January 29, 2015

Lord’s Resistance Army’s Un-Christian

With all the bad news from Iraq thanks to so many failures from so many overpaid corrupt folks enjoying an Iraq time, I thought it useful to visit another failed state. So many to choose from, so let’s try Uganda, #22 on the Failed States Index, 1 better than North Korea (ouch).

Some are concerned that our sending military advisors to Uganda last year worsend the US’ might or our image in central Africa. Some falsehoods & truths:

Falsehood: Rush Limbaugh said the LRA (“Lord’s Resistance Army”) are Christians. They fight the Muslims in Sudan. They’re on our side. Obama’s a Muslim so he wants to fight Christians.
Truth: The LRA is not “Christian”. They are agnostic. It is not fighting “the Muslims”. It is killing, abducting and torturing ordinary citizens, originally in Uganda, now mainly in South Sudan, DRC and CAR. Most of its victims are Christians or followers of African traditional religions. The oppressive Islamist regime in Khartoum supports the LRA openly and officially with all sorts of support: logistical, governmental, militarily and legally.

Falsehood: The US sent soliders to fight their war.
Truth: These advisors are forbidden by international law and our mission from firing (except in defense) or being in direct combat. For something that doesn’t sound like it came from a press officer, we’ve too little to gain by breaking the law because they’ve not enough oil to satisfy any American corporate lobbyists.

Falsehood: The US is getting involved in war & we’ve no oil to gain anyways.
Truth: See above. Seriously. And Uganda’s our friend not enemy. Conservatives like the world black and white: no oil, no troops.

Falsehood: The Lord’s Resistance Army is the Lord’s work.
Truth: Just another Christian terrorist group waving the flag of Jesus to justify their personal flaws & equally flawed ideology.

Falsehood: The US is getting into messy alliances with people we can’t trust.
Truth: Luckily, we owe the LRA & Uganda government little.

Falsehood: We need to stop the terrorists.
Truth: The situation is so local, even professionals in international policy don’t understand the true nature of this fight.

I note the danger of listening to politically extreme radio personalities who don’t deal in truths but rather whatever is entertaining which can include falsehoods because few know the truth and fewer fact-check because they’re intellectually lazy.

Dictionary: Shutdown

After watching this video of a Republican belitting a Parks official for turning people away …

… what could I possibly say that hasn’t already been written about this past week? Too many angles, all covered, lies included, so as inspired by this biting comment on that video, I bring back another dictionary (last time, it was about healthcare):

what extremist conservatives do what extremist Christians do
ignores any reason, debate, reconciliation to advance the goal ignores any reason, debate, reconciliation to advance the goal
take everything personally add personal attacks
burn the earth to get what you need burn the earth because God’s all that counts
use hate, meanness, anger to get what you need never denounce haters who wave the flag of Jesus
ignore criticism, stick to your guns ignore criticism, stick to your Bible
rest of the world doesn’t matter, only one’s own agenda rest of the world doesn’t matter, only those one can convert
absolutely non-negotiable and proud of it
greed & selfishness self-justified by one’s chosen party greed & selfishness self-justified by one’s chosen Christian sect

Get it?

Anyone wonder what’s so wrong about the system? An uninvolved electorate that’s so fragmented that it can only parrot one’s self-selected media intake? You elect idiots, you get parody of it could suffice anymore and even that will be still closer to the truth.

Slaughter in Egypt

Q: How do you make people more sympathetic to religious fundamentalists?

A: Make martyrs of the religious fundamentalists by slaughtering them in broad daylight.

Papal Question of the Week

What advice would you have for newly elected Pope Francis?

— Gautam Dutta

Religion & Politics Don’t Mix

I’ve written for years about how the polarizing culture of politics has a dual-direction relationship with GOP Chritians. The article “The coming evangelical collapse” succinctly summarizes my very same view.

To repeat what’s been forgotten, polarizing is bad for religion & politics because:

  1. with us or against us attitude causes lack of debate, personal attacks, demonizing dissenting viewpoints, lower quality of rhetoric/soundbyting, binary logic; if you want medieval attitudes of conservatism, keep it in your church and out of the halls of our national elected leadership
  2. preaching to the choir: the polarization does what its own definition means: splits, segregates and divides; conservative types use religion and politics as justifications for their personal flaws especially including racism; they don’t want to spread the word as much as to force their beliefs down your throat
  3. emphasizing the fire, the heated anger, the hot personal attacks disables one from credibly defending either the policy (not the politics) or the faith; you don’t need many more YouTube videos of fiery evangelicals unable to explain their own religion or GOP Christians unable to article their own party’s policy (whether Tea Party or GOP, doesn’t matter, equally confusing for the uneducated incurious mind)

Are these not worrisome? Lack of comments suggests so. Are we that unthinking?

– Richard Chen

Hijacking Asian-Americans For Politics

non-racist Beaver with racist Bill O'Reilly

In case you missed it because mainstream media can’t make much profit off anti-racism, Colleen Hanabusa (disclaimer: she was an AAA-Fund endorsed candidate). It’s lovely to hear O’Reilly enforce the usual but politically vetted talking points that hard-working is only for conservatives then to use another engineered stereotype, the model minority, to claim Asian-Americans should be conservative. Cheap degrading politics. The definition of conservative is:

Holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in politics or religion.

