Category: Conservatives

Leader’s Disgrace Deals Heavy Blow to Southern Baptists

The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on May 30 fired its long-time President, Paige Patterson, for allegedly lying about and mishandling complaints of student rape.  Patterson for decades has been one of the most powerful leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest American Protestant denomination and a giant force in American evangelicalism. Beginning in the 1970s, Patterson was the leading architect of the takeover of the SBC by hardline religious conservatives. The Washington Post’s description:

“The takeover, which lasted over a decade, was no holds barred, with Patterson keeping files on ideological opponents and cultivating spies in seminaries, according to historical accounts. A 1991 profile in D Magazine…said Patterson had been ‘likened to the Rev. Jim Jones and Joe McCarthy’ by his critics in the denomination. ‘He’s been reviled as a power-mad fundamentalist on a witch hunt for heretics.’ ” (See also Southern Baptist seminary drops bombshell: Why Paige Patterson was fired and Why Southern Baptists can’t shake their racist past)

Patterson’s conservatives left no doubt about their primary concern: they were disturbed by the rising tide of the feminist movement and increased debate about abortion.  Their chief goal was to keep women in their subordinate place and out of the pulpit. Patterson made the Biblical words calling on a wife to “submit to the servant leadership of her husband” the chief a chief element in Baptist theology.

“By the mid-1990s the seminaries and state conventions were largely purged of moderates and liberals. Many women who were studying to be pastors or who taught classes that included male students were forced out or left.”

But a darker side of Patterson’s stand emerged this year when recorded comments surfaced of his counseling abused women to remain with their husbands and making remarks seen as objectifying a teenage girl and criticizing the physical appearance of female seminary students.

Events became more ominous when a former student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary stated that in 2003, when Patterson headed the school, she had reported to him that she had been assaulted by a man she had been dating, and  Patterson encouraged her not to report the incident to the police and to forgive her alleged assailant.

A few days later, Southwestern trustees cited a second incident in 2015. A Southwestern female student had reported to Patterson that she had been raped, and police were called. But Patterson allegedly emailed campus security and “discussed meeting with the student alone so that he could break her down.”

The allegations prompted thousands of conservative women SBC members to petition for Patterson’s removal. Faced with the damning evidence, the Board of Trustees acted.

The Washington Post’s headline on the article detailing Patterson’s demise summed up the irony: “How women led to the dramatic rise and fall of Southern Baptist leader Paige Patterson.”

My initial response to the revelations about Patterson and his forced retirement was posted in a comment on one of the Washington Post stories:

“Does any half way intelligent human being fail to see the twisted, perverted thinking that underlies the outlook of Southern Baptist clerics? The only difference regarding Patterson is that his perversion became too obvious to ignore. He got caught red handed. The rest of them still fervently believe the crud about wives having to obey their husbands. In the 21st Century, Southern Baptists believe women are no better than chattel. To understand the rot that pervades the hearts and minds of Southern Baptist pastors, you need only to remember two things: 1. Their predecessors fervently believed that Jesus ordained slavery as a positive good. The Convention was founded to preach that gospel. 2. The next generation fervently believed that segregation was perfectly legitimate and helped maintain it for 100 years.

Why anybody would believe that the current crop of medieval-minded misogynist yahoos are preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ escapes me.”

On re-reading it, I hesitated to post it on this blog, feeling that maybe it was a little extreme. But then I read more about the beliefs and practices of Patterson and his conservative Southern Baptists cohorts. And I got 21 thumbs-up on my “extreme” comment from other readers.  Big deal, huh? Well, the average number of approvals on any article is decidedly in single digits. And I would say that 5 is the usual highest. Twenty-one is earth shattering. And there were a much higher number of double-digit approvals for other commenters than are normal.

In short, the Patterson conservatives’ conquest of the Southern Baptist Convention has left it more isolated than ever from mainstream America. From the Post article:

  • Data released June 1 by the movement shows membership falling for the 11th straight year, to 15 million — down 1.3 million since 2006.
  • Baptisms — a core marker of the faith — were fewer in 2017 by 26 percent compared with a decade ago, according to an internal survey published by LifeWay Christian Resources, the research arm of the denomination.
  • Enrollment at Southwestern is down by almost half since Patterson arrived there.

