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There seems to be a genuine collective resurgence of warmth in Western religion, and I like the direction we are heading.  More and more Christian leaders around the world are advocating inclusiveness, love, acceptance and humility – in lieu of the judgment, bigotry and separatism that has filled so many sermons in recent history. Deeply spiritual people, especially those with more left-leaning social views, have been actively fleeing organized religion for years, dismayed by what they perceive as hate speech being depicted as “God’s word” to millions of churchgoers around the world.

Two well-respected and admired Christian leaders, one Catholic and one Protestant, are speaking out against those practices and making grand gestures to bring those people of faith who feel disenfranchised back into the fold of the church – and it just might be working.

During a mass in mid-October, Pope Francis stated about ideological Christianity, “In ideologies there is not Jesus – in his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always – of every sign, rigid. And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith; he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought.  For this reason Jesus said to them, ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge.’ The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements. The faith becomes ideology – and ideology frightens.  Ideology chases away the people, distances the people and distances of the Church of the people. But it is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians.”

In an interview with America Magazine, the Pontiff declared, “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time. The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.”

These ideas are also becoming more prevalent in the sermons of prominent Protestant ministries, as well.  During a recent Huffington Post Live interview , mega-preacher, Joel Osteen, said, “I do think that religion has turned a lot of people off. Part of it is because it was all about the rules and was political.  I think now people have a hunger for God, they want to have a relationship, but they don’t want to be called religious. I’m not trying to get them to join my religion, I’m just trying to plant a seed of hope in their heart.”

When asked by host Josh Zepps if that also applies to homosexuals, Osteen declared, “Absolutely! I believe that God breathed life into every person, and that every person is made in the image of God, and you have accept them as they are on their journey. I’m not here to preach hate or push people down. It doesn’t matter who likes you or doesn’t like you, all that matters is that God likes you. He accepts you, he approves of you.”

In a 2005 interview with Larry King, Osteen said, “I’ve always been an encourager at heart. And when I took over from my father he came from the Southern Baptist background and back 40, 50 years ago there was a lot more of that. But, you know, I just — I don’t believe in that [fire and brimstone, hell and damnation]. I don’t believe — maybe it was for a time. But I don’t have it in my heart to condemn people. I’m there to encourage them. I see myself more as a coach, as a motivator to help them experience the life God has for us….I don’t think abortion is the best. I think there are other, you know, a better way to live your life. But I’m not going to condemn those people. I tell them all the time our church is open for everybody.”

The people of faith who have been fleeing the ”fire and brimstone” ministry that has been prevalent in recent years have now perked their ears to listen to the loving, inclusive words of these religious leaders with open hearts and minds.  If these high-profile ministers continue to inspire love, warmth and joy into the hearts of humanity – in other words mirroring the true spirit of the life of Jesus – I think we will see a large resurgence of active, faith-based communities around the world.

I am an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church (I did not attend seminary, nor did Joel Osteen), and I highly encourage this resurgence of inclusiveness, acceptance and humility in Christianity.  Let us all follow our own hearts and our own callings wherever they lead us.  It is not our job as humans to judge others; it is our job to compassionately support one another with love and acceptance.  If that brings more people of faith back to spiritual practices, all the better.

God Bless You All,

The Reverend Shannon Fisher

7:31 PM PT: Originally posted on Shannon Fisher's blog: http://fishershannon.wordpress.com/...

Wed Dec 11, 2013 at 7:49 AM PT: Breaking: Pope Francis named Time's Person of the Year!

http://www.reuters.com/...

Originally posted to Shannon Fisher on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 06:26 PM PST.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  Don't count your chickens (5+ / 0-)

    I think you're incredibly naive in this article. When religious politicians start echoing these sentiments, I might be willing to listen.

  •  seriously? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mph2005, Byron from Denver, skrekk

    this is nothing more than wishful thinking, pie-eyed denial and an unhealthy dose of delusion.

  •  I've read (10+ / 0-)

    that many sermons recently are turning
    to our "moral responsibility" as good stewards,

    to fight Climate Change.


    And helping the poor, too.

