11.05.2011

'Satanic' Pokemon: Destroying The Minds And Hearts Of Our Children

The folks at Bible.com want you to know that, although it may seem to be an innocent childhood preoccupation, Pokemon is "satanic," and your child "may need a prayer of deliverance prayed over them," as "the devil [may] have a stronghold in their lives."

My children, like millions of other children over the past 15 years, love them some Pokemon. They collect the cards, have the figurines, and watch the show from time to time. In many ways, the Pokemon craze (along with Yu-Gi-Oh, and other Japanese imports) is this generation's sports cards. Try as I have, my kids could care less about baseball cards. Baseball cards are one-dimensional compared to these cards which not only are collected, but are also components of a fairly complex role-playing game, and which are integrated into the narratives of movies, video games, and television.

Bible.com (among others, it must be noted) see this craze as more than just a hobby. A good, wholesome, hobby will not, as Bible.com says, "destroy the minds and hearts of our children."

What exactly is so evil about Pokemon?
The question is, what is the right way and how do we know if something is right for our children or even us personally? In the case of Pokemon let us look at the "roots and fruits" of this game. The Bible tells us in Matthew 7 that we can recognize the tree by the fruit that it bears.

The following are some of their assertions (emphasis mine):

Pokemon is short for "Pocket Monsters"...This game makes some of its monsters out as friendly; thus causing children to embrace certain evil spirits as friends instead of resisting them.

Pokemon is the result of influences that are completely mystical and that embrace warrior religions. These belief systems are not compatible with Christianity.

In Pokemon, the monsters actually die to their old self and evolve into the new, more powerful Pokemon. This is the teaching of eastern mystery religions and is spelled out in the Egyptian book of the dead and other occult religions. Through this children are subtly being indoctrinated into the theory of evolution and mysticism of the eastern religions.

Other philosophies are also evident in Pokemon and these are the demonstration of occultic powers in the games and cards. We also find the influences of New Age Cults, Wicca, Witchcraft, Paganism and Satanism in this game.

The trading aspect of Pokemon is unhealthy for children too. This aspect has become addictive in many children...This trading game is not fostering good Christian traits in children but rather greed, combativeness, extreme competitiveness and obsessiveness.

Instead of this game just being one of imaginative fun, it has become addictive and changed the emotional disposition of children. Some children even complain that they don't feel good after playing the game. Since it is a role playing game, some of the characters are not good and this opens the door for children to receive evil influences and even demonic invasion.

Children can receive demon spirits by opening themselves up to the spirits behind Pokemon. When it was first released in Japan in 1997, it was reported that over 600 children went into epileptic seizures while watching the Pokemon cartoons.  The epileptic seizures were said to be caused by the incessant flashing lights in the cartoon overloading the optical nerves and inciting seizure; however, seizures can also be caused by demonic attack.

We encourage you not to let the seemingly little things, like helping choose your children's toys wisely, be a door for unwanted evil influences in their lives. Don't let this "little fox" destroy the minds and hearts of our children.

Bible.com is laying it on pretty thick there.

They seem to forget that we can find in Christianity itself the influences of paganism. If they want Christians to avoid these influences, they will need to stop referring to Jesus as "the light of the world." They might want to hold off on the references to symbols such as "the good shepherd," and the "orans." The might want to shun the Christmas tree and the wreath. They might want to remove all fish (ichthus) symbols from their churches and cars. Crosses, too.

a 'demonic invader'
Lighten up, Bible.com. One thing that's great about the explosion of global trade over the past several decades, and the advent of the internet, is the accompanying explosion of influences from other cultures, especially in areas that were once so homogenized. We have enjoyed advances in technology and medicine through the flowing of ideas from culture to culture. We enjoy a wealth of cuisine, film, art, music, and literature. This is good.

When my kids play Pokemon, they're exploring similar worlds of imagination that I explored with GI Joe, Kung Fu movies, and Marvel Comics. Except they're actually using math. They're engaging in critical thinking, and learning about supply and demand, cooperation and conflict.

