Where to Even Begin?

The question for today is literally, where to even begin? Yesterday (June 16, 2021) on the Jim Bakker Show, the special guest was Joel Richardson and the focus of the program was the underground church in the Middle East. Naturally, the conversation gravitated to persecution. Doesn’t it always? The church, we are told by Richardson, is today growing in Iran and Afghanistan by leaps and bounds, while the church in the US and the West is declining. On top of that, we in the West, by inference and allusion to the book of “Revelation”, are essentially not only tacit persecutors of the growing church, but also of the Jewish people because so many in the church itself are anti-Semitic and hate Israel.

In order to illustrate this, Richardson cited a well-known (and worn out, I think) passage from “Revelation” (more accurately, the Apocalypse of John) which reads “Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and make them know that I have loved you” (Rev. 3:9, NASB).

Now, anyone who has studied this passage on a scholarly level is aware of the fact that it, often along with other New Testament passages, has been used time and time again by those who wish to hate as an excuse to persecute the Jewish people. By an odd extension, today it is also often used by those who wish to hate to persecute certain Christians who appear to not love the Jewish people or Israel enough.

Richardson, as he quoted the above passage, was alluding to this issue within the Christian church, and he was correct in so doing. This, even as he expressed this concern as if it were something to be addressed because it previously has not been, which is simply not the case. In fact, it has been addressed by many scholars, both within the church and outside of it, for some time.

If that had been the only issue with what Richardson had to say on the subject, there would have been no perceived need to write anything here. Sadly, this was not the case because, true to form (meaning typical of Christianity’s response to just about everything when utilizing “history”), he went on into an absurd historical construct which was, frankly, entirely false.

Having quoted the above passage, Richardson continued, “Now, these were not Jewish people. They were actually gentiles that in the first century had created synagogues claiming to be Jews. And why did they do that? Well, the reason is because under the Roman Empire there was an exception. . . . It was an exception for ancient religions where if you were part of an ancient religion you didn’t have to do sacrifice to Caesar; you didn’t have to engage in the pagan temple rituals. And, so, you even had gentiles that pretended to be Jews and created synagogues so that they could avoid some of the requirements of the Roman Empire. But they were persecuting the Christians. And, so, this is a well-known historical fact. So you will have Christians today that will quote these passages from Revelation and they will apply it to modern-day Jews….”

Obviously, Richardson continued on. But this quote is the extent of that which is necessary to utilize from him because everything else is irrelevant to the points that need to be made here. The frank fact of the matter, as a biblical scholar, I was absolutely appalled by this “explanation” of said passage. But, that is nothing new for me since these religious literalist-types constantly today, and have constantly in their past, misquoted passages and misconstrued history to fit their view so often as to make it simply fiat. But, the need to counter this blatant twisting of history presented itself to me nevertheless.

Where to begin? I will begin with the FACT that, although elements of what Richardson stated are indeed true, they are taken out of context and twisted into something that does not resemble reality in any way whatsoever. And, I submit, he knows this. But, the average listener would not know this because they would not have the scholarly background by which to discern it. I, on the other hand, immediately recognized the faults in his explanation exactly because of my scholarly background. For those who are still unaware of this, I am a biblical scholar with multiple advanced degrees in the subject, who happens to be a Pagan (more or less exactly because of my scholarly background).

All that said, let’s get into his explanation and carefully dissect it as we might a subject in a biology lab. The first and foremost thing that must be brought out here is that the above passage from John’s Apocalypse is not, and never has been, a literal piece of history. It is clearly, as one would see when consulting other scholarly materials on said passage, an allusion TO something that was taking place during John’s time, but not an actual, literal, event that anyone would have experienced directly.

What do I mean by this? What I mean is that the writer of the Apocalypse was addressing a situation in which he perceived that the churches which adhered to his doctrinal stance were being persecuted by other churches. But, even that is not a completely accurate statement because the writer refers to them as those who believe they are true Jews, but are not. As I have brought out in my first book, “Apocalypse and Armageddon, The Secret Origins of Christianity” ALL of the first “Christian” churches sprang directly from Jewish synagogues. Yes, there are other scholars who do not agree with this. But, frankly, it is as plain as day if one reads the book of Acts and the writings of Paul. As I have explained, Paul, and others, went directly to Jewish synagogues in the diaspora to get converts. Never once, according to the documentation, did he or any of the others go directly to gentiles to attempt to gain converts. But, lots of the coverts to the early church were, in fact, gentiles who had begun the process of becoming a part of the Jewish religion, but who had not completed said process. That was one of the main reasons that a dispute concerning circumcision arose in the early church – because a Jewish synagogue would require circumcision and it was felt by many that the Christian church should also require it. But Paul led the charge against this requirement and ultimately prevailed. This made it so much easier for the church to gain adherents from among the gentiles because most of them did not want to become circumcised.

Thus, the early Christian church was very quickly populated by converts who had initially intended to become Jewish by religion, but who had seen the benefit of not having to become circumcised. In so many words, they didn’t have to go all the way if they became Christians instead. And, as it turns out, they didn’t have to follow Jewish dietary laws either, which also made Christianity more appealing than Judaism.

Even having stated all of that, at this time Christianity was actually not seen as separate from Judaism. It was seen as another branch of Judaism or quasi-separate. The actual split had not yet taken place. Thus, Christian churches could rightly be called synagogues. In fact, they were. Both the synagogue and the church were referred to as “assemblies”. It is exactly the same term. From whence do you think the Assemblies of God gets their name? But, obviously, this is nuanced throughout the New Testament, especially in English translations.

But, Richardson continues that these gentiles were not really Jewish but had created synagogues of their own so that they could be exempt from certain Roman regulations, such as making sacrifices to Caesar. Now, having studied this period extensively, I actually almost laughed him to derision when I heard him say this, it was so appallingly untrue! There are multiple reasons why this statement is false. First and foremost is the fact that no Pagan would have had any real scruples concerning sacrificing to the Roman emperor, or to any deity for that matter. That’s what really made Richardson’s explanation so laughable. He proposed that Pagans had an issue with sacrificing to a human who was seen as divine. Ridiculous! Worship of, and sacrifice to, personages who were elevated to divinity in the minds of others was so common as to make it almost a competition between the gods and men! Heroes had always been given divine status and worshipped from time immemorial. Often various rulers, especially in the Greek and Hellenistic words, had also been. There was absolutely nothing new in any of this, and only a few agitated against this in any way. Most often these were adherents of some philosophic school which found some basis in rejecting all kinds of social mores of the time, such as eating meat or even beans. But they did not often convert to Judaism in order to satisfy whatever philosophical scruples they may have had. That was simply not a solution because they would have found many of the precepts of Judaism to be burdensome as well.

In addition, the plain fact of the matter is that, during the first century emperor worship, and sacrifice to the emperor, was really in its beginning stages of development. Frankly, there was no general requirement for anyone to sacrifice to the emperor so early in history. That came later and, in fact, Christians were persecuted for their objection to it and sometimes even executed for refusing to do so. But that was NOT in the first century.

Now, in fact, the Jewish people were early exempted by the Romans from having to participate in any way in polytheistic religion. That included the cult of the emperor, in whatever form it took during its various stages. Judaism was designated as an ancient religion and given recognition as such. For the Roman, if a religion was ancient then it could be accepted, or at least tolerated. That was exactly the problem when Christianity broke away from Judaism. Since Christianity was then to be seen as “new”, it did not automatically enjoy the exemptions that Judaism had been afforded. But, the Christians expected this, so there was conflict.

Now, this does not mean that Judaism was actually favored, as such, or that the Romans even liked the religion. On the contrary, there are many writings that demonstrate how loathsome at least some Romans felt the Jewish religion and people to be. Did that prevent at least some people from finding this religion interesting enough to become converts to? Not at all. But, again, they did not do so for the reasons Richardson specifies.

Frankly, Judaism was not the only religion that some Romans found objectionable. Any religion that was seen as in any way corrupt, in bad taste, or excessive might be found to be objectionable to a proper Roman because the Romans were, in fact, very conservative in their religious attitudes. Even so, if they felt that they had appropriate reasons in so doing, they would still accept or tolerate even the excessive, orgiastic cults such as that of Kybele. But, adherents of these religions were NOT exempted from sacrifice, either to the deities or to the emperor. Only Judaism enjoyed such a privilege simply because it stood so opposed to it and the Romans knew it was necessary to exempt them so that they might be good citizens of the empire. And, in fact, as long as the temple stood in Jerusalem the priests made appropriate sacrifices in behalf of the emperor’s well-being and the well-being of the Roman state. It was a reciprocal relationship with an effort toward, more or less, mutual respect. But this is exactly one of the reasons that some Jewish sects, such as the Essenes, objected even to the temple itself because they saw it as having been defiled (the reference to Jezebel that I will get to). And, this is partly what is being touched on in the above passage from the Apocalypse. Every Jewish sect saw themselves as the “true Jews”, including the Christian sect. And this WAS during the first century.

So, the frank fact of the matter, thus far, is that; (1) the so-called “synagogues [or assemblies] of Satan” were NOT separate synagogues founded by gentiles pretending to be Jews in order to be exempted from sacrifice to the emperor; (2) emperor worship and sacrifice were not really major issues during the first century anyway; (3) all Jews referred to themselves as the “true Jews”; (4) therefore, when Christianity did split off from the rest of Judaism it expected to be granted the same exemptions that the Jewish religion enjoyed, but the Romans did not see things the same way because Christianity was now seen as new and, frankly, excessively superstitious.

As a momentary aside, if the reader does not fully believe me when I emphasize that even the earliest Christians saw themselves as the “true Jews”, please just read the book of Acts. When Paul was questioned by Roman authorities the very first thing he did was to overly-emphasize the fact that he was a Jew. He never once stated that he was a Christian, although he did acknowledge this by stating that he was a member of the sect of the Nazarenes. But, before King Agrippa Paul stated, “So then, all Jews know my way of life since my youth, which from the beginning was spent among my own nation and in Jerusalem, since they have known about me for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion. And now I am standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers; the promise to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly serve God night and day. For this hope, O king, I am being accused by Jews” (Acts 26: 4-7, NASB). In each case, when Paul refers to “the Jews” it should actually read something more like “those other Jews who are not really Jews and who don’t believe in the resurrection of Christ”. That is implied in this entire passage.

Now, on to the statement made by Richardson that these “fake” Jews were persecuting Christians, according to the above passage from the Apocalypse. Frankly, that’s not even what the passage says. But, it has always been a mantra of Christianity that the church has been persecuted by others even from the very beginning. So, they literally look at everything as a sign of such persecution (like “Ancient Aliens” looks at every rock and says aliens must have been here). In this way it is rather easy to simply extrapolate that this passage is about others – other Jews – who were persecuting the early church. The main problem with this is that there is no evidence for it. Were there conflicts between the Nazarenes and other Jewish sects? Absolutely. We DO know that from history. Was this persecution of Christians – was it always a one-way street so that others were always picking on the poor Christians? In a word, no. It is a historical fact that early Christians did a lot of things that brought on opposition from others, sometimes deliberately. They still have a tendency to do that today.

But, beyond this, another problem is with the fact that Richardson, and presumably others, want to take this passage literally at face-value. In other words, it just had to have been referring to a historical event, even if we don’t know the details of it because, again, there isn’t any evidence.

In fact, there is evidence to the contrary right in the Apocalypse. In the second chapter where the writer is dictating to the church in Thyatira, he states, “But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with plague, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you” (Rev. 2:20-24, NASB).

Good scholarship on the subject of this passage demonstrates that the writer is using a common (for that time) rhetorical device here. Thus, this passage is rhetoric, not a description of a literal event. The writer is doing this for effect to get a point across to the readers. No, Jezebel was not a real person (it might have been the defiled temple), etc. But the writer does connect Jezebel with Satan and, thus, this passage is directly connected to the writer’s reference to the synagogue of Satan. See how that works?

As I show in my first book, “Apocalypse and Armageddon”, John’s area of authority was in Asia Minor where these seven churches were located. And John did not agree with Pauline teaching that converts could eat sacrificial meat. Yes, contrary to the picture drawn of early church history, there was great conflict between opposing factions from the very beginning. THIS is what the writer of the Apocalypse, whether it was John or a disciple of his, was referring to when he references “the deep things of Satan” and “the synagogue of Satan”. HIS people were NOT to participate in such things! THEY were the TRUE JEWS.

But, don’t take my word alone for it. If one requires scholarly input from another source, the article by Mark R. J. Bredin entitled “The Synagogue of Satan Accusation in Revelation 2:9” (Biblical Theology Bulletin: Journal of Bible and Culture, 1 Nov. 1998) states in abstract: “The accusation that the synagogue was a synagogue, not of Judeans but of Satan is connected with an internal dispute on how one faithful to Israelite traditions should live with the Roman economic system. The author of Revelation was arguing that there should be no compromise with Rome, and those who did compromise were not fit to be called Judean. The Synagogue, on the other hand, argued that peaceful coexistence with Rome was possible. It is suggested that the synagogue accused members of the church in Smyrna of not being Judean because they refused to pay the special Judean tax that allowed them to practice their religion unmolested. For the author of Revelation, however, to pay the tax would be an act of apostasy, as the tax paid for the rebuilding of the Capitoline temple”.

Now, a careful reading of this abstracted passage from said article shows that a real, physical synagogue, as such, is not being referred to. What is being referenced is another branch of Judaism as opposed to the “true” branch. Further, the main issue was participation in the doings of the wider world, specifically the Roman economic system which, in part, depended upon pagan temple sacrifice. Of course, the seemingly corrupted Jewish temple in Jerusalem also depended upon such sacrifice. But these converts lived in areas where traveling and sacrificing at that temple, even if it were allowed, would have been impractical, at best. The writer didn’t even want his followers paying the tax mentioned because they were separate from those other Jews who did pay the tax. But, that effectively helped to set up the inevitable conflict with the Romans once the Romans recognized them as a separate religious sect – as a new religion.

Thus, it is in fact NOT a well-known historical fact that this entity referred to as the “synagogue of Satan” was persecuting the churches. That is simply NOT the case at all. This is a rhetorical device employed to draw a distinction between “us and them” in the minds of the readers. Fake gentile synagogues that persecuted early Christians simply DID NOT EVEN EXIST.

