Sure, holy men of the First African Baptist Church of Bainbridge, Georgia. Kick a 92-year-old woman out of the congregation she has supported (both financially and in many other ways) for fifty years. And why? Because she hasn’t been able to pay your 10% Belief Tax lately. Shut-in and sick and unable to attend church for a while (she’s 92, people!!), Josephine King hasn’t been forking over any cash, all that time, the selfish, greedy bitch. So kick her out, milk of human kindness practitioners!
Let me guess. You holy men of the First African Baptist Church undoubtedly also rear up in high dudgeon, screaming that the government has no right to tax you, it’s your money, you’ve earned it, and taxation is theft! I just bet you do.
But that ten percent Belief Tax, well now, hold on. That’s something completely different. Of course it is. That’s other people’s cash. You’ve got a right to it. To hell with this “freely given” nonsense.
As reported on the Friendly Atheist blog, Church Kicks Out 92-Year-Old Woman for Not Tithing. As the original news story on KFVS news said,
“Josephine King is no longer considered a member of the First African Baptist Church of Bainbridge, Georgia,” read Gerald Simmons, as he skimmed over the letter addressed to his aunt.
The letter, signed by Senior Pastor Derrick Mike [shaming emphasis mine], stated that Ms. King “has shown non-support” towards the church in the areas of “constant and consistent financial and physical participation.”
“She was stunned. She was disappointed. She was shocked,” said Simmons.
No kidding. And Ms. King’s nephew went on to say,
“You have to have money to make these churches run, but it’s not about money,” Simmons said. “It’s about God. You have to put God first.”
Oh, pshaw, Mr. Simmons. You know that Jesus Christ and the temple moneychangers were best buds. Thick as thieves. Right?
When this greedy, capitalism-ist, money-grubbing “church” rescinds its policy (now that they’ve been publically shamed), I hope that 1) Ms. King recognizes the excuse story they plan to spin for what it is and 2) never goes back, and deprives this whited sepulchre of her cash forever.
Have a look at this tweet by self-righteous preacher Tony Miamo:
And in case he takes the tweet down, here’s exactly what he said: “Praying 4 the lost souls in Nepal. Praying not a single destroyed pagan temple will b rebuilt & the people will repent/receive Christ.” ‘Cause that’s exactly what the compassionate, humane thing is to do–wait till they are desperate and vulnerable and then pounce on them with your religion.
Miano is, apparently, one of those who would come up to a starving person on the street and hand them a Bible tract because it’s more important to feed their souls than their bodies. And as they starve to death, he would walk away, shaking his head at their sinful stubbornness in rejecting his religion.
There are few people on earth as cruel as a self-righteous Christian. And I’m sure Miano believes that his Jesus is exactly like him, and would do exactly what he wants to do–ensure that everything that upholds and sustains people through their worst disasters is kept from them, so the “right doctrine” can be shoved down their throats instead. (Because a “conversion” when someone is half-insane with desperation and grief is a real conversion, right? Not to mention a great notch on some soulless missionary’s belt.)
But really, what was it, that stuff, that thing that Jesus said? That thing, you know? Oh right:
“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’
“Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’
“Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’
“These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:41-46)
Funny. Jesus must have left out the part about, “But it’s more important to convert them first, rather than sustain them and help them get through to the other side of their grief and disaster.”
Miano’s god is the person he sees in the mirror. And he presumes to tell others that they create gods in their own image.
Dr. Vesna Roi, Christian physician at Eastlake Pediatrics in Roseville, Michigan, has decided that Jesus’s policy of healing all who came to him, saints or sinners, is beneath her piety. While showing medical compassion to perceived sinners might be all well and good for the Son of God — she is far above that.
Legally married lesbian parents Krista and Jami Contreras had an appointment with Dr. Roi for their six-day-old baby, after a prior meeting with her where she seemed friendly and told them to make an appointment once the baby was born.
But instead of seeing Dr. Roi, another doctor greeted them.
“The first thing Dr. Karam said was ‘I’ll be your doctor, I’ll be seeing you today because Dr. Roi decided this morning that she prayed on it and she won’t be able to care for Bay,” Jami said.
“Dr. Karam told us she didn’t even come to the office that morning because she didn’t want to see us.”
In her better-than-godly purity, Dr. Vesna Roi WOULDN’T EVEN COME INTO THE SAME BUILDING while they were there.
Dr. Roi’s later explanation–delivered via letter, incidentally, and not in person– was, “After much prayer following your prenatal, I felt that i [sic] would not be able to develop the personal patient-doctor relationships that I normally do with my patients.”
