Identifying potential clergy: 8-15/16-09
Ramadan's changing times: 8-18-09

Racism and religion: 8-17-09

Because religion's history is tainted when it comes to promoting good race relations (and I'm speaking here mostly about Christianity, especially, but not exclusively, in America), I continue to find encouragement when I see people of faith making special efforts to get this right.


The 19th Century abolitionists in America, many of whom were driven by religious convictions, got it right -- even in the face of people of faith who swore up and down that the Bible justified the continued existence of the slavery system.

It's also true that people of faith provided much of the necessary leadership for the Civil Rights Movement.

But at times religious adherents have perpetuated racial prejudices. (Where, after all, do you think the Ku Klux Klan came from?) It wasn't for nothing that people used to say (and sometimes still do) that the most segregated hour of the week in America is 11 a.m. on Sundays.

At any rate, a division of the publishing arm of my denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), has just released "The Racism Study Pack" for people in churches who want to delve into issues of race. It's a product of "The Thoughtful Christian," a Web-based study leader that is maintained by Westminster John Knox Press. But it's not just for Presbyterians. It uses a variety of writers from various denominations.

I haven't been in any groups that have used material from The Thoughtful Christian, but this new racism pack looks as if it would help a group ask many of the right questions.

The topics in the pack include:

  • Why is it So Difficult to Talk about Racism?
  • Racism 101
  • The Bible and Racism
  • A History of Racism in the United States
  • White Privilege
  • Is Affirmative Action Still Needed?
  • Do Segregated Churches Imply Racism?

Has your own faith community, if any, done a study series on racism? How did it go?

* * *


At a Nebraska meatpacking plant, employees and employers are trying to work out a non-disruptive way to allow Muslims celebrating Ramadan starting this Friday evening to pray at work. It shouldn't be a big hassle to accommodate people with religious needs in ways that don't impede work. As America becomes increasingly diverse religiously, we need to negotiate these waters calmly. By the way, I'll be writing here tomorrow about some intriguing aspects of Ramadan that I bet you've never thought about.

* * *

P.S.: As a follow-up to this recent blog entry about the "prosperity gospel," I link you to this weekend New York Times piece about preachers who offer this distorted Christian message. Economic hard times seem to encourage charlatans.



Bill, though the churches I grew up in in Johnson County were almost exclusively white, the congregations I've been involved with in Kansas City have been mostly mixed. And most young people seem to make no distinctions regarding race.

IMO, racism seems to be fading out a lot faster than sexism and homophobia.

Speaking of sexism, I've been thinking about an interchange between Will and myself from the other day, regarding the Apostle Paul's views on women. Here's an exerpt --

Me: "So, Will, since you admit that you don't think Paul was wrong, does this mean you agree with his pronouncement that it's shameful for a woman to speak in church, and also that women shouldn't teach or have positions of authority (except for maybe over other women and children) in the church, because of man being made first, and woman being the one who got deceived into sin?"

Will: "Yes, Susan, Paul was correct in the situation the church found itself in, at the time."

So, you are saying that at that time, the church found itself in a situation where it "mattered" that woman was made after man, and it also "mattered" that woman was the one who got deceived into sin. It mattered enough that women couldn't teach or exercise authority over men. (Continued)


(Continued) If these 2 things mattered enough to Paul that he felt it necessary to limit women's role in the early Church, and if you really believe Paul was correct and speaking for God in what he said -- then why wouldn't you think these 2 things still matter in the Church today?

If you say they no longer matter because the Church is not under the same persecution today -- I can certainly agree with you that we enjoy a tremendous amount of religious freedom living under our secular government.

But this doesn't really explain why Paul's assessment of women is no longer accurate. Paul could have quite easily explained all his limitations by saying, "Sisters, you're raising the next generation -- we want you to keep quiet in the churches to avoid drawing attention to yourselves and getting arrested."

But Paul chose INSTEAD to reiterate the Genesis account, which presents woman as the last to be made, and the first to sin. The only rationale for this that "I" can think of, is that Paul was deriding women by saying they were easily-deceived and therefore not fit for leadership (can anyone think of another explanation?). Again, if his whole intention was just to protect women from the persecution, it would have been easy enough to just say what he meant.

So I conclude that Paul WAS saying what he meant. And as I've said before, this doesn't make him an awful guy -- just a human being with biases like we all have. I respect your right, Will, to have a different view, and to uphold all of Paul's Biblical writings as correct -- or as you say, "correct in the situation the church found itself in, at the time."

