Saturday, January 9, 2010

Pat Robertson, Over the Years, In His Words.

I write a lot about church discrimination without being clear about what church and what discrimination. I assume too often that my regular readers understand that I'm not anti-church nor anti-religion.

When I am writing about women's reproductive rights or elder rights, I am reminded lately - by my sister, in fact - that I fail to distinguish between noble, charitable, egalitarian faith and the kind of religious discrimination that works to keep American citizens down, subservient, repressed, unhealthy, diminished. The kind of religious ideology that works against justice* for and the rights of others, say, much of Evangelical, Fundamentalist teaching, is a long way from, say, the Mennonite Central Committee that without fanfare is spread across the globe feeding the hungry and bringing medicine to the poor.

So to be clear and to work at holding myself accountable to accuracy in assignations, I bring to you one specific example of rampant "church" discrimination that any believer in a free, egalitarian society can agree is indicative of dedicated and consistent discriminatory teaching: From IMdB, Pat Robertson, in his own words:

*Oh and a quick reminder, we have three branches of government. The justice system's role is to, independent of the other two, interpret the constitution. Their role, according to the Constitution, is not to represent the opinions of the public nor the legislature. That's not activism; nor is activist a dirty word.

Jerry Falwell: And, I know that I'll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way - all of them who have tried to secularize America - I point the finger in their face and say, "You helped this happen."
Pat Robertson: Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government. And so we're responsible as a free society for what the top people do. And, the top people, of course, is the court system.

Pat Robertson: You say you're supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense. I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist. I can love the people who hold false opinions but I don't have to be nice to them.

Pat Robertson: I know this is painful for the ladies to hear, but if you get married, you have accepted the headship of a man, your husband. Christ is the head of the household and the husband is the head of the wife, and that's the way it is, period.

Pat Robertson: The Constitution of the United States, for instance, is a marvelous document for self-government by the Christian people. But the minute you turn the document into the hands of non-Christian people and atheistic people they can use it to destroy the very foundation of our society. And that's what's been happening.

Pat Robertson: [about apartheid South Africa] I think "one man, one vote" just unrestricted democracy, would not be wise. There needs to be some kind of protection for the minority which the white people represent now, a minority, and they need and have a right to demand a protection of their rights.

Pat Robertson: NOW is saying that in order to be a woman, you've got to be a lesbian.

Pat Robertson: [about Planned Parenthood] It is teaching kids to fornicate, teaching people to have adultery, every kind of bestiality, homosexuality, lesbianism - everything that the Bible condemns.

Pat Robertson: The public education movement has also been an anti-Christian movement. We can change education in America if you put Christian principles in and Christian pedagogy in. In three years, you would totally revolutionize education in America.

Pat Robertson: You see what happened in 1962. They took prayer out of the schools. The next year the Supreme Court ordered Bible reading taken from the schools. And then progressing, liberals, most of them atheistic educators, have pushed to remove all religion from the lives of children. The people who wrote the "Humanist Manifesto" and their pupils and their disciples are in charge of education in America today.

Pat Robertson: Many of those people involved with Adolph Hitler were Satanists, many of them were homosexuals. The two things seem to go together.

Pat Robertson: I think we ought to close Halloween down. Do you want your children to dress up as witches? The Druids used to dress up like this when they were doing human sacrifice.
Your children]
Pat Robertson: are acting out Satanic rituals and participating in it, and don't even realize it.

Pat Robertson: [about Gay Day at Disney World] I would warn Orlando that you're right in the way of some serious hurricanes and I don't think I'd be waving those flags in God's face if I were you. This is not a message of hate; this is a message of redemption. But a condition like this will bring about the destruction of your nation. It'll bring about terrorist bombs, it'll bring earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor.

Pat Robertson: The key in terms of mental ability is chess. There's never been a woman Grand Master chess player. Once you get one, then I'll buy some of the feminism.

Pat Robertson: I think the sky is blue because it's a shift from black through purple to blue, and it has to do with where the light is. You know, the farther we get into darkness, and there's a shifting of color of light into the blueness, and I think as you go farther and farther away from the reflected light we have from the sun or the light that's bouncing off this earth, uh, the darker it gets. I think if you look at the color scale, you start at black, move it through purple, move it on out, it's the shifting of color. We mentioned before about the stars singing, and that's one of the effects of the shifting of colors.

