Black Jesus haters: The best opinion is the uninformed opinion

August 8, 2014

First, I quote:

Monica Cole, director of One Million Moms, said the show is “blasphemous, irreverent and disrespectful.” Her group is basing its criticisms on the show’s YouTube trailer, which shows Jesus using explicit language and includes violence and drinking.

She, like other critics, hasn’t seen a full episode yet.

Okay, there’s the trailer. He swears a lot, likes getting high and won’t share his wine. He’s loved by some and persecuted by others. Some believe he is what he says he is, others think he’s a crackpot cult leader. He’s a man of the people in every way and looks like he’s willing to change minds if those minds are open to change.

I was quoting from a article. I have no idea how popular Adult Swim is. The series premiered last night, late at night, and whoever felt like watching it watched it and those that felt like watching something else or sleeping did that instead.

There should be freedom of choice in entertainment and there should be freedom of choice when it comes to religion and the freedom to mock the ideas within them. We are not all the same and I don’t think we could be. This show showcases a culture I’m unfamiliar with and one the women of One Million Moms have likely never experienced either.

They’re also forgetting that, if he existed, Jesus wasn’t a white man with long flowing blondish hair.

Maybe it could be considered blasphemy to think you even have any idea what the man looked like. It’s not like he was ever described in the Bible. The authors never met him. Blasphemy is one of those ideas that should have been left in the middle ages.

Back to the article:

In a statement, Adult Swim said “Black Jesus is a satire and one interpretation of the message of Jesus played out in modern day morality tales; and despite what some may consider a controversial depiction of Jesus, it is not the intent to offend any race or people of faith.”

One Million Moms and the American Family Association, which have previously targeted Honey Maid graham crackers,the Disney Channel show “Good Luck Charlie” and JC Penney for gay-friendly messages, have launched a campaign asking people to send an email to the Turner Broadcasting Co. to pull the show before it airs. Supporters have sent more than 131,000 emails, according to the AFA.

Honey Maid, if you don’t remember (I didn’t), ran a #Thisiswholesome campaign and featured a gay family in one of their ads. One Million Moms didn’t like how Honey Maid was “changing the meaning of the word ‘wholesome'” and urged people to write the companies.

Please send U.S. key executives for Honey Maid and Nabisco (owned by Mondelez International) an email urging them to pull this liberal commercial immediately and remain neutral in the culture war.

Yeah, it’s quite a culture war between Teddy Graham lovers and people who’d rather eat Triscuits. Thousands of lives lost needlessly. Nabisco happens to own both and probably doesn’t care much which one gets the money…


Black Jesus cartoon too discriminatory

June 8, 2012

Poke fun at Christian beliefs all you want, but cut the racism. That’s what I say.

Times Live reports on a short cartoon that featured a black Jesus:

The two-minute animation, created by Johannesburg company Mdu Comics, depicts a “black Jesus” attempting to commit suicide after his doctor “diagnoses” him as a Shangaan.

In the clip, which has had 49000 hits on YouTube, “Jesus”, who speaks Zulu, consults a doctor after breaking his toe. After a DNA test, the doctor says: “Jesus, there is no easy way of telling you this … You are Shangaan.”

The character then scrubs himself with bags of oranges to rid himself of his “shangaan-ness” before leaving a suicide note.

Shangaan part of an ethnic group in South Africa, the Tsonga people.

According to the Tsonga, there exists a strong relationship between the creation (ntumbuloko) and a supernatural power called Tilo. Tilo refers to a vaguely described superior being, who created mankind, but it also refers to the heavens, being the home of this creature.

The Tsonga believed that man had a physical (mmiri) and a spiritual body with two added attributes, the moya and the ndzuti. The moya is associated with the spirit, enters the body at birth, and leaves at death to join the ancestors.

The ndzuti was associated with the person’s shadow and reflected human characteristics. At death, in the spirit world, it left the body. This meant that the spirit was attached with the individual and human characteristics of that person. Inherent in this concept is not only the belief in life after death but also that the dead retain very strong links with the living. Passing over into the spirit world is an important stage in the life of a Tsonga.

