Friend of pastor arrested for keeping megachurch open announces big Christian Woodstock

MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 10: Supporters cheer as U.S. President Donald Trump leaves a rally at Southern New Hampshire University Arena on February 10, 2020 in Manchester, New Hampshire. New Hampshire holds its first-in-the-nation primary tomorrow. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“When we finally got to Woodstock we had fluid in our lungs …”

On the heels of his friend Rodney Howard-Browne’s arrest for defying orders against hosting large gatherings, evangelist Jonathan Shuttlesworth is defying orders against hosting large gatherings.

Howard-Browne was arrested yesterday for refusing to close his Tampa, Florida, megachurch even as the deadly coronavirus continues to circulate throughout the country, presumably nowhere near its peak of infection. And now, Shuttlesworth seems determined to one-up him.

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Right-wing evangelist Jonathan Shuttlesworth, a close friend of Rodney Howard-Browne, says he intends to hold a large Woodstock-like Christian gathering in defiance of stay-at-home orders.

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SHUTTLESWORTH: “I’m going to announce it, but we’re going to hold an outdoor Easter blowout service — not online. A national gathering. You come from all over, like Woodstock, and we’re going to gather and lift up Jesus Christ. I’m not ashamed that Dr. Rodney got arrested. I’m ashamed that when they wanted to arrest preachers for having church, in the entire state there was only one to come for.”

Quick question: Jesus Christ can’t lift himself up? He needs a phalanx of wheezy devotees to do it for him?

It’s hard to overstate just how bad an idea this is. Thousands of people — many of them presumably elderly — would be gathering together in close quarters, hugging, shaking hands, high-fiving, and whatnot.

They would then take the virus back home and reseed the towns and cities they came from. It’s like they’re a snake-handling cult, but this time they’re bringing their snakes with them to Kroger.

Shuttlesworth might want to check out this video, which details the theoretical spread of the virus due to Florida spring breakers:

Tectonix GEO@TectonixGEO

Want to see the true potential impact of ignoring social distancing? Through a partnership with @xmodesocial, we analyzed secondary locations of anonymized mobile devices that were active at a single Ft. Lauderdale beach during spring break. This is where they went across the US:

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So, yeah, terrible idea, dude. Presumably he’s already taken the brown acid.

Also, Diamond & Silk are convinced the coronavirus case numbers are being fudged to hurt Trump because … well, just because:

Jason Campbell@JasonSCampbell

Diamond & Silk are speculating coronavirus deaths are being inflated to make Trump look bad

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Got that?

Of course, trying to follow their logic is like chasing a Ding Dong down a sewer grate. It’s not worth it, and you shouldn’t even bother.

But this is what we’re still dealing with. Virus deniers were bound to be out there, I suppose, but these nuts have the ear and the sympathy of the pr*sident.

And now more than ever, that’s just dangerous.

Many Evangelicals Excuse Anything Trump Does — Because He’s the “Chosen One”

Energy Secretary Rick Perry is the latest Trump official or acolyte to prostrate himself, using cult-like terms, before the president. Trump is, in Perry’s worldview, a man tagged by God to occupy his leadership role. In this, the energy secretary is echoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – who has averred Trump may have been chosen by God to defend Israel against Iran – and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s erstwhile press secretary, who also argued that God had played a role in Trump’s election. Perry is also mimicking ex-Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who has argued that Trump is the most “godly, Biblical president” in her lifetime. He is following in the footsteps of Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Liberty University, which produced a movie in 2018 titled The Trump Prophecy that likewise argued President Trump had been chosen by God.

And, of course, Perry is also echoing Trump himself, who earlier this year embraced the notion that he was indeed The Chosen One, and subsequently tweeted about his own “great and unmatched wisdom.”

