Onward Christian Soldiers

The famed Christian novelist and apologist, C.S. Lewis, resembled most other college professors of his era. He enjoyed a good smoke and a pint, relished strictly male conversation, and got into squabbles even with fellow Christian intellectuals (like T.S. Elliot and Anscombe). Lewis' typical professorial life reminded me of something that William James, the famed psychologist/philospher once wrote:


Were it true that a converted man as such is of an entirely different kind from a natural man, there surely ought to be some distinctive radiance. But notoriously there is no such radiance. Converted men as a class are indistinguishable from normal men... By the very intensity of his fidelity to the paltry ideals with which an inferior intellect may inspire him, a saint can be even more objectionable and damnable than a superficial "carnal" man would be in the same situation. (The Varieties of Relgious Expgerience)


To flesh out James' observation, above, I assembled the following list of "converted men and women" from the 20th Century:


The Rev. Billy Graham complained to the president of the United States (Nixon) about the Jews and their "stranglehold" on the media, blaming them for "all the pornography." Even when Nixon replied that he agreed but "can't say that" in public, Graham pressed the point: Yes, right, but if you get elected to a second term, then we could do something about the problem. Graham added that while many Jews were friendly to him, "They don't know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country." Today, Graham claims to have no memory of the conversation, as if to throw ever-so-slight a doubt on whether it actually occurred. Alas, we have the [Nixon] tapes. (David Vest, "The Rebel Angel," 'They Don't Know How I Really Feel,' Billy Graham, Tangled Up in Tape


In April, l989 a Graham memo to Nixon was made public. It took the form of a secret letter from Graham, dated April 15, 1969, drafted after Graham met in Bangkok with missionaries from Vietnam. These men of God said that if the peace talks in Paris were to fail, Nixon should step up the war and bomb the dikes. Such an act, Graham wrote excitedly, "could overnight destroy the economy of North Vietnam." Graham lent his imprimatur to this recommendation. Thus the preacher was advocating a policy to the US Comgmander in Chief that on Nixon's own estimate would have killed a million people. The German high commissioner in occupied Holland, Seyss-Inquart, was sentenced to death at Nuremberg for breaching dikes in Holland in World War Two. (His execution did not deter the USAF from destroying the Toksan dam in North Korea, in 1953, thus deliberately wrecking the system that irrigated 75 per cent of North Korea's rice farms.) This disclosure of Graham as an aspirant war criminal did not excite any commotion when it became public in 1989, twenty years after it was written. (Alexander Cockburn, "The Lord's Avenger: When Billy Graham Wanted to Kill One Million People"


Rev. Pat Robertson, founder of television's "700 Club," has spent his followers donations on purchasing the Ice Capades, thoroughbred race horses, on an attempt to hunt for diamonds in Africa (that failed), on a "Lake of Galilee" beauty products company (that went bankrupt), and to run for the presidency of the United States because God told him to (and he lost).


Rev. Benny Hinn was sued for $15 million by the family of an elderly woman who died from complications following a broken hip she suffered after he had "slain her" "in the spirit." In another such "slaying" a young girl's leg was badly injured. A woman with cancer who quit her chemotherapy after being "healed" at one of his crusades died two months later. Reporters from several different countries who have investigated Hinn's healing claims could not find a single verifiable case. (Information drawn from The Many Faces of Benny Hinn (a video and book of the same title that summarizes a host of investigative reports on Benny Hinn), produced by The Door Magazine)


Rev. Jim Bakker, founder of television's "PTL Club," and of the Christian theme park, "Heritage USA," was convicted of tax evasion and mail fraud. Also, Rev. Jim Bakker and a ministerial friend shared the church secretary, Jessica Hahn, one night in a motel room. Later, Rev. Bakker's own denomination censured him for alleged homosexual activity.


Rev. Jimmy Swaggert, with major budget overruns, broke down and cried on national television blaming viewers for halting his personal anointing to proceed with the "Great Commission." Then he was caught paying a woman to act out some of his sexual fantasies while he watched. (Swaggert had even tried to get the prostitute to make her daughter act out some of his fantasies, but the prostitute refused that particular offer, no matter what the price.)


