CNN: Amerian Missionary in ‘Unlawful Medical Practice’ Suit After Babies Died in Uganda

I fully support the humanitarian effort to tackle public health crises in foreign countries. If you’re in Uganda just to feed, clothe, and educate the people there, I have no problem with you. But this is seldom the primary concern for missionaries. While they might indeed provide food and/or healthcare to the people they serve, their primary goal is—and has always been—to win more converts. And there is no easier way to win converts than by going to some country where the people are hungry, uneducated, and desperate. While the missionaries say they aren’t “forcing” Christianity on anyone, they are introducing it to people who are physically and emotionally vulnerable, and who have no way of “fact-checking” anything they are told.

This can have disastrous results, as when Pentecostal churches began exploiting local superstitions about witchcraft in Africa during the 1980s. Extreme poverty and disease are almost always blamed on supernatural forces in such communities, which is already bad enough to start with. But then the charismatic pastors come in with all their hellfire and brimstone, claiming to fight against the “witches” in the name of “God” with their faith healings and their exorcisms—neither of which provides the people who are suffering with any practical solution to their woes. In fact, such practices only escalate the situation because it reinforces the people’s superstitious fears, motivating them to harm and even murder their own children for being accused “witches.” (There is an entire report from Unicef about this particular matter, if you would like to read more.)

I’m not saying Pentecostals are entirely to blame for this, or that there is nothing of value to their faith healings or their exorcisms. There’s a reason people keep coming back to these ritual procedures; as someone who delights in performing execration ceremonies, I can attest that such rites are incredibly potent and can provide some much-needed catharsis in times of extreme anxiety or panic. The problem is when such procedures are claimed to be the one and only treatment people need to recover from their misfortunes. Yes, dancing and chanting to execrate an evil spirit can contribute to your health and emotional well-being, but it’s not going to heal you of AIDS or find you a fresh source of drinking water. It’s not going to eliminate any mental health issues you might be living with. These people deserve to be given a proper scientific education, so they can understand how things like diseases actually work. Telling them that “God will take care of everything” if they just believe and pray is one of the most irresponsible things anyone can say to someone who desperately needs help.

And then you have those missionaries who think they know what they’re doing, but don’t. Exhibit A: Renee Bach, an American missionary who posed as a medical doctor in Uganda without a license. Bach is not a medical professional, yet she has administered blood transfusions, hooked children up to breathing machines, and otherwise participated in people’s medical decisions. Now some of the children she has treated are dead, and an investigation into her activities has been launched. Just from reading the report, I can tell that Bach is someone who cares for children very passionately, and who truly intends to do good work. I do not believe this person intended to harm anyone. But unfortunately, that just isn’t good enough when it comes to practicing medicine. You can love kids and want to heal them all you want, but if you aren’t a licensed physician, the help you provide might actually be deadly. So please think twice before you run off to practice medicine without a license (not just in Uganda, but anywhere).

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CNN: Franklin Graham Wants the Nation to Pray For Trump on Sunday, But Other Christians Call It Propaganda

Franklin Graham, son of the evangelist Billy Graham, has called for a national day of prayer for Donald Trump on Sunday, June 2, 2019.

“Franklin Graham got an idea: God had helped Donald Trump reach the White House, and now the President needed divine aid again.”

If Trump needs divine aid “again,” it stands to reason that he never had it in the first place.

“Like no President before him, Trump was under attack, Graham said. From Democrats, Republicans, the media, even powers and principalities beyond the human realm.”

Classic Evangelical Politics 101: Equate any and all opposition to your political agenda with “spiritual warfare.” This way, anyone who opposes your side will be dehumanized. It’s always easier to hate people and not listen to them when you think they’re possessed by demonic forces.

“Some have accused Graham of “weaponizing” prayer and turning it into a pro-Trump propaganda tool.”

At this point I think we are well beyond the “accusation” phase, don’t you?

“Asked how he would answer critics who say that Trump and his evangelical allies are actually a threat to the church, Graham declined to engage the question. ‘I wouldn’t even answer a person like that. I don’t think it’s valid at all.'”

More young people are converting away from Christianity today than ever before. Granted, there are many different cultural reasons for this that predate the current political climate. But do you seriously expect anyone to believe that endorsing Trump hasn’t been a contributing factor to this? You, the shepherds of Christ, are telling people we all just need to shut up and obey a known liar, fornicator, racist, and misogynist. I can’t speak for Jesus, but I’d be pretty pissed off about this if I were him.

“Some pastors told her that some of their church members threatened to walk out of their churches if they ever prayed for Obama on a Sunday morning, Margolis said. But they are happy to pray for Trump, and likely will this weekend.”

So the well-spoken black liberal might as well be Satan, while the trash-talking white nationalist is a saint. This would be funny, if it weren’t so depressing and gross.

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CNN: A Woman Could Face Prison for Posters That Show a Famed Icon of Jesus and the Virgin Mary With Rainbow Halos

“No whim of freedom and ‘tolerance’ gives anyone the right to offend the feelings of believers,” Polish Interior Minister Joachim Brudziński said on Twitter.