And yes, they are actually learning some basics ideas about evolution. Granted, it's bizarro Pokemon evolution, but that's more than I got in NC public schools in the 1980s.

My kids aren't 'receiving demon spirits,' because demon spirits are about as real as Pokemon characters, and my children understand this.

This 'demon spirits' talk is just religious code for 'things we don't understand,' and 'demonic invasion' is metaphysical-speak for 'bad behavior.' And I believe the correct term for 'demonic attack' is 'being a kid.'

If your kid is turning away from Christianity, it's probably not the Pokemon that's the problem. It's probably that you're creeping them out with all the medieval demon bullshit.



Maher: The GOP Should Just Go Ahead And Nominate Tim Tebow

Bill Maher, on Friday's Real Time:
Since all Republican voters really want in a candidate is a devout Christian who:

1) doesn't know shit from Shinola,

2) is proud of that, and

3) isn't named Mitt,

... they should just go ahead and nominate Tim Tebow.

...last Sunday, Tim learned that although Jesus saves, He can't read NFL defenses, and he's terrible at throwing into coverage. A Yahoo! sports article on Tebow's performance used words like "atrocious", "terrible", "not even close to ready", and "Oh my God". And I thought, funny, those are the same things I've been thinking about Herman Cain.



11.04.2011

Penn Jillette's 10 Commandments For Non-Believers

Penn Jillette writes in his book God, No! about how he responded to a challenge from Glenn Beck to come up with 10 commandments for non-believers.
I wanted to see how many of the ideas that many people think are handed down from (G)od really make sense to someone who says, ‘I don't know.'
I've argued here before that the Ten Commandments of the Bible are not really such a great guide to morality. We would actually do well to follow one: Always act to minimize the suffering and increase the well-being of living things. But of course, The One Commandment doesn't command the authority that we seem to get from a decalogue.

Here's Penn's list. It's actually quite nice.
1. The highest ideals are human intelligence, creativity and love. Respect these above all.

2. Do not put things or even ideas above other human beings. (Let's scream at each other about Kindle versus iPad, solar versus nuclear, Republican versus Libertarian, Garth Brooks versus Sun Ra — but when your house is on fire, I'll be there to help.)

3. Say what you mean, even when talking to yourself. (What used to be an oath to (G)od is now quite simply respecting yourself.)

4. Put aside some time to rest and think. (If you're religious, that might be the Sabbath; if you're a Vegas magician, that'll be the day with the lowest grosses.)

5. Be there for your family. Love your parents, your partner, and your children. (Love is deeper than honor, and parents matter, but so do spouse and children.)

6. Respect and protect all human life. (Many believe that “Thou shalt not kill” only refers to people in the same tribe. I say it's all human life.)

7. Keep your promises. (If you can't be sexually exclusive to your spouse, don't make that deal.)

8. Don't steal. (This includes magic tricks and jokes — you know who you are!)

9. Don't lie. (You know, unless you're doing magic tricks and it's part of your job. Does that make it OK for politicians, too?)

10. Don't waste too much time wishing, hoping, and being envious; it'll make you bugnutty.

One could do much worse.



Jon Stewart On 'The Renewing of Wedding Vows Between God And America'

Jon Stewart's looks at the House's re-re-re-affirmation of 'In God We Trust' as America's official national motto.

They didn't have to vote on it. The motto was under no threat. Nobody moved to strike the motto. Your guys brought it up. And even in this new godless era, it passed with 97% support. The Last Supper had a higher percentage of dissent. 
But you know what? At least they finally voted on the bill, and Congress can spend the rest of its time on more important matters.

...H.R. 2527, a bill to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in recognition and celebration of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.






11.03.2011

'Yoga Is Demonic,' Says Pastor Who Said Masturbation Is Gay

Remember Mark Driscoll, the megachurch pastor who said that masturbation is a form of homosexuality?

