Two historic churches in the small town of Douglas, Arizona were set on fire and burned May 22,2023 as the ressult of an arsonist setting blazes. The two churches, First Presbyterian Church and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, sit next to each other on the east side of a block known as "Church Square," that also includes the First Baptist Church and Grace United Methodist Church.
According to accounts in the Herald Review, Ridenour and his wife had been recently asked to leave the congregation of Calvary Church in eneighboring Bisbee, because of his views against women serving as pastors. Neighbors said he was attempting to start his own church on his property because he did not agree with women or gays serving as pastors of churches. The pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Douglas is a woman, the pastor at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church is gay. A third church on the same square, Grace United Methodist, also has a woman as pastor, but no attempt was made to start a fire in that building.
When people think they only have to obey laws they agree with, when they believe they are on some kind of crusade in which God is holding their coat and cheering them on, when they believe that certain politicians will move heaven and earth to prevent them from suffering consequences for committing crimes that are politically motivated, churches are set on fire, people are shot in groups with automatic weapons and the truth is distorted and twisted to the point where it is unrecognizeable. The truth about right wing extremism, intruding into the church and hijacking its members, is sitting in the heart of Douglas, Arizona, in its Church Square, in the burned out ruins of two historic churches.
The arsonist who is suspected of the crime, caught with overwhelming evidence that it was him, is being held in jail until his trial, because of the fear of his carrying out additional threats against the congregation members and especially against the clergy who were targeted. This was done because there was evidence that he has no respect for the law, due to prior acts of violence. There are others in that same mindset and category, who have no respect for the law, but who remain out of jail awaiting trial, campaigning for President and still inciting violence with their words and social media posts.
The economic achievements of this President are also monumental. His policies have driven unemployment down a full 8% since taking office two and a half years ago, and it is now holding at the lowest rate achieved since the 1960's. Inflation has been rough, but it was worldwide, and it was worse in most other places in the world than it has been here, and now, it is on the decline, on the timetable that the President said it would be. And that nagging recession that the media has been squawking about for two and a half years is just not materializing. We are seeing private sector job growth like we have not seen it in over 50 years. And the infrastructure bill, which is just now getting things into place, has already earned accolades from Republican Senators Tuberville and Cornyn, even though they voted against the benefits it is providing. I'm sure the President will duly thank these two Republicans for their warm endorsement of his policy.
A majority of Americans are, for the most part, well educated and informed enough to know what is going on, and most don't pay attention to the frivolous idiocy that goes on surrounding the daily appearance of the orange headed buffoon on television for one thing or another. Maybe at some point, the majority of the media will become responsible journalists again, with some sense of morality and ethics as defenders of accountability and democracy instead of purveyors of sensationalism.
But I think that the country's experiment with an anti-government insurrectionist, a hater of law and order and a fraud in every way, including lying about his own wealth, is over. If Trump succeeds in getting the GOP nomination, which I think isn't as certain as the media thinks, and is less than 50-50 at the moment, Joe Biden will be re-elected by a wider margin than he won in 2020. He will carry states that give him at least 343 electoral votes. If the GOP unwisely nominates Desantis, or another Trumpie wannabee, it will be an even bigger victory for Biden.
Far right political group makes contribution to political faction in the Southern Baptist Conventionhttps://signalpress.blogspot.com/2023/06/far-right-political-group-gives-money.html
It should not come as a surprise that a far right, religious based political front operating as a pro-Trump PAC is providing financial support for a faction in the Southern Baptist Convention that is attempting to gain control of the denomination's leadership positions and its entities. Turning Point, led by a MAGA operative by the name of Charlie Kirk, is a political arm of the Trump campaign, aimed at religious conservatives.
The Conservative Baptist Network, known as CBN, formed within the Southern Baptist Convention with the announced intention of working to gain control of the executive committee, trustee boards and officer positions of the Southern Baptist Convention. The claimed motivation is based on their perception that the denomination is once again drifting into the wilderness of liberalism, based on their disagreement with its choice of leadership, specifically because one of the "architects" of the "Conservative Resurgence" in the convention, a movement which began a takeover effort in 1979, was fired for dereliction of duty from his position as president of one of the SBC's six seminaries, which he named and received as a reward for his political efforts.