Rev. Charles Stanley, pastor, religious TV host, and former Southern Baptist Convention president (who helped lead the conservative takeover of the denomination), fell out of favor after he divorced his wife and refused to step down as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta. (She had been seeking the divorce due to his alleged indiscretions.)


Rev. Tony Leyva, who used to wear a Superman costume and carry a Bible, nicknaming himself "Super Christian," and who was also in the Guinness Book of World Records (for four years) for preaching the longest known sermon (72-hours straight), was hired by Georgia television station WXTX-TV to replace Jimmy Swaggert's show with his own. But before the ink dried on the contract, Leyva was arrested by the FBI, along with three of his fellow fundamentalists, on charges of transporting boys across state lines fogr the purposes of prostitution or criminal sexual activity.


Rev. Oral Roberts, facing a sharp decline of teleparishioners and mounting university costs, closed his dental and law schools. Also, his "City of Faith" went bankrupt. Roberts grew so desperate for money that he told the world that God had placed a price on his head and would kill him unless he was able to raise 8 million dollars, pronto. Lucky for Roberts a generous owner of a dog-track gave Roberts most of the 8 million. Rev. Roberts also had a dream in which God told him that his daughter-in-law, Patti, would be killed in a place crash if she ever left the Roberts family ministry. Patti did leave the Roberts family ministry, distressed at the way her husband, Richard Roberts, was being turned into a clone of his father, Oral, and the way they rationalized their expensive lifestyles. But the year Patti left that ministry, she survived, while Rebecca, Oral's own daughter, died in a plane crash.


Rollen "Rock'n Rollen" Stewart, the Christian who attended nationally televised football games wearing a rainbow-colored clown wig and waving a large sign that said "John 3:16," should have paid more attention to the signs coming his way. His wife left him, saying he had choked her because she held up a sign in the wrong location. His car was totaled by a drunk driver, his money ran out, and he wound up homeless in LA. Increasingly convinced that the end of the world was near and people needed to listen tog his message, he set off a string of bombs (mostly just stink bombs) in a church, a Christian bookstore, a newspaper office, and several other locations, and sent out apocalyptic letters that included a hit list of preachers, signing the letters "the Antichrist." On September 22, 1992, believing the Rapture was only six days away, Stewart posed as a contractor, picked up two day-laborers in downtown LA, then drove to an airport hotel and took the men up to a room (for God knows what apocalyptic reason), whgere he unexpectedly walked in on a chambermaid. In the confusion that followed, he drew a gun, the two men escaped, and the maid locked herself in the bathroom. Rollen was arrested. (The whole story is told in The Rainbow Man/John 3:16, a documentary by San Francisco filmmaker Sam Green)


Rev. Lester Rolloff (who had appeared a year earlier on "60 Minutes" stating his defiance of the what he called "Texas' Godless juvenile home system") along with four girl singers on their way to lead a revival, tried to fly a twin-engine plane though a storm, probably trusting in God to preserve them since they were all on their way to do his will. The mistake proved lethal.


Crusading revelator and faith healer Rev. W. V. Grant was dropped from syndication when the Amazing Randi demonstrated that Grant's "revelations" came from a miniature microphone in his ear and not from God.


Rev. Ernest Angley, upon heeding God's call to hold a healing crusade in Munich, Germany, was arrested and jailed for practicing medicine without a license.


Rev. Jerry Falwell almost went bankrupt. And, in order for the university he founded (Liberty University) to remain on the federal aid program, he had to waive religious and intellectual restrictions placed on the university's professors. Previously, they were required to abide by doctrinal statements and could only publish materials that did not conflict with university doctrine. Now they are "at liberty" to do so.
(Harry H. McCall, "Who Do Men Say That I Am?" in Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists (Prometheus Books, 1995))


Rev. Marjoe Gortner, a famed child evangelist who was advertised by his parents as having "special gifts," and whose grandparents helped found the Assemblies of God denomination, left the fold after starring in a scathing documentary (Marjoe) that exposed the pentecostal movement's more tawdry aspects.