Pat Robertson: To see Americans become followers of, quote, Islam, is nothing short of insanity. Terry, you know, I've been in Africa many, many, many, many times, and you see people over here learning Swahili, for example. Swahili was the language of the slave traders. The Islamic people, the Arabs, were the ones who captured Africans, put them in slavery, and sent them to America as slaves. Why would people in America want to embrace the religion of the slavers, and the language of the slavers?

Pat Robertson: As long as the husband is following the mandate of the Lord, the wife should submit to his leadership even though she may disagree with it. God's standard is true. Yet in many marriages, the wife is more able than her husband. Regretfully a woman with great abilities sometimes marries a man who does not have much ability. This wife must resist the temptation to dominate her husband. Her husband will sometimes make decisions that the wife feels are wrong. She must either gently persuade her husband or pray that God will change her husband's mind.

Pat Robertson: Why are so many marriages falling apart? Why is the divorce rate so high? Why is there such a tragedy in marriage? Now the basic answer to the basic problem of marriages today is a question of leadership. The wife actually makes the husband the head of the household and she looks to him and she says, "Now you pray, and I'm going to pray for you that the Lord will speak to you."

Pat Robertson: [about homosexuals] It's one thing to say, "We have rights to jobs, we have rights to be left alone in out little corner of the world to do our thing." It's an entirely different thing to say, well, "We're not only going to go into the schools and we're going to take your children and your grandchildren and turn them into homosexuals." Now that's wrong.

Pat Robertson: I am absolutely persuaded one of the reasons so many lesbians are at the forefront of the pro-choice movement is because being a mother is the unique characteristic of womanhood, and these lesbians will never be mothers naturally, so they don't want anybody else to have that privilege either.

Pat Robertson: If the widespread practice of homosexuality will bring about the destruction of your nation, if it will bring about terrorist bombs, if it'll bring about earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor, it isn't necessarily something we ought to open our arms to.

Pat Robertson: [about separation of church and state] That was never in the Constitution, however much the liberals laugh at me for saying it, they know good and well it was never in the Constitution! Such language only appeared in the constitution of the Communist Soviet Union.

Pat Robertson: The courts are merely a ruse, if you will, for humanist, atheistic educators to beat up on Christians.

Pat Robertson: [during an interview] I read your book. When you get through, you say, "If I could just get a nuclear device inside Foggy Bottom, I think that's the answer." I mean, you get through this, and you say, "We've got to blow that thing up." I mean, is it as bad as you say?

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My People: Notes On Lancaster County Amish and Mennonites.

Grateful to the Dead's Chris Armstrong has a nice "fun facts" list on my people, the Anabaptists.

For clarity concerning the use of "Pennsylvania Dutch": "Deutsch" is German for, uh, German.

On why/how Lancaster County? Many Lancaster County Amish and Mennonites (I grew up in Lancaster, my grandparents were Mennonite) are from the Swiss-German-speaking area of Switzerland (Canton Bern) but spent a subsequent few generation in Germany after fleeing prosecution in their homeland. Prosecution had led them to live outside towns and cities as farmers, self-reliant. William Penn caught up with them in Germany and, needing settlers for his new state, promised religious freedom in fledgling Pennsylvania. Germantown was the first primary settlement in the state. My flock chose to go west to Lancaster, then the outskirts of the new settlement.

Separation of Church and State: Despite self-schooling and what in modern times look like "backwards" ways, ask any Amish or Mennonite why the separation of church and state is so important. They'll tell you to read Martyrs' Mirror, the book Armstrong mentions below, a harrowing tome of the tortures suffered by Anabaptists under state laws from the time of Christ until 1660.

That doubt about the Establishment clause exists among other Fundamentalist or some Evangelical groups in the US today is, according to the Baptists who paid with the blood of their members for centuries, protection from and by the state is tantamount to religious freedom. Every Anabaptist is taught their history, one that remembers the horrors of Theocracy. Now once removed from the church, I still strongly resent efforts to debunk the importance of separation of church and state.

For a short piece of mine on religious tolerance, click here.

Chris Armstrong:

Continuing this week’s Anabaptist theme, here are the surprising and interesting factoids that made it into the front page of Christian History & Biography’s issue 94: Pilgrims & Exiles, about America’s Anabaptist groups:

Pilgrims and Exiles: Did You Know?
Interesting and unusual facts about America’s Anabaptists
Friday, October 1, 2004

You may be more Mennonite than you think

Many American Christians simply assume that the state has no business dictating church beliefs or practices, that a church should be a gathered body of believers rather than a net that scoops up everyone within the area of a parish, and that baptism is a step of obedience upon profession of faith. What most do not know is that Mennonites were the first (surviving) group of Christians to insist on these things, and that they died by the thousands for doing so.