The Irony and the Travesty

Let’s make sure we all understand this. It is against international law according to UN mandates for Israelis to continue to create new settlements in any disputed territories, including East Jerusalem. Yet, in every instance in which the UN attempts to hold Israel accountable for these violations, the US casts the deciding vote not to allow this to happen. And it is this continued theft of land and homes that sparked this latest round of hostilities. Now, I do agree that the Jewish people were and are entitled to a homeland. This became necessary following the Holocaust during WWII. The world needed to be reconciled to the fact that, if the Jewish people did not have a homeland, then they would continue to be systematically persecuted, oppressed, and even murdered, all over the world. However, in creating this homeland, we have inadvertently created unforeseeable problems that continue to persist today. I think it is fair to say that no one really realized how the creation of Israel would destabilize the region because, at that time, the area that was made into Israel was not a very desired place to live. However, there were people living there who have been systematically displaced as time has gone on. They called this land their home. Yet their rights are roundly ignored, especially by us. The ironies are myriad. A people who were persecuted and oppressed the world over for generations, now oppress others. Religious leaders (especially evangelicals) and politicians in the US support Israel – a Jewish nation – while ignoring the plight of Palestinians, the majority of whom are actually Christians. If war breaks out anywhere else in the world, you can bet it will be the leading event on every newscast. But, when it’s Israel, we try to ignore it until it becomes too big to ignore. Televangelists howl that “God” is going to judge and potentially destroy America because of our supposed sins of homosexuality and abortion! Yet, when confronted with the fact that in Israel both are legal and accepted, well, I will just make this point by citing a broadcast of “Frances & Friends” from last week. When a caller asked how they could support Israel when both are legal there and at the same time condemn their own nation for the same supposed sins – the panel’s basic answer was that Israel is the only true democracy in the region. Yes, you got that right. Apparently “God” must favor Israel because it is a democracy, regardless of its “sins”! But the same somehow doesn’t go for us. And what does democracy bring to the region? Well, just look for yourself. If there is a corrupt government in the world, it’s that of Israel. And we support them with military and economic aid. If we didn’t, they would not survive. Now, I am not by any means suggesting that Israel does not, even now, have a basic right to exist. But, if for no other reasons than humanitarian ones, a Palestinian state also has a right to exist and Israeli settlements must come to a complete end. Full stop. And let’s make no mistake, condemnation of Israel for the things that nation is doing is NOT anti-Semitism. Some people have tried very hard to equate the two, and they are in error. One can, and should, support the Jewish people in their very reasonable need for security and safety while at the same time standing against the unconscionable actions of the government of Israel. Televangelist-types, such as those on the panel of “Frances & Friends” have come out stating that the ONLY solution is a one-state solution – that one state, naturally, being Israel. Supposedly, such a state would grant full rights to Palestinians and others who also resided there. But we already see that such a scenario clearly does not work because non-Jews are marginalized, at best, in Israel even today. So, how would it be any different in the future? If Jewish settlers have the right to displace others who have lived there for generations, even against international law, then this is no solution. Their actions are creating future terrorists, not mitigating terrorism. Many years ago when I was first attending college, I briefly had a room mate who was a Palestinian Muslim. We got along fairly well even though we were both, at that time, rather fanatical about our religions. I was an evangelical Christian then. But, that came to an end when I inadvertently interrupted this guy during important rituals one day. Without going into detail, it was at that time that I cane to realize just how unhinged – how truly crazy – this guy was. But, all these years later I can see why he was. He would tell me how he hated Israel and America because his family had been displaced. I couldn’t understand that then because of my religious beliefs. But I can now.

Strangers

In his Manna Fest program entitled “Your Fiery Trial – Know the ‘E’ Factor” (3/21/2021), Perry Stone, citing 1 Peter 1:1, began by stating that the word “strangers” (parepidēmois, or παρεπιδήμοις, in Greek) used there referred to those of other nations; “pilgrims”, or Gentile believers living throughout the nations. This is a perfect example of someone with little to no theological training trying to explain meaning. The fact of the matter is that the writer of 1 Peter, whoever he really was (and it may have been Peter) was not addressing his letter to Gentiles who lived among Gentiles. But that is the inference made by Mr. Stone here. It is not a logical inference, but that never stops any televangelist from spouting any sort of nonsense they desire, after all. No, in actuality, the writer was addressing the same people that the first evangelists always reached out to – former Gentile proselytes to Judaism. At no time did any of them ever reach directly out to non-Jewish persons.

But, most who have studied this won’t tell you that. Look, even some of my former professors, whom I greatly respect, will dispute me on this. But the real truth is that everywhere any of the apostles went, they focused their attention on those who were already a part of Jewish Synagogues. They went into what is known as the Diaspora and sought converts from among those, mainly focusing on proselytes to Judaism from among the nations. So, in effect, Mr. Stone almost had it right, but just didn’t have it quite right. Jewish people who lived among the nations were often referred to as “strangers” or “sojourners”. Frankly, even into late medieval times people from other “nations” were still referred to as “strangers” when they settled into England (some of my own ancestors among them). They didn’t have to be Jewish; they just had to be “other”.

Now, one may try to counter what I have stated here by pointing out that Peter himself, according to the book of Acts, did go to the Roman Centurion, Cornelius. Surely, one might say, he was not Jewish, right? Well; wrong. The passage in Acts actually explains, for those who understood when the book was actually written, that Cornelius was, in fact, a proselyte to Judaism. How so? This is done by referring to him as a “God fearer” and emphasizing all of the good works he had done. The very term “God fearer” simply meant that he was a proselyte to Judaism.

Well then, someone else may counter, what about Paul’s visit to Athens? Surely, one might say, the people he encountered there were not Jewish. After all, they seemed to better fit the mold of Greek philosophers. And, in fact, that is exactly how they are portrayed by the writer of Acts. However, one can see, by reading the passage, that Paul had not sought them out, but just happened to be out in the public square, if you will, when he encountered them. The place where they were gathered – the Areopagus – was exactly the area where anyone would go to promote one’s own philosophy and hope to gain followers. It would also have been the one place anyone would go for any sort of entertainment, or to take part in certain court hearings. In so many words, it was, naturally, the place where people gathered. Paul would have certainly gone there. All that being said, I consider this event to have been entirely made-up by the writer to explain how Paul got from Northern Greece and Macedonia to Corinth. He could hardly have avoided Athens, after all, right? But, I don’t believe he actually ever went there because of one critical factor. As I explain in my first book, Apocalypse and Armageddon, he made no attempt to establish a church there as he had done everywhere else he went before he was imprisoned. For me, that demonstrates that this event was an invention of the writer.

In the end, one has to eventually come to understand that the entire scenario of Paul, or any other apostle, going around the empire reaching directly out to Pagans is a myth. That is simply not what happened, and one can see it simply by reading the very book of Acts. In every single case, even after Paul swore he would never go into Jewish Synagogues in the Diaspora again, that is exactly what he did in the very next instance. That proselytes were easy fruit to pick, so to speak, since they had not yet fully converted to Judaism (it was a process that took time and effort) seems obvious. Regardless, Jewish people in the Diaspora were habitually referred to as “strangers” or “sojourners” because they were not seen as permanent residents, so this is in no way unique to whoever wrote 1 Peter and it in no way refers only to Jewish proselytes from among the nations. It refers to any Jewish person who was living among the nations – anywhere.

THEY KNOW IT. THEY JUST DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW IT.

I must state at the outset that last Friday’s (02-05-2021) airing of Frances & Friends contained just about every wrong-headed idea, supposition, and belief possible in a single program. It was, as far as I am concerned, an absolute bonanza of misinformation packaged as truth. People, this is what is defined by the terms “religious dogma” and “superstition”. This is how a single religious viewpoint begins to become so dominant that it is made into a state religion. I know my history. It happens this way EVERY SINGLE TIME. When religion has free reign to guide the political thought of the masses, the initial result is religious tyranny one-hundred percent of the time. And the end result is the downfall of the nation. It happened with the ancient Israelites, Judeans, Persians, Greeks and Romans – every one of them.

I placed that stirring paragraph first because it is now imperative that people begin to get this, rather than blithely ignoring the fact that religious personalities are directing the masses, not only in the United States of America, but in several countries the world over, toward a religious/national ideology based entirely on falsehood. It’s nationalism wrapped in the garb of religion. AND THEY KNOW IT. If they know history even half-way as well as I do, then they know fully well where all of this is leading, but they won’t tell YOU. They want you to believe something entirely different; something that fits their warped, ever-changing, theology – a theology that they are creating and re-creating constantly as they go along to fit whatever is happening in the world.

When I was a young ministerial student in college, I started out believing just like them. In fact, I was practically a devotee of Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. On top of that, I was an evangelical Pentecostal type, so I believed (or, rather, forced myself to believe) all that they taught. How devastating it was to see their downfall! Years later, it was almost impossible for me to believe that they were both back on the air again, spouting their nonsense; for during the intervening years I had learned some things about the very nature of religion. The basic truth that I came to understand is that most religious leaders will more than willingly just lie in order to continue to perpetuate their brand of belief. They will rationalize it in any way possible to make it seem as if it is the gospel truth. The fact of the matter is that THEY KNOW BETTER, but THEY DON’T EVER WANT YOU TO KNOW BETTER. I am more than thankful for actual scholarship, which served to enlighten me to this. Yes, scholars and academia have the information, but they generally prefer for it to remain within scholarly and academic circles, just as your average preacher who actually has a real theological education prefers to keep his/her knowledge within the realm of the theologians.

Instead of just telling YOU the truth, they prefer to spout all sorts of nonsense and decrepit theology in order to keep the money flowing. That’s really the truth. I, on the other hand, could not proceed in that manner. Once I came to understand the many things that they won’t tell you – and that would never have been told to me had I not pursued a ministerial degree – I simply could not continue with the charade. But that’s a longer story than we have time for here.

Back to Frances & Friends; after some opening remarks, Donnie Swaggart went into this prayer for our nation, crying, sobbing, etc. – it reminded me of his dad when he cried saying “I have sinned”…. As far as I am concerned, it was as fake as anything I have ever seen, especially as he immediately stopped when it was time for a commercial break. And that speaking in tongues part, I just couldn’t listen to at all! It remined me of the days long ago when I knew fully well (but somehow rationalized it) that people didn’t really speak in tongues and I had actually forced myself to utter something so I could become a member of the A/G. That wasn’t any more real than a pair of fake leather shoes. It gives the appearance of being real, but it really isn’t. And please, really, anyone who hasn’t noticed that all that babble always sounds like the same “language”, no matter how many testimonies they may have in which some say they are speaking Aramaic or something; I suggest you aren’t really paying attention.

Anyway, one of the main points of his prayer, as far as I could stand to listen to it, was that the church is being persecuted because people aren’t being allowed to meet in some areas of the country because of COVID-19. Donnie even went so far in his prayer as to say that the current administration is “not a friend of the church” (he certainly hasn’t given this administration much of a chance, like he did for Trump). I was left wondering just what he based that insinuation on, since the current administration has done absolutely nothing thus far against the church at all. In fact, IF churches are being shut down, as the Swaggarts and the Bakkers all insist, it has been taking place well prior to the start of this new administration, in case no one has noticed. So, Donnie cried to God for overall forgiveness, etc. until the break came upon them. It was sad to see, really.

In any case, after Frances and the panel complimented Donnie on his prayer, they went into some viewer questions, starting with the difference between Cherubim and angels. Even some of them seemed to not quite grasp whatever differences there may be, for those who actually believe such beings exist. Somewhat after that, Frances mentioned some book (title not provided) that she said William Federer had sent her detailing the universe and God’s creation, apparently, that she obviously found very much to her liking. Somehow that conversation evolved into John Rosenstern talking about Lucifer originally being a Cherub and falling from grace because of pride and the current world system being under his domination – and then having to add with no provocation that this is why they oppose the direction the “Left” and the Democrats (whom he regularly refers to as “Demoncrats”) want to take this nation, stating that they are “falling into the plan of Satan”. He continued that their aim is to create an “oligarchy of individuals” who want to rule the world like Satan wants to do. Yes, Mr. Rosenstern tied the Democrats to Satan very nicely indeed here (nothing new for him). Too bad for him the things he said were hyperbole at best. Personally, I get rather tired of being referred to as “of Satan” just because of my political understandings. But, apparently, it’s part of their religion to do so.

A bit later in the program, after a bit of “religion” was interjected (they seem to be deliberately doing this now to stifle the criticisms that they have been too political), Frances began talking about how she is having “great trepidation” concerning some things that are happening now and that she is seeing on the news, referring directly to the Laura Ingram Show that she had watched the night before in which, according to Frances (I haven’t watched the program, and don’t plan to, so it would be unfair for me to state that this was exactly stated on said program), it was said that under the current administration the military is purging and/or planning to purge “all conservatives and get rid of all conservatives in the military”. John Rosenstern almost immediately jumped in, stating that the President, who is Commander in Chief, can do and order anything he/she wants to with reference to the military because of that position, but few people know this.

Rosenstern then continued that former President Obama had started such a purge within the ranks during his administration, with Frances agreeing and partially reiterating this, all the way down, Rosenstern stated, as far as the rank of Captain, making a big deal of that. He referred to this as these officers “being removed”. And, as usual (one does get tired of it after a while, John), Mr. Rosenstern could not help but tie it all to Hitler and Nazi Germany, stating that Hitler “did the same thing”, demanding total loyalty from the military.

Frances then continued that, in her mind, she was thinking how, if the military is purged of all conservatives – get this – it will have no problem arresting American citizens anywhere in the world, including here. “That’s unheard of in our country”, she said. “But now it’s law and I could see what’s going to happen. . . . It is so plain; the handwriting on the wall”.

Then Dave Smith, with the only relatively intelligent comment in this particular segment, stated that the Secretary of Defense had stated that they were purging the military. I state that his comment was relatively intelligent because he was at least ALMOST right in what he said, as opposed to the others.

Frances continued that “they” now have no fear letting everyone know what they are doing because now they are in power (I’m seeing this as a new theme – “they” aren’t afraid to be open about what they are doing now that they won the election), reiterating again that they are purging the military of “every conservative voice”. She then went on about how so many “great conservatives” left the military under Obama, including Lieutenant General Jerry Boykin. John Rosenstern then added that we are now seeing the rise of a dictatorship and that the current state in Washington DC with National Guard members heavily stationed there is, to him, “troubling”, adding that they are not really needed, but that “they” are afraid of more terrorist acts. He continued, “and they are now talking about defining white nationalism” (he never really elaborated as to what he meant by that), stating that it is all being done to justify extreme power being given to the government – once again reiterating that this is what Hitler did. Yawn. Then he twisted everything around even more by stating that “they” are claiming that it is “we” who are doing this. Then, to hammer it home, he said he has been studying, once again, the rise of the Nazis in Germany for the past five weeks.

Finally, Donnie Swaggart managed to chime in on this subject, stating emphatically that “[t]here is no threat against the Capitol. There was no insurrection [on January 6th], and the so-called insurrection . . . was not Trump supporters – a few, but they were nuts” and all politicians “have nuts”. He continued, “[b]ut there were more Antifa. They arrested them.”

Frankly, if we lived in a sane world or country, there would be no need to refute any of this or even say anything about it. We all could just let them babble on and on, assured within ourselves that it is nuts, but that it is also harmless. But, sadly, the necessity to do otherwise is present because people really take this as “gospel” because religious “leaders” say so. This is the main point I want to drive home overall. People are accepting all sorts of nonsense exactly because the people they see as religious leaders say it. And this is the danger we all face.