Seems hypocrisy and a distortion of Jesus’ message can only get you so far.

Video Watch Party Spotlights Abuses at GA Immigration Detention Center

Event: Carolyn Hadaway’s Monthly Video Watch Party

  • Date: Thursday, May 24
  • Time: 6:30pm – 9:00pm
  • Place: Private home near the intersection of Canton Hwy and Jamerson Rd/Shallowford Rd.; Woodstock, GA 30188. Close to Cherokee – Cobb County border.

Topic: Immigration. Special guest speaker is JoAnn Weiss, Chair, Board of Directors, El Refugio, a hospitality house located in Lumpkin, GA, providing assistance to the families of inmates of the next-door Stewart Detention Center, one of the United States’ largest detention centers for suspected illegal immigrants, run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

  • Ms. Weiss will discuss the growth of the immigration detention system since 1996 (especially since 9/11/2001) and the role of prisons for profit. She will examine the violation of civil and human rights at the Stewart facility and the work of El Refugio in running its hospitality house.

POC: Carolyn Hadaway, 678-687-7753chadaway.volun@gmail.com

Note from IndieDems proprietor, Tom Barksdale:

Lumpkin is “just up the road” from my hometown in Southwest Georgia, and even closer to the Jimmy Carter homestead in Plains. The El Refugio web page provoked a flood of personal memories by stating that “Partners from Koinonia Farm (www.koinoniapartners.org) offer hospitality for family members needing a place to stay overnight during the week.”

Koinonia Farm was born the same year I was, in 1942. It’s mission statement says “We are Christians called to live together in intentional community sharing a life of prayer, work, study, service and fellowship. We seek to embody peacemaking, sustainability, and radical sharing. While honoring people of all backgrounds and faiths, we strive to demonstrate the way of Jesus as an alternative to materialism, militarism and racism.”

Meaning: Koinonia Farm was an interracial haven smack in the middle of segregated Georgia during the darkest days of segregation and on through the Civil Rights struggles of the 1950s-60s. Its inhabitants paid a heavy price of having to endure the isolation, intimidation, and violence all too common in that era.

Koinonia communal living did not include schools, and “home schooling” did not exist even as a concept. Koinoia’s children had to attend the local, segregated schools, where living together on a farm with black people pegged them as stranger than space aliens. To most of the locals, they were literally Comminists, a term I heard leveled at Koinonia whenever the topic came up. The children endured unspeakable acts of mental and physical harassment.

In 21015, former AJC journalist Jim Auchmutey wrote a book centered on the experience of one of those students: The Class of ’65: A Student, a Divided Town, and the Long Road to Forgiveness. It’s on Amazon with a five-star review. You want to read this book. Amazon sums it up well:

Being a student at Americus High School was the worst experience of Greg Wittkamper’s life. Greg came from a nearby Christian commune, Koinonia, whose members devoutly and publicly supported racial equality. When he refused to insult and attack his school’s first black students in 1964, Greg was mistreated as badly as they were: harassed and bullied and beaten. In the summer after his senior year, as racial strife in Americus—and the nation—reached its peak, Greg left Georgia.

Forty-one years later, a dozen former classmates wrote letters to Greg, asking his forgiveness and inviting him to return for a class reunion. Their words opened a vein of painful memory and unresolved emotion, and set him on a journey that would prove healing and saddening.

The Class of ’65 is more than a heartbreaking story from the segregated South. It is also about four of Greg’s classmates…who came to reconsider the attitudes they grew up with…

I have said to myself many times that the Trump era has left me feeling as if 60 years of presumed progress in America’s racial relations has been erased, and I have been transported in time back to the days when the “N” word was common currency, violence against minorities was normal, and anyone practicing equality for blacks, like Greg Wittkamper, had to be a Communist, not a “real” American. And you could become governor of Georgia by wielding an ax handle as a symbol of your noble resistance to segregation.

Johnny Isakson, David Perdue, Karen Handel, and Barry Loudermilk don’t need an ax handle to symbolize their warped views. They’ve got Donald Trump in the White House.

