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How Dare You People: Joel Osteen and the Nashville Statement

Joel Osteen has had a bad few days. Hurricane Harvey has drowned Houston, Osteen’s hometown, the one that provides his megachurch with not only thousands of weekly parishioners but, far more importantly, those parishioners’ precious weekly donations. The storm has been so bad that Osteen was unable to open his doors last Sunday. This deprived him of a week’s worth of the money that he so dearly loves. Although it is tempting to believe that Osteen would have been fine without a week’s worth of cash – he is worth an estimated $56,000,000 after all – but it should be noted that those donations could have been put to very good use. For instance, he could have built an addition onto his $10.5 million mansion. (Miraculously, it does not appear as though the mansion was hurt by the city’s flooding.)

If all of that wasn’t bad enough, some of Osteen’s critics then had the temerity to start asking why it was exactly that Osteen’s church, Lakewood, had remained closed in the first few days of the storm. These critics observed that Osteen’s (and his people’s) responses to their questions were extremely underwhelming. Here is a timeline of those responses:

There were those willing to defend Osteen’s decision making. They insisted that Osteen was being treated unfairly by a social media horde who simply misunderstood, intentionally or otherwise, the preacher’s approach to the storm. They claimed that Osteen was being proactively cautious, and that, in fact, he was protecting people by not letting them come to his church.

The problem wasn’t Osteen, in other words. The problem was everybody else.

This is a snapshot of the growing cultural divide that exists between many American Christian Evangelicals and, it would seem, everybody else. Faced with what appears to be Osteen’s unapologetic grift – in which the man cannot simply admit that he and his people handled a bad situation very poorly – these folks turn on Osteen’s critics instead, explaining away the preacher’s decisions and insisting that, no, it is everybody else who is wrong.

Ultimately, Osteen’s failure is not a huge deal, in that plenty of other people, religious and otherwise, did not turn their backs on their fellow man. Those people recognized a burgeoning catastrophe and responded accordingly. Osteen didn’t, until the pressure to do so overwhelmed his greed. But this cultural cleavage is bigger than Osteen’s dishonesty, no matter how noxious it alone is.

This brings us neatly to the Nashville Statement, a documented created by The Council On Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. The statement reiterates the belief that marriage should only occur between a man and a woman, and that Christians should not be accepting of either homosexuality or transgender identity. The statement is as predictable in its explicit bigotry as it is entirely at odds with more modern understandings of our existence. But perhaps more interesting is the degree to which the Statement insists that we, as its readers, understand this document’s signatories are not at all responsible for their own actions and behaviors, but rather, that simply take at face value that they are following the specific direction of God.

Among the document’s more galling sections is its tenth article, which makes it clear that any Christian who refuses to hate gays and transgender people should no longer be considered a Christian. Anybody who is unclear about the intent of its wording can visit Denny Burk’s clarification of what exactly it means:

Readers who perceive Article 10 as a line in the sand have rightly perceived what this declaration is about. Anyone who persistently rejects God’s revelation about sexual holiness and virtue is rejecting Christianity altogether, even if they claim otherwise.

Got that? The only true Christians are the ones that hate both gays and transgender people. The only true Christians are the ones Denny Burk approves of, the ones who (as it happens) walk in lockstep with Burk and the Nashville Statement’s other signers-on. Speaking of lockstep, it is a hell of a thing when a collective of (umm?) religious scholars look deeply into the pages of their preferred religious text and reaffirm that, yep, they were the right ones all along, that their beliefs should remain unchanged and unchallenged, and that it is everybody else who owes. There is no point in arguing the theology underpinning this; we can leave that to the Christians who now, apparently, no longer count as Christians, the ones who might be rightly galled for being cast out of their own faith because of their insufficient bigotry.

It is worth noting that Burks sees what he is advocating as a form of love, often the defense of bigotry offered up by the bigoted. “We love these people so much that we want them to change who they are, and to suffer in service to us. Also, we do not make the same offer in return.”

We labor for moral clarity on the point not so that we can say to sinners, “Keep out!” We are standing with our arms wide open saying, “Please, come in. Come to the waters of life available to any and every sinner who turns from sin to trust in Christ.” But we cannot make plain the path to life to those who think they don’t need it.

But here we again see the same selfish demand that we witnessed writ large in Osteen’s initial response to Hurricane Harvey’s deluge: that the world owes sacrifice, be it theological (and personal) in the Nashville Statement’s case, or financial in Osteen’s case. And, in return, those sacrificing can expect all of the following: absolutely nothing.

Literally, nothing.

Those abandoning their friends and their families and their beliefs to embrace the Nashville Statement will get no kindness, no decency, and no understanding from their new friends. They will be told that those friends and families were sinners unwilling to suffer in the way that the Nashville Statement’s authors and backers demanded, and that they were simply never worth or worth wanting in the first place. In exchange, the Nashville Statement’s backers will do nothing different than they have done before, nor will they even consider the possibility of doing so. Nothing about anything should substantively challenge the statement’s authors: how they live, how they think, how they believe. That work is for other people.

So too with Osteen. Yes, his parishioners can be expected to sacrifice weekly, offering what they have to Osteen, who returns their investment by living a life of opulence. But asked to return the favor in his parishioners’ worst moments – in which their lives literally float away on a rising tide that they had done nothing to create – Osteen refused. He saw no obligation to return their charity in any meaningful way. So he kept his church’s doors shut as the waters rose until the threat that he truly cared about – the one that might affect his bottom line – became too overwhelming to ignore.

The Nashville Statement’s champions will continue to cheer it, even as its bigotry fails to sway progressively larger portions of the population, not because of anything they are doing, of course, but because they are being failed by those around them. Osteen’s church is up and running now too, shamed into charity by thousands of voices who rightly and loudly observed the man’s failure, but still insisting that it was everybody else’s fault but his own.

Accepting responsibility, it would seem, is as anathema to these guys as sacrifice is.


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174 thoughts on “How Dare You People: Joel Osteen and the Nashville Statement

  1. Readers who perceive Article 10 as a line in the sand have rightly perceived what this declaration is about. Anyone who persistently rejects God’s revelation about sexual holiness and virtue is rejecting Christianity altogether

    I might be willing to accept these terms, if pressed.

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  2. While I, to a certain degree, agree with your substantive points I think your language is overwrought.

    Article 10 reads:
    “WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.

    WE DENY that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.”

    The article does make it explicit that the signers view approving of homosexual behavior (and by extensions engaging in it) as disqualifying someone one from being able to claim to be Christian. Nothing in that article, however strikes me as demanding hatred of gays or transgendered people let alone non-Christians. The Nashville statement is, in of itself, aimed predominantly at other Christians. It makes few to no demands on a-religious or secular people or structures therefore I think the best response from a-religious or secular people and organizations (among whom gay and trans people are predominantly numbered) is a laconic or contemptuous yawn and indifference. Screaming about how hate laden the Nashville authors are and continuing to overuse once powerful words like bigot strikes me as counterproductive and an action which grants power and authority to the Nashville statement that it does not possess or deserve.

    As for liberal Christians; I’m not one myself but I’d expect the most productive response from them would be a matter of fact assertion that the Nashville authors are not Gods arbiters of who is and isn’t Christian and that whether the Nashville authors like it or not liberal Christian denominations will continue to interpret and act of their own interpretations of doctrine and scripture rather than outsourcing those vital roles to the American Southeast. Indignation, fire and fury would be a silly response as this satirical site points out very wittily:
    At publishing time, the many bigoted backers of the Nashville Statement had still refused to apologize for their horrific act of affirming beliefs that most progressive Christians evolved beyond at least two or three years ago.
    https://babylonbee.com/news/progressives-appalled-christians-affirm-doctrine-held-unanimously-2000-years/

    As for Osteen? He is a plump little termite; typical of his ilk and exemplifying the core nature and true beliefs of the political social conservative right. He’s also an example of the same attitude that migrated from the evangalitical megachurch circuit into the right wing in general. Osteen and his ilk have played no small part in rotting and hollowing out the entire right wing cause of mass gay and trans persecution and have played no small part in the nearly total cultural route that social and religious conservatives are enjoying in present time. Bless him. Gorge, little termite, chew on.

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      • I like some precision in language. Bigot has a specific definition and connotation and I do not think the Nashville Statement comes even close to the definition or connotation of bigotry. The Nashville Statement is generally a commentary on what Christians are or are not and what orthodox Christians can or cannot believe. In that role it’s factual, not bigoted. Orthodox Christians and, up until quite recently, pretty much all Christians believe/d what the Nashville Statement lays out. Restating those beliefs doesn’t make the Nashville Authors bigoted, it just makes them Orthodox Christian.

        The Nashville statement makes no significant claims or assertions regarding non-Christians. It’s fundamentally an inward facing document. It’s certainly not bigoted.

        I close with a personal observation. In this culture we live in, western modern culture in general and American culture in particular, I have observed in my meager near four decades that the persons or groups that assume the position of sphincter puckered, screeching moral scold, are generally destined for decline and the marginalization of their views. I, thus, observe the increasing tendency of supporters of and advocates for gay and trans rights to assume that position with considerable unease.