Thus, I will parse it by beginning with the first statement here made by Frances that the military is moving to purge all conservatives from its ranks. Note that she did not say most, or almost all, or anything like that. She said ALL. Now, that in and of itself really makes no difference in that the very idea that the military would be purging conservatives and their voices from its ranks is ludicrous on its face. How do I know this? Because I was in the military! It is at least possible that at least she does not really understand the make-up of today’s military in this nation, but I submit that this is not the case for everyone on the panel, sparse as it was for a Friday. So, let me set the record straight here for those who truly don’t know. The majority of military personnel are conservative and most of them are also Republicans. I don’t need statistics to tell me that because, again, I was in the military – a liberal virtually surrounded by conservatives the entire time I served (and some of them made that quite clear). But, if you want “proof”, just type into Google a query as to the percentage of conservatives in the US military. Happy hunting.

The point of the above paragraph mainly being to show that it would be IMPOSSIBLE for the military to purge all conservatives, or even most conservatives, from its ranks. This is nothing more than damaging fantasy being spread by those who know the truth, but don’t want YOU to know it.

In addition, John Rosenstern certainly exaggerated a bit when he flatly stated that the Commander in Chief can do and order whatever he wants with reference to the military. The actual truth is that the military is indeed under the command of the President because of his role as Commander in Chief, but that does NOT mean he can order just anything he desires, and they have to acquiesce. In fact, the military, as one of its primary obligations, is expected to adhere to high moral and ethical standards, part of which include the obligation to refuse any unlawful order, even from their Commander in Chief. I don’t even need to go further than that here. Rosenstern is simply in error, and he probably knows it. But most people listening to him probably don’t know it.

As for the so-called “purge” that the panel labeled the Obama administration with; what took place under his administration is NOT the same as what is taking place now (which we will get to). Be that as it may, the fact of the matter is that some did refer to that which took place under the Obama administration as a purge of high-ranking officers, mainly Generals. But, if one looks at the reasoning behind the majority of the firings that took place, one will see instances of overt, public disagreement with the administration concerning military matters. That is simply something that cannot be condoned or tolerated. Frankly, even in grade school most learn that civilian authority trumps (no pun intended) military authority in this country as demonstrated by President Truman’s firing of Gen. Douglas MacArthur for doing exactly that – openly defying presidential orders. It’s simply something that cannot be tolerated in our constitutional Republic. And, frankly, what happened then – and what is happening now – are NOT the same as what happened in Nazi Germany, no matter how much Mr. Rosenstern likes to tie everything Democrats do to Hitler.

But, those facts (which I think at least some on the panel would have known) did not stop Frances from openly worrying about how, if the military is purged of all conservatives they might go around arresting Americans – for what, she did not specify. But, I have a feeling she would include just being a Christian among the “crimes” people might get arrested for since she is always pining away about Christian persecution. Sadly for her point of view, that which she is envisioning is actually NOT law, regardless of what she said or what those who listen to her might believe. The handwriting on the wall is certainly not plain (and it never is, in case anyone wonders), but the gullibility of many who listen to such programs is quite plain to see.

In any case, when I stated above that Dave Smith ALMOST actually got it right, I was referring to the fact that he mentioned the Secretary of Defense and what he is doing. But, that’s all he got right – that the Secretary of Defense is doing something, because this is NOT a purge either. What has taken place, thus far, have been two major things. First, the new Secretary of Defense, Gen. Lloyd Austin (1) first fired all of the Pentagon’s advisory board members from the previous administration in order to have a fresh start and, (2) he has ordered a military wide stand-down of forces to address the issue of extremism within military ranks (that would include white nationalist groups and ideas, in case Mr. Rosenstern wants to know). Neither of these orders indicates a purge of conservatives from the military, unless the Swaggarts are afraid that rooting out extremists qualifies. After all, shortly thereafter Mr. Rosenstern referred to the administration “defining white nationalism”, so perhaps this really is their fear here. The rest of his comments are below the level of requiring rebuttal, except that I can’t help but laugh a bit at his mention that he has been re-studying the rise of Nazi Germany for the past five weeks, which, apparently in his mind, makes him some kind of renewed authority on the subject. Five weeks, really?

Frankly, I find it distasteful to even have to grapple with a descendant of Holocaust survivors, but I find it equally distasteful for said survivors (he and his son) to regularly class me as “of Satan”. What I am really saying is that one would think that he, as a Holocaust survivor, might know his history a little better than that. And, frankly, maybe he does.

But if it could get any worse, it would have to have been done by either Jim Nations or Donnie Swaggart. Jim Nations was not present for this particular program, which is practically unheard of. In fact, Frances has let it be known that he had a heart attack, but is doing well at this time. Personally, I wish him well even though I disagree with him on practically everything possible.

That being said, obviously it was Donnie’s turn to chime in with the same baseless conspiratorial garbage that helped to cause the storming of the Capitol on January 6th – only, according to him, no insurrection took place. Reiterating once again that those who stormed the Capitol were mainly Antifa (this has become their standard mantra to comfort themselves with), and that only a few nutty Trump supporters were among them, he questioned the need for military personnel to even be present in Washington. Seems like he follows directly on the same lines as a caller from the other day who stated that everything he read and heard led him to believe Biden is taking over the Capitol using the military. Donnie didn’t say that, but he may as well have. In effect, he fed directly into the paranoia that has become so pervasive in our current society that those “communist liberals” are taking over and handing us over to a one-world governmental system in which our freedoms will be taken away. If you don’t believe this is a pervasive theme among the televangelist-types, just watch the Jim Bakker Show and listen to guests such as Derek and Sharon Gilbert who, by the way, also insist that the wearing of masks is really a means by which the government is manipulating the population to get control of society.

In any case, Frances went on to another caller who asked about the Muslim ban that was instituted under former president Trump, with John Rosenstern flatly stating, “president Trump did not ban Muslims. . . .”, adding that we are already seeing less support for Israel, and increased support for Palestinians, under the current administration. Too bad for Rosenstern that Trump himself referred to his action as a “Muslim ban” several times before he saw that he needed to tone that down. And the current administration, thus far, has really done just about nothing with reference to Israel, regardless of whatever visions Mr. Rosenstern has conjured up in his head.

Then Rosenstern complained that the Democrats are pushing their agenda through by using the process called “reconciliation” – get this, beginning with COVID relief, set to continue next with climate-change, and after that with infrastructure. That’s right, apparently Mr. Rosenstern has an issue with all three of these. Now, I am well aware of his positions, and know why he takes positions against the first two (and I obviously disagree with him), but infrastructure? I suppose he will say we would be spending too much money on it, as all of it continues to deteriorate around us and the earth slowly cooks us like crabs in a pot if COVID doesn’t take us all out first. But, I mean, why should he care. He thinks Jesus will come back any day and destroy it all anyway.

Frances chimed in on that, stating that we have to have wisdom and “the mind of God” in order to counteract “their” efforts. “I believe God can still perform miracles on this country and we can retain our freedom as a country”. This even as she alluded to placing god-fearing persons into office, and to prayer as their “weapon”.

Eventually, as I knew they someday would (it was just a matter of time, really), Frances brought up Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and her supposed plight. Frances talked about the fact that Greene spoke at the session set to strip her of her committee assignments, as Frances told it, for statements she made when she was “younger”. In fairness, Donnie did interject that she made some of these statements during her campaign, but Frances went on anyway, stating that we have all probably said things when younger, but are different people now and should not be judged for past mistakes like that. Frances then referred to Greene as a “great conservative”. I was left wondering how she defined “great”.

Rosenstern then stated that she has recanted of her former ideas, and added (without presenting evidence) that the Republicans who voted to strip her of her assignments had gone along with Democrats because they thought the Democrats would do something about Reps Omar and Ocasio-Cortez too. Then he went on to state that others who were there said that Ocasio-Cortez was not even present during the storming of the Capitol, as she says she was. He then referred to the whole episode as a “double-standard”, likening it to what Israel, in his words, has to deal with from other nations.

Then Rosenstern reiterated the admonition from Frances from earlier in the program that conservatives not protest, stating that to do so would be to fall into a trap in which “they” would create some kind of situation causing conservatives to be blamed for it “just like before [meaning on January 6th], I think”. Frances, agreeing, continued that “they” were [on January 6th] “directing it”, but nothing was said (in the media, presumably) about that; both she and Rosenstern continuing to opine falsely that the media didn’t even cover any of the protests or riots that took place last year. Frances even said, “they burned down parts of our cities and nothing was ever said”. She seems to have forgotten that this was all over the news for days on end and that several people were arrested for their part in said riots which, they don’t seem to understand, are separate from the otherwise peaceful protests that also took place at the same time. But, you know, Antifa.

After that a clip of MTG speaking at her hearing was played in which she virtually claimed Christian persecution (yawn), adding that she never mentioned such things as QAnon during the election (contrary to what Donnie said), or afterward, and emphasizing that she was grateful for the opportunity she has because she believes in God and is grateful for being forgiven of sins, she then spoke against abortion, stating that a nation with the motto “In God We Trust” cannot condone abortion. Then she went on about how “they” are “crucifying” her for words she spoke “a long time ago”, adding that the media is just as guilty as QAnon for lies and distortions and words that divide.

Now, I don’t know how she defines a “long time ago” or how much younger a person has to be in the eyes of Frances for their words and/or deeds to be overlooked, but conspiracy-theories such as Pizzagate, which Greene espoused, are really not that far back in time even as far as origin is concerned. A mere four to five years ago, in fact. Let me say, a “long time ago” would be a qualification for, say, something one did as a teen-ager when one is her age now, not a mere four to five years ago. But, if she said any of this during her campaign, then the time-frame becomes even more narrow. Still, it is interesting to note how easily Frances and the panel move to forgive and forget in the case of Greene, even as they recently skewered and castigated AOC and other members of the Squad, more than once with Frances derisively referring to AOC as that “young little girl”. Talk about a double-standard.

Even worse than that (you probably thought it really couldn’t get worse by now), immediately after that clip ended, Donnie Swaggart clapped his hands in approval, stating “[t]hat’s what we need! That woman could be president!” Appalled is a word I truly try to use sparingly, but it certainly fits my reaction here, not that any of it surprised me, because it didn’t.

Frances emphasized the thought-process even more by stating that Greene was being persecuted for standing for her beliefs. Then Donnie rubbed it in even more by stating “her constituents should rise up and demand she be put back on her committees. Her constituents should bombard every congressman with telephone calls, emails; flood them. Don’t let them do their business. Tie up their phone lines demanding . . .” (as Frances interrupted him), “But it’s done now”; to which he responded, “[b]ut mother, it can be changed’.

Imagine, being so upset over one congressperson being stripped of her committee assignments that one would tell people to resort to making sure the Congress could not do its business – important business that would have much greater weight than one mere person’s position would! But, that in and of itself gets to the real crux of the matter. Donnie Swaggart essentially directed constituents to completely bombard the Capitol with messages in order to stop any business from taking place until one person was placed back onto her committees. But, I’m sure Mr. Swaggart would retort that he wasn’t really directing anyone to do anything, but was just exercising his freedom of speech and expressing an opinion; just as, in his mind, Trump did not direct anyone to storm the Capitol on January 6th. It can’t be his fault if such a thing actually takes place, after all.

After that a caller asked about what separation of church and state really means, enquiring also as to why they and the church seem to have become more political in their speech over time. Good call and a legitimate question. Of course, Donnie went into the now standard explanation that separation of church and state are indeed real (something they would not even acknowledge until David Barton gave them a way to do so and save face), but that it basically means that the government is to stay out of the business of the church, but the church can say anything desired and is right to encourage people to vote (he didn’t say for a certain candidate, but that is the gist of it). After all, if unions and other organizations can do it, why can’t churches and pastors? He added that the issues they discuss are moral issues, not political issues, another now standard mantra.

Funny; I never heard of separation of union and state, but I digress. The difference, of course, with most would be that they are not non-profits, while churches are. That said, labor unions are non-profits and are exempt from federal taxes, which means that Donnie actually does have a partially valid point when citing them. But that’s about all. Unions don’t have TV stations with 24/7 programs telling people how they should vote. Frankly, I was a member of a union in the past and I don’t recall actually being told who to vote for, or not vote for, although it was obvious who anyone should be for in more or less subtle ways. Still, perhaps it does happen sometimes; I don’t know. But that does not give churches and religious organizations the right to tell anyone how to vote.

Donnie’s final retort, however, that “God created government”, so the “church should be involved” falls flat as total illogic. But, I’m sure he probably got that from David Barton too.

Want it to get even worse? After that Frances cited a website that she said was based in Canada entitled “True North Politics”, from which she read the following excerpt: “Imagine being a president so popular with the people that they [there’s that infamous “they” again] have to ban you from the internet to stop citizens from communicating with you and have news organizations do everything they can to destroy your legacy and impeach you the second time to make sure you don’t run again. . . . Trump’s supporters aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Believe that one-hundred percent”. The response of Frances to this; “I think that’s tremendous to have that said about you”. Of course, if you are on Trump’s soap-box, then naturally it’s “tremendous” to have some pity-party thing like that said about Trump. Naturally. The fact that the entire diatribe is false overall has little bearing to those who are self-deluded, after all.

Immediately after that Frances said she needed to finish a thought and did not want to be interrupted because it was important. Having brought up MTG earlier, she sought to finish her thought on this matter. Frances lamented the fact that MTG was stripped of her committee assignments by Republicans, while at the same time Republicans voted concerning the future of Liz Cheney, but Liz survived. Frances said of Ms. Cheney;

“[s]he stood against President Trump, who was then president of the United States. I want you Republicans to listen to what I’m saying. Go back and look at what Liz Cheney said”. She, Frances continued, let it be known ahead of time that she would vote for Trump’s impeachment; “a Republican president of the United States. Liz Cheney . . . was all for, and voted along with Mitt Romney and six other . . . Republicans to see president Donald Trump impeached”, adding that Cheney kept her “seat”. “What was the difference” as to what each did?

Frances directed that question to the panel with Donnie first responding in a halting manner, stating that he did not quite follow her question, but adding that there was a lot of difference. He then added, “[b]ut Liz Cheney is not fit . . . she betrayed the American people; the conservative people”.

Here I want the reader to fully get what happened. On this program Frances Swaggart took it upon herself to directly speak to Republicans, telling them it was wrong for MTG to have been removed from her committee positions. She was directly, and overtly, political here, just as Donnie was when he said MTG could be president. If anyone thinks that people just ignored that, I am not getting through to them.

