Hilarious Motivational Posters about Cornbread, Achievement, Baby Jesus and Chance

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An Open Letter to Sarah Palin about Her Fundamentalist Christian Beliefs

Before you is a letter from someone I know and respect whose work is all about helping fundamentalist Christians who have chosen to leave their abusive and delusional religions do so in a safe and psychologically sound way. As the author of this letter has written, “Marlene Winell is a Bay Area psychologist who specializes in recovery from fundamentalist religion. She is author of Leaving the Fold:  A guide for former fundamentalists and others leaving their religion. She is the daughter of Assemblies of God missionaries. A longer article about Sarah Palin’s religion is on Dr. Winell’s website:  http://www.marlenewinell.net.”

Please feel free to leave any comments at the bottom of this letter and reproduce the letter in its entirety elsewhere on the internet (so long as you provide Dr. Winell as the author). If you would like to read an interview that I once conducted with Dr. Winell, please click HERE.

An open letter to Sarah Palin, from Marlene Winell, Ph.D.

Dear Sarah,

As a former fundamentalist, I’d like to call you on what you are doing.

This is not about disrespecting your private beliefs.  But you have a huge conflict of interest here by running for office and you can’t have it both ways (see Jesus’ words in John 2:15).

You have not been honest about the most important thing about you:  the fact that you are a born-again, literal Bible-believing, fundamentalist Christian.   Voters need to know you are not merely a “Christian” – a follower of Christ’s teachings.

Most people who have never been entrenched in the subculture of fundamentalist Christianity may not understand what this really means, but I do. Like you, I was raised in the Assemblies of God and I was a zealous part of the Jesus Movement.  Like you, my life was consumed with seeking God’s will for my life and awaiting the imminent return of Jesus.  It’s clear to me that you want to do the Lord’s will; you’ve said and done things like a true believer would. You are on a mission from God. If that is not true, then I challenge you to deny it.

Former fundamentalists like me know that your worldview is so encompassing, authoritarian, and powerful that it defines who you think you are, the way you view the world, history, other people, the future, and your place in the world.  It defines you far more than hockey mom, wife, woman, hunter, governor, or VP candidate.

You believe that every bit of the Bible is God’s perfect word.  You have a supernatural view of reality where Satan is a real entity and where good and evil beings are engaged in “spiritual warfare” (Ephesians 6:12).   Like Queen Esther, you believe that God has “called” and “anointed” you to lead America.  This is why you have accepted blessing for office through the “laying on of hands” and prayer to protect you from witchcraft.

So what does this mean for governing?  What could Americans expect with you at the helm?

You cannot affirm basic human decency or capability, because according to your dogma, we are sinful, weak, and dependant on God. And so, your decisions would not be based on expert advice or even your own reasoning, but on your gut-level, intuitive interpretation of God’s will.

This would allow you to do anything and claim you were led by God.

Your thinking necessarily is black or white.  People and policies are either good or bad.  After all, Jesus said, “He who is not with me is against me” (Matt. 12:30).  Under your leadership, diplomacy and cultural nuance would be less important than not blinking.  In a spiritual war, you don’t negotiate with the devil.

Regarding social policy, as a believer in individual salvation, you would emphasize individual morality and responsibility, not a community approach with structural solutions.  You would be judgmental and controlling of personal choices regarding sex, reproduction, and library books instead of addressing global warming, torture, poverty, and war.  Your belief in eternal hell-fire, your deference to a literal Bible despite its cruelties and vengeful god, and your indoctrination to disbelieve your own compassionate instincts, are likely to leave you numb at your moral core.  You might recall the verse, “If a man will not work he shall not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10).  However, faith-based initiatives would be okay because they would use caring to evangelize.

How about science?  As it has in your governorship, your interpretation of the Bible would trump scientific scholarship and findings.  You would deny the human role in global warming because God is in control.  More importantly, you would not make the environment a priority because you do not expect the earth to last.

International affairs?  Since your subculture has identified the establishment of Israel in 1948 as the beginning of the end, you would see war, epidemics, climate change, and natural disasters, all as hopeful signs of Jesus’ return.  You would be a staunch supporter of Israel and deeply suspicious of countries like Russia identified with the antichrist in the end times literature.  (You have publicly said that you expect Jesus to return in your lifetime and that it guides you every day.)

