Monday, June 11, 2007


Paris: About to be born again?

For those unbrainwashed readers who might not know who Scott Rawlings is, he is the envangelical (or “evanjekyll” to use the local pronunciation) pastor of Christ’s Community Church, in Portsmouth, Ohio, and his shtick is the holy-hip-hick. If you want to know why slick glib evangelical preachers are distrusted as much as used car salesmen and lawyers, consider the case of the Reverend Rawlings, and check out his collected wit and wisdom in Hear It Now! and also in his monthly column in the CCC newspaper.

In the May 2007 issue of the Scioto Citizen, the right-wing political-religious newspaper he publishes as an insert to the Christian Citizen USA, and is sending to Scioto County residents at bulk rate through the U.S. Mail, Rawlings joined Chief Police Horner and councilman Marty Mohr in calling for a crackdown on the internet and the “mean-spirited, even evil people [bloggers] who abuse our constitutional rights.” Constitutional rights? Based on the wit and wisdom of Pastor Rawlings in Hear Me Now!, which I quoted in an earlier blog, I doubt very much that he has either the knowledge or intelligence that would enable him to understand the Constitution well enough to lecture anybody about it.

The reason America’s Founding Fathers wanted a separation of church and state when they drew up the Constitution was that they understood from their knowledge of European history and of English ecclesiastical history in particular, the potential threat to human liberty that exists when the church and state are virtually one. When there is an official state religion, those with different beliefs become targets. It doesn’t matter much whether that religion is Hebrew, Catholic, Protestant, or Islamic, because if any group thinks they are God’s chosen people, if any group thinks their opponents are “evil” and agents of the devil, it doesn’t make much difference what else they believe, the results are the same: the loss of liberties and perhaps of life for those who are considered enemies of god and agents of the devil.

The Devil In Massachusetts

Why is Massachusetts the most liberal state in the United States? Because it began as the most intolerant religious colony in America and has been trying to atone for that embarrassing legacy ever since. When religious fundamentalists have complete control of a society, as the Taliban did in Afghanistan, they do not hesitate to humiliate, harass, imprison, or behead their opponents. The New England Puritans were the Taliban of their time. For lesser offenses, they put people in stocks. They made adulteresses wear the letter “A” and drunkards the letter “D.”They clipped the ears off and cut out the tongues of those who persisted in believing something different from them. They hanged Quakers who would not leave the colony. Those suspected of witchcraft but who would not confess to being in league with the devil were crushed to death. If you admitted you were in league with the devil and promised you would stop, you were set free. If you were a person of deep conviction and valued truth more than life, and continued to maintain your innocence, you were crushed to death. You became a victim of a witch hunt. A witch hunt is what Horner, Mohr, and our hip hick holy parson are trying to stir up against those “evil” people who dare to write blogs and who dare to come to city council meetings and ask questions the politicians not only don’t want to answer but don’t want to hear.

Progress in western civilization can be measured by the degree to which the stranglehold of religious fanatics on government and public institutions has been broken. One of the great days in American history was when the free-thinking Ben Franklin fled from Boston and headed to Philadelphia. Boston in the early 1700s was still in the grip of Puritanism and controlled by England. Philadelphia, which became known as the City of Brotherly Love, was where the liberal beliefs of the Quakers prevailed. When religious fanatics completely control government the results have been catastrophic. Look at what the faith-based Bush administration has done not only to this country but to the Middle East. Many thousands of deaths, renditions, torture, and at home trashing the Constitution. Look what’s happened to the principle of justice in the U.S. Dept. of Justice, which is infiltrated by graduates of the kooky Pat Robertson’s Regent Law School, whose professed purpose is to “provide Christian leadership to change the world.” Sure, like they are changing Iraq. Monica Goodling, one of Regent’s graduates who was appointed to an important position in the Justice Dept., took the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination in an attempt to avoid testifying before a congressional committee. Are graduates of Regent U. are going to Christianize the world, by subverting justice?

Rawlings in the May Christian Citizen USA/ Scioto Citizen gnashed his teeth over how many people read local blogs. “It is amazing,” he complained, “the number of people who read and often believe what is written . . .” Really! They not only read but they believe what these evil bloggers write? Amazing! Where do they think they are? In America? There is no law against my writing and others reading River Vices. Not yet anyway.

Rawlings in the May Christian Citizen USA/ Scioto Citizen rails against Imus in the Morning, but not against Anus in the Morning (Steve Hayes), against Dan Rather but not against Bill O’Reilly, against Katie Couric but not against Ann Coulter. He rails against the “convicted felons” who he claims almost took over the city of Portsmouth, but not against the crooked right-wing politicians, his Bible-thumping, lapel-flag-flaunting ideological cousins, who did take over the executive branch of the U.S. government but whose corruption, greed, and incompetence have already made a number of them, with more to come, “convicted felons.” He also rails against Rosie O’Donnell. If part of his hatred of Rosie O’Donnell is that she’s a lesbian, what is Cheney’s daughter? At least O’Donnell has not made a mockery of God’s law and the laws of creation by unnaturally inseminating herself, or isn’t that the way evangelicals would look at if her father was a Democrat?