There is something utterly baffling about this notion, that, in the year 2019, in a country that prides itself on its democratic culture and its intellectual institutions, and that has a constitutionally mandated separation of church and state, medieval visions of governance are being touted by much of the U.S. leadership. The country has had its fair share of fundamentalist and fanatic political leaders, but at no previous point in its history has the divine right to rule been seriously proposed as a governing principle by those in positions of power. After all, presidents are supposed to be elected; the divine right to rule of kings is something that was (or so we thought) put to bed centuries ago.

Some evangelists aver that Donald J. Trump is a modern-day version of the ancient Persian king Cyrus, the autocratic nonbeliever who is used by God to fulfill his design – conquering Babylon and freeing the Jews from bondage. Cyrus, as king, is a man who exists outside of, above, ordinary moral law; a daring emperor constrained by nothing and no one. In many ways, Cyrus is a Nietzschean figure 2,500 years before Friedrich Nietzsche. Secretary of State Pompeo, an evangelical Christian with a taste for “End Times” philosophy, frequently references Cyrus’s story.

Trump himself, who has left a trail of sexual assault allegations in his wake over the decades, has shown scant religious sensibilities throughout his life. When it proved politically expedient during the presidential campaign, he claimed to belong to a church in Manhattan, but the church itself put out a statement that he was not an active member.

As president, however, Trump has demonstrated a feral talent for wooing the religious right and keeping them on his side through one scandal after another after another. He has done so by appointing dozens of extremist judges who will, over the coming decades, work to restrict or end access to abortion, break down the walls that separate church from state, limit LGBTQ rights, allow for an increasing number of carve-outs so that religious groups and individuals don’t have to adhere to anti-discrimination laws, dilute science teaching in schools, and so on.

At the start of this month, Trump hired the Florida-based prosperity gospel televangelist Paula White onto his White House staff. It was an illuminating moment. White, who has a grand talent for self-promotion and an instinct for what Trump would term “the art of the deal,” believes that far from siding with the meek and the downtrodden, God rewards believers monetarily. More shockingly, prosperity gospel advocates also argue that God particularly likes those who already enjoy financial success.

The prosperity gospel is an extreme version of what the German sociologist Max Weber wrote about in his 1905 classic The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Weber theorized that Calvin’s theory of predestination, in which believers could not know for sure whether they were lucky enough to be assigned to heaven or unlucky enough to be heading to hell, created an extreme state of angst. Unsure of their place in eternity, Calvin’s followers looked for any and every earthly hint as to whether they were among God’s favored ones. Monetary success, in this anxious milieu, soon became seen as a sign of divine favor.

But whereas Calvin’s puritan followers accumulated wealth without ostentatious spending – thus, Weber argued, providing a surplus of money that could be invested and that would eventually sow the seeds of early capitalism – the prosperity gospel is about bling and kitsch. It is about showing off and strutting one’s financial stuff.

Nearly 100 years ago, the Mississippi bluesman Robert Johnson was alleged to have made a pact with the devil at the crossroads outside of the little town of Clarksdale – a pact that traded Johnson’s soul in exchange for the ability to create soul-shatteringly good music. Trump’s own such crossroads pact, signed at his tower where Central Park south meets Central Park west, is with religious preachers such as White. He doesn’t necessarily believe what he’s signed onto here, but since it comes with tremendous political benefits, he’s perfectly happy to indulge in this marriage of convenience. And, truth be told, White’s peculiar version of Christianity suits him to a tee. For the real estate tycoon with a fetish for all things gold, the prosperity gospel is the perfect religious expression: It’s hucksterism gussied up as religion. And it lends itself to cultist hero-worship.

Those who thrive financially — in this rendition of the gospel, regardless of the methods by which they attain wealth — deserve praise and adulation. Perry saying that Trump has been chosen by God is really no more or less sycophantic than the parade of cabinet members early in Trump’s presidency who lavished the sorts of praise on him that one might expect to hear in a fully ripe dictatorship.

In an article on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s site about whether Trump is a modern-day Cyrus, I find this comment: “I love this president as he navigates through the anti-christ DEMONcrats. As Christian’s [sic], we better stand by this man placed by our GOD.THINK ABOUT IT, WE’RE ON THE VERGE OF KILLING ROE VS WADE AND THE SLAUGHTER OF BABY HUMAN BEINGS!!!!!”