The Christian fundamentalism that has shaped your thinking teaches that working for peace is unbiblical and wrong because peace is not humanly possible without the return of Jesus (1 Thess. 5:2,3).  Conflict, even outright war is inevitable, for Jesus came not to bring peace but a sword (Matt: 10:34-37).  Like millions of fundamentalist Christians, you may actually find joy in global crises because these things portend His return (Luke 21:28).

But all of this certainty and fantasy in today’s complex world is dangerous, Sarah.  There was a time when all of humanity thought the world was flat.  Today, the stakes for such massive error are much higher.

So we want to know, Sarah, Warrior Princess for God —  How dare you presume to take responsibility for our country and our planet when you, in your own mind, do not consider this home?   I mean home for the long haul, not just until your rescue arrives from space.  How dare you look forward to Christ’s return, leaving your public office empty like a scene from the movie, Left Behind?

What if you are completely wrong and you wreak havoc instead with your policies?  If you deny global warming, brand people and countries “evil,” support war, and neglect global issues, you can create the apocalypse you are expecting.  And as it gets worse and worse, and you look up for redemption, you just may not see it.  What then?  In that moment, you and all who have shared your delusion may have the most horrifying realization imaginable.   And it will be too late.  Too late to avoid destruction and too late to apologize to all the people who tried to turn the tide and needed you on board.

And you, John McCain, how dare you endanger all of us for the sake of your politics?  How dare you choose a partner who is all symbol and no substance, preying on the fears of millions of Americans?   Shame on both of you.

Leave this beautiful, fragile earth to us, the unbelievers in your fantasy.  It’s the only heaven we have and you have no right to make it a hell.

Sincerely,
Marlene

Marlene Winell, Ph.D.
October 21, 2008

Press Release – October 21, 2008
Contact:  mwinell@gmail.com

If you would like to read an interview that I once conducted with Dr. Winell, please click HERE.

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Russians Try to Ban South Park for its Extremism and Negative Comments about Religion

The Situation

This is an amazing news story for a couple of reasons, and I can’t help but share it with you. Usually, Religion in the News day is a day that I branch off from my usual South Parkian rantings and ravings in order to discuss other relevant things that are happening around the world related to religion.

However, this week I get to take you all the way around the world – to Moscow no less – to discuss the show that’s near and dear to my heart, South Park! which a bunch of pissed off Christians (The Russian Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith, to be more specific) are trying to get banned.

WHAT!!?? Conservative Christians trying to ruin a good thing for other people because they can’t handle it themselves. Reminds me a lot of sex, booze and the Bible.

A statement from the group’s leader was that, “South Park is just one of many cartoons that needs to be banned from open broadcast…as it insults the feelings of religious believers and incites religious and national hatred.” The group, ironically, also called the show “extremist.”

So why are these accusations outrageous?

Why They Don’t Get It

South Park is a satirical comedy, meaning in part that its scenarios are constructed on outrageous situations and plotlines because only by being so extreme can the show shock us into understanding the point that it’s making. Subtlety is not the name of the game. However, extreme situations do not mean extremism. One of the show’s primary messages is that extremism of all kinds should be eschewed at all costs. That means that these Russian viewers totally missed the point of the show because they were too preoccupied being angry about what they didn’t understand!

As far as insulting the feelings of religious believers and inciting hatred, I’ll grant that the first one is true, but the only reason that someone needs to be particularly offended and have their feelings hurt regarding South Park‘s portrayal of certain religious people is if said believers are engaging in the unsavory actions being criticized. In which case, screw them! They should take a hint. They’re not supposed to like it – they’re supposed to reflect on it. It’s satire! What’s more, the show isn’t spreading hatred (except of Scientology) – the show is trying to explain that hatred is not the answer, another point entirely lost on these viewers.

My Message to These Morons

You know what I say to these people: you’re idiots. No, not because you don’t like South Park. You’re entitled to your opinion: a lot of people don’t like South Park, and South Park would be the first to defend your right to do as you please and not watch or like it. You’re idiots because you try to impose your views, likes and dislikes on other people. You’re small-minded, intolerant, and a perfect characterization of attempted religious dominance. You claimed you were out to protect your children from this bad cartoon, but you’re just scared that they’ll be exposed to views other than the one’s you want to cram down their throats. So, stop trying to ruin the fun for the rest of us (or other Russians, as the case may be) and keep your bs to yourself.

Whew. Where did that come from? Usually I never have strong opinions about anything. That was so unlike me…glad I got that off my chest.  🙂

What do you think about these issues?

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