They were also upset that the convention rejected an attempt to bring a very slanted, misinformed, inaccurate resolution on Critical Race Theory, written by an outside political faction. The resolution contained false assertions, misconceptions and errors in stating its case against Critical Race Theory. It was headed off by two black pastors serving on the resolutions committee who saw that, if passed, would be a major embarrassment to the convention, the propagation of a lie by a Christian denomination. And they were upset that the executive director of their Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, being consistent with the use of the word "ethics", was openly opposed to the candidacy and presidency of Trump. Aside from the fact that he was a staunch doctrinal and theological conservative, and had more knowledge of historic Baptist positions on separation of church and state than any of his critics, they could not stomach the spokesperson for their denomination being opposed to a man who exhibited none of the characteristics of a Christian life or walk.
The Ukrainian people are as distinct from their Russian neighbors, and from those in the neighboring countries of Belarus, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Moldava, as Polish people are from Germans, or as the French are from the Dutch, or, for that matter, as Americans are from Japanese. The culture is different, the language is similar, but different, the society is different. The history has made them distinctly different. Russian rulers, from the Czars to the Communist dictators, never considered Ukrainians as equals, but always as vassals in a feudal sort of way that reflected Russia's own social structure into the twentieth century.
If Ukraine wins, and it is looking more and more every day like that will be the outcome of the war, it will be a win for constitutional democracy. It should not be seen as an "anti-Russian" achievement, but a pro-democratic achievement. Ukraine is not looking to be an outpost for the European Union or NATO, aligned against Russia, or a place for the United States to strategically arm itself against Russia, but an independent country with a bright future because it has the ability and the means to develop its natural resources for the benefit of its people. It does not appear that Ukraine is interested in conquest or acquisition of territory or resources.
So yes, as long as there is a war going on in Ukraine, I am in solidarity with the Ukrainian people who are fighting for their independence and their freedom.
There is a whole lot of concern, much of it based on false presumptions, about how America's youth are being "groomed" to accept sexual perversion. But here is yet another Christian denomination dealing with a huge, and relatively under-reported problem, of sexual abuse by pastors, church staff members and volunteers in churches. Routine background checks aren't enough to stop what is, by the numbers being reported, an epidemic in churches. We've had the scandal perpetuated by Catholic clergy for decades just now coming to light. In 2019, the scope of sexual abuse of women in the Southern Baptist Convention was exposed by The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express News, resulting in a reluctant investigation and slow progress in coming to a resolution of the problem.
Now, the PCA, Presbyterian Church in America, has turned down possible solutions for dealing with the problem in their churches, and, like the Southern Baptists, decided to make their headlines in a different way. They rejected, yes rejected four proposals to curb the sexual abuse problem they are facing, which is apparently at least as bad, propotionately, to that of the Southern Baptists, which was a slap in the face to the victims of abuse in their churches. Then, one slap was apparently not enough. They went ahead and approved, on the first try, a proposal forbidding women to serve in churches using the title "pastor," "deacon," or "elder".
It seems that the better way to protect children from "grooming," and from outright abuse, is to keep them away from the Catholic Church, Southern Baptist churches and conservative, PCA Presbyterian churches. Could it be that the attitude the leadership of these denominations is displaying about the sexual abuse happening in their churches, in which over 80% of the victims are women, is directly connected to their attitude rejecting the spiritual leadership of women in their churches?
Every succeeding human generation tends to think it has mastered and conquered the problems of its past, the things that led to hatred, war, destruction, the stunted growth of cultures and societies and nations, the evil that led human beings, who are theoretically the most intelligent beings on the planet, to torture and murder each other and bring down each other's civilizations because they were perceived as weak and inferior. And yet here we are, in the United States of America, in the twenty-first century, with serious problems that have the potential to bring down our 247 year old democracy.
I don't expect that there will be a quick turnaround in the thinking of those who have become caught up in the anti-patriotic, un-American MAGA movement or the subversive white supremacists, conspiracy theorists and anarchists that direct its movements. That kind of dark, negative ideology lasts a long time. We're still dealing with the effects of the racism and hatred that spewed out of the old Confederacy after Reconstruction was brought to an end. But we can keep it from spreading, growing, and render it ineffective in achieving its goals. I do have a few suggestions.
1. The former President must be brought to justice, not only for stealing classified documents, or in business fraud or civil sexual assault cases, but for charges of seditious conspiracy and inciting insurrection on January 6th, 2021.