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        • It seems weird to most 21st century young people but liberalism and leftism always attracted their fair share of moral scold. When you believe your trying to make the world a better place through reform or even more ambitious heaven a place on earth than your going to attract a lot of austere people with no use for frivolity in any form. The Evangelical Christians in the United Kingdom were more often than not on the liberal or left side of the political spectrum. They were pushing more abolition of slavery, temperance in drink, and Godly Sundays. It was the Anglican Tories that were for pubs and Sunday sports. Traditionally, the conservative or aristocratic parties were also the fun parties while the liberals were the moral scolds. The Social Justice movement might just be a return to the historic norm.

          Liberal and leftist movements also attracted their fare share of Bohemians, people who could not and would not conform to Bourgeois norms and rejected them wholesale. The most dangerous of all revolutionaries usually combined austerity and Bohemianism in one.

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        • FTR, as an erstwhile student of religious belief, while I appreciate you explaining this point of view, I disagree strongly that pretty much all Christians believed this until very recently.

          Many of them believed something much more loving; and many of them believed something much more hateful (at least much more explicitly hateful). Christians in small groups, and/or as individuals, tend to deviate fairly strongly from mainline belief in one or the other direction.

          Dogma tends to be, historically, the middle of the road. But not that many believers live in the middle of the road. It’s just the thing they can all live with *as dogma* regardless of their actual behaviors / private beliefs. Anglicans may be an exception to this, being pretty middle-of-the-road folks from what I’ve seen. But all the other Christian denominations I’ve bumped up against show this pattern of dogma being (despite what they believe it is) actually a compromise.

          It is pretty bog-standard traditional dogma though. Honestly I think the Pope would be hard pressed to disagree with it theologically although I believe he might have some *strong* words about its timing and intent.

          One of the major reasons I’ve been heterodox since about 5 seconds out of puberty. (Before then I really didn’t think about sex much :D).

          Also, I think you are right and really important to distinguish between people who hate and people who think something is wrong. The problem is that the former like to hide behind the latter. But the opportunity is that the latter can learn to change. In this particular case, I’ve *never* seen people who literally hate QUILTBAG people shift from that position (except when it turned out they were self-hating and just needed to let that go). But I’ve changed more than a few hearts among the latter group. Just me! And obviously many many more have changed themselves or been changed by others.

          The reason it can be hard to distinguish, societally, is that the outcomes are often times the same. And en masse, I care about people’s hateful, trauma-causing actions, far more than their charitable internal states. But one on one or in the realm of discourse? It really does *matter* why they think I’m going to hell.

          tl;dr I mostly agree with .

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          • Hate the sin. Love the sinner.

            The document strikes me as saying not to approve of the sin. It doesn’t address the sinners at all.

            They could make the same statement about adultery, or pride, gluttony, greed, sloth, envy, lust, and anger. If they did, there would be little implication that they’re telling Christians to hate proud people, or fat people, or lazy people.

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            • They could, and yet they don’t. They only address one set of sins, these folks, and those are sins (by their lights) having to do with how the household should work and how people should have sex and talk about gender. Sins that directly involve LGBT people as the so-called sinners, and anyone that’s something like a feminist. They literally *do not* produce documents in anywhere near the quantity (or often at all) about other sins.

              Did you see Fr. Martin’s response, below?

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              • Yes I did. He was quite good.

                Well, the LGBT issues are currently front and center. The war against gluttony was lost some time ago. Many of the televangelists would be kind of in a quandary on adultery. Hate the sin, keep loving the sinning televangelist who repents.

                They’re kind of boxed in because the LGBT stance was retained into modern times (it’s still active doctrine in many churches), unlike whole huge sections of Biblical teachings that were dropped from focus centuries ago, such as the part of Leviticus 15 where we find out that eight days after her period, a woman has to give two pigeons to a priest. Maybe the church was struck with ornithophobia and decided the constant bird gifts were a bad thing, or maybe they just thought the instructions were dumber than dirt, but they dropped it.

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        • First, it’s not just a factual statement about what Christians believe–since it’s being promulgated by Evangelical leaders, it’s a normative statement about what Christians must believe.

          Second, I don’t see a limiting principle in your argument, which leads me to think you’re arguing that religious beliefs simply cannot be bigoted, or that they can’t be bigoted unless they make direct demands on non-believers. This seems pretty obviously wrong, so I suspect I’m missing something in your argument.

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          • Actually if this article is correct: https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2015/0220/Millennial-Evangelicals-push-for-full-inclusion-of-LGBT-Christians
            the Nashville declaration may be an attempt to stop the movement of millennial to favor inclusion of lgbt folks into the church, and their support of any commuted life time relationship (see the tail end of the article). As the article points out the Bible was used to justify slavery before the civil war indeed it is often said that the devil quotes scripture to his own purpose. (Indeed many churches split over slavery before the civil war).
            So it may be the older leadership trying to tell folks that in their unhumble opinion they are wrong, but they will have a hard time stopping that tanker, as it is an intergenerational issue (most of the folks in leadership are of older generations)

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        • I am unaware of any denomination called Orthodox Christian, or who appointed these people (Who seem to call themselves Evangelicals, not Orthodox Christians) in charge of it.

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      • North’s theory is that the best way to deal with illiberal Christians is to treat them as impotent. Many of them have a severe case of persecution fantasies and would like nothing more than to pretend they early Christians getting persecuted by decadent Rome. Anything that encourages this feeling including calling them out as bigoted is counter-productive. In North’s theory, the best way to treat illiberal Christians is simply to ignore them and go on with your life as they howl with the mad rage of powerlessness and inability to turn back modernity. Its an interesting idea but it requires people be less emotional than they actually are.

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          • On the one hand; you wanna run a public business then you gotta serve the public. On the other hand; it’s probably a fight that gay rights folks shouldn’t have picked until it started spreading to more important business areas than wedding cakes. But it’s nowhere near the big deal that howling social cons try to make of it.

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            • I think the SoCons actually had a reasonable case that they framed very poorly (tying in extraneous issues like their revolting “bathroom bills”, making obviously bad faith appeals to religious freedom). So point to you about the importance of that kind of thing.

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            • you wanna run a public business then you gotta serve the public.

              Well except if the member of the public in question is a right-winger with backward social views.

              Or put differently

              I have trouble figuring out how a bakery is more of a public business than twitter or cloudfare.

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              • Public accommodations can discriminate on a “reasonable” basis, as I understand the law (IANAL).

                Discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation is not reasonable.[1]

                Discriminating on the basis of the message that a customer wants to send using your platform is much more reasonable.

                The question of whether baking a wedding cake is more like sending a message or more like just providing any old service is an interesting one. This is one reason I think the attempts to rope in all kinds of discrimination, including state discrimination against trans persons, into the “bake the cake” argument is such a bad choice. It makes it clear that the issue isn’t really one of free expression at all.

                (Also, Twitter’s users aren’t its customers!)

                [1] Social conservatives have been struggling to demonstrate otherwise for my whole adult life, without ever coming up with an argument that’s remotely persuasive.

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        • It is also just… at odds with reality. The illiberal Christians not only have enough juice to get one of their number elected as Vice President, they have enough juice to persuade the President to go back on his (admittedly laughable) promise to vindicate LGBT rights and kick all the trans people out of the military. That literally just happened (though the military may be dragging its feet a bit).

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          • Do you read many socialcons? There’s the establishment GOP social cons who’re whistling so hard past the graveyard their faces are blue and all the rest who’re saying “It profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world. But for Trump?” They can read the surveys of youth interest in their ideology and can count the wrinkles on the faces of their parishioners even better than we can.

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            • I mean, I’ve been reading social cons for years, (and still read some of them now), and they always believe they’re doomed, their influence is fading, et c. and so forth. And maybe ten years from now the demographic trends will play out so they no longer can wield power effectively, (at least not outside the courts they pack with their own), but right now they’re one of the biggest power blocs in the the party that controls all the branches of the Federal Government, and many state governments to boot.

              And while socially conservative writers may wring their hands about Trump and break from them, a substantial majority of both Evangelical leaders and many of their rank in file were, and, it appears, still are, totally on board with him. Unlike most other members of his coalition, they continue to get what they want from him, too.

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              • For sure, but what have they accomplished? They threw the last shreds of their credibility on a bonfire in backing Trump and they got a supreme court judge pick (no small thing) and a trans ban that the public despises and the Military is going to do its very best to never implement. That ain’t much in real terms. Meanwhile beyond those two policies we’re talking about at most them slowing down legal protections for trans people; not turning them back let alone reversing gay civil rights gains. It isn’t much gain in return for selling their souls.

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                • If anything they’re making a lot more headway in the area of the so-called prosperity gospel, what with a judge reversing the DoL exempt salary increase and all. (I realize the two are not directly connected but I do believe the whole “If Jesus loves you you’ll be wealthy” strain of thought has had a lot to do with how we treat the poor in this country.)

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                • I’m pretty sure that they will get more than Goresuch on the Supreme Court. Ginsburg, Kennedy, and Breyer are not spring chickens. Replacing one of them with another youngish Federalist fire-breather and you will see a Supreme Court that can block progress for decades.

                  Plus they get Court of Appeals judges that can do the same.

                  Betsy DeVos is doing her best to undermine public education and she will likely do lasting harm.