Now he's going on about how yoga is of the devil.

Says Driscoll:
Yoga is...in fact demonic. By demonic I mean it’s a spiritual act to a being other than the God of the Bible. And, for those unfamiliar with me, I’m no raging Christian fundamentalist.

I don't know, Mark. Equating masturbation to homosexuality sounds pretty freakin' fundie to me. As does poo-pooing yoga.
My most vocal critics tend to be from the fundamentalist tribe as I do drink alcohol, have been known to use strong language, and talk very frankly about the joys of married sex. I’m no prude, but I am a pastor.
A few things. Jesus drank alcohol, used strong language. The Bible is full of frank talk about the joys of married sex. You're a prude.

Here are more of Driscoll's thoughts on yoga:
As Christians, we must be intellectually honest and respect that yoga is in fact intertwined with Hindu religious practice. They have a right to be offended as much as we would be equally offended if they underwent Christian baptism or communion while denying any religious connection and secularizing it or doing it in a Hindu way.

* * *
Consciousness can be altered through the practice of rite and ritual. Magic is the manipulation of objects, substances, spirit entities, and minds, including humans and demons, by word (rituals like yoga, incantations like om, curses, spells, etc.) and objects (charms, amulets, crystals, herbs, potions, wands, candles, etc.).

* * *
Whether they know it or not, Christians who engage in yoga are participating in a religious expression that is antithetical to Christianity. The result is often an unguarded spirit that is susceptible to the many lies of Satan and a slow, almost unperceivable degradation of faith and Christian truth in one’s life.

* * *
Yoga is a religious philosophy that is in direct opposition to Christianity. Thus, in its true form, yoga cannot be simply received by any Christian in good conscious. To do so would be to reject the truths of Scripture and thus Jesus himself.

So what is a Christian to do? Can Christians co-opt yoga and do it in a Christian way, say, by praying to Jesus while they stretch and do yoga poses while listening to praise music?
My advice is to not attempt to redeem yoga properly understood, as it is a system of belief that is unchristian, against Scripture, and thus demonic in nature. You cannot redeem such a thing.

So, in conclusion, Christians must reject yoga, as defined here. I’d also go so far as to say you should reject the term “yoga,” as it is impossible to divorce it from its historical and spiritual context without much explanation and linguistic gymnastics. Instead, feel free in Christian liberty to stretch however you’d like, participate in exercise, calm your nerves through breathing, and even contemplate the Scriptures in silence. But do so in a way that does not identify with yoga and non-Christian mysticism. Do not seek to negate your mind, but rather renew your mind with the Word of God. Do not seek to empty yourself, but rather be filled with the Holy Spirit. Do not seek to turn into yourself for enlightenment, but rather look out to the God of the Bible. Do not seek to become one with the universe, but rather be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.

I tend to think that a lot of conservative Christian figures like Mark Driscoll (and Bryan Fischer, on a whole other level), don't trust themselves. Their explanations tend to raise a red flag that perhaps they don't have a whole hell of a lot of will power themselves, and they project this same insecurity on their audience. I mean, Bryan Fischer can't trust himself to be alone with a woman who is not his wife. Mark Driscoll can't masturbate without feeling gay (and the fact that he even brings up the idea of masturbating in front of a mirror makes me wonder what he does in front of a mirror).

Mark, Christians can practice yoga and remain Christians. Millions of them do it every day. I know many of them.

I also know people who trick-or-treat without becoming pagans, wear green on St. Pat's without turning Irish, and listen to Melissa Etheridge without turning into lesbians.

And I can tell you from personal experience that masturbation won't turn you gay.



11.02.2011

Ray Comfort's Abortion/Holocaust Movie May Be Coming To A High School Near You

If you're familiar with Ray Comfort, you likely know him from of a video that circulated a few years ago featuring Comfort and former teen heartthrob Kirk Cameron, and a banana.