The country is rife with racist notions of certain tribes being better than others and the woman who initially lodged the complaint has heard many a slur against her Shangaan roots. Caroline Sithole thought this particular cartoon was worth taking to the Human Rights Commission after an acquaintance sent her to look at it.

“The [animation] came from a colleague and friend who said: ‘I am happy you will be Zulu soon’, referring to the fact that I will be getting married to a Zulu man.

“Well, it is sad that in this democratic South Africa you still have people who really believe Zulus or other tribes are more superior than Shangaans and that Shangaans are non-human or sub-human,” Sithole wrote in her complaint.

She said the animation carried many upsetting stereotypes.

“No wonder my son refuses to be Shangaan. I grew up being ridiculed by schoolmates for being Shangaan and I was not sure where this hatred was coming from.

Nowhere logical or scientifically factual, I’m sure.

Mdu Comics founder Mdu Ntuli denied the cartoon was offensive.

“It is purely fictional . Every nationality has a joke on each other and that’s just how it is. For me, it is just ridiculous for any Tsonga person to take this personally,” Ntuli said.

“Just how it is” is just what the problem is. So long as people refuse to see the problem with that kind of attitude, the longer the attitude will persist.

Kentucky church rethinks interracial couple ban

December 3, 2011

There’s nothing like world-wide exposure to show a community just how out of date, backwards and positively racist its practices are. The story came out last week about Stella Harville’s experience in August. At her rural Kentucky church, she and her fiance from Zimbabwe, Ticha Chikuni, had an opportunity to perform some music there but were later told they’d never be allowed to participate in the church as an interracial married couple.

The vote to ostracise couples of different races was held at the Gulnare Freewill baptist church last Sunday. It has prompted a bitter dispute in the local Pike County and thrown up hatreds and antagonisms that had been hidden beneath the surface of the community for years.

The vote was held on a motion brought by the former pastor of the church, Melvin Thompson. He proposed that people in interracial marriages should not be “received as members, nor will they be used in worship services and other church functions – with the exception being funerals”.

His motion added that it “was not intended to judge the salvation of anyone, but is intended to promote greater unity among the church body and the community we serve”.

Doesn’t sound very unifying to those left on the outside of the church, frankly. I don’t know how common interracial marriages are in general, let alone in Kentucky. I suspect they still must be a bit eye turning to some people, going by this debacle alone. Growing up in my smallish (predominantly white) city, it was novel to discover an interracial couple, both of whom were teachers I knew in junior and high school. I don’t remember if I had any classes with their son but I think he was fairly popular, and probably would have been even if his parents hadn’t been in the same building. He was that kind of exuberant guy. But I digress. Saskatchewan isn’t Kentucky and I have no idea if the couple would have been church-goers at risk of running into any blatant racially-motivated conundrums, or even subtle ones. I hate to think my city would be like that but I didn’t think my city had a gay bashing problem either…

Anyway, the Kentucky pastor had stepped down for “health reasons” supposedly but still kept insisting this ought to happen and of the 40 parishioners asked to vote on it, nine agreed, six disagreed and the rest abstained for some reason. Harville states in the article that she’s disappointed more refused to stand up against the bigotry, but this is sometimes the way groups work. It’s far harder to stand up to your friends than it is your enemies.

Yesterday came new word about this issue. The Gulnare church has been inundated with angry phone calls and emails denouncing the proposal and ban. Although no examples are provided, it’s not hard to imagine how many must be filled with vitriol over the overt racism of it.

“We are not a group of racist people,” said Keith Burden of the National Association of Free Will Baptists. “We have been labeled that obviously because of the actions of nine people.”

The former pastor, Melvin Thompson, swears he isn’t racist, either, but when AP pressed for a different explanation for why he pushed for this, he refused to give them one. If it quacks like a duck..

After giving interviews earlier this week, the church’s current pastor, Stacy Stepp, and several other church members did not return phone calls Friday. One of the members said they were shocked. Stepp said he voted against the measure and would work to overturn it.

The national group distanced itself from the resolution in a statement Thursday, saying it “neither condemns nor disallows” interracial marriage.