                  Again, how do you get to be so sanguine about things?

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                  • Well, there’s hope that Dems will get their act together and take back Congress or even the Senate in which case Trumps nominating power becomes enormously subscribed- especially since, with the Gorsuch stunt, the GOP basically eliminated any hope of persuading anyone that a Democratic Senate couldn’t block everyone Trump nominated.

                    I’m sad about Hillary losing but ironically my prediction that Trump would be the most desirable GOP winner because of his ineffectualness, incompetence and general crapping on the GOP brand so far has held up pretty well.

                    As to how I get to be so sanguine? I was alive and politically conscious in the early Aughts, so were you. Back then it looked like the GOP/Conservatives were winning and might actually have some intellectual coherence and merit behind them. Now? I find them considerably more contemptible and a lot less frightening.

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                        • You look at Trump and you see an ineffectual, incompetent, and generally craptacular President.

                          This perspective makes a great deal of sense to me.

                          Now all we have to do is find a Democratic nominee who does not radiate traits that are even more unattractive than Trumps ineffectuality, incompetence, and general crapitude.

                          There will be Democrats who will see Trump and say “hold my beer”.

                          Do not hold their beer.

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                          • Ah yes, not to worry, Bernie won’t have my vote in the event he runs and Hillary won’t run. So I expect it’ll be a pretty open competitive primary and I actually think the Dems institutionally and as a base are in a good position to pick a decent candidate.

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                                  • First, can you explain the “Hold my beer” thing? I just don’t get it.

                                    Second, I’m really struggling with whatever it is you’re doing here. said:

                                    “Well, there’s hope that Dems will get their act together and take back Congress or even the Senate in which case Trumps nominating power becomes enormously subscribed- especially since, with the Gorsuch stunt, the GOP basically eliminated any hope of persuading anyone that a Democratic Senate couldn’t block everyone Trump nominated.”

                                    And somehow you landed in a place of sarcastically mocking other who are discussing possible paths the Dems might take towards victory, as if they are assuming it as a foregone conclusion… despite absolutely no one even intimating that.

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                                    • Sure. I am using “Hold my beer” as a way to say “I can top that!”

                                      We are looking at Trump and saying “oh my gosh… he’s screwing everything up, he’s shooting himself in the foot, he’s shooting Republicans in the feet and the Republicans who are trying to run away from him are getting shot in the butt!”

                                      And, from there, making an educated guess that even the Democrats wouldn’t be able to grab defeat from the jaws of victory under these circumstances!

                                      And then I remember… oh, yeah. The Democrats could totally screw this up.

                                      Is that something that I shouldn’t notice?

                                      Should I please clap?

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                                      • I think that is a reasonable thing to notice. I genuinely had no idea what the phrase meant.

                                        What I’m pushing back against is North and Nevermoor having a pretty reasonable conversation about what the Dems might be able to do and you responding sarcastically with, “What could possibly go wrong?” The snark implies they are acting as if nothing could go wrong… which neither of them did at all. So why respond that way?

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                                        • I kinda saw the conversation as being between North, Nevermoor, and I (and I think that the threading backs me up on this… start with where I said “do not hold their beer”).

                                          I also see my “what could possibly go wrong?” as having the same levity as “hold my beer” rather than “you’re a dumb-dumb duh duh duh”.

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                                    • It’s like this: Suppose you’re talking to this guy at a bar, you’ve both just seen another patron do something incredibly dumb, and you say “I can say for sure that’s the dumbest thing that’s going to happen here tonight.”

                                      Then he says “Hold my beer.”

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                                • Hickenlooper would be an amazing candidate … not speaking strategically, just from the heart. He’s done more to advance QUILTBAG rights in this state than any other politician I can think of, and he did it while maintaining a reasonably good relationship with the state’s strong Republican base.

                                  Holy crap I just went to google him and saw that he and Kasich are mulling a unity run as of 8/25 of this year (for 2020):

                                  https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/25/republican-kasich-democrat-hickenlooper-reportedly-mull-joint-white-house-run.html

                                  I think my entire state might vote for them.

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                                    • (Note that I’m pretty damn sure a Hickenlooper vs Kasich ticket would never happen PURELY on the basis that I wouldn’t mind if Kasich won and I’d be thrilled if Hickenlooper did. The American public never wants what I want, so….)

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                                    • Hmm I haven’t heard anything but good about Hickenlooper personally. It’s way early to even muse on the subject but he has the right profile. A long stint as Governor ain’t a bad thing at all for a Presidential Candidate. The Dems could definitely do worse.

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                                  • I know I’m a wet blanket, but I don’t see the coastal Democrats letting Hickenlooper happen. That, and the primary schedule works against him. Iowa (Midwest), NH (Northeast), SC (South). Super Tuesday early on gives a huge boost to candidates with the deepest ties to the Southern black vote (see Clinton vs. Sanders last year). Hickenlooper’s history plays to states where Hispanics, with an emphasis on Mexico, are the big minority.

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                                      • Do you think the ‘Looper would flip any western states?

                                        Beyond current trend lines? Probably not. The red/blue Presidential map for the West (Census Bureau definition) has been the same in 2008, 2012, and 2016. The next possible flip would be Arizona, but that’s probably 10-15 years away. Ask me again after the 2018 Senate election(s) in AZ.

                                        The phenomenon I watch most these days is the tendency of Democratic Presidential nominees from the NE urban corridor to underperform in the rest of the country. I take a fairly broad view of “NE urban corridor”; I included Al Gore, since he’d been a DC guy in Congress and as VP for almost 25 years by the time he ran for President on his own.

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                                    • Those are two separate questions. As a (west) coastal Democrat, I just want to win, and I see him as having a plausible claim to being a younger Jerry Brown which would approach my dream candidate.

                                      As far as winning southern primaries (1) no individual primary means that much if you have strong support and manage expectations; and (2) if he gets the machine endorsements he’ll do plenty well in those states, unless he’s running against someone like serious-mode Harris, in which case no one is going to adjust their expectations much if she sweeps black-vote-dominated primaries.

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                                      • …and I see him as having a plausible claim to being a younger Jerry Brown which would approach my dream candidate.

                                        On policy, Hick is more… cautious, let us say, than this iteration of Gov. Brown. Some of that is probably Hick. Some of it is probably that he doesn’t have the same kind of legislative majorities that Brown has in California. Some of it is that for the last 15 years or so (so some predating Hick), ballot initiatives have provided a safety valve on a number of progressive issues: renewable energy, legal marijuana, higher minimum wage, a vote on single-payer health insurance at the state level (went down in flames).

                                        Hick might have been a better candidate than Clinton in 2016, running as a caretaker for policy changes passed under Obama and as a firewall against a Republican-controlled Congress. He could sell that role; Clinton had, IMO, problems doing so even though that is likely what she would have been.

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                                        • I meant more in the sense of competent administrator with his head in the right place.

                                          As opposed to, say, Gavin Newsom (or, I fear, Booker) who is a lightweight dilettante with a drive for headlines, but whose heart is in the right place.

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                                  • I really really hate this idea that we are supposed to pretend Kasich is some reasonable moderate.

                                    What is one substantive policy that Mike Pence might want that Kasich is opposed to? I mean, his rhetoric is less “eff the Democrats” but he’s a cut-tax-on-the-rich, deregulate-everything, defund planned parenthood republican. He’s no moderate in anything but comparison to Trump.

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                                    • Speaking for myself, I don’t think the idea is that Kosich is a moderate.

                                      I think the idea is that Kosich is one of the few possible national GOP candidates right now who appears to want to preserve our national institutions rather than burn them all down.

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                                    • He doesn’t actually let people do things that are completely asinine, is my main reason for preferring him. eg he vetoed the heartbeat bill. he also seems like a reasonable opponent. he hears what people actually mean wrt the black lives matter movement instead of doing some ridiculous panic dance. just because he throws women under the bus whenever convenient doesn’t mean he isn’t better than his GOP competition. i wouldn’t vote for him (were I able to vote), i just wouldn’t feel so damn baffled that people could. i can live in a country that’s hostile to many of my values. i have a lot of trouble living in a country that’s hostile to my values, reasoned discourse, and (as far as i can see a lot of the time) my very person.

                                      I mean, personally I’d much rather see a Warren-Rochester led US government than a Hickenlooper one too, but I think Hick’s ability to work with people like Kasich *without (so far) being perceived as an establishment dude* means he’s a better candidate, more balanced, can draw more votes, etc. It’s not ’cause he’s my favorite politician, it’s because he’s shown me he can make *real gains* for women, for people of color, for LGBTQ people especially, in a state that is not historically good at any of those things.

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                                      • Sure. If the standard is “I don’t lose respect for people who support him” then I get why he’s different from Trump.

                                        I thought the standard was “wouldn’t it be great if he ran with Hickenlooper,” which is where my reaction came from. That would NOT be great.

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                                        • Oh, no! That would have been *interesting* and exciting in the holy-crap-maybe-a-unity-ticket-is-the-only-way-to-get-rid-of-the-republicans-being-in-charge sense. though honestly, given hickenlooper, an actual unity ticket would make me suspect Kasich of having had a major change of heart / politics.

