Thursday, September 28, 2006

FIGHTING OVER THE UNPROMISED LAND

The Fundamentalist Takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention was never really about the Bible, liberalism or God's will, despite the Takeover group's attempt to make it so. It was all about one central theme: control. The Bible, liberalism and God's will flowed out of the central theme of control: controlling the Bible, defeating "liberalism" and mandating God's will for God. And in taking over the SBC, the fundamentalists in the past 27 years have led the denomination into unprecedented decline, disgrace and scandal (other than the 19th century support of slavery).

So what comes next? A battle among "conservatives" for continued control of the machinery of a still-large but rapidly declining denominational institution. Now firmly entrenched in their unpromised land flowing with vinegar and bitterness, "conservatives" have turned upon one another as many of us have long predicted. The two sides will soon be accusing the other of not believing the Bible. The youngsters (having claimed the biblical character of Joshua as their own) supporting the Takeover geezers are already labeling Wade Burleson and his young followers as liberals; the accused "liberals" deny the label and are hurling back charges of legalism.

Who will win Part II of the SBC fundamentalist controversy? Actually, that is the wrong question to ask. The SBC has already lost, and on a grand scale. The battle over the leftovers of the SBC will have no winners as this unpromised land is scorched and burned by the misplaced fervor of men who feign divine mandates for their personal prejudices and agendas.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Monday, September 18 the SBC powers used Baptist Press to level their full bore cannons at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship for daring to defend itself from previous Baptist Press charges that the way CBF counts churches violates local church autonomy. What is the substance of this broadside against CBF over the issue of church counting? That CBF uses the pretense of donations of as little as $1 from an individual church member to the CBF in order to count the unsuspecting church as a CBF church and thus inflate their membership stats. The evidence? The personal testimony of three fundamentalist Baptist pastors.

All I know about those three particular pastors is that they seem to be willing tools of the BP lie and deception machine. But I can testify firsthand that over the years I have supported CBF (contributing directly to CBF) while holding membership in several Southern Baptist churches which did not include CBF in the church budget. In each instance, CBF did not count that given church as a CBF church. On the other hand, I see no reason why CBF should not recognize individual gifts given through a local church (even if not via the church budget) in identifying CBF churches. In fact, the fundamentalist Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) utilizes this very practice in counting contributing churches, as do many other Christian organizations. Leave it to SBC leaders to find some pretense to condemn CBF for doing precisely the same thing that many of their own fundamentalist churches are doing. Yet the hypocrisy apparently goes much further: according to several Texas Baptists, the SBC counts among its member churches all BGCT congregations, regardless of whether the individual congregations contribute to the SBC or not, despite years of requests from some non-SBC local Baptist churches to the SBC to take them off SBC roles.

So just what is the real story behind this latest “we hate the despicable CBF” piece from SBC liars and spinmasters? Why do SBC leaders continue to feel compelled to lash out in anger at little ole’ CBF? Why are these fundamentalist Baptists infatuated and infuriated over how CBF functions in the first place?

Are SBC leaders really as insecure as their actions indicate? Does berating CBF allow a little bit of a distraction from their own growing choruses of lament over the historically-unprecedented decline of baptisms and evangelism within the SBC, not to mention the leadership scandals? As the failures of the SBC fundamentalist leadership mount, will CBF be the brunt of ever greater anger and rage?

It seems to me the SBC leadership is more desparate than ever in light of their escalating failures. Their misplaced berating of CBF is a weak attempt to mask the sound of their own implosion.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Are Christian and Muslim theocrats working hand-in-hand?

Numerous observers of modern religious fundamentalist have noted the similarities between American Christian and Middle Eastern Muslim fundamentalists, many of whom strive for the establishment (America) and/or continuation of theocracies. Armageddonists in America have seemingly influenced the current Bush administration's Middle East policies, as pre-millennialists who believe a large-scale Middle East war will immediately precede the return of Christ. Some prominent Baptists are at the forefront of the Armageddonist movement. Now we learn that the Bush administration, prior to the invasion of Iraq, placed their faith in Iraqi informers known to have been compromised by Iranian intelligence. In effect, Iran apparently wanted the U.S. to invade Iraq, and the Bush administration blithely obliged.

Why did Iran ply the Bush administration with false information about Iraq in order to effect a U.S. invasion? Perhaps they realized that a U.S. presence next door would, by way of reaction, bolster theocracy in Iran. Perhaps they wanted to topple the secular Hussein regime and have it replaced with a friendly theocracy, and saw an opportunity to allow the U.S. to do the job for them. Perhaps they wanted to stretch thin U.S. foreign military commitments and endanger worldwide goodwill towards the U.S., thus opening the door for the uninpeded development of their nuclear program. Perhaps all of the above were factors (directly or indirectly) in Iran misleading the Bush administration and stoking the administration's Christian theocratic allies who want to force God to send Jesus back to earth to temporally judge and destroy their enemies.

And, of course, this is not to say that factors other than pre-millennial fervor were absent on the Bush side of the equation, such as George W. seeking to finish that which his father left undone and providing a boost to the oil industry of which the Bushes and Cheney were deeply imbedded.

Regardless of the precise reasons, the irony is that Iranian Muslim and American Christian theocrats colluded, directly or indirectly, in escalating the conflict in the Middle East, weakening America's military capabilities and tarnishing the U.S. image throughout the world ... ultimately in the name of God.

Followup: View a timeline of how theocracy is taking ahold in the former secular Iraq.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Is the Religious Right imploding under the George W. Bush administration? If James Baldwin, pastor of the large and influential Crossroads Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida, and a significant individual within the Religious Right, is any indication, the foundations of the Religious Right are crumbling over discontent with Bush, and may be in danger of collapsing.

Read Baldwin's criticism of both Jerry Falwell and President Bush.