Frances then continued, “[s]he keeps her seat but the other poor woman, that hasn’t done nearly what Liz Cheney has done; she’s not allowed to keep hers”. Donnie responded, “[b]ut we need to pray, mother, that in just a short time if that campaign [that is currently being mounted against her by a Republican challenger] in Wyoming – and that she’s ousted”. This is where, if I were Liz Cheney, I would have made up my mind to call these folks and lambast them for even speaking my name and telling people how they should vote.

Frances then asked the two other panel members their opinions, to which Dave Smith agreed that the establishment supported Ms. Cheney, and at the same time took MTG out. John Rosenstern said that politics is like denominational religion (remember, they don’t think they are part of denominational religion) in that they will support whoever will support their cause and, so, they become tolerant of wrong-doing by those who have the same agendas. They have the mindset that everyone must go along with the Party.

Here I only wish to emphasize how absolute the bias of everyone on this panel and, indeed, no doubt the entire ministry, is. And Mr. Rosenstern must know, somehow, that he stuck his own foot into his own mouth big-time by insinuating that denominational religion will go along with anyone who supports their agenda, while for the last four years they themselves have gone along lock-step with Trump solely because he supported their agenda even though he was obviously not a good person; thus, they tolerated wrong-doing in the name of having their agenda supported. The hypocrisy is beyond belief here, but it is still no surprise to me. This is what they have become. This is what they have made themselves into. And they rationalize it in every sort of way, knowing the truth, but hoping that YOU won’t figure it out.

After that an email writer opined about the US seemingly moving back into globalism, to which the panel agreed. After all, to get along with, and ally with, other countries is a terrible thing, right? But I know where such thoughts really come from since the people who watch these programs are regularly being told that every little change must be a sign of a future one-world government and the advent of the Antichrist, as almost unceasingly expounded on the Jim Bakker Show.

After that a caller asked if the new administration was God’s will. After all, she and others were so disappointed because Trump didn’t win as they had expected, thinking that a win for Trump was God’s will. Donnie answered with, “God may have allowed this to happen because of the sins of the nation” in order to bring the church back to repentance trough persecution. Then he went on to literally twist church history (I am well acquainted with church history) to prove his point, but I won’t get into the details of it.

After that another caller referred to her “demon-possessed governor” (in California) seeking to shut churches down. She added that persecution is going to happen here just like it did for the early church. Donnie corrected her in that he said that California is already under a total church shut-down, but some are defying it and being hit with fines and possible jail time because of it. He stated that shutting down church buildings is “contrary to the word of God” and against the Constitution. He added that even more should say “no” because “they can’t arrest everybody”.

The caller continued that she believes that if God’s people had prayed hard enough, Trump would have been reelected. Donnie responded that this was possible, but that “there are powerful forces at work . . . and if someone wants to steal ten-million votes . . . whatever happens, happens because God willed it or allowed it . . . and if he allowed the election to go the way it is – did – I personally believe it’s because of the sins of the church and the nation.” There was a little more, but I think most readers get the overall picture here.

You know, when I was a young student of religion and I was first exposed to the horrors that happened during medieval times, mainly stemming from the Inquisition, naturally, being a Protestant and understanding what that meant too, I was always glad that I had not been a Roman Catholic. My thought was that there was no way I could support, endorse, or even be a part of any church that had done such heinous things even in the distant past. I was also glad that, in my mind, world society had learned from this sad episode in history and would, therefore, never repeat it. Never again would that church, which I was gladly not a part of, have the ability to harm people in the way that they had in the past again.

Of course, at that time I had no idea how arrogant and hubristic both thoughts were because I could see things in only one way, the way I had been taught to see them. Critical thinking skills were not things that had really been instilled into me very much at all although, thankfully, I had been exposed to Greek and Roman philosophy, as well as logic itself, which I struggled to rationalize into some warped sense of justification for everything I believed anyway (I have learned over the years that knowing just a little is just as dangerous as knowing nothing at all). But the seed was still there, and that’s all it really takes for those who really want to know truth and learn more.

Somewhat later, when I became exposed to even more church history – to the darkness that took place long before the advent of the Inquisition – to the time when Byzantine emperors and their religious supporters went around destroying everything they could of the ancient world in the name of God; when laws were passed persecuting anyone not of the Christian faith (and sometimes even those within the faith who simply saw things differently); when all sorts of ugliness, hatred, and strife took place in the very name of God, my hubris and arrogance fairly quickly peeled away. This wasn’t the Roman Catholic Church against Protestants – people like me. No, in this instance if was the church overall, or at least the strongest, most politically-connected part of it, directly persecuting everyone else, mainly as a response (so they said) to the fact that they had previously been persecuted. So, in essence, the church saw fit not to turn the other cheek. All the false narrative I had been taught about how the church swept into the world with a message of love – with the gospel – fell to the very ground as I saw it trampled underneath the feet of those so long ago crusaders for God, so sure that they were right in every way that they had to force their beliefs and will upon others on pain of family separation, loss of property, torture, and even death!

Where was the loving Lord that they were all supposed to be following here? Where was “love thy neighbor” here? Indeed, where was “obey the powers that be, because they were put into place by God”? I looked, and it wasn’t there. None of it was there. All that existed there were the soiled rags of hatred, vengeance, and violence. And it was this that led directly to the medieval age, with its backwardness, disease, poverty, strife and overall pain, complicated by a church system that essentially ruled the lives of everyone with the threat of eternal punishment for any wrongdoer.

I came to realize that almost all I had been taught about church teaching and history was warped, at best, and false, at worst. Scholars and historians knew. People like me, by virtue of  the fact that I was a ministerial student, knew. But the general public not only did not know, but would never be told. After all, to tell the populace the truth about church history might cause many to doubt their salvation and leave the church, and we just couldn’t have that, could we? Yet they continue to propagate the false narrative that is church history in support of whatever misplaced theology they can come up with.

Frankly, over the years I have come to see the Roman Catholic point of view more clearly than I ever could have during those early years of study. There is truly something to be said for a form of stability of doctrine rather than the willy-nilly anybody can make up his/her own doctrine approach that Protestantism overall has today, and basically has had from the beginning, with some horrid exceptions. What we see today with televangelists literally making doctrine up as they go is so absurd, that in and of itself ought to cause people to question their very salvation. After all, for those still open enough so that rationalization hasn’t totally taken over, they can’t all be right. And that not only holds true for religion, but does for politics too.

In any case, the truth is that what these evangelicals and televangelist-types, along with those who regularly appear on their shows and who write books with every imaginable theme, have done and are continuing to do is to weaken and, frankly, discredit the church overall. In a word, they are making a mockery of Christianity, and profiting all along the way because the deluded continue to shovel money into their oh-so deserving coffers like the sons of Noah shoveling animal crap from the Ark. It really is the church itself that should stand up and repudiate these errant prophet wanna-bees. But, more than this, the very soul of this nation, and its success, are at stake now because of them, so this nation needs to take a concerted stand in opposition to their efforts to make us into a kind of Christian theocracy. Yes, this IS their objective, and that is exactly why they cannot fathom letting go of their precious “Cyrus” Trump!

People, I am going to be blunt here. I really could care less whether the church survives or not because I am not a part of it anymore. But I don’t want to see it morph into the hideous thing it has morphed into so many times in the past yet again – not here in this nation. I don’t care if the church survives or not because I am a Pagan. But I do care if my nation survives, and if the present trend continues, then Christians will destroy this nation just the way they did the Roman Empire in the West. You see, once again, I know my history. I know the things they don’t want YOU to know. I know how it goes every single time, and it never ends with the nation surviving. From ancient Israel onward (yes, I know they weren’t Christians, but the scenario still applies), every nation that has adopted a religious theocracy has fallen. They want to say that socialism doesn’t work and point out that no nation that has adopted it has survived. But they will ignore Christian theocracy in that respect.

The truth is that every nation waxes strong and eventually wanes weak over time, regardless of politics or religion. But the United states of America is a separate and distinct nation by its very design. We are unique in the history of the world, not because we were founded upon Christian principles (which we, in part, were), but because we were also founded, in part, on the concept of separation of church and state. Even the televangelists have to admit that this is a thing now – they can no longer deny it, even as they twist it into something it never really meant. It never meant a nation run exclusively (or almost so) by Christians on so-called Christian principles. Our original national motto, “E Pluribus Unum” – from many, one (NOT, In God We Trust, as some would have everyone believe) signifies the truth in and of itself, in that it demonstrates that all are meant to come together from all nations, and contribute what they bring to the overall whole of our society. It does not mean that people are to come here from all nations and reject all that they ever were for the sake of becoming what religious zealots envision that they should be.

We, as a nation, are simply NOT directly connected to Israel in any way. We are more directly connected to ancient Greece and Roma. The Romans did the same thing we are doing, with the exception that they did not develop the concept of separation of church and state. For them, religion (their religion) was an integral part of the state. But that literally also meant that they grew to accept the religions of the conquered nations too, while keeping their own (with modifications) as the official state religion. This is what literally allowed the Byzantines to impose Christianity upon the masses – because they adopted Christianity as the state religion and, unlike Pagan religions, there could be only one. Thus, a major fault of the Roman system is that they could no conceive of separating religion and state. But, if they had, they would have been the only political entity on earth to ever do so. Instead, WE became the first political entity to ever do so, with others following-suit afterward.

But now, instead of following our own example, we today seek to devolve into the primordial soup of base religious superstition, with widely varying theologies and precepts, and set this as the very head of the nation – above science, above even politics. To do as the televangelists and others cry for us to do is to step backward. It is to force our nation to crumble before our very eyes.

Our nation is not, and never was, in any covenantal relationship with God, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with any divine will that we exist today. Those are false concepts. We are not Israel! One will hear John Rosenstern say repeatedly that the Bible says that Israel is the “apple of God’s eye”. What does that make us then, if we are in some covenant relationship with God? And if Israel is the apple of God’s eye, then why did it cease to exist after the Assyrians came down and destroyed the nation, all the way until modern times? Judah/Judea existed afterward in various forms, but even its existence was nullified for about two-thousand years! Is that really the kind of God people want? I, for one, don’t.

Any little change frightens these religious fanatics. But, frankly, it has always been that way. If you study enough history, you see that religion – the church – overall has ALWAYS stood against change; stood against what was right rather than standing with beneficial change. “Progressives”, if you will, have over and over again had to drag the churched along to greater enlightenment and acceptance of newer norms. They come kicking and screaming and howling persecution every time, but they still eventually get here with the rest of us because they have to.

But, they always claim that the other side, the progressives, are “evil”. They always paint those they oppose as evil and destructive and even covertly trying to take over the world. They said it of Pagans in ancient times. They said it of witches and Jews during medieval times. And now they say it of “progressives” today. Along with this, they also always twist things around, claiming that the “other” is painting them with these things. They do it EVERY TIME! And there are ALWAYS those who will follow them and support their agenda, usually the poor and uneducated who have been deluded into believing false tales of prophets, miracles, and the final judgment to soon come – but it never does. Instead, the so-called “prophets” eventually die off and it is all basically forgotten, allowing a new crop to spring up spouting these same nonsense in repackaged form.

They never really stop if left to their own devices. Like the mythical Hydra, it simply grew more and more heads until each one was burnt off and the immortal head, from which they all sprang, was buried forever. No matter what is done, even if absolutely nothing is done, they will still cry “persecution” because they always do. It is their way to make others afraid to deal with them. They are already doing it now, and no one has so much as touched them! “Oh, being made to wear a mask is persecution!” “Shutting down our services temporarily for the health of the nation so people won’t die is persecution!” Some Jesus. If the church was ever going to be punished for a sin, it would be this.

People, please get these things straight. There are no sheep and goat nations or states. There are no “Cyrus rulers”. We are not being judged because of supposed sins or on whether we are good enough to Israel or not. We were NOT founded as a Christian nation. Separation of church and state is a reality (even the televangelists have to admit that now). Saying, or posting, In God We Trust is not going to get us some kind of favor with God. Putting “God” back in schools is not going to save us. An insurrection did take place at the Capitol on January 6th, and it was NOT led by Antifa or BLM. No military purge is taking place, period. Progressives are NOT evil. Ingesting bleach or disinfectants won’t kill the Corona virus, but it will probably kill anyone who ingests it. Trump was not put into his position by God. God just doesn’t do that. The world, especially our nation, is not run by a bunch of rich, baby-eating pedophiles led by Hillary Clinton! Globalism is not really a bad thing; we need to take part in it so we can help shape the world. Climate change IS real! The planets revolve around the sun. In my opinion, YOUR god isn’t real, especially if your God is the same as the televangelist’s God. Most people who say we should learn from history don’t know enough history to learn anything from. Televangelists and so-called “prophets” make up their theology on the fly to fit current events as they see them. Velveeta really is cheese and belongs with the rest of the cheese in the grocery store. The modern state of Israel has really little to nothing in common with the ancient one. In Israel, being gay is legal and accepted as is gay unions and families headed by gay couples, along with abortion, but you don’t hear televangelists howling that God will destroy them for it, do you? Trump lost  his reelection bid fair and square. Religion and politics never mixes well in a democratic society.

The Shame of January 6th

In a normal atmosphere it would not be necessary for me, or any loyal American, to have to state that what we all witnessed on the 6th of January this year was beyond the pale of irresponsible, shameful, and reprehensible. It didn’t border on treasonous; it was treasonous. Anyone who took part in the violent, destructive part of this is a traitor, plain and simple. Practically everyone is pointing to Trump for the blame and, in fact, he shares much of the blame because he, and others around him, did incite what took place. That is clear.

However, for those who are not in the know about these things, there were others behind the scenes who contributed to what happened. The thing that is roundly ignored by everyone, including the news media, is the role religion is playing in this disgusting episode in American history, specifically (but not limited to) those who promote and follow Dominion Theology – those who have been openly calling for a second civil war for at least two years now.

It literally begins with the concept that those who espouse this brand of theology not only must, but have the perfect right to, take over this country in the name of “God”. From there it extends to the absurd theology that there are “Cyrus rulers” leading various nations, including ours. Yes, for them, Donald Trump is some kind of “Cyrus”. The details are more than I want to get into here. Suffice it to be said that even those who claim that they do not endorse Dominion Theology, such as the Swaggarts and their team – just a cursory observation of the things they espouse and state regularly on one program or another demonstrates that, if they do not endorse at least most of it specifically, they do so in the political positions they take and in their unwavering support of Donald Trump.

Indeed, it is with the Swaggart team that we will focus here, mainly because of the two programs of “Frances & Friends”, as well as others, that followed the anarchy and chaos of the 6th of January, 2021. The statements made on these programs demonstrate their complete lock-step support of Trump even as they subtly try to distance themselves from him in a minimal way.