                                          the real “wouldn’t it be great?” would be if he ran against Hickenlooper.

                                          And I’m looking at this, as usual, from the position of a non-citizen who lives here. If it was Hick vs. Kasich 2020, the year before the election would be infinitely less literally-reminds-me-of-my-abusive-father-and-triggers-flashbacks than 2016 was…

                                          I’m fundamentally a selfish person.

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                              • Gildebrand is a good choice!

                                No one wants Zuckerberg except in your fever dreams. Do you talk with actual Democrats or just performance artists pretending to be Democrats that play to libertarian fantasies for tips?

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                                • He talks to actual Democrats, and he was joking / expressing a worry he’s stated before about what Zuckerberg wants in a playful manner. Are you joking back or are you actually that cranky?

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            • I think you and Pillsy are both right.

              Yes you are right that these hardcore Christian fundamentalists are just getting older and white and dying out.

              But they made a bet on Trump and it could be a gift that keeps giving for decades. One thing that social conservatives are really good at doing is getting relatively young judges appointed to the highest branches of the judiciary.

              We are still a nation of 300 plus million and there are still lots of young right-wingers. When the GOP is control they appoint judges and justices in their 40s or early 50s at max. These Judges and Justices can be on the bench and gunking things up for decades after the largest base of the fundies is gone.

              How do get to be so sanguine about everything?

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                • duuuuuuuuuuude i know that’s a joke but really? we’re not a comedy club, and that is one hot button issue to be playing around with. i’m staunchly pro-choice and I felt myself get all squeezed in when you said that.

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                    • Oh, yeah, not every time I scold someone is it a first step toward anything. and I have a long standing tradition where I think 99 percent of his jokes are hilarious (the punnier the better IMO) and when I feel he’s crossed a line – which is rare – I scold him for it.

                      See it as me warning my goofy but beloved uncle that if he doesn’t behave himself, he’s not getting dessert. (Mike, I hope this isn’t an affront to your dignity, I think you are quite elegant and wise in person :D.)

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    • To tell people that they are welcome to their faith (as dictated by the Statement’s signers) or their friends/family, but not both, strikes me as demanded hatred. Another way to describe that might be, “You can claim to be a Christian, or you can love your friends and family, but you cannot do both.”

      And, again, I have been clear on my own position: that this is explicit bigotry in its most naked form. I recognize that there are those who disagree with this – who believe, for example, that these Christians genuinely do love the people that they also want to suffer incredibly – but those folks and I simply do not agree.

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      • Jesus did say in the Gospels that to follow him, you had to abandon your family and become part of a bigger thing. It was the Pharisees and their Rabbinical descendants that argued for the family as the basis of monotheistic society.

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        • There’s all kinds of goofiness and contingency with how Christian teachings got translated into culture, and vice versa.

          Paul had some *serious* hangups about sexuality and women. If there were such a thing as a trilby in Syria and Asia Minor 2000 years ago, Paul would be wearing one.

          Christianity was an apolcyptic death cult for about the first hundred years, and then still an underground technically illegal religion for the two hundred years after that, so social organization was always ad hoc and often disrupted.

          Then Constantine came along (really the first Prosperity Gospel guy) and Christianity began to be folded in formally and completely with the social and political fabric of Roman society. But that Roman society was *very* misogynistic. And though Paul was a creature of the East, which was marginally better (e.g. people like Cleopatra and Zenobia – though they were still not going to win any Gloria Steinem awards), Paul’s own iconoclasm worked against this small trend. (a similar thing (probably) happened with Paul vis a vis Roman notions of homosexuality, but I don’t think the New Testament discusses that very much – certainly not as much as all the letters talk about what women should and should not do)

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      • Sam, I agree that Christians came to the “love the sinner not the sin” mantra late in the twilight of their war on gay and trans people (a hypocrisy that, much like Osteen, did no small part in collapsing the ground from beneath their feet). The exclusive choices between loving non-adherent Christians and claiming to be Christian, though, appears to me to be something you’re reading into the document rather than being something that’s actually there. Talk is cheap, of course, and especially cheap when it comes to matters of faith but it is not logically necessary for someone you love to share your faith. The Nashville Statement does define people who don’t agree with them on sexuality or gender matters as non-believers but nowhere does it demand hatred or persecution of non-believers.

        And as for liberal Christians? Well there’re ten thousand splintered sects of Christianity for a reason. The Nashville signers are no more arbiters of who is or is not a Christian than I am Toast King and Emperor of the Moon.

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      • If Osteen runs for political office perhaps I’d need to rereview my opinion in light of that past error. Short of that unless the man is building a doomsday weapon with all the money he grifted off religious right wing idiots he doesn’t present any threat in any way shape or form.

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  3. Nothing in that article, however strikes me as demanding hatred of gays or transgendered people let alone non-Christians.

    What does it mean to disapprove of so-called sexual immorality? Can I still invite my gay and trans family members to Christmas dinner? Can I invite their partners and kids and in laws, embracing them as part of my extended family? Can I do this without once condemning their love out loud and making them feel horribly rejected?

    If approval and disapproval are supposed to be in any way detectable from outside ones own skull – I guess one could ‘kindly and lovingly’ reject one’s friends and family?

    You think that’s going to sting much less?

    Or, iif disapproval ought to stay inside one’s head, as not to interfere with the far more important duties of kindness and familial love – what’s the point?

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    • Can you? I can’t speak for you but logically you most assuredly could. Would it sting? Hell most likely yeah! Is that bigotry or hatred? Hell no. It might cost you your gay and trans family members affection and love and the affection and love of their allies. Would that sting? Hell yeah. Would that be bigotry? Hell no. It’s just be what it is; a cost and a consequence.

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      • Where you lose me is with the talk of what is and is not logically possible. Stipulating that you are correct, this is not the relevant discussion for the vast majority of people. Most people aren’t wired that way. In any case, the whole point of Evangelicalism is evangelism: hence the name. Bringing people to Jesus is absolutely central to their identity. Whether or not that person accepts Jesus is, in turn, explicitly taken as the differences between being Saved and being Damned. In this scheme, to invite for gay relation to dinner and to outwardly accept the gayness is an unloving and impious act, acting as if the gay relation’s being Damned is of no consequence. The haranguing is built into the system.

        This is closely related to the concept of “Hate the sin but love the sinner.” This invariably manifests itself very much like hating the sinner.

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        • Yes, for sure, and it’s been devouring the social cons alive for decades now. But is it bigotry? I don’t think it is. What the Nashville Statement does is restate and affirm what they’ve pretty much always advocated (along with the normal conceit of speaking as if they are the true universal faith which, of course, has been endemic to Christianity ever since Jesus’s disciples parted ways after the Big Man moved upstairs). The Nashville authors are not demanding that gays etc be hounded everywhere they go nor does it make any demands on the unfaithful. It simply asserts what conservative Christians believe and asserts that sweeping those beliefs under the rug for the sake of being nice is not acceptable (because, as you note, damnation is a big deal to them). Is that bigotry? I just don’t see it and think that calling it bigotry when it’s not expressly bigotry weakens the charge of bigotry.

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          • To get an idea of what means about that perspective being endemic – that (one’s version of) Christianity is the true universal faith, consider how the post you linked to would read if you believed that circumcision was the only correct choice for Jews. Maybe the bloody knife gif and rhetoric about how hilarious comparing it to castration is wouldn’t seem quite so insightful? Maybe it would, I dunno. I do know some Orthodox Jewish people who would be really unhappy that the author didn’t even acknowledge that part of the conversation – that current Orthodox Jewish people still do believe in circumcision for converts.

            (I realize 100 percent that wasn’t the point of the post, I’m not trying to raise a circumcision debate, and I’m not even mad you linked it. Just saying, defaulting to obliviousness about how religious beliefs other than one’s personal Christianity view the world is blindness that extends far beyond social cons.)

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          • The Nashville authors are not demanding that gays etc be hounded everywhere they go nor does it make any demands on the unfaithful.

            I mean, they are affirming the doctrine that underlies government attempts to keep trans people from having the right to serve in the military, or even use the bathroom. That sounds kind of like “hounding” to me, and it’s hounding of a piece with what social conservatives have been engaged in for decades.

            Now, maybe the authors don’t intend to bind the government to these judgments, but people making similar statements in the past certainly did intend that, and it’s not like at least some of the authors don’t support the government taking such actions going forward. I find it very hard not to treat the assumption that this document is purely inward-facing with intense skepticism, and if it isn’t purely inward-facing, your argument that it’s not fair to call it bigotry seems much weaker.

            Now, maybe they are impotent, but being impotent doesn’t mean they aren’t bigots, it just means they’re impotent bigots. And sadly, we have more reason than ever to believe that just because a bigot is impotent now doesn’t mean they won’t see their power grow in the future.

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            • Well they sure as heck could have flat out added a series of assertions and bullet points directly addressing the various public policy points that you point out. They didn’t. Absolutely we can interpret, imagine and impute malice into them towards gay and trans people- they’re social conservatives after all. But it isn’t in the text. So if it becomes us pointing and calling them bigots over what isn’t in the text? My fear is that makes the bigot charge weaker and the social cons stronger.

