Why Evangelical Beliefs and Practices are Harmful ‑ Part One

found online by Raymond

From The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser:

In light of a recent comment on the post Do Evangelical Beliefs Lead to Psychological Damage?, I thought I would give several reasons why I think Evangelical beliefs and practices are psychologically harmful.

Evangelical Christianity teaches that everyone is born with a sinful nature. People do not become sinners, they are, by nature, sinners. From the moment people come into this world they are sinners who are at variance with God. This is the lot of the human race. No one, except Jesus, is exempt.

What is sin? Sin is, according to Evangelicals, transgression of the law of God. God is Holy. He hates sin and those who do it. All of us deserve to be eternally punished in the Lake of Fire for our sins. We deserve, because of Adam’s sin in the garden of Eden, to be tortured in the flame of Hell for eternity.

Jesus came to earth to redeem people from their sins. According to Evangelicals, God demands human sin be atoned for through a blood sacrifice. When Jesus was on the cross the wrath of God the Father was poured out on Him —wrath that Jesus did not deserve. Taking our sins and punishments upon himself, Jesus died on the cross to satisfy our sin debt.

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Kaine Lifts the Curtain

Your car insurance policy is 22 pages long.

Did you read every word? No.

Only lawyers do that.

So when you got rear-ended and you needed a tow, your insurance company told you to look on page 5 on your policy.

Did it say “Great news! You’re covered!” on page 5?


It said, “blah blah – blah blah blah – blah blah.”

Liberty Mutual – Coverage Compass

People usually don’t like commercials. I don’t like commercials.

But I have usually kind of liked Liberty Mutual commercials. One series of ads had people committing spontaneous acts of kindness, which inspired casual bystanders to copy what they had witnessed. The ads showed a sort of multiplying effect, a chain reaction. Pretty soon, the whole world would lapse into a peaceful friendly state of friendly peaceful states and the peaceful friendly populations that populate them, except the ad ended before that last part could happen.

Time limits, you know.

From what I’ve read, they’re a pretty good company. But they seem to be going through a bit a low phase.

Maybe they changed agencies or writers or maybe their executives decided that kindness and good will wouldn’t sell. Rage and hatred will sell, if it isn’t too scary.

They probably never sat around a table with their ad agencies and actually pondered what sort of hatred they could promote. We’ll never know for sure, unless Donald Trump’s Russian intelligence agencies hack in and publish some emails. I can picture business executives wondering how to latch onto public hatred. What really enrages folks?

As political campaigns have shown, there is a lot of hatred that can be directed at traditional targets: immigrants, poor people, and minorities. Think back to the financial crisis eight years ago that cost millions of jobs, forced homeowners to live out of their automobiles, pushed death rates up from the financial strain. It became apparent to anyone who followed the money that huge financial firms and those who ran them had committed massive fraud.

But who got a disproportionate share of the blame? If you thought of traditional targets; immigrants, poor people, and minorities; you get to stay and clean the erasers.

Think about political campaigns going back to the beginning of time, from no-nothings to the Klan to Trumpsters. Who gets to be hated? Try immigrants, poor people, and minorities.

But here’s the problem. If an insurance company even thought about climbing on that sort of wagon, they’d get off very quickly. For one thing, it’s real wrong. I’m trying to imagine an insurance company finishing up a campaign based on everyone should be a nicer, kinder, and gentler, then launching a Mexicans-are-drug-dealers-and-rapists-and-some-I-assume-are-good-people campaign. I can’t think of anyone who would do such a thing.

Okay, maybe one person.

Plus, how could an insurance company do it? How can you sell insurance with that sort of argument? Show those horrible immigrants and poor people and minorities! Buy a policy from us!!

But Liberty Mutual did find a villain. They figured that, aside from the usual targets, there was a group pretty much everyone hates: insurance companies.

So this insurance company got an ad agency to figure out how to sell insurance based on hatred.

Of the insurance industry.

A lot of things that seem impossible at first don’t look hard at all, once someone does them. And this is one of those things.

If you have accidents, the insurance company raises your rates.
So come with us instead.

If the car you totaled is old, the insurance company will not buy you a new one.
So come with us instead.

Then you can name your car Brad and do a happy dance.
Just come with us.

A lot of it leaves me skeptical. As in you get what you pay for, if you exercise due diligence and shop around. You don’t have to buy the promise of a fantasy.