On Thursday’s program of “Frances & Friends”, the Swaggarts almost from the start went straight into blaming the chaos and destruction of the capital that took place on – believe this – Black Lives Matter and Antifa. No, it wasn’t followers of Trump who were to blame! It was secretly instigated by a cabal of Leftists disguised as far Right extremists! This even as Frances accepted that some members of far Right groups were necessarily present and agitating just the same. But, as she insisted, these are people who also hate Trump and that was their motivation (where she gets this idea is anyone’s guess). She managed to name the Proud Boys as one group and went on to state that she didn’t even know the names of any of the others. Interesting how she could somehow know with absolute certainty that they took part in what happened and still not know much about them.

From there Jim Nations, who is literally always on the program, jumped in stating that the truth was that Mike Pence is really a Roman Catholic and, therefore, subservient to the Pope who, by the way, is an antichrist. Anyone who watches this program enough knows that Nations misses no opportunity to blame just about everything on either Roman Catholics, witches, Democrats, or any combination thereof. One might have thought that hatred of Roman Catholics and the idea that any Pope is the Antichrist would have gone by the wayside after the election of John F. Kennedy, but I guess it just takes some people a little longer to get over such things than others. By the way, for the record, Pence was brought up as a Roman Catholic but has since embraced evangelical religion.

Everyone on the panel to a “t” insisted that Pence had the power to send electoral votes back to the states from which they came if there was a dispute, but at that time did not elaborate as to how it is that he has such power other than to say it’s in the Constitution. Their irritation concerning the fact that Pence did not do as they thought appropriate was evident.

Soon Frances read an email in which the writer said Ted Cruz should be praised for his role in what happened – his determination to object to the electoral count even after the capital had been invaded and ransacked. Frances and the panel verbally agreed “one hundred percent”.

That gave Nations the opportunity to have a pity-party for Trump as he stated that most people surrounding him never really stood with him, and that is the case especially now when he needs them the most. Waaaa!

Following this, Frances read several emails containing assorted conspiracy theories without much comment from anyone. One specifically stated that those who stormed the Capitol were paid rioters posing as Trump supporters, to which they agreed. After that Frances went into a short diatribe about how persecution is coming to the Church and how bad it will get – all because Biden has become President.

The first caller attempted to reason with the panel by pointing out how absurd it was to posit that Leftists and Antifa would pose as Trump supporters and invade the Capitol. But the panel did not accept anything the caller said. When the caller went further in stating that that everyone, as Christians, should pray for Biden just as they would for Trump, Frances said that they do pray for Biden, but added (as the panel agreed) that they pray for his salvation, not for his agenda. She went on to specifically say, “however, the Democrats do not believe in prayer” and that “Joe Biden does not believe in God”. Nations went further to directly state, “I pray for his salvation. The man is evil….” Frances then said, “I cannot pray for him [his agenda] to succeed”. The arrogance of all of this might not seem obvious to some, but it is perfectly obvious to me.

Then, minister Bob Cornell from Tennessee called in. He basically stated that he and his family had been there for the rally and speeches – although they conveniently did not hear everything that had been said – and had been there only to pray. He insisted that the election had had “fraudulent activity” and added that they saw the people break into the Capitol building and were “surprised” by all of it, insisting that they had no part in that and also that neither Trump or any other speaker had incited any of it. His wife, Sharon, insisted that “God” had put Trump into office to begin with, and that those they were around in the rally were not the kind to invade the Capitol building, whatever that is supposed to mean. This even as she kept insisting that “massive irregularities” took place.

When Frances asked Bob how he felt about all of it, he said that the country needs to cry out to God for mercy and that he was disappointed in the events that took place. He added that “some” of those who got in must have been Trump supporters, and that they could not all have been Antifa. How generous of him! Frances agreed and then asked if they had seen any far Right people there, to which Bob responded that they had not specifically seen any they could pinpoint, but some went there wearing camo, etc. But he added that they were “very few”. Frances then asked if Trump had incited what happened, to which Sharon responded, “absolutely not”, adding that Trump “stated what we know to be truth”.

Finally, Frances said one of her nephews had been there as an eye witness and that he had said that the “good people” there were sabotaged. He also agreed that “some” far Right people were there (how he would know is an open question) but not many as most were Trump followers. Sharon agreed that it was all likely a set-up, but added that they didn’t have any proof of that, though.

Following this call, Frances said that her heart “aches for Trump” because of all he has had to endure, continuing that he has done so much for this country. She continued that the “people we saw yesterday” do not love this country. Then, as if they had not gone far enough with the blame-game already, she placed blame on former presidents Clinton and Obama! This without many specifics other than to say that they brought the country to this place.

At one point earlier in the program one email writer had tried to steer Frances into actually promoting the gospel to those who might need it during this crisis situation. Frances actually stated that they were focused on the current subject and she would get to that later – just blithely putting it off. So, naturally, one caller questioned her on that response (such happens often). His name was Carl, and he tried very meekly to get her to realize that that was a moment in time during which she might have been able to reach someone for Christ. Sadly (and naturally), his pleas fell on deaf ears. Frances took offense and argued with him, just as she does anyone with an opposing viewpoint.

That was about it for Thursday, the day after the wanton siege of our nation’s Capitol building, which all loyal Americans should respect, honor and cherish, not desecrate and plunder, especially based on unfounded beliefs.

On Friday, the second day following the barbaric plundering of our Capitol building, I was able to watch some of the SBN program “Insight”. From the beginning, John Rosenstern insisted that all should pray for the new administration – “that God would have his way” – not necessarily for its success. He continued that he liked Trump as president and had supported him, but added that many of Trump’s followers “became more enamored with the man” than they should have, as they should have focused more on the issues rather than him. Needless to say, this was a departure from previous comments John has made on this program and others.

After that followed “Frances & Friends”; the panel including the Rosensterns as with just about every Friday. There, John Rosenstern again stressed praying for the nation, saying that the church is going in the wrong direction (a familiar refrain among the Swaggart folk), and that the present ills are because God is chastising his people, the church. OK, well, that’s better theology than some posit on other programs, at least. Not that I would agree with it either.

Of course, Jim Nations had to get his two-cents in as he stated that government officials in the capital on the 6th “committed treason”, except for the ones who stood up to oppose the electoral count. If anyone missed that – Nations had no condemnation whatsoever for anyone who broke into the Capitol building or anyone who participated in the looting of several items there or of the murder that took place there. No, his condemnation fell only upon those who did not oppose the electoral vote.

Josh Rosenstern interjected, stating, “it made me sick to my stomach”, not specifying exactly what made him so sick. But then he added that those who did not oppose the count were “the powers of darkness”. Even so, he stated that he was “believing in the Lord” even as Biden was certified as President, adding that he wants them [the Biden team] to “give their hearts to Christ”.

Frances then began by mentioning that she had received a lot of emails from people who were “extremely disappointed in Pence”, adding that she believes “God appointed Trump for this moment” in time. Then she blathered a little about how much he has done again, adding that she was glad he was a businessman since she and Jimmy agree that “only a businessman can run this country successfully”. That latter is a mantra they developed after being castigated by several emails and calls about why they supported Trump. I watched it progress over several weeks and months.

John Rosenstern then derided those who are, in his mind, turning on Trump here at the last minute, obviously referring to those who are leaving his administration at the end. Then Nations had to jump in by stating that Biden is an “illegitimate president”. Frances then said, “and Obama”, to which Nations added, “but Biden was not legally elected. Trump’s not finished yet, I can tell you that!”

Then Frances went into this sad rhetoric that the fact that it was Trump supporters who scaled the Capitol walls and stormed the building is a “false narrative”. She kept saying that it couldn’t have been Trump supporters because – get this – most of his followers haven’t been trained to scale walls like that – like those associated with Black Lives Matter and Antifa have. Seriously, this is what she said!

Then she even went so far as to show a video of the female rioter who got shot as she was almost to break into the Senate chamber (yes, she was climbing in). But, she didn’t show said video to demonstrate the chaos of what was going on or anything, and she didn’t even express remorse for the woman’s death, although that may have been implied. No, the point of showing the video was to emphasize who was taking said video. She stated that it had been taken by someone named John Sullivan, whom she referred to as a far Left violent agitator, adding that he could not explain why he was present in the first place. For the reader, it should not be lost in translation here that Sullivan is black. Frances went on to state that he was the founder of “Insurgents USA”. She finalized her short presentation by stating, “so we do know there were agitators there yesterday [referring to the 6th, which was two days prior]”. She then added, “why was this man there if he was peaceful? That’s where the violence came from. It was not Donald Trump’s followers.” The lunacy of believing that Trump followers could have been induced to violence by a black Leftist agitator taking a video with his phone seems to have been lost on Frances and her panel.

John Rosenstern then interjected that their (the Democrat’s) narrative “is a stinking lie”. Nations then added that “they [the Capitol Police] opened the doors and let them in”, insinuating some sort of collusion had taken place.

This is part of THEIR narrative as they seek to place blame on anyone other than Trump supporters. Sadly for them, many fact-check outlets, such as Politifact, for example, have shown that there is no evidence that the mob was infiltrated at all, and they also show that Mr. Sullivan stated that he was there to document what happened. Since it was all over social media that such as this might take place, and was even being called for (I even saw some of it myself), it stands to reason that someone might have wanted to document it.

In any case, the panel in general continued briefly from there ranting about how much Trump has done for this country and Israel and that, even at that, he may not even be a Christian (for them, he doesn’t have to be, which is ironic all by itself and flows from the concept of a Cyrus ruler, whether they wish to admit that or not). They went on to ramble about how Christianity will be restricted under Biden. Then Nations again interjected that “they’re all guilty” of treason for not stopping the electoral vote.

Then finally, Frances said it was time for John Rosenstern to explain why Pence really did have the constitutional power to reject electoral votes and send them back to the states. In essence, their entire argument for this hangs on the single fact that, supposedly, some states sent competing electoral votes to the Senate. That would have made Pence obligated to order an audit in said states to be again certified. Their entire argument hinged on this! Trouble is, NO state sent any competing electoral votes to the Senate that was done by certified, legal, electors. Those self-appointed electors who cast votes for Trump, who had not been selected by the legal process, sent in fraudulent ballots! What they did was illegal! But, don’t try telling that to the Swaggart crowd.

In any case, the lone voice of reason in so many instances (even as he treads water so as not to be attacked and drowned by the other panel members), Josh Rosenstern, said that, in fact, the Senate was following proper protocol. However, he added, there was too much of a question about the votes so that, after they had a debate, then the question should have been sent back to the states to be resolved.

Even though that is also in error, it was at least an effort toward moderation of the stance of the panel overall. The fact of the matter is that the vote count issue does not get sent back to the states for further consideration just because a lot of people THINK something fraudulent may have gone on, any more than the storming of the Capitol building was legitimate just because some people THOUGHT something improper went on. It just doesn’t work that way. If it did, we would all be subject to the whim of other people’s thoughts and beliefs.

Of course, that just got Nations started again as he vehemently accused the news media of being “liars”. Several on the panel then agreed that the whole thing had been a set-up. Later, Frances even added, astonishingly (but not surprisingly) that there was no fraud concerning those who voted FOR Trump. Yes, you got that right – fraud everywhere other than for Trump votes. How she would know this, I leave to the imagination of the reader.

Following this, one email writer stated that they would never vote again because it is all fraudulent and pre-determined anyway. Suddenly, caught in their own lack of logic, the panel was aghast! Frances was like, “No!” She and the others insisted that, even though they had previously stated that it was all fixed and fraudulent, people MUST vote anyway! But, really, if you have any ability to utilize logic, then, by inference, if the election is fraudulent and controlled to the extent they posit, then there is literally no use in voting.

Then, very self-servingly, both John and Josh Rosenstern moved to again insist that their trust was not in the man (Trump), but in Christ, as opposed to the idea previously expressed that many had placed their trust in Trump himself. But, even then they expressed their un-swavering support of Trump and his policies. This, even as Frances stated that she was unsure that the majority of Trump supporters were really doing that. Josh Rosenstern then, following an email on the subject, interjected; “quit believing the lies of the mainstream media”.

Finally, when Frances asked the panel members for further final thoughts, Jim Nations, naturally, was the most pointed in that he stated, “put Biden and President Trump side-by-side. I can have respect for President Trump. . . . I can have no respect whatsoever for Biden. He’s a crook. He’s a thug. . . .” Do I really have to express how delusional that statement is?

I don’t know; maybe members of this panel didn’t really follow the events thoroughly. Maybe they only watched Fox News or, worse, One America News, or even TruNews. Maybe they didn’t see Trump speak just before the carnage that took place, insisting that people needed to march and fight hard or they wouldn’t have a country. Maybe they didn’t see the video of Trump and his family as they watched the events with expressions of sheer, animalistic glee! Maybe they didn’t see footage of the mob that broke into the Capitol, destroyed windows, furniture, etc., throwing anything they could, including American flags, at Capitol Police as they tried to keep the building secure. Maybe they didn’t see one Capitol police officer being crushed nearly to death by said mob….

But, oh, I forgot – it was Antifa, not Trump supporters. The guy in the QAnon shirt who chased the police officer up several flights of stairs was Antifa. The people carrying Confederate flags were Antifa and Black Lives Matter folks. And, obviously, the lady who almost got into the Senate chamber and was shot and killed in so doing was Antifa too! Obviously, because Trump people just don’t have the training to break into buildings, assault and murder people (yes, one Capitol police officer was murdered by this mob), and give their lives for their unfounded beliefs. No, it couldn’t have been Trump People!

You know, most of us learned as children in school that once you start telling a lie, in order to keep it believable you have to keep telling more lies to compound it. It seems that these folks have not learned much in school. But, it’s even more than that. The fact of the matter is that so-called “gospel” programs like “Frances & Friends”, the “Jim Bakker Show”, and others should never have gotten started delving into politics in the first place. But, once they helped put Trump into office they just couldn’t help themselves. Before long, they were so far into it that they literally couldn’t extract themselves and they went on to take full-credit for his victory. The pleas from callers and emailers began quite early, asking Frances and her panel to stop discussing politics and to simply focus on the gospel like they used to. At that early date, they could have done so, for it was not too late then. But, Frances called any criticism of what they were doing “ridiculous”. I watched the program. I know. Now, it’s literally too late for them to extract themselves unless they are forced to do so. And, if this is done, they will instantly call it persecution, as they do everything else they don’t like, including wearing masks.

That having been said, there is another lesson everyone should have at least been exposed to growing up, although I am aware that many never have been. It is a lesson from one of the trials of Hercules. In this particular instance, Hercules was tasked with destroying the hideous Hydra that terrorized the town of Lerna. The Hydra, for those who don’t know, was a serpent-like creature with many heads – nine in all. Hercules found this to be a daunting task in that, in every instance where he was able to kill one of the heads, two would sprout back in its place. This was making the Hydra literally impossible to kill! He and his partner, Iolaus managed to kill off each of the mortal heads by first chopping off the head and then burning the remaining neck so that no more heads could grow. This allowed Hercules to, at last, move toward destroying the one remaining head, which was immortal. That head was chopped off and buried, after which Hercules disposed of the rest of the Hydra’s body.

