Non-extremist Christians still alive, well and around
As a Presbyterian minister in McKinleyville, I feel compelled to respond to Gail Ledbetter’s “Christians gone awry” piece in last week’s Union. As with Jan Phelps’ letter concerning religious hypocrisy, it might surprise Ms. Ledbetter that I agree with almost everything she and Ms. Phelps said, except for her last paragraph in which she writes, “Decent, kind, inclusive, forgiving, loving Christians seems to have gone silent or disappeared.”
Unfortunately, it seems that White Christian nationalists are the only ones getting media attention these days – especially on the national scene – the most recent example being that of the insurrection that took place at our national capitol on January 6th.
Ms. Ledbetter astutely points out that this kind of so-called Christianity is every bit as hateful and backward as Muslim extremists. I would also add that every major world religion has their extreme splinter groups: Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Think of the Jews who want to annihilate the Palestinians, Islamic terrorists, the Ku Klux Klan, Proud Boys, Oath Keepers or whatever modern White Supremacists call themselves these days… they are all terrorists, we must now recognize that some of them are home grown.
I am sorry Ms. Ledbetter has a relative that prays to Trump, but this is not Christianity, it is idolatry, and those who claim to be a person of faith who worship anything other than God are following a cult, not a religion. They most certainly are not listening to the teachings of Jesus. And just so I am not accused of being judgmental, I believe that every person has their own unique path (or not) to the divine life, and that path should be respected. However, praying to a person, as opposed to praying for someone, is idolatry by any world religion’s definition.
My husband (a Lutheran pastor) and I have been preaching and teaching against the dangers of fascism and white supremacy for most of 2020. The parallels between what happened in Germany with the Third Reich and our own country should be alarming for anyone paying attention — including the Christian church’s complicity and silence. We have been trying to make our voices heard, but unfortunately, forgiveness, inclusivity and love rarely get media attention. Hate and violence increase ratings and make money!
Our church, Grace Good Shepherd, had a confrontation with a truck load of Trump supporters when they drove up on our lawn because of our Black Lives Matter sign that also supported immigrant and gay rights. We are doing our best to practice what we preach, but it is difficult when a lot of people want to assume all Christians are the same. We are not perfect, none of us is, but we are trying to live as Ms. Ledbetter was raised, that “God is Life, Love, Truth, Spirit.”
There was a small “Confessing Church” in Germany who worked against Hitler and even saved many Jewish people from certain death. While I hope it never comes to that, I know there are several progressive churches in Humboldt County, as well as synagogues, and Buddhist groups who do not support religious fundamentalism or white Christian nationalism, but embrace the Golden Rule. I, too am sad, sad that our voices have not been loud enough to hear.
A few members of our Humboldt Unitarian Universalist Congregation stand on a Eureka corner Saturdays during the noon hour with a “Black Lives Matter” banner. We’re encouraged by friendly waves, smiles, peace signs, and thumbs up from passing drivers.
We’re also perplexed and saddened that our witness is occasionally responded to with obscene shouts and gestures. How can a simple affirmation in support of allowing people to live evoke such vehement anger?
Nearly every Saturday, at least one passer-by says, “All lives matter.” We answer with an agreeable nod, smile, and thumbs-up. When, however, “ALL LIVES MATTER (plus a four-syllable expletive)” is yelled at us in rage as the driver accelerates away, we’re unable to respond.
On occasions when a pedestrian has stopped to talk or a driver has parked and walked back to join or question us, our conversations have been positive.
Not one of us denies that all lives matter. Nor suggests that only Black lives matter.
We stand to protect people who are at risk. We have to recognize how often Black people are reacted to with fear, suspicion, violence and murder. Our country has awakened to the urgency of repairing fractured and antagonistic relationships.
Let us all say, “All lives matter” and really mean it.
If any of us find ourselves unable to publicly say, “Black lives matter,” we must ask ourselves, “What is preventing me from affirming the value of Black people?”