Rev. Jim Jones, Indiana farm boy, opened the doors of his first church, the Christian Assembly of God in Indianapolis in the late fifties, moved to Ukiah in northern California, then San Francisco. He had a special "burden" for people without a purpose in life. Starting with a bunch of drifters of varying ages, he built a bustling church that drew five thousand people to its morning services and evening sermons each week. During his early ministry his concern for the poor and the non-white was genuine by egvery indication. On Nov. 18, 1978, Rev. Jim Jones orchestrated the mass suicide of 913 people, including children, who had moved with him to Guyana, South America. (Austin Miles, "Don't Call Me Brother" in Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists (Prometheus Books, 1995). See also David Chidester, Salvation and Suicide: Jim Jones, the People's Temple, and Jonestown, Revised Edition (Indiana University Press, 2003))


Many Irish Republican and British Loyalist paramilitaries, UVF, IRA and LVF involved in the war in Ulster are "Born Again" Christians. Likewise, many former members of The Shankill Butchers of Ireland, the most savage band of killers in the history of Great Britain, call themselves "Born Again" Christians.




MOTHER TERESA


Mother Teresa was a genuinely kind, generous and self-sacrificial human being, however, something about her religion may have driven her to repeat with conviction some questionable "truths":


Mother Teresa said about AIDS: "It is the retribution for 'improper sexual misconduct.'"


But then, what were the Black Death, smallpox, influenza, measles, mumps, polio, and TB "retribution for?"


Mother Teresa said about poverty: "It is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot. The world is much helped by the suffering of poor people."


But isn't it also true that the more poor there are who simply "accept their lot," the more rich there will be who manipulate them? The rich complain that the poor "want something for nothing," but the rich often stop at nothing to get everything. Where is Mother T.'s indignation at the "rich" like Jesus displayed?


Mother Teresa used to tell the story of a man she met who was suffering intense pains due to cancer, and she told him: "You are suffering like Christ. Therefore Jesus must be kissing you."


The man replied, "Then I wish he'd stop." (Mother T. told that story herself, including the man's reply. In her clinics in India she had decided that no pain killers would be dispensed.)


Mother Teresa said about overpopulation: "There is no problem of overpopulation, only of God's will."


So if you live in a country whose population growth is outpacing its food production and economic growth, you should throw away your rubbers and embrace starvation and poverty, simply "accept your lot" as Mother T. taught, because, "God always provides. He provides for the flowers and the birds, for everything in the world that he has created. And those little children are his life. There can never be enough."


Fact is, "God does not always provide," certainly not for "the birds of the field" as promised by Jesus, because one-third of adult birds and four-fifths of their offspring die of starvation every year. (David Lack, "Of Birds and Men," New Scientist, Jan., 1996). (Mother Teresa's statements are drawn from The Missionary Position by Christopher Hitchens)




SUFFER THE CHILDREN TO COME UNTO ME


The founder of a fundamentalist Christian community near Petersburg, Virginia, was convicted of manslaughter, along with the parents of a 2-year-old boy, after the boy died in 1982 as a result of two hours of paddling that she said was necessary to win a "test of wills" with the child. (News of the Weird, "Weird Clergy")


Ray Wyre, head of the UK young sexual offenders clinic at Gracewell, Birmingham, England, in an interview with "Men and Crime," issue 13, summer 1992: "I've worked with more born-again Christian abusers than any others. A lot of our child killers are evangelical born-again abusers."


Rev. William Einwechter, vice-moderator of the Association of Free Reformed Churches, is convinced that we as a nation are in danger of suffering the penalty of God's wrath unless we begin stoning to death "disobedient children" who are in their "middle teens or older." (Rev. William Einwechter, "Stoning Disobedient Children," Chalcedon Report, Jan. 1998)