If that’s the calculus, Trump’s myriad moral failings mean nothing. To those that adhere to this worldview, they don’t care if the president mocks a disabled journalist or the Gold Star family of a veteran killed in action. Trump swears in public, boasts of sexual assault and even says that he could shoot someone dead in broad view without losing the support of his base. Yet, to such believers, all of these are simply the imperfections of a man ordained by God to rid the U.S. of abortion and secularism and the other great sins of the modern age.

Which brings me back to Rick Perry. Perry’s up to his eyeballs in the Ukraine scandal. But instead of coming clean, he has, like so many other high officials, unquestioningly followed Trump’s orders and refused to comply with congressional subpoenas to testify.

The rule of law and the constitutional order are under direct, sustained assault from the executive branch. And so long as senior figures such as Perry look at Trump and see something akin to a biblical prophecy adapted for the modern age, they will continue to side with a lawless president over the constitutionally guaranteed authority of the U.S. Congress.

Trump to Snub Climate Summit for Religious Freedom Meeting at UN

Donald Trump is set to attend the United Nations headquarters during Monday’s key summit on the climate crisis – but will be there to take part in a meeting on religious freedom instead.

A senior UN official confirmed to the Guardian that the White House has booked one of the large conference rooms in the New York headquarters on Monday so that the president can address a gathering on religious freedom.

The move is likely to be seen as a blatant snub to the UN climate summit, to be held in the same building on the same day. Leaders from around the world, including the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson; France’s president, Emmanuel Macron; and India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, are expected at the summit as part of a major UN push to heighten the response to the escalating climate crisis.

“No one was really expecting the president to come to the climate summit,” the official said. It’s understood that senior UN staff have realistic expectations of Trump and do not expect him to engage on the climate crisis, even for a summit held in his home town. Trump has vowed the US will withdraw from the landmark Paris climate agreement.

“He’ll clog up the whole system,” said Mary Robinson, former Irish president and ex-UN high commissioner for human rights. “He won’t go to the climate summit and he wants the distraction factor, I suppose.”

Even if Trump were to attend it is unlikely he would have been called to the podium to speak. Representatives from about 60 countries are expected to address the UN on Monday on the further commitments they are making to slash greenhouse gas emissions and deal with the flooding, storms and other impacts of global heating.

The speakers will outline “only the best plans, only the most committed leaders will be on the stage”, according to Luis Alfonso de Alba, the UN’s special envoy for the climate summit.

Still, Trump’s presence in the UN building, at a time when climate protests swept around the world on Friday, will prove provocative. “Not participating and yet showing up at the building is throwing down a gauntlet,” said David Waskow, director of the International Climate Initiative at the World Resources Institute.

“It’s most importantly a snub to the young people pleading for action on climate change. Donald Trump has made very clear internationally and domestically he has no interest in the science or this issue. It’s up to the rest of the world to get on with its business.”

The Guardian has contacted the White House for comment.

Animal Book Author Flayed By Hunter

A Mike Naye contacted me criticizing my book, God and Animals, after only looking at a couple of free paragraphs shown by Amazon, stating that my misguided ramblings about animals come from emotion. Well yeah! Only human beings have emotions. Savages do not.

He criticized me for having compassion for animals…then, he was reminded that, God created the animals FIRST, then humans as an afterthought. That Scripture verse can be found in my book, God and Animals (AMAZON).

Mr. Naye  slammed me for being a vegetarian even though he challenged me with a question after my defense of animals asking if I ate meat and telling me that he did and wore leather shoes.  He also took great offense at my defense of wolves, now in danger by the lifting of the  wolf protection bill by Congress.

Then he aimed a sucker-punch with this statement: “You may be fighting against what God designed us to be, omnivores, but a lot of us God-fearing people do not.  In addition to eating game animals, I also wear leather shoes.  How about you?” He is a superior “God Fearing” man, by golly.

