Posts tagged ‘christianity’

June 23, 2011

Jesus never preached “family values”

UNLIKE GEORGE W. BUSH, I’m not exactly what most people would call “a good Christian gentleman.” Even so, I have indeed read much of the Old Testament and nearly all of the New, which is why I’m so frequently mystified to encounter so many bizarre positions and beliefs that get circulated under the heading “Christian.” A case in point: “family values,” a notion touted by such aggressively Christian organizations as “Focus on the Family,” “The Family Research Council,” “The American Family Association,” Harold Camping’s apocalyptic “Family Radio,” and the political pressure group “The Family.” While I’m something of a family man myself, I’ve long wondered where in the Bible Jesus ever promotes “family values”? …

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October 21, 2010

Should the Poles make Jesus their king?

GO INTO ANY CORNER bar in the US and ask the patrons who is really in charge of America, you’ll likely receive a list of the usual suspects in response: the banks, the liberals, the military-industrial complex, the UN, the Trilateral Commission, the gay people, or that old standby, the Jews. Go into your local “Christian” fitness club or megachurch, however, and you may learn that Jesus is really the man in charge, hindered only in his good works by the pernicious influence of the devil (abetted by the liberals, the gay people, etc.). Strangely, though, no one ever suggests hiring the Prince of Peace directly, with people instead preferring to vote for Sarah Palin or Christine O’Donnell to do His holy work. Ask around on the streets of Warsaw and Krakow and you’ll get an even more definite response: Jesus should actually be placed in charge of Poland. In fact, they might tell you, he should be anointed king…

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July 16, 2010

Bishop’s resignation shifts attention to Protestant abuse

AFTER FOLLOWING THE NEWS stories of the past few months, you might have gained the impression that the Catholic Church is in essence a giant pedophile club. But this perception is unfair – not because it is untrue, but because it insinuates that Catholics have a monopoly on systemic child abuse. In fact, hierarchical religions of all kinds attract pedophiles to their ranks, including the Catholics’ main Central European competitor, Protestantism. A high-level resignation today once more casts a sombre light on what increasingly appears to be organized religion’s “original sin.”…

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June 16, 2010

The Bishop strikes back

THOSE NEWSPAPER READERS AMONG us who hoped thought we had seen the back of Augsburg bishop and chief army chaplain Walter Mixa last month were bemused to hear that the outspoken Bavarian is not only still hanging around the arena, he’s training for a comeback. 

The 69 year-old Mixa had long enjoyed a reputation as the Pope’s German bulldog, the Vatican’s “bad cop” in its efforts to maintain even a hint of its former influence over an increasingly secular and disaffected society. Whether it was a question of condemning pedophilia as a product of “the so-called sexual revolution” or depicting abortion as “worse than the Holocaust,” media manipulator Mixa was always on hand to deliver the necessary sound byte. But his own sullied past caught up with him earlier this year when former residents at a Church-run youth home in Schrobenhausen began accusing Mixa – a mere parish priest at the time – of submitting his young charges to brutal and byzantine punishments, literally “beating the Satan” out of an entire generation of helpless Bavarian orphans and runaways in the 1970s and 80s…

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June 7, 2010

Does religion make people violent? A sociologist says yes

WE ALL SUSPECT THERE’S a connection between religiosity and violence, but a German criminologist recently decided to find out once and for all. The results of his survey, entitled Religion, Integration and Delinquency Among Young People in Germany, which he published over the weekend, are likely to pour new gasoline on an already raging controversy.

Professor Christian Pfeiffer, a social psychologist and former justice minister in the regional government in Hanover, is currently serving as the director of the Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony. After evaluating a survey on religious attitudes and violent behavior conducted among 45,000 students of both genders (including 10,000 from immigrant backgrounds) between the ages of fourteen and sixteen at German schools, Pfeiffer discovered that the more religious young, male Muslim immigrants are, the less well-integrated and more violent they become. He found that “very religious” Muslim immigrant youths were the most violent, at a rate of 23.5 percent…