    I think the new Pope's thinking is rubbing off on them.

    At least I hope so.

  •  I haven't seen any "on the ground"... (3+ / 0-)

    ...religious support for transgender people.  I'll withhold my applause until I do.

  •  I am somewhat encouraged by (9+ / 0-)

    this new Pope but not at all enthusiastic about Joel Osteen.

    I consider him to be a showboat and an egomaniac.  A polished huckster.  I note the passage you quote, but as for that issue, there were drag queens with more clarity of purpose and nobility of resistance at the Stonewall in late June of 1969.  Joel Osteen might defer to their experience before offering his Hallmark comment.  

    When I think of people with the capacity to inspire spiritual change in self or others, there are many thousands whose names come to mind long before Joel Osteen.

    •  I can't argue... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grover, Remediator, denig

      but I do admire the message, if not the messenger.

      •  It's one fragment of Osteen's (0+ / 0-)

        long-standing cluelessness on LGBTQ concerns.  

        He's not much of a Christian, in this non-believer's lay opinion.  If those cameras were turned off, what Christian scholars would pay any attention to him at all over a cup of coffee?  

        And not to belabor the point, but sacrifice and service and exile and redemption are themes which wildly predate any televangelist.  IMO Joel Osteen is to Christianity what the Weather Channel is to weather.  

        •  I'm not seeing your complaint against him. (0+ / 0-)

          More technically you're not citing a specific issue that causes you to raise the accusation of huckster.

          "Showboat" is a qualitative term that's relative to the observer so it's hard to really base anything off that.

          http://callatimeout.blogspot.com/

          by DAISHI on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 02:06:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Nevertheless, I'm extremely (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            skrekk

            comfortable with the assessment.  

            Following Osteen's public remarks on LGBTQ issues, which he has often made and which I did cite in my first comment, he leaves little reason for anyone to conclude anything other than that at best Osteen's a showboat and more likely a huckster.  

            Polished and agreeable to a certain audience, maybe.  But a throbbing fraud all the same.  

          •  I'll try to explain: (3+ / 0-)

            Osteen doesn't understand the Gospels. I don't care if he went to seminary. I didn't. But I've read the Bible, and I understand the Bible, especially the New Testament. Osteen doesn't. (That's my being being charitable to this preacher's kid. The other option is that he does understand the New Teastament just fine, but chooses to twist it for his own profit.)

            He's basically a The Secret or Anthony Robbins knock-off, except he tosses God in there to appeal to Christians.

            Osteen’s attraction is found in what he is offering which is nothing less than a life of good health, abundance, wealth, prosperity and success, “If you develop an image of victory, success, health, abundance, joy, peace, and happiness, nothing on earth will be able to hold those things from you” (p. 5).[7]  Since these are the things most people treasure and, since Jesus informed us that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:21), it is predictable that the seductive promise of a map leading to these treasures would find many adherents.   And it certainly does.  But what specifically is being offered?
            http://www.svchapel.org/...

            I think you might do well to actually read through that whole link. It's pretty short but comprehensive.

            I'm a liberal Catholic-turned-Lutheran. I don't think my beliefs line up with the people who maintain that site, but their analysis is spot on.

            I was at my parent's house and saw Osteen's book. I asked my dad about it. He waved it off, said a mega church  family member said "oh, you just HAVE to read this!" I asked him what he thought. He said, " you read it."

            So I took it home. I could barely get through the first few chapters before I had enough.

            New age argle bargle with name dropping of God for credibility, it's slick prosperity gospel that makes Osteen very rich.

            © grover


            So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

            by grover on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 10:27:36 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  The photos in this diary say it all. (0+ / 0-)

      Perhaps I am misreading things, but, just from the photographs of the two individuals....

      Pope Francis has kind eyes.  His expression is one of a caring, welcoming individual.  He is looking directly at his interviewer.

