Breitbart and Fox News Perpetuated a Trump Lie

I read something yesterday that freaked me out. Like a lot.

But first, you need to know two things:

  1. The women’s march on Washington was bigger than Trump’s inauguration.
  2. Obama’s inaugurations were both bigger than Trump’s.

This has been substantiated by numbers from the Washington Metro. Politifact has links to tweets from the Metro about the numbers of riders on the individual days about 2/3 of the way down this article. (Politifact rated White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s claim that “That was the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period” as “pants on fire.”)

Fox News posted an AP fact-check article about the claim that Trump was wrong about the crowd size. They said, “THE FACTS: Trump is wrong,” and followed up with the evidence linked above.

Here’s a video. (It zooms in at the end when Trump starts speaking).

Review the evidence. Take as long as you need. Do your own research; use google. Article after article confirms that Trump did not have the biggest crowds. Not even close.

Done? Good.

Because this is the part where Fox News and Breitbart (and God knows who else) perpetuated Trump’s lies. Breitbart is infinitely worse. Like “Dear God I wish their readers were being lied to by Fox News instead” worse.
Continue reading

Fact Check: Religious Wars: Only 123 of 1763?

960135_614804891882206_1406554861_n

UPDATE: The watchful eye of Andrew Holt, on of my commenters, detected an error in this post. Apparently there is an index to the Encyclopedia of Wars which was not in the edition that I found, in which the authors actually do index “religious wars,” of which there are 121, and to which Vox Day thought it right to add two others.

With this addendum in place, the quotation from the book that I cite below still, to a great extent, negates Day’s count.

ORIGINAL POST:
A friend shared the image above from a Facebook page called WHY?Outreach. I thought the statistic was interesting, so I followed the links they cited for their claim in the caption text.

In one of them, an article at CARM, which I despise and link under protest, Robin Schumacher makes the following claim, which is cited verbatim in the meme:

An interesting source of truth on the matter is Philip and Axelrod’s three-volume Encyclopedia of Wars, which chronicles some 1,763 wars that have been waged over the course of human history. Of those wars, the authors categorize 123 as being religious in nature,2 which is an astonishingly low 6.98% of all wars. However, when one subtracts out those waged in the name of Islam (66), the percentage is cut by more than half to 3.23%.

Footnote 2 is a broken link, but it’s supposed to take readers to a Google Books preview of a book called The Irrational Atheist in which author Vox Day adds up “all the wars that the authors of the Encyclopedia of Wars saw fit to categorize as religious wars for one reason or another.” Day includes several caveats, like some wars being lumped together, but is generally satisfied with his work. At the risk of another dead link like the one suffered by CARM, I include a link to the book preview here.

The claims that (1) there have been 1,763 wars in human history, and (2) only 123 of them are a result of religious causes, appear explicitly nowhere in Encyclopedia of Wars. Those numbers were tallied up by Vox Day using data from Encyclopedia of Wars. Sort of. Continue reading

A Map of My Faith Community

I took a class last term called “Education and Pastoral Imagination” with Dr. Helen Blier.

One of our assignments was to make a map of our faith community that shows where knowledge is, and how one gets there. Dr. Blier passed out large sheets of paper, some National Geographic magazines for images, glue sticks (I still have mine – whoops!), and pencils and crayons.

This is my map. (Click to enlarge, or keep reading for close-ups).

Full Map

Continue reading

“Do What Feels Right”

When I was growing up, my dad did something that bothered me immensely: He made rules and said that because the Bible says “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right,” it meant that if we didn’t do what he said, it would be a sin. It would be morally wrong for me to not do what he told us to do, just because the Bible said so.

The Bible, of course, was the highest authority. What the Bible said to do was morally right, and what the Bible said not to do was morally wrong. (I’ve written about that elsewhere).

This frustrated me immensely. There was no way to tell right from wrong, only obedience from disobedience, and the two concepts were fused together. Continue reading

“God’s Not Dead”? Then Stop Acting Like It.

A horrifying number of Christians say they believe God is not dead, but lock God in solitary confinement where God is unable to say anything that disagrees with what inspired Christians from the past have said about God, or insisted upon on God’s behalf.

I remember my dad saying something along the lines of “So many Christians today think God is dead and the Bible is a history book.” Then he proceeded to behave as though God is dead and the Bible is God’s last will and testament.

This position is unfaithful to the witness of scripture. But what would it mean for God to not be dead? God would inspire human beings to look back at the tradition and reflect upon it and find the spark of inspiration, just as God does in scripture. God would lead people to say that others before them did not speak rightly about God. Just as God does in scripture.

God corrects. God pulls people forward. “An eye for an eye” is a good start, but “Don’t seek revenge” is better, and “love your enemies” better still.

But revelation cannot progress because the Bible is a textbook, not a story, not a witness, not a series of witnesses. It’s a love letter God sat down and wrote to individual modern (American) Christians over a long weekend in Patagonia, not the writings of countless inspired writers over hundreds of years to people who were growing and learning and didn’t yet know all the things we know, or all the things human beings from the future will know.

