Belief

This Week in Religion: Huckabee Claims God Blessed Him, and Mormons Back LGBT Rights

Pat Robertson dispenses financial advice to a struggling '700 Club' member.

No one has had a busier week than former Fox News host Mike Huckabee, who got a direct blessing from God to run for president so that he could fight off the “secular theocracy” atheists with no political power are imposing upon the American people.

As if that was not enough, Huckabee has figured out how to end all school shootings—not with sensible gun control, but in form of a Christian theocracy in which your children pray at school.

Speaking at an evangelical conference, Huckabee reminisced about his public school days, which he says were full of religion: “The Gideons would give us Bibles. And nobody got arrested. Nobody got sued. And by the way, nobody got hurt either. Because we were bringing Bibles to school, people weren’t bringing guns to school, except for the deer hunters who left them in their trucks. We prayed at my school. We prayed the first thing every day….”

If you remember, in 2012 Huckabee blamed the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary on those who “systematically removed God from our schools” turning such schools into “a place of carnage” and “violence.”

Yet this was just not enough for Mr. Huckabee in a single week. He felt the need to tackle climate change as well, dismissing the climate crisis as not very important to the American people. Speaking at the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Huckabee addressed the president’s claim in the State of the Union Address that “no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.”

Huckabee replied to the president’s remarks by saying, “Not to diminish anything about the climate at all, but Mr. President, I believe that most of us would think that a beheading is a far greater threat to an American than a sunburn.”

When it comes to the catastrophic effects of climate change on the planet, sunburns are not very high on the list of scientist’s worries, but plant and animal survival generally is. To imagine that more Americans are afraid of the minuscule threat of a relatively new terrorist organization such as ISIS than of the very real and imminent threat of climate change, shows a real lack of understanding of American citizens' stance on key issues. 

And while just last week Pat Robertson was explaining that miracles don’t happen to educated people, this week Jehovah’s Witnesses Governing Body member Tony Morris said on the JW Television Network that higher education leads to a spiritual disaster: "[A]ll too often, our young people have met with spiritual disaster, especially after leaving home and living on a university campus. So parents and children, you need to have a goal and you need to have a plan. If you’re missing either one, Satan will provide it for you,” said Morris.

He then suggested that the better the university, the worse it is for your child,

“I have long said: the better the university, the greater the danger. The most intelligent and eloquent professors will be trying to reshape the thinking of your child, and their influence can be tremendous. One mom, I recall, asked me to try and help her son who was attending a prestigious name university in Rhode Island. After visiting him, I later had to inform her that her son now believed in evolution. She refused to believe it until he finally told her himself. How sad.”

Yes, how terribly sad that a bright young man made it into a prestigious educational institution and actually learned something. It seems the crazier the religious beliefs, the more they fear the educational system.

Let’s not leave Pat Robertson’s brand of crazy out of the religious headlines this week. The host of the 700 Club has financial advice for his elderly viewers.

A 67-year-old viewer called in and said she is a financial supporter of the show (a membership that runs $240 a year for the minimum membership level), but mentioned she was having trouble paying her bills and had to continue holding a job because her retirement checks did not cover basic living expenses. She asked Robertson his thoughts on a reverse mortgage. Robertson offered her some advice, though failed to suggest she drop her payments to the 700 Club.

Robertson explained that a reverse mortgage prevents the bank from taking “your house away from you as long as you are alive and living.”

He did explain that a reverse mortgage could be a burden on the US taxpayer who would be held accountable for unpaid mortgages, but continued, “So, it’s not a good deal for the taxpayers, but for most people it’s a pretty good deal.”

Thankfully he suggested she speak with a financial advisor, who with any luck will convince her to dump frivolous expenses such as memberships to evangelical networks.

In a faux display of support for LGBT equality, the Mormon Church said it would support nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people in matters of housing, employment and public services. The support comes with a caveat, of course—that the laws must allow religious discrimination to continue.

"When religious people are publicly intimidated, retaliated against, forced from employment or made to suffer personal loss because they have raised their voice in the public square, donated to a cause or participated in an election, our democracy is the loser," said Elder Dallin Oaks, a member of the church's Quorum of Twelve Apostles.

"Such tactics are every bit as wrong as denying access to employment, housing or public services because of race or gender."

But Elder Jeffrey Holland wanted to know, “What kinds of religious rights are we talking about?”

While the Mormon Church has every right under constitutional law to discriminate against anyone it pleases, it has joined the ranks of the Catholic Church and many evangelical groups in claiming its rights are under attack.

"It is one of today's great ironies that some people who have fought so hard for LGBT rights now try to deny the rights of others to disagree with their public policy proposals," said Oaks.

Actually, those fighting for LGBT rights are not attacking a religious person's right to be against same-sex marriage, only saying their religious beliefs should not dictate public policy.

The Mormon Church made sure to make its stance against same-sex marriage clear in the announcement, calling such unions “contrary to the laws of God.” It claims it doesn't have the ability to change this stance because it is part of church doctrine.

Same-sex marriage must not fall under the Mormon Church's doctrine changes such as polygamy and racism against African Americans, both of which the church fully reversed its stance on.

It remains to be seen if the Mormon Church will be active in the fight against marriage equality, as in 2008 when the church helped raise more than $20 million to support Prop 8 in California, which banned same-sex marriages.

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