It said the church was working to reverse its policy and added, “We encourage the church to follow through with this action.”

Harville, who is now engaged to Chikuni, said earlier this week that she felt betrayed by the church.

“Whether they keep the vote or overturn it, it’s going to be hard for me go back there,” she told AP.

Begging the question, why would she want to go back there? Hard as it might be to leave the people she does like who accept her decision to marry a foreign black man, maybe it’s the best option. There’d always be a few hard feelings and undercurrents of distrust and wariness. It wouldn’t be comfortable for anyone in there after this has gone on, not for the couple, and certainly not for those who voted against them. It doesn’t matter what Stepp might later preach about tolerance and forgiveness, the memories of pariah status would remain. Maybe if everyone got a bit of relationship counseling…

More than 40 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court knocked down a Virginia statute barring whites from marrying nonwhites, overturning bans in 15 other states. But while interracial marriages have soared since then, many churches remain largely segregated.

Curtiss Paul DeYoung, a professor at Bethel College who has studied interracial churches, said church members opposed to a more diverse church usually just go somewhere else.

“Rarely today do you see it so blatantly come to a vote. Usually people just leave but they don’t say much about it,” DeYoung said. “I think this is still one of the last hurdles around race for a lot of folks in this country. It’s just rarely stated this bluntly.”

I think in this era it’s depressing to see it still stated at all. Why the hell do people have problems with this? A particular religious upbringing can’t possibly be all that’s behind it, but it’s probably the bulk of the reason.

In terms of my extended family, my uncle married a woman from Thailand and only knew her for two days or some crazy thing. The short courtship was a bigger surprise than his new wife’s heritage. That was in 1990, I think, and they’re still together. His daughter from his first marriage married a man of Indian descent and got to do two wedding ceremonies: one traditional for his family and one Canadian. Her husband has a picture up on his Facebook page of how she was dressed and calls her a “Bollywood princess.” No doubt! Gorgeous woman. You can totally tell we’re related…

The Free Will Baptists trace their history to the 18th century. They emphasized the Arminian doctrine of free will, free grace, and free salvation, in contrast to most Baptists, who were Calvinists and believed Christ died only for those predestined to be saved.

There are some 4,200 churches worldwide. The National Association of Free Will Baptists organized in Nashville, Tenn., in 1935 and is now based in Antioch, Tenn.

The group said in its statement that the denomination has no official policy regarding interracial couples “because it has not been an issue.”

Perhaps it’s because few dared do it and attempt to remain with the Free Will Baptist Church.

As troubling as this has been for the couple, it’s overall good that they made some waves. If that church has been a stagnant pool of antiquated thinking, it’s high time for the waters to stir and generate some positive changes. That congregation needed to realize they don’t live in a vacuum, too. The whole world can watch what people do now, not just their God. It should put a bigger onus on everyone to think carefully before they commit to something that’s bound to be a bad idea. Of course, browsing The Smoking Gun and other pages FARK links to every day, it’s clear we’re not there yet…

So that conference is over.. but re-education has to begin

March 19, 2011

Growing up I must have known people who were gay, but if they were, they were completely and totally mum about it and I remain ignorant of their number to this day. Even into high school, I have no idea how many gay students might have been there. I didn’t know many in university either and even among those people I know now, I don’t make it a habit of asking anyone what kind of people they’d be into. Growing up, I was ignorant of the possibility of my friends being gay. Now for me, I don’t feel like I need to know – not because I don’t want to know, it just feels like a non-issue. Okay, you’re gay. Now where are we going for dinner? I don’t know if I’ve explained what I mean very well… I’m accepting, I’m accommodating, I’m okay with it, you know? Why is this such a big deal?

Because it’s a big deal for a whole lot of other people, that’s why. And that’s why the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Education has been putting on this Break the Silence conference for 14 years and will continue to do so. This year was the first I’d ever heard of it, let alone attended.

