Tapu Misa’s latest column is a shocker.
I knew I’d struggle with the injunction to love my enemies when I first became a Christian. I just didn’t expect so many of them would turn out to be other Christians.
Take, for example, the charming folk from the Westboro Baptist Church in the United States who are behind GodHatesFags.com. The Kansas-based church preaches that America’s war dead are God’s punishment for its tolerance of homosexuality, which makes it okay for its misguided faithful to turn up at the funerals of fallen soldiers carrying signs saying, “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “Fags doom nations”.
(The US Supreme Court has ruled that the church’s right to behave despicably is protected by the First Amendment right to free speech.)
I’m at a loss as to how she didn’t know about the Westboro Baptist Church before she became a christian. Everyone has heard of them, and anyone who is honest about it would agree that they are a cult who are far, far outside of evangelical christianity to the point where few christians would ever consider them christians.
Americans getting killed? Blame the Gays. Hurricane? Blame the Gays. Got a bump on the back of your head? Blame the gays.
Anyway, she’s basically violated Godwin’s law in the second paragraph. Not a great start.
As if the Westboro Baptists weren’t enough of a reminder of why I used to dislike Christians so much, there’s a shameful YouTube video showing a group of Christian bigots taunting a Muslim man praying outside the gates of the White House.
According to one account, the so-called Christians surrounded the man, chanting “Jesus, Jesus” and hurling “an array of insults at him: mocking him for drinking Starbucks coffee, telling him to go back to his country and even throwing tiny crosses at his feet as he prayed”.
What happened to “Jesus loves you”?
Just to be pedantic, I did watch some of the video myself, and one of those involved said those exact words. His efforts were however, very clumsy and completely undone by one fellow on the other side of the circle screaming “USA, USA” and “Hate your enemies”.
While much could be said about the video, there is no doubt that many of the Christians in it should be ashamed of themselves. It should remind us to be sure to confront and correct ignorance wherever we find it within the church and not just “follow the leader”.
We have our share of ignorant haters here as well. In the wake of the Christchurch earthquake an equally deranged group declared that the disaster was God’s punishment for hosting “the Lesbian and Poof Week” in Queenstown, among other unpardonable sins.
“The Christchurch earthquake was a warning,” it said. “God has decided to clean out NZ of its wickedness, perversion, prostitution, bullying, gangs, drugs, violence, paedophilia and of its witchcraft and black magic.”
I’ve discussed that site and the fact it bears no relationship to any sort of consistent theology here. For those not willing to click the link, here’s the money quote:
So let me get this straight. God is tearing apart the country’s second largest city so that you’ll wish him well?
Some things just don’t go together.
When it comes to religious nutters, we have nothing on America. The most religious of Western nations excels at breeding the seriously theologically ignorant and misguided. If only they weren’t so supremely confident of God’s approval as well.
Now, I agree with Tapu on this point: there are a whole lot of theologically ignorant people in America. But in terms of proportion, I suspect that New Zealand beats them hands down. I once ran across a New Zealand site from a group of mainstream churches that basically said that anything defined as “human rights” was good, therefore was the will of God.
Wisconsin’s union-busting Republican Governor Scott Walker is a case in point.
Last week, despite widespread protest in the state capital, and the decamping of 14 Democratic senators (who went into hiding in an attempt to deny the Republicans a quorum), Walker and his colleagues pushed through a bill that stripped public sector workers of nearly all their collective bargaining rights.
Walker claimed initially that the bill was needed to address Wisconsin’s debt crisis. But even after the unions offered concessions and other Christians, including Roman Catholic bishops and other mainline pastors urged him to be a good Christian and support the rights of workers, Walker wouldn’t budge.
He’s on a mission from God (and his billionaire backers), evidently, so why would he compromise?
But there’s just one problem with this thesis: where has Walker stated that God has called him to do this? Fact: he hasn’t.
