Showing posts with label Religion Bias. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Religion Bias. Show all posts

August 31, 2017

[3] Reasons Why So Many People Hate Joel Osteen and His Mega Church in Houston

Twitter is loathing Houston’s megawatt-smile, mega-pastor Joel Osteen. What gives? 
For Myself, the main reason(the are others) is that He is against Gay Marriage but for others:

Joel Osteen’s Houston megachurch transforms into shelter
Lakewood Church, a 606,000-square-foot megachurch in Houston where Joel Osteen preaches, is being used as a shelter from the flood. (Thomas Johnson/The Washington Post)
The question over whether Osteen’s 38,000-member Lakewood Church has sufficiently aided in the disaster relief effort in the wake of Hurricane Harvey has, once again, made America’s prince of the prosperity gospel into an object of social media contempt.
With his yachts and jets and endlessly-smiling mouth offering promises of “Your Best Life Now” (that’s the name of his best-selling book), Osteen was already a subject of contempt among Americans, in general.
But in the past few days, he has been lambasted as being, at best, sluggish in providing emergency aid to those suffering from the disaster and, at worst, a hypocrite who cares more about people’s wealth than welfare. In fairness, the city of Houston has more megachurches than any other metropolitan area in the country, with dozens of big-church celebrities to thrust into the spotlight at a time like this. So what is it about America’s grinning preacher that everyone hates so much? 
I’ve been studying the American prosperity gospel for more than a decade, and I have come to the stunning conclusion that Joel Osteen seems to be a pretty nice guy. He is the cheery advertisement for the 606,000-square-foot Lakewood Church and, with the gorgeous Victoria by his side, tours the country in packed-out arenas to bring “A Night of Hope” — a religion-lite, inspirational speech set to music. And, for those who don’t mind waiting a few minutes after the service, he will shake your hand and tolerate your comment about how his hair looks even better in real life. It does.
But there are three main reasons long after this controversy passes, Joel Osteen will still be the preacher America loves to hate — and perhaps for Christians more than others.
Number 1. Joel Osteen represents the Christian 1 percent. From aerial views of his jaw-dropping mansion to the cut of his navy suits, he always looks like a man with a good reason to be smiling. He is a wealthy man who unapologetically preaches that God has blessed him, with the added bonus that God can bless anyone else, too. 
The promise of the prosperity gospel is that it has found a formula that guarantees that God always blesses the righteous with health, wealth, and happiness. For that reason, churchgoers love to see their preachers thrive as living embodiments of their own message. But the inequality that makes Osteen an inspiration is also what makes him an uncomfortable representation of the deep chasms in the land of opportunity between the haves and the have-nots. When the floodwaters rise, no one wants to see him float by on his yacht, as evidenced by the Christian satire website the Babylon Bee’s shot Tuesday at Osteen: “Joel Osteen Sails Luxury Yacht Through Flooded Houston To Pass Out Copies Of ‘Your Best Life Now.’ ” 
 Number 2. There is a lingering controversy around prosperity megachurches and their charitable giving. When a church that places enormous theological weight on tithes and offerings is not a leader in charitable giving, the most obvious question is about who is the primary beneficiary of the prosperity gospel? The everyman or the man at the front?
Number 3. For many Christians, in particular, the prosperity gospel has an unpopular answer to the problem of evil in the world. Its central claim — “Everyone can be prosperous!”—contains its own conundrum. How do you explain the persistence of suffering? It might be easier to say to someone undergoing a divorce that there is something redemptive about the lessons they learned, but what about a child with cancer? 
This week, the prosperity gospel came face-to-face with its own theological limits. It was unable to answer the lingering questions around what theologians call “natural evil.” There is a natural curiosity about how someone like Osteen will react in the face of indiscriminate disaster. Is God separating the sheep from the goats? Will only the houses of the ungodly be flooded? The prosperity gospel has not every found a robust way to address tragedy when their own theology touts that “Everything Happens for a Reason.”  
The good news is that the prosperity gospel, as a movement, is still young. It still has time to be ready when the next natural disaster strikes and people want to be assured that their religious giants are offering more than their thoughts and prayers.

August 21, 2017

Some Liberty U. Grads Returned Their Diplomas-Graduates Not Aware What "Falwell" Represents?