In my book that Mr. Naye criticizes,  God and Animals-What The Bible says About Heaven and Animals- (AMAZON), he will find that, ‘in the beginning’ both humans and animals were vegetarians.  All relevant Scriptures are in my book to verify what I’ve stated to make solid points and hopefully impressions. Everything I’ve said in my book is backed with Scripture Verses.

The critic was angered at my defense of animals, especially as I noted that Trophy Hunting was “sport killing”, in which those particular hunters gain perverted pleasure in doing. How can anyone take pleasure in causing a living creature to suffer?   He then made a point of telling me that, “wolves, by the way, do not just kill to eat but frequently participate in “sport killing”, i.e., just killing for the fun of it.”  This man was not trying to establish dialogue with me, he just wanted to fight.

First of all, animals have the same nervous system as humans. They experience love, fear, anxiety, pain and mental suffering, just as we do. Take your dog or cat to the vet and watch the anxieties appear. When you hit your thumb with a hammer and jump around yelling, just remember that your animal would feel the exact severe pain if it happened to them.

Another reason for my staunch defense of wildlife, including wolves, is because each animal assists in protecting our ecosystem. God put everything together on purpose for a purpose. And God told us through Adam and Eve that we must tend the garden. That would mean also taking care of the animals sharing that garden.

Furthermore, we are to treat all living creatures with respect. I pity the person who has never had a pet. One has never been loved until they have been loved by a dog who gives unconditional love that too many people have never experienced.

We are supposed to care for God’s creation but we do not. We have a way of ignoring too many things and are letting everything, including environment, and even our families, take care of themselves.  As inventor Liza Marie Hart, known as the “female Einstein observed: “When man messes with God’s Ecosystem, we always have a catastrophe.

For information of the book, God and Animals, click this link or the picture.

© 2019 Austin Miles – All Rights Reserved

E-Mail Austin Miles: chaplainmiles@aol.com

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A Convenient Rationalization

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Here’s part of a comment I received from a hunter the other day: “I love animals, but fully understand that all living things have their place in God’s plan and on His Earth. He gave us domain over animals. Read Genisis [sic] and wake up!”

How convenient. But do people really still believe that kind of crap?

Sadly, the answer appears to be yes.

A staggering 46% of Americans believe that god created humans in their present form within the past 10,000 years, according to a USA Today/Gallup survey conducted this year from May 10th to the 13th. Not only has that number not changed much in the past 30 years since Gallup first asked the question on Creationism vs Evolution, it’s actually gone up 2%, from 44% in 1982 to 46% in 2012!

Gallup’s Frank Newport told CNN, “Despite the many changes that have taken place in American society and culture over the past 30 years, including new discoveries in biological and social science, there has been virtually no sustained change in Americans’ views of the origins of the human species since 1982. All in all, there’s no evidence in this trend of a substantial movement toward a secular viewpoint on human origins.”

So, why do I care what people believe? Why won’t I just let them have their fun?

Because such dogma can directly affect how non-humans are treated.

The literal belief that humans have some kind of god-given authority over every other species of animal bestows undeserved power into unreliable hands. Creationist claptrap that favors one species over another perpetuates speciesist doctrine devised to demean and control our fellow animals in the same way that notions of racial superiority were used against our fellow humans.

The second most common view of those polled—held by 32% of respondents–is that humans evolved with god’s guidance. Again, a very convenient conviction that can be used to put humans on top.

Newport goes on to say, “It would be hard to dispute that most scientists who study humans agree that the species evolved over millions of years, and that relatively few scientists believe that humans began in their current form only 10,000 years ago without the benefit of evolution. Thus, almost half of Americans hold a belief [in creationism] that is at odds with the preponderance of scientific literature.”

To their benefit, and to the detriment of every other living thing on the planet, I might add.

Wildlife Photography Copyright Jim Robertson