Joan Grise, 70 years old and suffering from cancer, is making a valiant effort to have her grandson freed from the clutches of a private religious prison operated in Arcadia, Louisiana by the New Bethany Baptist Church. The boy's father, a member of the authoritarian sect, decided that his son Matthew is "evil" and must literally have sin driven out of him. So, he turned the youngster over to the clutches of Rev. Mack W. Ford, who is notorious for his brutal style of corporal punishment. Ford says that his treatment is designed "to reach the unwanted with the love of God," but even the local Deputy Sheriff of Bievnville Parish, where Ford's compound is located, refers to the place as a "private jail." It looks it too, surrounded by barbed-wire fencing and out of sight from observers. Sheriff Stewart told the Rocky Mountain News that Ford gets kids "down here and works the heck out of them and spanks the heck out of them and does what he wants to do." A 1984 report in the New York Times discussed a similar religious compound that Ford was operating in South Carolina. Along with the heavy regimen of corporal punishment and Bible-verse indoctrination, youngsters were divided into levels. At the bottom were boys described as "in bondage." According to the newspaper reports, they were "marched into fields to work while tied together with rope," and prohibited from even talking or laughing. Above them, the "bonded servants" enjoyed the privilege of conversgation, but still were in forced labor. At the top were the "sojourners." South Carolina authorities raided Ford's work camp, and the county prosecutor declared, "Most of the boys were brainwashed, just like Hitler did with kids." At his new compound in Louisiana "Ford repeatedly has rebuffed the attempts of state regulators to inspect the facility," notes The News. "Even the state fire marshal is not allowed on site to assure the safety of the approximately 50 children housed there." A raid on his South Carolina compound produced evidence of children being struck with a "rod of correction," and reports that children were confined in cells with ropes and handcuffs, and evidence of physical bruising. (Conrad Goeringer, "Theistwatch Short Shots," AANEWS (American Atheists' News), Nov. 3, 1998)


A police investigation into a Corpus Christi, Texas area Baptist group, the People's Baptist Church, has uncovered allegations of child abuse. Eighteen-year-old Justin Simons told police that a church employee punched him in the chest, and punished him and another young boy by tying their wrists together and forcing them to run through the woods and even dig a 15-foot-deep pit. "When I tried to jump the pit, I fell and sprained both ankles." The People's Baptist Church operates the Rebekah Home for Girls and the Anchor Home for Boys, and carries on a ministry founded by the late evangelist Lester Roloff. Practices at Roloff's various "homes" and other ministerial operations attracted concern in the past from media and authorities over charges involving abuse, beatings and other forms of "Bible based discipline" which the evangelist unabashedly espoused. Roloff defended his punitive child-control techniques, declaring, "Better a pink bottom tghan a black soul." Then-Texas State Attorney General John Hill bluntly responded, "I don't mind pink bottoms. What I do object to is black, blue and bloody." (American Atheists, Inc. "Probe of Abuse Charges at 'Bible Discipline' Home Leads to Bush, Raises Questions of Faith-State Partnership" Web Posted 4/12/00


Forty years ago at a Catholic orphanage in Dublin run by the "Sisters of Mercy" the children were regularly, ritually beaten with the legs of chairs; in some cases eight-year-old children were whipped with rosary beads. Infants strapped to potties were beaten if they did not give quick results. Children who misbehaved -- or were "bold" -- were trussed up like chickens and hung upside down on high oak doors, so that every time the door opened their heads would bump on the floor. Those who wet their beds were made to carry the stained sheet around all day. Some who threw up the foul food were force-fed and made to eat the vomit. For hours after school, each child was obliged to turn out 60 rosary beads a day. Working with sharp wire, pliers and beads, they were not allowed to stop, even when the wire bit into their bleeding fingers. Christine Howe was persuaded to let the sisters take care of her baby temporarily when she had to go to the hospital and her husband was working in England. Four days later her husband received a telegram telling of the child's death "from acute dysentery," and also saying he had no need to return, the convent would take care of the funeral arrangements. The husband insisted on seeing the child prior to burial and discovered bandages on the child's legs; removing them, he found deep holes in the inside of both knees, the kind of wound that could be caused by a hot poker. The nuns admitted it had been an "accidental death" but refused to discuss the details with the parents.Reports of abuse are still coming in from other orphanages in southern Ireland. (Peter Lennon, "The Sisters of Evil," The Guardian Weekly, March 31, 1996 -- a discussion of the documentary, Dear Daughter by Louis Lentin, along with the deluge of corroborating reports that came in after the film was first aired on British TV)