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              • You are treating this document as if it existed in a vacuum–as if it were not the latest of a series coming from essentially the same people, and as if these people had no history outside of these documents. As hermeneutics go, this one sucks.

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                • Please don’t mistake my position vis a vis these people. I am not defending their ideology of their document. I loathe them (as very distinct from hatred which is love inverted). My only interest regarding them and their ideologies is what actions moral actions can be taken towards them that will permit them to continue to wither away into eventual marginalization and nonexistence. I think breaking the glass, pulling out the fire axe, pointing and yelling bigot like some Antifa imbecile will only strengthen the authors of the Nashville document so I have a very high bar that needs to be met before I begin doing so.

                  In that the Nashville Articles are, at face value, an internally addressed document aimed predominantly at a shrinking pool of believers with the primary purpose of ending debate and writing people out of their team I’d like it greeted with indifference by the non-religious, not un-photogenic howls of indignation.

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              • Well they sure as heck could have flat out added a series of assertions and bullet points directly addressing the various public policy points that you point out. They didn’t.

                Yup, and in the absence of explicit disclaimers, and the presence of both recent and not-so-recent history, I don’t see any reason to extend the benefit of the doubt, and every reason not to.

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          • Two points: (1) I am mystified by the idea that a position’s being traditional is inconsistent with its being bigotry. (2) Where we disagree is about whether there are any further implications to the position. I am particularly struck by the assertion that no demands are being made on the unfaithful. Evangelicals work tirelessly to enact secular laws to their liking. State laws against anything suspiciously like gay marriage are a recent example. It is irrelevant hat the Nashville Statement leaves unstated the implication that Evangelicals should continue this struggle.

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            • Sure they do, but the Nashville Statement in of itself makes few to no demands of secular authority or non-Christians at all. There weren’t bullet points calling for rolling back legal gay civil rights. I mean, for fish’s sake, it wasn’t exactly a gay friendly document and I can’t see how anyone could expect one. Fundies are gonna fundie but as fundie documents go the Nashville Statement was pretty bland.

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              • I just wrote a response to your response to pilsy, that made the same point, so there is no need for me to repeat myself but rather refer you to that response and incorporate it by reference herein, as the lawyers say.

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    • In my experience of people who love me and hate my supposed sin, it can mean all of those things *and* fighting for my legal rights to equality in the eyes of the law (even for some folks, the cake baking thing!!!), or none of them. I much prefer to treat it as a fungible theory they have about the afterlife because that can let them do what they really want, and back me up, rather than reinforcing the claims some ridiculous person / the weight of historical hate have led them to believe. Does it sting? Yeah, it stings like hell. Should anyone HAVE to put up with it from friends and family? Hell no. Does every QUILTBAG person have the right to decide for themselves whether people making these claims actually do love them or not? Hell yes. (I’ve certainly also known people who claimed to love me and absolutely did not, some of whom also hated my bisexuality and claimed to not hate it – notably, most of those haters weren’t religiously motivated.) Have I personally found it a lot more productive to embrace those who really do seem sincere and forgive them even though they sometimes cause me a serious amount of pain and don’t always respect my boundaries around our discussions? Hell yes. Is this approach likely, in my experience, to lead to conversions to another way of thinking about the afterlife and eventual shifting of beliefs? Hell yes.

      So, y’know. I find that my friends who haven’t yet figured out that Jesus isn’t in the business of consigning souls to hell and disapproving of love are actually *different* from bigots and there is not much use in conflating them. Even if I am quite sure that some of their beliefs, taken piecemeal, are most certainly bigoted.

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      • Also treating it as a fungible theory about the afterlife tends to weaken its effectiveness when applied to politics.

        “If you don’t repent you’re going to Hell!!!”
        “Stipulated that you believe that, I don’t accept that it affects how I should be treated by the government and neither should you.”

        This is the logical process by which many Mormons have started supporting gay rights – even dropping out of Mormonism while holding on to a lot of their core beliefs *because* they support gay rights, and not just the Polygamous ones. If we can shift the freaking Mormon church (not all Mormons, but it’s changing very rapidly), we can shift politics.
        And humans being humans, once they start supporting us, their tribal allegiances do tend to shift and suddenly they can see how hateful their former side is, and not really give a rat’s tail about naked queens at pride parades. (NB I am personally *actively* in favor of said naked queens, I just hear about them a lot in anti-gay screeds.)
        Compare:

        “If you don’t repent you’re going to Hell!”
        “You’re a shameful bigot ruining people’s lives and you might as well be Fred Phelps!”

        To someone who doesn’t already know the right side, both of those statements sound equally intractable. The fulminators *are wrong*. 100 percent wrong. It’s not a both sides do it thing at all. But if their conflicted followers already understood that, they wouldn’t be uncertain of the right thing to do *in the first place*.

        I’m not really interested in Osteen and his parasitical ilk (and neither is North). I’m interested in changing things for the better and I don’t think direct conflict is the only (or, in the realm of ideas, even the best) way to get there.

        Now if we’re talking about a specific law, arguing for something, absolutely. If we want to say “Dude, you joined X church? Nashville Statement? Don’t you know that is a pack of frauds and a lot of them have actively worked to make my life hell?” Absolutely. Those are effective strategies and also being honest with your friends.

        “Ahhhhhhhhhhh they’re all just a pack of bigots” I save that for the guys with the torches and the senators passing laws. (Yes, even laws they personally object to but don’t have the guts to stand up against.)

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          • Sure. I reckon there are not a lot of bisexual trans genderfluid heretical Catholics with theology minors, also with a former mentor who is now heading up one of Canada’s big anti-marriage-equality movements, also whose mother-in-law is an evangelical Christian speaker who is *very* pro-marriage-equality. Plus I worked in a bookstore in downtown Colorado Springs for a decade.

            Y’all are kinda in my wheelhouse.

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  4. Yawn. Can we please get more stories on gluten-free existence?
    They’d have more relevance and applicability to Things that Influence Americans than Christianity does, at this point in time.

    Religion is being monetized, and because of that, it is being systematized and revolutionized in ways that people of yesteryear would have considered inconceivable.

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  5. I’m not really very knowledgeable about Olsteen or his theology, other than having a passing understanding that he was sort of the Tony Robbins of Christiantity. When I have briefly paused on one of his services while flipping channels, he rarely even mentions God or Jesus. It seems like he’s more of a life coach. But again, I don’t claim to be an expert.

    With all of that said, I don’t really understand how the Nashville Statement dovetails with Olsteen’s mistakes regarding Hurricane Harvey. I take the larger point to be something about how Evangelicals are hypocrites, blah, blah, practice exclusion, blah, blah…but did Olsteen sign on to the Nashville Statement?

    Reading up on this very quickly this morning, it appears the kurfuffle from Twitter is that Evangelicals issuing this statement during Hurricane Harvey represents misplaced priorities. They could be helping hurricane victims instead of crafting horrible statements rooted in Biblical hate! At the same time though, the people who are complaining about this have contended that liberals have enough bandwidth to worry greatly about small picture items while also worrying about big picture stuff simultaneously. So…can’t Evangelicals do the same?

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    • Both are engaged in the same behavior: only demanding the sacrifice of others, while making none of their own. Osteen refused to open his church to people who have given him literally millions of dollars. The Nashville Statement’s authors refuse to budge, and insist that it is everybody else who owes them. It’s the same mindset, playing out two different ways.

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        • Is Osteen even technically an Evangelical Christian? Also, do we know anything about Osteen or his church’s overall record on giving? Honestly, do we even know exactly what happened with the church being closed?

          Maybe none of that matters for these types of discussions. The internet has a way of turning people into avatars.

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          • the internet, or human habit? or somewhere in the middle, mass media more generally? (not the news media, media in the sense of: television, radio, internet…)

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            • How about human habit filtered through the internet? I’m not an expert on Marshall McCluhen, so I don’t want to end up like that guy in Annie Hall, but I believe that this is just the sort of thing he was talking about with the whole medium is the message thing.

              The internet runs on avatars and viral content and loosely sketched narratives, so that’s how we tend to communicate on the internet.

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          • So far from me to defend Joel Osteen, but the fact is, the area where Lakewood (*) is tends to flood a lot. It was terribly flooded in the Memorial Day Floods, last year’s 500-year storm.

            Because nature is fickle, it didn’t flood much in Harvey, but, based on past experience, I was personally expecting the area to be heavily hit. (**)

            So there is at least a plausible argument of sorts that the church was closed due to safety considerations

            (*) Lakewood itself is a former basketball/hockey arena, and it sits atop a massive parking garage, so the church is probably 20-30 feet above street level

            (**) My first place in Houston was next to Lakewood. I walked past it every day on the way to work. It was still a sports arena then.

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      • Ahem. Well, somebody should point out that Osteen is on firm Biblical grounds on the flood issue, and I guess that task falls to me because nobody else is going to do it, because nobody else is crazy enough to do it.

        *winds up for a stump sermon*

        The New Testament completely lacks floods, so no use going there. Turning to the Old Testament, we indeed find a Biblical flood (A “Biblical flood” is not too surprising since it’s a flood in the Bible) and a prophet of God named Noah.

