Merry “christmas”… 8/

GOP Rep Declares US a Christian Nation, Calls on Americans to “Stand Up” and “Worship Christ” – because, you know, “christianity” is opressed by the forces of the devil, and stuff like that…

Colo. Church Gunman Left Twisted Trail – this is what comes of raising your kids to be good “christians”.

Charlie’s Angels – 10 years distributing toys to families of inmates apparently isn’t “christian” enough for gay-hating ministry.

Muslim helps Jews attacked on New York subway – the attackers were “christians”, of course.

GOP Rep Declares US a Christian Nation, Calls on Americans to “Stand Up” and “Worship Christ”
December 12, 2007
By Satyam Khanna

Rep. Steve King recently (R-IA) introduced legislation recognizing the “importance of Christmas and the Christian faith,” despite previously opposing resolutions recognizing the Muslim celebration of Ramadan and the Hindu Diwali.

A spokesman for King told ThinkProgress that the congressman simply “thought it was important to honor Christmas” by introducing the bill. Yet today on Fox News, King went further, decrying an “assault on Christmas” from “secularists” who want to “eradicate Christ from Christmas.” Ignoring the Constitution, King claimed America is really a “Christian nation”:

I recognized that we’re a Christian nation founded on Christian principles, and we’re coming up to Christmastime. … It’s time we stood up and said so, and said to the rest of America, Be who you are and be confident. And let’s worship Christ and let’s celebrate Christmas for the right reasons.

In his tirade, King attacked the nine “liberal Democrat” “naysayers” who voted against the bill. “I would like to know how they can vote yes on Ramadan, yes on the Indian religions, and no on Christianity, when the foundation of this nation and our American culture is Christian,” he said.

In response, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) ripped King’s religious zealotry as “another sad attempt by conservative Republicans to skew the line between church and state”:

“America is not a Christian nation,” Hastings said. “It is a nation of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and everyone in between. Our diversity is our strength and those who seek to use religion as a litmus test are doing a disservice to all of us.”

As for the “assault on Christianity,” Hastings said, “all someone has to do is visit a shopping mall, turn on the radio or TV or look at the Christmas trees sitting on the front lawns of the White House and the United States Capitol to realize that no such assault is underway.”

King isn’t alone. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee both have declared that America is a Christian nation.

Colo. Church Gunman Left Twisted Trail
December 13, 2007

Matthew Murray’s world was haunted by demons.

Somehow, a child of a prominent doctor, someone who was home schooled in a comfortable Denver suburb, evolved from would-be Christian missionary to a killer trying to rain Columbine down on the Christian world.

A family spokesman said Murray grew up in a loving home. But other interviews and what appear to be Murray’s own online ramblings portray a disturbed individual who resented his sheltered upbringing, had problems with his mother, heard voices in his head, felt rejected and abused — and yet appeared to be searching for a place to belong.

He sought refuge in everything from an online forum for recovering Pentecostals to an occult group.

Those volatile ingredients combined Sunday morning when the 24-year-old Murray killed five people, including himself, and injured several others in a rampage that spanned 70 miles, from a missionary training center that expelled Murray to Colorado Springs’ New Life Church, a symbol of the Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity he so despised.

Murray, as promised on the Web, came “armed to the teeth” with an assault rifle, handguns and 1,000 rounds of ammunition. An armed church security guard, a new Christian believer, cut him down in a spray of bullets before he could carry out even more violence. An autopsy showed Murray delivered the final, fatal shot to himself.

By all accounts, Matthew Murray grew up in a deeply Christian home. His father, Ronald, is a well-known neurologist who helped develop a tissue bank used by researchers fighting multiple sclerosis. His mother, Loretta, worked as a physical therapist before devoting herself to raising and home-schooling her two boys, Matthew and his brother, Chris.

“Matthew Murray was surrounded by love and support,” Casey Nikoloric, a family friend and patient of Ronald Murray’s, told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “His family is heartbroken, devastated and simply lost in grief.”

Most information about Murray has become known in recent days through ranting Internet posts that appear to be the shooter’s words. On one, a poster called Chrstnghtmr complained of not being able to “socialize normally” after being home schooled and described being an outcast who was always left out of everything.

One posting obtained by the AP was to a site called Independent Spirits, a gathering place for those affected by a strict Christian home schooling curriculum.

The author, again going by the handle Chrstnghtmr, describes going with his mother to a conference at New Life. The poster said he “got into a debate” with two prayer team staff members, who monitored him, then tracked down his mother and “told her a story that went something along the lines of I ‘wasn’t walking with the lord and could be planning violence.'”

The September 2006 post includes biographical information that matches Murray’s background — including details consistent with his involvement in Youth With a Mission, which ran the training center he targeted in last weekend’s rampage.

Murray’s mother, Loretta Murray, said through a spokeswoman that there was no such incident involving two church staff members.

