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Sunday, June 23, 2019

Crazy Christians in America, by Paddington

Jesus summed up the Law and the Prophets in two sentences - without dinosaurs - and yet, as Paddington shows, some American churches have added and altered until unrecognisable...

As a sequel to my piece on US evangelism last week, I offer some tidbits.

1. In the last few years, the Texas School Board has held hearings on textbooks and curricula, with a great deal of pressure from fundamentalists. This is very important, as Texas buys the books for the whole state, which in turn affects the offerings of publishers. Among the proposals was the watering down or elimination of evolution (replacing it with 'change over time') and any Science which indicates an old Earth (most of it). Then there was the rewrite of History, marking Moses as one of the most significant people ever (he is a composite of several, including Sargon), and claiming that US law was based on the Ten Commandments and Leviticus, rather than Old English Law. Then, there was the cheery description of the slave trade, describing Africans as climbing on boats to come and work in the New World (technically true, I suppose).

2. The fundamentalists have this bizarre concept of 'interpreting the Bible literally', and the assumption that it is totally inerrant, which leads to a significant level of doublethink. So much so, that adherents are forced to ignore most of Science and much of History. It can lead to some significant absurdities, such as the Smithsonian museum survey some years ago, in which 60% of respondents replied that the Earth was less than 10,000 years old, and 60% replied that dinosaurs lived on the Earth millions of years ago.

3. Last week, we had the latest end-of-the-world prophecy. The 'literal' reading of the Bible, especially Revelation, makes this a fun game. I have talked with adherents who can't wait for the Rapture and End of Days.

4. This week in Alabama, the buckle of the Bible belt, Roy Moore announced that he is once again trying for a seat in the US Senate. He was narrowly defeated the last time, when it came out that as a city prosecutor in his 30's, he was banned from a local shopping mall for trying to pick up girls as young as 14, and was accused of assaulting some. He became famous for planting a 10-ton granite monument of the Ten Commandments in his court building, when he was elected as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. He refused to remove this blatantly unconstitutional decoration, and was removed from his post. He was elected again as Chief Justice, then suspended for ignoring US Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage. After leaving office, he set up a religious charity, of which the primary beneficiaries appeared to be him and his wife.

5. Also in Alabama this week, we have the news that the governor has authorized one of the most racist churches in the state (quite a high bar) to have their own armed police force, with full arrest powers. And Americans worry about Sharia law!

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