Religious Freedom, the Virus, & the Gays

As our title suggests, there’s a little bit of everything in this one. We found it at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else.

Hambo’s new article is titled VA Governor: “You Don’t Need to Sit in the Pews for God to Hear Your Prayers”. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

During a coronavirus briefing, the governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, told his constituents [Link omitted!] that “worship outside or worship online is still worship” and “for me, God is where ever you are. You don’t need to sit in the church pew for God to hear your prayers.” Now, few Christians would argue that God indeed hears our prayers regardless of where we are. But there’s great danger in a government official telling his constituents how and where they should worship!

Hambo is easily offended. He says:

It’s very obvious by the inconsistent mandates handed down throughout 2020 that religious freedom has been targeted — while strip clubs and abortion clinics are being allowed to remain open, but churches are being forced to remain closed or worship services are being forbidden while rioters have protested freely in the streets this past year. Many are using the unique situations of this pandemic year to attack Christianity and restrict religious freedom.

Egad, Christianity is being attacked! Hambo explains:

The great concern, of course, is the more those in authority tell the church what we can or can’t do, the more this opens the door to a greater loss of freedom, as we see in Communist countries. Such persecution could very easily happen in the USA — actually in many ways, it’s already here.

Then Hambo transfers his attention to North Carolina and tells us:

By the way, this North Carolina governor recently issued a “Gender Expansive Parents’ Day” in recognition of LGBTQ people. [Gasp!] But will he honor Christians, rather than try to restrict Christian freedom?

After skipping an ark-load of nonsense, we come to the end:

As we move into 2021 and all the unknowns this year will bring, let’s pray “thy will be done” and boldly contend for the faith, doing the King’s business, until he returns, no matter the circumstances or lack of freedom to do so.

Hambo is deeply disturbed by these events. Are you?

Copyright © 2020. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

28 responses to “Religious Freedom, the Virus, & the Gays

  1. I am disturbed by the thought that a creationism case might reach the US Supreme Court.

  2. The stopped clock strikes again. It is indeed dangerous for a politician in elected office to comment on how or where a religion should be practiced. Ham’s right. (The Governor of a US state is NOT a “government official”, btw.)

    Is he also right to say that, erm, places of entertainment are not being forced to close, but churches are? I don’t know, you see.

  3. Michael Fugate

    I am impressed that Ham believes his church and a strip club are equivalent. One might imagine that a preacher and the good pro-life congregants would be morally superior and decide that the health of the community especially healthcare workers would be more important than in-person services. Apparently not.
    Then again conservatives are not too concerned about their neighbors no matter what Jesus might have said. Freedom my hindquarters.
    https://www.theroot.com/black-pastors-call-kelly-loeffler-s-attacks-on-radical-1845926973

  4. “The great concern, of course, is the more those in authority tell the church what we can or can’t do.”
    Yeah, we can’t have authorities telling people that gathering in churches immensely increases the risk to catch COVID-19. Fortunately Donald has kept one promise: MAGA. Well, almost. The USA has a high death toll: more than 0,9 thousand/million. The Netherlands are doing not that well, only 0,7. However The Second British Empire under the courageous leadership of Bojo the Clown beats the USA with a ratio of slightly more than 1. Australia disappoints heavily with just 0,12 thousand deaths per million inhabitants. No doubt that’s because Australia allows all churches to be more than full every day [/sarcasm].

  5. Charley Horse X

    Empty collection plates are a downer for preachers. Plus…facing the facts of how dangerous it is to fill the pews of “God’s Houses”.
    Quote the man above me: One might imagine that a preacher and the good pro-life congregants would be morally superior and decide that the health of the community especially healthcare workers would be more important than in-person services.

  6. The main difference is strippers are real and perform a real service, churches are places were LIARs4money can con people out of hard earned money. So yes they are very different places. And the gov’mint telling churches what they can do?? Ya stop doing that let them gather a lot and often, someone needs to suffer for jesus from a terrible desease so let it be them!

  7. Hambo did not pay attention to what Gov. Northam actually said: “worship outside or worship online is still worship” and “for me, God is where ever you are. You don’t need to sit in the church pew for God to hear your prayers.”

    Northam is reminding people of what they should already believe from Scriptures: that their God is accessible to them in all places at all times. The Gov offers them a lot more options for worship than their preachers do. Liberation is tyranny!

  8. Of course you can find the same mindset in the Dutch Biblebelt as well:

    https://www.omroepgelderland.nl/nieuws/6654148/Corona-en-toch-350-man-in-de-kerk-eredienst-Gereformeerde-Gemeente-gaat-door

    “Corona and still 350 people in the church”
    Opheusden has an entry at English Wikipedia. I quote from that page:

    “This 2850-seater church in Opheusden is the largest in the Netherlands”
    Unsurprisingly Opheusden is a corona hotspot (but nor all Dutch hotspots are orthodox protestant; several are mainly catholic).

