Sunday, February 18, 2018

#1967: Alex McFarland

As Director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University (not a university), organizer of the Truth for a New Generation Conferences, and co-host of the radio program “Exploring the Word” (on American Family Radio), Alex McFarland has managed to make something of a name for himself as one of the most delusional, most deranged fanatical extremist on the fringes of the religious right. He has also written numerous books and served as Director of Teen Apologetics for the extremist hate group and cult Focus on the Family, and yes: his primary target seems to be younger and more impressionable people, some of whom are surely receptive to his death-cult-like hate and extremism. He is also president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte.

When explaining his own Project 2026 for instance, he described it, an initiative to save America from annihilation at the hands of “the four groups that are actively working to secularize and destroy America: humanists; atheists; militant homosexuals; and Muslims.” Boo to humanism. And that coalition – they’re allied, you know – has allies in “apostate” churches and people “that are enlisted for Satan” that are pushing for the destruction of America. 

McFarland on dissent
In general, McFarland’s go-to argument is that if you disagree with him on anything you are really trying to ruin America, and his friend God might beat you up, too, so you better not. Also, it may be treason.

In 2015, for instance, McFarland reacted with horror to students and libruls protesting Bobby Jindal’s prayer rally, calling it “borderline treasonous” (they’re disagreeing with something McFarland agrees with after all – and even voicing the disagreement – and if they’d just read the Constitution McFarland’s read they’d have realized that disagreeing with McFarland just might violate that constitution); the protests also exemplified an “intense spiritually oppressive environment;” clearly “Father of Lies, Satanwas the one really behind it all. McFarland also invoked the Founding Fathers, since The Founding Fathers would never have sown discord by protesting anything. Obama’s Syrian refugee policy was treasonous, too, as was Obama’s comments at the National Prayer Breakfast. On the other hand, in 2016, McFarland claimed that God intervened in the election to save the Constitution and get Trump elected, which doesn’t sound like it would be something the fake Constitution most of us are familiar with would allow.

By contrast, those who voted for Obama in 2012 “need to get on their knees and ask for God’s forgiveness.” Interestingly, McFarland himself was apparently no fan of Romney, however, mostly because of Romney’s Mormonism. Here is McFarland explaining how Mormons are not Christian, and that Mormonism is actually more like Islam, because McFarland doesn’t fancy either. (According to McFarland, next to the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden, Islam is the worst thing to ever happen to humanity.)

Obama, too. According to McFarland, President Obama refused to fight radical Islam because he is secretly a Muslim. After all, there were no bombings or drone attacks or military interventions in Afghanistan or the Middle East during Obama’s presidency.

Here is McFarland on the fact that some people actually say out loud that they don’t believe in God (it’s “both disrespectful and intolerant of those with deeply held beliefs”). After all, people like McFarland would never proclaim his faith out loud, try to convince anyone to conform to his beliefs (except when arguing that failing to place Bibles in hotel rooms is harmful because it potentially deprives guests of “an avenue to truth that could rescue that individual from a very dark place and help save a life”) or accuse those who disagree with him of being in league with Satan.

McFarland on gay people and women
Well, but of course. When Obama came out in support of marriage equality in 2012, McFarland reacted the way you’d expect from someone hateful, dumb and delusional, saying  that Obama’s support for marriage equality has put America under “the judgment of God” and “will contribute to the damnation of so many souls,” especially “impressionable young people” and “his own daughters.” Then he went on to doubt Obama’s Christian faith.

Apparently Satan is using gay and transgender identity to “debase and devalue and harm the ones made in God’s image.” So, to those who think that homophobia and bullying of gay and transgender people is a problem, McFarland would answer by pointing out that it is “psychologically destructive” homosexuality that causes problems for LGBT people, not bullying. You see, gays are really just victims of “emotional pain and sometimes molestation. Then he claimed that Christians were the ones actually facing persecution in America.

