Archive for the ‘Apocalypse / Rapture’ Category

The Uses of Fear

January 21, 2013

by Adam Lee (excerpted from “Notable (and Notorious) Examples of the Christian Right’s Failed Prophecies,” published on Alternet, 1-21/13)

You may notice that, other than the self-serving predictions of their own success, most of the religious right’s prophecies are of disaster and calamity. They almost never forecast greater peace, increased prosperity or the advance of democracy and human rights. There’s a good reason for this.

The religious right as a movement thrives on fear, because it depends on the unthinking obedience of its followers, and fearful people are far easier to shepherd and control. A person who fears the worst will follow anyone who promises security and relief from that fear: it’s not difficult to persuade them to donate money, follow marching orders, or vote as instructed if it will turn back the imaginary evils that menace them.

This has been an effective strategy, but it means that secularists and progressives can win people over if we offer them freedom from fear. And the best way to do that is to point out that the prophets of doom have failed over and over again. Normally their followers are only too happy to count the hits and ignore the misses, but when the evidence is all collected in one place, the conclusion becomes much harder to ignore: the people who claim to be the conduits of God’s will are scam artists, falsely claiming to know things they don’t know. Whether they’re intentionally lying or sincerely deluded makes no difference.

Read the entire article here.

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An Open Letter to Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Parish in Seattle

April 16, 2012

To Pastor Fr. Binh Ta, C.Ss.R. and Parochial Vicar Fr. Mark Scheffler, C.Ss.R. of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Parish, Seattle, WA

I was a visitor at Sacred Heart of Jesus this morning (Second Sunday of Easter), and I compliment you on a beautiful service and sanctuary. I found the first reading particularly inspiring because of discussions I’ve recently had with Catholic author Gil Bailie on his site, “The Cornerstone Forum.” Two things troubled me, however.When I sat down, I found a very disturbing tract in the hymnal rack in front of me. Titled “Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory,” it contains passages from the Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska. Her descriptions of Purgatory and Hell are graphic and frightening. She writes, for example, “There are caverns and pits of torture where one form of agony differs from another. … Let the sinner know that he will be tortured throughout all eternity, in those senses which he made use of to sin.” Her purgatory is “a misty place full of fire in which there was a great crowd of suffering souls.” She is obviously describing a literal fire, because she refers to the flames that were burning them.

I looked around and saw young people. Any one of them could have picked up this tract and read it. My question is, “Do you really want young Catholics—or indeed any Catholics—to see this kind of material when they come to Mass?” And what about visitors to your church? Do you think they feel welcomed when the first piece of literature they pick up threatens eternal torment?

I was also distressed to see that your parish was distributing the Prop 74 petition. When you consider that around 53% of Catholics in this country support same-sex marriage, circulating such a petition in church seems unnecessarily divisive and demonstrates misplaced priorities. Parishioners should not have to listen to anti-equality messages when they attend Mass. Moreover, Archbishop Sartain’s letter supporting the Referendum reveals a very confused grasp of the social justice issues involved. He offers homosexual couples “respect” with one hand while denying them equality with the other. Gay and lesbian couples in this state do not want to hear nostrums about respect when they are treated like second-class citizens. True “respect” requires equal access to the benefits (including the very name) of civil marriage.

I know that many Catholics in the Seattle Diocese share my disappointment that Sacred Heart of Jesus did not join St. Mary’s Cathedral, St. James Cathedral, St. Joseph’s Church, St. Louise, Christ Our Hope Church, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and St. Patrick’s in declining to participate in this anti-equality effort.

What an irony that St. Maria Faustina Kowalska’s lurid descriptions of Purgatory and Hell were available in your pews on the same morning that you circulated a petition to deny loving same-sex couples the right to a civil marriage.

Sincerely yours,

Doughlas Remy

Allegories Gone Wild: Apocalyptic Beliefs Rampant Among U.S. Legislators

October 16, 2011

By trying hard, one can find a few strands of consistency in Christian right-wing legislators’ resistance to abortion, stem-cell research, and same-sex marriage. (e.g., they believe Mosaic law is the last word on homosexuality; they believe life begins at conception). But why are they so bitterly opposed to care of Planet Earth? Why so much anti-environmentalism at a time when our ecosystem is under such obvious stress? The Atheist Oasis team has the answer in this piece, called Allegories Gone Wild. Excerpt:

Forty-five senators and 186 representatives in 2003 earned 80- to 100-percent approval ratings from the nation’s three most influential Christian right advocacy groups — the Christian Coalition, Eagle Forum, and Family Resource Council. Many of those same lawmakers also got flunking grades — less than 10 percent, on average — from the League of Conservation Voters last year.

These statistics are puzzling at first. Opposing abortion and stem-cell research is consistent with the religious right’s belief that life begins at the moment of conception. Opposing gay marriage is consistent with its claim that homosexual activity is proscribed by the Bible. Both beliefs are a familiar staple of today’s political discourse. But a scripture-based justification for anti-environmentalism?

Many Christian fundamentalists feel that concern for the future of our planet is irrelevant, because it has no future. They believe we are living in the End Time, when the son of God will return, the righteous will enter heaven, and sinners will be condemned to eternal hellfire. They may also believe, along with millions of other Christian fundamentalists, that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed — even hastened — as a sign of the coming Apocalypse.