 Anti Gay, Anti black, anti equality Rev. Falwell honors Trump in this picture as he is invited to speak at Liberty University. Some politicians like Ronald Reagan whose presidency gave roots to the "Silent Majority" formed by Jerry Falwell Sr.  became visibly close to Falwell while running but distanced some after winning. At the time of Falwell Sr
 anti gay and so called family values gained strength in the South. The closeness to the clan at the time was a well known secret but Reagan ignore it. By the time Trump won the Presidency, this fact was well known as some went to some of his rallies wearing the dunce hats. Trump felt they had contributed to his winning and that he owe them. It is clear Trump wanted to be President so bad and found it so unreachable at times (he himself has said as much) he was willing to accept help from wherever he could get it. Be Russia or be the Clan. After all he had always like Russia who helped him when his casino's starting going bad to pay some of his debt to keep investing and making money and with the Ms.Universe Pageant. Trump hated the name and the man Barack Obama. He could not believe a black man and then a black whose father was born outside of the US would become President. He started the birther movement (a racist organization making it clear a black should not be president, he was not a real American) knowing better than most people Obama was born in Hawaii and had been born a US citizen thru birth and family of his mother which were whites. But he knew if he could break up the political voting habits of poor blacks and poor whites he could split up the black and white collision. He eventually did not only got the poor white vote but the more educated white men vote. Still not enough to win, still he needed more help and it would come from outside the US.  The bigger issue here is not why students returned their diplomas but why a religious , homophobic anti black University got its accreditation? Through political contributions, which is wrong.

 This University which pay no taxes is the best example of why they should.  No religion should be preaching and teaching anti American rhetoric on the American dime. Allowing Islamic, or Protestant, or followers of any religion should not have accreditation for Universities and schools when they are teaching against the values of the Constitution and its amendments. Free speech is fine but accrediting a teaching institution is not a right but a privilege controlled by requirements. 
Adam Gonzalez

A group of alumni from one of the country's most influential evangelical Christian universities is condemning their school's president for his continued alignment with President Trump.

A small but growing number of Liberty University graduates are preparing to return diplomas to their school. The graduates are protesting university President Jerry Falwell Jr.'s ongoing support for Trump. They began organizing after Trump's divisive remarks about the deadly white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Va.

Chris Gaumer, a former Student Government Association president and 2006 graduate, said it was a simple decision.

"I'm sending my diploma back because the president of the United States is defending Nazis and white supremacists," Gaumer said. "And in defending the president's comments, Jerry Falwell Jr. is making himself and, it seems to me, the university he represents, complicit."

Liberty graduate Chris Gaumer said that "Jerry Falwell Jr. is making himself and, it seems to me, the university he represents, complicit," with President Trump's comments about white supremacists.
Courtesy of Chris Gaumer

Trump has been criticized — including by many Republicans — for a series of statements after an anti-racist counterprotester was killed by an alleged Nazi sympathizer who drove his car into the crowd.

Trump initially responded by blaming "many sides" for the violence, and then made a statement condemning white supremacists, before eventually giving an off-the-cuff statement in which he claimed that there were "very fine people on both sides."

Falwell responded the next day with a tweet praising Trump's statement and adding, "So proud of @realdonaldtrump."

Falwell later followed up with a tweet calling white supremacists, Nazis, and other hate groups "pure evil and un-American."

In January 2016, Falwell became one of the earliest evangelical leaders to endorse the billionaire candidate, at a time when many conservative Christian leaders were expressing concern about Trump's multiple marriages and past support for abortion rights.

Last October, some Liberty students circulated a petition opposing Trump after the release of a 2005 Access Hollywood video where he could be heard bragging about groping women without their consent. Students also criticized Falwell for defending Trump.

Falwell invited Trump to give the first commencement speech of his term as president to Liberty University graduates. During his remarks, President Trump thanked evangelicals for their support at the voting booth last November.

Falwell isn't alone among his evangelical peers in continuing to stand with the president. In recent days, multiple members of Trump's evangelical advisory board have publicly condemned white supremacy, though most have stopped short of criticizing the president by name.

Trump's Evangelical Advisers Stand By Their Man
Trump's Evangelical Advisers Stand By Their Man

A university spokesman told NPR that Falwell "wants to make it clear that he considers all hate groups evil and condemns them in every sense of the word."

In a group letter being prepared to be sent to university officials, several alumni declare their intention to return their diplomas and call for Falwell to repudiate Trump's remarks:

"While this state of affairs has been in place for many months, the Chancellor's recent comments on the attack upon our neighbors in Charlottesville have brought our outrage and our sorrow to a boiling point. During the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, white supremacists, nationalists, and neo-Nazis perpetrated brutal violence against anti-racist protesters, murdering one woman and injuring many. Instead of condemning racist and white nationalist ideologies, Mr. Trump provided equivocal and contradictory comments. 