Comfort, enjoying an 'atheist's nightmare'
In that video, Comfort and Cameron, discuss how the banana is the 'atheist's nightmare,' because it is so perfectly designed: it has a natural wrapper (perforated and biodegradable, even!), a pull-tab, fits perfectly in your hand, and it even points towards your mouth as you're eating it. Certainly this is God's design, Comfort argues.

Comfort later offered a pseudo-apology after it was pointed out to him that the modern banana, as you and I know it, is the result of thousands of years of domestication by humans.

Ray Comfort's latest project is '180,' described as "33 minutes that will rock your world!" Comfort describes it as “so powerful that it not only changed the people’s minds about abortion, and made them do a 180 (degree turn in viewpoint), but it made them do a 180 when it comes to their own eternal salvation.”

I've seen the film. While I won't deny that the film has changed some folks' minds on the issue of abortion, I think it's more accurate to describe the film as watching a snake oil salesman coaxing kids into a anti-choice stance through dishonesty, logical fallacies, and emotional coercion. Comfort is a skilled showman. He's a carnival barker with a Bible. What he does in '180' has much more to do with manipulation, and backing kids into ethical corners where they feel they must concede to his viewpoint. Most of these same kids would buckle under similar pitches from car salesmen.

Comfort poses hypothetical dilemmas for the kids, asking if they'd follow Hitler's orders to bury Jews alive with a bulldozer. If they wouldn't, he asks them why. If they say it's because they value life, he asks them how killing per Hitler's orders is different from performing an abortion.

Elie Wiesel responded to Comfort's film by stating, "...Those who call [a woman] a Hitler and relate [abortion] to the Holocaust prove that they do not know what the Holocaust was."

The fact that this movie exists is not terribly surprising. It's simply a viral internet version of an argument that has existed for decades.

What is surprising, however, is the fact that Ray Comfort is trying to get this film into schools under the guise of Holocaust education.

From a press release circulated today:
A free DVD of the award-winning viral movie "180" may be coming to a high school near you. The creator of www.180movie.com, Ray Comfort, said "180 received over a million views in 22 days, because it's 'shocking.' It opens with 14 people (mainly college students) who have no idea of the identity of Adolf Hitler. One reviewer said, 'So, what's a pretty good documentary could have been even stronger without the fools early on.' Perhaps those who are quick to call these students fools lack perception themselves. These young people are rather ignorant as to perhaps the darkest period of human history, because the American education system has failed them."

Late last month, between 180,000 and 200,000 copies of the 33-minute DVD were given out at 100 of America's top universities, and now the Jewish author and TV co-host is turning his attention to high schools. "No doubt some will say that Holocaust education isn't appropriate for high school kids. However, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum says that the appropriate age is '11 years of age and older.' Nelly Silagy Benedek, Director of Education, The Jewish Museum (New York) agrees: 'From my experience, the best age to introduce students to the topic of the Holocaust is in high school.'"

Ray Comfort wants to teach your child about the Holocaust by showing them a movie about abortion and eternal salvation through Jesus Christ.

I hope you won't mind, Ray, if we teach kids about livestock through viewings of Brokeback Mountain, or about the value of physical fitness through viewings of al Qaeda training tapes.

Comfort adds:
"It's evident that many of the States aren't bothering to teach kids about one of the darkest periods of human history. I am concerned that we may become like the U.K. where some schools dropped teaching about the Holocaust for fear of offending Moslems, some of whom deny that the Holocaust even happened. This is more than a travesty, so we are giving hundreds of thousands of kids a free documentary that received more than a million views on YouTube in 22 days. We have already started locally, and they are going like hot cakes on a cold winter's day."

Like hot cakes on a cold winter's day... There's that carnival barker again.










The Catholic Church's $2.4 Billion Bookstore Peddles Loads Of Smut

Vögelbar (Fuckable)
German bookseller, Weltbild, sells quite a bit of smut. If you're looking for a copy of “Anwaltshure” (Lawyer’s Whore), “Vögelbar” (Fuckable), “Schlampen-Internat” (Sluts’ Boarding School), or “Sag Luder Zu Mir!” (Call Me Slut!), Weltbild has you covered.