      Joel Osteen looks very satisfied with himself, and gazing off in the direction of who knows what.  And with 40 million bucks in his bank account, one might understand what I am reading as his smugness except for the fact that Jesus lived a very different way and told the rich young man who wanted to gain eternal life that he should go and sell everything that he had and give the proceeds to the poor

  •  There have always been (7+ / 0-)

    Christians who cared more about loving one's neighbor, feeding the hungry and healing the sick than about sticking their nose in their neighbor's love lives.  One of the best left-wing Christian blogs, Slacktivist, has some really good ideas about what to do about issues like economic justice and heath care - the stuff Jesus actually spoke about.

    The hierarchy of the Catholic church has a lot of damage to fix.  They still have a long way to go. But it did my heart good to see Francis suspending a bishop, not for sex or questioning authority, but for greed.  It's a start.

    I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his payroll. - Edna St. Vincent Millay

    by Tara the Antisocial Social Worker on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 07:54:40 PM PST

  •  I think you are seeing what you want to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    roseeriter

    see, not whats really happening. No disrespect intended.

    •  I partially agree with your assessment. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DAISHI, denig

      I definitely would like for this message to become a mainstream trend - and it is most definitely NOT that right now in America.  But, hopefully, with repetition and a collective understanding - these ideas will permeate society in the same manner in which the harsh message of judgment once did.  There are pendulums in many areas of life.  My hope is that this Pope is the beginning of a religious pendulum swing into inclusiveness, love, acceptance and humility.  His public statements thus far would indicate that this is possible - and maybe even probable.  :)

  •  I hope you are right. (7+ / 0-)

    Our minister had a sermon this morning in which he said that the older he got (he is mid 50's), the more life experience he had, the more he studied the Bible, that the more he was drawn to concentrate on the Gospels and on what Jesus actually taught and the less he felt compelled to adhere to man-made "doctrine".  He is convinced that what Jesus intended for his followers was to be drawn to live in community together with love, not to be separated from each other by rules and judgement.

    He recounted an experience of being called to the hospital as a chaplain to counsel a young couple with a newborn in intensive care. By the time he arrived the baby had died and the heartbroken couple asked him to baptize their baby.  He said he could not be true to "doctrine" which said it could not be done, but had to be true to his heart which said it must to be done.

    “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day.” Gloria Steinem

    by ahumbleopinion on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 08:12:01 PM PST

  •  Thank You - N/T (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FisherShannon

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 08:34:04 PM PST

  •  I trust Joel Ostean about as far as I can (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gffish, Remediator, BYw

    throw him.  There is something so false about him. Because underneath the Dennis Quaid in The Big Easy smile is the same old hatred of gays and anti-abortion crap.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 09:04:20 PM PST

  •  The Christ of the Bible wasn't quite that nice... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FisherShannon, gffish, BYw

    According to Matthew 10:34:

    Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to turn a man against his father,  a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—   a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.
    That is really the fundamental problem of Christianity, or any other religion based on historical (or pseudo-historical) figures.  There is Christ who (possibly) existed, the Christ who  was written about two thousand years ago, and the Christ that we would like to follow today.   Not only are the versions contradictory, it is sort of like deciding to be like Thomas Jefferson who was a great man... except for the bit about slaves.
    •  You're reading it wrong. (7+ / 0-)

      Christ wasn't making a "do this" statement (be violent), but rather a simple prophetic statement of fact. Family members have indeed been at odds with one another-- spiritually and physically-- because of what Christ did and who he was.

      He NEVER encouraged his followers to violence-- just the opposite.

      As to the original diary-- It is great that there is a wider movement to 'be like Jesus', but we should be careful to retain the theological lens explaining why Christ was so 'good' and what he did for the world in death and resurrection. Otherwise, you're just a do-gooder with no grounding for being so.

      Joel Osteen, an expounder of the Prosperity Gospel is widely considered heretical by other Christians in his 'think positive and it will happen' teachings.

      "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." Upton Sinclair via Al Gore; -6.62, -5.28

      by bluejeandem on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:55:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Jesus believed in everlasting (0+ / 0-)

        torture in hell. He even condemned people he never met to it.   I personally don't think that a god or a savior who subscribe to this cosmic system of everlasting punishment are very moral.  It was when I realized that I was more moral than either god or Jesus that I left them both in the dust.

