Giving Religion A Bad Name

I came across a couple of recent “news items” that may help explain the increasing exodus from organized religion.

First, Raw Story tells us that “Mother,” aka Karen Pence,

the wife of Vice President Mike Pence, is planning to rally support for a controversial Republican candidate who has said that women who work are violating “God’s design.”

Local news station WFAE reports that Pence on Friday will join a campaign rally for Mark Harris, a former pastor who has been sharply critical of women who decide to take jobs instead of staying home and supporting their husbands.

Pastor Harris has publicly bemoaned the fact that modern women no longer have “basic” skills–“womanly” skills  such as “how to prepare a meal, how to sew on a button, how to keep a home, how to respond to a husband.”

Pardon me while I throw up.

Then there’s the new motion picture release, The Trump Prophecy. As a reporter for Vox has explained,

I sat in an unmarked cinema hall in New York’s Union Square, listening to a group of people praying. We’d just finished watching a screening of The Trump Prophecy, the controversial hybrid docu-drama made in part by students and faculty at the conservative evangelical Liberty University. Images of American greatness — an American flag, an eagle — flickered across the screen. A white man in his 60s sang out verses from 2 Chronicles 7:14:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

They bowed their heads and thanked God that his anointed one, Donald Trump, was president. Just as the prophecy had foretold.

Scenes like this took place in 1,200 cinemas across the country during a limited release of the film this month. The Trump Prophecy, which played on Tuesday and Thursday nights, has been advertised as an opportunity for prayer groups to come together in an expression of patriotism.

Nauseating as this sounds, and as far from genuine patriotism as it clearly is, the film’s message is far worse.

But The Trump Prophecy is more than a feel-good, low-budget movie. It’s the purest distillation of pro-Trump Christian nationalism: the insidious doctrine that implicitly links American patriotism and American exceptionalism with (white) evangelical Christianity.

Everything about The Trump Prophecy — from its subject matter, to the way it’s shot, to the little details scattered through the movie’s (often interminable) scenes of domestic life — is designed not just to legitimize Donald Trump as a evangelical-approved president but to promulgate an even more wide-ranging — and dangerous — idea.

The Trump Prophecy doesn’t just want you to believe that God approves of Donald Trump. It wants you to believe that submission to (conservative) political authority and submission to God are one and the same. In the film’s theology, resisting the authority of a sitting president — or, at least, this sitting president — is conflated with resisting God himself.

The fundamentalists who have allied themselves with this President preach that God chooses America’s leaders. (Presumably only the Republican ones.) This is eerily reminiscent of belief in the divine right of kings–a belief that early Americans pretty strongly rejected during the American revolution.

When a leader’s authority comes from God, and not from voters at the ballot box, people obviously have no right to resist. It’s an ideology that–as the article notes– utterly rejects the idea of democracy.

It’s telling that The Trump Prophecy doesn’t even try to pretend Trump is a good, or even acceptable, leader. In fact, it treats that very question as irrelevant. What matters, simply, is that good Christians respect those in power over them (whether good Christians should also have respected, say, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton is never explored).

The Vox article explores the theology underpinning this worldview, and it’s worth reading, since these beliefs are foreign to most readers who visit this blog–and for that matter, to most Americans.

As Karen Pence’s support for a reactionary pastor demonstrates, however, this is the theology that motivates Trump supporters, and a belief structure that is well-represented throughout Trump’s Administration. (Think Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos.)

If their worldview doesn’t terrify you, nothing will.

24 thoughts on “Giving Religion A Bad Name

  1. This reminds me of the tail end of the Nixon problems
    FIRST – VP Agnew was removed
    THEN – Nixon went away

    We need to see that this time as well
    First the VP , Then the Pres

  2. off topic,but maybe a good piece to start a conversation,the cover is in commondreams.org,mike winship,in berlin,turkish newsman and pussy riot risks it all for freedom of speech. ive followed euro news abit, dw.com this story can sum up in a few words where we are going politically in America,and the world…(we do not have the front page in America). hate is a not a byword,its a headline. winship has a way to give a deep understanding in his words. the subject gets glossed over in to many media hypes. but sit down and read this,and match it with domestic stories. though i rail about classic 1932 germany,(the rise and fall of the third reich) its too close,and needs a real need in action to stop the hate. we see it everywhere,and its been there in plain sight,but now its a con game by the elite,and white house,the media you watch)i never would have believed it would infect this way.. bit overall,from this piece by winship.he puts together more pieces by those who are sacraficing everything,to spread the word,hate is in control,and were still asking why?…euro news is more open about this issue,and the people involved,are being literally attacked by thier own goverments,in and outside of thier contries. so called renegade writers who dare write about the powers that be,being less than who they appear to be,a music group,jail,tortured, brusied,and beaten,that has more balls than any american music genre today..we had a music scene in the 60-70s that had little to lose,because mainsteam didnt want it,but everyone really did. it help end the vietnam war,and it was done without hate. if todays muscians feel so smug that they can lay down and allow our country to be run over by hate,some of them profess,underlines,in song,then dont buy the music,dont allow your music genre,to play them,boycott them. small,yes,big,bigger if it gets noticed. euros are trying to tell us something,again,division is here,and we can turn away,again,but now,its the whole capitalistic world,waging war on peace,and demanding hate….