While it's not unusual for a bookseller to sell erotica, there's something a little different about Weltbild. The company employs 6,400 people, has an annual turnover of €1.7 billion ($2.4 billion), and is second only to Amazon in German book sales.

It's also 100% owned by the Catholic Church.

This month, Buchreport, a German industry newsletter, reported that the church-owned bookseller lists over 2,500 erotic books for sale.

The church also owns Blue Panther Books, and a 50% share of Droemer Knaur, both of which publish pornographic materials. So, not only does the Catholic Church sell porn, they produce it.

Papal Porn
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials.
Whoops.

Full report, in German, here.



House Re-Re-Re-Affirms 'In God We Trust' As National Motto

While American minds were focused on the flagging economy, multiple wars, a ballooning deficit, record unemployment, corporate greed, and economic inequality, the House spent part of Tuesday officially re-affirming 'In God We Trust' as the official national motto of The United States of America.

'In God We Trust' has been our official motto since 1956. The phrase has appeared on US coins since 1864, and on paper currency since 1957. Americans see this motto every day when they spend their hard-earned money on overpriced products that are manufactured overseas -- money they earn from jobs that they fear they may lose, if they haven't already lost them.

Even though the motto is enshrined in our currency, in our legislation (Public Law 84-851), and in the United States Code (at 36 U.S.C. § 302) which states: "'In God we trust' is the national motto," House Republicans wanted to ensure that there isn't any confusion about the motto. (The non-binding resolution was approved 396-9, with 2 abstentions.)

Representative J. Randy Forbes, Republican of Virginia and the measure’s sponsor, stated:
“What’s happened over the last several years is that we have had a number of confusing situations in which some who don’t like the motto have tried to convince people not to put it up.”
He has a point. How can America possibly overcome its obstacles if there is confusion about the motto that appears in the House chamber above Forbes' head, and in the Capitol Visitors’ Center, and on the very money that he uses to purchase his morning latte?

Maybe America is confused. Maybe, despite the motto's inclusion on our currency, its enshrinement in public law and US code, and its appearance on public buildings, we have forgotten that in 2002, President George W. Bush signed into law a bill re-affirming 'In God We Trust' as our official national motto.

Maybe, despite the money thing, and the public law and US code stuff, and the re-affirming by Bush, Americans are still confused, forgetting that Senate re-reaffirmed the motto as our official national motto on its 50th anniversary of officialdom.

Maybe the House is treating this issue the way many religious people treat prayer requests. Maybe if its repeated enough times by enough people, the signal is stronger, and God is therefore more likely to receive the call if he's traveling through a dead spot in the San Fernando Valley.

Maybe now, we can finally get some help on the issues that are plaguing our country. If not from God, perhaps from our lawmakers, who won't need to reaffirm our motto for at least a few more years.




11.01.2011

Church Treats Kids To Comic Depicting Child Suicide & Death For Not Fearing God

We've seen how some in the religious community have chosen to celebrate Halloween in their own special way, but a church in southwest Ohio took trick-or-treat to a whole other level this year.

This Halloween, Northview Baptist Church in Hillsboro, Ohio, handed out religious tracts. The pastor, Rev. Kenny Cousar, says that the tracts are handed out each year, and are usually a big hit.

However, the 2,200 tracts handed out included the Chick publication, Mean Momma, in which a woman's three children die because she refuses to believe in God. One is killed in a car accident, one hangs himself from a noose in the basement, and another is killed when a tornado destroys the family's home. Finally, the mother accepts God into her life.

