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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Peter LaBarbera Comments on Warrengate

I asked Peter LaBarbera what he thought of Rick Warren scrubbing the Saddleback Church website of anti-gay language. LaBarbera responded:

If true, I think it would be tragic, and a foolish capitulation to homosexual activist and liberal pressure. The gay lobby is not going to shower love on Pastor Warren if he suddenly self-censors or alters a few pages on the Saddleback website. They oppose him for his Biblical beliefs on homosexuality and marriage, and I doubt those have changed (at least I hope not).

Pastor Warren should not back down a bit. Neither he nor Saddleback Church officials should ever be ashamed of the Bible's clear teachings on homosexuality. If President-elect Obama wants to disinvite Rick Warren, so be it, but it would be a mistake of monumental proportions if Warren or Saddleback were to attempt to appease homosexual activists by distancing the church in any way from orthodox evangelical Christian teachings.

Peter LaBarbera, Pres., Americans For Truth

Rick Warren Defends Himself on the Saddleback Church Website

He states he never said that gay relationships were comparable to incest and pedophilia. Well it's on tape. He kind of reminds me of Michele Bachmann that way.

Very Entertaining Reading from Rick Warren's Website

From google cache:

What about dinosaurs?
Question: How do they fit in with the idea that God created the world rather than the world evolving on it’s own? Why doesn’t the Bible talk about dinosaurs?

Answer: The Bible tells in Genesis 1 that God made the world in seven days, and that he made all of the animals on the fifth day and the sixth day. All of the animals were created at the same time, so they all walked the earth at the same time. I know that the pictures we all grew up with in the movies were that dinosaurs roamed a lifeless, volcanic planet. Remember these are just pictures drawn by someone today! The Bible's picture is that dinosaurs and man lived together on the earth, an earth that was filled with vegetation and beauty.

What happened to the dinosaurs? The scientific record lets us know that they obviously became extinct through some kind of cataclysmic event on the earth. Many scientists theorize that this may have been an asteroid striking the earth, while many Christians wonder if this event could have been the worldwide flood in Noah's day. No one can know for certain what this event was.

Although it cannot be stated with certainty, it appears that dinosaurs may have actually been mentioned in the Bible. The Bible uses names like "behemoth" and "tannin." Behemoth means kingly, gigantic beasts. Tannin is a term that includes dragon-like animals and the great sea creatures such as whales, giant squid, and marine reptiles like the plesiosaurs that may have become extinct. The Bible's best description of a dinosaur-like animal is in Job chapter 40. We don't know for certain if these are actually dinosaurs or are some other large creatures that became extinct.

This should not sound so strange. After all, God tells us that he created all the land animals on the sixth day of creation, the same day that he created mankind. Man and dinosaurs lived at the same time. There was never a time when dinosaurs ruled the earth. From the very beginning of creation, God gave man dominion over all that was made, even over the dinosaurs.

"For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day." Exodus 20:11

"All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made that was made." John 1:3

"Look at the behemoth, which I made along with you and which feed on grass like an ox. What strength he has in his loins, what power in the muscles of his belly! His tail sways like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are close-knit. His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like rods of iron. He ranks first among the works of God." Job 40:15-19 (NIV)
back to the top

Is evolution part of God's plan?
Question: Why is it not OK for evolution to be part of God’s plan? I don’t understand what the problem is: couldn’t God have used the process of evolution as the way that he created the earth?

Answer: When I was a new believer in Christ, I had some very strong feelings about the issue of evolution. Much as you have expressed, I believed that evolution and the account of the Bible about creation could exist along side of each other very well. I just didn't see what the big argument was all about. I had some friends who had been studying the Bible much longer than I had who saw it differently. But they didn't push me or argue with me, they simply challenged me to take some time to look into the facts and study the issues carefully. I'll always appreciate them for that, because this was an issue that I had to really think through. Eventually, I came to the conclusion, through my study of the Bible and science, that the two positions of evolution and creation just could not fit together. There are some real problems with the idea that God created through evolution.

