or loved God with all his heart, soul and mind, if only he had really been saved—then he would have experienced the peace that passes all understanding.
From The Montana Standard
What is it about religion? Even in these modern times where we are exposed to a world full of ideas, how can what presents itself as the ultimate force for love bring out the absolute worst hate in people? How could it be that in the state of Indiana there was a law passed, purported to be a protection for religion, yet motivated by a desire to humiliate human beings whose only “sin” is choosing a member of the same gender to love? Under this legislation, religious reasons can be cited as legal justification to discriminate against gays, meaning that the bigot can deny a potential customer professional services, for instance, because he or she objects to the customer’s sex choices.
Indiana has become the latest state to enact a so-called a religious objection statute. Condemnations are pouring in; major business, organizations, individuals and even the NCAA have complained, which is notable because the men’s college basketball tournament is about to conclude March Madness with the Final Four in Indianapolis. None of that stopped Indiana’s pandering political leaders from taking out the Neanderthals’ bitter March anger on those who simply dare to be different. There is a growing volume of demand that the NCAA just relocate to a place where intolerance isn’t, uh, tolerated.
It’s a Muslim Thing…
Bid to end suffering of chickens blocked after Muslims complain it would undermine their rights
Restaurant removes bacon sign after Muslims complain
Egypt’s vegetarians dread the arrival of Eid el-Adha, the festival of sacrifice
Toxic drivel, useful media idiots, and the real story about faith and violence. Out of misguided notions of “tolerance,” we avert our critical gaze from blatant absurdities. We must now get real…
The relentless march of time generally affords humankind, which happens to include folks in the media, the chance to reflect on events and acquire wisdom. But the weeks passing since the massacre in Paris of the highly talented Charlie Hebdo cartoonists for their depictions of the Prophet Muhammad have only granted a good number of commentators the opportunity to bedork themselves time and again, as they pen columns and make on-air statements that both spread confusion and betray commitments to untenable, morally reprehensible extenuative positions concerning Islam. This is tragic, for, if anything, the slaughter of European artists exercising their lawful right to self-expression in the capital of their own country offered us all a “teachable moment” sans pareil about the nature of the threat lurking within – in fact, innate to — the “religion of peace.”
Far-right Christians like Todd Starnes think their nation’s in danger. You won’t believe what they want to do next…
Over the past few years, America has been divided by religion. The culture wars have heated up with secularists on one side and God-fearing Americans on the other, and to understate things: They disagree. But does that mean we hateone another? If the animosity is so intense, what kind of outrage goes too far? Bonnie Weinstein has tackled this issue in an important but very troubling book out Dec. 2, titled “To the Far Right Christian Hater … You Can Be a Good Speller or a Hater, But You Can’t Be Both: Official Hate Mail, Threats, and Criticism From the Archives of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.”
Married to Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), the author has collected and annotated a sampling of the hate mail the foundation has received over the past few years. This hate mail is not trolling or anonymous “Internet comments.” The letters are specific and threatening and most often include a return address or email. The Weinsteins’ home has been vandalized — many times — and the family has had to take serious and expensive security measures. It’s no joke. As I read the book, curled up on my couch, my wife kept asking if I was OK. My face was fixed in an expression of horror and disbelief as I read the rage, hate and cruelty cataloged on every page. Bonnie has uncovered a shocking reality: Self-professed Christians deny the fundamental humanity of other people they don’t even know.
Religious scholar Reza Aslan destroys ‘charlatan’ preacher Joel Osteen’s prosperity gospel: Jesus hated wealth… but Jesus can be whatever you want him to be…
From The Raw Story
Religious scholar Reza Aslan blasted proponents of the so-called “prosperity gospel” last month, claiming the materialistic Christian movement ran directly counter to the teachings of Jesus.
Aslan was speaking at the 2014 Indian Summer Festival in Vancouver about his book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. During a question and answer session, the University of California at Riverside professor was asked about the portrayal of Jesus in movies.