Now I'm just wondering if you think the Church's "situation" has changed enough that we women no longer need to be constricted by the choice our female ancestor made in Genesis? If so, how is it different? Wasn't the Church under grace at the time that Paul was writing these letters? And if so, why was he still dredging up woman's downfall?

Will Graham

The Bible on how to eliminate slavery:

"If a slave has taken refuge with you, do not hand him over to his master. Let him live among you wherever he likes and in whatever town he chooses. Do not oppress him".

Deuteronomy 23:15-16

If this advise had been followed, slavery could have been eliminated in a very short time without war.

Will Graham

The atheists at the Voice of Reason like to tell me Thomas Jefferson was not a Christian, that he was a Deist or an atheist.

Thats fine, they can have him. When he had the chance eliminate slavery, he failed in a cowardly fashion.

And he not only kept plenty of slaves, he had plenty of sex with them.

And the most famous atheist of the last two centuries, frequently praised by the Voice of Reason (one of the hosts told me he LOVED Nietzsche) was a raging racist who hated Jews and Christians. If you read any of The AntiChrist or the Geneaology of Morals its almost as if its KKK or Nazi propaganda.

"Elimination of the weak and defective, the first principle of our philosphy. And we should help them to do it!"

Nietzsche, The AntiChrist, sec. 2.

Will Graham

Bill, Christians are frequently discriminated against at work. Just try speaking freely about your faith at City Hall in Kansas City.

But Muslims. Just try negotiating with them calmly! Sure.

I will tell you one thing, they stand up for what they believe, and that is what Christians should start doing more.

I still remember when the guy at the Community of Reason had a talk on Islam early last year and the Muslim students showed up! They began questioning him and had him reduced to incoherence in less than 15 minutes; other atheits joined in but it was no use.

It was memorable moment, still mentioned on campus.

Around here, Iggy and Cole brag about going to Bible studies and disrupting things with questions and confounding and confusing people.

Of course, if you were to try that at an atheist meeeting, Iggy would call the may remembered that last year he threatened that several times.

Not understanding the Constitution, he used to say "The Police are Watching this blog."

Cui Bono

Will Graham


Dolores Lear

"Racism and religion" - I continue to find encouragement when I see people of faith making special efforts to get this right."

What is right with all the faiths on Planet Earth? What is Faith? Faith in Human Teachings about a God. How many different Human Faiths about a God of the Universe and Planet Earth are there?

The Universe and Planets are the Temple of the ONE GOD. How many parts of this GOD are in the Gods of Earth?

Acts 17:22-25. KJV. "Then Paul stood in the midst of Mar's hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an alter with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath and all things;
And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and bounds of their habitation;"

This Unknown GOD in verse 23, is the Force, not a Human, that made the Universe of Elements Seen and Unseen. GOD is not a Human Person made from the Elements.

The God in verse 24 is the God/Us, our Human Ancestors, in Genesis that Colonized Earth.

From all the Gods on Earth, we are like the people of Athens. Our cities are full of the temples of the many Man-Made Gods on Earth today.

The Universe and our Home Planet are the Temple of GOD/LIFE.


Funny thing, Cole and I were talking about it last night - EVERY SINGLE TIME anything that deals with rights of a minority and "common sense" medically (women, Native Americans, minorities, gays, rights to abotion, morning after pill, cervical vaccine etc.) IS ALWAYS EVENTUALLY WINS OUT TO RELIGOUS DOGMA. It wins based not on "religous" grounds but on "equal protection" and "equal rights ground" Religion as "opium of the people" needs in my opinion to be anazlied statistically and facts presented.

I bet you anything someone has defended a PhD thesis analizing biblical references in Northern and Southern newspapers in America before the Civil War and after during different decades. The statistical analises is quite easy today with computerizing. One can digitize papers and then run them catching "all" religious words related to racism and religion. I bet you the % of the papers language would be an interesting case to show how religion has been used in sermons and public discource to justify slavery.

Would be great if issues like this could be analized statistically and presented to the US population - in a very "simple" language. "You see, religious people % wise have always "misunderstood, mistinterpreted, sinned against god's word" when it came to these issues - so, let's not waste our time now and move on with the progress. It is unavoidable that racism will go away little by little and religous tensions will die out as religion becomes more secularized.

A landmark decision of the Supreme Count in 1967 overturned "institutionalized" interracial marriage ban. In large part it was based on religion.

The trial judge in the case, Leon Bazile, echoing Johann Friedrich Blumenbach's 18th-century interpretation of race, proclaimed that
“ Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.