After a nearly three-week impasse, during which the governor sent out state troopers in search of the missing senators while angry protesters camped out in the Capitol building, Walker and his colleagues ended the stalemate by simply separating the budget measures from the union bill, sidestepping the need for a quorum.
And thereby removing any doubt about Governor Walker’s true agenda.
Oh, we’re seeing an agenda all right.
It was a scenario that might have come out of Naomi Klein’s bestselling book, The Shock Doctrine, which argued compellingly that, from Chile in the 1970s to Iraq in the 2000s, right-wing ideologues have exploited crisis and catastrophe to push through their “triple obsessions” – privatisation, deregulation and union-busting.
Just in case you missed that whole “agenda” thing, we’re now quoting approvingly from left wing conspiracy theories. I’m curious though, which one of “privatisation, deregulation and union-busting” was freeing the people of Iraq?
The rest of her column makes various claims about inqeuqlity, poverty, child wellbeing, the goodness of unions, the dire consequences of trimming their power etc. She even quotes approvingly from Michael Moore (who, it was recently revealed, used no union labour in his latest film).
Walker has won the first round, but the battle has energised the union and Democratic base. Poll after poll shows the majority of Americans side with the unions and state workers. Commentators like film-maker Michael Moore are pitching it as a class war, a struggle between the elite super-rich and working class America.
So are unions a universal, unquestioned good? BlairM responds in comments:
Tell me Tapu, is it Christian to force a public sector worker to join a union if they want to keep their job? That was the status in Wisconsin until this recent legislation. Is it Christian for a State to live beyond its means? Is it Christian to tax private sector workers until they are 65 so that school teachers can retire at 50? Is it Christian for protesters to assault people, to compare Walker to Hitler, to vandalize the State Capitol building, to desecrate war memorials and statues?
Please tell me Tapu, where in the Bible does Jesus condone any of this? And what Fred Phelps has to do with it, if anything?
(In fact, if one was to compare a side of that debate to the Phelps family, would it be Walker, or the person who sent this or this or this or these?)
The fact is, unions have become bullies, who have used their position to create a deal for public sector workers that provides incredible benefits at the expense of the taxpayer.
·Public employers contributed almost $1.37 billion to the state’s pension fund in 2009, while employees contributed about $8 million, or about 0.6%. (LFB paper 84 Wisconsin Retirement System, Table 28)
·From 2000 to 2009 taxpayers spent about $12.6 billion on public employee pensions, during the same period public employees contributed $55.4 million. (LFB paper 84 Wisconsin Retirement System, Table 28)
·When looking at state operations, state employees account for about 60% of taxpayer cost—77% of state operations for the UW are employees, 70% for corrections, 63% for health services. (State Budget Office Memo 2-9-11)
·Wisconsin taxpayers currently make nearly a 100% payment for the employee portion of the public sector pension contribution. Illinois and Indiana taxpayers contribute the entire employee portion as well, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio pay 0% of the employee contribution. (State Budget Office Memo 2-9-11)
·Public employees in Wisconsin are vested in the retirement system immediately, while in Illinois it takes 8 years, 10 years in Indiana, 4 years in Iowa, 10 years in Michigan, 3 years in Minnesota, and 5 years in Ohio. (State Budget Office Memo 2-9-11)
One might excuse her ignorance of these facts. One might excuse her writing about a video she appears to have not even watched herself. One might excuse her for falling for a site that’s probably designed to bring Christianity into disrepute.
But her column is about decrying christian ignorance.
Rather than dealing a decisive death blow to the union movement, Governor Walker seems to have breathed new life into it.
Maybe he’s doing God’s work after all.
Think about that last line in the light of her earlier statement:
The most religious of Western nations excels at breeding the seriously theologically ignorant and misguided. If only they weren’t so supremely confident of God’s approval as well.
Now, I agree with Tapu that God doesn’t vote right or Republican. Trouble is, while crying about ignorant Christians who think God votes right, she’s going out of her way to make the case that he in fact votes left.