  9. The Religious Right is not a “stopped clock”, it’s a calendar going backwards.

    Ham is utterrly in error here to claim that religious “persecution” is “already here [in the USA]”. Consider the examples he (and others of his ilk) regularly trot out:

    • Removing mandatory Christian prayers from school
    • People who say ‘Happy Holidays’ in lieu of ‘Merry Christmas’
    • Legislators who affirm their oaths of office, or swear them on non-Christian religious scripture instead of the Bible.
    • Removing displays of the Ten Commandments from public courthouses
    • Marriage of non-heterosexual individuals, or indeed of any physical union of consenting adults outside of marriage
    • Right to control ones own reproduction
    • &c &c

    All of these items have been to the increase of individual freedom in diverse societies and do not compromise or restrict the religious practices of anyone—but they do restrict the ability of one religious group to impose its dogma on others.

    If the items above are ‘persecution’, then I’m in favour of it 😊

    It would be an interesting (but a lengthy and horribly melancholic) task to compile a catalogue of genuine religious persecution throughout recorded history. I would tentatively suggest (no more than that, because I do not have the time nor current inclination for such a task) that one would find the overwhelming majority of cases were in fact systematic programmes of persecution organised by the proponents of one religion against those of another, and the number of instances of persecution of religious groups by secular states would be vanishingly small in comparison.

    The counter-arguable case would of course be Germany under the Third Reich, but it is a stretch to characterise that as a ‘secular’ state. And it is telling that a major tool of its successful propaganda was to inculcate, in a fashion not unlike that used by the religious right, a sense of ‘persecution’ among the general populace; that is, that the Christian German majority was somehow the victim of international Jewry!

    It is hard not to suppose that Ham’s notion of a ‘free’ nation would resemble nothing so much as Margaret Attwood’s Gilead.

  10. Footnote to above, to answer my own proposed ‘counter-arguable’ case:

    Article 24 of the 1920 National Socialist Party Platform:

    “We demand the freedom of all religious confessions in the state, insofar as they do not jeopardize the state’s existence or conflict with the manners and moral sentiments of the Germanic race. The Party as such upholds the point of view of a positive Christianity without tying itself confessionally to any one confession. It combats the Jewish-materialistic spirit at home and abroad and is convinced that a permanent recovery of our people can only be achieved from within on the basis of the common good before individual good.”

    Not quite what one would call a secular state, methinks…

  11. Megalonyx suggests:

    … the overwhelming majority of cases were in fact systematic programmes of persecution organised by the proponents of one religion against those of another, and the number of instances of persecution of religious groups by secular states would be vanishingly small in comparison.

    One should not overlook the behavior of communist governments. See, e.g.: Persecution of Christians in the Soviet Union.

  12. @ Our Curmudgeon: Indeed, such instances must not be overlooked.

    And it can too easily get absurd to measure ‘equivalence’ of moral outrages. All the same, it should be noted that the USSR, on ideological grounds, endeavoured to eliminate all religions (apart from nationalistic ‘worship’ of the state and its ideology); that this persecution fell chiefly on Christians was because that was the dominant religion of Russia. Soviet anti-Semitism was at least as virulent (and arguably more so).

    But I do not see evidence of ‘persecution’ against Christians in the United States or Europe–though I do see, in the USA, a number of tax privileges granted to anybody who can persuade the authorities they are a religious organisation.

    Is Scientology really a ‘church’? Not to my mind–but that’s irrelevant. That such organisations can exploit privileges by claiming religious status is open to abuse, but it would seem that any solution (e.g. for the state to decide what is and what is not a religion) would be still more dangerous, so we just need to live with the lesser of two evils.

    That said: as a self-ordained Minister of the Church of the Cosmic Aardvark, all donations which any readers of this blog may be moved to make to my ministry are entirely tax deductable.

    Remember, my brethren, ’tis more blessed to give than receive!

  13. And–again, with the same caveat about the perils of arguing ‘immoral equivalence’: the Soviet Union, with all its brutal excesses, barely lasted 75 years. And yes, it chalked up horrendous and inexcusable atrocities over the course of one generation.

    But religious wars and persecutions–whether Christians vs. Jews, Protestants vs. Catholics, Shia vs. Sunni, &c &c–have endured over centuries) and continue today.

    I haven't done the research to make the argument, so I'll offer it here only as a hypothesis to be tested: it may be that, historically, Christians have more often been the persecuters rather than the persecuted.

    Discuss. Write on one side of the paper only.

  14. Even more protracted than religious wars are my struggles with those heretial html tag thingies!

    So I humbly call upon the Great and Ineffable Hand of Correction to make straight my crooked path in the previous post.

    Amen(d).

    [Voice from above:] Behold, it is done — even for a wretch such as you.

  15. @Megalonyx, Nazi persecution of the Jews had no direct connection with religion, since Jews were defined by race whatever their own beliefs. Having said that, he was appealing to a strong tradition of anti-Semitism within Christianity, going back as far as St John’s gospel. I recently re-read it for some reason, and was shocked.