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May 8, 2010

Catholic Bishop Walter Mixa inherits the wind

GERMAN BISHOP WALTER MIXA probably hoped his worries were at an end when he finally submitted his resignation to the Pope on April 21 of this year. In fact, they’re only just beginning. The reactionary and egregiously controversial bishop of Augsburg, who quit under fire for alleged beatings and financial malfeasance at a juvenile center in the Bavarian town of Schrobenhausen, had already generated lurid headlines earlier this year when he blamed the Catholic Church’s spiraling pedophile scandal on “the so-called sexual revolution.” But it seems that this alleged revolution of personal morality also took a toll on Mixa himself, because as of today the public prosecutor in the Bavarian town of Ingolstadt is formally accusing Mixa of sexually exploiting an underage altar boy. And this time the paper trail leads all the way back to Pope Benedict XVI…

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March 16, 2010

Germany’s Catholic sex scandal reaches Pope Benedict

A CATHOLIC MASS ISN’T normally a debating society, but sometimes enough is simply enough. At Sunday mass at the parish church in the Bavarian town of Bad Tölz, a pastor’s unspeakable past finally caught up with him. It was revealed last week that Pastor Peter H., who had been providing pastoral care at the church for the past two years, had been tried and convicted of sexual abuse in 1986. Not only had this conviction been kept secret, but the priest’s superior at one time – Joseph Ratzinger, the former Archbishop of Munich who is today better known as Pope Benedict XVI – had knowingly moved this known pedophile from parish to parish. He was finally sent to Bad Tölz in 2008 under the condition that he engage in no “children’s, youth, or altar boy work.” However, he did end up conducting two children’s services at the church and also took part in youth retreats.

As far as anyone knows, Peter H. did “nothing, absolutely nothing” wrong during his previous twenty-one year tenure in the town of Garching, nor is anything known about any inappropriate activities in Bad Tölz…

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February 24, 2010

“In God’s hand”: Bishop Kässmann’s resignation letter

YESTERDAY I WROTE IN detail about the drunk driving arrest on Saturday night of Margot Kässmann, Bishop of the State Church of Hanover and Chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church of Germany. This high office made her – if not the spiritual leader – at least the spokeswoman for twenty-five million main-line German Protestants, i.e. nearly a third of the country’s population. Although the Council gave Kässmann its unanimous support at a late-night teleconference, she nevertheless announced her resignation this afternoon. The following is my translation of her letter to the Council…

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February 23, 2010

When bishops drink and drive

THE WOMAN WAS CLEARLY blotto. The policeman who had just pulled the fifty-one year-old off the road late Saturday night after she raced through a red light at high speed picked up the tell-tale stench the moment she rolled down the window. No doubt about it: the breathalyzer registered 1.54 – the equivalent of an entire bottle of wine consumed in less than an hour (the legal driving limit is 0.5). Now she’ll have to pay a high fine and lose her driving license for a year. This would be embarrassing enough for an ordinary citizen, but it is nothing short of humiliating for a Protestant cleric. And this is not just any cleric, but Margot Kässmann, the Right Reverend Bishop of Hanover and Chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, the recently elected spokeswoman for twenty-five million German Protestants…

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February 8, 2010

Preaching to the converted: The Tebows’ Philippine mission

 Tebow FamilyThe Tebow Family:
Doing the Lord’s work in a “howling wilderness”

THE WEEKS OF CONTROVERSY preceding the thirty-second Tim and Pam Tebow anti-abortion ad during the 2010 Super Bowl has drawn national attention to the “Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association,” which Tim’s father Bob established in the Philippines in 1985. According to the organization’s website, Tebow and his wife Pam founded the project “with the mission to take the gospel to those who have never heard and plant Bible believing churches where previously there were no churches.” We learn that Bob, Pam, and their five children lived in the Philippines from 1985 to 1990, “preaching the gospel, planting churches, and establishing a staff of Filipino national evangelists, which now number 52. In addition to training the BTEA staff, Bob also began holding seminars and conferences to train local Filipino pastors.” Current projects include an orphanage, a boat ministry to isolated islands, and “a plan to preach the gospel in every barangay [village] in the Philippines.” It sounds as if they have their work cut out for them. After all, Mr. Tebow tells us, “[i]n a country of 92,000,000, it is estimated that over 65,000,000 Filipinos have never once heard the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

These certainly are chilling statistics – until you pause to consider…

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