        Turning to Noah for guidance on how to handle Houston, the correct answer is clear. Osteen should gather his close family into the church, along with whatever critters are at hand, close the door, and hope God drowns everybody else, leaving Osteen’s family to repopulate south Texas. I’m sure Ken Ham at the Creation Museum would do the same with his giant ark.

        It may not be the answer Christians want to hear, since it’s not loaves and fishes and love thy neighbor stuff, and they may say some pretty pretty vile things about Osteen, but I’m sure Noah’s neighbors had some really harsh words for Noah, too. Really harsh.

        When God sends a storm to drown everybody, the truly righteous man sides with God, not man, and doesn’t interfere with the plan. Can I have an A-men?

        There’s the parable of the man who saw the two boats and a helicopter. That man kept his pact with the Lord. He refused the temptations of Earthly rescue, and insisted on drowning in the flood as a loyal believer. He placed his faith not in Evinrude, Mercury, or Sikorsky, but in God. God sent those temptations, just as he allowed Satan to tempt Job. And the drowned man passed the test, for we are told he went to Heaven and asked God, directly, about the incident, and God was amused. To Heaven the man went, not to Hell.

        But we have a counter example from another Texas Flood. Stevie Ray Vaughan chose a life of rock and roll, and he chose the helicopter. The result of that was Tears In Heaven, not joy. Do not choose the helicopter. Stay with God’s plan for you. Oh, and be sure to leave everything to the church in your will.

        Osteen is a righteous, righteous man.

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        • OK, this was funny. Either I’m a terrible person, you’re growing on me, I’m finally starting to get your sense of humor, or you’re giving us your “A” game :D. (I realize these are not mutually exclusive options.)

          But also do we really want to rule out the New Testament?

          Surely

          “Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take as your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world.

          35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome,

          36 lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.”

          37 Then the upright will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?

          38 When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome, lacking clothes and clothe you?

          39 When did we find you sick or in prison and go to see you?”

          40 And the King will answer, “In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”

          41 Then he will say to those on his left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

          42 For I was hungry and you never gave me food, I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink,

          43 I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, lacking clothes and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.”

          44 Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or lacking clothes, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?”

          45 Then he will answer, “In truth I tell you, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.”

          has *some* kinda applicability in a natural disaster….

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        • Turning to Noah for guidance on how to handle Houston, the correct answer is clear. Osteen should gather his close family into the church, along with whatever critters are at hand, close the door, and hope God drowns everybody else, leaving Osteen’s family to repopulate south Texas.

          That’s theologically nonsense. God didn’t _tell_ Osteen to gather up people and animals up like he told Noah. He might have told someone else, but as far as we can tell, he didn’t tell Osteen.

          And we know God doesn’t want _everyone_ saved, that sorta defeats the entire purpose. You’re not just supposed to _decide_ to build your own ark.

          So Osteen should have just stood there and drowned like he was supposed to. He was correct in not trying to save everyone, so as not to screw with God’s plan, but he was extremely selfish in not just finding the nearest water and walking straight into it.

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  6. Hoo-ah, I do enjoy the Jesuits. Fr James Martin (@JamesMartinSJ):

    Re #Nashville Statement: I affirm: That God loves all LGBT people. I deny: That Jesus wants us to insult, judge or further marginalize them.
    I affirm: That all of us are in need of conversion. I deny: That LGBT people should be in any way singled out as the chief or only sinners.
    I affirm: That when Jesus encountered people on the margins he led with welcome not condemnation. I deny: That Jesus wants any more judging.
    I affirm: That LGBT people are, by virtue of baptism, full members of the church. I deny: That God wants them to feel that they don’t belong
    I affirm: That LGBT people have been made to feel like dirt by many churches. I deny: That Jesus wants us to add to their immense suffering.
    I affirm: That LGBT people are some of the holiest people I know. I deny: That Jesus wants us to judge others, when he clearly forbade it.
    I affirm that the Father loves LGBT people, the Son calls them and the Holy Spirit guides them. I deny nothing about God’s love for them.

    Did he say anything about the question of whether people should have gay sex or not, directly? No he did not. What he said is 100 percent every bit as orthodox as the Nashville Statement (speaking historically here). But he tore up the statement more effectively, theologically and personally, than any number of “how dare they?”s would have.

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    • That’s great, thanks for sharing.

      The problem with both groups of people discussed in the OP, is that they have created a “christainist” culture that has nothing to do with JC’s actual message, but excuse it by superficially claiming otherwise.

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    • That’s an interesting position. I question if it can be cleaved so cleanly out of orthodox creed without any punitive measure. That’s what we typically find in religious social constructs, that denying/defecting from the original (or evolved) creeds has manifest many sorts of punitive mechanisms.

      In this I agree largely with North that it is what it is, and has no more authority now than it did before.

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      • I think it can, insofar as there are “punitive measures” for all sins in Catholicism and modern orthodox Catholics acknowledge that all of us sin no matter how often we wish otherwise. You could in theory assume that gay behavior (ugh, stupid phrase but that’s how I’d refer to myself dating, marrying, making love to a woman in this context) is a sin, and if you personally were gay, do normal sorts of atonements for that sin, and still agree to everything in Martin’s list. (I’m not saying he does, I’m saying you could.) You could believe that everything men do with men and women do with women out of love is 100 percent on board with God’s plan, and STILL agree to everything on Martin’s list. That’s the genius of it and what makes it a far more effective construct than the Nashville statement is. And a more orthodox one, also.

        “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” is supposed to be a core belief in all forms of orthodox Christianity. Targeting any particular group of sinners, particularly in a public and shaming way, is very very very risky business within orthodox Christianity. (Dogmatically, not historically!) Martin is doing something very wise by calling them on it. And you notice he ALSO does it without targeting them, merely by stating what he believes is the right thing to do. He acknowledges the connection but he doesn’t say stuff like “No one should approve of these people.”

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        • I’m with you there. I just think there are is going to be a lot of rabbit holes that sound like this:
          “well Jesus wanted this-”
          “well Jesus is of the church and the church wants this-”

          punitive measure = what the church says it is

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          • HOOboy – I see what you’re saying but “Jesus is of the church” is so incredibly blasphemous by Catholic/Anglican theological tradition that my head got spinny. (google says “No results found for “jesus is of the church”,” only if you take the quotes off, so I’m not alone there :D. guess it didn’t catch up to you yet!)

            My own vertigo aside, you are totally right that people won’t listen to it if they don’t already agree with it or aren’t unsure. And there are plenty of orthodox ways to dodge around it, using different phrasings, so you are, definitely correct that it’s far from unassailable. and there will be rabbit-holes.

            I just think it’s a powerful way to convince the unconvinced (and I also happen to agree with it, insofar as my own heresy permits me to still call myself a Christian, and admire the neatness of its phrasing from the perspective of someone who was once a formal student of theology).

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            • “I see what you’re saying but “Jesus is of the church” is so incredibly blasphemous by Catholic/Anglican theological tradition that my head got spinny. (google says “No results found for “jesus is of the church”,” only if you take the quotes off, so I’m not alone there :D. guess it didn’t catch up to you yet!)”

              Ha. That’s really a thing?

              There is stuff like this:
              “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” Matthew 18:17

              The reason I phrased it that way was Jesus was typically portrayed within an assembly of people. In modern times most christian churches have a symbol of Jesus. May be a logical fallacy on my part to phrase it that way.

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              • yeah, I got over it pretty fast :D

                Jesus is head of the church is uncontroversial. The church is of Jesus is even fairly uncontroversial (though you’d get people grumping very loudly about the Holy Spirit and not erasing the trinity in some Catholic quarters).

                Congrats on making my head spin :D. That’s actually kinda hard to do.

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        • Devil’s advocating only, because I honestly don’t care what these people say or think.

          Isn’t it Catholic doctrine that a divorced-and-remarried person cannot take Communion, because their divorced-and-remarried state means that they’re in a constant state of sin? Saying the same about a same-sex-married person doesn’t sound like a departure from that.

          (Very amusing, by the way, that Rod Dreher, who is not a Catholic and now belongs to a church that allows divorce, is horrified that Francis might lift the ban on the divorced-and-remarried.)

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          • Oh sure, that is doctrine. (Add it to the list of reasons I consider myself a heretic, I guess.) And if you join a parish / confess it to your priest / etc, they will stop you from taking communion. But:
            a) if you just go into a Catholic church, NO ONE is supposed to question your right to communion, really. You’re there, they don’t know you, greet the stranger, don’t pry, get in line and they’ll have your sacrament there for you.
            b) Just because the priest is able to choose not to give you something doesn’t mean he’s allowed to cast you out. I’ve seen congregations where divorced-but-remarried people were beloved parts of the community, involved with doing readings, teaching sunday school, etc etc etc. Everyone respected canon law enough that they didn’t take communion, and that was a hard thing, but everyone was also so kind to them that it was clear they belonged. Plus, like, Catholics can be wrong. (When in doubt, listen to the Episcopalians. Unless they are wrong, then listen to the Catholics ;).)