Also in line with his general principles for reasoning, McFarland concluded that God didn’t prevent the 2015 San Bernardino shootings because of abortion and gay marriage. Indeed, gay rights (and the Obama presidency) is God’s punishment on America for the sins of liberals. Apparently Obama, gay people and liberals were also to blame for a Malaysian jet being shot down over Ukraine in July 2014, just because Jesus, God.

Gender equality is an abomination too. In 2017, when a Chicago megachurch named a woman co-pastor, McFarland was shocked: “Women do much, much, much great ministry, and men and women are definitely in the eyes of God equal in worth, and value, and personhood, and dignity, but I see making a woman the senior pastor of a church as really a capitulation to acquiescing to the spirit of egalitarianism – the secular mindset that there must be no differences between males and females.”

He was not impressed when President Obama in 2016 invited a lesbian pastor to read scripture at the White House’s Easter Prayer Breakfast. Caitlyn Jenner’s gender transition, meanwhile, was downright demonic.

McFarland on evolution
Teaching evolution in schools was, according to McFarland, a cause of the Fort Hood shootings, since whenever you wish to explain something like this you point to something you already disagree with, ignore the facts, and assert that whatever you don’t like was the cause.

The theory of evolution is, according to McFarland, also the cause of racism. After all, there was no racism before the publication of The Origin of Species in 1859. “The Bible teaches that there is only one race, the human race, and that all people are made in the image of God,” McFarland pointed out, so racist views must come from elsewhere. According to McFarland, the Founding Fathers also knew that all men are created equal and blamed “150 years of Darwinian evolution” for supposedly undermining that core American principle. “Evolution, for about 75 years, has had a stranglehold on American education,” McFarland declared), “and so the number one reason for racism is belief in evolution,” since schools have become more racist since the 1950s when they started teaching that all humans are related through relatively recent common ancestors, and slavery was either i) mostly justified not by reference to the Curse of Ham in the Bible, by the theory of evolution, before that theory was discovered; or ii) wasn’t racist at all: maybe people of different races just have different roles, just like people of different genders?

Diagnosis: Ridiculous madman, whose arguments usually consist (exclusively) of labeling those who disagree with him with the worst labels he can think of – “treason”, “Satan”, “the Founding Fathers would disagree” – regardless of whether there is any relation between the meaning of the label and the person or phenomenon labeled (indeed, it’s interesting to see the extent to which religious right talking points consist only of this trick – as opposed to us calling them out as “loons” by showing how and why they are loons). McFarland does apparently have some influence on the religious right, however. Dangerous.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

#1966: Pat McElraft

Pat McElraft is the Republican representative for the 13th district in the North Carolina House of Representatives, having served since 2006, and currently one of the Deputy Majority Whips. McElraft is a climate change denialist, and largely responsible for the 2012 law banning the state from basing coastal policies on the latest scientific predictions of how much the sea level will rise due to climate change, a move that drew international attention and scorn.

McElraft herself called the law a “breather”, allowing the state to “step back” and continue studying sea-level rise for the next several years without doing anything, so that they can achieve more accurate prediction models. (We hope we don’t need to point out the problem with that kind of reasoning.) In her defense, and in a characteristically Orwellian fashion, McElraft, although admitting that “the environmental side say we’re ignoring science,” pointed out that “the bill actually asks for more science.” As McElraft saw things: “We’re not ignoring science, we’re asking for the best science possible, the best extrapolation possible, looking at the historical data also. We just need to make sure that we’re getting the proper answers.” Or, put differently, we’ll continue to ask for new and “improved” scientific results until we find someone who tells us what we want to hear.

In 1974, the alarmists were talking about the ice age coming in,” said McElraft: “What has happened, has the ice age come in?” Scientists did not say in 1974 that the ice age was coming, but the myth that they did is admittedly popular on pseudoscience and conspiracy theory websites.