        Whenever I bring this up, there is total silence from Christians, both fundamentalists and liberals.  I wonder why?

        •  That's just flat-out wrong (0+ / 0-)

          The idea of everlasting torment of nonbelievers in a place called Hell is a fairly recent invention influenced by Dante's Inferno and other such 'cultural' misunderstandings. In fact, Christ never even said the word 'Hell', he spoke of a literal place outside the walls of Jerusalem called Gehenna, where bodies and trash were burned up- not tortured forever. The Christ you don't believe in is not the Christ revealed in the Gospels. It sounds like you're retroactively applying mischaracterizations of Christ onto scripture, when all you have to do is read them to know that is a false reading.

          "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." Upton Sinclair via Al Gore; -6.62, -5.28

          by bluejeandem on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 11:15:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sorry, but it's in the texts. (0+ / 0-)

            And if the translation of the term hell only refers to a place outside Jerusalem where bodies were burned, then why does that let Jesus off the hook? He is still condemning those who don't listen to him to the torture of fire.

            Matthew 11:20-24..."you shall be brought down to Hades". Same thing reported in Luke 10:15

            Matthew 25:46  "and they wil go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

            Luke 12:4-6  "fear him who, after he has killed, has power to cast into hell."

            Overall the message of this character is that people are to believe in him and accept his cosmic system or be sent away, separated, burned, have divine wrath come down on them, etc. etc.  He says it in every chapter in one form or another. He is not an inclusive, ecumenical kind of guy.  The fact that most people do not see that is amazing to me. The whole story of salvation is divisive.

    •  That's because strong convictions (4+ / 0-)

      can do exactly what you're quoting here. Sometimes those convictions are worth provoking that reaction.

      http://callatimeout.blogspot.com/

      by DAISHI on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 02:08:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  hey OG, this is drastically OT but, have I ever (0+ / 0-)

      asked you exactly where you live (assuming its on Orcas)? Since I grew up there (70s) and have been back every year since, I pretty much know the island yard-by-yard.  Where's your yard?

      I see you've been poking the Christers again, here--can't you just leave them alone?  they have enough troubles...

  •  Pope Francis (7+ / 0-)

    Is refreshing for the Catholic Church and as someone who was raised Catholic but has not been to a Mass in many years because I couldn't stand the preaching. If Pope Francis (or as Bill Mahar calls him, Pope Frank) keeps up these kind of messages and advisements I just may go back.

    Never be afraid to voice your opinion and fight for it . Corporations aren't people, they're Republicans (Rev Al Sharpton 10/7/2011) Voting is a louder voice than a bullhorn but sometimes you need that bullhorn to retain your vote.

    by Rosalie907 on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 09:15:50 PM PST

  •  There's a war going on, but not their kind... (0+ / 0-)

    I turned to Rastafari teachings in my rejection of "organized religion" as the Rastas advocate the radical notions of no leaders and getting your faith from reading the book and talking amongst your fellows.

    We then take that, and use strong words to chant down the troubles in the world. When you hear a Rasta refer to 'burning something out' that's a vocal thing. We may not be an organized faith but we do have rules and one of them is non-violence. Rasta uses strong language, and flipped language, to overdrive the point home.

    What I've seen amongst the organized religions in my life has been an orchestrated attempt to turn every last one of them into houses of 'false prophets' teaching people to hate and abuse each other.

    The result has been millions of people rejecting not just religion, but also faith.

    BUT...

    Many are now realizing that faith can not only survive, but in fact be stronger, when you chant those false temples and churches down - when you burn out Babylon and reclaim faith.

    In my youth I had my crisis of faith, when I first found the churches to be houses of downpression, I wandered through many teachings and many paths trying to shake faith, to shake spirituality - and in the end I found I could not manage it. That I could shake the doctrine, shake free of the churches, but that I could still 'feel' the divine nature in all things - good or bad, and that I could see the truth in the message Yeshua (Jesus) left for us.