In 1958, the Christian fundamentalist preacher Jerry Falwell, at the time a defender of segregation, in a sermon railed against integration, warning that it would lead to miscegenation, which would "destroy our [white] race eventually."[132].

Asians were also specifically included in some state laws. California continued to ban Asian/white marriages until 1948 until the Perez v. Sharp decision, and other US states banned Asians from marrying whites until 1967.

In the United States, segregationists and Christian identity groups have claimed that several verses in the Bible[134], for example the story of Phinehas and the so-called "curse of Ham", should be understood as referring to miscegenation and that these verses expressly forbid it. Most theologians read these verses as forbidding inter-religious marriage, rather than inter-racial marriage

In the United States, segregationists and Christian identity groups have claimed that several verses in the Bible[134], for example the story of Phinehas and the so-called "curse of Ham", should be understood as referring to miscegenation and that these verses expressly forbid it. Most theologians read these verses as forbidding inter-religious marriage, rather than inter-racial marriage[135].

However miscegenation has become increasingly accepted in the United States since the Civil Rights movement and up to the present day.[136] In the 1997 poll, nearly two-thirds (64%) of black, Hispanic, or Asian teens, who had ever dated and who attended schools with students of more than one race, said they had dated someone who was white.[137] A Gallup Poll on interracial dating in June 2006 found that 95% of 18- to 29-year-olds approve of blacks and whites dating. About 60% of that age group said they have dated someone of a different race.[138] The black-white marriages increased from 65,000 in 1970 to 422,000 in 2005, according to Census Bureau figures.[139]

adam harrison

Deuteronomy 23:15-16

adam harrison

Thomas Jefferson was a slaveholder, and atheists like to claim him.

They can have him.

adam harrison

Another landmark decision of the Supreme Court...Dred Scott was held to be only three fifths of man.

And in Buck v Bell, the ATHEIST Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said that slaves could be forcibly sterilized.

adam harrison

Susan, you keep spammimg about the Paul.

He was an apostle who met the Risen Christ. Do you believe that?

But you are a MORAL RELATIVIST, who does not think truth exists. After all, you have said again and again, as has been pointed out again and again (LOL!) that you could be wrong about ANTTHING AND EVERYTHING.

So whats your beef with Paul?

By the way, I think that way you repeatedly side with enemies of Christianity, to score a couple of internet points against people you don't like, IS "shameful".


The "Patriarchy Movement" seems to be gaining momentum in some conservative Christian circles. It's now presented as a radical counter-movement against femininism (even though the movement itself started well before the feminist revolution of the 1960's) -- Now the focus is on persuading women that they can only find true liberation through submission -- but it seems its roots were born out of racism.

A while back I stumbled across the blog of a Southern Black woman who's an enthusiastic part of the Patriarchy movement. She was talking about her distress at learning that the early movement had a very racist thrust. She doesn't feel that's the heart of the movement now. I've been trying to re-locate that blog but haven't found it yet.

Things like this make me realize how closely-connected all the "isms" really are. This actually makes sense, because all the "isms" are based on a desire for privelegded groups to retain their priveledged status.

Yes, adamh, I believe the Apostle Paul met the risen Christ. I also believe I've met Him. Have you met him?

I've met Christ, and I have His Spirit living in me -- and I can still be wrong about some things. So can Paul.

So do you agree with Will that Paul was correct in saying women shouldn't teach or exercise authority over men because of what Genesis says about woman being the last one created, and the first to sin? Again, Paul gave the Genesis account as his rationale for limiting women -- so if you're going to say he was really motivated by his desire to protect women from the persecution, can you make some sort of a case for why you think Paul was saying one thing while he meant another?

adam harrison

No True Atheists:


Last night's Bible study on "Revelation" was quite interesting. We went over chapter 1.

I raised the issue of "these things will shortly come to pass" in the first chapter (mentioend twice) - the minister leading the Bible study completely ignroed it and switched the tracks on "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein" - which is "right before" the "timing".

It appeared to me that the issue of "timing" of these events was not even an issue to the folks in the Bible study - it comes when it comes, regardless that the account says "shortly". Clearly, the revelation was writted by a human and happend to him, so "shortly" would mean in "human" years and not godly years.

This verse was interesting...(1:7) "He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him." Everyone will see Jesus descend from the sky. Such an event would only be possible on a flat earth. When asked how would people see Jesus unless he will "flatten" the Earth or people all over the owlrd will see Jesus on their TV screen and Itnernet the folks did not have an answer other than "god can do anything".

