Is Christian Nationalism Un-American?

“The Creation of Adam,” by Michelangelo, 1512.

I’ve heard it so many times I’ve almost come to believe it myself. “America was founded as a Christian nation,” the saying goes. Or something more like, “America was founded on Judeo-Christian values.”

It’s repeated constantly by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, certain FOX News hosts and countless right-wing evangelical Christian pastors, reverberating across the purple mountains and fruited plains of Rubeville, USA, like Joshua blowing his horn at Jericho, shortly before he and his decrepit band of desert marauders razed the city and murdered everybody in it.

Here in our own little corner of Rubeville, Kris Vallotton, the megachurch Bethel’s resident prophet and social media troll, has informed his hundreds of thousands of Facebook followers that “the separation of church and state isn’t in the Constitution. It doesn’t exist in America.”

He’s half-right and all wrong. The separation of church and state is enshrined in the Bill of Rights, the living document the founding fathers created to make amendments to the Constitution in 1791. Separation of church and state and freedom of speech was so important to them, both are included in the very First Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Last time I checked, the First Amendment still exists in America.

Regardless, Vallotton and his acolytes believe they can convert anyone to their point of view simply by laying hands on them. Judging from the results of the vigorous massage newly elected 1st District State Senator Brian Dahle received from Vallotton’s nimble fingers on the campaign trail, it might even be true!

“I did not win this race. God won this race,” Dahle claimed last Thursday at a Christian-slanted Faith and Values Town Hall co-hosted by Bethel elder and Redding Mayor Julie Winter. “If I wasn’t supposed to be in the Senate, I wouldn’t be in the Senate.”

Good grief.

As I recently observed, Bethel’s considerable financial success has given the charismatic megachurch the power to exercise its Seven Mountain Mandate, dominionist theology that literally commands its believers to seize control of the “mountains” of government, education, family, business, entertainment, media and religion.

In the face of this onslaught, the wall of separation between church and state imagined by Thomas Jefferson performs more like a picket fence in Shasta County, as Bethel muscles and oozes its way through the slats into our government, educational system and personal lives.

It’s of absolutely no consolation, but we are not alone. Across red state rural America, conservative evangelicals who share the same dominionist theology insist this country was founded as a Christian nation, that our laws are based on Judeo-Christian principals.

You can’t tell them anything different.

But for those who wish to discover if these beliefs are in fact true, help is now available.

Constitutional lawyer Andrew L. Seidel calls conservative evangelicals who share these believes “Christian nationalists” in his recently released book, “The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American,” (Sterling, New York, $9.89 on Amazon Kindle).

Fortunately for secular-minded citizens, the beliefs shared by Christian nationalists aren’t facts, they’re fictions; powerful myths that evaporate upon historical investigation, in Seidel’s informed interpretation.

Seidel serves as lead attorney for the Freedom of Religion Foundation, the Madison, Wisconsin-based nonprofit dedicated to protecting the First Amendment. He has has written an unabashed, bare-knuckles polemic that pulls absolutely no punches as he pounds away at the “founding myth,” focusing specifically on what turns out to be the totally fallacious claim that the founding fathers created this nation using Judaeo-Christian values.

Last week’s column dealt with fake science. This week the subject is fake history.

“Christian nationalists are historical revisionists bent on ‘restoring’ America to the Judeo-Christian principles on which they wish it was founded,” Seidel explains. “They believe that secular America is a myth, and under the guise of restoration they seek to press religion into every crevice of the government.”

Sound familiar? As I said in the beginning, I’ve heard “this country was founded on Judaeo-Christian principles” so many times, I’ve sometimes called myself a Christian, even though I have absolutely no religious background in my upbringing. After reading “The Founding Myth,” I’ll never make that mistake again.

According to Seidel, Christian nationalists, once consigned to the fringes, have found their champion in President Donald Trump. He’s their sinful messiah, their King Cyrus, the thrice-married porn-star fornicator who never met a business opportunity he couldn’t drive into bankruptcy.

