Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y'all Are Persecuting Me!

So now Michele Bachmann is the latest Christian being oppressed by meanies on the Internet, not to mention the President. Just as I did last week, President Obama saw fit to bring up Bachmann's comments about his agenda bringing on the Last Days. He did so at the White House Correspondents Dinner, quipping that if he were in fact able to bring about the end of the world, it would represent quite the legacy.

Bachmann and other conservative pundits responded by asserting that this gentle chiding constituted the President persecuting them for their Christian beliefs. Because, clearly, you're being persecuted when anyone laughs at you - even if you deserve it for something really, really dumb.

At the White House Correspondents Dinner this weekend, President Obama made a joke about ex-Rep. Michele Bachmann’s repeated refrain that he is bringing about the Last Days, and the former Minnesota congresswoman is not pleased. She and other Religious Right pundits told the End Times outlet WorldNetDaily that the president’s joke was an act of anti-Christian persecution and suggested that people who disagree with Bachmann’s remarks are really denouncing all of Christianity.

“The blood moons of 2014 and 2015 are forewarnings of what is to come in 2016,” author Mark Blitz told WND. “President Obama, I believe, was only half joking when he made his comments.” Another Religious Right commentator, Carl Gallups, said, “Regardless of how uncomfortable Bachmann’s comments might have made some feel, the biblical fact is that when a nation turns its back on Israel and at the same time celebrates, promotes, and legalizes homosexual marriage it is inviting end of days judgment upon itself.”

Clearly this is some definition of "fact" with which I'm unfamiliar.

The Gospels and the Book of Revelation don't say anything about gays. NOTHING. The "gay agenda" is a bugaboo created by modern evangelical Christians who took a couple of comments from Paul's letters out of context and cherry-picked one prohibition from Leviticus. There is absolutely no way anyone who is truly familiar with the Bible can make the case that homosexuality is the worst sin ever, or that it even merits special mention.

As far as the Israelis go, we still are supplying them with foreign aid, so I find it pretty hard to see how some mild criticism of their treatment of Palestinians constitutes "turning our back." Let's go back to the Bible again. Did the prophets who criticized the Israelites (that is, basically all of them) "turn their back" on their people? I don't see how any serious Bible scholar could argue that the answer there is "yes." Oh, and that "blood moon?" The line is that the SKY will become red like blood, not the Moon. That's an important distinction, folks!

Now here's what President Obama actually said. Note that I am linking to a partisan conservative site for this transcript of the remarks in question, lest anyone accuse me of quoting a version with some sort of liberal slant.

“Michele Bachmann actually predicted I would bring about the biblical end of days,” Obama told the correspondents, who erupted in roaring laughter. “Now that’s a legacy. That’s big. I mean Lincoln, Washington, they didn’t do that.”

Wow. That's some serious persecution right there. Here's a clue for the author of that article - the reason that the audience reacted with laughter is that the accusation is flat-out ridiculous. Obama wasn't even calling Bachmann stupid, when in his place I would have been sorely tempted to do so. Because that whole End Times hysteria is just ridiculous.

I'm going to point out one more thing that doesn't make sense about this whole argument. I accept that to conservative Christians homosexuality is a sin. However, whether or not gays can get married, they still are going to be gay. So how does gay marriage actually increase sinning? How does the legality of an act have anything to do with the morality of it before the eyes of God?

I ask that question because nobody has ever given me a satisfactory or even reasonable answer. As far as I can tell, evangelical Christians didn't even believe it until the 1950's or so. We have a secular society with secular laws in which everyone should be allowed to practice their religious beliefs, or lack thereof, as they see fit. At the same time, churches cannot be coerced into acting contrary to their beliefs. That's what religious freedom means, and that's why it's so important to uphold.

We should never allow ourselves to accept a position where a simple joke somehow gets conflated with real, life-threatening persecution - which Christians do encounter in some other countries where they are in the minority. It seems to me that if you accuse someone of basically being the antichrist, they should have every right to laugh at you.

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