My dear Dr. Roi. You were not being asked to fall in love with your patient’s parents–just to deal with them as fellow human beings. Because by the way, it’s the baby who was supposed to be your patient — not the parents — and if you are incapable of developing a “personal patient-doctor relationship” with A BABY — you should damn well find another line of work. Might I suggest night janitor?
But hey, that purity. Jesus himself would have to work hard to live up to that. Though if pure, godly Vesna Roi really had prayed on it, Jesus might have reminded her, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”
I’m making a departure from my usual practice on this blog to address some complaints about the latest project by Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist. (If you haven’t checked out that site yet, do. It’s a great blog that helps keep track of violations of the separation between church and state, but it also provides many great resources to help people who are leaving religious faith and having to deal with hostile families and their own feelings of “what now?”) This project is an illustrated book currently being crowd-funded, called God is an Abusive Boyfriend (and you should break up).
Chris Stedman, on his Faitheist blog post (Atheist picture book will compare belief in God to an abusive relationship) on the Religion News Service site, summarizes some of the complaints about Mehta’s new proposed book. Some say the project is insensitive to victims of physical abuse. Some say that the expressions on the face of the young woman in the artwork remind them of themselves when they were in abusive relationships. Stedman himself says, “as someone who has professionally counseled people in abusive relationships, I’m very concerned that this cartoonish book might take a flippant approach to a very serious issue.”
First of all, I don’t consider any of the illustrations I’ve seen so far to be “cartoonish,” unless by that word you mean that the drawings of the characters don’t look like photographs. They still look quite real, in fact, but not so real that they look like you are viewing a real young woman in an actual threatening situation. So I would suggest that “cartoonish” is a judgment that viewers bring with them when they look at these illustrations (perhaps for the purpose of discrediting them?); that quality is not inherent in them.
Secondly, I believe that the critics are missing the entire point of the book. It’s only because Mehta takes abusive relationships so seriously that he can make the point he’s making in the book, at all. If one’s relationship to God features all the characteristics that make a relationship so truly, awfully abusive — then it means that the relationship to God is abusive too. And if it’s as bad as a human abusive relationship, you should escape it, run away from it as fast as you can, and probably get counselling to help you recover from it.
Think we’re talking nonexistent “abuse” from a nonexistent being, so it can’t be harmful? Would we tell a psychologically abused woman whose husband never laid a hand on her that she “hasn’t really” been abused? It seems to me that when even some atheists criticize the idea behind Mehta’s book, because you can’t really be harmed by a nonexistent being and therefore you are “making light” of real human abuse, they are the ones who are being dismissive of psychological abuse, which is just as real a form of abuse as being beaten up by a spouse. It took me years to recover from the psychological abuse I experienced as an evangelical Christian.
And if you think that there is no physical abuse, you may not have read about the fundamentalist Christians sending death threats to people they disagree with theologically (and usually politically). This is a regular, frequent occurrence. Nor perhaps are you aware of the strict, usually right-wing churches who, for example, force a teenaged girl to stand up in front of a congregation and “repent” of “having sex” with the youth pastor after she was raped and made pregnant, while the youth pastor is “rebuked” and keeps his job with no further punishment. And often, the physical abuse is very real indeed. I read a statistic a few years ago that said that of all the subgroups in North American society, the group most likely to engage in spousal and child abuse was fundamentalist Christians. (Theologian William Rice, early in the twentieth century, said he would rather beat his child until she was blue, rather than leave her spirit unbroken and amenable to God. Nice.) And who would protest, these days, that you could not make similar observations about physical abuse or death being inflicted on some people who aren’t following the Islamic deity the way they are “supposed” to in certain fundamentalist sects?
Stedman also says, “And as someone who knows many people with very different conceptions of God, I’m frustrated that the book’s central argument seems to treat the breadth of theism so narrowly.”
So…he wants Mehta to criticize all forms of religion in exactly the same way, rather than criticizing just this one abusive form of it? I don’t know why Mr. Stedman would want that. It seems to me that it would make much more sense to point out the characteristics of an abusive relationship to God, so that people who are in one will recognize it and escape, rather than try to address the entire “breadth of theism” in a book about one type of relationship. Following Stedman’s criticism, Mehta is kind of damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. I am absolutely confident that Mr. Stedman is not trying to put Mr. Mehta in that position, so he’ll be “unjustified” no matter what he does. But I think that is what, inadvertently, Stedman has done.
Rather than “dismissing” or “making light of” genuinely abusive relationships, I think the fact that an abusive relationship is an abusive relationship is the entire point. And abusive relationships of any kind are an abomination and should be stopped.