            3) When I was a kid (probably still), taking communion in another denomination was supposed to be a reason you couldn’t take communion in your own until you confessed… my best friend was Anglican. I did communion both places for years before I even heard any different.When I found this out (around age 10), I told my priest, and he said something like “Sure, and in 100 years won’t we and they all be the same religion anyway?” (if the accent you are hearing sounds only a tiny bit Irish, you have his rural Islander accent down pretty well) He also said that I didn’t need to confess it, or stop doing it, that God knew it was an act of love. In theory he was in heresy for saying that. But local communities are in a state of heresy *all the fracking time*. As I said above somewhere, some of them are far kinder than dogma, and some far crueler… and the idea that if some things the church calls sins, are really acts of love, God will know the difference, helped me a lot when I was coming of age.

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        • I think the official traditional RC response (is it in the Catechism?) is that homosexual couples, like heterosexual couples, even civilly married ones or who are married in the “wrong” Church and thus not married in the eyes of the RCC should live as siblings. Brother/Brother, Brother/Sister.

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          • In the catechism only not-taking-Communion of divorced and remarried couples is addressed (I just rechecked), out of the examples you mentioned, but it seems likely that that is the situation of common doctrine/canon law. telling people to live in continence is pretty common and has the advantage of shifting scrutiny to their consciences and not to their external circumstances. it’s literally between them, god, and their confessional priest whether that is happening or not, unless they make noises about it. Getting back to my original contention that the church isn’t in the business of judging sinners, telling people they can stay together if they live in continence is a really good way of getting out of that business.

            it may or may not be worth noting, if we’re in the weeds of catholic marriage law here, for those who are less familiar, that
            1) in the latin tradition of catholicism, (ie 99 percent of roman catholics), marriage currently requires and consists of the consent of the man and of the woman, ALONE, to being married, before God who is always there. Once that requirement is met, any sins that cohere to the couple before or afterward don’t have to do with whether their marriage is real – the presumption is that it is – but whether they’re doing things how they SHOULD be doing them. So a civil-only marriage, or a deliberately infertile marriage, or a mixed-religion marriage without involvement of the Catholic church, or whatever, isn’t problematic because Catholicism sees them as not really married, but because they’ve done a bunch of stuff that whichever Catholic partner really should not have done, and until / unless they square things with the church, the Catholic partner is in flagrant violation of ecclesiastical authority.
            2) it’s an open question right now whether there would be room to put aside the old testament literalness that says “one man and one woman” to make room for homosexual marriages,insofar as there are people within the church pushing for it through traditional arguments. Their infertility as a couple is not *necessarily* a barrier insofar as it’s already an established principle that barren-through-no-fault-of-their-own couples can be fertile in their generosity to the community and the fruitfulness of their love and etc (that’s even in the Catechism). Just from the legal situation, this seems to me like it would be actually a lot EASIER than the barrier against couples where one has already married, assuming both the homosexuals were never married before. One regards a widening of presumptions and a situation it’s fairly easy to imagine not being a big topic back in the day,and thus not directly addressed by the New Testament, the other regards something that Jesus, by Catholic lights, literally said.

            Does any of this mean anything good is likely to happen on this topic in the next 300 years, *really*? I’d only put the odds at about 20 percent. And most of my 20 percent comes not from canon law at all, but from actual Catholics. There are way more pro-same-sex-marriage Catholics now than I ever would have guessed there would be 20 years ago. And those folks don’t seem to be converting to Anglicanism/Episcopalianism, either.

            Also, just because I’m willing to cite what the Catholic doctrine says about remarriage doesn’t mean I at all agree with it…. That chunk of church law comes from the same set of interpretations as the law and consensus that kept my mom and dad together for years and years of him abusing all of us like whoa. I think it’s crappy doctrine. But unlike the nashville statement it doesn’t say people who disagree with it aren’t Christians. catholics are allowed all kinds of differences of conscience (not necessarily of *action*/speech but of conscience) and have been since at least since Vatican II.

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            • in the latin tradition of catholicism, (ie 99 percent of roman catholics), marriage currently requires and consists of the consent of the man and of the woman, ALONE, to being married, before God who is always there.

              Maribou, you are correct, but sorta not quite going far enough. ;)

              I remind everyone, once again, that this isn’t just a ‘tradition of the church’, but a basic foundation of marriage. (I keep mentioning this because it can rather fundamentally change how people think about ‘gay marriage’.)

              Marriage is something that two people do with each other, they agree they are married to each other, and at that point, they are married. That is how marriage works, and has always worked.

              All the other stuff, the witnesses, someone religious (or not) saying some words, a signed piece of paper, all that stuff is _announcing_ the marriage, or recording it officially. God doesn’t marry people, priests don’t marry people, clerks do not marry people. People marry _each other_.

              It is why people are ‘pronounced’ married at the end of a wedding. Pronouncing something is just saying something aloud. (I.e., the word ‘pronounce’ sorta only has one meaning.;) ) They already _are_ married, that guy up there MC-ing the ceremony is just _saying_ it formally.

              It is also why you will see some condemnations, in early-Medieval Christianity, of men who marry men. Which causes a lot of people to cock their head to the side in confusion…how the hell did they managed to do that? Because they _said they did_, and that is how marriage works.

              Being married to someone is like being engaged to someone, or dating someone. If two people agree they’re engaged, they’re engaged. If they agree they’re dating, they’re dating. If they agree they’re married, they’re married.

              Which means, all this gibberish, over the last two and half decades, about gay marriage was not about whether or not gay people could get married, despite every human in America appearing to think so…it was about whether or not the government would allow them to officially _record_ their marriages and thus allow them access to the various things we give married people who have recorded their marriage with the government.

              And it is only recently we forgot how all this worked. Like we, as America, forgot this. It was probably when we in America started getting the state to do what the churches had traditionally done, and some stupid person said ‘Oh, the church is in charge of marriage, right? So let’s put the state in charge of that.’. (And it didn’t help that slavery supporters needed some way to stop race mixing, or at least not normalize it, so wanted to control marriages.)

              And now we think somehow the government, or God, or some mix of the government and God (?!) makes people be married.

              But it’s just something we invented, and the church was _never_ in charge of marriage to start with! They had _opinions_ about what marriages were sinful and what marriages weren’t, just like everything, but never had power over marriage. (As Maribou pointed out.) The church was just a handy place to keep the records of marriage that happened within the church…but had never had, for example, the records of marriages any Jews in the community, despite the church not disputing they were married.

              This has been everyone’s per-article reminder about how ‘marriage’ actually works, and has always worked, that I end up posting every time we wander into the topic of gay marriage. ;)

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          • Most marriages are (presumed) valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church. And, while it is true that the spouses themselves contract the marriage (either naturally or sacramentally) as Maribou writes below, it is not strictly accurate that the contract makes the marriage valid. It is possible to contract an invalid marriage. Obviously, the Church makes no claims on non-Catholics with regards their forms or even how they might define, say, marriage as Polygamous; it will only matter if someone wishes to convert to Catholicism and then further might wish to marry. So as far as the Church is concerned, two Vikings who pledge their troth with full consent (and absent any natural impediments) are two married Vikings.

            Invalid: Any/Any that violates any Diriment Impediments
            Valid but Illicit A valid marriage contracted while violating forms*
            Valid/non-Sacramental: Non-Christian/Non-Christian
            Valid/non-Sacramental: Baptized/Non-Christian (presumed dispensed)
            Valid/non-Sacramental: Catholic/Non-Christian (with Dispensation, else INVALID)
            Valid/Sacramental: Baptized/Baptized
            Valid/Sacramental: Catholic/Baptized (with Dispensation, else INVALID)
            Valid/Sacramental: Catholic/Catholic

            Common Diriment Impediments: age, impotence (not sterility), prior marriage, holy orders, abduction/consent, complicit in murder of spouse, and consanguinity.

            Maybe the biggest thing to note is that Catholics are obliged to seek and obtain dispensation to enter a “mixed marriage”.

            *Usually secrecy without dispensation or other violations of custom/law.

            There is no requirement what-so-ever to live as brother-sister simply for contracting a mixed marriage.

            {I think I’ve covered all the main valid/in-valid/sacramental scenarios..but there are always exceptions to the various canon laws and your Aunt Tilda’s situation may not be covered here}

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  7. Fortunately, the bible comes complete with a response to the Nashville Statement: If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1.

    May it go down in history as well as this.

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  8. You know, I really just don’t give a shit what some preacher says. The only reason he gets any press at all is he’s rich and has a congregation. This was even on NPR. (insert liberal media comment here) where it was portrayed that the version of his faith is one where success in this world = god’s embrace. So, yeah, bootstrap baby. Fine whatever.

    This can all be summarized in an anecdote of mine with my now former ex sister in law. She was bitching about something in the catholic church..i don’t recall if it was abortion or women priests. It doesn’t matter. She apparently was part of some movement to “bring change” to the church. I asked her since her views were so opposite of the church’s potion, why she didn’t just leave. Plenty of other churches around. I don’t recall her answer. It probably had something to do with what she grew up in etc. I told her if I was the pope, I’d just excommunicate her. No place for unbelievers and all that.

    Point: you join a church that has a world view. If you don’t share it, why should either side stay? These guys can believe what they want. Frankly, I don’t care. I assume most of these folks believe passionately and they believe that this dogma is the world of God. So tell me, where’s the bitching about the other religion that views gays and lbgt even more poorly? You know, the one that throws gays off buildings and stones them to death? Yeah, I see a lot of press about that.

