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Belief

This Week's Religious Silliness: Creationist Calls Stephen Hawking a Fool and 'Left Behind' Flops

Huckabee threatens the GOP over gay marriage while fundamentalists fight renowned physicist.

We’re only a few short weeks away from the 2014 midterm elections, and right on cue the Christian Right is again calling for a theocratic America.

A group of pastors has devised a plan to set the creation of a church-state in motion, and ignoring constitutional laws that forbid it, they are urging voters to take a pledge to vote Christian. What do they mean, exactly? Well, in a promotional video for the upcoming conservative Christian iPledge Conference, the narrator states: “Christians are being beheaded in the Middle East, Israel is being attacked from all sides, and back home, many of our religious freedoms are under severe legal restriction.”

The video continues to ask voters to stand up against the “wicked” and the “evildoers” who have, “banished [the Bible] from our public schools and our public squares.”

If the Christian Right has learned one thing over the years, it is that fear and the feeling of victimization are two great motivational tools, so they want your pledge to vote, and to, “actively work to bring God back to the forefront of our Nation.”

While conservative Christian groups are urging you to be a values voter (as long as it’s their values), the highly theocratic and dogmatic Mike Huckabee is threatening to leave the Republican Party if it does not actively work to oppose same-sex marriage. In a radio interview with the American Family Association, Huckabee bemoaned:

“If the Republicans wanna lose guys like me, and a whole bunch of still God-fearing Bible-believing people, go ahead and just abdicate on this issue, and go ahead and say abortion doesn’t matter, either. Because at that point, you lose me, I’m gone. I’ll become an independent, I’ll start finding people that have guts to stand, I’m tired of this.”

Huckabee continued, warning that if the Republicans punt on marriage equality, they will lose every election in the future. These are insightful words coming from an erstwhile politician who hasn’t run a successful campaign since 2002.

We were greatly entertained this week when we learned from the religious right that theoretical physicist, cosmologist and author Stephen Hawking is nothing but a fool.

Creationist and evangelical minister Ray Comfort made headlines this week when he chided Hawking for coming out as an atheist, saying, “The Bible says: he who denies God’s existence is a fool, and if we say the guy is intelligent, then we are denying what scripture said.”

Earlier, Hawking — who is arguably one of the greatest minds alive — clarified his popular statement about knowing the “mind of God”, saying, “What I meant by ‘we would know the mind of God,’ is that we would know everything that god would know if there were a god, which there isn’t.” Hawking added, “I’m an atheist.”

Despite setting forth a cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, and explaining the principles behind black holes, none of that matters because Hawking doesn’t hold dear a book that rejects the very laws of physics he masters.

But the most noise from the religious right has been about the movie Left Behind, an unlikely Nicolas Cage comeback vehicle. The movie is based on the direct-to-DVD series starring Kirk Cameron, which was in turn based on the novel by minister Tim LaHaye and his sidekick Jerry B. Jenkins. Christians with apocalypse fetishes have heralded it as the must-see movie of the year. Willie Robertson of the television reality show Duck Dynasty even claims the movie will convert atheists. Must be a great movie for the entire Duggar family, right?

Not so fast, says Christianity Today, which gave the movie a 1-star review. The review said that the movie had “many, many faults, and almost no positives” and that it’s “not a ‘Christian movie.’ Not even close."

Critics in the secular world concur. Metacritic, which publishes a composite score based on the opinions of top movie critics, gave Left Behind just a 12 out of 100, a score described as “extreme dislike.”

However, these bad reviews spell a mass anti-Christian conspiracy for the folks over at Glenn Beck’s The Blaze. The site says that viewers who saw the film have gone online to rave about it, giving it a 70% approval rating.

“Considering the disconnect, it’s only natural to wonder what’s at play. Is the disparity rooted in critics’ disdain for these films, a difficulty in understanding biblical themes, poor cinematic quality, the notion that some Christians don’t believe in the rapture — or a mixture of factors?” writes Billy Hallowell, the website’s faith editor.

Hallowell is ignoring the fact that Left Behind’s marketing team took to social media to create an astroturf campaign for the movie, urging its fans to man their keyboards and leave positive reviews, which could explain the discrepancy.

But maybe the problem wasn’t the movie; maybe it was just Nicolas Cage. When’s the last time you really enjoyed one of his movies?

Dan Arel is the author of Parenting Without God and blogs at Danthropology. Follow him on Twitter @danarel.
 
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