I would encourage you to take some time to study this issue. I found that, although I'd understood the science side of the equation, I needed to take some more time to read what the Bible really had to say about this subject. Not having taken the time to really read the Bible, I was very ignorant about what it had to say. Let me give you one example. I discovered that the problem of sin, as addressed in the Bible, was much more serious than I had previously thought. When I realized that the world was clearly a perfect place as God created it, and that this perfection was ruined by the sinful choice of Adam and Eve, it really started me thinking. Did the Bible teach evolution or did it teach the creation of a first man and woman named Adam and Eve? If we evolved, which human being would have made the choice that brought sin into this world? If Adam and Eve were just allegorical pictures, why did the New Testament place some much importance upon them as responsible and real individuals? Since God clearly says that it is our sin that brought death into our world, how could there have been death for billions of years before the arrival of the first man who sinned on the earth? As I asked questions about this issue and studied what the Bible had to say, I found it to be one of the greatest times of learning in my life as a new believer. My prayer is that you will have this same experience!

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Gen. 1:1

"Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." John 1:3

If you want to study this further...
Here's a web site that you might want to check out: (One article that is especially thought provoking discusses "Darwin's Black Box").

As I said before, what a nut.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Saddleback Church Scrub a Dub Dub

The language discussing banning "unrepentant homosexuals" from Church membership has been scrubbed from the website. I wonder what Peter LaBarbera thinks of that.

Mike Rogers was on Hardball claiming this to be a huge victory.

This appears to be a regular story on cable news - and it divides Democrats. So I think in the end this was a boneheaded move by Barack Obama. The last thing he needs is open discussion and fighting within the Democratic party over social issues.

Update: John Aravosis asks a good question, and links to the google cache of the page.

So does Rick Warren now welcome gays, all gays, as members of his church? Or is he simply embarrassed of his views - embarrassed of God's views, per Warren's own admission? And if Warren is embarrassed of God's views, then what is he doing as a public spokesman on religion?

And whose idea was it to remove the anti-gay language? Warren's, or Obama's?

Update - an Americablog commenter adds:

Marie Burns 3 hours ago
I was pretty surprised by the news Warren has also taken down the dinosaur stuff. He still has links to his wife's teachings about how the theory of evolution denegrates God's love, or some such thing -- I couldn't listen to much of it -- it was really awful.

The revulsion to Obama's choice of Rick Warren has, probably rightly, concentrated on his unconscionable anti-gay remarks, but I find his anti-science stance just as -- or more -- dangerous.

Why did Obama choose Rick Warren to give the invocation in the same week he announced his scientific team? One or the other has to be a joke. You can't be Fred Flintstone AND Steven Chu. To me, placing Rick Warren on a pedestal isn't just an insult to rational people; it sends the terrible message that creationism is a plausible scientific theory -- just as Kay Warren teaches. It says science is opinion, not even educated opinion. In fact, it's the WRONG opinion. What is the point of pouring my tax dollars into our educational system on the one hand if on the other, you place delusional nonsense on a podium and give it a big ol' mike?

Rick Warren's thinking is dangerous on many levels, but the dangers it poses for our future is debilitating. The nation will get over being anti-gay in the same way it's getting over being anti-minority and anti-feminist -- the old bigots are dying off. But it won't get over being dumb if we keep on teaching new generations that the charming Biblical myths of Genesis are scientific and historical fact.

Is Minnesota Teen Challenge Effective? #1

Posts criticizing Minnesota Teen Challenge on Dump Bachmann have gotten strong criticism from a Dump Bachmann contributor (Bill Prendergast) and a supporter of the mission of the blog (Jonerik). This is adapted from a post reponding to this critism. I'm moving this discussion over to Lloydletta's Nooz. Teen Challenge gets support from the usual suspects among the theocrats, but also Amy Klobuchar, Barack Obama, Keith Ellison and Linda Berglin. Recently an event sponsored by Minnesota Teen Challenge's "Know the Truth" program was cancelled at South High.

Comment on MnIndy:
Patrick G

Teen Challenge is a joke! The clients I have had there don’t make it. They are taught the bible will cure everything. I think most people who go there from the “system” think it will be easier than jail. I would never recommend this program. Its nothing more than a taxpayer parasite.
Avidor 12.19.08 - 4:53 pm | #

Ken, anyone can post anything. But I hope that isn't right about MN Teen Challenge being a joke. I've heard good things... but not for a while because I haven't been listening for it.

Holly Cairns 12.19.08 - 5:00 pm | #

Then anti-immigrant activist blames the immigrants and minorities for the mortgage crisis.