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    • where it was portrayed that the version of his faith is one where success in this world = god’s embrace

      if you want specifics, it’s called “the prosperity gospel” and while I am not Christian and thus these words are pretty meaningless, the phrase “vile and damnable heresy” spring to mind.

      I was, after all, raised Christian.

      And lest you think that’s just my liberal ideology and inflexible and blind partisanship talking, I believe the Catholic Church, for instance, has much harsher language. As does my highly conservative, evangelical fundamentalist Trump -voting Aunt whose views on the prosperity gospel start with “of Satan” and go downhill from there. She’s not exactly an outlier in her church on that view, either.

      Suffice to say it is a bit controversial in Christianity.

      But it’s pretty darn nice if you get a church fool of marks.

      (In general, I find the existence and implications of the Prosperity Gospel of FAR more interest than the notion that a televangelist with a big church and a huge house is a hypocrite fleecing his flock for personal gain. That story was old 20 years ago.)

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      • “the prosperity gospel”

        Yeah, that’s what NPR called it too IIRC. Seems very “pilgrim” is too IIRC my American history. Thing is, it’s a religious belief. I’m ok with that. It’s not something I’ll ever believe in but hey, different strokes for different folks.

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        • Yeah, it’s pretty much the vile offspring of Calvinist predestination and the American bootstraps mythos.

          Poverty, sickness, things like that are God’s damnation and you deserve it. But also, with hard work, you can please God and he will shower you with riches and success.

          Or perhaps just “The Secret” dressed in Christian iconography. “Visualize your desires and they shall come true” becomes “Praise Jesus and damn thy neighbor enough and your desires shall come true”.

          It turns God into a coin-operated machine. Insert prayers, dispense blessings. It’s the theology of spoiled children, and it’s adherents are incredibly ripe for grifting because of it.

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      • “If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gives it to.”

        Anyway, Job is one of those books that people don’t spend enough time reading. It’s a direct rebuke to the Prosperity Gospel and comes out and says “your circumstances are independent of the esteem God holds you in”.

        For some reason people keep stampeding back to “Ask, and it shall be given you”.

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    • There’s plenty of press about that. And just like there are plenty of churches that don’t treat LGBTQ people badly (lately), there are plenty of strains of Islam that don’t treat LGBTQ people badly (lately). Personally I think that in either case, being against LGBTQ people is a viral infection that takes strength from (those strains of) the reliigion in question but is not only about that and doesn’t limit itself too that. Some people have the “I disapprove but violence is wrong” strain, some people throw people off buildings. Also people in *this country* have tortured LGBTQ people, sometimes to death, and claimed they were Christians. Leaving the death aside, conversion therapy, for eg, often involves non-consensual electroshock of people under the age of majority.

      As everyone keeps reminding everyone these days, we can care about more than one thing at once. and whether or not we *should* care more about people in our country who are suffering than other people who are suffering, people generally do. So of course stupid pronouncements and flimflam men in our country get more attention than horrible human rights violations in other countries. Because we feel like we can and should *do something* about the former, and the right way to do something about the latter is horrendously complicated and makes doing something about the former look like a cakewalk (even though it obviously isn’t).

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      • “There’s plenty of press about that.” Really? I listen to public radio every day and I rarely hear that. I have to go to foreign media to read about it or to online columnists of the non left persuasion.

        I’m not talking about people in america who use “conversion therapy” (don’t get me started on the whole mental health profession) but I wouldn’t necessarily equate torture with this “therapy”, but it sure ain’t kosher. Torture is torture.

        But fundamentally, someone’s religious beliefs are just that. And why should I question their faith? It’s something I’ve never had, but if it comes honestly and realistically and isn’t BS, how can I disagree with it? That’s arguing that my faith is more better than yours and that’s just a value judgement.

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        • Honestly I have a lot of sympathy for your point of view and I think you are consistent in it. But for folks that do experience faith, there often is a push involved, by the nature of the faith experience itself, to make value judgments. These folks are doing it, I do it, etc. not just out of some sense of moral superiority, but because faith does come with consequences. I feel that I have a positive responsibility toward Christianity, particularly Catholicism, to help it conform more to what I feel God should mean, if the word is going to mean anything. I don’t feel that responsibility toward other faiths because I wasn’t raised in them and I didn’t give my word (at the age of 13) that I was in community with them. Obviously not as much as your ex sister in law – I haven’t stepped inside a church in years, but not zero responsibility either.

          Also, people make value judgments all day long. It’s part of the human equipment. IMO one of the healthier impulses we have as human beings (and certainly one that’s easy to justify from the Gospels for Christians) is to restrain our value judgments as much as possible when it comes to each other. But figuring out where to draw that line isn’t easy either.

          If you’re thinking about wedding cakes, or Kim Davis, I personally would actually rather accommodate those situations than fight them. “Turn the other cheek” isn’t just a behavioral choice, it’s also damn good PR, particularly when you are winning. If the things that should be allowed can still be accomplished without the participation of the religiously agin’ it, let them step aside. As long as they aren’t monopolizing the means of doing the thing, I don’t care.

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        • As an aside, I said there was plenty of press, not plenty of public radio stories. NPR is not my standard for journalism. (They are my standard for quasi-serious entertainment that doesn’t purport to be news, eg radiolab, but that’s a different field that happens to share the same airwaves.) I too usually turn to CBC, BBC or other foreign news sources (even Al Jazeera!) for information about current affairs information, mostly because I want a richer variety of perspectives and more nuanced biases than I’ll get in the US. However, when I google “stoning homosexuals CNN” I get plenty of results. I do wish they would spend more time on that and less time on freaking Joel Osteen, but that’s just… how US media is. Any popular flavor of it. (I also get way more hits for “Joel Osteen fox” than for “stoning homosexuals fox”, for what that’s worth.) It’s not that they have a particular agenda, IME, it’s that they’re just super-shallow overall. 2 steps up from People magazine, no more than that. (And at least People isn’t trying to pretend they’re serious and enlightening.)

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          • NPR is my default only because everything else is music and or talk. There ain’t no free BBC radio that I’m aware of and most of my news consumption is during my hour long commute. I’d love a PM BBC radio station, but really, that would probably upset the liberals too much. I will agree that, in general, the US news is a wasteland compared to foreign sources.

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  9. I respect folks who want to live up to their religiously conservative convictions and won’t necessarily call them “bigots” for it. Though some of them are bigots. Where that line draws is a tough question (analogous to Anti-Semitism; William F. Buckley wrote a whole book on the difficulty in drawing the line there).

    However, this is a deal breaker for me:

    “Among the document’s more galling sections is its tenth article, which makes it clear that any Christian who refuses to hate gays and transgender people should no longer be considered a Christian. Anybody who is unclear about the intent of its wording can visit Denny Burk’s clarification of what exactly it means:”

    That’s pretty lousy. Though, if that’s what they think then they need to keep that in mind whenever they talk about % of “Christians” in the country.

    I also think of someone like Robbie George, who is the quintessential orthodox Roman Catholic religious conservative. I wouldn’t call him a bigot. And interestingly he is good friends with Cornel West and has written of him as a “brother in Christ.” West is pro-LGBT.

    I even remember Joe Carter (who I don’t think signed this?) when criticizing Andrew Sullivan still called him a “brother in Christ.” (And yes, some commenters then objected.)

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    • I don’t see how he got that reading of Article 10. From the original document.

      ARTICLE 10
      WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness.

      WE DENY that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should should agree to disagree.

      I read those as equivalent to something like
      ‘It’s sinful to approve of alcoholism, and that such approval constitutes ….
      We deny that the approval of alcoholism is a matter of moral indifference about which …”

      Churches love helping current alcoholics, and love recovering alcoholics, and former alcoholics, but they don’t like alcoholism. It breaks up families and destroys lives and such. But as they say, never take a Baptist fishing because he’ll never bring beer but drink all of yours.

      Then, flipping back to Article 8, they said

      ARTICLE 8

      WE AFFIRM that people who experience sexual attraction for the same sex may live a rich and fruitful life pleasing to God through faith in Jesus Christ, as they, like all Christians, walk in purity of life.

      WE DENY that sexual attraction for the same sex is part of the natural goodness of God’s original creation, or that it puts a person outside the hope of the gospel.

      So my take is that Article 10 is being entirely misconstrued. Now, that’s not to say it isn’t saying that homosexuality is a sin, but it’s certainly not telling people to hate homosexuals. It’s the standard Christian attitude toward most anything the Bible considered sexually wrong, such as fornication or adultery.

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      • WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness.

        LOL.

        I don’t approve of homosexuals behaving immorally either. I know a gay guy who cheated on his boyfriend…I do not approve of that sort of thing.

        Hrm. I rather suspect there was some sort of implicit assumption in the phrase ‘homosexual immorality’ that I have missed. ;)

        Meanwhile, I’m not even sure what transgenderism is supposed to be. Worshiping a transgender person? Yeah, Christians definitely shouldn’t do that either. And…I doubt they are…unless they have some _really weird_ interpretations of the Trinity. (Is the Holy Spirit female? Discuss.)

        Good job crafting that statement, dumbasses.

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