Austin, Texas -- Twenty-three-year-old Joshua Thompson, pastor of the Spanish-language congregation at "independent fundamental" Capitol City Baptist church, and his twin brother and assistant at the church, Caleb Thompson, were convicted in the beating of a Bible student. They used an inch-thick tree branch to beat Louie Guerrero, an 11-year-old boy, for "goofing off" during Bible class because he was not taking preparations for a Scripture recital competition seriously. "The indication that we have is thgat (the boy) had been accused of cheating in memorizing Bible verses." Court records allege the beating was to physically "break" the boy for lying. As punishment, Pastor Thompson took the boy from the church school to Caleb's home, snapped a branch off a tree, and beat the boy as Caleb held him facedown on a bed. They turned up the radio to cover the child's cries. The boy told his family the beating lasted about 90 minutes, and he was allowed to take a break in the restroom during the beating. Contra the boy's testimony, Pastor Thomson said "the beating lasted about 10 minutes." The boy and a doctor who treated him said he was hit at least 100 times. Jurors saw graphic photos of the boy's back with red and purple bruises and blood spots from scrapes or puncture wounds. Pastor Thompson and his brother took the boy home, where they met Louie's mother and stepfather and told them we have a "big problem." The pastor told the boy's stepfather that he was unable to "break" the boy, and that the stepfather should "beat Louie for two more hours" to fix it. "Do it!" Thompson said three times, according to court papers. The pastor added that he would not allow their son to return to church because his bad example might affect the other children. After the pastor and his brother left, Louie's mother and stepfather discovered bruises and small cuts from his neck to his buttocks as a result of the beating. More bruising was found on his arms and the right side of his head. Police said the boy's back was a giant swath of red peppered with cuts and blood spots. The pastor said the boy's parents had given him permission to punish the boy and that he didn't intend to inflict serious injuries. The boy's parents deny telling the pastor that he could hit their child. The boy was admitted to intensive care at Brackenridge Children's Hospital. Broken blood vessels had caused his kidneys to fail. A nurse told investigators that he needed a blood transfusion to live. The boy spent five days in intensive care after the beating. The boy told police that in the past he had begen spanked or forced to maintain a push-up position for an extended period, and that he has seen other children physically disciplined. Others members of the church have called Bobby Taylor, the boy's attorney, alleging abuses, and he advised them to call the police. Detective Douglas Havens of the child abuse unit said the boy reported seeing a church member spank another child at the church but that the child was not injured. "The indication of the family is that many church members approve of this kind of thing or at least have accepted the religious philosophy behind it." Havens added that the boy's family indicated harsh and severe discipline is often used in the Spanish-speaking segment of the church. Havens said the victim told police he had never before been hit with "the rod" as church members referred to the stick. Pastor Thompson reportedly testified that at the time of the beating he thought he was doing the right thing, but that since the July 3 incident he has realized that his actions were "totally, totally, totally, totally, totally wrong." "When I lay my head on my pillow at night, I try to forgive myself," Caleb Thompson said. ("Texas Boy Nearly Beaten To Death by Pastor," July 9, 2002 (Reuters); The Houston Chronicle, "Accused Pastor, Brother Surrender, Austin Police Probe Possibility Other Youths Abused in Church," July 10, 2002; The Dallas Morning News, Newspaper, "Pastor, Brother Face Charges in Boys Beating," July 10, 2002; Fox News, "Pastor, Brother Charged With Beating Boy For Cheating In Bible Studies," July 10, 2002; AustinChronicle.com, Dec. 12, 2003: Politics: Naked City; Jim Vertuno, "Brothers Guilty in Beating at Bible Study" Associated Press/Dec. 10, 2003)