The Chancellor then characterized Mr. Trump's remarks, which included the claim that some of the persons marching as white nationalists and white supremacists at the rally were 'very fine people,' as 'bold' and 'truthful.' This is incompatible with Liberty University's stated values, and incompatible with a Christian witness."

"We're asking that Liberty University return to its stated values and accept that the pursuit of power is leading it into some dark places, and really repudiate that," said Georgia Hamann.
Courtesy of Georgia Hamann
Georgia Hamann, a 2006 alumna and an attorney in Phoenix, Ariz., helped pen the letter.

"We're asking that Liberty University return to its stated values and accept that the pursuit of power is leading it into some dark places, and really repudiate that," she said. "The word in Baptist and evangelical circles is 'repent.'... You know, truly a turning away from wrong conduct."

Alumni who can't find their diplomas are being asked to sign the group letter or write individual letters to Falwell expressing their concerns.

Some Liberty graduates see Falwell's association with Trump as both a personal liability and a moral embarrassment. Rebekah Tilley graduated from Liberty in 2002 and now works in higher education in Iowa.

"I was to the point where I didn't even want to include my alma mater on my resume when I was applying for jobs, just because I think that can be so loaded," Tilley said. "There's such a strong affiliation now between Liberty University and President Trump that you know that reflects badly on all alumni."

For Doug Johnson Hatlem, a 1999 graduate who now works as a Mennonite pastor in Ontario, Canada, Charlottesville feels like a tipping point for many alumni who have been concerned about the university's association with Trump.

"It really is a watershed moment to have people openly chanting Nazi chants ... holding white supremacist signs, and carrying weapons along with all of that, and killing somebody, injuring many in the process," he said. "For there not to be an unconditional condemnation of that kind of action and behavior is just completely anathema."

Johnson Hatlem said returning diplomas is an important symbolic statement.

"I'll have to have my mom dig it out of storage," he said. "But I do plan to send back my diploma to Liberty."


May 9, 2017

Reasons to Worry on Trump’s Religious Liberty Order and LGBT Rights

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community read between the lines in what seemed like a harmless executive order last week on religious liberty — and now is concerned it could restrict hard-fought rights.
Notably: A provision that directs Attorney General Jeff Sessions to issue guidance to federal agencies “interpreting religious liberty protections in federal law.”
President Donald Trump signed the order last week, and initially it drew muted criticism from the LGBT community.
But upon further inspection this week, the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest gay-rights organization, predicted that the executive order could be used to shield federal employees who refuse to process veterans or Social Security benefits for same-sex spouses,or their children.
Or allow hospitals to deny visitation to same-sex spouses or permit emergency shelters to turn away gay or transgender individuals even if they receive federal funding.
“No American should be forced to choose between the dictates of the federal government and the tenets of their faith,” Trump said last Thursday in a Rose Garden ceremony, surrounded by faith leaders. “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.”
The Justice Department declined on Monday to comment on the executive order or how the department would carry it out.
LGBT groups are pledging they’ll take Trump to court if necessary.
“We are watching and we will challenge any effort by Jeff Sessions or other agencies of Trump’s administration to license discrimination,” said Sarah Warbelow, the Human Rights Campaign’s legal director.
So will groups that oppose same-sex marriage and LGBT rights on religious groundsSome of those organizations were disappointed that Trump’s order didn’t explicitly allow government employees to deny services or benefits to LGBT Americans for religious reasons. A draft version of the executive order leaked in February contained much stronger language that some preferred.
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage, said Trump had “punted” the issue to the Justice Department.
“While he may sincerely believe in protecting religious liberty,” Brown said, “his actual executive order does not do so in any meaningful way for the vast majority of people of faith.”
Doing so in other cases has kicked off all sorts of legal action.
Mississippi’s governor signed a law last spring that would have allowed private citizens and public officials to deny services to LGBT people because of “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Citing the 1st and 14th amendments, a federal judge later struck down the statute as “state-sanctioned discrimination.” The state has appealed the judge’s ruling. 
A 2015 Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide spurred a raft of legislation at the state and federal level aimed at giving cover to individuals who opposed same-sex marriage on religious grounds.
Advocates for protecting the religious beliefs of government workers found a hero in Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, who was ordered to jail in 2015 for refusing to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple.
A bill introduced in the last Congress, called the First Amendment Defense Act, would “prevent discriminatory treatment of any person on the basis of views held with respect to marriage.” It had 172 cosponsors in the House of Representatives, including one Democrat, and 37 in the Senate, all Republicans.
The bill has not yet been reintroduced in the current Congress.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, one of the most prominent conservative religious organizations, said it supports that legislation. But for now, Perkins called Trump’s executive action an intermediate step in reversing what he calls “an eight-year war on faith” waged by Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama.
“Is it exactly what I wanted? No,” Perkins said of Trump’s executive order. “But it’s a good first step.”
Perkins said Trump’s order enables Sessions to create a consistent policy on religious liberty across federal agencies.
“The benefit of this is there will be uniformity throughout the federal government,” he said.
Some legal experts, however, said Trump didn’t need to issue an executive order to empower Sessions to issue guidance to federal agencies.
Steve Sanders, an associate professor of law at Indiana University, said the move was largely a symbolic gesture designed to please a core part of Trump’s base.
Religious conservatives helped deliver Trump the White House. His vice-president, Mike Pence, is an evangelical Christian who signed a religious freedom law as governor of Indiana. But he had to back off on language state business leaders and newspaper editorial pages considered discriminatory to LGBT Hoosiers.
“This is a payoff to a constituency he thinks he has to take care of,” Sanders said of Trump.
Doug NeJaime, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and faculty director of the Williams Institute, which studies sexual orientation and gender identity in public policy, said the executive order doesn’t give explicit cover to federal workers.
However, he said, legal challenges to the order will hinge on what Sessions does.
“It doesn’t explicitly do very much,” he said. “At this point, it’s a wait-and-see.”
Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union, which has not been shy about taking Trump to court over his immigration and refugee policies, declined to file suit over the executive order. 
Still, James Esseks, an ACLU attorney who oversees litigation for LGBT people and those living with HIV, said just because Trump’s order doesn’t single out LGBT people specifically doesn’t mean it wouldn’t enable discrimination against them.
“That doesn’t mean there’s no threat,” he said. “There’s a big threat. We remain very worried about what this administration will do.”