God is not allowed to have employed human beings in all their humanity, but was required to strip away their ability to err while they wrote God’s perfect book. Why? Because modern Christians said so, and we require God to toe the line to our notions about God.

God’s not dead, but if you listen to many Christians these days it sure seems like God is in a vegetative state. But don’t worry; God will one day wake up and review the security tapes and punish those who disobeyed and reward those who obeyed.

Is this what faith in God has come to – just the affirmation that God is not dead? Continue reading

Guest Post: A Letter to the Church I Left

One of my closest friends left his beloved home church recently. He started describing what he’s been going through and I asked if he would be willing to share his story here because I think it might resonate with some of you.

This post contains strong language. Breaking up with your church hurts, and I have chosen to leave it in.

Someone from church called me.

I want to call back.

Because I respect this person.

But I don’t want to have to tell him how I feel.

I don’t want them to know how badly they’ve hurt me – because we all make mistakes and I am sorry for mine.

Because if I did, here’s what I would say: Continue reading

It’s Easter. Is Jesus Alive?

It is Sunday morning.

Jesus, so far as we know, is dead. Death is a constant. It tends not to change. When people die, they stay dead. This is not on our minds, at least not until some women arrive proclaiming an empty tomb and visions of angels and some wishful thinking nonsense about Jesus being risen.

Peter and John run and find the tomb empty. Mary says she saw Jesus but thought he was the gardener.

But you and I know how the world works. We’ve been around to know the sad realities of our world. When the 10 see Jesus in an upper room, we shrug and roll our eyes and attribute it to a mass hallucination. We side with Thomas. We won’t buy it until we can put our hands through the holes in Jesus’ hands and feet.

But then Thomas sees Jesus too. “My lord and my God.”

And 500 others at another point.

And it slowly starts to feel like we’re the only ones who haven’t seen Jesus – or maybe as though the risen Jesus is like Joseph Smith’s golden plates: attested to by many wishful liars.

The two from Emmaus come back announcing that they walked home with Jesus and he explained how all the scriptures point to his resurrection, and our modern apologists write books about how the resurrection of the Messiah has been foretold since time immemorial.

But we have read the prophecies that everyone says are about the resurrection of the Messiah. And you and I are good exegetes. We know this is a load of crap.

And then he’s gone. 40 days later, like Joseph Smith’s golden plates, Jesus is taken back up into heaven, never to be seen again.

There’s no proof of the resurrection. It’s just hearsay from gullible first-century peasants.

But something has happened.

The world has somehow changed in a fundamental way.

Peasants become powerful preachers. A man like us, who knows it’s all a lie, does a 180 and then takes beatings and does time in prison and risks his life to announce that Jesus was executed and raised from the dead – like he believes it with everything he has. Of course, he expects that Jesus will be back within his lifetime, but he expects those who believed in Jesus will also rise, like he believes Jesus did.

Centuries march on. Rome falls, but the church of Jesus Christ lives on. It is everywhere attacked. People try to destroy it from without and from within, but it lives on – sometimes strong, sometimes weak, sometimes in obedience to Jesus, sometimes in cowardly conformity to the world and the sad realities of the world. The church fights for slavery, for discrimination, for killings, but somehow slowly through the centuries, the church lives a little more and a little more into the trajectory of Jesus. It takes 1500 years for Luther and Calvin to discover and be overwhelmed by the radical grace of God, and when they do they write pages upon pages but still do not quite live into it.

Almost as though Jesus was alive.

We can’t prove it, of course. We are good children of the enlightenment, and we know people do not rise from the dead as a general rule.

But what if this one did?

What if, that Sunday morning two millennia ago, the women did in fact meet the risen Jesus? What if he did appear in the upper room, and offered his hands and feet to Thomas a second time? What if the law and the prophets really were about Jesus in a way that the original authors never intended?

What if Jesus has been alive ever since, invisibly pulling his church along, helping us live more and more in line with the trajectory his life set the world on?

And what if you and I believed it?

We couldn’t prove it, of course.

But our lives, like the lives of those before us, could be signs along the way, that not only did Jesus rise that Sunday morning two thousand years ago, but that Jesus is alive and with us today.

Starbucks & the Spirit of Rome

Joshua Feuerstein has done it again.

He made a video about Starbucks’ red coffee cups. It was so ridiculous and ignorant I can’t even be angry about it. It was almost even funny.Feuerstein_Starbucks

He was piping mad (is he ever not?) because Starbucks removed the secular symbols of Christmas from their red and green (Christmas-colored) coffee cups. So he went to Starbucks and told the barista his name was Merry Christmas, to “force Starbucks” to write “Merry Christmas” on his cup.

His video comment described his actions thusly: “SO I PRANKED THEM … and they HATE IT!!!!”