New Life Church pastor Brady Boyd said Wednesday his staff has no record of an incident with Murray.

“We’ve had hundreds of thousands of people come through here for conferences, and we’ve had to confront some people,” said Boyd, who warned against putting credence in the postings. “We have no recollection of this, and this seems like a minor incident.”

Chrstnghtmr writes that at age 17, after an attempt at going “all out for Jesus,” he plunged into a “dark suicidal depression” because he somehow couldn’t live up to the rules. He wrote he felt he was “failing God.” Chrstnghtmr describes his parents putting him on two antidepressants after he shared his feelings.

None of it helped, he wrote. “Everyone prayed, they laid hands on me, spoke in tongues over me, I sought out every kind of spiritual help I knew of in charismatic christianity,” the post said.

Nikoloric said Murray’s family is not commenting on the many Internet postings linked to him, but said they plan to comment in the future.

Other posts also complain of an overbearing mother. At one point, the author said his mother patted him down for CDs, video games and DVDs whenever he returned from an electronics store. In another post, the author lambasts Bill Gothard, a Christian evangelist who developed a strict Bible-based home school curriculum.

Kevin Swanson, executive director of the Christian Home Educators of Colorado, of which the Murrays were members, said just 1 percent or 2 percent of the group’s 16,000 families use the curriculum described in the posts.

Swanson said home schooling should not be considered the cause of Murray’s downward spiral, just as public schools shouldn’t be blamed for a recent shooting rampage at an Omaha mall.

On another Web posting, a person believed to be Murray said that his post-graduation options were limited to missionary work or attending Oral Roberts University, the flagship university of charismatic Christianity. A fast-growing subset of evangelical Christians, charismatics and Pentecostals believe the Holy Spirit continues to show signs and wonders in the world, including speaking in tongues, prophesy and miraculous healings.

Murray ended up enrolled in “disciple training school,” a sort of Missionary 101 program run by Youth With a Mission, one of the world’s largest evangelical Christian mission groups.

But warning signs soon emerged at the residential program in Arvada, a Denver suburb.

A former YWAM staff member, Michael Werner, told the Rocky Mountain News that Murray was painfully shy and had trouble socializing after growing up sheltered. Later, he exhibited extreme mood swings, spreading rumors about homosexuality at the center and performing dark rock songs by Marilyn Manson and Linkin Park at a 2002 Christmas celebration.

One night, Werner said Murray was chattering to himself and explained he was “just talking to my voices.”

Murray was to take a mission trip to Bosnia, but YWAM officials said he was kicked out of the program for unspecified “health reasons.”

On the posting on Independent Spirits, Chrstnghtmr described returning home after being ejected from YWAM, where he wrote it was “back to the good old restriction and that is when I started having serious doubts about christianity.”

After Murray rejected religion, he became fixated on people and groups that explore the dark side of spirituality, obsessing over the satanic lyrics of Swedish metal bands, for instance.

Murray attended events held by the Denver-based occult group Ad Astra Oasis during the last two years, but was turned down when he sought to become a member of the group. His involvement with them apparently ended in October.

Ultimately, Murray’s rage took him to the front steps of his former YWAM dormitory and New Life Church.

In an Internet post about four hours before the shootings at New Life, a poster going by “DyingChild_65” said he searched for spiritual answers. All the poster found in Christianity was “hate, abuse (sexual, physical, psychological, and emotional), hypocrisy, and lies.”

The rant ended: “I’m going out to make a stand for the weak and the defenseless this is for all those young people still caught in the Nightmare of Christianity for all those people who’ve been abused and mistreated and taken advantage of by this evil sick religion Christian America this is YOUR Columbine.”

Charlie’s Angels
Dec 13, 2007
by Fred Clark

Project Angel Tree is a Good Thing. Or it would be a Good Thing if the people running it would just get out of the way.

The program, part of Charles Colson’s Prison Fellowship, collects and distributes Christmas presents for the children of prisoners. This is heartwarming and noncontroversial. It’s also a fine example of Matthew 25-style Christianity in action: “I was in prison and you came to visit me.” What’s not to like?

Well, it turns out there’s a problem. The folks at Prison Fellowship want to help these little kids at Christmas, but not quite as much as they want to spread the Gay-Hatin’ Gospel.

Trent W. alerted me to this story via e-mail. It seems the Friends Congregational Church of College Station, Texas, is no longer allowed to collect Christmas presents for the children of prisoners. The United Church of Christ congregation had been supporting Angel Tree for 10 years before they were told this fall that their help was no longer wanted.

Initially Friends Congregational was told that this was because they were in conflict with Prison Fellowship’s “Statement of Faith.” Had that been true, it would have been strange enough. After all, you’re not required to swear the Marine Corps Oath before your donation will be accepted by Toys for Tots. But it turns out that wasn’t the real problem.