In elections, McElraft has occasionally been challenged by sensible people who realize how deranged and delusional she is, but McElraft has won with safe margins every time. This is because the majority of people of Carteret and Jones Counties are stupid and/or have short-term stakes in seaside properties, the value of which would decline if sea-levels rose. “You can believe whatever you want about global warming,” said McElraft, “but when you go to make planning policies here for our residents and protecting their property values and insurance rates, it’s a very serious thing to us on the coast.” Climate change should therefore not be the basis for such policies.

Diagnosis: Utter madness. Complete, undiluted insanity.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

#1965: Joel McDurmon

More theocrats. Joel McDurmon is the current Director of Research for Gary DeMar’s Reconstructionist, dominionist organization American Vision (more here), taking over the steering wheel after DeMar stepped down in 2015.

Now, even McDurmon is a bit alarmed by the increasing influence of the even more extreme New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). Of course, the difference between NAR and his own group is primarily one of strategy, not goals (and don’t be fooled: both groups present genuine danger). As McDurmon puts it, although Reconstructionists like himself aim to “properly recriminalize sodomy, adultery, and abortion,” they seek to implement such policies through evangelism, not by seizing control – the Seven Mountains advocates of the NAR, by contrast, seek to seize control in order to institute a theocracy.

And make no mistake: McDurmon is a theocrat. McDurmon wishes, for instance, to criminalize blasphemy, and in a strikingly broad manner that would include any utterance or behavior that are not pleasing in the eyes of McDurmon. “Unless men first revere God and honor an ultimate allegiance to the divine origin of mankind, and protect these beliefs by legal consequence, they shall denigrate everything glorious that man can be, and then protect their perversions and obscenity by recourse to legal force (as we have begun to see now),” says McDurmon; in other words, he God should have such legal protections to stem the tide of those who disagree with him on e.g. gay rights secular atheism, the proponents of which wish to ban Christianity. After all, criticizing and calling out bigotry is the same as banning Christianity, so either Christianity must be banned, or its critics must be. To understand McDurmon, it is helpful to remember that distinctions are not his strong suit: his version of Christianity should not be banned; therefore it must be made legally mandatory for everyone.

Of course, a ban on blasphemy is part and parcel of dominionism, and American Vision subscribes to the central tenets of dominionism, such as the universal development of Biblical theocratic republics, exclusion of non-Christians from voting and citizenship, and application of Biblical law, including – as mentioned –  a ban on homosexual acts, adultery, witchcraft, propagation of idolatry and blasphemy. McDurmon himself has said that “God revealed that the homosexual act is a civil crime, and it just so happens that He revealed that the homosexual act as a civil crime deserves the death penalty.” He has also said that a proposal in Uganda to impose the death penalty for homosexuality didn’t go far enough because it should also impose “Old Testament law” and make adultery a capital crime as well. He later backpedaled and emphasized that he doesn’t officially demand that the state should necessarily require the death penalty for homosexuality in general, but merely for “the ‘act’ of sodomy.” For claiming that the state doesn’t necessarily have to impose the death penalty on such offenses, McDurmon has in turn been criticized by other theocrats, such as J.D. Hall, who have argued that abandoning Mosaic penologies such as the death penalty means that McDurmon and others who hold similar positions cannot be said to hold to Christian dominionism (or theonomy) in any meaningful way. So it goes.

American Vision, however, is an influential group, and several important political candidates (including presidential candidates) have lent them their ears, for instance at their Freedom 2015 National Religious Liberties Conference in Iowa, which was put on by Kevin Swanson. Apart from conferences (such as their annual “Worldview Conference”), the group publishes books “primarily for use in Christian schools and for home schoolers” (obviously), newsletters and podcast, and is deeply involved in the creation “science” movement.

Apparently Gun Owners of America’s Larry Pratt is a fan of McDurmon’s attempts to rewrite the history of the US.

Diagnosis: Deranged madman, and as evil as he is delusional – just like the pair in the previous entry. It’s a widespread condition, and we should be seriously worried.