Georgia Republicans Firmly in Ranks of Tut-tut Republicans

Headline: Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) blasts White House aide’s McCain remark as ‘pretty disgusting thing to say’

IndieDems Comment:

The more despicable the Trumpists become, the more Republicans like Graham, Johnny Isakson, David Perdue, Barry Loudermilk, and Karen Handel fall all over themselves to plant another kiss on Trump’s behind. Just imagine: Graham his Republican colleagues criticize him for refusing to fire the aide or to issue an apology–and Trump does not fire the aide or apologize.

  • At one time, if someone had called Graham a sissy, I would have come to his defense. No more. His track record shows the term simply defines him.

The fact that Senator Graham’s anodyne response to WH staffer Sadler’s despicable remark represents the epitome of Republican criticism, demonstrates beyond the shadow of a doubt what a morally and intellectually corrupt, burnt-out case the Republican Party has become.

  • Just to mention three of the multitude of bellwethers that showed Republicans they were headed for the sewer: nominating for president someone who bragged about sexually assaulting women, approved calling his own daughter a “piece of a–,” and mocked a handicapped person.

The more that Republicans like Isakson, Perdue, Loudermilk, and Handel rally behind Trump as he intensifies his assaults on the moral fabric of American, the more one has to ask: are we witnessing the consequences of where all that Russian money that has been flowing into Republican coffers went?

It’s abundantly clear: Isakson, Perdue, Loudermilk, and Handel will remain Trump’s faithful lapdogs until he destroys America. Pigs will fly before they exercise any oversight of the Trump Executive Branch.

And Graham, once a critic of Trump, became more and more one of his lap dogs the more Trump engaged in lies, insults, and slander. Isn’t it likely that Trump is ensuring Graham’s fealty by dangling an important office in his face, like a cabinet position? Given the rate of turnover, an opening is always a possibility.

Nikki Haley has already sold her soul to the Trump devil to burnish her foreign policy credentials at the U.N. Why should Graham be any different?

The Neglected Role of Women in the Early Christian Church

If you do not read any other posts on IndieDems, see the link in this  one.

As pointed out in our post Southern Baptists Discover–Gasp!–Misogyny in Their Ranks, women and supporters of women’s rights are up in arms over remarks by  Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson in which he “described a young man’s lewd comments toward a teenage girl as ‘biblical,’ and said the proper response to abuse within marriage ‘depends on the level of abuse to some degree’.”

Commentator Gracy Olmstead has expanded the debate in a rewarding way with an excellent review of the role of women in the early Christian church. You want to read this article. It covers a part of history that is too much ignored and explodes the idea that Jesus Christ proscribed a secondary role for women or that early female Christian were meek and mild followers of their male counterparts.

Southern Baptists Discover–Gasp!–Misogyny in Their Ranks

On May 7, conservative columnist and  former GW Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, a vociferous critic of Donald Trump and the phony “conservatives” who support him, wrote an article “Evangelicals are having their own #MeToo moment.” An excerpt:

Paige Patterson — head of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and icon of conservative Baptist belief — is being called out for a story he told in 2000. An abused woman had come to him for counseling. Patterson recommended prayer. Later, the woman returned with two black eyes. In Patterson’s telling: “She said, ‘I hope you’re happy.’ And I said, ‘Yes . . . I’m very happy,’ ” because the woman’s husband had heard her prayers and come to church the next day.

Gerson went on to point out a number of prominent Baptists had risen in criticism. [‘We are shocked’: Thousands of Southern Baptist women denounce leader’s ‘objectifying’ comments, advice to abused women]

Here is IndieDems comment:

My, my. Over 2000 years after Christ treated his female followers with dignity and respect, followed by the Apostle Paul (allegedly) telling women Jesus wanted them to keep quiet in church and to obey their husbands; followed by the Catholic Church’s declaring women unworthy to be priests, much less hold any higher rank; 18 months after evangelical females–and about 52 percent of all white women–voted for a serial adulterer who had admitted to sexually assaulting women, called women bimbos in his tweets, and approved of someone calling his daughter a “piece of a–“; after all this, Michael Gerson and Southern Baptist Women are shocked, shocked–again–to discover there is misogyny going on in their ranks.