The basic lesson, for those who still don’t quite understand, is that in order to eradicate something, one has to get the main part – the heart of it. Everything else is virtually hopeless. The fact of the matter is that the news media and others have done well to enlighten us as to entities such as QAnon and the like. They have also done well to point out that certain politicians have, frankly, been willing to sacrifice their own reputations and even their political careers in support of Trump. But, what they are all ignoring, in my view because it is easily found, is where all of this ultimately comes from. It comes from a growing religious movement called Dominionism, and it won’t be stopped as long as everyone refuses to acknowledge its part in this whole thing. To ignore it will only allow it to continue to grow – to come back in any number of differing forms, twice as strong as it was before. One cannot take just a piece of it down and be satisfied that the job is done. The root cause has to be addressed. And the root cause of everything we saw on January 6th was not just Trump and his family; it was not Antifa; not Black Lives Matter; not even the Proud Boys, although some undoubtedly played a part (but the idea that Antifa started it is absurd). It was Dominion Theology and their absolutely absurd, and unbiblical, insistence in their belief in “Cyrus rulers”.

In the end, I have yet to hear, or witness from the Swaggarts or any of the others, a single condolence for the lady, Ashli Babbitt, who was killed trying to enter the Senate chamber; not one word of condolence said for either of the other three who suffered medical emergencies during the invasion and who subsequently died; not one word of condolence for Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick, who was killed by the insurgent mob as they stormed the building; and not one word of condolence for the Capitol Police Officer who was nearly crushed to death by the mob! No prayers either, unless it was done by John Rosenstern at the beginning of Friday’s airing of “Frances & Friends” (I couldn’t listen to it).

And, by the way, Frances never did get back to the gospel on either program either. It must not have been that important to her.

A Note Concerning the “End”

This piece is going to be relatively short and, well, not so sweet. In fact, one might detect a hint of wormwood in it.

If anyone thought that the pseudo-theologians and televangelists, all with Dominionist agendas, would stop their nonsense even briefly following the presidential election and the victory of Joe Biden, they would have been fooled. While some, such as Paula White-Cain, do indeed seem to presently be in hiding, the usual actors, such as Jim Bakker, the Swaggarts, and their cohorts, are all still hard at it. Nor have those who are completely deluded by these so-called religious leaders swayed by the obvious falsity of all the so-called “prophecies” predicting the reelection of Donald Trump. Somehow, evil forces and the devil himself are in the mix so that what God had intended simply didn’t happen. The rational needed to even go there is an astonishing thing, no doubt.

Let me begin by illustrating the danger of religious leaders who openly direct their followers as to how to vote and for whom to vote. Within the past week or so, as I was watching Frances & Friends, a question from one of their, apparently, ardent followers came in. The questioner stated that their child was being taught that the Eastern Orthodox religion was a branch of Christianity in school and the questioner wanted to know if that was true or not. Frankly, I almost literally had to pick myself back up off of the floor after that question was raised! Beyond the fact that ANY thinking person should know the answer to this, I was absolutely astonished that the question was being posed to Frances and her panel. It didn’t surprise me, but it astonished me. The email writer, instead of thinking for maybe five minutes, or asking his/her pastor, or looking Eastern Orthodoxy up in an encyclopedia (maybe they couldn’t spell it; I don’t know), or even looking for the answer via the internet, instead posed the question to this august panel of religious “experts”. The obvious implication being that, since they did not try to find the answer by any other method, they were placing their full, unconditional trust in this panel. Thankfully, the panel did answer the question correctly. After all, one never really knows what they might say concerning any given subject, literally. I hope I don’t have to actually answer the question for any reader here….

The point here is exactly that there actually are people who will trust no one else other than their own choice of religious leaders. In this case it happened to be Frances and her panel, but it could just as well have been any other religious personage or group. They were trusted over any other source, including the very teacher in question. The insult to the intellect is so mind-boggling that I can barely comprehend it!

But, yes, it gets even worse. Yesterday it was all over the internet that some former Israeli space security chief had stated emphatically that aliens from other planets do indeed exist and that the world is not ready for that knowledge (why anyone would make such a statement to the whole world and then say the whole world is not ready for the knowledge is an absurdity in and of itself that is difficult to fathom – a clear logical fallacy). As for the article and further statements that this obvious nut-case made, referencing the “Galactic Federation” and Trump’s role are concerned, I don’t even want to get into that. Suffice it to say that this guy is on about the same level as Michael Flynn.

So, naturally, the subject was brought up on Frances & Friends yesterday, with Frances asking the panel if they believed in aliens and inviting callers to respond also. If I needed a big laugh, this would have brought it on if it had not been so horrific. I won’t even get into what the callers said mainly since none of their responses had anything whatsoever to do with the question, but instead focused on other conspiratorial ideas floating around. Even the panel seemed irritated with them. Yes, there really are a few ideas that even Frances & Friends won’t accept, believe it or not. But they will still cultivate the conspiratorially-minded people.

But, it was what members of the panel said that was most enlightening – or not, depending on one’s perspective. And, of course, Jim Nations was, as always, the most conspiratorial among them, with the others not far behind. Basically, their consensus was that aliens are really demonic beings disguising themselves as aliens to take our focus away from thinking about God. Do I really need to say more here? I mean, after all, if you believe in aliens there is no room left of God, right?

My Weekly Spock 3/4/13 That Eyebrow! | TrekkerScrapbook

Anyway, most by now might rightly be thinking that it couldn’t get any worse than this. Sadly, most would be wrong on that point. See, over the course of the last two days Jim Bakker has had as guests on his show publisher Thomas Horn and the co-author for his latest book (Antichrist and the Final Solution), Terry James.

To even begin to try to delineate the absolute nonsense that both of these pseudo-intellectuals spouted would take me, well, another books worth of material. But, some of the most astonishing points made, in my view, included (1) a reference to a supposed Essene prophecy predicting exact dates for the end times and the return of Christ (spoiler alert – no such text exists) and (2) this absolutely insane idea that the Antichrist will appear during another pandemic, worse than the one we are presently experiencing (caused by the asteroid Apophis), and that he will somehow be the only one who has antibodies in his blood that will cure it and everyone who takes the vaccine made from his blood will, therefore, receive the mark of the Beast. I kid you not.

Now, such rantings and ravings from this guy are not unusual at all. Every time he is on the show I sense that he is competing with the likes of Derek and Sharon Gilbert for how far he can stretch sheer lunacy. But in this instance he is clearly treading on the dangerously absurd. After all, who with any moral integrity or even concern about people in general would, during a pandemic, put out a book proposing completely baseless conspiracy-theories and absurd religious propaganda rolled into one, I think clearly designed to frighten the public, mainly Christians, into not taking whatever vaccine may come along? After all, if a future vaccine could be dangerous to the Christian, whose to say that the one being developed as we speak isn’t also nefarious in some way? It is being developed faster than any vaccine in history, so there must be something up with that, right? Don’t laugh too much; I have actually encountered people who think just like that. And those like Tom Horn, Jim Bakker, and the Swaggarts feed their conspiratorial thinking even as it is cloaked in religious garb. THAT is the danger. People actually believe what these so-called religious leaders tell them – above science, above reason, above intellect, above everything.

Finally, back to the so-called Essene prophecy – Tom Horn referred to the so-called Essene prophets as “highly accurate prophets” as if they were a notch or two above any other prophets who have ever existed. The trouble for him, and anyone who believes him, is that scholars who have studied the Essenes for years (including me) know that ALL of their end-times prophecies had to do with, and were “fulfilled”, if you will, already in 70 CE! Every single thing they wrote about took place at that time, period. Why, you may ask? Exactly because they made it happen that way. They instigated the entire thing. I laid it all out in my first book “Apocalypse and Armageddon” some years ago! So, trust me, there is NO Essene prophecy that delineates any scenario having to do with our time or the future beyond 70 CE, period. If there were, I would not only already know about it and have written about it, but we wouldn’t need Tom Horn to tell us about it now because scholars would have been making it known for some time. And there is absolutely NO reference whatsoever to the year 2025 as Horn insists, nor to the asteroid Apophis hitting the earth in 2029, as he insists it will, in ANY ancient prophecy, including those of the Essenes. All he and his co-author have written is a very bad, and dangerous, fiction.

Have a nice decade.

Perry Stone’s Roman Fantasy

You know, Perry Stone just can’t seem to help himself. If he isn’t stepping in the dog doo-doo concerning ancient Paganism, he is doing so with reference to the history of the Roman Empire. Frankly, Roman history must be a favorite subject of his, as often as he mentions it. Too bad his history is, apparently, mostly made-up in his own mind.

Case in point, on the most recent airing of his program “Mana Fest” (09/06/2020), a program entitled “Why the Government is Afraid of Christianity” – Episode #1039, he almost began with a description of the fall of the Roman Empire in the West – right after mentioning, for whatever reason, that former president Harry S. Truman believed that our laws in America were founded upon the Bible. Why he even made that statement, I was left unsure. But then he asked why Christianity in the US was being “assaulted”. He then went even further by asking how many atheists had ever started an orphanage or had programs to feed the poor or had assisted in feeding the poor.

Directly afterward, he stated that, in order to show what it was all about, he had to go back to the Roman Empire, and he immediately cites Edward Gibbon. He began to enumerate what he said Gibbon’s reasons for the fall of the empire in the West were. First (1), invasions of ten Germanic tribes. Second (2), taxation within the empire, he said, supposedly still citing Gibbon, was so high that people could no longer afford to live there, “and they pulled out and left”. Stone continued; “[i]t came to a point that farmers would not even farm their land; they just left it to go to another country. Third (3), “[t]hey had something called doles”, which Stone said were started with good intentions, but that people “began to realize that they could live off the government and they could make more money with government assistance than they did working a job”. To support this, Stone asked his oh-so attentive audience if they knew that the Romans had eventually passed a law that if someone had a job they were not allowed to quit that job. Further, Stone insinuated that the latter Roman Empire (in the West) was sort of a pattern for, guess what – socialism (we see where this is going, don’t we?). In short, he said, “they ran out of other people’s money”. Sound familiar? He continued; “[p]eople began to move out of the country – they began to move out of Rome, and foreigners from other countries came into Rome, and into Italy, and completely took it over and overran it. And so that’s how the Roman Empire – the Western branch – collapsed.”

Yet, Stone continued that Gibbon said another interesting thing; that when persecution of Christians began to cease, and it was made the official religion under Constantine, so many people converted to Christianity that Christianity “may have been the cause of the fall of” the Western Roman Empire. How? “When people became Christians, they ceased to go to the Pagan temples [he names off a handful of deities here] all the idols that the Romans had worshipped in these massive temples that they built became empty because people no longer served the idol, they served the true God. Now, what began to happen there is the temples began to decline. And when the temples began to decline, guess what? The second aspect was . . . the silver smiths and those that made idols – and you can read about this in the book of Acts – began to lose business. Paul went to a city and so many people got saved that the silver smith got mad and had a riot and had the government – town government – come against Paul and said ‘he’s affecting our business because nobody wants to buy a silver idol anymore’, and so it affected the temple, it affected idolatry; it affected the making of false gods.

Then in the empire [I thought we were still in the empire….] something began to happen. Jews, as you know, and Christians have what’s called Shabbat. That’s the Hebrew word for . . . the seventh day – the day of rest. The Romans literally worked seven days a week, so they wanted you to work on Saturday and Sunday. Then when the Christians refused to – [began to] say, ‘we have to have a day off’ and the Jews began to say, ‘no, we have to have a day off’, the Roman Empire leaders and governors and the magistrates began to say, ‘the Christians are lazy’. And then they wanted Christians not to be hired, of Jews [not] to be hired in market places because they said they’re not gonna work as hard as we work. It wasn’t that they weren’t working hard; its that they wanted a day off”. So, in essence, according to Stone, the Romans saw the Christians as lazy.

He continued; “[o]f course, for the Roman government, the more you worked, the more tax money that they could gain”. We must also understand something else, he continued, as he went into a little diatribe about meat offered to idols – the point, he said, being that “everything around Rome that turned the Romans against Christians was because of money”. Stone had his willing audience repeat this.

Sounds quite plausible, doesn’t it – at least to a novice who does not understand Roman history or society or even how the empire functioned. But, after all, he got all of this from Gibbon, right? Surely using an authority means that Stone is right, doesn’t it? Well, let’s see, shall we?

But, before we begin to take Stone’s analysis apart, let’s first dispense with the initial statement that former president Truman believed that our laws were/are based on biblical laws. The only thing I am going to state in response to that is, “so what?” Lots of people have come to that conclusion, which is, in part, true. So?”

Secondly, Stone’s retort against atheists, although it does not really fit within the greater scheme of his diatribe either, needs to be reckoned with. It’s not that I want to defend atheists, after all. But, facts are still facts and the truth of the matter is that they have set up at least one orphanage – in Uganda. And, in fact, atheists do have an organization set up specifically to help the poor and the homeless. That Christians, by and large, do more than other groups should not be a point of argumentation. Christians are SUPPOSED to do these types of things, as commanded by their Lord. So, again, I would respond with, “so what?”

Now, also before I begin with the main argument, I want to mention that there are those, especially atheists themselves as well as many religions “scholars” who dismiss Gibbon’s analysis as flawed, at best – especially with reference to the idea that Christianity had anything to do with the fall of the empire in the West. They sometimes even go to great lengths to discredit Gibbon. I, for one, accept his analysis almost in total, even though it is, like any other analysis, flawed at certain points (something he himself acknowledged). The fact of the matter is that no analysis can be perfect, after all. But, because I accept his points, for the most part, I really do take exception to someone like Perry Stone even presuming to use them (which he really didn’t, as we will see). I take just about as much exception to this as I do the idea that he also presumes to even know anything about the Roman Empire. The plain fact of the matter is that he doesn’t. And that will be demonstrated here too. He has a smattering of knowledge and “facts”, but no real understanding.

Stone first (1) cites Gibbon, stating that part of the reason for the collapse of the empire in the West was the invasion of Germanic tribes, ten, to be exact. Well, it’s been a while since I consulted Gibbon in detail, so I am not going to quibble about whether he said there were ten tribes or twenty. The fact of the matter is that this was indeed a factor, perhaps the major factor overall, along with invasions of other groups, most notably the Huns, which Stone somehow leaves out. In fact, one could postulate that the main reason the Germanic tribes invaded the Roman Empire was exactly because of the Huns. But, I suggest that Stone simply does not know this, or he might have at least referred to the Huns in his analysis.