A parent of 3- and 4-year old children, C.J. Rooks, said she was shocked to see what the church had given her kids.
"It's just awful. They're young children. It's not appropriate for a child to see, at all," Rooks said. "Even if this issue needs discussed, it's something that a parent needs to go over with the child, not a church just throw it out there. I'm glad I got to it before my children did. I went trick-or-treating with a friend who is also a mother, and she was absolutely appalled that these were handed out."
According to Rev. Cousar, the church wasn't aware of the graphic content.
"We deeply apologize for it. We were careless. We did not flip through and look at all the pamphlets. We don't create them. We purchase them from a company, and because they are in comic-book style, we figured kids and teenagers would like them," Cousar said. "But, I have small children, and I would never want them to see that tract. We do not support the methodology, especially as far as scare tactics, that was portrayed in that tract. We were careless and we will not let it happen again."
Causar also posted an apology on the church's Facebook page:
"I want to publicly apologize for what has happened in Greenfield and Hillsboro this past Thursday. Annually, our church has a ministry of passing out Gospel tracts with our candy to children as an outreach to our communities. Unfortunately, we did not realize that one of our tracts was not appropriate. That is our fault for not paying attention to the tract in the first place. Our church does not endorse this type of extreme methodology that was represented in this particular tract, and we can assure you that we will not let this happen again. In our zeal to get the Gospel out, we were careless; but our church is a loving church that loves souls and wants to do all we can in our community to help as well as spread and share the Gospel message of Christ. We would've responded earlier but did not receive the message from the newspaper until this morning after the article had already been printed. Our purpose was not to bring harm or anger into the hearts of parents, on the contrary: we passed out candy bars so that Jesus would be a positive thought in the hearts of boys and girls. Again, we are sorry for what has occurred, and know that God has a plan in all of this."


Hey Rev., just because something is in a comic book style doesn't mean it's ok for 3-year old kids. And handing out literature with a sticker of your church on the back is kind of 'endorsing the methodology,' don't you think?

Rev., have you actually ever read any of the Chick tracts? They're not exactly 'loving.' The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled Chick Publications as a hate group. The tracts are full of bigotry, hate, and extreme fundamentalism. If you don't endorse the extreme views of the tracts, you might want to consider not handing out thousands of them each year.


Related post:
'This Was Your Life': The Chick Tract That Horrified Children




10.31.2011

NC Sen. Jim Forrester, Lead Sponsor of Anti-LGBT Amendment, Dies At 74

NC Sen. Jim Forrester, the lead sponsor of the amendment to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage, has died.

Via the Gaston Gazette:
Sen. Jim Forrester was pronounced dead about noon after suffering complications from cranial bleeding, said his sister-in-law, Sally Beach. He had been admitted to the Gastonia facility on Saturday morning, then lost conciousness Sunday morning, prompting family members to be called into town from across the country.
Forrester was 74. He was a retired physician with 20 years in the state Legislature. He gained notoriety in 2011 for several statements he made in relation to the anti-LGBT amendment.

In September, he told a town hall that gay people die "at least 20 years earlier," and should adopt a "normal lifestyle."

That same month he stated that Asheville, NC was a "cesspool of sin."

The Gaston County GOP released a statement today on Forrester's death:
“We are deeply saddened to hear of Senator Forrester’s death and send our prayers out to his wife, Mary Frances, and all of his family. Those of us who have worked in politics with Senator Forrester for years know him as an honorable and kind man who always stood for what he believes and fought to defend the values that made North Carolina and America great. Jim Forrester’s life is a model of public service, as a family physician, as a general in the national guard, Gaston County Commissioner and for the last 22 years as Gaston County’s senior State Senator. He will truly be missed by those of us in his GOP family.”

Adam Searing of The Progressive Pulse wrote of Forrester's evolution in politics, from "improving health care, passing protections for people in HMOs, and working to improve the state’s Medicaid program" to "actions and statements revealing such intolerance and hatred."
In the end, we can’t turn our eyes away from the increasingly strident and hateful role Forrester played in social politics in our state over the last few years. But a reflection of his whole life should include as well the positive contributions he made that affected many people as well.