Religious Coercion in the Time of Plague and Famine

Apparently some things never change.

Evangelicals in 1847

BLACK ’47 – Soup Tent from Sheila Moylette on Vimeo.

Evangelicals in 2020

On Tuesday morning, a makeshift tent hospital in Central Park will begin treating overflow patients from Mount Sinai, as the spread of COVID-19 begins to overwhelm local hospitals. Announcing the 68-bed respiratory unit this weekend, Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse, responsible for funding and erecting the facility.

The mayor did not mention that the group is led by Franklin Graham, a notorious anti-LGBTQ and Islamophobic preacher with a track record of using humanitarian missions to proselytize an evangelical agenda.

Graham, the son of prominent minister Billy Graham, has specifically sought to recruit Christian medical staff to the Central Park facility. According to the group’s website, all volunteers, including health care workers, should read and adhere to a statement of faith, in which marriage is defined as “exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female” and the unrighteous are sentenced to “everlasting punishment in hell.”

11 thoughts on “Religious Coercion in the Time of Plague and Famine”

  1. King Billie’s progeny of Good Ole Boys, rednecks, clay-eaters, Birchers, rednecks and white trash are also not fond of yids, papists, bog-trotting Irish, injuns, women’s libbers, polacks, pakis, commies, chinks, greasers, russkies, krauts, frenchies, wops, niggers, a-rabs and heathens of all sorts. As well as the faggots and mooslims.

    Very inclusive are this lot.

  2. Lollard heretic!

    As Roger Dymock put it in his “Against the Twelve Heresies” as presented in 1396 to the English Parliament of Richard II and posted at St. Paul’s Cross.

    “That the sacrament of bread induces all men but a few to idolatry, for they ween that Christ’s body, that never shall out of heaven, by virtue of the priest’s word should be essentially enclosed in a little bread, that they show to the people.”

    1. I suppose I’m still a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church In America. It’s pretty much the same as Catholicism.

      “Lutherans believe that Jesus Christ is truly present in the meal we call Holy Communion, among other names”

      “The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is a term used in Christian theology to express the doctrine that Jesus is really or substantially present in the Eucharist, not merely symbolically or metaphorically.”

      Some people of course are allergic to the body of Christ.

      “As with the distribution of bread, it is important that those who have allergies to wheat receive wine from a chalice or glass that would not have come into contact with bread containing gluten.”

      So I’m guessing that Jack Chick would consider me a heretic. Ha. His followers still give me their pamphlets when I ask for them.

    2. I remember my parents talking about how the Troubles in Ireland were about crazy Catholics hating on crazy Protestants. It never quite occurred to either my mother (baptized as a Presbyterian) or my father (Baptized as a Catholic) why the distinction was completely meaningless in New Jersey (which was completely secular even before the First Amendment).

      Personally I think Cuomo or De Blasio should close down Franklin Graham’s tent city. The obligation to sign an oath of discrimination against gay volunteers isn’t the only reason. Religious fundamentalists of both the Christian and Jewish variety have reacted very badly to this crisis.

  3. A lot of blood has been shed across history over the nature of the Eucharist. For Catholics, the unleavened bread and wine undergo ‘transubstantiation’ through the agency of a consecrated priest who by definition can perform this miracle because he is a god. Really.

    As Tom Lehrer put it so well in The Vatican Rag:

    Get in line in that processional,
    Step into that small confessional.
    There the guy who’s got religion’ll
    Tell you if your sin’s original.
    If it is, try playin’ it safer,
    Drink the wine and chew the wafer,
    Two, four, six, eight,
    Time to transubstantiate!

    Wycliffe and the Lollards were the first organized resistance to the Catholic orthodoxy. They believed in consubstantiation. Which is that the bread and wine remained physical bread and wine but ALSO at the same time became the blood and body of Christ. This latter is The Real Presence. So, various faiths are sortta defined as being such as that which confirms in one manner or another the the Real Presence during the act of the Eucharist.

    The later High Anglican Oxford Movement favoured a consubstantiation position. Which is kinda like one time Stalinist reverting to syndicalism.

    The Lutheran twist on this is called ‘sacramental union’ in which the bread and wine become dialectically fused with the blood and body of Christ. So, with Catholics the physical bread and wine disappear and only the blood and body remain. The Lollards see both the physical bread and wine present independently alongside the blood and the body. Parallel and independent presence. The Lutherans see the physical bread and wine present but not independent unified or syncretic with blood and the body.

    Then there is also about ever other position on this question you could imagine taken by some party many of which totally reject the Real Presence at all. And they all like fighting about it.