    In time I hope more and more people are able to see the same thing, that they can find the answers to faith directly, and not filtered by some political body called religion. Regardless of what way the embrace the spiritual - when you truly do embrace it, you can see we all really are a people with one god, one aim, one destiny - seen through a myriad rainbow of different filters that come together beautifully.

    OMG, like, gag them with a multi-colored spoon. Like, ya know.

    by Jyotai on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 12:22:57 AM PST

  •  Universal Life Church huh? (0+ / 0-)

    That's the one where you mail away for ordination for $50?

    Frankly, I don't care if these guys are preaching socialist revolution. I have no time, nor has the world, for fairy tales instead of scientific truth.  They still speak in stories we know are untrue.  There are no mail order climate scientists of any note.

    •  You know, (3+ / 0-)

      This is unduly snotty. Shannon could have simply said she was a minister, and that would have been accepted. She chose to be upfront about her credentialing. I care much less about who or what gave her a credential than what she is doing with it.

      There is no evidence she is a climate change denier (and Pope Francis has shown indications that he is concerned about and plans to move on climate change as well).

      And finally, dang it, Squirrel, Shannon is one of ours:  

      Shannon Fisher is a writer, social justice advocate, community organizer and civic leader.  As the Vice President of Outreach and Public Relations for UniteWomen.org, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit advocacy organization, she is one of the driving forces behind the Unite Against Rape campaign, for which she has enlisted the participation of several legislators, celebrities and everyday men and women.

      She was named one of the “People of the Year” in 2012 by Style Magazine for her activism in women’s rights.  She received a B.A. from The College of William and Mary and is a graduate of the Political Leaders Program at the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at The University of Virginia.

      Shannon is a lifelong student of spirituality, politics and the arts who strives to enact positive change in the world – one day, one issue and one person at a time.   Visit Shannon’s web page for more information:  www.shannonfisher.com. Her blog: http://fishershannon.wordpress.com.

      So yeah, she went to a prestigious university -- Thomas Jefferson's alma mater--  instead of seminary.

      And I don't care if you don't agree with her religious beliefs, being rude is unnecessary.

      © grover


      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 10:55:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Awww, thanks, Grover! (0+ / 0-)

        I would never want to misrepresent my credentials, which is why I included the name of the church.  Indeed, my ordination was online (sought in order to perform the wedding ceremony of my best friend), but it was a genuine catalyst for my becoming a (very small scale) spiritual leader in my community.  I teach classes on spiritual development, meditation, Reiki and the like.  My beliefs fall somewhere in the Unity/Unitarian denomination - but I respect all belief systems.  There are many brilliant biblical scholars out there; I am not one of them.  There are also many brilliant scientists.  Brilliant climate change deniers?  Notsomuch. ;)

    •  Even fairy tales can sometimes teach life lessons. (0+ / 0-)

      :)

  •  Liberal Christianity has always been there. (5+ / 0-)

    And even conservative Christians have sometimes pushed inclusive values. Billy Graham, for example, refused to allow segregated seating in his 1950s Crusades in the rigidly segregated South.
      But since Reagan and his Moral Majority cohort, the big box big money types have gotten all the media attention. Likewise, the forced birther activists have overshadowed the "good works" of the Roman Catholic Church.

  •  And at the same time, (3+ / 0-)

    there is a resurgence of non-believers, like myself, who share concern for the poor and beleaguered, and seek justice for the powerless.  It is in our best interests, and yours, to find common ground.

    Two words, when used together, scare me: Youth Minister

    by mojave mike on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 07:55:26 AM PST

  •  Sorry Reverend (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skrekk, Rashaverak

    Joel Osteen IS the problem.

    No matter what he says, he is IMHO, a snake oil salesperson of the worst kind.  His 'smile' is as insincere as his word.  He is of the same cloth as Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson et al.

  •  hahahahahahahaha... (0+ / 0-)

    you funny.
    tung sol

    There is a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.--Oscar Levant

    by tung sol on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 08:40:44 AM PST

  •  Joel Osteen is an anti-gay bigot. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fishtroller01, Remediator

    This is from March of this year:

    Tapper asked Osteen if same-sex couples should be afforded the same rights as heterosexual couples, and the pastor cited the Bible to explain his beliefs about marriage.