  3. Dear Ms. Kennedy,
    I may come off as ‘off the wall’ or just ‘nuts’ to some = but there is a reason I am somewhat outspoken; I know of what I speak of. The Hebrew Torah is the root of all Judaeo-Christian-Muslim religion – that is fact, we know that. But what is not known is what is waiting to be seen within the text. These ‘self-righteous’ ignorants, such as Pence and his Wife are just the symptoms of a collapse of reason. A lie can only go on so long.., I have found the end of that lie. I am a ‘nobody’ but what I have produced will ‘lay mountains low!’ That I guarantee you. They may get a chance to try out their attempt at a ‘theocracy’ but it will fail… the LIE WILL FAIL. But I just hope this truth gets known among more people – before this LIE winds up being the death of this country or this world. I am not speaking figuratively here – this is fact. Did you know: that our ‘sentience’ comes from something here on the Earth. John M. Allegro, in his book ‘the Mushroom and the Cross’ – ALMOST had it right. ALMOST. It is pictured within the text. And ‘G-d’ and LAW were given to us by Beings who came from ‘on high’. You know the world Elohim – if you properly dissect it the word carries the meaning of; ‘THE ONES ON HIGH’.., but of course argue that with a Rabbi or another minister! – I don’t mean to sound mean, but in my eyes at this time I am surrounded by Philistines! And I am busy working at my work readying for the time to use that proverbial JAWBONE… because I really want to bust some ignorant heads! It is time to put the ignorance to rest! I love that bumpersticker I saw some time back that says: “What would Jesus Do? – He would slap the shit out of YOU!”
    Respectfully submitted,
    Reverend, Manuel Colunga-Hernandez, (M.Rel.)
    P.S. yes, I can prove everything I have said. But whether or not they could see it is another thing!

  4. last night on RFD channel,they had a tribute to the music of the likes, of hee haw,roy clark was there with other notables,i sat back and wanted to,listen to some of that pickin that made them famous.no, the lead of the show,decided to rant about gospel music and how America is attacking religion….really,attacking religion,how?seems the church is demeaning freedoms earned by Americans that thier tollerance doesnt agree with? thats not religion under attack,its relgion attacking Americans for being American… this isnt mainstream t.v. but it damn sure was a hate spinning…. GFYS.”.

  5. You have to wonder what Karen Pence thinks of the Trump women. Does anyone think that Ivanka knows how to cook? Or that Melania knows how to sew on buttons? Obey their husbands? You have to be kidding!

    The guy with the crazy poster covered van is not the only nut case in the country these days.
    Fundamentalist churches are full of delusional souls. And they are busy at work every day in order to bring us all to our knees.

  6. Archaic mythic writings aren’t the problem in 2018, it’s “modern women” who won’t obey those archaic texts.

    Typically, the chosen ones would make even a meek attempt to prove that their anointed one has similar qualities as they, but their blind devotion (hypocrisy) is their Achilles heel.

    These same rejects were part and parcel within the Tea Party who completely rejected Obama for a myriad of reasons – the bottom line was he was black and they’re racists, but that inconvenient truth isn’t a problem for them. Their charade will pass.

    However, when you look closer at what is taking place with these folks and there are millions across the country, including Indiana, that support dismantling public education because they don’t want teachers “liberalizing” their little David or Mary. It’s also why they’ve lobbied for credits/vouchers to allow their children to attend religious school on the public taxpayer’s dime.

    It only takes about 120 seconds with one of these people…or 60 seconds with two of them…to grasp what Darwin’s theories were all about.

    In Buddhism, the fundamental truth of all things is “All things in life are impermanent.” Our resistance to change causes suffering.

    Isn’t this why there are now 1,800 deviations of one book taught across the world?

    The American people already placed religion in perspective as it relates to forming our society. What these traditionalists have morphed into is a cult – not a political party.

    However, fighting people who’ve joined this cult will not advance our human species. As Sheila mentioned, we resisted this angle during the American Revolution. We don’t need to fight it again. We also fought the Civil War and made a determination that slavery is bad and that “we the people” literally meant ALL THE PEOPLE.

