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A Lutheran response to birthers

I received a comment at Birther Report from a “Guest” who said:

Guest: as a Lutheran, you are bearing false witness. You are complicit in Obama’s forgery as you are guilty of original sin. Since you claim you’re religion, then the same condemns you, as your ELCA also allows homosexuality. What does GOD say about homosexuality? What does GOD say about bearing false witness. Laugh now Dr Con, you’ll be with the goats soon, and whenever you look into the mirror you’ll know that your words have convicted you for eternity.

I replied at length, and not wanting to waste the effort just on a comment at Birther Report that will be lost among other old comments soon enough, I’ll repeat it here. The material is not very different from my Open Letter to Nathan Bickel, linked later on.


Dr. Conspiracy: On the contrary. It is partly because of my religion that I spend so much time telling the truth here and on my blog. My personal take on birtherism is informed in particular by my Lutheran background. This is from Martin Luther’s Small Catechism’s teaching on the Ten Commandments:

The Eighth Commandment

You must not tell lies about your neighbor. (Exodus 20:16 )
What does this mean? We must fear and love God, so that we will not deceive by lying, betraying, slandering or ruining our neighbor’s reputation, but will defend him, say good things about him, and see the best side of everything he does.

I think any objective observer would say that [Birther Report] exists, both in content and comments, to say bad things about and to present in the worst possible light everything that Barack Obama does and by extension to me, the “Obots” and progressives in general. There is a difference between fair criticism and slander. I strive for the former and this site presents the latter.

As scripture says:

So put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander.
(RSV) 1 Peter 2:1

I do not hold myself up as without sin. I lose my temper and I say harsh things. But I also take considerable care not to stretch the truth when I criticize, and I try not to make sweeping generalizations in my articles. I try not to call people a liar when there is some other possible explanation. Obviously when you visit my site you cannot read all of the things I chose not to say, but there is a lot of it. I have refrained from calling all birthers racists. I have tried to couch birther actions in terms of the normal error of thinking common to everybody, except perhaps more exaggerated in their case. I don’t call birthers barking mad as often as I think it.

I care about moderation and fairness, and I work at it. I don’t always succeed, but I am trying. When I fail, I feel bad about it. I have a conscience.

God, according to Moses in the Bible, says the same thing about homosexuality as about eating shrimp. “Abomination” is the word. St. Paul says the same thing about homosexuality as about a man with long hair. “Degrading” is the word. That is a longer topic than I can cover here. The Lutheran Church, not without considerable controversy, no longer requires our clergy who are gay to be celibate. Our understanding of homosexuality has advanced, as has our understanding of shellfish. hair styles, slavery, the value of Pi and other things in the Bible. And despite the irresponsible remarks made [at Birther Report], I am neither a Communist, nor gay.

But don’t try to tag me with “false witness.” It doesn’t fit.

For more on this, see my Open Letter to Nathan Bickel, a Lutheran Pastor (not ELCA).

Somebody could go over my 3,600 articles and pick out the worst and most extreme examples out of everything I’ve said, pile it up ignoring every moderate thing I’ve ever said, and call me a hypocrite. This is exactly what the 8th Commandment prohibits, putting someone in the worst possible light.

18

The war on Islam

This title was carefully selected and I hope readers will get the point from what follows.

Barack Obama didn’t release his birth certificate in 2008 to prove he was not born in Kenya; he released it to counter the equally silly claim that his middle name was Mohammed amid stories that he was Muslim. Since that time and up to the present video from Wayne Allyn Root, the claim has been leveled against Barack Obama that he is Muslim and not Christian.

While Obama doesn’t wear his religion on his sleeve, it’s no secret that he attended a Christian church. At an Easter prayer breakfast in 2011 [link to entire remarks]:

I wanted to host this breakfast for a simple reason — because as busy as we are, as many tasks as pile up, during this season, we are reminded that there’s something about the resurrection — something about the resurrection of our savior, Jesus Christ, that puts everything else in perspective

I know about the text because it was quoted by Evangelical Lutheran Church in America presiding bishop Mark Hanson. That, and what accompanied it, did not sound like it came from a Muslim. To Muslims, Jesus was a prophet, not divine. Continue Reading →