Unfortunately, not only is O’Reilly re-defining conservative to mean racist and other conservative traits I listed before, but he’ll make racist attacks and sweeping generalizations even half lies to advance his for-profit media politics. Disgusting. He’ll have to do a show on fellow nutbag Jack Wu of Westboro Baptist Church who practices the same racism except uses religion not politics to justify his racism.

To remind conservatives of what we here at the AAA-Fund live, believe & practice, Asians are not the new Jews, we are an entire community which is not homogenous and has distinct histories/circumstances. Younger generations tend to see themselves more as “Asian-American” probably because their experience growing up here is far more similar to one another then that of their parents who immigrated here from varying circumstances, something conservatives rather erase or ignore.

Question of the Week: Xmas

In contrast to India, our government recognizes only one religious holiday:  Christmas.  Should we also recognize holidays such as Hanukkah, Diwali, or Eid?

— Gautam Dutta

Christian Ignorance

One of the billion reactions to today’s sickening news, I skip that Huckabee junk which is self-explainatory & focus on what feces my Christian friends have been throwing into the instantly reignited debate over gun policy.

One said evil will always reign & that means whether gun policy or not won’t really matter. While evil will always be around in some form, that argument doesn’t preclude more intelligent gun policy. That assumes guns are equivalents of knives which is a medieval, unintelligenced & primitive thought. We can do better as human beings. Lack of thought is why the US is primitive. I prefer to leave such uneducated, unintelligent & unthinking people behind as their ignorance & simplistic thought literally threatens us all, allowing killing. They practice the same kind of fearmongering and ignorance that permeates both their religion and their politics. Dispicable.

Such people probably enjoy the American exceptionalism as they think we should always be exceptional from religious fervor to standards system to gun-loving fanaticism, but I don’t care for their grabbing for identity & wish they’d just stick to their religion instead of others topics like politics. More guns, more deaths. Even a homeschooled Christian kid can understand that right? They practice the same kind of divisiveness that their religion promotes (with Jesus or Hellbound is their worldview) and their politics. Dispicable.

Other went the good old evil is always here so let’s love route which sounds cute until you read such articles and realize it’s just another excuse to prosyletize. Excuse me, but that smacks of extreme insensitivity when you use an opportune moment to shove one’s beliefs onto temporarily weak others, though this favored technique has worked well for Christians, inviting crazies who’ll take evangelicalism to the next level of fervor and adherent loyalty. They practice the same kind of blind thoughtless loyalty that permeates both their religion and their politics (that, to the GOP). Dispicable.

Then there were those who went to defend their hunting rifles and being weekend warriors with their weapons because they live in areas where that’s the highest form of recreation. If that’s your gig, great, just don’t let your personal persuits force dumb, imprecise, lethal-promoting policy. They practice the same kind of shoving their beliefs down others throats in both their religion and their politics. Discpicable, again.

You can see why progressivism, the blend of politics which our blog’s parent, the AAA-Fund organization, daily works to support & advance. I don’t think that our work here at the blog which is meant to advance the parent organization’s work, is merely theoretical, hopeful or remote. It has very real implications & I think that is what I can add to the flood of reactions on this very difficult day.

On a personal note, God bless the souls of the lost. As Obama’s quoted press briefing yesterday:

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Ps 34:18

Why I Vote for Obama 2012

Those who know me know I am all about details, precision planning, credible details with proof & reality checks. That said, here’s why I’m voting as I will:

For measure, some things I don’t are about:

  • that everyone says Obama will very likely win by landslide especially among AAPIs (much is said about the power, participation, and presence or lack thereof each election but personally, that’s not a factor when I vote); I can think for myself without the official political dribble

So there you have it. Go register, be a poll monitor, vote & join a viewing party.

I voted for Obama

Breaking News: Mormonism Is No Longer a Cult

Editor’s Note: The good stuff continues as the BGEA missed a reference.

In a presidential campaign filled with exagerrations, lies and nasty personal attacks against President Obama, you would assume that a politician would be responsible for the lowest blow to date. Not so, at least in my book.

Yesterday Mitt Romney met with legendary evangelist Billy Graham, who issued this public quasi-endorsement statement along with a photo op: “It was a privilege to pray with Governor Romney—for his family and our country. I will turn 94 the day after the upcoming election, and I believe America is at a crossroads. I hope millions of Americans will join me in praying for our nation and to vote for candidates who will support the biblical definition of marriage, protect the sanctity of life and defend our religious freedoms.

Before I explain my extreme displeasure with this latest turn of events, let me provide some personal background. I grew up in a Baptist household in Maryland. My dad made sure I rarely missed Sunday school or service. When my parents divorced I was in junior high, and with my dad no longer home, I slowly drifted away from church.