“Are you saved?” … “Ask my neighbors”

The early Brethren (Dunkers)—a cousin movement to the Mennonites and Amish—practiced a lively evangelistic outreach. But the typical Anabaptist emphasis on showing, not just telling, one’s faith remained strong. When Brethren evangelist Rufus P. Bucher was asked by a stranger in a railway station, “Brother, are you saved?” he replied that since he might be prejudiced on the question, his interrogator should go ask his wife, children, and neighbors. “I’ll be ready to let their answers stand as my own.”

Trail of blood

The Martyrs Mirror (1660), an Anabaptist martyrology, has as its full title “The Bloody Theater or Martyrs Mirror of the Defenseless Christians Who Baptized Only Upon Confession of Faith, and Who Suffered and Died for the Testimony of Jesus, Their Saviour, From the Time of Christ to the Year A.D. 1660.”

A-Fording them a higher profile

By the 1980s, annual visitors to Lancaster County’s “Amish country” numbered above 4 million. The 1985 Harrison Ford film “Witness” increased the flood even further (though not doubling it as predicted).

Plain dress not so simple

To the outsider, the Anabaptists’ plain dress looks oppressively uniform. But really study plain dress, and you’ll find a dizzying array of differences. In his book Why Do They Dress That Way? Brethren scholar Stephen Scott charts out these differences. Amish women may wear a straight or a crossed cape, a Midwest, Lancaster, or “Nebraska” back, and a rectangular or triangular shawl. Amish men may sport hats with a plain, creased, depressed, or flat crown; and wear X-type, H-type, Y-type, or single strap suspenders. Mennonite women choose between Reformed, Wenger, or Victoria bonnets—all with chin straps—or wear a bonnet without a strap, called a “beanie” bonnet. And Mennonite and Brethren men wear either a frock or sack coat.

Just another farming group

Public fascination with the Lancaster County Amish began early in the 20th century with romanticized images of Amish life on WPA posters and in theatrical treatments like the 1955 musical Plain and Fancy. But throughout most of the 19th century, the Amish numbered fewer than 5,000, and the nation had not progressed in technology and culture to the point where they stood out. The press and public generally tended to ignore them.

Give us this day our daily bread

All Brethren celebrate the “love feast” twice each year. But the Old Order River Brethren (so named because upon joining they were baptized in the Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania) reserve a special role for their women in preparing for the feast. Breadmaking—mixing, kneading, and baking unleavened bread used for communion—is part of the ceremony itself. At long trestle tables in the main meeting room, the sisters (baptized women) work the dough, while the brothers stand by and preach a spiritual interpretation of the act. Preparing the bread together in this way reinforces the unity of Christ’s body; leaving leaven out of the bread is akin to getting rid of any kind of pride or spiritual impurity.

Going—and staying—”Dutch”

Pennsylvania German, or Pennsylvania Dutch (Pennsilfaani-Deitsch), is a High German language spoken by 150,000 to 250,000 people in North America. (“Dutch” is an archaic English term meaning “German.”) Only Amish and Old Order Mennonites are passing the language along to their children in the current generation, although they were originally minority groups within the Pennsylvania German-speaking population. In these cultures, the language is a sign of Demut or humility, and the language serves as a barrier against the outside world. With the high birth rate in Amish communities, the possibility is great that the language will survive at least in the short term.

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Pastors and Clergy Often Disagree on Political Parties.

A new study, reported at the Indiana/Kentucky Courier-Journal, shows that pastors and their clergy often choose to vote on opposite sides of the political divide.

The Presbyterian survey found that 46 percent of members and 49 percent of elders are Republicans, while only 23 percent of pastors are.

Fifty percent of pastors are Democrats, compared with 31 percent of members and 29 percent of elders.

Jack Marcum, coordinator of Research Services, writes that such information may seem unrelated to churches’ core spiritual mission, but that it’s valuable to have.

He noted that many may be surprised that pastors and elders with such contrasting politics “share leadership of congregations in the same religious denomination. Yet they do, and isn’t this information important for those developing … training materials, or trying to match pastors with congregations?”

Being Presbyterian is “just one characteristic among many that defines each of us, and it is intertwined with political identification, age, gender and many others to make us who we are....

“My guess is that many can recall a meeting or situation where political perspectives or other non-religious considerations seemed more influential to some participants than church teachings,” Marcum added. “That’s one reason why, to understand the church, we need social scientists as well as theologians.”

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