Sunday, July 31, 2005

Today's Sermon:
Why Do Americans
Hate Jesus?

Ignorance may be bliss, but it's also dangerous... Especially when religious posers suck the life out of your bank account.

Keep this in mind: Jesus said the way you could tell the righteous from the damned was by whether they'’d fed the hungry, slaked the thirsty, clothed the naked, welcomed the stranger, and visited the prisoner.

40% of Americans can name more than four of the Ten Commandments.

50% can cite any of the four authors of the Gospels.

12% believe Joan of Arc was Noah'’s wife. (Hey, an arc is an arc, right?)

75% of Americans believe the Bible teaches that "God helps those who help themselves." (That was actually Ben Franklin-- not exactly a big fan of Christianity.)

11% of U.S. churchgoers were urged by their clergy to vote in a particular way in the 2004 election, up from 6 percent in 2000.

85 percent of us call ourselves Christian. (77 percent of Israelis call themselves Jewish.)

75% of Americans claim they actually pray to God on a daily basis.

33% say they manage to get to church every week.

Per capita we each provide fifteen cents a day in official development assistance to poor countries. (Second to last)

Giving to private charities for relief work increases our average daily donation by just six pennies, to twenty-one cents.

18% of American children live in poverty (compared with, say, 8 percent in "Godless" Sweden).

The USA comes in nearly last among the rich nations in funding childhood nutrition, infant mortality, and access to preschool.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported last year that the number of households that were "food insecure with hunger" had climbed more than 26 percent between 1999 and 2003.

Despite the Sixth Commandment, we are, of course, the most violent rich nation on earth.

We have prison populations greater by a factor of six or seven than other rich nations.

We're the only Western democracy left that executes its citizens, mostly in those states where Christianity is theoretically strongest.

Our divorce rate is over 50%.

We're still #1 in teen pregnancies. (Birth control is a sin, don'tcha know?)

Think I'm making this stuff up?

Bill McKibben, a scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College, discusses these facts in detail in the August issue of Harper's. The essay is called, "The Christian Paradox."

A good companion piece is by William Marvel, The Anointed of America."

Marvel recently attended a convocation of preacher wannabes and found...

both the ordained ministers and self-anointed truck-stop preachers engaged in an Olympic contention to determine who could praise and worship Jesus the loudest and longest.
Marvel also marveled at...

How strange, though, that those of the most pious rhetoric seem to be the greatest parasites of their circles, happy to let their wives, daughters, or parishioners support them and their families while they contend for the choice seats in heaven. How odd that those advocates of self-help and personal responsibility demand such hand-and-foot service from the distaff sides of their families. Perhaps women do, indeed, have no purpose except to serve man. Man, meanwhile, has no purpose save to serve God and obey the president, so long as he may be Republican and vociferously Christian.
As for those pesky deadly sins...

... All seemed conspicuously oblivious to the admonitions against gluttony, sloth, and avarice. Obesity seemed the norm, rather than the exception: one minister's wife looked exactly like a blue-ribbon turnip from the state fair, while another sprawled like a sperm whale, watching her blubbery little girl lurch from table to table to siphon off hot dogs and hamburgers. Arguments against earthly materialism also found precious little sympathy, especially among the ministers' own families. Their children all expressed impatience for the next planned purchase, from a tract house to some useless piece of Wal-Mart trash-to-be.

And so I ask...

Do these people really believe in Jesus?

I don't think so. I'm an empirical evidence wonk, though.


Go forth in peace, but cast a skeptical eye upon posers of all shapes and sizes.

They really do mean you harm. Serious harm. Hey, if it makes them look good, they'll do it... After all, it's just business. And God helps those who help themselves, right?

Whether Jesus approves or not. It's an "ends justifies the means" thing, after all.

And don't be seduced by their acting skills.

I mean it, damn it!

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