“I love all fictional presentations of Jesus. I think they are fantastic, whether it is the Last Temptation of Christ or The Passion — both of which are fiction. But — sorry about that, did I break that to you? — but again for me what is fascinating about those is it is just a representation of what I have been talking about all along, which is the incredible malleability of the Christ story, the way that it can become whatever you want it to become.”
Aslan said his favorite representation of Jesus was from the 1970 rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, and then pivoted to the issue of the prosperity gospel.
Christian Crock of the Week: What in god’s name are these fundamentalist idiots doing to these poor children?
From Live Leak
Fundamental Christians around the globe are increasingly holding large children’s revivals where they practice a disturbing ritual called “anointing by the holy spirit,” “being slain by the holy spirit,” “catching the holy ghost,” or “falling out.”
It is intimidating, physically coercive, deeply stressful, and emotionally manipulative. Children are under tremendous pressure to cooperate, to mimic the adults’ bizarre behaviors, and to avoid being judged unworthy, disappointing, or worse, under satan’s spell.
The older children and teens are under great peer pressure to fit in. The youngest simply don’t understand they’re supposed to fall over. Their purity and honesty shines through.
9 sinister things the Christian right does in the name of God
Hobby Lobby isn’t alone. Evangelicals routinely manipulate the Bible’s teachings to serve their political agenda
Christians may be a super majority in the U.S. They may control the U.S. Congress and, as we all were reminded recently, the Supreme Court. But that hasn’t stopped Bible believers from preparing their children for martyrdom. Web resources abound for church youth leaders who want to make sure their young charges are ready when the lions come for them. Titles include, “Expect to be Persecuted” “Persecution Equals Reward” and “Adventure Game—Persecution of Christians and Paul of Tarsus.”
Christian Crock of the Week: Right-Wing Super-Christers Try to Convert/Abuse This City’s Kids — But They’re Fighting Back…
[What you can do: http://www.goodnewsclubs.info/take_action.htm ~DS]
In past summers, Child Evangelism Fellowship has targeted children in Boston, Denver, Chicago, Little Rock, Salt Lake City, and the Twin Cities for conversion to their brand of biblical fundamentalism. This summer they chose Portland, Oregon. It may have been a mistake.
Some child advocates argue that proselytizing children for religious conversion is immoral. By contrast, Child Evangelism Fellowship boldly proclaims what they see as a God-given mission:
From Jon Carroll
I am reading a book called “Birds Without Wings,” a fictional tale of an imaginary Turkish village between the years 1900 and 1920, and also a true story about Mustafa Kemal, later called Ataturk, who came of age militarily in World War I and went on to re-create his country as a modern nation-state.
Also, he killed a lot of people. Indeed, the atrocities of that war, and its effect on this imaginary village, are a principal theme of the book. During that time, many nations, including the fading Ottoman Empire, Britain, Italy, Germany, Greece and Russia, as well as the nationless tribes of Kurds, Circassians and Armenians, quarreled over what would eventually become modern Turkey.
[Christopher Hitchens allowed Dr. Craig to frame their debate and didn’t fare too well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KBx4vvlbZ8
But Sam Harris (above) ignored Dr. Craig’s efforts to control and define… and wiped the floor with him… Especially hilarious is one student’s question near the end… -DS]
From Atheist Revolution
If you were to ask me once a day for seven consecutive days what I thought the single worst thing about Christianity was, you might get seven different answers. There are many bad things about Christianity, and settling on just one or even trying to list several would be challenging. But if you were to ask me this question right now, the answer you’d get would focus on the fear of one’s own mind instilled by Christianity.
Although I was raised in a Protestant denomination that was neither evangelical nor fundamentalist and was what I’d describe as liberal-to-moderate, this fear was instilled in me from an early age. The path to salvation – the only path to salvation – was found in belief and not in acts. To escape hell, one had to believe. Good acts were encouraged, but they would not be enough. Belief was the key. Without belief, hell was one’s final destination.