Trump has rewarded their unconditional fealty by placing Christian zealots such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in high-level cabinet positions and appointing—for life—a slew of federal judges who share the same beliefs, including two Supreme Court picks.

Seidel attributes his polemical style to the sense of urgency he feels at this sudden turn of events. Citing an extensive study on the electorate, he writes:

“The single most accurate predictor of whether a person voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election was not religion, wealth, education, or even political party; it was believing the United States is and should be a Christian nation.”

Someone once said, when fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag carrying a cross. They were right. Photo courtesy of WhiteHouse.gov.

From the book’s beginning, Seidel goes on the attack. He proves to be an adept knockout artist, a self-proclaimed atheist deeply familiar with the historical subject material who has successfully argued First Amendment cases before the Supreme Court. He makes short work of the numerous “anemic talking points” broadcast on right-wing talk radio on a daily basis.

Those four quasi-religious references in the Declaration of Independence? Three out of four of them were “strategic piety” added after the first draft by the mostly Deist founders to convince pious King George III to grant independence to the colonies.

As for the word “Creator,” which was in Jefferson’s original draft, he could have written “Jesus Christ” or “the Lord Almighty,” but deliberately chose not to, because he was Deist.

Christian nationalists are fond of claiming the Pilgrims came to America seeking religious freedom. Wrong again. “The Mayflower settlers were looking for a place to practice their religion and force others to practice it too.”

That would be the opposite of religious freedom.

Presidents say “so help me God” when they take the oath of office, so we must be a Christian nation, right? Wrong. The phrase wasn’t in George Washington’s original oath, and was only added later when presidents felt it necessary to pander to the Christian vote.

Much of what we know about Washington is myth, based on a popular history written shortly after his death, Seidel observes. No, Washington never chopped down that cherry tree, and no, there’s no historical account that he knelt in prayer before battle at Valley Forge.

In fact, Washington was extremely reserved when it came to such personal religious displays. The fervent Christian “historian” projected his own beliefs onto Washington.

“This facile, reflected glory is why the fraudulent [Valley Forge] scene hangs in the Capitol prayer room, why Reagan gushed over a lie, and why all a politician needs to do is claim to be a prayerful Christian and he is suddenly Washington’s equal,” Seidel maintains.

Engraving depicting fictitious scene of George Washington praying at Valley Forge. By John C. McRae, 1866. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Seidel spends the first quarter of the book interrogating scholarship on the writings of founders Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, John Madison, Washington and Jefferson.

While some of the founders were nominally Christian, most of them were children of the Enlightenment, a period when Western civilization was emerging from centuries of bloody religious wars. They purposely made no mention of God in the Constitution, other than the prohibition against religious tests for federal office, because they were charting a new course: for the first time in history, there would be a self-governed nation with no religious authority ruling above it.

“This book is an assault,” Seidler warns, “but it’s also a defense, a defense of that quintessentially American invention, the ‘wall of separation between church and state.’”

Seidler’s assault intensifies in the book’s midsection, which features titles such as United States v. The Bible and The Constitution v. The Ten Commandments. He searches for the Judaeo-Christian influence on the country’s founding documents and finds it lacking as he hammers away at both the Old Testament and the New Testament, bobbing and weaving with a masterful knowledge of biblical verse and moral philosophy.

Christians who point to the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” as a founding principle will be disappointed to learn that it’s a universal moral principle that exists across all cultures and predates Christianity by thousands of years.

Neither does the Bible have anything to say about the founding American principle of personal freedom, in Seidler’s view.

“The founding documents of the United States revere and protect freedom above all else,” he claims. “The bible worships and demands the opposite: obedience, submission and servility. And it secures that obedience through fear. Fear and obey god. The principles of the two traditions diverge.”

Even the term Judaeo-Christian is a misnomer, a phrase concocted in the 1950s to promote Christian religious belief over communism during the Cold War without offending Jewish survivors of the Holocaust.