Read more here:

Religious Freedom Opens Door for Discrimination and Bias

An executive order issued by President Donald Trump on May 4, 2017, opens the way to overriding regulations that protect women’s health, Human Rights Watch said today. While media attention has largely focused on the order’s efforts to roll back limits on political speech by religious leaders, its other and less sensational provisions could harm the rights of millions of women.

President Trump described the executive order on promoting free speech and religious liberty as an effort “to defend the freedom of religion and speech in America.” Its signing was timed to coincide with the National Day of Prayer. But the order also invites agencies to issue regulations that would allow the “conscience-based objections” of employers and insurers to override regulations that protect women’s health.

“It’s shameful to target life-saving women’s health services and call it an act of ‘conscience,’” said Amanda Klasing, senior women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “This order will take away many women’s access to affordable family planning options.”

It’s shameful to target life-saving women’s health services and call it an act of ‘conscience.' This order will take away many women’s access to affordable family planning options. 
The Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty invites the secretaries of the treasury, labor, and health and human services departments to consider issuing amended regulations to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate as it pertains to women – and women only.

The mandate was introduced as part of the Affordable Care Act. It states that: “A group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage shall, at a minimum provide coverage for and shall not impose any cost sharing requirements for…with respect to women, such additional preventive care and screenings not described in paragraph (1).”

Preventive care and screenings under this provision currently include breast cancer screening for average-risk women; breastfeeding services and supplies; contraception; screening for cervical cancer, gestational diabetes, HIV, and interpersonal and domestic violence; counseling for sexually transmitted infections; and visits to health facilities for preventive care, known as well women visits. Religious employers are already exempted from the contraceptive mandate while religious non-profits and certain closely held corporations have also been extended accommodations to address religious objections to contraception. Yet, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price quickly responded to the order by welcoming the opportunity to re-examine the contraception mandate, promising swift action.

The order also instructs the attorney general to issue guidance to all agencies interpreting religious liberty protections in federal law. This vague provision seems to invite new interpretations of existing law that recognize new religious exemptions, which is deeply alarming given that both President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have signaled support in public statements for broad religious exemptions aimed at facilitating discrimination.

As the governor of Indiana, Vice President Pence signed a religious exemption law that drew widespread criticism from the LGBT community. On the campaign trail, President Trump repeatedly indicated he would sign the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill that would prohibit the federal government from taking action against those who discriminate or refuse service based on their opposition to same-sex marriage or sex outside of marriage. In South Dakota and Alabama, state governments have recently enacted religious exemptions that facilitate discrimination against LGBT people in adoption and foster care.

“This order attacks the rights of women using religion as a pretext,” Klasing said. “Even as the House guts health care, the President struck a real and immediate blow with this order, giving free reign to restrict the contraceptive mandate that benefits millions of women in the US.”

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