The real problem, as this letter from the church to Prison Fellowship (.pdf) explains, was that Friends Congregational doesn’t hate gay people enough:

The [Prison Fellowship] representative, however, informed [Pastor Dan De Leon] that according to our church’s Web site, we are an Open & Affirming congregation. Friends Congregational Church has publicly upheld this stance since 1996 as a clear, unapologetic means of extending an extravagant welcome* to all in our community, regardless of social status, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. The representative went on to say that the Board viewed homosexuality as deviancy from Scripture, and this position, when held up to our Open & Affirming identity, excluded us from the Angel Tree Ministry. Although one might read between the lines of the letter we received to come to this conclusion, this detail by which Friends has been excluded is not found in the assertion that we must be Trinitarian and uphold the Bible in all matters of faith and life; nor is this wording clearly offered anywhere in the Prison Fellowship’s Statement of Faith.

The letter recommends that Prison Fellowship should state more clearly “the criteria by which it claims that churches and millions of their faithful congregants are to be excluded from assisting the imprisoned and their children, who, consequently, will not receive joy and love in the form of gifts at Christmas.” Ouch. The problem, of course, is that Prison Fellowship thought they had stated this criteria clearly with that bit about “upholding the Bible in all matters of faith and life.” They assumed that “uphold the Bible” means the same thing as “excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians.” That is, after all, the “most common perception” of American Christianity.

The letter goes on to pose three questions for the straight and extremely narrow ministry:

1) To the child whose parent is in prison, does it matter who is providing him or her with gifts at Christmas?

2) Is God displeased that a gay man or woman goes Christmas shopping for a child orphaned by society, or is God overjoyed that a child such as this is receiving love mirrored after God’s love: expecting nothing in return?

3) Finally, at the end of the day, does it really help or does it hinder the mission of Angel Tree Ministry to disqualify churches like ours on the basis of an anonymous giver being, as you suggest, deviant from Scripture? If you feel that it helps, then we are sad to say that you have your work cut out for you, because all of us sinners who breathe God’s good air deviate from Scripture every day. This includes everyone from our congregation to the well-intentioned members of the Prison Fellowship Board.

I’ve got nothing to add to that except perhaps this: Don’t mess with those UCC folks. They seem all meek and mild, but get between them and the people they’re trying to help and they’ll dope-slap you upside your self-righteous head.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* “Extravagant welcome.” I like that. When I use that, a lot, in the future, you’ll know that this is where I got it from.

Muslim helps Jews attacked on New York subway
December 12, 2007
by Nkechi Nneji

A Muslim man jumped to the aid of three Jewish subway riders after they were attacked by a group of young people who objected to one of the Jews saying “Happy Hanukkah,” a spokeswoman for the three said Wednesday.

Friday’s altercation on the Q train began when somebody yelled out “Merry Christmas,” to which rider Walter Adler responded, “Happy Hanukkah,” said Toba Hellerstein.

“Almost immediately, you see the look in this guy’s face like I’ve called his mother something,” Adler told CNN affiliate WABC.

Two women who were with a group of 10 rowdy people then began to verbally assault Adler’s companions with anti-Semitic language, Hellerstein said.

One member of the group allegedly yelled, “Oh, Hanukkah. That’s the day that the Jews killed Jesus,” she said.

When Adler tried to intercede, a male member of the group punched him, she said.

Another passenger, Hassan Askari — a Muslim student from Bangladesh — came to Adler’s aid, and the group began physically and verbally assaulting him, Hellerstein said.

“A Muslim-American saved us when our own people were on the train and didn’t do anything,” Adler said. VideoWatch Adler describe the altercation »

Adler pulled the emergency brake and the train stopped at DeKalb Avenue station, where police came on board.

The 10 suspects, ages 19 to 20, were taken into custody, said Brooklyn district attorney spokesman Sandy Silverstein.

Askari was first handcuffed alongside them, but he was released when Adler told police he was not an attacker, Hellerstein said.

Alder was treated at Long Island College Hospital for injuries that included a fractured nose and a cut lip that required several stitches, while Askari suffered a black eye, Hellerstein said.

The suspects are to appear in Brooklyn District Court on February 7 on charges that include assault, attempted assault, menacing, harassment, unlawful assembly, riot and disorderly conduct, Silverstein said.

The New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the incident, and will determine whether the suspects will be charged with hate crimes, Officer Philip Hauser told CNN.

One thought on “Merry “christmas”… 8/”

  1. Two things about Rep. Steve King’s bill.

    One, if it’s cool to introduce (and pass, BTW) bills about Ramadan and Diwali, it’s fine to do the same for Christmas.

    The fellow blathering on about diversity in the article is one of my pet peeves. Apparently, “celebrating diversity” is a leftie code that actually means “celebrate diversity as long is your diversity is in lockstep with ours.”

    Frankly, I see no need for any of those bills. Our Congress should be working on the long list of very real issues we’re facing.

    The second point is a tasty little irony. King didn’t even vote on his own bill.


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