My parents often glowed from compliments on how well-behaved we were, yet we kids agreed that we only behaved in public because we were terrified of catching hell in private. The rules for spankings changed with nearly every Bill Gothard seminar or other religious gathering my father/parents attended. They'd come home and announce that their three-stroke limit was unbiblical, that the proper way to spank was until the child *STOPPED* crying in demonstration of a surrendered spirit. Maybe that worked for megek kids, but I had strong lungs. Another time they learned that nightmares were a child's way of punishing her/him-self, so when one of us screamed out at night, Dad would bring the paddle in and "free" us from guilt so we could go back to sleep.Waking up to the sound of a sibling being spanked is traumatic in its own right. Ah, and our father made many wooden paddles in his shop. with a handle cut in and a leather loop for hanging convenience.Our mom inscribed Bible verses on the surface and helped stain and shellac the little numbers.They gave a bunch of them away as presents, but we had plenty left for ourselves. Yet I remain conflicted about spanking. I *know* it's not a good idea, but any other way of raising kids is still foreign to me. A few years ago I read Irwin Hyman's book, The Case Against Spanking/Discipline Without Hitting, and was astoundedg that someone actually thought a spanking-free childhood would be okay, even preferable. After reading it I had a discussion with my youngest brother, who was often spanked quite severely, yet who says it's the only way to raise "Godly kids." Little parrot. "Mom and Dad spanked me so they could get their loving boy back." I'm 18 years older than he is, but not much further ahead of him in coming out of this mess. I still expect to be hit randomly without grounds. The better -- and safer -- my personal situation gets, the more I remember bizarre things like my father's consideration of stoning as an appropriate punishment for my rebellious nature, and his friend who spanked a three-month-old because he "saw regbellion in his son's eyes." Oh, and forced fastings to bring us into contact with the Holy Spirit, but that's another topic. I still have a lot of nightmares, many of trying to escape from my father when he's coming after me to punish me. Sorry to spew so much personal history here... I have a feeling that others besides P. & R. have experience with this stuff and understand the Biblical twist on narcissistic parenting. I haven't yet found a therapist who can do more than stare at me with mouth gaping if I talk about this stuff. One was so helpful as to remark, "Wow, your family is really messed up." (Naomi at exitfundyism a yahoo group Date: Mar. 25, 2001)


My daughter is five-years-old and, people say how inhumane, I let my daughter lay and cry herself to sleep for a week straight about the flames of Hell. See my daughter personally lay at night and say, "I don't want to go to Hell, I don't want to go to Hell," and she'd be laying there crying. I could have run right in there and gave her the Gospel and she could have made a profession of salvation, but I let it get deeper into her memory. Know that I mean? That there is a Hell. And that will affect her whole life. That's why she's an obedient child. (Barry Weaver, street preacher, quoted in Jim Naughton, "The Devil & Duffy Strode: In Marion, North
Carolina, a Boy Preacher's Hellfire Gospel Alarms a Quiet Community," Liberty, Jan./Feb. 1989)


Philip Greven in Spare the Child, cites American Protestant authors who continue to promote violence against children.


Alice Miller in For Your Own Good, traces the roots of physical violence towards children in the western world to the influence of Christianity. To illustrate her point she includes many biographical accounts, including a look at the Christian training that Adolf Hitler received during childhood.


Annie Laurie Gaylor in Betrayal of Trust: Clergy Abuse of Children documents cases of child abuse by the clergy.


Mary Raftery and Eoin O'Sullivan's Suffer the Little Children: The Inside Story of Ireland's Industrial Schools, tells the tales of incredible cruelties on children perpetrated by minions of state and church.




A LIST OF FOLKS WHO WERE "BORN AGAIN" A LITTLE TOO LATE, DARN IT.


Mark Chapman, John Lennon's murderer, calls himself a "Born Again" Christian.


Jeffrey Dahmer, cannibalistic murderer of 15 people, was the son of "Born Again" Christian father of the Church of Christ, and was re-baptised in prison.


David Berkowitz, the "Son of Sam" serial killer, calls himself a "Born Again" Christian.


Charles Tex Watson, henchman of Charles Manson's gang that slew the folks at Sharon Tate's home, calls himself a "Born Again" Christian.


Susan Smith of the USA., who murdered her two children had a "Born Again" Christian father who sexually molested her. He was never brought to court.


Andrea Yates drowned all five of her children, ages 6 months to 7 years, in the home bathtub (June 2001), and she called herself a "Born Again" Christian. A writer commented how "the Yates family was deeply steeped in Christianity."


Ted Bundy, executed serial killer, called himself a "Born Again" Christian.


Velma Barfield, executed murderess, called was a "Born Again" Christian.


Myra Hindley, child-killer, is a "Born Again" Christian.


Sean Sellers, executed murderer of his parents, called himself a "Born Again" Christian.


Karla Faye Tucker, executed pick-axe murderess, called herself a "Born Again" Christian.


Henry Lee Lucas, multiple murderer and "Born Again" Christian.


"Duch," the nickname of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge mass murdering executioner, commander of Tuol Sleng detention centre, Cambodia, calls himself a "Born Again" Christian.


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