Christian Exodus (and you thought I was over-reacting)

T.A. Barnhart

fitting this should occur in South Carolina, the state that precipitated the last civil war (well, ok, SC is kind of innocent this time around)

Christian Exodus, from Sunday's L.A. Times

these people should pay attention to what Jesus said about the Old Testament before deciding that's the path they want to follow.  two words, kids: "New Covenant".

  • AvengingAngel (unverified)

    When South Carolina makes the headlines, it's rarely good news for the United States or the American people. In 1828, South Carolina was the hotbed of the Nullification movement. In 1860, South Carolina's secession led the way to the Confederacy and in April the following year, fired the shots at Fort Sumter that started the Civil War. And over the past several years, South Carolina has been at the forefront of the movement to preserve the Confederate flag and heritage.

    Now, the Palmetto State is again leading the way, this time by undermining Medicaid, the federal health care program for low income Americans. By seeking to move from a system of "guaranteed benefits" to one of "guaranteed contributions", South Carolina's step is the opening salvo in the war over social insurance.

    For the full story, see:

    "Medicaid's Fort Sumter."

  • AvengingAngel (unverified)

    Recommended reading for the American Taliban as they prepare for their road trip to South Carolina:

    "What Would Jesus Do? An Ethnical Guide for George W. Bush."

  • Don Saxton (unverified)

    This movement sounds suspiciously like the same Brainwashing we experienced a few years back ,here in Oregon- Namely, the Rajneeshie's!!! It's one thing to live your beliefs, but these people have forgotten that this Country was founded on TOLERANCE!!! By wanting to Take over counties, with the intent of eventually taking over whole States, only shows how intolerant these people can be. I have NO problem with people living their lives as they please, as long as it harms no one. Their beliefs should be protected as well as mine to disagree, but what will happen to the residents who already live in those counties that do not subscribe to their views?? Will they be allowed to live their?- I doubt not!!! This type of thing is just the beginning of the dissolution of our Country, if it is allowed to start. Where does it end??? We now have Red States pitted against Blue States; White Supremacists vs Minorities;and now Religious Whackos against the Traditional Religious Denominations. As long as these "Churches" insist on getting involved in Politics, I think they should lose their Tax-Free status!! It's VERY clear the Tax Status carried some responsibilities-namely keeping the Church(WHATEVER CHURCH) out of the Government, in return the Government was to stay out of the affairs of the Church. The intolerance manifesting itself in this Country now is most distressing to me. This isn't what this country was founded upon!!!

  • Aaron (unverified)

    This is so old news. This group's has been floating around for months.

  • Kent (unverified)

    Don...I was just thinking of the Bhagwan the lovely Ma Anand Sheela when I was reading that article too!

    Those were the days...when the most threatening religious wackos around just bought Rolls Royces by the dozen and had lots of drug-induced sex. As I remember, they tried to rig the elections out there by bussing in Portland's homeless population. Then waged biological warfare by poisoning salad bars.

    Now we gotta worry about the type who fly planes into buildings and blow themselves up.

    Gotta wonder how far the Rasneeshies would have gotten in today's climate. Half that bunch would probably have found themselves in preventative dentention under the Patriot Act.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)

    I am skeptical.

    Here we have an urban west coast article about a more or less rural eastern State. We have broad stererotypes, some 150 years old, about the people both in South Carolina, and the religious people moving there. I read this as sensationalism of a type, but not really based upon much fact.

    These sorts of articles are written about rural folks all the time, and the point of view is always somehow that the rural folks are weird or strange. I resent this when it's pointed at Oregon's rural areas, and I am no less upset when I see it pointed at another rural area.

    A fact based article would note the population of the State and discuss what the impact of a small religious cult-like group might have. This article was speculative. One family moved to South Carolina. Maybe others followed or joined. So what? Move a whole city to South Carolina, and you've got my attention.

    There is in the news business a new and increasingly used formula. Take a small incident, generalize the heck out of it, make it sound threatening, and then ask the person on the street to take this exaggerated generalized threat and react to it. I object when Fox does it, and I object when the LA Times does it.

  • Suzii (unverified)

    Of course, Steve, the LA Times story isn't about wacky rural South Carolinians -- it's about wacky urban Californians who think a rural South Carolinian county would be easy pickings.

    But you're right that the Times didn't do the work to show even who's currently populating those counties.

  • Ron Beasley (unverified)

    Let the 16th century wingnuts have a state or two if they will leave the rest of us alone. SC works for me.

  • J Smith (unverified)

    At least SC is far from Oregon...