    Especially in Ireland. My ancestors hail in part from County Fermanagh.

    Thankfully, it’s so much simpler just being a revolutionary socialist.

    1. I was confirmed sometime in the late 1979s and remember my first communion. I don’t remember feeling anything other than “wow I get to drink actual wine and I’m not 18 yet.”

      There are actually two Lutheran denominations in the USA. There’s the Evangelical Lutheran Church *In* America (Kind of like the “King in Prussia”) which is a liberal, suburban, mainline denomination a lot like the Episcopalians but not quite so classy. Then there’s the Missouri Synod, which is more of a low church fundamentalist denomination. I’m guessing they have a subtle distinction as far as communion goes but I haven’t looked into it.

      I think if I had been a Catholic in Ireland in 1847 I would have probably resisted the evangelicals bribe of soup for my soul. At that point it became about more than religion. It became about resisting genocide.

      Same with Judaism. I think if I had been a Jew in Poland in 1944, I would have suddenly gotten very religious. I can actually understand why IF Stone was originally a Zionist in 1945, although, to his credit, he saw what was going on with the Palestinians in the 1950s and was one of the first to write about it and eventually became ostracized from the right wing Jewish establishment.

      Religion is never only about religion. I mean if Phil Murphy suddenly said “it’s illegal to be a Lutheran in New Jersey,” I’d probably start going to church again.

      I sometimes wonder about the economic causes behind the Byzantine Iconoclast vs. Iconophile conflict. I’d guess the Empire had to smash icons in Constantinople to appease the peasantry in Eastern Anatolia, who might have otherwise become Muslims. It’s a shame though. They destroyed a lot of great art. The best collection of Byzantine art is still in Ravenna, which the mobs couldn’t get at.

    2. Thankfully, it’s so much simpler just being a revolutionary socialist.

      It wasn’t enough in Russia during WWII. At some point it became about saving Orthodox, Slavic culture against German paganism.

      “The Great Patriotic War” not the “Great War for World Revolution.”

      Hitler and Mussolini were certainly secular figures (unlike Franco) but I think Hitler’s idea of a heretical, fascist state Christian Church has found it’s historical heir in American Evangelical Protestantism.

      The Evangelical support of Trump makes me sad.

  4. Julius Caesar was the ‘Flamen Dialis’ of Rome this being a high priest of the old official religion of Rome. This has to be the goofiest Monte Python belief system ever. It’s hard to believe any people would knuckle under to this craziness.

    Yet they do. There’s nothing you can think of that hasn’t been expressed as a religion. How about those Wends eh? And And the Nova Scotia aboriginals with their Glooscap head honcho? What did the Giants of Yore believe in? Maybe somebody, somewhere has made up a giant chart of all the ever known religions or belief systems and their principal features.

    Seeing that people will believe in absolutely anything while (of course) honouring little of it in practice confirms that it’s all pig swill. It’s whatever bloviate the hi heid yins of the day rumble up to keep the hoi polloi in line.

    Here endeth the lesson.

    1. It’s amazing what you can get people to believe when you have 30 or 40 Roman legions at your disposal.

      One of the scariest things I saw as a kid was John Hurt’s performance as a mad Roman Emperor who thought he was a god.

      He got just about everything about the idea of an asshole Old Testament God right. You never knew what he was going to do, what was going to make him mad, or when he was going to kill someone just because.

  5. Back when Rome was about like the US in 1860 the greatest award a successful general could earn was a Triumph. A humongous parade with all the bells and whistles. In that, the Big General rode around in a chariot with laurels on. BUT, beside him stood a slave. And that slave repeated “Remember thou are only a man”. This lasted until Augustus and then excepting Marcus Aurelius, the emperors tended to be god psychos who felt they had license to crucify anybody they didn’t like.

    Henry VIII was an anointed king. That is directly God approved. On that basis he gave the Pope the boot and got to chase Anne Boleyn and later chop her head off. And ground everyone else down.

    At one step removed we have various groups of folks who claim they are the specially favoured people of some deity. God’s favourites, the Master Race, the Chosen People. Such accord themselves a lot of prerogatives which generally includes immiserating all the non-special helots and killing them off at will. Among these are to be included the Lutherans. Who hold that some are born to go to heaven and all the rest to the other place.

    At another step removed we have the capitalist class. The owners of all. The god of natural selection has made them the Big Kahunas. Over the rest of us plebs.

    Whatever. It’s always some racket. And Jamie Diamond is scarier than John Hurt.

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