In some respects, almost every religious belief is weird. We simply don’t notice because it has blended into the background and become part of the culture, so we don’t perceive the weirdness. Take for example what is perhaps the most popular belief on the planet – Catholicism. At its core you have a ritual called Mass that involves an exclusively male virgin wearing a dress reciting an incantation over bread and wine so that it can be magically transformed into the actual body and blood of Jesus – not symbolically, but literally. This actual body and blood is then utilised by all those watching in a practise that has overtones of cannibalism. What is perhaps truly weird about this is that nobody really pauses and thinks, “Well gosh this is all a bit bizarre”. Instead, it is accepted as quite normal and socially acceptable.
The implication of that observation is that the items I highlight on a weekly basis are the snippets of news that stand out as a contrast to the normal weirdness.
Below you will find my selection of this week’s top 3 bits of religious weirdness from the past week.
Item 1 – New AIG Book” Noah & The Dinosaur”
Answers in Genesis (AIG), the folks who have managed to maintain a monopoly of weirdness within the Creationist Arena, so much so that other Creationists label them weird, have indeed once again delivered and fully lived up to the expectation that we have.
So you remember the part in the bible where Noah battles against a dinosaur?
Nope, nobody does, because there is no such story. That however does not in any way deter AIG from simply making up stuff to promote myths as fact, and so we have “Noah: Man of Resolve“.
It’s not just one book, apparently Ken Ham has plans to build an entire arena of humans battling Giants and Dinosaurs.
They want us to believe that not only is every word in the Bible literally true, but also that the Flintstones is a documentary that illustrates it all.
It might indeed be tempting to ponder the idea that Mr Ham is simply testing the gullibility of his followers, but alas no, I think he truly believes it all, and now wants you to also believe it all.
Best comment on the book’s tag line is just two words long …
“God shapes [Noah] into the man who eventually saves humanity’s future.”
“… from God.”
Item 2 – Kentucky Gov Matt Bevin: “Pray the Crime Away”
A few weeks ago earlier in June, the Republican Governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, came up with a plan to solve their crime problem – Prayer. This was not just an off-the-cuff remark, but rather was put forth as an actual policy. He held a press conference to announce it. …
Bevin urged faith leaders, public officials and residents to take a 10-block span, walk corner to corner, and pray with the community two to three times a week during the next year.
As you might imagine, he was met with not only applause from the deeply religious, but also rather a lot of ridicule and criticism. Much of that criticism came from religious leaders such as Pastor Joe Phelps of Highland Baptist Church. He explained that Bevin’s plan was a waste of time …
I’m embarrassed that non-Christians will assume the governor’s plan, couched exclusively in Christian jargon, represents our only response to violence.
… As if the only tool at this Christian governor’s disposal was prayer. Talk about hiding the ball.
As if fervent prayers aren’t offered daily by the people in Louisville’s blighted, violent area.
As if a few hours of white prayers will tip the divine scale and resolve a multi-generational inequity that will take generations to undo.
As if transformation can happen without cost, as the governor claimed.
Rev. Kevin Cosby of St. Stephen Church was also deeply offended by his racial blindness:
I believe that Bevins’s actions at Western Middle school set race relations back in Louisville more than any single act in recent years.
His blatant insensitivity simply reinforced stereotypes many have about blacks. His meeting, which amounted to little more than political pandering, took advantage of white ignorance of our recent racist past and how that past has shaped our present.
Gov. Bevin has now responded to all his critics. He has put out a video in which he criticises those who criticise him as follows …
… I’m not gonna get into a back and forth with “leaders” of the faith-based community who have come out in opposition to the idea of praying. I’m a little shocked at that. It’s interesting these very same people came to my announcement early and made sure that they held their own press conference… trying to hijack the media for their own self-purposes.
Then they came out and said that the discussion of prayer made them need barf bags. That was from an associate pastor at the largest church in our inner city. The senior pastor of that very same church said this was one of those most divisive things that he’s ever seen, dividing blacks and whites.
I would beg to differ but I’ll leave it to you to decide…
… I don’t know that we’re diving the races as much as we are separating the sheep from the goats. I think they’ll understand what I’m saying on that front.
But the bottom line is this: I stand by everything I said. I still call on the men and women of the faith community to step forward and take ownership…
One key bit of information here is the translation of the term “separating the sheep from the goats”. Joseph Gerth of the Courier-Journal does this for us:
When he’s talking about “separating sheep from goats,” he’s talking about a passage in the Gospel of Matthew describing the second coming of Christ and how at that time Christ will separate the good from the bad, much the same way that a shepherd separates sheep from goats.
The thinking is clearly one where you either agree with his specific religious inspired thinking, and so you are one of the sheep, or you are one of the rebellious goats and hence are one of the bad people.
Promoting prayer as a solution, then relegating people who disagree with you as goats is not a viable way of actually getting anything done … ever. It is however a really great way to illustrate why secularism is a good idea.
Item 3 – Church-Based Day Care Worker Hog-Tied 4-Year-Old Girl Using Duct Tape
Zion Lutheran Learning Center ran a Jesus-centered program for children who are pre-Kindergarten. When faced with a 4 year old who refused to settle down for a nap during their official nap time, the solution they came up with was to tie her up with duct tape.
Joseph and Laura Day’s first inkling that anything unusual had happened at day care was their daughter’s conversation in the bath. The four-year-old seemed to be talking a lot about duct tape — a word that previously seemed beyond her vocabulary.
When her mother pressed her, the little girl (who the RFT is identifying only as her initials, E.D., to protect her privacy) said that “Mr. Josh” at day care had told her, “I have some shiny red duct tape with your name on it.”
But Mr. Josh, the little girl continued, had lied: “My name wasn’t on it.”
Laura Day was troubled enough to keep pushing — and then the story came out. The little girl had been running around when she was supposed to be napping, and so Mr. Josh had bound her legs together with duct tape. She would be untied, another teacher told her, once she behaved.
When they confronted the staff, this happened …
The supervisor the couple spoke with laughed it off “a silly thing” and suggested Reeves might need to take another training course.
The official statement issues by the day-care explains …
When a disciplinary incident occurs, we attempt to handle it with care, concern and in a Christ-centered manner
There are serious implications to permitting religious groups to take on the role of social care, especially when they are except from the normal regulations and scrutiny.
The couple are now quite rightly suing them …
The couple’s suit, filed on E.D.’s behalf, alleges false imprisonment, assault, battery, negligence, negligent supervision, negligent retention and civil conspiracy.