I recently ordered a copy of American Exorcism: Expelling Demons in the Land of Plenty by Michael Cuneo, who teaches anthropology and sociology at Fordham University in the Bronx, here in New York City. According to various reviews (listed near the bottom of this post), Cuneo’s book is an in-depth study, from an open-mindedly skeptical point of view, of exorcism as practiced by both Catholics and Protestants here in the U.S.A.
Archive for the 'Protestant' Category
Today I surfed onto a blog belonging to a fundamentalist/evangelical Christian named Hank Hanegraaff, who runs something called the Christian Research Institute (CRI).
He seems to be, in some ways, one of the more honest and reasonable evangelical Christian public figures. Back in the early 1990’s, CRI published some articles debunking the “Satanic ritual abuse” scare , for which I would like to thank him. Back then, standing up against the SRA scare required quite a bit of courage.
In most other ways, though, I still have to regard him as being very much in the enemy camp, for reasons aptly summed up here on RationalWiki (although, as I’ll detail later, the RationalWiki page contains some inaccuracies).
Anyhow, I would like to call attention to some things he says that are of interest both to Satanists and to Pagan Witches.
After posting my recent blog entries on same-sex marriage and religious right wing groups here in New York, I clicked on the tags “gay rights” and “same-sex marriage” to see what, if anything, other people on WordPress.com were writing about these topics. Among other things, I came across a few different blogs in which there was some agonizing over whether it was okay to feel good about the death of Jerry Falwell.
I agree with those who say it’s fine to feel good about the death of someone who has caused so much misery for so many people, especially if you yourself happen to be one of those people.
But I do think we should refrain from expressing any such happy feelings in a truly tasteless manner, such as by picketing Falwell’s funeral a la Fred Phelps and his clan.
Guess what? The Phelps clan will be picketing Falwell’s funeral, or so says this news story on 365Gay.com. Apparently Falwell wasn’t homophobic enough for Fred Phelps, who, according to the 354Gay.com article, complains that Falwell “spent his entire life prophesying lies and false doctrines like ‘God loves everyone.'” (P.S.: I’ve subsequently confirned this story. The front page of the Phelps clan’s website God Hates America now proclaims their intent to “preach” at Falwell’s funeral.)
Anyhow, I also suspect that some folks may be rejoicing out of a mistaken belief that the death of Falwell was a crippling blow to the religious right wing. That it most definitiely wasn’t. Although he was a kingmaker in the early 1980’s, Falwell has not played nearly as significant role in the religious right wing since then. His “Moral Majority” was soon eclipsed by Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition as the leading religious right wing organization. More recently, the most powerful leader of the religious right wing now seems to be James Dobson.
In my previous post, I mentioned a brief news story about the Coalition to Save Marriage in New York. I just now found that group’s website here. Their links page provides a handy list of major right wing groups here in New York State.
Of course, as I hope will be obvious to nearly everyone who would bother to read my blog, the Coalition’s name is just plain idiotic. Exactly how is the legalization of same-sex marriage going to destroy or in any way harm heterosexual marriages???
Anne F. Downey, co-chairwoman of the Coalition to Save Marriage in New York, is a lawyer practicing in the Town of Boston, according to the brief bio following an op-ed by her in the Buffalow News.
According to a page on the Albany Times-Union site:
The group’s steering committee includes the Rev. Duane Motley of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a frequent face at the Capitol on hot-button issues. Among the advisors is Mike Long, the state Conservative Party chairman. Signing on to a position statement opposing same-sex marriage were such groups as the New York Christian Coalition and New York Family Policy Council.
The Times-Union site also has a PDF copy of a press release by the Coalition to Save Marriage in New York.
The coalition’s site’s links page lists the following:
- New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (NYCF) – “The Christian Voice in Albany,” run by Rev. Duane Motley, who claims to be “New York State’s only full time Christian Lobbyist. Lobbying on Religious, Family and Moral issues.” Well, nice to know there’s only one, if indeed that’s the case.
- Concerned Women for America of New York (CWA of NY) – local chapter of one of the older national religious right wing organizations. The national organization is run by Beverly LaHaye, wife of Tim LaHaye, author of the “Left Behind” series and one of the leading members of Jerry Falwell’s “Moral Majority” back in the 1970’s.
