Heaven has walls?

I call this bad theology and bad business.

Recently, a “Christian” grocery store sent out a mailer claiming Heaven has walls, a gate and a strict immigration policy, and Hell has open borders. Then it uses the hackneyed phrase, “Let that sink in.”

On a Facebook post about this, a woman commented with a quote from Revelations certifying that, indeed, Heaven is gated and guarded. I suggested that a fevered hallucination by an old man alone on an island isn’t the best way to make public policy, and, of course, she went off. After a couple of exchanges, where she called me some nasty names, I replied that she probably should pay more attention to the words printed in red, since, as a Christian, she’s supposed to follow those words. I told her the theology of hate and exclusion is pretty effed up in my opinion because I don’t get any racism and bullying from those words in red. What I do get is the Greatest Commandment, which is in two parts: Love God, love each other.

I grew up among “Christians” who wanted to exclude everyone who wasn’t their brand of “Christian.” In fact, there was constant talk of taking over the country.

This was in the 1960s, when we were actually making progress on social justice issues, and they hated it. They hated giving the vote to African-Americans. They hated giving women the power to live on their own and manage their own finances, get credit in their own name, control their own bodies — to be human in our own right. They were vocal and mean-spirited about their hatred of anything different, and they used the Bible to back up their narrow-minded views.

There was actually a guest preacher at my church in 1969 who, from the pulpit, said, “We are doing God’s good work in Vietnam, killing those godless (racial epithet for Asians).”

I approached him after the service to say I don’t think God wants us killing any of God’s children. My pastor scolded me for being disrespectful, but I countered that I was being very respectful — respectful of the lives of God’s Asian children.

These so-called “Christians” ran candidates for school board to try and get their narrow-minded, mean-spirited views into the schools. They took over local elections and then moved on to the state and national levels.

The creature currently squatting in the White House is their creation, and they embrace him because he is as filled with hatred as they are.

It took them decades, but they are powerful now, these so-called “Christians.” Jesus would be appalled at their interpretations of his words.

I have no patience for hate, bigotry and exclusion in the name of Jesus, a man who preached love and inclusion.

For 30 years, I had to hold my tongue when faced with these things because I was a reporter and I had to be unbiased. Franklin Graham thought I liked and admired him when I interviewed him. Maybe that’s why I’m so vocal about it now. Because silence in the face of injustice is, in itself, an injustice.

People who call themselves “Christian” and who spew their hatred in the name of Jesus are just wrong. Christians have used the Bible for generations to uphold racism and misogyny, and we need to call that out every time we see it.

We can’t allow religion to be used as a club to beat those who are already down, and we can’t stand by while the public policies of hate embraced by these “Christians” continue to harm and even kill our impoverished brothers and sisters.

 

 

 

 

I stand with Muslims

From Huffington Post

From Huffington Post

A friend suggested today that some of us who are against all the fascist, anti-Muslim rhetoric being spewed by Donald Trump and his supporters offer to stand vigil outside the Islamic Center during prayers.

I would jump at the chance, so I messaged the center to see if they would appreciate our help.

There will be no guns, just us standing in solidarity with people who only seek to practice the freedom of worship that this country supposedly offers.

We are not needed yet, a representative of the center told me, but our outreach and our words of peace are appreciated.

To some, that Constitutional right to freedom of religion seems only to be a freedom for Christians to worship. To me, though, that freedom extends to all religions.

Islam is not a religion of war any more than Christianity is. However, like some Christians, a minority of Muslims have perverted their religion to a violent, misogynistic purpose.

I grew up in a church that taught everything is OK if it’s done for Jesus — even murder. I rejected that as a teenager and I reject it today. Hatred is never OK.

Republican presidential candidate Trump has spewed increasingly dangerous rhetoric in the last few weeks, and it’s that kind of hatred that incites violence against innocent people.

Even former vice president Dick Cheney has condemned Trump, but the candidate keeps spewing his hatred, and he’s being rewarded with big leads in the polls. People who don’t know anything about Islam are leaping at the chance to condemn an entire faith for the violence of a few.

Yes, the two people who shot 30-plus people in San Bernadino were radicalized Muslims. But the man who shot up a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs the previous week was a radicalized Christian and no one talked about trying to stop all Evangelical Christians from worshiping or voting.

The Oklahoma City bomber killed more than 160 people and there was no reaction from the right to his terrorism.

Millions of Muslims around the world are condemning ISIS and other radical groups who commit violence in the name of Allah, but you won’t see that on Fox News. You won’t hear Trump or any of his minions praising these devout, peaceful people. You won’t even hear them admit that there are peaceful Muslims any more than leaders of ISIS praising peaceful Christians who wish to bring about peace in the Middle East.

Is this what we as a nation have come to? Are we headed down the same path as Nazi Germany in the 1930s? Substitute the word “Jews” for “Muslims” in your sentences and ask whether you sound like a Nazi. If you’re talking about denying every Muslim entry into the United States, shutting down Islamic Centers, denying anyone any of their Constitutional rights based on religious beliefs or ethnicity, you are wading in fascist waters.

So, here’s my pledge of support for my Muslim brothers and sisters: I stand with you against the violence and hatred. If you are forced to wear anything identifying you as Muslim, I will wear it too. If you are threatened, I will stand between you and those who hate you. I will defend you with my life. I am a person of faith who believes we all worship a God of Love and I promise to live out that faith.

 

 

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