2. All Americans who have seen this for what it is, must make a commitment to use the tools that Democracy gives them, which are free expression and THE BALLOT BOX! All elections matter.
3. The public education system, from pre-Kindergarten to the graduate level of colleges and universities, need to experience major reform in civics education.
Dealing with a sexual abuse scandal by clergy and denominational leaders that was exposed in a 2019 investigation by The Houston Chronicle, and The San Antonio Express-News, Southern Baptists have made little progress, according to a long-time survivor who has advocated and pushed the denomination to take steps to prevent sexual abuse by its pastors and church staff members for years.
Instead, the headlines made by the SBC at its 2023 annual meeting in New Orleans were about kicking out churches with female pastoral staff, including its largest, most evangelistic church, Saddleback Valley, in Orange County, Caiifornia. The convention did approve a database which will incude the names of pastors and church staff who have been convicted or "credibly accused" of abuse but the abuse survivor in this case, Christa Brown, an attorney who runs a website called "Stop Baptist Predators", says that is less than acceptable minimum progress.
The failure to make progress on sexual abuse has been accompanied by public pushback and accusations against several of the women who reported abuse in high-profile cases, and a general attitude among some Southern Baptists that this is some kind of satanic attack designed to push a feminist agenda into the denomination. The pushback against abuse victims, the foot dragging on making real progress in establishing a data base and the determination to expel churches with women serving in pastoral ministry roles is all a sign of the influence of far right wing politics which is corrupting the denomination from within, carrying it away from a mission and purpose centered on the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Racism is also a factor wihin the convention, as there has been pushback against what turned out to be a deflection of a far right wing resolution proposed by some messengers at its 2019 meeting. Known as Resolution 9, this resolution re-wrote one on Critical Race Theory that was full of false narratives, misinformation and conspiracy theories that would have made a Christian denomination a liar if it had passed. The deflection was due to the work of several African American pastors and committee members who turned it back and re-wrote it. So far, attempts to undo Resolution 9 have been turned back.
And no one, not even a former President running another campaign for the White House, is above the law.
The "foot soldiers" of the insurrection have been brought to justice fairly quickly. The leaders of the extremist, terrorist groups that followed the plan for attacking the Capitol are facing prison sentences that, for the most part, send the message that the American people will not tolerate insurrection against its government or the Constitution. I hope that the sentences given to the hundreds of individuals who participated in the violence and destruction, either out of complete ignorance of how democratic government works, or because they were too selfish to care about the rights of others, sent the right message. Most of those people have also suffered consequences beyond the prison time they are serving.
But as time has passed, the questions have mounted over why it was taking the Department of Justice so long to gather evidence and build a case against the core of the conspiracy itself, including the former President of the United States. We've been told, "Cases like this take a long time to prosecute," and "Because of the difficulty in finding a jury that will be fair, the case has to be ironclad and the evidence has to be solid and irrefutable." And perhaps the most vocal defense of the delay in prosecution has been that the Department "Doesn't want this to appear 'politically motivated.'"
That didn't really make much sense to me. Congress had already investigated, and laid out some pretty damning evidence. We had months of televised hearings. It was clear that the message being sent was convincing Americans, or at least, a majority of informed Americans with the intelligence, educational background and commitment and dedication to this country, that a serious attempt had been made to overthrow the government, and steps needed to be taken to bring those involved to justice as a means of guaranteeing this never happens again.
role in January 6th and the conspiracy around fake electors. The delay is the result of their intentional slowing it down and focusing on the "foot soldiers."
I think MSNBC posts videos of current shows the next day. This will be a bombshell to watch. If it is accurate, and she usually is, it will be confirmation of what many people here have been saying.
From Rodney Kennedy, a pastor in New York, author of Good and Evil in the Garden of Democracy:
"We are dealing with people who will insist that even Jesus said he didn't come to bring peace, but a sword. The people using this rhetoric are losing all restraint. They have decided they are so righteous they do not have to tolerate this age. They believe they have the freedom and the conviction to act on the threat of a civil war. In their eyes, they are reasonable, sober, honorable people acting on behalf of the good of the nation. They believe a civil war would usher in a new age. "
"There's plenty of room for for conservative and liberal points of view," says Kennedy, "But surreptitious calls for civil war go beyond the pale."
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