    "You know, Jake, it's a fine line. We're for everybody. But of course as a Christian pastor, my base is off what I believe the Scripture says," Osteen said. "Marriage is between a male and female. Again we're for everybody, but that's where I draw the line."

    In other words: "I don't hate fags, it's my imaginary friend who hates fags."   It's despicable and fundamentally dishonest.

    Francis isn't much better given his absolute opposition to marriage equality in Argentina, a battle he fortunately lost.

    My question is whether Francis will continue to have the Catholic church fund anti-gay hate groups like NOM, or continue to create amicus briefs in support of anti-gay Jim Crow laws like DOMA and Prop h8 (as they did shortly before his tenure).

    I have the same questions on a variety of issues related to women - from the church's ongoing fight against reproductive health care to the fundamental misogyny of the church.

    My impression is that the diarist has been roped in by the intentionally misleading rhetoric and is ignoring the reality of both Osteen and Francis.    Deeds not words are what matter in the end.

    •  This diarist has been roped into more than (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skrekk

      just misleading rhetoric, but I won't go into that.  I watched Osteen tell an audience that if they prayed about every ten minutes or so while driving that god would protect them against any crashes that would have happened if they hadn't prayed.  Geez! I was so incensed, I emailed his organization and got into an argument with a staffer.  

      As for Francis, well.... I keep saying over and over that people need to do more research on the things he said and did in Argentina, but it's like talking to people with religious clouds in their ears.   It's amazing how believers don't recognize snakes when they are right in front of their eyes, but then all of religion is just an exercise in eyes wide shut!

    •  I agree that actions speak louder (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skrekk

      than words.  Regardless of the sincerity of the sentiments being expressed, the recent words by religious leaders do leave me hopeful that they will build momentum.  If public support rallies behind these ideas, it could push the clergy further into a more progressive public stance on issues (thereby giving the many blind followers "permission" to do the same).  I do, though, want to see religious leaders put their money (or lack thereof) where their mouths are.  

      •  Francis has changed the tone of the rhetoric (0+ / 0-)

        and that is important.   But will he condemn the bishop who held an anti-gay exorcism in Illinois last week?   Will he stop funding hate groups?   I rather doubt it.

        Osteen really hasn't changed much from his SBC roots - he's just a smarmy Southern Baptist who doesn't want to be thought of as a hater, but still thinks he deserves special rights which he wants denied to the people he thinks should be 2nd-classs citizens.

  •  well... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FisherShannon

    Another way to read this is as a change of strategies after failure to reevangelize The West by taking on the aims and forms and tactics and aggressive propaganda elements of a political party of sorts in each country.

    The renewed emphasis on charity, the poor, etc. is drawing back a lot of passive Catholics and ex-Catholics worldwide.  Other denominations will follow suit, so a general phenomenon of the kind is likely worldwide.

    But the key word is 'worldwide'- it's largely going to have real effects- after all, the aim of the RCC (and others) is not to be nice people as much as it is to evangelize/reevangelize them- in places like Brazil and Africa.  Here in the U.S. and in Europe it will draw in passive believers, of course.  But without a materially vital need and opportunity for charity the impulse has a way of diffusing and diminishing.

    Seen with a political eye, the RCC is very deliberately tapping into latent goodwill and benefit of the doubt that is very available to it.  But people who've left it before and perceived it to be hollow as an entity are commonly open to leaving again, are aware of their independence even though they feel desires and emotional dependence.  The day they walk back in the door is the day the goodwill and benefit of the doubt they give the Church is at a maximum.  It will expend over time.

    I think the effect in the U.S. will be a temporary resurgence of numbers and a nicer face of organized religion, but it declines and re-embitters again in a decade or so.   The large effect is worldwide, with the large organized religions shifting over to being Second/Third World movements and phenomena.  As has been predicted for a long time.

    •  I think there is a pendulum for this (0+ / 0-)

      kind of thing, just as there is a political pendulum (and sometimes they are intertwined).  I'm content to relish the pendulum swinging "my" way and lament when it does not.  :)

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