But, before we move on to Stone’s second point, let’s read Gibbon’s words directly as stated in Volune III of his great work, “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”. He stated that there were four (4) principle reasons for the fall of the empire in the West. The following is his statement on the matter. “The rise of a city, which swelled into an Empire, may deserve, as a singular prodigy, the reflection of a philosophic mind. But the decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the causes of destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and, as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight. The story of its ruin is simple and obvious; and, instead of inquiring why the Roman empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted so long. The victorious legions, who, in distant wars, acquired the vices of strangers and mercenaries, first oppressed the freedom of the republic, and afterwards violated the majesty of the purple. The emperors, anxious for their personal safety and the public peace, were reduced to the base expedient of corrupting the discipline which rendered them alike formidable to their sovereign and to the enemy; the vigour of the military government was relaxed, and finally dissolved, by the partial institutions of Constantine; and the Roman world was overwhelmed by a deluge of Barbarians” (Ch. 38). . . . after a diligent inquiry” he listed “four principal causes of the ruin of Rome, which continued to operate in a period of more than a thousand years. . . . (I) The injuries of time and nature [not mentioned by Stone]. (II) The hostile attacks of the barbarians and Christians [the latter also not alluded to by Stone at all – and, in fact, the two were often one and the same, i.e. – Christianized barbarians]. (III) The use and abuse of materials [sort-of alluded to by Stone]. And, (IV) The domestic quarrels of the Romans [not alluded to by Stone].”

In any case, Stone’s second point (2), also supposedly gleaned from Gibbon, is that taxation was so high within the empire that people chose to quit farming and move elsewhere – to other countries. People simply could not afford to live within the empire because of high taxation, so they left for greener pastures, so to speak, according to Stone. In fact, to hear him tell it, they left in droves, even leaving their farmland behind. “Bye, y’all!”

Stone somehow tied these supposed happenings with the Roman dole, apparently not knowing that this was something started at the very beginning of the empire, not toward the end, as he suggested, and also not knowing that the dole was, in fact, not the same as what is termed the “bread and circuses”. To put it simply, the dole was a structure enacted only for the benefit of Roma itself, not any outlying provinces. So, only the populace of Roma herself benefitted from this. The provinces actually paid for it. That, in fact, was basically the entire structure of the Roman Empire. Wealth was systematically taken from the provinces, especially from the wealthy, and transferred to Roma. The citizens of the city herself paid no taxes, period.

Whether that was a good policy or not can be debated. The fact of the matter, however, is that it worked for a LONG time. The main reasons that such a system began not to work so well had to do with barbarian invasions and barbarian settlement within the empire. See, when the Goths were allowed to settle in Dacia, for example, they displaced Roman subjects who had already been living there. Many of these were, in fact, former soldiers who had obtained their lands due to their military service. They had to give up their lands for these barbarian hordes who suddenly came in, invited by the EASTERN Roman emperors. The plan was simple – settle the Goths in Dacia and, hopefully, they would become good, loyal citizens. That way the Romans would not have to fight yet another war to try to keep them out. Essentially, the plan really didn’t work and, on top of that, there were many disgruntled Roman subjects who had been displaced because of this – forced to settle elsewhere within the empire. Roman soldiers, for their part, as well as others allied with them, treated these barbarians with great disdain, even going so far as bringing them to the brink of starvation, and then feeding dog meat to them!

Anyway, policies such as this one helped to cause a lessening of wealth and produce from coming into Roma from the provinces. Yes, fewer farmers meant less wealth and produce going to Roma. Yes, that was a fundamental part of the taxation process that was failing toward the latter part of the Western Empire’s existence. Yes, in effect, taxes were high – for the provinces. They always had been from the very start, but it got worse over time. Thus, as the empire expanded, more wealth flowed into Roma herself. When she ceased to expand, things began to contract. In later times people essentially resorted to feudalism and, thus, did not contribute to the economy of the empire. And the empire overall reverted to more of a barter system than it had already been. Yes, many farmers quit farming because of impossible taxation. But they did NOT move to “other countries”. Constantine and his successors, by the way, did little to nothing that actually helped the situation.

AGAIN, NO, FARMERS DID NOT JUST PICK UP AND LEAVE THEIR ANCESTRAL LANDS FOR OTHER COUNTRIES! MR. STONE – THERE WERE NO OTHER COUNTRIES FOR ANYONE TO GO TO! THERE WERE BARBARIAN LANDS, OR THERE WAS THE SASSANID EMPIRE. THAT WAS IT! I’m sorry, but what sort of an imbecile pictures the Roman Empire surrounded by other countries?!

In addition, no, people did not decide that they didn’t have to work because the government would take care of them. In fact, that statement is completely contradictory to the explanation you (Stone) gave about how the Romans began to see the Christians (and the Jews) as lazy and not willing to work hard.

But it’s even worse than that. See, it just didn’t happen the way Stone describes it. Stone paints a picture of Christians agitating for a day off, and being called “lazy” by the Romans, and the Jews following suit in this, with the Romans also calling them lazy on that account. The fact of the matter, however, is that the idea that the Jews were lazy because they did not want to work on the Sabbath predated any comparison with the Christians on that point. The earliest known extant reference to this is found in the Fourteenth Satire of the Roman poet Juvenal (c67-c145). And this was not, by any means, the only hateful thing said about the Jews by the Romans and others. As a natural result, the Christians were seen in the same way – because Christianity was not seen as separate from Judaism for some time. When the Christians began to insist that they needed the first day of the week off each week (sorry, Mr. Stone, but “Saturday” and “Sunday” were not actual Roman days of the week), they were seen exactly the way the other Jews had been already.

Mr. Stone simply has all of this confused and mixed up, just as he also does the issues with barbarian invasions and the effects of these. See, Mr. Stone cites Italy and Roma as places people left because of being displaced by others who came into the empire. He indicates that people first moved away, and then foreigners came in and took over. That is false. The fact of the mater is that the only major invasion into Italy itself prior to the massive influx of barbarians after the defeat of the Huns, and onward to Roma, was led by the Visigoth Alaric. And it did not come from outside of the empire, but from within since Alaric commanded his own Roman forces (mainly barbarians, to be sure). He moved from more Eastern provinces into Italy because he was denied a greatly-coveted promotion. That barbarians invaded, and settled in, Italy, as well as other parts of the empire later is a given.

That said, Stone is obviously confusing the situation with the Goths in Dacia with Alaric’s invasion of Italy. In Italy, no one simply moved out, to be replaced by foreigners or invaders. NO ONE! And, again, NO ONE packed up and moved to other countries BECAUSE THERE WERE NO OTHER COUNTRIES TO GO TO!

As for this supposed Roman law that a person could not quit a job, there were so many Roman laws, some repeats or near-repeats of older ones, that I suppose there could have been such a law, or a similar one. Certainly, the economy had become so strained by the third century CE that people were essentially forced to remain in the same position and status as they already had. Was there a socialist tendency in some Roman laws? Absolutely – because they were meant for the good of the populace and the empire as a whole. Stone’s insinuation that they practiced an early form of what we today call “socialism”, however, is unfounded. The insulting statement that “they ran out of other people’s money” is so baseless and ignorant of the way things worked that it really does not deserve to be dignified. In addition, Stone certainly ignores the myriad of other laws that targeted Pagans and Pagan worship, sometimes with cruel punishments attached to them, in favor of Christianity.

So, he wraps everything up in a neat little bow, stating that this is the way the Western Roman Empire collapsed. Trouble is – he really didn’t tell us why or how it collapsed. He simply combined misinformation with things he evidently made up in his own head, all the while claiming to have got his information from Gibbon.

Even so, he continues from there. He makes the baseless, yet often-repeated, claim that so many people converted to Christianity (yes, they just willingly converted in droves because of Christian love!) that Christianity may have contributed to the fall of the empire in the West because they didn’t continue to support the economy by participating in “idol worship”. Frankly, I was astonished that Stone would even admit that Christianity might have had anything to do with the fall of the empire because most vehemently deny this even though the evidence is rather hard to miss. But, naturally, he tied this to a reason – that Christians did not support the temples anymore.

In fact, Stone IS right on that latter point, believe it or not. When Christians ceased to participate in sacrifices and other forms of temple worship, it DID affect the local economies in the provinces, and that had a ripple effect all over the empire. Yes, that happened. However, people simply were NOT converting in droves the way Stone suggests. He is simply following the tired mantra of biased Christian history put forth over the centuries, something that Gibbon did not do.

The fact of the matter is that the temples did not become “empty” because people were converting to Christianity. They became neglected and empty specifically because of laws passed by Christian emperors, beginning with Constantine, which proscribed punishments for those who participated in sacrifices and temple activities. These laws, Stone has obviously ignored, if he even knows about them.

Stone, in his grand diatribe (such as it was) also did the same thing many Christian theologians and others have done down through the centuries. He engaged in hyperbole and insult concerning Pagan religious systems, mainly by referring to our deities as “idols” and stating that we worship them (the physical image of the deity). This is a slur that is as offensive as it is unjustified, but one that they can get away with because they always have. Deep down, the Christian actually hates the Pagan exactly because it took Christianity so much effort to overcome Paganism in the Western world. That is just a fact. They want to ignore the history and even claim, at times, that it never even happened, but their obvious hatred towards Pagans and Paganism demonstrates that they know what they did just the same.

In any case, Stone claims that the temples declined because of the Christians, which is partially correct, as noted. Some counter that they were already in decline, ignoring the fact that there was a resurgence of Pagan worship and practice during the early centuries CE. After all, all religions wax and wane over time.

But Stone gets even more confused when he ties this decline to the silver smiths. I actually wanted to laugh when he began this convoluted piece of idiotic sophistry. Why? Exactly because it became immediately obvious that Stone was solely referencing the book of Acts as his source for this. He even admits as much himself. Did Christianity reduce the demand for “idols”? Naturally. Did this have anything to do with the episode from the book of Acts? Not really. The events were so far distant in time that to posit any real correlation between them would be mindless. In essence, Stone posits that such events continued to take place all over the empire, causing an economic downturn. The fact that Christians did not buy animals for sacrifice is mentioned in historical records as an economic concern. The fact that they did not buy “idols” is not. Couple that with the misbegotten statement that people “got saved” in droves whenever Paul preached, and you simply have a picture that never really happened at all. Even the book of Acts shows that most people rejected Paul’s message. As an aside, I am rather proud of the fact that I have lots of – lots of – “idols” in my house!

In any case, it is also important to note that taxation was really not tied to how hard a person worked. I realize that this is difficult for those of us raised in modern capitalistic or socialistic systems to grasp. Yes, the Romans did engage in a type of capitalistic system in many respects. But, there was no system by which one earned a certain wage (except under Diocletian), and might earn more the harder one worked as in our modern capitalist system, and was taxed directly accordingly. That simply was not how it worked at all. It was, more or less, an advanced form of the barter system. And when one was paid directly, an employer could pay a person basically whatever they saw fit. So, if a person was not paid much, then the Romans could not have obtained much by way of taxes from them – if it had even worked that way. No, they focused mainly on the prosperous until they virtually drained them of wealth. Then they focused more on the poorer classes, and didn’t get much.

Finally, Mr. Stone states that everything that served to turn the Romans against Christianity was because of money. Talk about pulling something out of your own arse! That is clearly (1) NOT true and (2) NOT anything like what Gibbon said.

In the end, Stone closed by stating that the government fears Christians because of their ethics. Yes, he said the government fears Christians because they have ethics that they will act upon. Never mind that this is supposedly a nation founded on Christian ethics. The whole diatribe made about as much sense as a kindergartener’s paper might have.

The Monotheist’s Need to Prove

One of the main problems with monotheism is that at once the monotheist has to prove the existence of his god, both to himself as well as to others. Further than that, he then also has to prove that his god is the only one. And, beyond that, he has to prove his entire religion to others.

The polytheist does not have that issue, for we have no need to prove anything to anyone else since we do not proselytize. We do not even care if others believe our deities are real or not. And the deities themselves have no need to prove their own existence to anyone.

This is, in fact, the inherent weakness of monotheistic systems – the need to prove. It is an inherent fault of monotheism that it has to constantly prove itself.

Again, the polytheist has nothing to prove and we don’t proselytize. The only detriment that I see in this is that it also does not allow Pagans, as a religious entity, to be fully recognized as legitimate by those of other mainstream religions, or by society in general. And this prevents us from advancing toward becoming fully recognized, for example, by the military, so that a need for Pagan chaplains can be seen. I am not suggesting that Pagans should all be able to come together and unite as one; but we lack any sort of cohesion that might make some form of recognition by others possible. As long as this is the case, we will never see Pagan chaplains in the military, Pagan libraries and schools, or Pagan places of worship in various areas as we see with Christianity. There is no way to compete with a religion like Christianity if we cannot, at a minimum, form some sort of cohesiveness that would allow us to be seen as legitimate by the world at large. This is simply a fact, and nothing will change this within the next generation or two other than a determination to make it happen, which we seem to lack overall as a movement.

Racism, Bigotry, and Anti-Semitism

Wow! What a broad topic, right? You know, I was taught in college to narrow the topic. But, it seems to me that sometimes one has to create a topical headline such as this to get the attention of potential readers. So, I will not narrow the topic in this instance, although I will be relatively brief here.

The reason I write today is simple; racism, bigotry, and anti-Semitism are all on the rise. Of course, those on the far Right of the political spectrum still blame former president Obama for this, just as they blame either him or Hillary for virtually everything. This while they completely ignore, or explain away, the constant stream of hateful and divisive comments made by their new messiah, Donald Trump. Even when he is wrong, he’s not, as far as they are concerned.

True to form, this case was yet again made yesterday on the SBN program “Frances and Friends” during which more than one email was read in which the writer chided the panel for their determination to continue to talk politics rather than focusing on the gospel. Of course, neither email was received with any sort of objective consideration. The Swaggart team has made up their minds that talking politics IS one and the same as spreading the gospel. They even said as much yesterday.

Their new mantra for explaining why they support Trump, regardless of what he says or does, is because, in their own words, “God chose him” to lead this nation. That’s literally it. They seem to think that the idea that their “God” placed Trump in office, with the help of the evangelical vote, of course, seals the deal and there should, therefore, be no further discussion on the subject. And anyone – anyone – who disagrees with them is literally of the devil! If you don’t believe they say this, watch their program for just a short length of time, if you can bear to do it.

And, after all, Trump supports Israel and has, in their minds, done so on an unprecedented level never before seen from a US president. His moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a prime example – evidence that he is “God’s” guy. But, of course, those evil, demon-inspired Democrats have tried to destroy him at every turn, they also say. Seriously, if you like to hear religious personages call Democrats “evil” and “demon-possessed”, then this program, and their other program, “Insight”, are for you! But, for my own part, as a Democrat, I am rather appalled that any so-called religious “leaders” would stoop to the level of calling ME “demon-possessed”, and it is one of the reasons that I am no longer a Christian, for I never was a Republican. Yes, SBN, it is exactly because of people like YOU that I am no longer a Christian! So much for your so-called “gospel”!