    These cult members have resisted change for eons and want to drag us all back in time for a “do over.” Sorry, but I’m not willing to go back and fight all these battles once again. I’m also not interested in turning back the clock on progress made. We need to keep pushing forward because we’ve already lost years due capitalisms resistance to change. This Earth is crying out for help because we cannot continue with global capitalism which lives on unsustainable growth. We have finite resources and need to learn how to manage them within our ecosystem and learn to live with balance.

    There was an article yesterday where GM is breaking from Trump in the California debate about emissions and electric cars. We need more of this…

  7. The Glass Ceiling is still holding strong in some places but those women who have had the strength to fight their way to the top of their chosen field, including politics, are to be commended. They are our Sheroes; they are the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel but they were preceded by all of those “Rosie the Riveters” during WWII who stepped out of their homes to take over men’s jobs in factories so the men could go to war. Then they were ousted from those jobs at the end of the war but had learned valuable lessons regarding their strengths and abilities beyond the kitchens and bedrooms of their homes. Now; our young women go to war and are maimed or die alongside our young men. Since the mid-20th Century, women have often been forced out of their homes and away from their children because so many men didn’t meet their qualifications supporting families. Taking low-paying jobs to keep food on their tables and clothes on their backs as they multi-task at maintaining the home and bringing home the proverbial “bacon”. Can “Mother Pence” find quotes in her Bible to cover that area of “God’s design”?

    We learned we had, or were able to develop, qualifications we possessed beyond –“womanly” skills such as “how to prepare a meal, how to sew on a button, how to keep a home, how to respond to a husband.” We also learned we could be proud of the ability to move beyond our Biblical assigned housewifely duties and often that we were smarter than the man in our lives who failed to adequately provide necessities…or appreciate abilities of wives and girlfriends who didn’t need to depend on them to live.

    The “Trump Prophecy” has in the past 19 months provided us with approved and accepted sexual abuses and attacks, schools shootings, mass shootings, racism, bigotry, alienation of national allies, sucking up to our enemies and over the past 4 days we have lived with the national terrorism of a letter bomber who announced his adoration of Trump by covering his Trumpmobile with decals which should have been a warning of at least the possibility of what his intentions could be. Can “Mother Pence” quote chapter and verse from her Bible where this is part of “God’s Design”.

    Those of us who have turned away from organized religion are no less spiritual, we have not lost our faith in a “higher power”; we are simply using the strengths we have always possessed but were not allowed to use to better the lives of our families and the world around us.

    VOTE BLUE!

  8. Shiela , you make the case that our current elected officials demonstrate proof positive that the only wall we need in America is the separation of church and state. We also need high standards of moral conviction and ethics on both sides of the wall.

  9. There was an interesting comment I read after these series of pipe bombs were discovered. The author wrote for the first time since the Lincoln Assassination the target was not a single person, but a group of people active in the government, activists or people who held high offices.

    The alleged bomber Cesar Sayoc was an open supporter of President Agent Orange. His van was plastered with decals some showing several people in the cross hairs of a telescopic rifle lens. The van was quickly covered with tarp. Perhaps the tarp was to preserve evidence or simply hide from public view the deranged views of a Trumpter.

    The Reactionary Right Wing and the Trumpter’s reacted with a stunningly quick explanations: False Flag operation, planted evidence or some type of Manchurian Candidate recruited by George Soros. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/oct/26/trump-supporters-sceptical-about-pipe-bomb-arrest

    The tortured logic of the Trumpter’s has the same philosophy of the evangelicals, i.e., you have to believe in the Great Left Wing Conspiracy, facts are discarded as lies or fake news.

    I may have missed it but I do not believe President Agent Orange, Pastor Pence or any others in the GOP High Command offered any expression of empathy to the intended targets of this political assassin.

  10. Once again, the absurdity of overzealous religious fools show that the biggest mistake God made was giving his word to humans. As with most things not absolute, humans will screw it up and make mayhem the “word”.

    It’s so easy to NOT believe in God or religion when idiots like the Pences are trotting out their “faith”. What crap! Their only faith is in the money they can raise by scaring the crap out of people.

  11. It’s true. There are some religious zealots who are as insane as the man who mailed bombs to democratic leaders, critics of Trump. In the meantime, as a lesbian woman, I was deeply touched to learn that Matthew Shepard’s remains have been placed in the Episcopal cathedral in Washington DC. I thank God there are also Christians like me who oppose Trump and religious fanaticism.

  12. Karen Pence worked outside the home several years as an art teacher in a public elementary school. I wonder if former pastor and candidate Mark arris will forgive her for violating “God’s design”.

  13. Yesterday our incredible FBI, with the help of combined law agencies, arrested the man believed to be the letter bomber who has terrorized this country for three days.

    “Mother Pence” speaks of “God’s design” as if he presented it to her personally. Trump is upholding the evangelicals running this country and disclaiming all blame for the letter bomber, placing the blame on the media, primarily CNN which was one of the victims.

