A whiskey priest is not the same as a Nazi


Roger Olson, bless him, approaches an interesting and important subject, then trips over it in a splendid pratfall. "Should a Theologian's Life Affect How We Regard His/Her Theology?" Olson asks. Olson begins, as many do when addressing this topic, with a discussion of Paul Tillich: "Reinhold Niebuhr was widely reported to have cut off his friendship with Tillich due to his observations of Tillich’s treatment of women students at Union Theological Seminary." That enhances my admiration for … [Read more...]

American Exceptionalism: A simple test of national character


Here is a video showing how Norwegian people respond when they encounter a child who has been separated from his parents: Here is a video showing how Americans respond when they encounter children who have been separated from their parents: Any questions? … [Read more...]

Whatever happened to the clobber texts for slavery? (Unlearning the lies, cont’d.)


For centuries, Christians have been arguing over the clobber texts used to deny women's equality in the church and in society. Those Bible passages -- a dozen or so verses selected from the origin stories of Genesis, the laws of Moses, and the epistles of Paul -- are hotly contested in an ongoing argument over their meaning and interpretation. Every year we see a new crop of books devoted to the exegesis of those verses, granular studies of first-century Greek terms and their cultural … [Read more...]

Javert Syndrome, Texas justice, and Satanic baby-killers


Charles Kuffner shares some news of justice long-delayed in Texas. This is from Pamela Colloff's report in Texas Monthly, "Anthony Graves' Prosecutor Finally Has to Answer for His Actions": It’s been eight years since the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the DA who prosecuted Anthony Graves for capital murder had done something unconscionable: withheld favorable evidence and used false testimony to secure a conviction — a conviction that sent Graves to death row. Since that … [Read more...]

Seeking ‘religious liberty’ just like Elijah at Kishon

Executing prisoners is a vital expression of religious liberty, Kishon style.

Robert Knight is kind of a journeyman utility infielder of the religious right. I forget which team he's with these days -- might be the Family Research Council, might be Concerned Women of America or one of the others. It's one of those groups that insists that good Christians must have no fellowship with unrighteousness and no communion with darkness. Except for the Unification Church, because the Moonies' newspaper is a reliable source of right-wing partisan hackery and that's what's most … [Read more...]

“What to the slave is the Fourth of July?’ (cont’d.)

Frederick Douglass, July 5, 1852: The church of this country is not only indifferent to the wrongs of the slave, it actually takes sides with the oppressors. It has made itself the bulwark of American slavery, and the shield of American slave-hunters. Many of its most eloquent Divines. who stand as the very lights of the church, have shamelessly given the sanction of religion and the Bible to the whole slave system. They have taught that man may, properly, be a slave; that the relation of … [Read more...]

‘What to the slave is the Fourth of July?’

Frederick Douglass, July 5, 1852: Fellow-citizens; above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, “may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!” To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime … [Read more...]

Why the perversion of ‘religious liberty’ and RFRA ticks me off


Alfred Smith got fired from his job as a counselor in an alcohol rehab clinic because he went to church on Sunday and drank wine during communion. That's not exactly what happened. But it is exactly parallel to what happened. Smith, who is Native American, got fired from his job as a counselor at a drug rehab clinic because he participated in Native American religious rituals involving peyote. Then he got turned down for unemployment benefits because peyote is an illegal substance in … [Read more...]