In any case, they will constantly add that they don’t believe Trump is perfect, or even a Christian, but his support of Christians, and of Israel (along with his objection to abortion and gay rights), is all that matters to them. They don’t care that his language is often vile and hateful and divisive. No, that doesn’t matter. None of that matters, and no matter how many times someone points these things out to them, they still remain steadfast in their lock-step support of Trump, period.

Following this, another email chided them for their constant refrain of anti-Catholicism. For those who have never watched the program, any mention of Catholicism, especially criticism of the panel for their position concerning it, sends Jim Nations into an unmitigated tizzy, during which he, if allowed to talk much, launches into every kind of anti-Catholic conspiracy theory known to humankind. For him, they are evil incarnate and there is literally nothing good about the Roman Catholic Church. Of course, some on the panel, such as Dr. Gray, have a more moderate position, but they still hold together as directly inferring that if one is saved, then one will eventually leave this church, as they openly stated on yesterday’s program.

All that said, the real reason I am writing today is not because of any of the above, because these things have become so common on this and other SBN programs. No, it is because of statements made later in the program in response to another email, which expressed concern about John Rosenstern’s statement a few days ago on said program that, according to a single verse in Deuteronomy (Deut. 18:18), the Antichrist would have to be a Jew. Now, I watched that program also and, granted, his statement, while theologically unsound, did not, in my view, rise to the level of “hate”. He was simply explaining why his biblical world-view leads him to believe that the Jewish people will not accept anyone who is not Jewish as their messiah. But, on the other hand, the email writer did have a legitimate concern with this because it did border on anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Now, on yesterday’s program the panel COULD have explained their position in a contrite and reasonable manner and probably satisfied this email writer and been done with it. If they had done this, then it would have been, in my mind, just another errant theological position that they regularly take, which could have been essentially laughed off and forgotten. The point being that I really don’t care what sort of flawed theology they espouse. I think most of it is quite comical. So, if they would simply stick to their flawed theology – their supposed “gospel” – I could not care less what they would have to say, other than for entertainment purposes. BUT THEY SIMPLY CANNOT DO THAT! And yesterday, not only did they step into the cow patty of politics yet again with their total support of Trump, but they also went full-throttle into blatant anti-Semitism!

Now, I am going to state for the record that most people in this nation are not educated to the extent which will allow them to readily recognize anti-Semitism when it crops up. I was one such as that many years ago too. I get it. It is a sad statement on our society, but it is nonetheless true. But, as with just about everything else, most people THINK they would recognize it if they saw it. Sort of like Ed Meese during the 1980s when, during his little war on pornography, he said something to the effect of “I know it when I see it”. But, for those out there who may have watched this particular program, and have accepted their explanation – no, sadly, you DON’T recognize it at all, for you just bought into it hook line and sinker. And now I will explain why, for those who wish to understand.

As is often the case on this program, it was up to Donnie Swaggart to make the most forceful statements in their defense of the presumption of anti-Semitism leveled by the email writer. Again, he did not go into a reasonable, logical, discourse on the subject in an effort to help the writer understand their position. Instead, he went into a tirade, the likes of which, sadly, are not rare for him on this program. In essence, Donnie Swaggart reiterated the very talking points that have been used as “reasons” to hate and harm Jewish people ever since Christianity fully broke away from Judaism.

Now, it is entirely possible that neither he, nor anyone else on the panel with the possible exception of Dr. Gray, have never read any of the anti-Jewish propaganda written by early Christian church fathers and, therefore, have never actually been exposed to it. It’s possible. BUT, that is simply no excuse. AND, if that is true, then it highlights my thesis that theology should remain within the realm of trained theologians, not corn cob eating country hucksters like the Swaggarts. This, because a well-educated theologian of any faith would have known about these writings and, usually, have had sense enough not to repeat the same mantras that have led to the persecution and murder of Jewish people for over two-thousand years! I say “usually”, because there is always that one stray theologian of any stripe who will go off onto a limb and make egregious statements like this out of morbid stupidity, or just plain hatred. Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others did exactly this (and the theological training of some is suspect, at best).

What sort of statement am I referring to here? The repetition of the mantra that the Jewish people (as a whole) were/are to blame for the crucifixion of Christ. Not the Romans; the Jews. That’s right; even as they preach “the cross” as the only way to salvation, someone still has to be to BLAME for the fact that it happened, and for the Swaggart team, especially for Donnie himself (apparently), it was the JEWS! Why? Well, because the Bible says so in Matthew 27:25, where “the whole people” are quoted as saying “Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children”. And Donnie made it even worse by stating that this is exactly why the Jews have suffered for over two-thousand years and why the Holocaust happened.

So, according to their theology, every single time the Jewish people have faced adversity, persecution, and even murder, they DESERVED it because they killed Christ! Yes, “God” himself cursed his own people for the crucifixion of Christ! This is what is known as the “blood curse”, although I suppose Donnie Swaggart does not really know that. But, frankly, I think I am giving him too much credit here, because he must know it. And yet, he repeats it anyway.

Donnie Swaggart, yesterday, fell directly in line with several ancient early church fathers, most especially with John Chrysostom, who wrote eight homilies against the Jews and also wrote a hideous diatribe entitled “Why I Hate the Jews”. And every thought presented hearkens directly back to that one single passage in Matthew (just as John Rosenstern’s insistence that the Antichrist must be a Jew comes from one single passage in Deuteronomy). But, one would think that someone as well-read as Rosenstern says he is would be aware that, historically, his statement is in error – multiple times. After all, who in the Bible was first (after David) referred to as “messiah”? That would be Cyrus of Persia, who certainly was NOT a Jew. Check it out; it’s in the Bible (Isaiah 45:1)!

Beyond this, the Jewish people have actually had a habit, especially in ancient times, of calling military and political leaders who were not of Jewish heritage “messiah”. Case in point, as difficult as this would be to fathom for those who don’t understand Judaism or even history; the Roman emperor Vespasian was referred to as “messiah” by Jewish rabbis! Yes, the guy who began the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, only to be completed by his son, Titus, was called BY Jewish Rabbis of the time, “messiah”. And that was during the very siege of Jerusalem! And, again, he wasn’t the only one.

But, even here, the Swaggart team went on to compound their “guilt”, so to speak, by stating, basically, that hey cannot be anti-Semitic because they support Israel (probably more than any other ministry, they said), and they support Trump, who has done more for Israel than any previous president. See, these days it ALL always goes back to their real “messiah”, Trump. Yes, for them, and for many others, as long as they “support” Israel, they simply cannot be anti-Semitic, no matter what else they may say. This, while they will label anyone else as anti-Semitic if they do not fully support Israel in every way, no matter what she does. I’ve got news for them and others like them – one does not have to support the corrupt modern-day state of Israel in order to prove they are not anti-Semitic. But, I will leave that argument be for the time being. Suffice it to be said that the modern state of Israel has no real connection to the ancient one other than the facts that (1) SOME of the Jewish people who reside there today may be descended from SOME of the tribes who resided there in ancient times, (2) they practice some form(s) of Judaism as their official religion, and (3) they managed to resurrect the Hebrew language for general use there. There truly is no further connection.

All of this leads back to my statement that I am no longer a Christian exactly because of people like the Swaggarts. But, not only that. It’s because I have actually learned these things. I have actually read, over the years, ALL of the early church fathers and ALL of the protestant reformers. Their works are generally filled with so much hate that I find it difficult to understand why any truly educated person would continue to be a Christian.

But, let me, finally, leave the reader with this. IF it was just about the Jesus of the New Testament, I would probably still be a Christian. For, as he hung on the cross – yes, that cross that the Swaggarts make such a to-do about as necessary for salvation – he said “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”. See, Jesus himself asked that they – all of them – be forgiven, and one has to accept by inference that the Father did indeed answer his prayer. So, there is NO room for the blood curse that Donnie Swaggart so vehemently insisted upon during yesterday’s program. You either love and forgive every single time, or you are NOT a real Christian, period. But how many can really do that?

The Delusion of Absurd Belief

Ever since New Year’s Eve (really, even before that) Jim Bakker has been ranting about the end of the world, the Apocalypse, and all that may (in his mind) come with that. In fairness, he is not the only one who does this. But, he is just about the only one left doing it to the extent that he does since Jack Van Impe died last year.

As many are aware, his latest focus has been on the Coronavirus, or COVID-19. For him, it is not just a pandemic. It is a sign from God, or a message from God, or punishment from God, or of the Devil himself – whichever he chooses on any given day or moment in time. Regardless, he is obviously convinced that it comes from his God (or the Devil), and that it has to do, as he says, with the fourth horseman of the book of “Revelation” (known as “The Apocalypse of John” among the educated).

Today, April 17th, 2020, he had Mikel French on his program. The reason? Mikel French and his wife, ministers of the gospel, contracted COVID-19 and became very sick because of it, and have survived. Somehow, this is supposed, apparently, to be some miracle from God – apparently he sent the virus as a warning, but it is also somehow from the “enemy” (the devil) as an effort to kill all the preachers who still preach what he thinks is the “real gospel”. Yes, apparently it can both be a sign or even punishment from God, and at the same time be something evil, coming from the Devil.

This particular program, by the way, airing on the same date that Trump tweeted that his people should resist Democratic governors who don’t want to open the country yet, even though they are following his and the scientist’s guidelines (these programs are taped days before they are aired) – a day after such a protest took place in Michigan against its Democratic governor. Yes, Trump is telling people to follow his guidelines, and at the same time is telling them to protest against Democrats who maybe don’t want to start their economies up as soon as he would like. Not really a surprise to me since recently Donnie Swaggart said that if the shut down goes past May 1st, it must be a Democratic plot to ruin the economy because they hate Trump.

As Bakker continued to rant, as he has for several days already, that people are trying to take him off the air, insisting that he as done nothing wrong, he continued with his errant theology by going back to the horses of the Apocalypse – that “they” (the enemy) want to take the Bible away.

Then he went into this lunacy that a billion souls will be saved because of this situation, turning back to Jesus (because they are so scared, obviously). But, at least he is not playing down the potential impact of this virus like the Swaggart people are. To be fair, both “ministries” are obeying directives to not hold public services where people actually attend. This, unlike others who are trying to make this into some sort of persecution of Christians just because they can’t attend church services physically. But, take it from me – Christians always cry “persecution” any time they don’t like something. That is a historical fact.

One of the things, as Bakker pointed out again today, was that on New Year’s Eve he said that people would start going after preachers to kill, murder, them, because they didn’t preach what they wanted them to. Yes, the virus is “an enemy… it would like to kill every preacher in the world; would like to kill every Christian”, Bakker said. Somehow, that conflates to what he said earlier around New Year’s Eve.

Clearly, all of this is completely irrational, but also, clearly, people accept and believe it or they would not be sending money to this and other similar “ministries”. That is nothing short of appalling to me! These people could not possibly stay in business if people were not giving them lots of money.

But, what is equally appalling to me is the attitude of some supposed Pagans (not sure they really are), who insist that the ancient deities did these same types of things and it is OK to believe it. These people (and I won’t even say it is my opinion because it comes from enlightenment) simply do not understand that the ancient myths were just stories designed to teach lessons – NOT stories to be accepted literally by anyone. These people are still deluded by the effects of monotheistic belief and have not reached enlightenment. They would prefer to still wallow in the mire that the monotheist does because they are comfortable there.

Don’t get me wrong. I still have tendencies to want to slip into this sometimes too. Nothing is more difficult for me right now than to refrain from saying something like, “No, it’s not your god sending this, it’s my deities, because of Trump and his support by and of evangelicals and of Israel in everything they do. It’s because he moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem. It’s because of all the other things that he has done that the evangelicals applaud – that he was induced to do by his religious minions like Paula White and others like her. Really, if I wasn’t looking at it in a rational, scientific, way, that is exactly where I would go with this.

But, it’s a virus. It isn’t some act of god or gods. It isn’t a sign or anything. And it isn’t trying to kill preachers, as Jim Bakker is ranting. And no one is saying that it is a “good thing” to “kill babies”, as he also says. He is on the very edge of being taken off the air as we speak. If he is, it will be one of the best things that has ever happened in the history of the world! NOT because he has a particular stand on abortion or actually preachers the Bible (he doesn’t). Because he supported Trump with no reservation whatsoever and he should have stayed out of politics, period. If he had done that, I guarantee he would not be in the situation he now finds himself in.

But, he couldn’t do that. And he still just can’t stop. He says he believes God is chastening the world to believe in Jesus, and that is why this is all happening. And the four horsemen are riding. Obeying God is the only remedy. Not science; not reason – complete psychosis is the only answer.

Does anyone wonder why, as Bakker has been such an ardent supporter of Trump, that Trump is not saying anything in support of him? Might Trump bail Bakker out if he is arrested yet again? That is anyone’s guess. But, if one observes the record, Trump will let Bakker twist in the wind and be completely indicted, and then pardon him. What a friend….

Of course, as Mondo pointed out, earthquakes seem to be increasing now (but, according to them, they already have been for some time) and it is all part of the same situation, with the locust plague in Africa (and even Israel) as another part of it – some kind of act of either God or the Devil, take your pick.

In the end, he was begging for money again, trying to get people to buy his survival food and other items. This, even as he ranted, asking why “they” were coming after him, since he was just an old man. And as he pointed out Hulk Hogan, who recently reiterated the same idiotic tripe that “God” had shut down everything because we were worshipping it. If that isn’t errant theology (by a non-theologian, by the way), I don’t know what is. So “God” is so jealous that he would do such a thing? Really? Because we aren’t worshipping him enough, he would visit a deadly virus upon us all. Wow! THAT is truly sick!

I will add this in finality. As some Christians are ranting that they can’t meet together and it must be some government conspiracy (even as they support Trump), not all, thankfully, are following their errant lead. Most, as far as I can tell (even many mega-churches) are temporarily shutting down. Yes, I said “temporarily”, because that is what it is – temporary. It is not some persecution of Christians. In fact, as far as I know, ALL Pagan gatherings have also been cancelled. Why? Not just because we are not delusional like the fanatical monotheist. But, frankly, because it is part of being a Pagan to OBEY THE LAW. It has always been a cornerstone of Paganism that the political and judicial authorities be obeyed. That does not mean that we won’t protest if a law is unjust. We certainly will. But you will never see us out in the streets protesting because we have to observe social distancing guidelines for a couple more weeks! How absolutely pathetic can people get, after all? I served two tours of military duty, overseas in war zones, both of over a year. And they can’t obey reasonable restrictions for two more weeks? Is this really what the America I served for has become?

Let me spell out what persecution really looks like. It looks like what I described in detail in my book “Killing Roma”. It looks like those in power doing everything they can to destroy a religion and all of its observances – for more than just a few weeks! That is what Christians did to us! WE know what persecution really is. THIS is NOT it. So, conservatives and fanatics: please pull your little boy pants up, and shut the h*ll up! After this is all over we can all debate whether it was right, too much, too little, or whatever. Until then, do what you are told for the good of all.