    It is now Saturday morning, October 27, 2018, and there is a live news report from Pittsburgh, PA, regarding an active shooter in a Synagogue. Another day, another terror, another shooting terrorizing another city.

    Per Veron: “It’s so easy to NOT believe in God or religion when idiots like the Pences are trotting out their “faith”. What crap! Their only faith is in the money they can raise by scaring the crap out of people.”

    Cesar Sayor attended the Little Flower Church in Fort Lauderdale, FL. he wasn’t looking for money and didn’t appear to have religious reasons for his actions other then releasing his hatred in the form of terror on this country. What will this Synagogue shooter be seeking; money, fame, releasing his or her hatred by terrorizing those at prayer? This has happened before; in a Baptist church resulting in nine innocent people shot to death as they prayed.

    My shame has no bounds; neither does my fear. It often comes out in physical nausea and for the first time in many years I am having nightmares – connected to the destruction of our country by our own government and its neo-Nazi, WHITE Nationalist, KKK supporters and the Republican Congress.

    VOTE BLUE and pray “Mother Pence” and her “God’s design” members do not win…AGAIN.

  14. “I may have missed it but I do not believe President Agent Orange, Pastor Pence or any others in the GOP High Command offered any expression of empathy to the intended targets of this political assassin.” – Monotonous Langour (above)

    I saw a vido clip where he was asked if he’d reached out to Presidents Obama and Clinton or any of the other targets and he said he hadn’t and pretty much said he didn’t intend to.

    This is of a piece where his only concern is that the bombing would adversely affect Team Red in the elections. No indication that he cares that it’s domestic terrorism or that actual humans could have died – if you don’t worship Himself your only purpose in life is to be punished. And the underbelly of Team Red is ramping up the victim-blaming: false flag; paid protestors (why would Soros pay to bomb himself?); incendiary rhetoric has no relation to what happened; etc.

    OT: I’ve seen some posts where a quote has a red bar on the left to indicate that its a quote from someone (not the poster). How can I do that?

  15. I suppose in the “world” of President Agent Orange’s and Pastor Pence’s followers in the Ultra Right Evangelical Cults, if the MAGABomber had assassinated all his targets it would have been God’s Will protecting President Agent Orange and Pastor Pence.

    Update: Local media reported that eight people were dead after a man began shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday. KDKA reported the suspect was “white male [with] a beard” and said he “walked in yelling ‘All Jews must die’”.

    Another Mass Shooting, No need for gun control – Just thoughts and Prayers.

  16. Extremism doesn’t think. People who don’t think are attracted to its simplicity; its black and whiteness; it’s we and theyness. The same people enjoy others telling them what to pretend to think; either actors on the pulpit, in the Whitehouse, or on the fantasy screen now in just about every room. They are easy to round up and the average herd dog could have his way with them. They love to follow each other and respond to every bark in predictable ways.

    More than anything else in America they are what we call a business opportunity, a “market”, to be turned into more money regardless of the impact on any others. The smell of more money has created another herd just as the smell of death attracts the buzzards.

    What could go wrong has gone wrong now. Has it reached majority proportions yet? We will get an update on Nov 6.

    Which side will you vote for?

  17. This past week a 14-bomb nightmare; today, murders of innocents in a Pittsburgh synagogue. While the “president” was not the active participant, his message is clearly ‘If you feel it, do it.” He knows exactly the impact on his base and the lunatic fringe. He and his kind must go NOW! Vote BLUE!

  18. I had not heard about this ‘movie’ before. Certainly terrifying! Smacks of spreading a
    Dangerous religious cult.

  19. Thank you Sheila,

    The rub with all of this is that religion is of man and, as such, subject to all the interpretations both good and bad, with some being absolutely horrendous, that people have. Just letting the thought of a “Trump prophecy” being at the core of all his evangelical support flow through my head is probably causing hemorrhaging right now. For the life of me, I cannot understand how anyone, regardless of their denomination or their ”religious” beliefs, would hitch their stars to a man so unrepentant in regard to his own conduct, someone not having the slightest empathy for anyone but himself, or being so deliberately divisive in both his actions and rhetoric with the aim of satisfying his grossly narcissistic ego and fatten his bank accounts while he’s at it.

    There are many, many people that have been seriously led astray by both grossly mistaken and often devious and cynical people for wrong headed political ends. Those that have caused this gross calamity that has befallen this nation will, at some point, have some serious explaining to do.

  20. I thought my husband was joking when he told me that the Pittsburg shooter who claimed he was “protecting his people,” was inspired by folks who believe the caravan from Central America is supported by the Jews.

    I am so sick at heart that throwing up is no longer my reaction. I can’t even eat any more. What will become of our country?

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