The first talk today featured Emily Carr and Shawn Sanford Beck who shared their experiences as ministers at a local Anglican church and their Wardens freaking out over Emily’s recent marriage to her same-sex partner. They both wound up resigning voluntarily rather than stay in the hostile environment created by these members of their congregation who wouldn’t accept her as is. Shawn used to bless same sex partners at the church but I think he said he’s now teaching theology on campus and Emily has an even bigger role with the church than she did before, coordinating with their Bishop on youth related projects of some kind. I scribbled pages and pages worth of notes into my little book, some of which I can’t even read now; I was in such a hurry to record key points.

One thing I can read off my notes, what lesson did this congregation learn here? They weren’t all against Emily, but Shawn wondered if their decision to leave let the Anglicans off the hook as far as the need to challenge and change a homophobic atmosphere. Then again, why willingly stay around people who think like that?

The second talk was by Constable Hal Lam who discussed hate and bias crimes in Saskatoon and Canada. He revealed some incredibly appalling and stupid things done here, one to Muslims where people smeared ham all over their cars and another to a Jewish family where high school kids got it into their heads to build a cross, burn it, and leave it on their front lawn. He explained how difficult it is to prosecute for hate crimes, but also how important it is for people to report any and all of them anyway. If prosecutors and judges are aware of a history of complaints about that person, it might suggest that escalation to violence was only a matter of time, and that will play in the victim’s favour when sentencing comes down.

These kinds of events against anyone, be it due to religion, or race, or sexuality, have long lasting, long reaching implications for a person’s feeling of worth, and a community’s sense of safety. He brought up a massive protest in Calgary a few years ago on Anti-Racism Day when an aryan group massed a protest against the first group. He showed a news clip of that, and another of a lesbian couple in Ontario who got assaulted at a school when picking up their kid – by a larger man who’d come to pick up his own kid and didn’t like the look of them. Ontario Court Justice Katrina Mulligan felt Mark Scott’s self-defense story bordered on ridiculous and he was declared guilty.

After that was a “Good News” session to promote Camp Fyrefly, a LGBTQetc event for youth in Saskatchewan and Alberta. PFLAG Canada passed on some news about their movement, including the donation of My Princess Boy to every Catholic elementary school library in the city. I nearly cried reading that book and I don’t even have kids. They also talked about Day of Pink which runs April 13th across the country because discrimination hurts everyone. There’s a rally at the Roxy Theatre for fund raising tonight, actually, starting at 6pm (which is right now as I write). And a student from my home town got up to talk about the Gay Straight Alliance that now exists there thanks to her and some help. Yay for Swift Current. After hearing her story, it’s about damn time, too.

And then it was lunch time. Part 2 to come later.

Banned Book Club – To Kill a Mockingbird

December 17, 2010

Saskatoon Freethinkers started up an extra group within the group a few months back with the intention of reading books that have been banned or challenged for various reasons.

The first book we focused on in October was The Satanic Verses and it has occurred to me that I never bothered to write up anything about that meet. To very briefly summarize, I think we wound up wondering what motivated Rushdie to write it – how much of it was truly meant as criticism of religion and whatever else, and how much of it was Rushdie trying to inject himself into the elitist British society through the publishing of it, thus creating in reality the life’s ambitions of one of his book’s main characters.

It’s hard to understand the intentions of people when you have no access to the thoughts in their heads, yeah? And it’s very easy to make snap judgments about people and let misunderstandings and stereotypes stop progress.

That was one of the themes we wound up discussing in terms of Harper Lee’s classic, as there are many characters in the book who are multifaceted, mysterious, and misunderstood. For those who’ve never read it (for shame!), it’s told from the perspective of Scout, a young girl whose lawyer father, Atticus Finch, has been assigned the duty of defending a black man accused of raping a white woman in 1930s Alabama. Being an unfair kind of world like it is, what looks like a deserved win results in a jury voting opposite, sending the harmless, polite and disabled Tom Robinson to prison. The case makes the Finch family a target for hatred, brought about by, you guessed it, misunderstandings and stereotypes.

The story as a whole focuses on Scout and her elder brother Jem, how they see the world they live in and the people who populate it. Fortunately, they’ve got a father who gives a damn (another theme we touched on, as there are a couple good examples of shitty parenting in there) who is keen on teaching his children to think and be rational and open minded. He’s put a lot of effort into being a good role model for them as well and it’s paid off. They’re intelligent, curious, well adjusted, and well aware of injustice and inequality by the end of the book.