So if I were a Polish citizen and somebody started preaching to me about the biblical Exodus for whatever reason, would I be able to press charges against that person for promoting an ahistorical, anti-Egyptian narrative that offends my feelings as a believer? Likely not—but where do one believer’s feelings end, and where do those of another begin? This is why religious blasphemy laws are insane and should be ditched by every self-respecting country on earth.

But for what it’s worth, I think Elżbieta Podlesna’s posters are terrific. As for the people who are offended by them, I would suggest they meditate on Genesis 9:13, in which the Hebrew god Yahweh creates the rainbow as a sign of his promise to Noah that he will never flood the world again. Perhaps if you are bothered by LGBTQ activism, you should try viewing the rainbow colors in these posters in light of that Bible verse instead.

In any case, here’s hoping Ms. Podlesna will win her case in court. If she actually ends up sitting in jail for two years over this, Poland’s going to have a whole lot more feelings to be worried about than just religious ones.

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CNN: This Supreme Court Ruling is Exceptionally Cruel

The death penalty is nothing short of barbarous. It’s not a particularly useful deterrent against murder; people will kill each other regardless of whether the state threatens to execute them for it or not. And there’s always the possibility that someone who is executed for committing a murder is actually innocent of the crime—in which case, throwing them in the gas chamber is basically state-sanctioned murder. But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this week that the Constitution does not ensure “painless” executions for prisoners on death row. This comes in response to a Missouri inmate’s request to be executed by other means than lethal injection, which could cause him “cruel and unusual punishment” as a result of a rare medical condition. It is possible that if he is executed by lethal injection, he will convulse, choke, and suffocate on his own blood for several minutes, which is a pretty painful and terrible way for someone to die.

Granted, the prisoner—Russell Bucklew—is a convicted murderer and rapist who probably deserves to choke on his own blood for a good 10 minutes before he drowns forever in the jaws of Apep. But this is entirely beside the point. True justice has nothing whatsoever to do with what people might “deserve”; it’s about doing what is right. And I for one have never understood how capital punishment can be “right.” Killing people to dissuade them from killing each other is just an exercise in futility. And making them suffer horribly before they die is something that only serial killers or fascist dictators would do. Frankly, it’s disgusting that the United States rivals countries like China and Saudi Arabia in terms of the sheer number of people we put to death each year. What really gets me, though, is the fact that so many death penalty supporters are also pro-life evangelical Bible-thumpers. Interesting how these people are so shocked and scandalized by women removing undeveloped fetuses from their own wombs, but they don’t seem to give two shits about the living, breathing citizens our society has deemed “unfit to live.” You’d think people who worship an executed convict (who died an excruciatingly painful and humiliating death) would have better sense than that.

Anyway, I am not one to pray for so-called “men” who abuse women and threaten their children. I would humbly suggest to Mr. Bucklew that he should be more concerned about whatever torments await him after his death. But, I do feel that this Supreme Court decision is both inhumane and un-American. It’s absolutely horrible for anyone in Bucklew’s position who might actually be innocent.

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Sermon: Love & Death

I first met my wife in an online Pagan discussion forum during the autumn of 2008. It was only about a year later that we met in person, fell in love, and decided to spend the rest of our lives together. We lived as an unmarried couple for three years, and then we got married on November 2, 2012. We chose this date specifically because it is the third day of Samhain (or All Souls’ Day, if you’re Roman Catholic), and we figured this might increase our deceased grandparents’ chances of attending the ceremony and reception. Since the wedding, we have accumulated plenty more happy Samhain memories for our little family as well. But one of the most monumental things to have happened was the passing of my mother-in-law, who joined the ancestors just before Halloween 2015.

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Religion News Service: Celtic Spirituality Draws Pagans and Christians Alike

I saw this on the news today, and I just had to share it for all my Celtic friends:

Slowing down and taking in the ancient ways of Celtic Christians might be just what harried Americans crave in order to deepen their spiritual lives and find ancient grounding. That’s the premise of a flurry of books coming out this fall. At least four publishers are venturing into Celtic spirituality with new titles that seek to strike a chord with both Christians and pagan groups. The latter reconstruct pre-Christian Celtic religions built around the notion that spirits exist in living organisms.

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The Wild Hunt: HexFest 2018 Met With Protests From Catholic Groups

Hemelt wrote, “Please help us pray for the end of all witchcraft and occult practices and rituals that offend [the Abrahamic g]od and that the HexFest will be stopped, all rituals be rendered useless, and that the evil one may be thwarted in his efforts to lead souls astray.”

Wow. It’s good to know the Catholic community in New Orleans has nothing better to do right now than harass Pagans. I mean, they could be writing letters and sending gifts to all their fellow Catholics in Pennsylvania whose lives have been destroyed by pedophile priests. They could be donating money to all those families to help them pay their legal fees or their therapy bills. But no, clearly that isn’t a priority. Clearly, slipping flyers under hotel room doors to try and convert Pagans (or make them feel unwelcome) is much more important. Clearly, we are a much greater threat to these people than the real monsters that lurk within their own confessionals.

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