    What did Jesus say about the Old Testament? and what's the "new covenant"?

  • (Show?)

    J Smith --

    the "New Covenant" refers to Jesus' role as Messiah -- not just to save God's chosen people but to change how people relate to god. in the old covenant, it was about god's judgment; in the new covenant, it's about forgiveness and new life. no more having to obey endless rules that, in Jesus' words, leaves people more fit for hell than before.

    so the people who want to establish old testament law, who demand obedience to long lists of rules, are the same as the pharisees who ended up murdering Jesus. the new testament clearly teaches that christians are to live in this new way: by love, forgiveness, caring for others (especially the weak). do we see this practiced by the religious right? no, not even close. we see the return of religiosity that Jesus died to get rid of.

  • (Show?)

    steve & suzii

    the story is also in The Nation. and they are attracting people from all over the country. you may mock the MSM for "finally" covering this, but when the major newspapers do get around to these kinds of stories, it generally means it's as serious as a heart attack -- and you should have been paying attention. me, i didn't see anything about these people, and if it takes the LA Times to get me that story, good. isn't this about becoming informed so we can do something, not being snotty about news sources?

  • J Smith (unverified)

    ta barnhart -

    So if I understand you right, the "old covenant" was about rules & judgement, and the "new" is about love and forgiveness. This makes little sense... why would "God" do a 180, turning from hellfire and brimstone to kitties and diasies?

    And don't these people in SC have a clue about this new covenent? It make no sense to me why anyone would choose the old over the new.

    If being a Christian were as easy as you say it is, why wouldn't everyone be one? Geez, it seems to me even the muslims would prefer this new covenent business.

  • Becky (unverified)

    I just feel sorry for their kids. What an awful way to grow up - so divided from the people around them. I know that feeling of not belonging in your own society, having grown up in a very strict legalistic religion. Once we joined the church, I wasn't allowed to play with children who weren't members of our church, and I never got to attend public school, go to movies, go to dances, etc. It really throws a person off for a long time - if they ever manage to pull themselves out of it.

    Other than that, if these self-righteous, obsessive compulsive, judgmental wackos want to congregate in one place, then goodbye and good riddance. It will keep them from bothering the rest of us.

  • Mike Austin (unverified)

    J Smith wrote:

    "And don't these people in SC have a clue about this new covenent? It make no sense to me why anyone would choose the old over the new."

    The problem with the Bible, and therefore Christianity, is that it's an incoherent mess and it's got something for everyone. That's why right-wingers and Quakers can both read the same Bible and have diametrically(?) opposed beliefs.

    People choose their flavor of Christianity based on their political beliefs or, as George Lakoff would say, on whether the flavor of Christianity is "strong father" or "nurturant parent".

    The Christian Right are people who have very strong authoritarian leanings, cherry-pick those portions of the Bible that reinforce their leanings, and then choose a denomination accordingly.

  • LT (unverified)

    But if Republicans and all citizens voting for local office decide that the power of the Religious Right is more apparent than real, if these "Christian" types try (as happened in Oregon) to remove someone active in a church other than theirs from a school board or other local government and fail, then they become the bullies the locals don't tolerate.

    Just like who is going to run for office here next year. Until a person files, all the speculation in the world can't predict with certainty who will be running next year.

  • Sid (unverified)

    If they all settle in one state and leave the rest of us alone, that's fine with me.

  • jj ark (unverified)

    Frankly, I am not surprised, alarmed, or disappointed. If they really wanna jump into local politics and concentrate their power in one location, go for it.

    I read sci-fi, and in one series of books, there are the same people on two planets: the Graysons and the Masadans. Masadans left the planet of Grayson because the didn’t believe enough. What they found was that they were constantly trying to return to Grayson, because in their dogmatism, they were stagnant. I am quite comfortable with a group of extremely religious Christians taking over a state or two. Just as long as we recongnize that they will return, and we prepare for that return.

    Hmmm…were did I put that shotgun again?

    And what about these folks? I think they might have a few things to say. Not to mention the Synagogues in the region. I think the JFPO might have a few things to say, but they will also speak by shotgun.

    On a side note, but related: In Islam, Shahri’a law allows for the visitation and residency of non-Muslims. Mohammed allowed that diversity in thought was generally a good thing as long as it remained an appropriately channeled minority position. Worship is allowed by other religions, so long as it is done in private, and without prosletization.

    Indeed, in what was to become Iraq, there were many Jews, all obediently paying the Shahri’a tax allowing them to live in a Muslim nation relatively peacefully. Saddam shipped them out and took over their holdings in the 70’s.