Another thing we hit on was Lee’s choice (for lack of better wording) to keep things so black and white. The white trash is really, really, white trash and there isn’t a bad black man in the lot. I think there were some other examples brought up..something about so many other characters being superficial caricatures of various stereotypes. Was Lee falling into the trap Finch himself wanted to keep his kids out of, or was it merely a convenient method to set the stage as simply and succinctly as possible so she could concentrate efforts on fleshing out the characters who really mattered to her instead?

We also got into a discussion about the role of men in society. What makes a man a man and have gender roles and ideas about appropriate behaviour for men changed much since Lee wrote the book in 1960? And how much does behaviour depend on who might be watching?

One of the guys brought up an interesting example of that via a scene in the book involving a mad dog and the need to kill it. Finch had been a sharp-shooter of some skill in his younger days, a role he’d set aside once he’d married and become a parent and a lawyer. Now he’s being told by a friend/neighbour/fellow townie that it’s essentially his duty to kill this thing and he’s handed the gun. Scout witnesses this and sees him take his glasses off (a physical manifestation of evolved rational thought?) and they break when they hit the ground. I seem to recall that both kids are there when he reluctantly regresses into a violent (less evolved?) past to deal with a potential danger to his kids.

There was also a bit of a debate about how to read the book. Should we read it and reflect on its historic significance as a snapshot of an earlier time and mentality, or should we be looking at the story and how it relates to us now and how we feel today about racial issues in our society? Should groups be up in arms today over Lee’s use of the word “nigger” if it was a commonly heard term in the period her book is set? Or do they have a legitimate beef because Lee used it too much when other phrases or descriptions could have been used instead?

And we briefly touched on what Lee really feels about the book’s continued success – something we can’t know because she’s a recluse who rarely grants interviews (none at an essay contest in 2006, one in 2010 where she didn’t want to talk about the book at all, one in 1964). I knew it was somewhat inspired by her father’s law career, but I didn’t know until the other night that the young character Dill is a nod to Truman Capote, a lifelong friend of hers.

The next book we’ll be talking about is one I hadn’t heard of called Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre. It won the Man Booker in 2003 so it’s not going to be crap and it appears to be a black comedy/satire about school shootings and suicide. Hardly my usual fare, but hey.

“disabled children are God’s punishment”

February 22, 2010

That’s the voiced opinion of a Virginia State Delegate, Bob Marshall. He’s of the mindset that disabled kids happen because their moms aborted their first kids and now God’s punishing those moms.

He made that statement Thursday at a press conference to oppose state funding for Planned Parenthood.

“The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children,” said Marshall, a Republican.

“In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There’s a special punishment Christians would suggest.”

Christians like him, at any rate. I wonder where he found that statistic.

Marshall and 20 other religious numbskulls were involved in a rally against Planned Parenthood recently. A petition is circulating in Virginia right now demanding the state to stop funding the controversial group. Jonathan Falwell and Pat Robertson have both signed the thing.

According to Marshall, Planned Parenthood receives “about $500,000 a year” from the state.

But Jessica Honke, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, said the only state funding Planned Parenthood receives is from Medicaid reimbursements. That amount was about $35,000 in the 2009 fiscal year, according to the Department of Medical Assistance Services.

I’m sure if these people read some stats, it’d be easy to see that they give more people condoms and birth control pills than abortions. From a press release on the Virginia site:

Today, 45.7 million Americans do not have health insurance, including approximately one million Virginians, of which 130,000 are Richmond residents. VLPP is the single largest provider of preventative, routine gynecological services for low-to-moderate income women in the metro area. Planned Parenthood provides family planning counseling, birth control information and supplies, emergency contraception, pregnancy testing, sex education and medical services.

“For the past 65 years, VLPP has delivered vital and relevant education programs and health care services to the Central Virginia region,” said Paulette McElwain, president and chief executive officer of VLPP. “We work collaboratively on an ongoing basis with a broad coalition of schools, organizations, parents, elected officials and policy makers to encourage and promote strong families and communities.”