    Stalin’s persecution of the church was at most intermittent, and I have read that during World War II (aka the Great Patriotic War), Stalin made full use of the Russian church in his appeal to nationhood.

  16. @ Paul Braterman: You’re right, and the distinction is important. I made my point badly, and it was at best an offhand question about whether or not one would class Nazi Germany as a ‘secular’ state. But as you point out: although the religious history may have informed Nazi ideology, the insane devestation it wrought was from its racist beliefs.

    And I suspect the roots of Soviet anti-Semitism were similar to those elsewhere in Europe. But–at least ideologically–the suppression of religion generally in the USSR was prompted by the simplistic Marxist analysis of religion as ‘the opium of the masses’: religions justified the maintenance of social class and were applied to suppress class struggle. But in practical terms, religious organisations were seen as rivals for power, and that was not to be tolerated in a one-party dictatorship.

    Side note: if one takes the Article 24 I quoted in a post above and replaces the word “Jewish-materialistic” with “Darwinist-materialistic” it could almost come from the pen of a Discoveroid…

  17. @SC: There is one phase of the Mexican revolution to add to the catalogue of secular states persecuting religion. It’s what provides the backdrop to Graham Greene’s novel, The Power and the Glory. See Wikipedia on the Cristero War

  18. “systematic programmes of persecution organised by the proponents of one religion against those of another”
    That’s a far stretch. During the Middle Ages catholics happily made war to each other. And to the example of the Soviet-Union I add Cambodja and the Killing Fields.
    Religion and ideology have been used to justify all kinds of cruelties as long as man could write and possibly longer. But it’s way too simple to point at them as the one sole cause, even in the case of the Soviet-Union.

  19. @ FrankB: I see your point, but I was thinking much more specifically about ‘persecution’ (as Ham was complaining about), e.g. Edward I’s edict of 1290 expelling Jews from England, or the alternating waves of heretic burnings of Catholics/Protestants by Protestants/Catholics in Tudor England, the Spanish Alhambra Decree of 1492, the suppression of the Knights Templar or the Albigensian Catharists &c &c.

    The wars between Christian kingdoms of the Middle Ages (that is, long prior to the great schism of protestantism) are an altogether different subject.

  20. @Megalonyx, consider also the Crusades, including the crusade against the Albigensians

  21. Rioters protested “freely,” huh? “Freely?” Those police officers were firing canisters of love and support at them, and were kettling them because they just wanted a hug that happens to look like a beating?

    Also, grammar note – you hold a protest and a riot breaks out, you don’t hold a riot and a protest breaks out. “Protestors rioted freely” put the actions in the right order.

  22. Michael Fugate

    Now we are blaming the virus on Neanderthals… it is like original sin suffering because of one’s ancestors.
    https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/12/neanderthal-gene-found-many-people-may-open-cells-coronavirus-and-increase-covid-19

  23. @ Michael Fugate: Well, it could be argued that the many failures to contain the spread of the virus can be blamed on a number of modern day ‘Neanderthals’…

  24. Astonishingly, Megalonyx is right. Nearly all religious persecution in history was by… the religious against the religious. And that is still the case. Nearly all religious persecution still is by the religious against the religious. The secular state is way, way outclassed in this particular. Secular humanism isn’t remotely in the hunt. Any medieval princeling could have taught us volumes about doing unto others before they do it unto you.

    I suppose one could quibble over the immense contributions Marxism-Leninism has made to the body count. It might be objected that it was because of political, rather than religious differences, and that any resemblance of Marxism to a religion is purely inadvertent. Uh-huh. Sure.

    But it is possible to argue that Marxism-Leninism didn’t specifically target the religious. Well, not as much, anyway. So the statement above still obtains. The main danger to religion is other religions.

  25. @DaveL: “Nearly all religious persecution in history was by… the religious against the religious.”
    Not so astonishing if we realize that at least since man learned to write everybody was religious until fairly recently.

  26. Michael Fugate

    The insanity is Trump’s executive order on “patriotic education” – which of course involves neither. A mere backlash against any progress. He has now named all the wackaloon conservatives to develop the “curriculum”. Such notables as the guy who founded Patrick Henry U, the president of a far right Bible college which claims you can learn about patriotism by joining the Republican Party (cofo.edu), and another who has called affirmative action reverse racism. The Civil War ended racism for good- don’t you know.
    The crack team can be found here…
    https://tennesseestar.com/2020/12/19/president-trump-announces-appointees-to-1776-commission-for-advising-president-on-americas-founding-principles/

  27. FrankB: My astonishment is more caused by the second leg of the proposition: “That is still the case”. One wouldn’t think that religions could still muster the spite and power to persecute one another. But they do.

    Michael Fugate: This is now a lame-duck President. In another month, he’s gone, and meanwhile he will not be able to do anything much. This band of word-warriors can advise to their heart’s content. Nothing will come of it.

  28. Michael Fugate

    Of course something will come of it because there will be pushback. There will be white papers and op-eds. Teach the controversy and two sides to every issue. It is why the DI exists.