You haven't admitted that banks were forced to give mortgages to minorities and illegal aliens who couldn't afford them. What's up with that? 12.19.08 - 5:08 pm | #

Back to the topic:

Teen Challenge doesn't claim 100% of the people who commit themselves to their program and to Christ are cured of their addictions but the success rate is much higher than many other secular programs. The principles are like AA which requires turning yourself over to a higher power except that Teen Challenge identifies that higher power as Jesus Christ. Many, many afflicted people have found themselves saved from the curse of drug and alcohol addiction through this program. One would think this would be cause of celebration.
jonerik 12.20.08 - 11:39 am | #

Actually Teen Challenge is highly critical of AA. A City Pages article in the 90s discusses that. Teen Challenge is excellent at PR. I'd like to see peer reviewed studies, not their own inflated claims of their success rate.

I wish that *anyone* here who wants to write anything critical of *any* recovery or charity program would do some real, genuine homework--about the positive AND negative aspects of that program--before going into print.

The fact that crooks give money to a recovery/charity program doesn't make that recovery/charity program corrupt.

The fact that some people criticize a recovery/charity program doesn't mean that it's a "cult" or a "scam" or something like that.

What if you found that some of the *directors* of that recovery/charity program were involved in some unethical illegal activity? (And that's not the case with Teen Challenge, I'm making an extreme hypothetical.) Even if you found that some of the *directors* of that recovery/charity program were involved in some unethical illegal activity, even if you had hard evidence of that--that wouldn't justify an irresponsible, poorly researched shotgun style attack that hurt the entire organization.

At this writing, I still believe that Teen Challenge has done a lot to help kids and adults in desperate need of help, here in Minnesota--and I'll continue to believe that until someone shows me serious evidence to the contrary. I disagree deeply with their theology, they have some grubby associations with Bachmann and others--but I haven't been hearing horror stories about how they treat clients, I've been hearing how they *helped* clients, for years.

I don't think Sen. Klobuchar is interested in backing a "scam" or a "cult." I don't think it enhances the credibility of this blog to disparage Teen Challenge without turning in some serious evidence proving it's a bad thing. Go after Petters, Vennes, and Bachmann, sure--but just because they touch something doesn't mean that something becomes evil and worthy of attack.

The recent "get Teen Challenge" thing that's going on here on Dump Bachmann has nothing to do with me. And I'm not going to back it until it can be shown that Teen Challenge does more harm than good. We've got more than enough targets already, the evidence of the malignity of Teen Challenge is not in, and I'm not going to sign off on the kind of smear of the innocent that Bachmann does.
Bill Prendergast

Bill, Ken has carefully researched Teen Challenge, and has done some excellent reporting on the issue here on Dump Bachmann. His point hasn't been just that they are a problematic organization because of their connection to Vennes. He has also pointed to other sources about the organization. The mainstream papers - the Strib, Minnpost etc. are slacking on their jobs by failing to report on Teen Challenge.

My feeling is Teen Challenge should NOT be publicly funded by the taxpayers. Publicly funding this program is equivalent to state sponsored religion. When this has been challenged in the courts in other states, Teen Challenge has lost public funding.

I have real issues with "therapeutic" programs that promote Ex-gay ministries (as Teen Challenge does), and that fail to serve people who don't want to be forced to state they are "converted" to christianity in order to get help. I am equally skeptical of alternative medicine such as homeopathy.

Teen Challenge reminds me of the Discovery Institute (which promotes Intelligent Design Creationism). They are excellent at Public Relations and building relationships with politicians. They are less successful at showing real evidence based results.

Juan Cole Weighs in on Rick Warren

He has an interesting take.

Warren will read the invocation at President-Elect Barack Obama's inauguration, a choice that angered the gay community. Warren supported Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage (and forcibly divorced or 'de-married' 18,000 gay couples already married in California). Warren also has compared legalizing gay marriage to legalizing incest, pedophilia and polygamy.

I was told that Warren's friends among the MPAC Muslim community had urged him to call Melissa Etheridge Friday night in the run-up to their being (serially) on the same stage Saturday night, and that he did so and they talked for half an hour. During his address, Warren mentioned also seeing Etheridge backstage on Saturday.

Local television in Los Angeles showed a short clip of Etheridge after the event asking gay leaders to reach out to Warren, just as they wanted him to reach out to them.

This stance was big of her, since she and her partner had planned to marry but were prevented from doing so by the same Proposition 8 that Warren worked for, and she was so upset she suggested she would refuse to pay California taxes since she is obviously not considered a full citizen by her fellow Californians.

