Thursday, February 2, 2012

Gerbils, Cell Phones And Bats Up The Butt: The Culture War Heats Up With Diatribes From Another World

The other world being the other side - the far right other side -  that is.

The irony of today's Gingrich morality debate is that it highlights rather than downplays the hypocrisies and the falsehoods spun by "social conservatives." Gingrich's infidelity mea culpas served him well in South Carolina, of course. Sarah Palin blasted the "dumb arse" media for covering the "open marriage story."  And his victory was lauded by organizations such as NOM (National Organization for Marriage). Gingrich's past, it seems is blissfully in the past and has nothing whatsoever to do with the country's economic future.

The the future of the country's morality? Why, it lies not with Gingrich, but with the country's more pulpit-driven lawmakers ... and the pulpits themselves, of course. Mea culpa's evidently helped homophobic "Bishop" Eddie Long  regain his stature at New Birth Missionary Church last Sunday where he was crowned "king" by a suspect "rabbi". He was paraded around on a throne and clothed in tabernacle scrolls (they couldn't afford spandex?).  People are calling it a mockery, but his congregation is calling it righteousness.


So in the culture war of this year, "social conservatives," "values voters" and just plain ole' fundamentalists are ramping up the rhetoric to obscene levels. Obscene in their own minds. Hysterical in others.
On a recent appearance on LaBarbera’s radio show, [Americans for Truth About Homosexuality] [Dr./Pastor Patrick ] Wooden called homosexuality a “wicked, deviant, immoral, self-destructive, anti-human sexual behavior” and should make people “literally gag.” Wooden added that gay men have “to wear a diaper or a butt plug just to be able to contain their bowels” by their “40s or 50s” as a result of “what happens to the male anus.” (listen to excerpt below)
Then we have this man who is not capable of teaching sex education:
“Most people realize that AIDS came from the homosexual community — it was one guy screwing a monkey, if I recall correctly, and then having sex with men. It was an airline pilot, if I recall.”
“My understanding is that it is virtually — not completely, but virtually — impossible to contract AIDS through heterosexual sex…
He is, of course, Tennessee state senator Stacey Campfield who, late on, was refused service at a restaurant because of his bigoted views.
“What is the average lifespan of a homosexual? It’s very short ... Anybody out there who’s listening – your twelve listeners on your show, you have them Google ‘average homosexual lifespan.’ It’s very short.”*
The "evidence" cited, of course, is a regurgitation of old lies, myths and irrelevant controversies. We can view vaguely literate "research" HERE and HERE. And they are repeated by every Family Research Council, every American Family Association, every Christian Right mega-church pastor in the country to push the electorate and the political candidates into a false sense of righteousness in the voting booth. 

From Eddie Long being crowned "king" to prophetess/apostle Cindy Jacobs "curing" a woman of her hysterectomy, the moralizing elements of the far right promise to attack liberals with cruel distortions, irrational fears (ala anti-Islam),  chicanery and pomposity never seen since the Crusades. 

But the influence of these deep thinkers is not to be dismissed, because it leads to people being discriminated against, or bludgeoned cats left on doorsteps with the word "liberal" scrawled across them.

*This last dig at Michelangelo Signorile's popularity is very telling: Signorile's program is broadcast to over 20 million Sirius XM radio subscribers. Campfield's aides evidently didn't know that when they booked him on the program. Spouting these "facts" on Signorile's program is in itself, ludicrous.

The New Birth Missionary Kool Aid: Eddie Long's "Coronation" Creates A New Cult While Mocking Christianity And Judaism

He was wrapped in scrolls from the Torah - not in his usual spandex.

The media couldn't cope with the effrontery of it all, so perhaps that is why the latest news and video from New Birth Missionary Baptist Church didn't sally forth until last Wednesday:

Scandal-ridden "Bishop" Eddie Long was annointed "king" last Sunday in a ceremony in which he was wrapped in scrolls from the Torah and paraded around on a throne. He was also designated a "prophet of Atlanta."

This latest event from what has become the nation's most ridiculed mega church has astounded even the most jaded: the below video has gone viral and has had jaws dropping and WTFs peppering the internet. 

The entire video is an unbelievable act of hubris: as if we are seeing Napoleon crowned emperor by the Pope, only Long is a poor Napoleon and "Rabbi" Messer is certainly no pope.

The Presenter of Kings

"Rabbi" Ralph Messer and his SIMCHAT TORAH BEIT MIDRASH are confusing entities- vague amalgums of Christianity and Judaism tied to Long's past Economic Empowerment Summit, thought to be instrumental in Long's million-dollar ponzi scheme. Like Long's title of "Bishop" and Prophetess Cindy ("Japan is shaped like a dragon'") Jacobs' "doctorate", Messer's sobriquet of "Rabbi" seems to be fabricated.

But that doesn't stop the New Birth Congregation from swallowing every Scripture-referenced declaration by Messer. His charismatic, televangelist demeanor overwhelmed the audience. And his mini-Torah lesson sounded authoritative. After all, besides giving its history, he included the monetary value of the scroll, and  to a Prosperity Gospel congregation that is imperative.

"On behalf of the Jewish People, the land of Israel and the God of Israel, I want to make a presentation."

The next days and weeks will hear from the millions who disagree: Messer's authority comes only from Messer. The Knesset may have something to say about him. (Or nothing, since they may not know he even exists).


Most of Messer's annointing of Long consisted of making the scandal-ridden Long immune from any more ... scandal:

"He is a humble man."
 "You can't attack him!"
" He's sealed by every word!"
 "...hidden in the Word of God!"
 "He's given the Constitution of God as a KING!" 
" raised up from a commoner to a kingship!" 
"We love you Bishop!"

The ceremony seemed more of a covenant between Long and his congregation, a covenant that said that he could never again be questioned about anything, never again be doubted, never again be charged with any malpractice of faith or even any civil crime. From now on, "Bishop" Eddie Long is accountable only to God. 

The rest of the performance is merely a peon to rock star worship at concerts, with the star looking oh so very humble and tearful.

Perhaps Anthea Butler of Religion Dispatches put the coronation in its most revealing light:
Clearly they have drunk the “Kool Aid” and I don’t use that term lightly. I’ve believed since my trip to New Birth back in 2010, when Long promised to fight his civil case, that New Birth was a cult-like organization. Long’s hold over his congregation reminds me of Jim Jones. That may sound harsh, but Jim Jones slept with his members too, before leading the People’s Temple into the jungles of Guyana.
The mind-boggling loyalty of the New Birth congregation certainly seems to point in the direction of "cult."  Notable are Messer's references to slavery and chromosomes, as if to say that Long is anointed by New Birth's African American ancestors as well. 

Butler also believes that Long's ministry is dying and so is his mega-church. However, this slow death may make the congregants drink the Kool Aid all the sooner, and I, along with Anthea Butler, hope that more testimonies of sex abuse and ponzi schemes surface before it is too late.

What Price Gullibility?

Cynics like me tend to dismiss acts like the anointing of "Bishop" Eddie Long as the epitome of stupidity. But this time, I would like to say seriously that no matter how much comedy fodder Long and his minions might be, he's still dangerous - simply because he holds desperate, gullible people in his grasp. These people have been stripped of spiritual self-respect. We should laugh at him on the condition that laughter will cause his followers to take note and perhaps attempt to regain that self-respect - in seeking spiritual guidance elsewhere.