No, Josh. You did not “prank” Starbucks by asking them to write “Merry Christmas” on your cup. And you bought a cup of Starbucks coffee. They do not hate it. They probably would’ve been delighted to write your name on the cup as “F**k you Richard Dawkins, God’s not dead!” as long as you keep buying their coffee.

What we have here is a classic case of projection: He is furious because he feels that Starbucks is excluding his religion, and he assumes that Starbucks would reflect that rage because he “tricked them” into recognizing it. They don’t. I’m sure of it. Continue reading

Christians, Stop Lying and Fearmongering about Gays

Sigh.

It bothers me that I’m even writing this. Like bothers me to no end. I don’t want to write a single post about how my fellow Christians are lying about GLBTQ people, let alone a 2-part series. You know why? Because I don’t want them to do it.

But they’re doing it. You guys, for the love of God, knock it off.

Please?


Okay, looks like nobody’s taken me up on that.

I’m going to start with a video by Dr. Michael Brown. [Edit: he says it was actually posted by one of his staff member. No comment about it having been removed.

You would think a guy with his credentials (he has a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures) would be able to tell the difference between the truth and convenient mis-tellings of the truth.

You would think a guy who talks as much about truth as he does would have the slightest amount of respect for it.

But no. Judging by his facebook page with his name on it, he (or his staff?) is all about fanning that flame of fear for Christians who think being gay is a sin and gays shouldn’t have equal protection under the laws of the United states.

So while I’m upset (furious, really) about the overload of misleading and blatantly false content in this video, on the other hand, it’s really convenient for me. He has compiled all the worst fearmongering lies in one place.

I’m not even going to touch the lies he tells about gays and lesbians because I did that in a previous post. Right now I’m just going to focus on the supposed “news articles” in the video. I’ll screencap them for you, then give you the full story.

The video: https://www.facebook.com/AskDrBrown/videos/1188501104508823/

The first screen cap:

"Clashes pit parents vs gay-friendly curriculums"

“Where homosexuality is promoted, schools subject your kids to mandatory homosexual currciula. ‘Clashes pit parents vs gay-friendly curriculums'”

This is real. It’s from the New York Times in 2011. But the headline is deceiving by way of its description. “Mandatory homosexual curricula” sounds (to me) like kids are going to be forced to sit through depictions of… gosh, something terrible. Probably going to try to convert them to being gay. But what’s it actually about? Maybe if we read the article…

After a lesbian student at Jesse Bethel High School in Vallejo joined with the American Civil Liberties Union in 2008 to accuse the local school district of discrimination, district officials agreed as part of a settlement to show films and assign homework depicting same-sex families, beginning in elementary school.

Why do they want this? In the words of California state senator Mark Leno later in the article,

“People oppose and fear the unfamiliar,” Mr. Leno said in an interview. “When grade-school students understand the arc of the L.G.B.T. movement over 40 years, that otherness begins to dissipate. That’s desperately needed right now.”

The conservative groups don’t want their children to know gays and lesbians can have families, too. “Gay-friendly curriculums” just means curriculums that show families with same-sex parents. The horror!

Verdict: The headline is clickbait, and the way this video describes it as “mandatory homosexual curricula” is misleading at best. One part overblown, one part plain false. Continue reading

The Myth of “Biblical Christianity”

Brandan Robertson is a brave, articulate, passionate, and intelligent queer Christian who, on the basis of having met him once, I am proud to call a friend. He recently participated in a debate with Michael Brown, Justin Lee, and Anne Paulk on “In the Market with Janet Parshall.” The program hour was titled “Gay Christian or Biblical Christian.”

That title is both fascinating and disturbing.

Similarly, the Facebook page “Kissing Fish: Christianity for People Who Don’t Like Christianity” recently shared an image of a banner for a series being done by a group of eight churches in Phoenix, Arizona.

"Progressive" Christianity: Fact or Fiction?

 

In their letter to the editor in a local paper, the pastors of these churches celebrate their “healthy unity” as they stand as Christian pastors against… another church. Which one? A quote from this article from Phoenix’s Fox affiliate describes The Fountains United Methodist Church as “the only progressive church in Fountain Hills.”

Their objective is to answer three questions, the first of which is this:

What is the difference between “Progressive” Christianity and Biblical Christianity?

The quotation marks around the word “Biblical” are conspicuous in their absence.

Another blogger from the Evangelical channel on Patheos wrote a post titled What Is Progressive Christianity? What Do They Believe? Is It Biblical? As you may have guessed, the answers are “Heresy,” “Lies,” and “Absolutely not,” though not in those words.


“Biblical Christians,” as they call themselves, assume that the Bible is flat like a textbook, each word and each verse containing ultimate truth from God. If any of it is anything less than perfect for every reason, then all of it is. If the Genesis accounts are myths, then we have no reason to believe in the resurrection. The Bible is Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. It contains everything we need for life and godliness, and principles of wisdom we can extrapolate into helping with just about anything.

The “Biblical view,” as it is called, has several serious problems. Continue reading