Thursday, October 18, 2012

Submit and obey

I was interested in a couple news items this week. The preacher in Iowa who suggests a woman in his church be slapped for objecting to his taking political action against a judge.
Associated Press
Politics and religion have collided at a Burlington church after pamphlets encouraging voters to remove an Iowa Supreme Court justice were made available at a Sunday service.

A woman who attended the City Church service Sept. 30 told a pastor she believed it was illegal for a church to display material promoting specific political action. The pastor told her it wasn't illegal, and in an Oct. 7 sermon another pastor, Steve Youngblood, castigated her for raising objections about the pamphlets that back the removal of Justice David Wiggins.

"Don't call yourself a Christian and do that," Youngblood said in the sermon. "We need to draw a line in the sand. We need to begin to say that at City Church this is how we're going to be."

Under a 1954 federal law, it is illegal for tax-exempt organizations, including churches, to promote political candidates or ballot issues. Those who violate the law can lose their tax exempt status, which allows tax deductions on money given to a church and allows a church to avoid paying property taxes.
The woman who objected to the pamphlet contacted the Facebook page of Vote Yes To Retain Iowa Supreme Court Justices on Oct. 3, and a complaint was filed Oct. 10 with the Internal Revenue Service, alleging the church is involved in a political campaign.

An IRS spokesman declined to comment Friday.

"The IRS is prohibited by law from commenting on any specific taxpayer or entity," spokesman Christopher Miller wrote in an email response to the Associated Press.

In his Oct. 7 sermon, the audio of which was posted online, Youngblood speaks of the woman who complained, saying he'd "like to slap her" and that her husband should rise up and "correct her."

"What makes me madder is that this person's husband won't correct them," he said. "I don't like rebellious women. I don't like rebellious men, either. They're even worse."

Youngblood then told the 150 people attending the service that the pamphlets were available, and he encouraged them to pick one up.

Youngblood said Friday a church member placed the pamphlets on a table in the foyer, outside the ballroom of the Burlington apartments, where the church meets.

Youngblood said the pamphlets, which encouraged people to vote against retaining Wiggins in the Nov. 6 election, were not distributed in church and the church wasn't advising church members on the issue. Social conservative groups have mounted a statewide campaign to remove Wiggins because he joined a unanimous 2009 ruling that found a law banning same-sex marriage violated the Iowa Constitution.

A similar effort sparked by the same ruling succeeded in removing three other justices in the 2010 election.

Although the church didn't initially address the issue, pastors are now.

"Actually we weren't but it wouldn't bother me to do it. I would have. In fact if you heard the sermon, I held it up and said here it is, go get it," Youngblood said. "I'm not going to be bullied. I'm not going to be intimidated. I'm not intentionally breaking the law."

He said the church has been contacted by a legal group offering to represent it for free if it's challenged by the IRS.

Youngblood said it's a coincidence the issue arose about the same time as a national push to overturn the restrictions on churches advocating for candidates or ballot measures.

That effort is sponsored by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based organization that sponsored its fifth annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday event Oct. 7. The group said 1,600 pastors across the country signed up to present "biblical perspectives on the positions of electoral candidates." The group said it hopes to eventually go to court to have the law struck down as unconstitutional because it believes the law violates preachers' free speech rights.

Youngblood said he is not part of that effort and wasn't trying to create controversy.

"I'm just saying in this particular church we're going to make a stand for what's right and against what's wrong and we're not going to be bullied by an individual or by a government," he said.

After contacting the Vote Yes To Retain Iowa Supreme Court Justices group, the woman who objected to the pamphlets was referred to the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, a nonprofit group that defends religious freedom and supports the right to same-sex marriage. Though she initially said she would be willing to be interviewed, she changed her mind when contacted by the AP Friday. She said the stress from the situation has caused her health issues and she didn't want to talk further.

"The woman who blew the whistle on all this feels unable to talk to the press because that sermon was so intimidating and humiliating," said the Rev. Jane Willan, minister at Zion United Church of Christ in Burlington, who has talked with the woman and her husband.

Willan filed the complaint with the IRS, alleging the church is involved in a political campaign.

Interfaith Alliance Executive Director Connie Ryan Terrell said she has grave concerns about the church's actions, including Youngblood's sermon.

"He read from that pamphlet during the sermon and encouraged people to pick it up after church and in my opinion that is a direct violation of the law, which prohibits houses of worship and nonprofits from endorsing candidates," she said.

David Selmon, another City Church pastor, said Sunday the church does not condone violence.

"There are things people say that they just say, not literally meaning they would slap somebody," he said. "I've heard people say, 'that person needs to be shot' but I don't take it seriously."

Selmon said Pulpit Freedom Sunday could be used as a defense for Youngblood's comments. Although the event was well-advertised, Selmon said Youngblood was not aware of the event when he spoke.

Selmon said the judge retention issue is not a matter of being Democrat or Republican. "It's stated in the Bible, if you're a believer, you vote 'no'," he said. "I believe we followed the teachings of the Bible and the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin. Just like drug addictions and fornication is a sin. We preach against sin."

Selmon said the pamphlets are still available at the Burlington apartments, as well as voter registration forms and ballots.

Meanwhile, Youngblood addressed the controversy accumulating around his comments during his sermon Sunday.

"I got a little fired up last Sunday. I'm still fired up, but I'll try to hold in a little bit," he said. "I'm still mad, and I'll be mad the rest of my life over someone who acts like that in the house of God."

City Church's Facebook page accumulated several comments Sunday scolding the pastor and church for the slapping portion of the sermon, but they were removed quickly. 
This whole idea of rebellious women submitting makes me think of that post a few months back about the computer being able to differentiate and pick out  the republican women's faces from the crowd. Maybe it is like poker, the woman who is willing to submit broadcasts some subtle "tells?" I predict that the first time I rebuke my wife and suggest that she submit will be the last time and some very unpleasant things will occur to boot. Very quickly. Whole thing sounds a little bit like the Taliban to me. When is the I.R.S. going to get some stones and stat revoking their tax status?

The other story was about the woman who lived by strict biblical precepts for a year, dutifully submitting, and then can't get her book published because she used the word vagina twice. Heavens. I guess that good christian women may have one of these gadgets but a decent god fearing person certainly should not speak of it.

 “If Christian bookstores stuck to their own ridiculous standards, they wouldn’t be able to carry the freaking Bible."
Rachel Held Evans

Have you heard about the nervous parents in Encinitas who are protesting the new yoga program generously donated to the school, fearing that it will indoctrinate the children into hinduism? Never mind that the program had been scrupulously vetted to remove any references to vedanta or religion. Ridiculous. What will the dimwitted troglodytes think of next?

"Yoga practices and poses are not merely exercise; they're religious practices," said Marsha Qualls, who has a student at Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School, calling the techniques "a kind of prayer."

Some of the parents said they have already asked to have their children removed from the classes.

"I will not allow my children to be indoctrinated by this Hindu religious program," said Andy Vick, who has three daughters at Mission Estancia. "Because of this, you're forcing me to segregate my children."

You may not be able to teach yoga in Encinitas but in Texas, Rick Perry is going to bat to allow cheerleaders to promote Christianity on the football field. Religion is okay, long as it ain't any of that far eastern stuff. Now where might the indoctrination actually be taking place in these two situations?

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