Not because the womenhad an epiphany about the phony baloney balderdash they have been listening to, but because some Baptist preacher finally made a statement that even evangelicals couldn’t stomach.

Real life again presents an incident that, if presented in a Saturday Night Live skit, would have unleashed a torrent of criticism that SNL had gone too far in tarnishing the wonderful, God-fearing evangelical community, the sole preserver of the true faith and morals in our sinful society.

It’s all too rich for words. A piece of advice to Gerson and the female evangelicals: try to see the light and see Patterson, not as an aberration, but as the exemplar of evangelical preachers. Then do what other Americans are doing in droves: abandon organized religion for being the hollow, hypocritical shell it really is.

A Message for Johnny Isakson, David Perdue, Barry Loudermilk, and Karen Handel

Now, calm down and try to understand this. That does not mean abandoning the teachings of Jesus or the 10 Commandments. It just means abandoning the false prophets who’ve already abandoned both but disguised it with demagoguery about how all you need to do is oppose abortion and gay rights and you are guaranteed entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. That ain’t what Jesus was all about, my friends.

Trump National Security Adviser Applies Iraq War Justification to Iran

President Trump’s National Security Adviser, John Bolton, this week wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post justifying Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear accord, despite its continued support by our principle European  allies, as well as co-signers Russia and China.  IndieDems comment:

The notable features of Bolton’s polemic: 1) It repeats exactly the justification George W. Bush and his Boltonesque advisers gave for launching the Iraq war 2) beneath the bombast and braggadocio, it is a hollow nothing, offering no specific facts, no specific policies, no specific plan of action to obtain its deluded goals

Even for the mind-blowing Trumplandia, it staggers the human mind that with the United States still facing each day the disastrous consequences of the Bush/Bolton Iraq war, Trump and Bolton are repeating the same flawed reasoning, warped judgment, and Neocon unhinged predictions to set us on the road to war with Iran.
Remember? Bush and his Bolton Neocons assured us that if we went to war with Iraq and overthrew Saddam Hussein, peace and democracy would envelop the Middle East, and the new, democratic Muslim regimes would join us in permanently guaranteeing Israel’s security. Word for word, Bolton repeats the argument.

Bolton cites not one iota of evidence to back up his central claim that Iran is violating the nuclear agreement; he offers no specific plan of action for the U.S. to now prevent Iran from resuming its nuclear weapons program, short of all-out war. He does not remotely address how the U.S. is to accomplish its Herculean ambitions without the support of our principle allies–or with their opposition, given our contemptuous treatment of them.

And his long-proven-false Neocon canard that Israel is the linchpin of our Middle East policy? Bolton obviously has the genie on hand to work his magic, followed by carpet rides leaving Jerusalem every hour.

Break with Boy Scouts Takes Mormons to New Heights of Hypocrisy

Headline: “Mormons Break All Ties with Boy Scouts”
(Excerpts) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said on May 8 2016, it will sever all ties with the Boy Scouts of America, ending a century-old tradition deeply ingrained in the religious life of Mormon boys….
Church officials did not cite specific Scouts policy changes that spurred the split, but the two groups have increasingly clashed over values in recent years, particularly after the Boy Scouts’ move to include openly gay troop leaders.
  • The announcement also came less than a week after the Boy Scouts announced it would be changing its flagship name to Scouts BSA, promoting its decision last year to welcome girls into the program for the first time.
IndieDems Comment:
The Mormon Church is now, hands down, the leading example of pure Christian hypocrisy among our mainstream Christian denominations. It’s now surged ahead of its main challenger for first place, the Catholic Church. As always, the Southern Baptist Convention is close behind.
To understand the magnitude of the Mormon Church’s hypocrisy, look at what it considers normal as it turns its back on those “abnormal” Scouts for daring to grant equality to gays. Mormons–most prominently, Senator Orrin Hatch–have given either overt or tacit support to Donald Trump as he and his Republicans have waged war against America’s basic moral and democratic values.  Here is a partial list of what Trump has done that Mormons have endorsed, as they consign the Scouts to outer darkness:
  • Lived his adult life in total defiance of Jesus’ Golden Rule and God’s Commandments not to lie or commit adultery
  • Bragged about sexually assaulting women and called them bimbos
  • Demeaned John McCain’s military service
  • Mocked a physically handicapped person
  • Incited his followers to violence.
  • Used ethnic and religious slurs
  • Praised neo-fascists marching in a Nazi-like torch light parade in Charlottesville shouting “Jews will not replace us”
  • Called a Miss Universe “Miss Piggy”
  • Approved Howard Stern’s calling Ivanka “a piece of a–“
  • Made misogynist remarks about women’s physical appearance
  • Belittled a Gold Star American mother
  • Praised the murderous thug Putin
  • Called foreign countries “s—holes”
  • Accused Obama of engaging in a criminal conspiracy to hide his real birthplace
  • Lied about undocumented immigrants being mostly rapists and criminals
  • Supported a child sex pervert and brazen defier of the rule of law for the U.S Senate
  • Pardoned Sheriff Arpaio, who defied court orders and whose treatment of prisoners resembled Nazi concentration camps
  • Bilked innocent people of their money in a scam involving a phony university
All the above–all of it–is what Mormons consider normal, as they cloak themselves in self-righteous hypocrisy for opposing the Scouts’ exercise of the Golden Rule.