Whether or not you approve of abortions, Planned Parenthood is doing good things. What kind of person their founder was has little to do with how they operate today. Dean Nelson, executive director of the Network of Politically Active Christians,

suggested that the organization be called “Klan Parenthood,” saying that the group’s founder, Margaret Sanger, made racist comments in the 1930s and that the organization has shown a “willingness to take donations from people who are racist.”

I think the group is willing to take donations from anyone willing to donate, but some groups like to link Sanger’s work to Hitler claiming that her ambition was always to stop black kids from ever being born. There’s an anti-abortion group in Atlanta that made headlines recently with their endangered species billboards. While statistics indicate more black women have abortions, many of them do so because they know they can’t afford to raise the kid and still make ends meet.

The findings indicate “we need to figure out efforts to reduce unintended pregnancy, not only among teenagers but among all women, and in particularly women of color,” she said. “A lot of policymakers are stuck 30 years back when most women getting abortions are teenagers and college students, and that isn’t so much the case these days.”

Others said the findings underscore the need to increase access to contraception for poor women.

“Birth control is the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies,” said Laurie Rubiner, vice president for public policy at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Unfortunately there’s a large number of uninsured people in this country, and if you are uninsured you are less likely to have access to affordable health care, including affordable birth control.”

Which is why Planned Parenthood is so vital in low income neighbourhoods. I wouldn’t doubt the state is aware of the necessity of providing such services to help those who can’t afford the alternatives that rich and middle class folk almost take for granted. Bob Marshall comes across as a deluded nitwit who shouldn’t be allowed near a microphone. Hopefully he’s never in a position to really change things.

Desire for “Christian community” not fair to Muslim Americans

February 1, 2010

Or any other group, for that matter.

I don’t have the chops to do this story justice, I’ll admit (go see Paliban Daily’s take on it), but I thought it was interesting enough to write about anyway.

Lancaster residents were urged by Mayor R. Rex Parris in a state of the city speech to support a city ballot measure that would authorize daily prayers at city council meetings.

In his speech, Parris said “we are growing a Christian community, and don’t let anybody shy away from that,” according to the Antelope Valley Press.

Ideally, prayer shouldn’t be a part of any government business. God should not be in government. It’s divisive and unnecessary.

In a later interview with the Daily News, Parris expressed surprise that some religious leaders object to prayers to Jesus at city meetings, and blamed opposition on activists who “want a fight,” the newspaper reported. “They want their 15 minutes of fame.”

And if they can’t have fame, can they at least feel some equality?

Kamal Al-Khatob, head of the Islamic Institute of the Antelope Valley, told the Daily News that the mayor’s belief that Lancaster is a Christian community alienates Muslims. “This is not what America is all about. America is for everybody.”

He’s as big an idealist as me, I think. I also think he’s right to remind people of that. America might have been founded by theists and religious pilgrims but “We the People” shouldn’t be read as, “We the Christian people” and mayors who encourage communities to play favourites based on what god they love best should get a slap down.

One week ago, Lancaster city council member Sherry Marquez wrote on her Facebook page that the beheading murder of an Islamic woman by her husband in New York shows that vicious murders are what Muslims embrace.

“This is what the Muslim religion is all about — the beheadings, honor killings are just the beginning of what is about to come to the USA,” she reportedly wrote on the Web Jan. 23. “We are told this is a small minority of Muslim’s (sic) in America, but it is truly what they are all about.”

You know what else they’re about? They’re about 400 years or so behind Christianity. Christians did their share of beheadings too, and it wasn’t just kings. It really isn’t fair to judge the whole pile of them based on what a few do. Would local Muslims feel comfortable running for council seats knowing Jesus is the only god allowed in the room? Is this going to make them proud to be a part of that community? Or is the mayor ultimately hoping that they’ll pack up like unwanted gypsies and bugger off to someone else’s property?

I wonder if this is happening in other places. American Christians love to claim they’re facing persecution in their schools and workplaces just because they can’t wear a necklace but then stories like this pop up. How is this not worse?

edit Feb. 2 to add Paliban Daily link. It really is a good post.