Alison O’Dowd, Arcata
Allison Bronkall, Eureka
Berti Welty, Indianola
Beverly Morgan Lewis, Eureka
Bonnie MacGregor, McKinleyville
Celestine Armenta, Bayside
Cena Marino, Eureka
Chip Sharpe, Bayside
Colleen Broderick, Humboldt Hill
Cynthia Chason, McKinleyville
David Marshak, Arcata
Deborah Cooper, Arcata
John Schaefer, Arcata
Kate McClain, McKinleyville
Mary Jo Stepp, Arcata
Peggy Ho, Cutten
Sylvia Shaw, Arcata
Terry Uyeki, McKinleyville
Reform Arcata House
I wish to rebut Darlene Spoor’s grandiose opinion of the success of the “Arcata House Partnership” (AHP) of which she heads up as its top director.
Through my own (very personal) experience and having also viewed the treatment of other of their clients and former employees, AHP has, too often, lacked common respect of these individuals and their basic human rights and dignities.
Being a non-profit, 501(c) organization, they, like religious, faith-based organizations, seem to be exempt from the same rules and conduct that are required by a public funded, civil government.
All such organizations such as AHP should be made to adhere to a (protected) standard of correct and humane treatment to all clients, under the law.
Furthermore, any such organization receiving public funding and government grants should have close oversight and review by the government and the general public. The local governments should put in place open grievance procedures for any complaints, and records should be kept and referred to, before allowing any further funding of such a group.
When and if any civil government wishes to avoid and relegate their “rightful” duties to an “outside” organization, they must then become ultimately responsible for such an organization.
Lastly, I welcome and look forward to any responsible, non-partisan, open investigation and review the “workings” of AHP during the last five years.
These and all such groups should allow anyone having concerns to openly address their entire Board of Directors in an open meeting to demand proper connections and total transparency.
Michael Robert Langdon
Levels of scumbag
A letter submission attempting to defend the Antifa-led riots in Portland and Seattle resented being compared in a previous submission to the Insurrectionists in the U.S. Capitol.
I can see the point, as the latter certainly has serious implications for democracy. I found it ironic that the defender of Antifa said there was no organization and no leaders and the rioters weren’t really Antifa, but the rioters put up an Antifa banner with the Antifa cause.
Since the letter writer said there was no organization or leaders and the rioters said they identified with Antifa, the letter writer was in no position to say they were or weren’t.
They trashed Democratic offices and protested Joe Biden, but “property damage is not commensurate with a violent attempted coup.” One hundred percent agree.
You did realize that in October, a self-identified Antifa sympathizer shot dead a right wing protester, and later was shot and killed himself by U.S. Marshals. That sounds suspiciously like a bit more than property damage, especially when one factors in other deaths and mayhem in the occupied area of Seattle.
Perhaps we can agree that the rioters identifying as Antifa are not the same level of scumbag as the Insurrectionist mob. It’s not a ringing endorsement, but it is the best I can muster.
Why the D.C. riots?
On Jan. 7, the day after the D.C. riots, I sent an opinion piece to the Washington Post that went unpublished.
I did not submit it locally because it was more likely that our elected officials would see it in the Post.
By the time the Post responded to my opinion the topic was no longer news worthy.
Today (Feb. 10, wapo.st/3a6loif) the Post published the result of their investigation into the people that have been arrested as a result of the riot and now my topic is pertinent again. My comments are below:
I hope that you, elected official, do not think that you are innocent victims in the D.C. riots that occurred on Jan. 6.
Trump cannot be crazy if he has nearly half of the nation willing to support him in such an undemocratic demonstration. He has tapped into the anger, frustration and mistrust that the declining middle class has and he is using that to bludgeon his way into power.
You, elected officials, are the ones who have set the stage for Trump’s assent. You, elected officials, stood by and continue to make policies that have eviscerated the middle class.
So now, you, elected officials, get to experience in small part what your poor judgment has foisted on the nation.
For three generations the middle class has experienced governmental policies that have resulted in a declining standard of living.
The working class is fully aware of your practice of favoring corporate profitability and high-income donors while withholding approaches that would grow the economy from the bottom up.