I’ve liked what Liberty Mutual has done before. They would be on my list of companies to check out if I ever decided to change. But it would be in spite of their current run of ads, not because of them.

Those of us who have had insurance for a while can get a sense of dollars and cents. Insurance companies have employees who wear eye-shades all day long and work the figures for a single purpose. They want to make more money. So they figure the odds and put those odds into tables.

Change your deductible, or work to develop a careful driving record, or exercise due diligence and shop around. Drive more carefully, have fewer accidents, and insurance companies will find it profitable to chase after you. Please do business with us.

The only wrinkle in all this is the occasional rip-off. It could happen in a lot of ways. Until recently, some insurance companies in some fields, particularly dealing with medical coverage, would find ways to cancel insurance policies rather than pay large claims. Even car insurance companies might try to chisel their way out of the occasional catastrophe.

It doesn’t just happen in insurance, of course. One tactic is occasionally used by those with deep pockets against little folk.

If you sue us, you will probably win. But we will make it so expensive for you to win, and we will delay paying any judgment for so long, we will make sure you lose even while you are winning.

As you may guess, I’m quoting from personal memory.

More common than the too-big-to-lose strategy is the baffle-them-with-fine-print tactic.

That is why Liberty Mutual’s blah blah – blah blah blah – blah blah commercial strikes a chord.

Did it say “Great news! You’re covered!” on page 5?


It said, “blah blah – blah blah blah – blah blah.”

Which brings us to politics and the middle ground.

When Elizabeth Warren was Professor Warren, before she became Senator Warren, she envisioned and argued for and fought for a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It was an anti-blah-blah-blah agency, designed largely to give ordinary folks a weapon against corporate rip-offs.

Too big to fight? Not if you were legally right and the little band of experts got on your side. Fine-print? Nope – put it in plain English or give up the loopholes. Is your bank delaying your deposits just a little, just enough, then processing the bigger checks before the small ones in order to force up late fees? Not if Senator Warren’s agency can help it.

Establishing an agency to guard against corporate theft was one of those issues that left very little to compromise. What sort of halfway point is possible? Can you be in favor of corporations cheating some retired couple of ONLY half their retirement savings rather than all of it? Some efforts to measure a political position on an ideological scale become distortions before they begin.

We either think Donald Trump’s 2000 or 3000 or 5000 mile wall is an absurdity or we don’t. Would a moderate position be a wall half as tall or a third as long?

When professional Republicans noticed Donald Trump rising in the polls, the attacks against him were largely ideological. He was not a true conservative. Look at his score from the Conservative League!

Most of those who thought his scowling visage worthy of their votes did not care about his score on the conservative yardstick. He hates the same groups they hate, he fears what they fear, he screams out their anger.

When Hillary Clinton announced she was raising Kaine, as some have put it, I heard that Senator Tim Kaine was a moderate. Not nearly as progressive as, say, Elizabeth Warren. Or Bernie Sanders. Or as progressive as am I.

Whether I care will, I suppose, depend on the issue. If he wants to allow large corporations to semi-cheat the economically vulnerable, I will object. If he is for the Trump wall as long as it is only 4 feet high, but no higher, I will object. If he wants to hand over to Vladimir Putin just half the NATO countries that Donald Trump says he’ll award to Russia, I will object.

Like most Americans, my opinions are just now congealing.
Tim Kaine seems like a decent fellow.

He spoke with passion and strength at the Democratic Convention.

I don’t care about the numerical score.
That’s all blah-blah-blah stuff.
I’m looking into what’s actually behind the curtain.

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Trump Ally Gingrich Jumps the Gun–Again–on Munich Killings

found online by Raymond

From Jon Perr at Perrspectives:

One day after the horror in Munich, German authorities are still assembling a fuller picture of the 18-year-old assailant who killed 9 people in a shopping mall there. With the revelations that the gunman was a seriously depressed loner who had researched past school shootings including Columbine and Virginia Tech, it appears increasingly likely his rampage was not an act of terrorism at all. While investigators have found no evidence of ties to ISIS or other Islamic terror groups, NPR reported that “police are checking into leads that he had recently converted to Christianity.”

But you wouldn’t know any of that if you listened to Donald Trump’s new propagandists, Newt Gingrich. On Friday morning, Gingrich took to Twitter to declare that the bloodshed in Bavaria validated Trump’s dark warnings at the Republican National Convention.

