The Week in Religion: How Science, Taxes and Tolerance Are Becoming Dirty Words for Zealots
Nothing screams “militant” quite like the Robertson family over at “Duck Dynasty.” And now we have a chance to watch another member of the clan in action on C-SPAN, while his kin keep up their reality-show antics on A&E.
Zach Dasher, Phil Robertson’s nephew, is running for a congressional seat in Louisiana. When asked why he chose to run, the newly minted candidate told the Associated Press, "I got to looking around at the problems in politics today, and what I see in Washington, D.C., is no God. There is no God. The elite political class thinks they can be running our lives," he said. "I think there's a vacuum in D.C. of people who understand where rights come from. Rights don't come from men. They come from God."
If Dasher’s desire for a theocracy isn’t enough to win you over, he called gun control and mental illness distractions, and blamed atheism on events like Sandy Hook: “We have denied that man is made in God’s image. This is the why,” he said. “This is the why — the reason why this happened is that we have denied as a culture that man is made in God’s image.”
When Republicans can’t spread their crazy around the government enough, they head back to college. Florida State University has announced it has hired Florida State Senator John Thrasher as its new president. A Republican running a university is not shocking news in itself, but when asked about evolution, Sen. Thrasher talked about his religious beliefs, saying: "I have a great faith in my life that has guided me in my life in a lot of things I believe in." Thus, Thrasher implied that faith and science cannot exist side by side.
When Thrasher was pressed about climate change and whether he accepted the science behind it, he would not give an answer. This appeared to induce laughter from a few students in the front row. At this, Thrasher threatened to leave the podium, declaring that he "would not be heckled." Congratulations FSU, the new person in charge of your public institution of higher learning is a climate change-denier and creationist, who can’t enjoy the irony of it all.
The religion of “peace and tolerance” seems to have no tolerance within its own ranks at times. The Southern Baptist Convention has kicked out one of its own churches for being too tolerant of LGBT members.
Back in May, New Heart Community Church pastor Danny Cortez made headlines when he spoke from the pulpit to declare that he had changed his mind about homosexuality. Cortez’s sermon incited many angry responses from other members of the SBC, the world’s largest Protestant denomination. Cortez’s decision to “agree to disagree” about the moral acceptability of homosexuality and his efforts to make his congregation a “third way” church (meaning that congregants and leaders could disagree on homosexuality) resulted in the church’s executive committee kicking him and New Heart out.
Albert Mohler, president of the SBC, wrote in a blog about the committee’s decision to remove the church, “There is no third way on this issue” and that a church must either be for or against same-sex marriage (the SBC opposes it). New Heart and Cortez remained unswayed and delivered a passionate message about the importance of tolerance:
"Some ‘members in our church’ believe that same-sex marriage can be blessed by God, while other members in our church believe that marriage is reserved for one man and one woman….While ‘our church’ remains without an official stance on same-sex marriage, our preaching pastor has officiated a same-sex marriage."
And you can’t let a week go by without Pat Robertson upping the ante on fundamentalist crazy. Responding to a viewer who said churches should be taxed, Robertson explained that a church’s money belongs to God. An angry Roberston said: “I don’t know what handout you’re talking about. We don’t take a handout from the government. Not paying taxes, it’s your money. The fact the government doesn’t take it away from you is not a government handout, and time immemorial, what belongs to God is what belongs to God!”
This leaves many wondering what God plans to do with the billions of dollars he gets from his churches.