Nobody dwelt on the appearance of Jesus too much - (1:13-16) "His head and his hairs were ... white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire, ... out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword."

Jesus was holding seven "stars" in his hands (seven angels of the 7 churches as explained in the last verse of chapter 1). Eric clarified that angel in Greek means "messenger", so Jesus was holding 7 messengers of the 7 churches. Stars are messengers? Stars don't carry any information per se. They just produce fusion. But it is clear from other verses (6:13, 8:10, 12:4) that John thought of stars as being small, perhaps even small enough for Jesus to hold in his hand. Scientifically completely bizarre.

There are no stars that are sized small enough to be held in hand of Jesus. Jesus is not described as a huge being, and the temperature of the 7 stars would be scorching, so Jesus had to have some "supernatural" powers to lower their temperature down dramatically. Back to "Three Little Piggies Story"...


Before the Bible study last night I got to talk for a couple of minutes with the wife of the junior minister.

She was wearing pants just like she was last week. I asked her why she wasn't waring a dress as according to anotehr man in the Bible study women not wearing dresses contribute to moral decay of the society. She laughed it off and said she did not think it was right.

I asked her why she was rejecting this from Leviticus. She said "We adhere to the New Testament and not Old and this is old story". I asked her about gays - it is in the OT and Jesus "never" said a single word against gays. To which she said somewhat sarcastically "You come prepared with all kinds of quotes, don't you?" - I told her "Someone here has to" and this is when the study began.

After the Bible study I spoke to one lady in the room for about 45-60 min, we then walked outside the church and were later joined by a gentlemnt with his son and his son's friend and talked for another 1.5 hours or so.

One thing that struck me again about folks in the parking lot - "Nothing" will ever change their mind about God, nothing. The lady who I had talked to before actually said she would change her mind if facts are convincing - even if aliens showed her how they created this universe and life - but when the other guy and two teenagers showed up she hardened up her stance and when I was referring to her "rational" acceptance of "convincing facts" she avoided admitting that.

It looks like "group dynamics" and "peer pressure" caused her to change her "freethinking" position when you are one on one with her to "mainstream" hard core "fundamental" position.


During the Bible study yesterday the minister raised the issue of appearance of Jesus in "Revelation" - he is the "feisty", "glorious" and "scary Jesus" who will come totally different from the "bodily" Jesus who accended. He brought up Lazarus and his "miraculous" waking from the dead.

I asked if in the future people will be routinely "awaken" wiht medical advances and organs replaced to keep them going, would that not be a miracle in itself and we will be able to defeat death even with "cryonics" for instance. To which the answer was - well, really, it's "mortal body", it will never accomplish eternal life, you will be dying and suspended and then resurrected again, this is not a continous life and then of course, Jesus will come and put a stop to it.

An idea of "mental experimentation" is not entering the minds of these people, it is all about "certainty" for them, not "what if and when".

An interesting thing, the minister said that he viewed the end of the world as a nuclear event. I asked him if it woudl be by humans or god - he did not know - it just will happen.

I asked them what if an asteroid comes in and threatens to wipe us out, will this be the end of the world? What if at the last minute we in our collective human feat of ingenuity deflect the asteroid - "the will of god" as some would no doubt say, what would that mean?

To these folks it means "nothnig" - "thy will be done" - this is the end of it. The goal posts with revelation as well as with Christianity are always changing. You can never nail them on certainty. They "seek certainty" but "certainty of reality" to them is a "threat to their salvation" as I see it. They will extend it as far in the future as they can.

Dolores Lear


What is the History of Race in Religion?
When did the Mixture of races begin on Earth?

When Humans Evolved from the ape Lucy, and were Black Skinned? Where did the White skin come from Albinism?

In Genesis when the God/Us Reproduced supernaturally the Female from the Male Rib. What Skin Color were they, White? or Black? All other skin colors are a mixture.

When Cain, skin color?, killed Abel, skin color? and then Cain and Seth, skin color, populated Earth what Color were the people of Nod?

Did Cain have a Different Father from Adam, and a different skin color? The Talking Snake, or Lucifer, or Satan, were what skin color?

When Cain went out to the land of Nod, what skin color were they? Is that when Humans began Miscegenation?

Again. What is the Race History in Religion and Myth? Or in Evolution?

Dolores Lear

Iggy: (about Revelation)
"This verse was interesting...(1:7) "He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him." Everyone will see Jesus descend from the sky. Such an event would only be possible on a flat earth.