After college, I moved to Dallas, and bounced back and forth between attending and avoiding church. But I did become a Christian, then moved to San Diego in 1998. By this time I was becoming politically aware, and this started to cause a conflict between my faith and my politics.

It all came to a head in early 2003 when I received a lengthy e-mail forwarded by someone in my bible study group. The e-mail, written by one or more national church leaders, used numerous Bible verses to explain why Christians shouldn’t be concerned about or opposed to the impending invasion of Iraq. Reading this e-mail literally made me sick to my stomach. This was not the Christianity that I knew, advocating a war against a country that never attacked us.

I disassociated myself from that church, and after a few more visits to other churches, stopped going altogether for 9 years. The fact that Christian leaders almost universally failed to speak out against the Iraq War, and then supported George W. Bush’s reelection campaign in 2004, made me realize that the Christian church of my childhood that taught compassion, peace, and tolerance had been swallowed up by the likes of Jerry Falwell using religion to promote right wing politics.

It was this realization, and Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, that spurred me to Democratic political activism which I expect to continue for as long as I can still type or walk. Due to very recent personal tragedies, I’ve decided to give church another chance, but no matter the result, I will always vigorously support Democratic campaigns in one way or another.

Now, back to Mr. Graham. In February, Billy’s son Franklin (the head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association or BGEA) said on MSNBC, “Islam sees (Obama) as a son of Islam because his father was a Muslim, his grandfather was a Muslim, great grandfather was a Mulsim and so under Islamic law, the Muslim world sees Barack Obama as a Muslim. I can’t say categorically [that Obama is not a Muslim] because Islam has gotten a free pass under Obama,” he said.

And now we have Billy Graham himself issuing what amounts to a quasi-endorsement of Mitt Romney, who is currently the world’s most famous Mormon. The quasi-endorsement is bad enough, considering that Romney hardly seems to be remotely familiar with what Jesus preached in the New Testament. Romney’s tax policy favors the very richest Americans, he’s wishy-washy at best at providing health coverage to the poor, and — oh yeah, he’s a MORMON.

To those of you who aren’t religious, Mormons may seem to be just another flavor of Christianity. Not really. It’s actually a cult. If you don’t believe me, believe Billy Graham’s website, which until today had this posted:

“A cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith. It is very important that we recognize cults and avoid any involvement with them. Cults often teach some Christian truth mixed with error, which may be difficult to detect.
There are some features common to most cults:

  • They do not adhere solely to the sixty-six books of the Bible as the inspired Word of God. They add their “special revelations” to the Bible and view them as equally authoritative.
  • They do not accept that our relationship to Jesus Christ is a reality “by grace through faith” alone, but promote instead a salvation by works.
  • They do not give Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God, full recognition as the second Person of the Trinity, composed of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Some of these groups are Jehovah’s Witnesses, MORMONS, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spiritists, Scientologists, and others.”

You see, after issuing his statement in support of Romney, as reported by the Daily Kos, someone at BGEA decided to scrub this entire page from the website.

Which brings up some questions. Was it just a coincidence that this page got scrubbed only hours after Graham met Romney? I think not. So did Graham and Romney are brand new BFF and Graham decided he didn’t want to insult his new buddy by calling his religion a cult. Even though he had been doing exactly that for . . . more than 2 years. But surely there is more to this story than that.

Oh yes. Money. Cash. Moolah. Dough. So, it’s been reported that Franklin Graham pulled in well over $1 million in annual salary in 2008.

And Billy Graham? One website reports his net worth as $25 million.

Perhaps most damning of all, MinistryWatch.com gives the BGEA a 2 out of 5 stars rating for “financial efficiency,” which is a fancy term that essentially refers to what percentage of donations go to evangelism vs. overhead (including Franklin’s bloated salary).

So connect the dots and … voila! Could it be that Billy and Franklin Graham support Romney and oppose Obama simply because they’re filthy rich? Why else would they support a cult member over a Christian? Under Romney, their taxes would either stay the same or drop. Under Obama, their taxes might increase a little. God forbid that multimilliionaire televangelists actually have to pay taxes, that must be anti-Christianity, right?

This reminds me of the original Die Hard movie starring Bruce Willis. A cop who wanders into what appears to be international terrorists holding hostages. Except they’re actually sophisticated robbers posing as terrorists as a diversion. In this case, it seems Graham & Son are using religion as a diversion to pad their own pockets. Supporting Romney boosts the BGEA’s standing with the low information Christian conservatives who foolishly contribute to their rich lifestyles.

To me, the Billy and Franklin Graham represent the worst kind of hypocrites. They preach the word of Jesus but enrich themselves by fooling people (including the poor) into sending them checks. They state unequivocally that Mormonism is a cult . . . until a presidential candidate who promises to preserve their massive wealth comes along, and then suddenly Mormonism is A-OK.

Make no mistake: Mitt Romney, one of the greatest vulture capitalists in American history, is one of the modern day “money changers” that Jesus warned of in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Billy and Franklin Graham ought to be ashamed of their association with Romney, but apparently sheer greed can make a minor detail like cult membership go away. At least in this world.