Why is it that a right-wing Republican lesbian doesn’t quality for Rawlings’s hate list but Rosie O’Donnell does? The reason is that Christ’s Community Church’s real business is not righteousness but right-wing politics. I don’t watch Couric, so I don’t understand Rawlings’ rage about her or why she is on his hate list. Does she expose her pubic hair in public and shave her head, the way the Bush-backing Britney Spears did? Does she videotape her blow jobs as Paris Hilton did? Incidentally, it appears Paris Hilton is on the verge of being born again. That’s the way celebrity sluts and ex-felons recycle themselves and their careers, by being born again. Like Chuck Colson. In the lawbreaking footsteps of Oliver North, will Paris Hilton hit the lecture circuit, maybe speaking at the CCC and being interviewed in the Christian Citizen USA/ Scioto Citizen?

The Christian Citizen USA/Scioto Citizen reflects the views of the radical right of the Ohio Republican Party and of defeated gubernatorial candidate Kenneth Blackwell in particular. One of the issues the desperate Blackwell campaign resorted to was accusing his liberal Democratic opponent Ted Strickland and his wife of being homosexuals. The Christian Citizen USA/Scioto Citizen published a cartoon with that message just before last November’s election. And then, in the May issue of Christian Citizen USA/Scioto Citizen, the sanctimonious Rawlings wrote, “Bloggers have written harmful things when they know it to be either partially or totally untrue.” “Partially or totally untrue.” Are the stories Ohio evangelicals and the Christian Citizen USA/ Scioto Citizen spread about the Stricklands’ sexual orientation partially or totally true? If so, where is either the total or partial truth of this charge? One of the incriminating circumstances about the Stricklands that Ohio evangelicals whispered about was “They do not have children.” Bob Dole and his wife Elizabeth have been married for thirty-five years but have no children. They have had separate careers, both professionally and politically. Have they been accused of being homosexuals in the Christian Citizen USA/ Scioto Citizen? If not, why not? Because they are both conservative Republicans. That two-faced evangelical Christians should condemn anybody sexually is preposterous, given their own track record. Historically, many of these holier-than-thou folks have turned out to be hornier than thou, and greedy to boot.

The O’Falafel Factor

Why doesn’t Rawlings condemn the remarkable number of pious patriot wingnuts who turn out to be horny creeps? I am thinking not only of the evangelical Rev. Ted Haggard with his male prostitute boyfriend and Republican congressman Mark Foley and his passion for pages. I am also thinking of Catholic Bill O’Reilly. A female producer of the O’Reilly Factor show charged him with harassing her by talking frequently about “phone sex, vibrators, threesomes, masturbation, the loss of virginity, and other sexual fantasies.” She accused O’Reilly of having an obsession with falafel (chick peas ground up into a ball) and using it to rouse her sexually. He was accused of telling her, “So anyway I’d be rubbing your big boobs and getting your nipples really hard, kinda’ kissing your neck from behind . . . and then I would take the other hand with the falafel thing and I'd just put it on your pussy but you’d have to do it really light, just kind of a tease business . . .” Is this the O’Falafel Factor? The producer’s case against O’Reilly was settled out of court, which presumably cost the Fox network or some insurance company plenty. Never has falafel cost so much. If the falafel ever hits the fan at the CCC, you’ll probably read about it first on some blog.

Speaking of hypocrites, does anyone else remember the pious Republican Billy James Hargis, the Tulsa evangelical and globe trotting anti-Communist crusader, who toured the Free World back in the 1950s and 1960s, with a teen-aged choir known as the All-American Kids? According to Wikipedia, Hargis is considered to be a father of the Religious Right. “Hargis preached continually on the evils of sex education, communism, Catholicism, and liberalism and urged the return of prayer and Bible reading to public schools long before the modern Religious Right.” (Quoted from Wikipedia.) When two of Hargis’s All-American kids got married and confessed to each other on their honeymoon that they had both been sexually seduced as kids by Hargis, it turned out they were not the only kids Hargis had deflowered, and that was the end of Hargis’s big-time operation, though he continued to publish the Christian Crusade Newspaper, which should not to be confused with Rawlings’s Christian Citizen USA: Scioto Citizen. Surely, if Hargis had lived into the age of the internet, he would have denounced bloggers just as he at the same time might have been prowling in chat rooms and on MySpace, preying sexually on teenagers when he was not praying with them. Billy James Hargis II inherited his father’s ministry, and carries it on, the way a son might any family business, a not uncommon inheritance among Republican Evangelical ministries and Mafia families.