Or, on a Round Earth with Humans with High Tech Science Knowledge.
When Jesus returns in Clouds in the New Jerusalem Spaceship, it will park in our Atmosphere, and as the Planet rotates, every eye can see it. And Jesus will descend in a Saucer or some type of vehicle.

All this supernatural Religious beliefs can be explained with the same High Tech that was on Earth, 'in the beginning' at Colonization and during the Noah/Atlantis Society before the Noah/Atlantis Flood.

Supernatural Scripture and Myth to Body Birth Natural Humans, is High Tech Science with today's Body Birth Body Birth Humans with High Tech Science.

All Scripture and Myth need a High Tech Translation of all the Supernatural Happening on Planet Earth from Beginning to the End when our High Tech Ancestors/God Us, in our Human Image in Genesis, come back with Jesus recorded in Revelation.

God/Us, our High Tech Ancestors, were Alive when they Colonized Earth, that took 6000 years Earth time, and are still Alive today, 6000 years later.

And Jesus is Alive in the Same Human High Tech Regenerated Body he left Earth in, 2000 years ago.

This will Prove 'Literally', that Eternal Physical Human Life After Birth, is possible for High Tech Purebred Asexual Humans, on Planets and in Spaceships.

Red Biddy

Bill gave us a bit of Quaker history on his blog on 8-13-09.
They were among the earliest religious groups to come out against slavery. Also many of the early leaders of the Women's rights movement were abolitionists. I think many people at that time began to realise there were parallels to be drawn between slavery and a woman's lack of basic human rights.

The "keep silent in church" admission never applied to the Quakers. Women could speak up in their meetings , whenever the spirit moved them ! They also had women preachers from very early times.

There were women leaders among the early Jesus Followers who St. Paul called "Helpers in Christ Jesus" and he sends salutation and thanks for their help to a whole group of them in Romans chapter 16.

Doesn't sound as if these ladies had to be "taught" anything by their husbands at all ! Maybe they were unmarried or widowed and having gained their independence didn't have to be submissive to anyone....!

I do recommend The Woman's Bible by Elizabeth Cady Stanton it's wonderful. She writes:- "Far from being the word of God, these degrading ideas of women emanated from the brain of man."

adam harrison

Susan, I am intrigued by your answer in the 11:06 a.m. post.

You say you believe Paul met the risen Christ.

You say you have also met the risen Christ.

I guess I better be more specific. Are you saying you have met the risen Christ in the same way Paul did as reported in the New Testament?


Red Biddy, the Quakers do indeed sound like an interesting bunch! And I do realize there are other branches of Christianity that don't hold to a doctrine of Biblical inerrancy.

I'm mainly responding here to some assertions I've heard (and not just here) that once you head down the "slippery slope" of saying some parts of the Bible were influenced by human biases, you end up with a Christianity that is no Christianity at all, or something to that effect.

It's just, while I realize some think it's "spamming" when I talk about organizations like Phelps's Westboro Baptist church, or the Coalition on Revival -- it is just becoming awfully clear to me that these are the kinds of things folks can come up with when they look at what some parts of the Bible REALLY SAY, while holding to the idea that they have to receive it ALL as God's inerrant Word and mold their life to it.

adamh, I don't know any 2 people who've met the risen Christ in the exact same way -- do you? As for me, thus far I don't think I've had any experience that could truly be classed as supernatural -- but what does that have to do with anything? I thought it was the spritual encounter itself and not the "fireworks" that really mattered. What do you think?

And, again, I have NEVER dismissed Paul as not having had an encounter with Christ, or as not having anything of value to say. ALL I am saying is that he had some human biases, as we all do -- and he was wrong about some things, as we all are.

I seriously don't get how you seem to think I'm insulting Paul, simply by including him as part of our fallible human race!


Will Graham,
Your post marked - August 17, 2009 at 06:10 AM

The Bible on how to eliminate slavery:
"If a slave has taken refuge with you, do not hand him over to his master. Let him live among you wherever he likes and in whatever town he chooses. Do not oppress him".

Deuteronomy 23:15-16

If this advise had been followed, slavery could have been eliminated in a very short time without war.

*Question Bill*

So if other world governments start shipping over slaves to the USA, to make room for the younger slaves. That would be ok?

Will Graham

Answer fnu...

If the other governments follow the same rule, as described in Deuteronomy 2315-16, Yes.

By the way, fun, have you just implicitly admitted that the officially atheistic governments of the world, such as China, are employing slave labor?

(And why do you just use initials? Got something to hide?)

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