While the vast majority of Jews sees religious matters quite differently than Christian nationalists—for starters, Jews don’t believe in Jesus or the New Testament—Seidler notes that Jesus was quite clear when he said the old laws, meaning the Old Testament, still applied, despite the Messiah’s miraculous presence on planet earth.

Why do Christian nationalists claim the country was founded on the 10 Commandments? Blame Jesus, who does not escape multiple lashings from Seidler.

From the very first commandment, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me,”—a gross violation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause—Seidler demolishes any notion that the United States was founded on the 10 Commandments.

Along the way, he confirms my recent critical reading of the Old Testament (King James Version), from Genesis to Malachi, which I found more akin to a death cult genocide manual than a collection of sound moral guidelines.

“Thou shalt not kill” and all the other commandments only apply intermittently to the Israelites as they wander about the desert slaughtering everyone else in sight; men, women and children, to appease the vengeful Yahweh.

“The in-group interpretation of these commandments makes even more sense given the events that follow the covenant,” Seidler writes. “Shortly after receiving the commandments, the Israelites go on a killing spree. According to the bible, they commit genocide after genocide—more than seventy all told.”

What does all of this this have to do with the Constitution? If you guessed absolutely nothing, you’re correct.

Newly elected State Senator Brian Dahle praying at the capitol with like-minded Christian nationalists last December. From Twitter.

After dispatching the 10 Commandments, Seidler acknowledges that Christian politicians and activists have nevertheless sought to squeeze them into the Constitution since the founding and continue to do so to this day, with a disturbing degree of success.

“In God We Trust” began appearing on American coinage in 1863, and on paper currency and stamps in the 1950s. Also during the 1950s, at the onset of the Cold War, Congress established the National Day of Prayer, the National Prayer Breakfast and the prayer room in the U.S. Capitol featuring the stained glass depiction of Washington kneeling at Valley Forge, an event that never happened. It also added the phrase “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance.

Seidler considers these and many other instances listed in the book, including ongoing Christian nationalist efforts to ban abortion access and limit LGBTQ rights, to be violations of the First Amendment establishment clause. They function “like a ratchet or a noose, with each violation tightening its hold and making it more difficult to undo.” They are then “used to justify other violations, and the tightening continues apace.”

Seidler ultimately concludes that not only was America not founded on Judaeo-Christian principles, but that such principles are profoundly un-American. He essentially charges Christian nationalists with hijacking the Enlightenment.

“[Christian nationalism] seeks to co-opt undeserved greatness, accolades, and credit,” Seidel writes, saving his hardest-hitting punches for the last round. “It claims a nation dedicated to the freedom of and freedom from religion, for one particular religion. It insists that a nation with a godless Constitution is dedicated to one particular god.

“A religion that demands fearful, unwavering obedience takes credit for a rebellion and revolution in self-government,” he continues. “It declares that that revolution was the brainchild of a few Christians rather than a group of unorthodox thinkers testing Enlightenment principles.”

After reading that, I couldn’t help thinking about Bethel’s Kris Vallotton, who recently compared himself to Galileo after he allegedly got some mainstream media push-back for his completely unscientific claim that “a fetus is a baby.”

As usual, he’s got it bass akwards. He’s the inquisitor in this equation, not the founder of scientific observation.

Just as the Catholic Church imprisoned Galileo for observing the earth orbited the sun, contradicting the Church’s interpretation of various biblical passages, Vallotton and his fellow Christian nationalists seek to deny a women’s Constitutional right to an abortion, even in the case of rape and incest, based on an ancient text that has nothing to do with the founding of this country.

Yet here we are in northern California, where the Christian god just elected our next state senator. Our local Christian nationalists are promoting this heresy, and will no doubt find Seidel’s brutal, occasionally hilarious assault on their erroneous beliefs extremely offensive.

But for everyone else, particularly those concerned about this dismal state of affairs,“The Founding Myth” is the must-read book of the summer. It’s time to take the gloves off if we hope to save our country.

