[Photo of Dr. Richard Land, SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission]
It is a dismal truth that fundamentalist Christians just don't get it. Having developed a convoluted theological mishmash of beliefs, they struggle constantly to twist their bibles to confirm those beliefs.
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, headed by the notorious Dr. Richard Land, is a good example of a form of Christianity going off the rails. For example, the Commission has this to say about science:
"Does science supersede the teachings of Scripture? No. In reality Scripture is in harmony with, and instructive to, science. No finding of science has ever debunked the Truth of God's Word. Scripture is authoritative on all matters in life, including science. Most conflicts between scientific and religious faith arise when observable and quantifiable findings give way to conjecture and speculation. A proper perspective on the relationship between Christian faith and science leads to a healthy and ethical application of the findings of science in critically important fields, such as biology and the other life sciences."
Blah, blah, blah. Scripture is instructive to science? Please. Science debunks scripture constantly and in multitudinous ways. One biggie, for example, is that archaeologists have come to the conclusion that there is absolutely no evidence for most of the people and events we thought "historical" in the Hebrew Bible. In fact there is no extra-biblical evidence of any kind for any of the biblical heroes -- Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Saul, David, Solomon...not historical! Good stories, though, with some theological and philosophical insights, but none of them were real, live, human beings.
Of course, you can deny archaeological findings just as you can believe in any particular fairy tale you wish, as does this SBC Commission.
Let's see how the views of the SBC Commission work out in practice. The huge majority of scientists the world over (99%?) are convinced that climate change or global warming is a problem of immense magnitude that calls for immediate and drastic action if we are to continue to live on a viable planet.
The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, reading from their bible, disagrees. The Commission has teamed up with the "climate change denier," Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), to fight a bill which would call for drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
The ERLC believes that the threat of "cataclysmic global warming" is "unfounded."
Thus, they've joined a campaign called "We Get It," which purports to oppose climate change legislation out of concern for the poor (cutting greenhouse gas emissions will make food and fuel more expensive).
The ERLC says this is all about taking a "biblical, fact-based approach to global warming."
The Commission is also supporting a new rule proposed by the Bush administration that would allow medical institutions and doctors to refuse to "participate in abortion and other medical procedures to which they object on moral or religious grounds."
The Department of Health and Human Services, headed by the ultra-conservative wingnut, Mike Leavitt, issued the regulation on August 21. Leavitt said that "Doctors and other health-care providers should not be forced to choose between good professional standing and violating their conscience."
Richard Land was ecstatic: "The Bush administration and the Department of Health and Human Services are to be applauded for taking important steps to protect the freedom of conscience of physicians and other health-care providers in the United States who find the wholesale termination of the lives of our preborn citizens to be unconscionable and reprehensible."
Science versus Southern Baptist religion. Hmmm. I wonder what Dr. Land would say if I were a noted oncologist and he came to me for treatment of a tumor, and I refused to treat him because my bible says that Southern Baptist leaders are reprehensible and odiferous billy goats?
Anyway, he probably brought on the tumor by spending so much time fighting good science with biblical tripe.
What is the most important concern and the most pressing need of our country as determined by the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission?
"...we are in desperate need of a great movement of God among His people and across the farthest stretches of our land, including the corridors of Washington, D.C."
What they mean by that, of course, is that everyone should adopt their peculiar fundamentalist understanding of scripture and their peculiar hide-bound fundamentalist Christian theology.
They plan to meet this "desperate need" by holding prayer meetings! They've established something called "40/40 Prayer Vigil for Spiritual Revival and National Renewal." It will involved "40 days of prayer from Sept. 24 to Nov. 2, culminating in 40 hours of around-the-clock intercession during the last three days."
It seems that the fundys love to pray because then they can pretend they're actually doing something of value. And I love that around-the-clock stuff, as if really intense praying by bunches of folks will better manipulate their skygod into doing what he/she should have done in the first place. What kind of god needs this type of manipulation? What kind of god fails to take action when "need" arises?
Dr. Land and the Commission believes that all this prayer is needed so that our country meets the conditions laid down by god in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14: "If...My people who care called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land."
Dr. Land and the ERLC want a revival so that god will "pour out His blessings on America once again."
When did god pour out his blessings on America in the past? Fundys always talk about some kind of a golden past, but I'm not quite sure when this was? Maybe it's all a dream?
Another rather important question: Why is it when the fundys talk about "revival" and nation-blessing they never quote from Jesus, but always from some ancient Hebrew scripture? That seems strange because they preach constantly that the New Testament has superseded the Old Testament and that Jesus has, through his sacrifice, taken away the need to obey the Law.
I think I know the answer. Jesus never talked about what they think is so important! Yikes!