The Axe

“I predict the axe will sooner or later fall on the fear mongering bloggers,” Rawlings wrote in the May Christian Citizen USA/ Scioto Citizen. “I pray that it will be sooner.” This is not idle axe talk. This is prayerful axe talk. When they are not fantasizing about falafel, religious fanatics fantasize about chopping off the heads of the enemies of God. Beheading is the Muslim fundamentalists’ favorite way of killing infidels, as opposed to the Christians’ burning heretics at the stake. Axing infidels has been going on for a long time. The Taliban in the Middle East consider it such a holy obligation to behead God’s enemies that they will do it even if all they have at hand is a jackknife. In Portsmouth, evangelicals will have to settle for fantasies of cutting off the heads of evil bloggers.

I do not know whether the rumors of Rawling’s extramarital affairs are, to quote his curious phrase, “either partially or totally untrue.” I had not heard those rumors until John Welton mentioned them in his blog, but I have heard the rumors about the cash cow that Christ’s Community Church represents to Rawlings. The Christ’s Community property, owned by Rawlings is officially valued by the County Auditor at $2,348,330, making it a virtual den of equity. Of course, the $2.3 million price tag on the CCC building is chicken feed compared to the kind of real estate that convicted felon televangelist Jim Bakker accumulated. Just recently, I read that Bakker is at it again, with a new TV ministry, minus Tammy and the mascara, but with a new younger wife. He is asking for forgiveness for his sexual and financial misdeeds and praying for a fresh start in the highly competitive salvation business. I also read that James Dale Guckert, alias Jeff Gannon (see photo below), a right-wing blogger who was given passes to attend presidential press conferences, had recently resurfaced in Washington. He participated in National Prayer Day, with bowed head, representing the International Bible Reading Association. I don’t know if he’s bothering to ask for forgiveness. It was not the mainstream media, incidentally, but what Rawlings would consider “evil” “dirt-digging” bloggers who first discovered that in addition to being given access to White House press conferences in order to toss softball questions to the president and press secretary, Gannon was also a $200 an hour prostitute with his own call-boy website:

Evangelical Male Prostitute

It was also bloggers who recently outed Eric Linden, a Columbus, Ohio, native and an online pornographer who used to strut his stuff on a now deep-sixed website called In a Garden of Eden scene (see below) from a video shown at the new $27 million dollar Creation Museum, in Petersburg, Kentucky, Linden played the part of Adam. A report on the front page of the June Christian Citizen USA/Scioto Citizen had the following ironic headline: “Creation Museum Opening Bigger than Organizers Expected.” Given Linden’s pornographic experience, and the proclivities of some evangelicals, can we be sure no pun was intended?

Adam: Acrobat in Bedroom?

Is Linden evil? Is Gannon evil? Is Haggard evil? Is Mark Foley evil? Is O’Reilly evil? Was Hargis evil? Apparently not by Rawlings double-standard, according to which to even begin to qualify as evil you must be a liberal. The old adage about an evangelical being born every minute needs to be updated: there’s an evangelical born every second.

Like the window of the empty Marting department store, Rawlings latches on to every worthy cause he can find, from vandalized graveyards to the war on drugs. The June Christian Citizen USA/Scioto Citizen focuses on the drug war and includes a photo of Chief of Police Horner. I suggest that any sincere war on drugs in Portsmouth should begin with a public apology from Chief Horner and his son for his son’s drug activities in Portsmouth. What Chief Horner has done instead of apologizing is claim that bloggers have crucified his family by making public not only that his son was convicted for drug activities but that he also has had his conviction expunged from public records. For revelations such as these, which would otherwise be unreported, and for seeking the recall of elected or appointed officials, Horner has condemned bloggers and political activists as “domestic terrorists.” What does Horner or Rawlings have to say about a Portsmouth City Councilman renting the automobile that a young female addict in his employ was arrested in for transporting drugs from Columbus to Portsmouth? So far the city government has been much better at waging war on its critics than on drugs.

The Christian Citizen USA/Scioto Citizen advertises that “Christ’s Community Church exists to Evangelize the Lost, Edify the Saved, Minister to the Needy, and be a Conscience in the Community.” I say that Christ’s Community Church exists to Provide a Comfortable Living for the Rawlings Family, to Support the Right-wing of the Ohio Republican Party, to Brainwash the Ignorant and the Na├»ve of Southern Ohio, and to Fearmonger about Devils, Death and Damnation. The Christian Citizen USA/ Scioto Citizen sends unsolicited copies through the U.S. Mail to people who never asked for it but who do wonder who is financing this operation. I am one of the growing number of people on their mailing list. I do not send River Vices to anyone; it is there on the internet for those who want to take the trouble to find it. If you have read this far it is because you are a free citizen in a country and in a county where hypocritical religious fanatics and corrupt politicians don’t yet determine what you can read and write on the internet. Don’t take that freedom for granted. Beware of the evangelicals of the type that Rawlings represents. Imagine living in country where the only news you got was from publications like the Christian Citizen USA/Scioto Citizen. Lord help us!