You are not kidding anyone. After all these years, your policies have not created a rising tide.
So, elected officials, look in the mirror. See how you have managed our Democracy to the point that such a siginificant percentage of the populace is willing to not only vote for a fluke like Trump but is willing to riot on his command. You are not innocent victims!
But you are the leadership that we need at this time. We need you to guide us into a democracy that values the working class. I urge you to begin anew and make choices that will build the middle class’s earning power.
I urge you to think about the part you play on the stage of democracy and act in a manner that benefits all the people of this teetering nation.
A spectre’s summary
As you recover from watching rampaging rednecks take a gnarly dump on democracy, far be it from me to drop another psychogenic bomb on your already shell-shocked wits.
But as I assume my role as the spectre at the banquet, I must take sardonic pleasure in assuring you that even as the Cheeto-in-Chief does a Twitter-less fade-out to Florida, you still ain’t safe!
Even if Chuck Schumer has a fit of fortitude as the Senate does a weak flip from right to left, they are still out there and they are still gonna getcha! Right about now you’re reaching for your cell phone to call 911 as you look furtively up and down the street through the window blinds. What’s this guy talking about? Who’s gonna get me?
C’mon folks, you know who they are. The deceptively human-looking alien lizard-creatures disguised as your friends, co-workers and that in-law whose name you can never remember.
The smiling faces who pretended to celebrate the end of racism in America with you when Barack Obama was elected — then voted to send your ass on a collision course with a bunch of whack jobs having a Tea Party.
Like kids who act up most right before lights-out, they lasted a couple of election cycles before getting tired and put to bed. But then the Angry Creamsicle woke them up again. With Captain Chaos in the White House they felt safe enough to reveal their true form; you saw them on TV brandishing torches in Charlottesville and assault rifles in Kenosha.
On Jan. 6 you watched them kill a police officer for doing his job even as another officer narrowly saved the Vice President from getting hung for doing his.
Don’t let them gaslight you into thinking they’ve given up as they take on human form again, hiding right in plain sight as someone you think you know.
When you’re not watching they’ll conjure alternate reality conspiracy theories in online Cult45 forums as they wait for an opportunity to strike again from their outpost on the Planet of the Screaming Carrot Demon.
They’ll be the ones quietly electing wingnuts anxious to legislate their certainty that devil-worshiping pedophiles are trafficking child sex while drinking blood with Hillary Clinton in the basement of a pizza parlor.
They’ll be the closet “patriots” having a field day as they rush to fill out the paperwork for candidacy in 2022, looking for new and improved ways to keep anybody who isn’t white from voting.
The only way this scenario doesn’t end with the Forces of Evil marketing an upgraded version of Agent Orange four years from now is if people realize the threat not only walks among us, folks, it votes. Without a firewall of people casting votes for anyone whose platform doesn’t resemble something written by Ted Nugent on acid, Cheeto Jesus’ apostles will happily take Congress back.
Don’t assume Joe Biden’s election means the worst is over, or that everyone who supports Fuckface Von Clownstick wears a MAGA hat.
This is where I am compelled to remind you that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. In short, if you snooze, you lose.
The enemy is within
Is the pro-pandemic, genocidal GOP still the party of the defeated, deranged racist traitor Donald Trump? Or is the Republican Party now following the fanatical footsteps of that other infamous homicidal American politician Dan White, the crazy ex-cop who murdered San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk?
Actually, FOX News’ favorite fresh fascist face Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) appears to conveniently enough be the political combination of Donald Trump and Dan White – a pathologically dishonest, crackpot QAnon conspiracy theorist whose hatred is clearly putting her on the path of political assassination and domestic terrorism. Marjorie is a violent psycho!
But the tangerine tyrant Trump says Greene is “a future Republican Star”. Here’s a suggestion for you neo-Nazi Republicans: next time you attempt a domestic terrorist takeover, hijacking the federal government with hateful hillbillies is probably not the most effective approach.
No “Twinkie defense” for Trump.