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My Last Pointless Post About David Brooks: UPDATE

found online by Raymond

From driftglass:


Because once Donald Trump ascends to the Peacock Throne there will be no need for carping losers like me to carp any longer about the outsized and toxic influence of well-heeled parasites like Mr. David Brooks of New York Times.

After all, Mr. Trump has promised to immediately wipe every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will pass away.

So we’ve got that going for us.

And then, on the Second Glorious Day of his 1000 Episode Reich, he has solemnly promised to loosen enough libel laws and appoint enough mob lawyers to his People’s Revolutionary Supreme Court to silence his America-hating critics for good and all.

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A Salvo of Posts

found online by Raymond

From Vincent at A wayfarer’s notes:

I find that’s there’s nothing more noble and authentic than to respond to the moment. At any rate, that’s what this here-and-now moment tells me. On a different occasion I may ruefully reflect that spontaneity can lead to ill-considered action, which in turn can lead to regret. This is even reflected in English law, albeit one resulting from a EU directive, not likely to be repealed as a result of Brexit. It’s commonly known as a “cooling-off period”.

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Philando Castile Was Pulled Over 49 Times – Why?

found online by Raymond

From Rippa at The Intersection of Madness and Reality:

It’s been a few weeks since Philando Castile was shot and killed. Philando was shot and killed by officer Jeronimo Yanez, after a traffic stop. Not much has been said about the case in media circles of late. My guess is that the targeted shootings of police officers, in recent weeks, is to be blamed.

This is unfortunate, but understandable. With eight police officers shot and killed, in separate incidents, in two weeks, police officers feel like they’re walking targets. As such, less of a focus on the unfortunate circumstance of being a person of color killed by the cops. While seemingly unfair, it makes sense. After all, unlike everyday civilians, cops are not targeted daily for execution. Even so, as hyper-vigilant as cops might be, they are less likely to be killed by civilians in encounters.

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Evidence that Atheism has Failed!

found online by Raymond

From PZ Myers at Pharyngula:

In a remarkable feat of unlogic, a Christian reveals the evidence that atheism has been defeated. I include his argument below, but I haven’t copied over his links, all of which are to his own blog, or to that paragon of trustworthy truthiness, Conservapædia, so just take his backing support as given.

1. Most atheists are men.

Yes, this seems to be true. Point, Christian!

However, I don’t see how this shows that atheism is weak or has failed. Many of us do take this as a sign that we have biases that we need to correct, but as you’ll see, that’s not why this guy has a problem.

I would also point out that most priests are men. Which means…?

2. Feminist women conquered atheism.

Uh, what? He’s just announced that atheism has a male majority. How does it follow that feminist women have “conquered” atheism? What does it even mean to say a set of ideas has been “conquered”?

Unfortunately, this is one of his claims that lacks a supporting link, even to Conservapædia

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Tim Kaine

found online by Raymond

From Iron Knee Political Irony:

I must admit that I wasn’t paying too much attention to the VP selection contest, and so when Clinton announced Tim Kaine as her VP pick, I didn’t know much about him. I know that people say he’s boring, or that he is too moderate. So I took some time today to investigate.

I might get some flak for this, but I have to say I like him and I think he is a very good choice. He is strongly principled without being an ideologue. He’s certainly an extremely likable person and wins the contest of the candidate with whom you would most like to have a beer, or even stretch it out to a long interesting dinner. He’s much more comfortable with himself while speaking than Clinton, which is good. He has humor and humility. I just feel like I can trust him, which is more than I can say for most politicians.

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found online by Raymond

From Green Eagle:

Real treason? Not the phony kind that Republicans are always raving about, but real, Reagan style treason? I guess it depends about what counts as an enemy when the Constitution talks about adhering to our enemies, giving them aid and comfort.

So, here is what we know today: Trump has committed himself to abandoning the United States’ long standing treaty obligations to defend NATO countries against attack by Russia, and in return, the Russian dictator has had his people hack into Democratic party e-mails and release embarrassing information, right before the Democratic convention.

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Why It’s Great for a Veep to Be Boring

found online by Raymond

From Jonathan Bernstein at BloombergView:

Hillary Clinton’s choice of first-term Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate is probably the strongest she could have made, at least from what we know of him so far.

As with Mike Pence on the Republican side, it’s unlikely anyone will challenge his readiness to be president, given his experience in Congress and as a former governor.

Some liberals have spoken against Kaine, but he has been a mainstream liberal in the Senate

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