Warren also talked about the increasing rudeness and rancor of public life in the United States, and urged greater civility and willingness to work with people across the spectrum of opinion. He said, "We can disagree without being disagreeable." He also made a point of saying that al-Qaeda is no more representative of Islam than the KKK is of Christianity. Contrast that to the sorts of things Mike Huckabee or Rudi Giuliani said during the presidential campaign.

But just a gentle reminder to Warren that saying for Melissa Etheridge to be married to Tammy Lynn Michaels is equivalent to pedophilia or incest is not actually very civil or nice or humane.

Since I knew both of us would be at MPAC, I bought Warren's book, "The Purpose-Driven Life," and read it on the plane. I was a religion major, so I've read a lot of theology in various religions. It is mostly just standard evangelical talking points.

Warren's book does have some strengths. I was struck that Warren's section early in the book on the notion of "surrender" to God is the best explication I have seen in English of what Muslims mean by Islam. Since he was talking about Christianity, these passages are an unwitting argument for the unity of religions.

So imagine my surprise when I heard Warren talk at MPAC and found that he is a genuine, likeable man. And more than likeable, he seems admirable. A lot of pastors would tell the story of building their congregations and saving souls as the pinnacle of their lives. For Warren, that was only the beginning. He and his wife had an epiphany six years ago when she read an article about there being 12 million children in Africa who had been orphaned by AIDS. They started going to southern Africa, and Warren became devoted to helping those orphans.

But then he began thinking bigger. He has identified 5 major problems he wants to address:
Spiritual emptiness, corrupt leadership, disease pandemics, dire poverty, and illiteracy. He wants to do job creation and job training. He wants to wipe out malaria in the areas where it is still active. He is convinced that religious congregations are the only set of organizations on earth that can successfully combat these ills. And he is entirely willing actively and directly to cooperate with mosques to get the job done.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Good Debate Over Rick Warren on Newsweek

The debate is between Chris Crain and Leah McElrath Renna. Both are members of the gay community. Crain defends Obama's choice of Warren, and Renna opposes it.

Crain has a number of thought provoking posts about the kerkuffle over Rick Warren. If Obama decides to move on DADT because he alienated gays with this choice of Rick Warren to speak at the inauguration, in my opinion we've moved the ball forward.


Let me be clear. Warren's viewpoint about the nature of sexual orientation, at least of the homosexual variety, is cramped and mean-spirited. He has to "reign in" his desire to sleep with every beautiful woman he sees, and we have to "reign in" ever having at any point in our lives any romantic, loving, sexual relationship with the gender with which we are attracted to biologically. How apples and oranges. How unfair and how cruel.

Also, however, how typical. Warren's viewpoint is shared by the Roman Catholic faith and most mainline Protestants -- except for Southern Baptists who are worse, and Mormons who are even more worse. Don't even get me started on Islam, which rejects the whole idea of homosexuality as a Western perversion.

So faith leaders from all these traditions should be excluded from the inauguration on our behalf? The Constitution prohibits "a religious test" for public office, but we gays sure do want one for important public ceremonies! We're on the wrong side of this issue, folks.

On a lighter note, you gotta love the NBC edit on the video, specifically the look Ann Curry cuts Rick Warren when he claims it is his "natural inclination to sleep with every beautiful woman" he sees.


Diane Feinstein Washes Hands of Rick Warren Decision

Noted in Queerty comments quoting Salon:

Feinstein washes her hands of Warren decision, via from salon

Making matters worse, the Obama team evidently decided not to alert anyone who was likely to be upset about the pick ahead of time. News of Warren's involvement in the inauguration came out of the congressional committee working on the inauguration instead of from Obama's own inaugural committee, a wholly separate entity. At least initially, aides for Obama's inaugural committee said the decision had come from Congress, not Obama. In fact, that wasn't the case at all. "That was solely the choice of the president-elect," said Gil Duran, a spokesman for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the congressional committee. Obama's staff sent explicit orders for whom to include in the inaugural ceremony up to Capitol Hill, since Congress is, technically, in charge of that part of the day. "Sen. Feinstein obviously disagrees with the views of Rev. Warren on issues that affect the gay and lesbian community," Duran said. "However, Sen. Feinstein respects the president-elect's prerogative to select a cleric to deliver the invocation." (That one doesn't need any translation -- Feinstein's office was politely, respectfully, throwing Obama under the bus.)

A commenter on Queerty notes:

I do give Dianne Feinstein some credit of washing her hands of the decision of Warren. Pelosi would be wise to do the same.

Dianne Feinstein is running for governor of CA in 2010. She will need early support and money from the people opposing Prop 8.