Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Is Bishop Eddie's Glass Of BS Half Empty? Or Just Half Full Of It?

Whatever The Answer, 
It'll Be Long In Coming (Sorry)

What we've got in the "Bishop" Eddie Long story is a saga that will be long in analysis, but short in substance: his sermon was so guarded and vague that the buzz words stood out like large, pungent onions in a patch of lavender. 
Anthea Butler of Religion Dispatches reported:
“I am not a perfect man, but I am not the man being portrayed on the television—that’s not me,” leaving room for speculation about what was not perfect about him. The New Birth congregants didn’t seem to mind, shouting support, waving New Birth flags, and even holding up signs that read: “We support you Bishop.” The call and response was especially pointed: “You don’t have to say anything Bishop/We Love you bishop.”
The sermon turned out to be a non-explanation to Long's congregants and it's becoming clear that the case proceedings will be as controlled and as secretive as possible. Long's "David and Goliath" meme is something we'll be sure to hear again and again in the coming months.  In the last sentence to her article, Butler strikes a powerful chord:

Stay tuned. This “bible story” might become hotter than the O.J. trial.

Long's credibility is just now comiing into focus: MediaCurves' animated graph during Eddie Long's speech/sermon is actually quite revealing. Certainly more revealing than the statement of HCD Research which conducted the poll:
Americans Perceive Bishop Eddie Long as More Sincere After Viewing Speech
Flemington, NJ, September 28, 2010 -- A new national study among 532 Americans revealed that the majority perceived Bishop Long as being more sincere after viewing a video clip in which he addresses members during a church service.

The glitch: Long's credibility was not good to begin with. I can't post the actual video since HCD hasn't made it available to YouTube, but click HERE. On a scale of -50 to +50, the graph is deceptive. To the average viewer, the line keeps going DOWN, but what it really means is that the number of people who don't believe him have DECREASED. Turn the graph upside down and you get what HCD is trying to relay. Now look at the numbers below. 

Please rate Eddie Long on the following attribute, where 1 represents “Not at all strong in this attribute” and 7 represents “Extremely strong in this attribute” -- Sincerity
Black/African American
American Indian/Alaskan Native

Long's credibility went up from "kinda weak" to the middle. In other words, most people don't have a good or bad opinion about Long's credibility. It's a kind of "so what?" reaction. He went from an average of 3.38 to 3.55. 

Big deal.

What this video actually shows is that with a few buzz words, Eddie Long can have his congregation on its feet, ready to applaud and believe everything, ANYTHING he says. Anthea Butler literally felt the blind adoration. 

So, with credibility in the neutral zone and Long's supporters in ecstacy over any actions he might take, what does the "no credibility at all" segment of the population think?

O.K., I'm going way out on a limb with this. It may be unacceptable or inappropriate for me to present this next one, but it so perfectly fits the other side of the coin. It's crass and crude, but it's also gotten a lot of attention on the web:

While trying to see if the video was on YouTube, I caught sight of the video below made by one Cadillac Kimberly. Her talk is, to put it mildly, straight ghetto gutter, but she lays it out on the line for everyone who wants to listen: she believes the reports by CNN 100% and she thinks Eddie Long's congregants are just making fools of themselves. And if you don't like what she's sayin' you can kiss her motherf*ckin' ass!* 

The below video contains coarse language, so please be advised.

*BTW: this video went viral - 414,000 views within only two days!

We Told You So! We Told You So! Nah - nah - nah - NAH - nah!

religious-knowledge-01 10-09-28

Life's A Journey. 
Enjoy The Ride!

Sorry, but I'm so happy, I couldn't possibly come up with another headline! The Pew Forum On Religion And Public Life just confirmed what I've been trying to drum into the heads of everyone reading my scribblings for the last five years: not only does the Christian Right know squat about other religions, but most of "the faithful" don't know much about their own religion! 

(AP)  A new survey of Americans' knowledge of religion found that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons outperformed Protestants and Roman Catholics in answering questions about major religions, while many respondents could not correctly give the most basic tenets of their own faiths. 

The survey's questions, moreover, were almost ridiculously basic: 28% of the people surveyed could not name Moses as the chief character in Exodus, 54% didn't know who Martin Luther was, 61% could not identify Job in the Bible, and a whopping 45% did not fully know the Ten Commandments. This last statistic brings to mind another survey conducted:

In a 1997 survey, the London Sunday Times found that only 34 percent of 220 Anglican priests could recite all of the Ten Commandments without help! All of them remembered the parts about not "killing" and not committing adultery. But things got a little fuzzy after that. In fact, 19 percent of these priests thought that the eighth commandement is "Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride."
Kenneth C. Davis, Don't Know Much About The Bible

In the Pew Survey, Black Protestants and Hispanic Catholics knew the least about world religions while mainline Protestants and Evangelicals fared little better. There is an obvious correlation to this particular piece of ignorance in the current anti-Muslim sentiment the country is experiencing.

Another revealing statistic: knowledge of religion increased with level of education. Since few (if any) seminary graduates were polled, this means that the demonizing tactic against secular public education - secularism has taken all religion out of public schools - doesn't quite hold up. Tell THAT to the Texas Board of Education! 

The lack of knowledge evidenced in the Pew survey is something many writers have been warning against, but few people have acted upon. My own piece, Keeping Them Clueless,  got a lot of attention, but it certainly didn't send people to the polls. Charles Pierce's latest book, IDIOT AMERICA - How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free, had modest sales, but not enough to show that the message was getting through: Right wing Religious forces are slowing making our kids dumber in many areas of education as well as dumber in their own religion. 

Again, for the zillionth time

It could then be argued that the more narrow and self-righteous view a people have of their own religion, the better it is to control them. As with the contradictions and complexity of the Bible, a simple but very narrow, very definitive construct is the best way to keep control...
It's control. It has always been about control. Authority and control. Last week's major scandal about "Bishop" Eddie Long was a good example: a few buzz words during a sermon elicited a standing ovation. Eddie Long has authority. Eddie Long has control. Many of his flock have actually read the Bible, but Long's dictates determine which parts are important, which parts can be used as a weapon, and which parts can be used in healing. 

To the man-on-the-street, the questions could seem  basic. However, questions like "What is the first book of the Bible?" stumped 15% of Evangelicals. Not good. Roughly 50% knew the four Gospels. Bad. And a staggering 70% of Evangelicals do not know one of the core beliefs of Protestant Christianity: Salvation is reached by faith alone. 

What the PEW survey didn't question people on: history of the Bible,  Doctors of the Church (e.g. Founding Fathers), religious wars, missionary activities, epistles of St. Paul. Imagine what the scores would have looked like. Cry later and continue reading.

So the upshot of the survey: if you test an atheist and a Southern Baptist with this survey, chances are the atheist will score much higher overall. Shortcomings of religious education aside, this tells us that atheists are definitely more open-minded about religion than Southern Baptists. 

And being close-minded about religion can be ... deadly. 

Just a thought.