  • afs (unverified)

    Looks like there's way too many stupid white people with way too much spare time on their hands. I'm one not normally supportive of distracting people with bread and circuses, but...

    ...we need to get South Carolina an NFL franchise.

    Get those good ol' boys out of those Southern Baptist and Pentacostal churches on Sunday mornings and out at a stadium parking lot grilling ribs and burgers and getting drunk as a skunk at tailgate parties. Get them sitting in front of a TV planning fantasy football rosters and killing each other about quarterback controvesies. Let them worship at the Church of Monday Night Football like the rest of the dumb white people.

  • H. S. Thompson (unverified)

    Mr. Barnhart writes: " the old covenant, it was about god's judgment; in the new covenant, it's about forgiveness and new life. no more having to obey endless rules...."

    If I'm not mistaken, I seem to recall in the New Testiment that Jesus said "Love thy neighbor as thyself, do this one thing and you will have fulfilled all the laws." Seems pretty simple?

    Then again, the Ten Commandments state plainly "Thou Shalt Not Kill." but that doesn't seem to stop Pat Robertson from issueing his religious fatwas calling for assassination and murder? Go figure.

    Then there's ministers and there's reverends, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson just got ol' Hugo Chavez to offer us cheap oil for the coming winter. And Pat wants to snuff him. Go figure.

    I totally agree with Mr. Barnhart that there are some elements of the fundamentalist Christian Right that are just as fanatical, dangerous and blood-thirsty as the most rabid Taliban terrorist or diehard Bush supporter.

    However, that poses the question; Would Mr. Barnhart simply turn the other cheek and walk happily into the mouth of the lions, or would he change his mind and philosophy when it got down to his own butt?

    And if Mr. Barnhart is so full of Christian love, forgiveness and goodwill, why does it not extend to the people of the state of South Carolina who Mr. Barnhart seems to enjoy characterizing with all the lame redneck stereotypes that liberals of his ilk seem to so enjoy tossing around. Hasn't anyone informed him that "hate speak" applies to hillbillies, crackers and peckerwoods too?

    Personally, I find Mr. Barnfart's brand of Christianity just as hypocritical, bigoted and hate-mongering as the warped doctrines of Robertson, Falwell and even Louis Farrikan and the Black Muslims. Go figure.


    Homer S. Thompson

    PS - And don't forget, Nixon was a Quaker too!

  • T Maier (unverified)

    Dude, we're all hypocrites and hopeless sinners. We're all getting exactly what we want... a life with God in Oregon, or SC or wherever; or a life without a god in Oregon or SC. You get to choose. And so does everyone else around you. And in this great country, you have to right to sit and complain about all the people who choose differently than you.

    Imagine the little God-cult in remote-bible-belt-land... "egads, the atheists have taken over Multnomah County, Oregon! Better get our shotguns ready, they're coming here next!!!"

    [same story repeated in countless outposts around the country... on BOTH sides of the fence]

    You'd imagine that us enlightened folk would have figured this out by now.

    I heard a quote at a PK conference in the Rose Garden a few years back that is fitting: "When Jesus comes back, he's not coming to take sides... He's coming to TAKE OVER!"

    Now matter how our prideful knowledge puffs us up into thinking we've got it right, we're far from the truth. We're just to blind to know it.

    Face it. You're blind. "Do what is right, love mercy, walk HUMBLY with your God". words to live by...

  • T Maier (unverified)

    ... and one more thing (just read the comment from mike austin)...

    the bible is an incoherent mess??? I've read it a few times now, and it doesn't seem that way to me. Maybe you can point out a few passages that you're having trouble with.

    and "flavors of Christianity"? how many flavors of "you're a sinner, Christ was God, died to take the consequences of your sins, and if you believe that, you're in" can there be?

    ...God is both a "strong father" and "nurturing parent" at the SAME TIME. Like all good fathers should be.

    Do you really thing ALL people get political, and then choose a values system AFTER their signed their voter registration card?

    One more... HS Thompson... the commandment is better translated "DON'T MURDER".


  • (Show?)

    t maier - you tell us we're sinners, we're blind , that our pridie puffs us up -- um, don't these declarations sound a bit arrogant? prideful?

    i have no idea what big-T truth is; i may go to hell, i may be abosrbed into the cosmos, i may return as an otter or slug. i don't know. i believe, and i try to live by what i believe. i take seriously paul's words of warning: we see thru a glass darkly. this is not blindness, it's imperfect vision. i believe i see enough to live my life by. and i believe that's all god asks of any of us.