Republicans’ Reaction to Comedian’s Words Highlights Their Hypocrisy

The annual White House correspondents’ dinner this year, on April 28, invited comedian Michelle Wolf to deliver the evening’s comedic address. Her admittedly acerbic and occasionally vulgar remarks, especially those about the Trump Administration and White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, elicited sharply different responses from some audiences. Here’s IndieDems view:

it’s a measure of the extent to which Trump and his Republicans have prostituted and vulgarized our politics that satirical remarks by a professional comedian about Sarah Sanders have ignited such a firestorm of self-righteous criticism by Trump and his Republican–the same people who had no problem when Trump:

  • Bragged about sexually assaulting women
  • Called a Miss Universe “Miss Piggy”
  • Approved Howard Stern’s calling Ivanka “a piece of ass”
  • Demeaned the military service of John McCain
  • Mocked a handicapped person
  • Called African countries and Haiti “shitholes”
  • Said good words about neo-fascists marching in a Nazi-like parade in Charlottesville
  • Made numerous disparaging remarks about Rosie O’Donnell’s physical appearance
  • Labeled Megan Kelly a bimbo after she called out Trump for his Rosie remarks
  • Accused Obama of engaging in a criminal conspiracy to hide his real birthplace
  • Lied about undocumented immigrants being mostly rapists and criminals

In fact, Trump and his Republicans have told so many lies, they have made lying a Republican/conservative way of life.

These people who have spent three years marching with their President as he has taken American culture day by day into the sewer of vulgarity, crudeness, and hate, now rise to denounce the professional comedian Michelle Wolf for doing what she is paid to do: deliver a handful of comparatively mild satirical remarks. This exercise in pure hypocrisy proves the Republicans do not get it and never will. They must be destroyed in order to save our Republic.


Columnist Jonathan Capehart sums it up: Shut up about Michelle Wolf if you’ve been silent on Trump’s offenses

“The criticism of Wolf by Republicans, the press and the public was inevitable. Comes with the job, and some of it I agree with. What makes it galling is that those screaming the loudest about Wolf are mute when it comes to Trump. The former is a comedian hired to tell jokes at a dinner where jokes are traditionally told. The latter is the president of the United States. His words, even the jokes, carry weight. They have real consequences and affect real lives. But we’ve become so used to the garbage that sloshes from his Twitter feed and his presidency that we have grown numb to how it sluices over our collective national psyche.”


Georgia Republicans Continue Assault on Decency

Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker today published a column Decent society is unraveling right in front of us.”  Her most immediate motivation came from the incident involving members of the Syracuse University chapter of the Theta Tau fraternity, who simulated a sexual assault on a disabled student during an initiation ceremony. But Ms. Parker views the “fraternity gone bad” as “a symptom of a larger cultural disruption”—the waning regard for simple decency in American life.  The incident, she says, should horrify anyone with an ounce of decency, “assuming people still recall what decency is.”

