Preaching to the choir

I was bored and looking for something to blog about, so I typed “apologetics” into Google, and clicked one of the ads that came up. It happened to be for an apologetics ministry named Solid Reasons, SolidReasonsAdand I gotta say, that’s a pretty slick and shiny-looking web site. I don’t know who they’ve got doing their design and coding, but I can tell you, a fancy web site like that ain’t cheap.

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Franklin Graham shocked by First Amendment

Arkansas Online is reporting that Franklin Graham has discovered evidence that the First Amendment is having a growing influence on American government, and he’s none too happy about it.

Thousands of worshipers flooded the state Capitol on Tuesday to hear evangelist Franklin Graham declare that “godless” politics are taking over governments across the 50 states he is touring…

The greatest applause came when Graham argued against political correctness and the separation of church and state.

“Secularism and communism are the same thing. They are both godless,” Graham said. “We have every right to speak up; we have every right to take our faith into the halls of government.”

And we’d have gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for that pesky Constitution thing.

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Quote of the day

Ladies and gentlemen, Ted Cruz:

It is bizarre. Donald and his team, it’s almost like they are subjects in a clinical course in psychology. The conduct they do, literally, they accuse others of doing.

Because real conservatives never act like that, right Ted?

Conservative Christians sounding the retreat

With society becoming less hostile towards gays and other minorities, and Christians everywhere losing the privileges that previously allowed them to flout the First Amendment with impunity, a few conservative Christians are beginning to think it’s time to abandon society and head for the hills.

That’s what St Benedict did. By the end of the fifth century the great Roman Empire had completely collapsed. The center of government had moved to Constantinople. The Vandals and Goths had sacked Rome, and the church and people had drifted into decadence and despair.

As a young man Benedict went to study in Rome, but soon gave up and retreated to Subiaco to live as a hermit.

Conservative writer Rod Dreher thinks it is time for American Christians to consider what he calls the “Benedict Option”. He contends that Christians have lost the culture wars, predicts that persecution of Christians is right around the corner, and recommends heading for the hills.

Because having your bigotry called out in public, and losing legal protection for your bullying of others, is totally like having actual armed, barbarian invaders sack your capital city and carve up your entire nation into feudal fiefdoms.

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Diversity supporters targeted for harassment, discrimination

A few days ago, I mentioned LambdaConf, a putatively inclusive software conference that accepted an open and aggressive racist as one of its speakers, on the grounds that reasonable people can disagree on whether racism is good or bad, and whether blacks make better slaves, and so on. In protest, a number of people signed the Statement on LambdaConf 2016, emphasizing their commitment to diversity and genuine inclusiveness. And now, that statement has been turned into a list of people to target for harassment.

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Be careful what you wish for

There’s a meme going around right now that reviews a bit of political history. Remember the impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton for sexual misconduct in the late 90’s? They were led by a Republican legislator who, at the time, was hiding a sexual affair. He was supposed to be replaced by another Republican who had to step down because he was having a sexual affair. The Republicans then elected a new Speaker of the House, who is currently under investigation because of suspicious payments he made to cover up alleged sexual molestation of boys.

The meme doesn’t explicitly call this out, but I think it’s worth mentioning that these are all men who were elected by conservative Christians trying to put God back in government. Separation of church and state isn’t some plot to try and marginalize Christians. It’s just that mingling politics and religion is a bad idea, and harms both the state and the church.

The Case of the Exploding Wedding Cake

A Michigan TV station is reporting that a local cake decorator is taking some heat after she backed out of a deal to decorate a cake for what she later discovered was a gay wedding.

A recent status update by Bake It U.P. Cakes explains that the business denied services to a same-sex couple after it was commissioned to decorate a cake for an upcoming wedding. The decorator was unaware it was for a same-sex couple, and as soon as she found out, the business backed out of the transaction. The post states, “This has nothing to do with the person, or the lifestyle they choose. This is about me not participating in the event… I have nothing against this person for their choice in lifestyle. If this person had come to me for any other occasion and needed a cake I would have gladly made one for him.”

Public response was immediate and negative.

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Tell, don’t ask

A while back, I came to a conclusion that seems (to me) quite profound: that religion is a live-action role-playing game, an adult version of the old “the floor is lava!” game some of us played when we were young. God, angels, demons, god-hating atheists, etc, are all non-player characters in this game, and prayer and superstition create the link between things in the real world and things as they exist in the mind of the believer. It’s degenerate play, in the sense that participants have lost the crucial ability to distinguish between the fantasy and the reality, but it’s still basically a game of pretend.

That’s kind of cool, and it explains a lot, but then I have to ask, “So what?” What good does it do us to understand this? If this is going to be more than just something that’s nice to know, we need some way to apply it to our interactions with religion. And I think one of those ways is that it tells us how we ought to discuss religion with believers.

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When to say no

If you’re not a software developer, you may have missed it, but there’s been a huge outcry recently in the world of functional programming, about a conference called LambdaConf. The problem is not the conference itself, but the fact that one of the papers selected for presentation turns out to be the work of a well-known racist whose online postings have argued that blacks are naturally suitable for slavery. In fact, this same person submitted a similar paper to an earlier conference called Strange Loop, who initially accepted it, and then rejected it after they found out who the author was. The LambdaConf organizers were familiar with that incident, and decided not to reject the speaker, on free speech grounds, as long as he agreed to abide by the conference Code of Conduct while in attendance.

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