  • T Maier (unverified)

    I'm not being arrogant... Is it arrogant and prideful to declare "I'm a sinner, I don't have this all figured out yet"?

    I think we agree on this. Now, we do see dimly... a poor reflection in a mirror. Now we know only in part. But someday we will see "face to face"! And we will know fully! even as we are fully know (by God)... this wasn't a warning, by the way, but a promise.

    We need to keep trying to know God more and more. We can't just give up! But we need to realize that there is just not enough time and we just don't have the capacity to fully understand Him. And I think we need to help each other in our efforts. Christianity is not something to be kept quiet and to yourself. We need each other.

    Thanks for starting this discussion.

  • T Maier (unverified)

    ...oh, and by the way.

    It's the Bible that tells us that we're sinners. The LAW, or the old covenant.

    And it's Jesus who tells us we're saved. The GOOD NEWS, or the new covenant.

    Praise God!

  • Becky (unverified)

    T. Maier -

    You ask about "flavors" of Christianity and doubt they really exist. Have you been living in a cave?

    There are Unitarians, who see Christianity as one of many paths to God. Many other Christians see this view as abhorrent, because they believe Jesus is the ONLY way to God. There are strict Seventh-Day Adventists who believe only 144,000 of God's true people will be saved because a prophet named Ellen G. White said so. They believe if you drink alcohol, eat meat (especially pork and shellfish), go to a theater, wear jewelry, engage in premarital sex, dance, do anything secrular between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday, or even if you believe there is a soul that is separate from your body that goes to Heaven, you're not one of those 144,000. There are Jehovah's Witnesses, who think celebrating birthdays is a sin. There are Mormons, who follow the teachings of Joseph Smith and have a wide variety of beliefs in addition to traditional Christianity. There are many kinds of Baptists, some of whom are fundamentalist and believe Sunday is God's day and holy, and keeping it that way is just as important as not killing people (SDAs would say that Sunday worship is a sign of rebellion against God and is THE mark of the beast, and that God's true people worship on Saturday). Baptists and SDAs both believe you can't be saved unless you are baptised, and not as a baby, but only when you've demonstrated you are old enough to understand what you are doing. There are Pentacostals who speak in tongues and roll on the floor. And there are Christians who think this behavior is demonic. There are Catholics who believe a priest can forgive their sins, that Mary and the saints intercede on our behalf in Heaven, that the Pope is God's voice on earth, that babies must be sprinkled or they'll go to hell when if they die, and more. These beliefs are evil to many protestants. There are even Catholics whose religion contains elements of Voudin or other ancient local religions. I could go on and on. There are within all these "flavors" of Christianity various levels of belief and observance.

    The Christian faith is a very broad mixture of a lot of disparate beliefs - "flavors." Or maybe you're one of those "flavors" that believes there are basic beliefs and if a Christian doesn't have them they're lost.

  • T Maier (unverified)


    No, I haven't been living in a cave.

    I'm well aware of the various denominations, and have actually participated in several. But at the core, they are all the same. And they should be.

    People like tradition, and the various Christian denominations reflect the diverse traditions of the American melting pot.

    In my response to Mr Austin, I was referring to the essence of Christianity... salvation by grace through faith. If your church's doctrinal statement doesn't have that, chances are you not attending a Christian church.

    I'm impressed with your broad knowledge on this topic, btw...

  • Becky (unverified)

    T. Maier -

    Of course, many Christians do see the point of Christianity as salvation by grace. But that's almost never the end of it. There must be a decision to accept the salvation through acceptance of Jesus. This is where it get's sticky. I know Christians who refuse to accept the notion that people who haven't ever heard of Jesus and, therefore, don't have "faith" in Jesus, won't be saved. And I know Christians who say those people don't know because they don't want to know, and that if they were searching for God with their whole hearts He would find a way to reach them. So it is their choice and that is why they won't be saved. Others say they won't be saved because God doesn't have to be fair about anything He does. Still others say they don't understand, but accept that since the Bible says belief in Jesus is required, that's good enough for them. Others find in the Bible a God that so loves everyone that He looks to people's hearts to see whether they would accept Jesus if they ever had heard about Him, and that is how they are judged.

    I also know Christians who believe that grace is fine, but faith without works is dead - that it's part grace and part works. So even there, the basic definition of Christianity breaks down.

    I've spent my whole life searching for the truth in this area, and I have yet to find a common thread one can point to and say, "that's what all Christians believe." I also have yet to find the truth!

    <h2>I apologize for the snideness in my "cave" comment, by the way. That was unnecessary and overdramatic.</h2>

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