Ms. Parker does not mention the Republican Party or Donald Trump, but her words describing an absence of decency leap from the page as explicit descriptions of Trump and his Republican minions:

  • “appalling and disgusting on many intersecting grounds””
  • “these overcast days of indecency, cruelty and behavior bereft of empathy”
  • “a fresh episode in what should be understood as a gradual unraveling of decent society.”

Remember Trump’s mocking of a handicapped person in a campaign speech?

Ms. Parker most telling words are these: “Permissiveness in the guise of non-judgment has aided in the triumph of selfish expression predicted by cultural historian Christopher Lasch in his 1979 book, ‘The Culture of Narcissism.’ ”

“Somewhere in his imagination, he may have envisioned a future president who would act out his infantile impulses on the world stage when he wrote that ‘the logic of individualism’ would be carried to ‘the extreme of a war of all against all, the pursuit of happiness to the dead end of a narcissistic preoccupation with the self.’ ”

What better description of Donald Trump has ever been written? Two companion pieces in today’s Post elaborate on the theme:

Helaine Olen: The Ronny Jackson mess perfectly sums up the Trump presidency

Trump can blame Democrats all he likes, but his nominee problems start with him

Since the dawn of the age of Trump-as-president nearly three years ago, IndieDems has pointed out that he and his Republican followers are creating an America bereft of decency. Trump’s allies include most particularly Georgia’s own Johnny Isakson, David Perdue, Barry Loudermilk, and Karen Handel.

Read More:

Georgia Republicans Comfortable with Colleagues’ Racist Speak
Georgia Republicans Follow Trump into the Sewer
Georgia Republicans’ Separation from Basic American Values
Georgia Republicans Welcome Dr. Strangelove as National Security Chief
The Known Facts about the Crime and Malfeasance in Trumpgate
Republican Family Values in Full Flower
How Does David Perdue Betray America? Let Us Count the Ways…
     (You can substitute any Georgia Republican’s name for Perdue’s)

Nikki Haley’s Feet of Cay, cont.

Joe Scarborough, former Republican Congressman and current TV/newspaper commentator, recently wrote that he does not believe Trump will run for re-election in  2010. In the process, he joined the media hallelujah chorus that has turned Trump lap dog Nikki Haley into some kind of Nikki-the-giant-killer avatar because she publicly rebuked a Trump aide for stating she was confused when she said on TV that the U.S. was going to impose more economic sanctions on Russia. 

Turned out that was the decision in place when she went on TV, only Trump had overturned it at the last minute–and no one had informed the United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

Scarborough went on to beat the presidential drums for Haley.

IndieDems Comment:

I am about to puke over the media frenzy falsely declaring Nikki Haley as a virtual Joan of Arc for poking Trump in the eye. Scarborough’s joining the hallelujah chorus has only magnified the symptoms. Nikki Haley’s track record shows her as one of Trump’s most sycophantic, obsequious lap dogs.

Where was Nikki Haley’s disgust when Trump:

  • Demeaned the military career of John McCain
  • Accused Obama of engaging in a conspiracy to disguise the “fact” that he was foreign-born
  • Used an ethnic slut to insult a federal judge
  • Accused Mexican undocumented immigrants of being mainly rapists and criminals
  • Praised the thug Putin
  • Said good words about neo-fascists staging Nazi-like parades in Charlottesville
  • Mocked the handicapped
  • Tells lie after lie.

But more to the point, where was Haley’s anger when Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women and called them bimbos; appointed sex predator Roger Ailes as a key advisor; and approved calling his own daughter a piece of a–. Or when Trump appointed white supremacist and overt misogynist Steve Bannon as his campaign czar and then as a Presidential Counselor.

Haley showed no problem with Bannon’s words: “There’s No Hiring Bias Against Women in Tech, They Just Suck at Tech; Birth control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy; Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer?”

But the question Haley needs to be asked: “who do you believe? The women who have accused Trump of sexual harassment, or the Trump who calls them liars?”

Why have our TV pundits gone overboard for the Nikki Haley who only gets mad and reacts when she is personally insulted, but gives not one tinker’s damn about the other targets of Trump’s venom? What a pathetic example of “in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” Haley is just another Paul Ryan/Mike Pence clone.