‘Thank God’ — the double standard of religious tribalism

If some shimmering person outside the tribe says even the most vacuous or ambiguous thing that can be spun positively, it will be seized upon and claimed as an affirmation of the tribe and all its values. If some upstart within the tribe says the identical statement, it will be interpreted in the most hostile light so that the speaker can be condemned as someone who opposes the tribe and its values. [Read more…]

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Touched by an Angel: A guide to the religious appeal of TV’s knights errant

If cherubic little Bo turns out to be a literal cherub, then NBC’s “Believe” could become a huge hit. That’s probably true even if her powers are just vaguely attributed as a “miracle” or a “gift from God.” But if the source of her powers is explained in some kind of New Age-y way, or as a leap forward in human evolution, then that same religious audience will likely reject this show. [Read more…]

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‘An evangelical pastor’s path to embracing people who are LGBT into the company of Jesus’

Ken Wilson isn’t like Rob Bell or Brian McLaren — a former pastor already labeled with the tribal warning sign of “controversy.” He is an until-now non-controversial member of the tribe, and he’s still an evangelical pastor writing as an evangelical pastor. The title, and format, of his book is “A Letter to My Congregation.” [Read more…]

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Most evangelical college grads have a story like this one

Most evangelical college graduates have a story like the one Dudley tells. They can relate to the trajectory he relates there — the shock of new ideas as an underclassman and then, later, the candid conversations during office visits in which a professor explains what is and is not allowed to be said and how it differs from what is and is not true. [Read more…]

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Misstatements of faith: How lying is mandatory for white evangelical institutions (part 1)

You can spend thousands of dollars to study biology or biblical studies at Bryan College. They will take your money. But the professors there are not permitted to teach you either biology or biblical studies, so that money will not be well spent. [Read more…]

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Learn these 4 warning signs to avoid money-losing scams

“Four Texas lawmakers, including two now running for statewide office, bought into a fledgling technology company that aimed to reap huge dividends with trades in electricity markets. Instead, the lawmakers said in a lawsuit, they were scammed by a chiseler who once claimed to have found Noah’s Ark.” [Read more…]

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‘An excellent job at de-evangelization’

If you set out deliberately to destroy the church and pervert the gospel, you probably still couldn’t come up with anything as diabolically effective as the teavangelical nonsense of the angry white religious right. Here is some good commentary on Arizona from William Lindsey, E.J. Dionne and Rachel Held Evans. [Read more…]

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The tribal trilateral: White, Protestant, anti-abortion.

That’s what all those other tribal signifiers, past and present, tend to be — short-hand substitutes for the clobber-text hermeneutic of white American Christianity. Whether it’s the currently ascendent tribal marker of being anti-gay, or if it’s the tribal marker of young-Earth creationism, or if it’s the rapidly fading tribal marker of teetotalism, all of those things weren’t so much about the things themselves, but were, rather, ways of shouting, “But what about the Bible?” They were ways of demonstrating one’s allegiance to what tribal gatekeepers called “the authority of the scriptures.” Which is to say, really, the authority of the tribal gatekeepers themselves. [Read more…]

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