R.V. Scheide
R.V. Scheide has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years. He appreciates your comments and story ideas.
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180 Responses

  1. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    I thought America was founded by British subjects fleeing a country where they were subjected to a life of serfdom ruled over by Catholics. When Britain tried to force their control over the “colonies”, like in other countries they occupied, the future Americans revolted beginning with the tea thrown into the bay. And I do not remember reading anything about a God revolt.
    Good article RV.

    • Avatar Tim says:

      Actually, Catholics were discriminated against in England and many fled to America. The animosity went back to the split with the Church of England when the Pope refused to grant Henry VIII an annullment.

      As for the idea that America was *not* heavily influenced by Judeo-Christian values, that’s clearly revisionist history: Washington swore on his bible during his inauguration and only 1 president, Thomas Jefferson, was not Christian. All of the colonies had laws with overt religious references and the colonies early adoption of public education can be traced to Jewish law.

      Trivia: Christmas is one of the 4 original federal holidays (New Year’s Day, Independence Day, & Thanksgiving being the others).

      • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

        Tim, you’re confusing the cultural influence of Christianity with the actual founding of the United States government. Seidler acknowledges this cultural influence in the book.

        Washington did not say “So help me God” when he took the oath of office, there is no historical evidence for that, as Seidler points out.

        The fact that all of the colonies had religious based laws on their books, combined with the diversity of Christianity that developed in colonial America, is another reason the founders purposely erected the wall between church and state. After the Constitution was ratified, these religious based laws were gradually removed by the states.

        Trivia: Henry VIII split from the Catholic Church in 1533. Catholics couldn’t flee to America then because America didn’t exist. When the colonies began forming after 1620, Catholics began settling in Maryland, which still has a substantial Catholic population.

        More trivia: Jefferson was a Christian Deist, like many of the founders.

        • Avatar Tim says:

          Keep in mind that the 1st amendment, like the rest of the bill of rights, applied only to the Federal government. States and local governments could and did enact religious statutes. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maryland, & Georgia each passed laws taxing all citizens but allowing each to designate a church to receive his revenue. (Jefferson’s Virginia was the only state to ban such practices). It wasn’t until after the civil war that the bill of rights were applied to the states, though we still see remnants like Blue Laws today.

          Since Jefferson rejected the divinity of Jesus he was not a Christian. You’ll sometimes see memes with a quote saying he was, but the quote is usually truncated to the first 4 words:

          “I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he [Jesus] wished anyone to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; & believing he never claimed any other.”

          Catholics were discriminated against in England until the 1829 Roman Catholic Relief Act (which was enacted in response to French persecution of Catholics during the French Revolution). And don’t forget it was a Catholic who “discovered” the Americas in 1492.

          • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

            Tim, as you point out, state law is not federal law. Also before the Declaration, the colonies were ruled by George III who was both the King and the head of the Anglican church. As far as the founding of the United States government with its separation of church and state is concerned, nothing that occurred before the declaration matters. It was a whole new ball game, written by men who were nominally Christian who today would be called freethinkers.

        • Avatar Jeffrey P says:

          Being a staunch athiest, I watched and listened to many debates on whether our country is a “Christian Nation” or “Secular Nation”. My opinion is, our Nation is whatever the incumbents claim it is as they hold power for a minimum of four years (as president) and will pass laws that that support their agendas. It really seems that few politicians seem to care about our Bill of Rights and The Constitution and haven’t for some time. Great article, Sheide, as usual!

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Bruce, many English Catholics and Protestants fled England in the 1500s. Since America didn’t exist yet, they went to the Netherlands, which had a religion-based government but granted its citizens religious freedom to worship or not worship how they wished. The Pilgrims fled there first, and because they wanted their own Christian nation where they could force people to worship their god, they came to America in 1620. Many protestants from the Netherlands eventually settled in New Amsterdam, aka New York, and they brought their religious tolerance with them, which is one reason why New Amsterdam grew so fast.

