First up from the God Machine this week is an unfortunate controversy surrounding prominent voices in the religious right movement and their take on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
On a Veterans’ Day broadcast, Kenneth Copeland, a widely influential televangelist, and David Barton, a Republican pseudo-historian, relied on Scripture to argue that military veterans returning from war can’t get PTSD because they’re doing Godly work. As my friend Kyle Mantyla at Right Wing Watch reported this week:
“You listen to me,” Copeland said, addressing the camera, “you get rid of that right now. You don’t take drugs to get rid of it, it doesn’t take psychology; that promise right there will get rid of it.”Barton wholeheartedly agreed, pointing out that many members of the “faith hall of fame” in the Bible “were warriors who took so many people out in battle,” but did so in a just war in the name of God, proving that “when you do it God’s way, not only are you guiltless for having done that, you’re esteemed.”
Not surprisingly, arguing that Scriptural promises “will get rid of” a serious condition such as PTSD, and that military veterans don’t need medication or counseling, proved offensive to many, including the Southern Baptist Convention’s Joe Carter, who said Barton and Copeland are “profoundly ignorant about theology and history,” adding that by “downplaying the pain of PTSD” they have “denigrate[d] the suffering of men and women traumatized by war.”
Carter went on to say, “[F]or them to denigrate the suffering of men and women traumatized by war – and to claim Biblical support for their callow and doltish views – is both shocking and unconscionable.”
Barton, it’s worth noting, is a close ally of Glenn Beck and Mike Huckabee, who was recently sought out by Texas Tea Partiers to run for the U.S. Senate in 2014. He later declined.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* The Associated Press reported this week on “atheist mega-churches,” which proved to be popular in Britain and are now catching on in a variety of U.S. cities. The article notes that the services are drawing crowds of atheists “seeking the camaraderie of a congregation without religion or ritual” (thanks to reader G.B. for the tip).
* Mariah Blake published a fascinating piece this week on the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, the Korean cult leader who started the conservative Washington Times newspaper, and who has seen his remarkable empire rise and fall. It’s a remarkable narrative that’s well worth your time.
* Gallup has repeatedly reported that roughly half the U.S. population believes the creationist view about humans being created within the last 10,000 years, but the National Center for Science Education’s Josh Rosenau has found that the results change dramatically with a slight shift in the wording of the question and that support for creationism is probably much lower than the Gallup results suggest (thanks to reader B.S. for the tip).
* A snake-handling preacher in Tennessee, who’s had great success on reality television, has an unusual legal problem on his hands: he’s been accused of illegally keeping dozens of poisonous snakes at his church. The National Geographic Channel star pleaded not guilty yesterday.
* And in Illinois, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, will reportedly preside over a prayer service of “supplication and exorcism” next week in opposition to the state’s upcoming approval of marriage equality (thanks to reader R.P. for the tip).