- New York Family Policy Council – an evangelical Christian-oriented group. Judging by its name, I would have expected this to be an affiliate of James Dobson’s empire, but I find no reference to Dobson or his organizations in any conspicuous part of the site such as the About page. Lots of very scary rhetoric about Christians “occupying” the rest of society.
- New York State Christian Coalition. Judging by its name, this would seem to be a local branch of Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, though the website doesn’t say so, at least not on any page I’ve looked at so far.
- The Association of Politically Active Christians (APAC) – run by some evangelical Christians.
- Caucus for America, run by Rabbi Aryeh Spero.
- New York State Catholic Conference – this site appears to be entirely in Chinese (or some closely related Asian language), at least on the browser where I am working now. I’ll see later if it still is on my computer at home. Seems strange that a New York “Catholic Conference” website would be in Chinese; I didn’t know that there were that many Chinese-American Catholics.
- The Conservative Party of New York State – site contains a link to What Is Conservativism?, an interesting collection of articles about the Conservative movement in the U.S.A., on the website of the American Conservative Union Foundation
I just now came across the following:
- In Brazil, pope to face a church losing hold
Priest shortage, evangelicals represent challenges
By Monte Reel
Washington Post, via MSNBC
Updated: 4:02 a.m. ET May 9, 2007
This article said some things I expected, such as the following:
Latin America is still predominantly Catholic, but not like it used to be. In Brazil, for example, as evangelical Pentecostalism has spread, the country’s population has gone from being 89 percent Catholic in 1980 to about 64 percent today, according to a survey released this week by the Brazilian polling firm DataFolha.
But there were also some surprises (to me, anyway). In particular:
Young people have shown a greater reluctance to join the clergy, resulting in a priest shortage that is 10 times more severe regionwide than it is in North America or Europe.
“There is a trend here — even among priests — that people should be more free to follow their own conscience, and there’s a growing distance between most Catholics and the church’s hierarchy,” said the Rev. Luiz Roberto Benedetti, a Catholic priest who is a professor of social science at the Catholic University of Campinas, near Sao Paulo. “It’s a trend that goes in the complete opposite direction of the message that the pope wants to send.”
Very interesting, and quite contrary to Philip Jenkins’s characterization of the Catholicism of the southern hemisphere, in general, as a hotbed of Catholic traditionalism and love of hierarchy. (See The Next Christianity by Philip Jenkins, originally published in The Atlantic, Volume 290, No. 3, October, 2002, about the recent explosive growth of the more fanatical forms of Christianity in non-Western countries.)
I would be interested to hear from anyone who can give me solidly sourced information about religious trends in Latin America.
(For more about religious trends in general, see the many articles listed on my page about The growing number of Christians of kinds which inherently fear demons, Satanists, witches, occultists, Pagans, and atheists.)
I recently ran into the following two stories, both on the website of Baptist Press in Tennessee:
- A ticket from Satanism to holiness by Gwan Garrison, April 2, 2007
- Many Satanists prefer the shadows , by Joe Westbury, Posted on Apr 2, 2007
Gwan Garrison claims to be an ex-Satanist. Googling “Satanism Gwan Garrison,” I found the following earlier versions of the above two articles, on Christian Index, a Georgia Baptist site:
- The devil had my heart, but Christ wanted my soul by Gwan Garrison, Pastor, Franklin Baptist Church, March 29, 2007
- Satanism: a real force in the world March 29, 2007
His bio seemed awfully fishy to me.
On About.com, in an article titled “Satanic Panic, or ‘I was a Satanic Witch (No, Really, I Could Fly and Everything!)’,” Jennifer Emick sums up Gwan Garrison’s story as follows:
Baptist Pastor Gwan Garrison talks about how much he enjoyed “persecuting Christians,” and he’s sure to mention (with the amount of accuracy typical in these stories) his “Satanic altar” and his “crystals.” It’s light fare compared to some of these stories- no bloody sacrifices, no marriages to Satan- but there is a glowering cat and a high-voltage Satanic bible- and there is, of course, that ever-present character, the tirelessly persistent evangelical whose refusal to stop pestering the ungodly results in his miraculous transformation.