  2. Avatar Hollyn Chase says:

    Excellent article RV. I have no problems with people of any faith until they want to impose their beliefs on me. Theocracy? No thank you.

  3. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    Thanks for this, R.V. I just bought the book.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Good for you! It’s an excellent book, with way more in it than I could present here!

  4. Avatar Jim Jones says:

    Wonderful article as usual RV and here in Redding there is a Saturday morning radio talk show on KQMS that espouse with vigor their pride in being “White or Christian Nationalist.” “Freedom in Action” Im curious what is the difference between “White or Christian Nationalism and why is the FBI so concerned ? And as I see Bethels influence on Christianity around the world especially Norway im shocked to say the least.. Again the reporting work you and others do on Bethel and the homeless issues here stand apart from other local news reporting agency’s here and are just fantastic…. https://tinyurl.com/y4y859c2

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      KQMS might as well be a white Christian nationalist front organization. Yes, Bethel is big in Norway. Go figure.

  5. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    OBVIOUSLY, none of these folks (Christian Nationalists) ever read any of Thomas Jefferson’s writings outside a perfunctory scan of the Constitution!

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Actually Adrienne, the fake Christian historian David Barton (frequent guest on Beck, Hannity, etc) wrote a book called “Jefferson Lies” that was supposed to prove Jefferson was a devout Christian. The publisher rejected it because it was rife with errors, but Beck published it for him and its a bestseller with the nationalists.

      • Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

        Sad, sad, sad . . . .
        or
        tsk, tsk, tsk . . . . that works too!

        • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

          If you’re interested you can join Beck, David Barton and and a host of fake historians on a Mediterranean cruise next spring called “Come Sail Away.”

  6. Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

    Many thanks to R.V. Scheide for calling our attention to an issue that should be of paramount importance to everyone. I also have no problem with whatever Bethel leaders and their adherents practice in the confines of their church, their homes, and in other appropriate PRIVATE venues to which they’ve been invited. However, by definition 7 Mountains Dominionism (a subject Bethel leaders have written books about, and are clearly using Redding as a test case to implement) is the complete religious take-over of government, education, business, the media, entertainment, the family, and other religions, with the goal of creating their version of an Old Testament-leaning theocracy.

    In the short video below Lance Wallnau (who has co-written books on world religious domination with Bethel Church leader Bill Johnson) describes “sneaking” into positions of power and control in government and everywhere else. Please take a few minutes to watch this video, and to read their list of (truly frightening) goals:

    https://thechurchoftruth.org/plan-for-christian-domination/

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Yes, Bethel is lying to the public about the 7 Mountain Mandate. I mean, geez, I’m listening to Julie Winter and Brian Dahle bullshit everybody right now!

  7. Avatar Joshua Brown says:

    Good article. RV Scheide!

  8. Avatar CHRISTIAN GARDINIER says:

    And here’s an interesting thought Although I’m not “religious” my spiritual side say’s there is good and evil, some might see as dudes like Jesus and the devil. Take Bethel leaders supporting a chaotic, lying, sexist, racist, greedy patriarchal, adulter, that taxes the poor and middle class to make the few (1%, like Bethel’s leaders…) that threatens the world with nuclear armageddon, while they support the political means (a lot of the current Republican Part) to keep this dude and the paradigm of a few over many in power, while calling Democrats, alt-sex folks, women rights advocates and Socialists, evil, doing the work of the devil…. and we got a real conundrum now don’t we! Why, are they in disguise, supporting the anti christ, his doings and his followers to really bring Heaven To Redding (well, the whole world actually…) in like a big-time-way? Or are they just greedy charlatans doing crafty circus acts, selling cult-of-personality sexist and divisive hocus-pocus to get tax-free rich, own lots of property and drive expensive cars, and getting away with it because the group mentality does give some folks a real sociological neurological biological rush? Armageddon or simple social – economic control and power? If you take door number one, cool, where’s the Kool-Aid Jim? If you take door number two, VOTE THEM OUT in 2020!

