John Bloom's picture
07.08.2008 | Comments(11)

The Vatican Chooses the Messy Communion

Should the communion wafer be placed directly in your mouth by the priest, or should the priest just hand it to you and let you chomp it? After decades of debate and millions of pages of theological discourse, the Pope has decided to risk cooties by sticking it directly in your mouth. Don’t make us adjudicate this a second time.

Frothing at the Mouth Protected by the First Amendment

Exorcism

The Texas Supreme Court has ruled that exorcisms, no matter how gnarly they get, constitute protected First Amendment speech and you can’t circle back later and say you were battered or abused by the demon-casting process, even if your head spun around several times and caused spinal damage. The test case involved a 17-year-old girl named Laura Schubert who was freed of demonic influence during a marathon session in 1996 at Pleasant Glade Assembly of God in Colleyville, Texas, but later claimed false imprisonment and mental distress leading to the need for professional psychiatric help. The Supreme Court held in a 6-3 decision that, if a church could be sued every time someone gets driven insane by doctrine or practice, then it would have a chilling effect on the willingness of ministers to beat people up for Biblical reasons.

Shifty Shiflett

Jail

The Reverend Charles Shiflett, destined to be known as Shifty Shiflett, was pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Culpeper, Virginia, from 1988 to 2005, but that started to unravel when he got charged with cruelty to children, including six (!) assault and battery convictions, at his church-operated school. Last week he was back in court, pleading guilty to 20 fresh felony counts involving his checkbook, including obtaining money by false pretenses from the church, filing a fake workers compensation claim (says he hurt his back “unloading a pony”), insurance fraud and tax fraud, all of which could add up to 310 years in prison and $50,000 in fines, if the district judge is not inclined to mercy. He has until October 8th to round up some character witnesses willing to say his sticky fingers didn’t interfere with his ministry. One of the charges involved his failing to report proceeds from the sale of livestock as income, but the livestock apparently consisted of camels that were maimed by attempts to thrust them through sewing utensils.

Let the Preacherman Preach

10 Commandments

The Alliance Defense Fund, the original religious right legal outfit founded by James Dobson and the religious broadcasters in 1993, is searching for a church that’s willing to endorse political candidates from the pulpit so they can get arrested and fined, then challenge the constitutionality of the Internal Revenue code that prohibits churches from getting involved in politics. I support this effort, and predict victory, mainly because free speech should be universal and unrestricted, and you shouldn’t be denied the chance to speak just because you’re a pastor speaking on Sunday morning. Americans United for Separation of Church and State disagrees, saying that charitable contributions should not be used for politics, but that’s more the French model–no religion in the public square–as opposed to the American model of equal access for religion and non-religion in the public square. I know that when my father ran for the school board, he visited virtually every black Baptist church in Pulaski County, Arkansas, most of them during a religious service, to speak specifically about politics, and nobody much cared. They considered voting part of doing the right thing, and doing the right thing part of their religion, and that’s their right. If AUSCS truly believes in mere separation, and not anti-clericalism, then they’ll enforce the rights of the church side just as ardently as they do the rights of the state side.

Comments(11)

Anonymous | 03:38 am on 7/09/2008

If churches want to be able to endorse candidates or specific political parties under the guise of total free speech, they should pay taxes like every other individual does. As long as they don't pay taxes the should not be endorsing candidates or political parties, IMO. They can and should be preaching on issues. There are many churches & organizations that skirt the rules and, at the moment, get away with it. They'd all do well to leave well enough alone.

that calvinist doug | 01:03 pm on 7/09/2008

While I agree that politics should not be preached from the pulpit of MY church because I would HATE THAT, it is a different line of reasoning to say it should be banned from non-profits' speech. By that logic, you're imposing a defacto requirement that, in order to vote, one must pay income taxes. Does this mean those who are on the public dole cannot be allowed to vote? If so, there goes the Democratic party.

David Williams | 09:27 am on 7/09/2008

Hmmm. A toughie. On the one hand, I want to be able to preach unfettered by fear of the state. On the other, having that hermetic seal between the church and the power structures of political parties is not a bad thing.

David Williams | 09:49 am on 7/09/2008

And it must rock to be a pastor in Texas now. I mean, shoot, get a church member who's out of line...and golly, I think they have a demon. Looks like me and the boys are going to have to exorcise their sorry behind.

Process Deist | 10:15 am on 7/09/2008

What's new?
People been gettin' the Hell beat out em' fer years.
The Court just agreed that it is a blessing to be beaten.

Paul in Maine | 10:47 am on 7/10/2008

Perhaps the good Reverend Jesse Jackson needs to be taken down to Texas and have his vocabulary exorcised.

I wonder how he would respond to a national boycott?

mountainguy | 08:25 pm on 7/10/2008

Well... I'm flying to USA. I'm sure I can heal pretty women with my "kiss-based exorcism"

Anonymous | 07:35 am on 7/15/2008

If I was in congress and accepted money to vote a certain way because I was benefiting from that vote I could be jailed. How is that different than someone on the dole voting for someone that will keep the checks coming to him. Only taxpayers should be allowed to vote, opps, that means nobody gets to vote because we all get something from the Feds.

Maybe the rules should be changed that only allows people to vote who pass basic exams in communication, science, history, math, and economics. Might even require congressmen and senators to actually know the constitution. Ain't that a radical idea.

bruce fogerty | 01:33 pm on 7/17/2008

Dobson has it ALL wrong.

For decades in our democracy and even up until early in the last century Pastors routinely endosed candidates from the pulpit and preached on the issues of the day.

This is a right of every entity and American. The PC crowd took over and know a right has become a big wrong.

Politics is about policy and policies can either be judged moral or immoral and the church HAS the right to speak as to what is moral and who one should vote for. bf

Dave | 07:08 am on 7/18/2008

Interesting comment on deliverance and mental illness, in my experience most people who have been under the possession of an evil spirit have a lot of psychological damage that needs to be healed, even after being delivered.

Nehalleasp | 06:24 am on 8/03/2008

Very nice!!

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