  9. Avatar Randy Compton says:

    Maybe we should define exactly what “Christian Values” really means and match those “Christian Values” up with the values we take from the words and life of Jesus Christ. Would Jesus Christ support the Doctrine of Discovery along with the centuries of pillage and genocide that “Christian” document allowed for and justified? How about marketing weapons of mass destruction as a means of building the economy of our “Christian Nation”? I think that before any public official gets to claim Christian Values as one of their personal credentials they first need to answer some questions in an open public forum.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Randy, it’s hard to square Jesus Christ’s endorsement of the Old Testament, which is a genocide manual and has been indeed used to justify war, slavery, rape, murder, etc. for 2000 years. I know he’s supposed to be the Prince of Peace, but this contradiction is hard for me to wrap my head around.

  10. Avatar Pedro says:

    Hi Folks, for those of you who didn’t attend the Faith and Values Town Hall, here’s a link to my audio recording of the meeting.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-B_lS78kQfgQkRBTUVCdnBxblVmbjFXWHBRdjN6UVltU09r/view?usp=drivesdk

    • Avatar Candace C says:

      Pedro, I just listened to the recording in its entirety. Nothing new to me regarding a Republican pro-life, anti-LGBTQ, Christian, Bible quoting, Trump supporting Senator singin’ to the choir of like minded, faith-based supporters in a Christian forum in a Christian church in Shasta County. That’s why I didn’t vote for Dahle. That and the fact that I’m very weary of people who say they love and respect (?) their LGBTQ family, friends, coworkers, etc. but that doesn’t mean they condone it. What kind of live is that? How can actively working to defeat laws that protect the LGBTQ community be considered loving or respectful to those people? Then again the “Family Values” discussion in this forum quite obviously translates to only one kind of traditional family. What bothered me the most was listening to our Mayor talk about how strongly she supports the separation of church and state ( with the slant towards government intruding in freedom of religion) and then proceeds to completely blur the lines between the two. Heck, she didn’t just blur the lines, she erased them completely. When I was done listening I felt the need to talk to an actual loving family member, the kind that wants people of all persuasions to be accepted and protected by by laws that protect basic human rights and dignity.

      • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

        I listened too, and I’m tired of these holy rollers, and Dahle is a holy roller, spurting their “love” all over everybody.

  11. Avatar Pedro says:

    After the meeting I felt like I needed to wash my ears out with some Wendell Berry poetry and the sermon on the mount.

  12. Avatar Carla DeLauder says:

    There are so many fun and interesting things to write about relevant to Northern California. But the predominant focus and tone of this website is anti-Christian. It’s not just anti-Bethel.

    Of course, you’ll disagree.

    And that’s why you tend to only hear from the same small group of like-minded people, again and again. I find A News Cafe to be very confusing. It’s not really about local news, aside from police blotter posts that I find to be out of place and distracting. It’s about stirring controversy that’s entirely focused on promoting intellectual superiority.

    Debate, good discussions, I appreciate all of that. But one of the reasons I stopped writing content here is this website’s private club mentality and lack of focus and vision. I dared to post a comment about this before and received some anonymous threats, so I left.

    One publication that’s really caught my attention lately is the Irish Times. They have some of the most delightful and charming stories, and excellent investigative journalism with a strong, relatable human interest slant.

    Here, I feel like it’s more about a public blog with one ideology and a tiny smattering of fans that pat each other on the back in the comments. It could be so much more, but instead the tone is tight and constrictive and the discourse pre-programmed and agenda driven.

    It’s a shame, really, because I think people are hungry for a fun, vibrant literary journal that’s not so much about local news and controversy, but local color, good story telling, adventure and community.

    I won’t be back to read the responses, and I’m sure this will be deleted, as it probably should. :o)

    But the potential for this website, you haven’t reached it yet, Doni. There’s something more waiting for you. I see it so clearly. But with R.V. as your website’s dominant voice of the masses, you’re stuck in a rut.

    And that’s a shame. I love his writing, but as it stands his stories overpower and distract and turn this entire website into something I find to be disappointing.

    • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

      Doni and ANC writers like R.V. Scheide deserve a great deal of credit for their courage in writing and publishing articles on serious issues that have a tremendous impact on the community, and that no other local news source will touch. ANC has become the watchdog of the community, and for that I am truly grateful.

      As to the accusation that comments appear to be one-sided – I believe that readers of this site tend to be educated and informed as a rule, which may account for the predominance of certain perspectives.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Carla, I write one column a week, at the most. That leaves six more days, and anyone can write for us, even you. I’m not anti-Christian. I’m anti-right-wing evangelical and pro separation of church and state. The only reason I write about Bethel is that they are pushing the boundary between church and state, this is a fact, if you’re not aware of that, well, all I can say is read my stories, because I’m not making this shit up. Also, your passive aggressive “I love his writing” but “his stories overpower and distract” is disingenuous. Let the hate flow, girl!

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      Thank you Carla…you nailed it

  13. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    Carla obviously hasn’t been on ANews lately if she thinks her comment would be deleted. As far as opposing the private mentality club on Anews a few do but I am the only one who writes opposing LTTEs as a lot of commenters seem too lazy, or like Carla, afraid of having their egos hurt. I have a connection to northern California in family and friends still there including a brother-in-law who survived the “Drink the Kool Aid Cult”. I take the hits and am not offended when, darn her Patricia occasionally wins one, wish she would become one of those respected writers she talks about.
    I am not taking my basketball home because others on here disagree with me, I am here for the long run.

  14. Avatar Bob says:

    It is easy (but unfair) to look at some of the most visible churches in a community and assume they some how represent the Christian church, or even all the churches within a given community. They don’t.

    Churches can be divided into groups in many ways. One way is to weigh just how much ambiguity a given church can tolerate. Churches that think all Christian doctrine is clear, obvious, and inerrant not only take the mystery out of Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and call to discipleship–they also fall into the practice of self idolatry. They worship not the God they say they do so much as the structure and doctrine they themselves have created.

    Spiritually insecure Christians need reassurance constantly that they have all the right answers, right rituals, right church. Too many also need to know they have voted for and support the right candidates. In order to stabilize from their insecurity immature Christians often ordain their political candidates as “God’s choice.” Some have even said our President is God’s choice, the man who mocks the disabled, pays off porn stars, has been married three times (and cheated on each of his wives), and lies and attempts to deceive on a daily basis.

    Christian insecurity is the reason President Trump’s “base” is so solid. Once an insecure Christian ordains a candidate as God’s choice, it is a very difficult thing to admit one was wrong on such an important spiritual issue as assuming they can read the mind of God.

    The Christian church loses its identity when it aligns itself with a particular candidate, political party, or social philosophy. When we do this we are always in constant danger of becoming another Iran, where the supreme leader is said to be “God’s choice.”

    This current article does indeed address some parts of these issues. However, it is indeed unfortunate that our NewsCafe devotes so much space to one church, when we live in a community with a great many churches doing hundreds of positive things serving people and working to make this a better community, without trying to “take it over”, push their own agenda, or dominate the spiritual discussion a healthy community requires. Any journalist who wishes to report on the workings of the Christian church in our community needs to obtain a broader perspective.

    • Avatar Jim Jones says:

      Gold dust and bird feathers falling from ceiling? Diamonds magically appearing ? Fire tunnels? False prophesying? Selling gifts of the Holy Spirit?

      Bethel Redding is one of three major centers promoting this kind of “Christianity”, and believers as well as non believers alike have every right to hold them accountable and demand transparency since this this is a strange and unorthodox brand of Christianity to say the least.

      The sad part is Redding mayor Julie Winter is a Bethel church board member and believer in these manifestations of gold dust magically appearing as well as feathers falling from the ceiling that senior pastor Bill Johnson justifies with the bible passage that “God will cover you with his wings.”

      Apparently God is molting… https://tinyurl.com/y4u7o9wv

      Some folks here offended by RV’s light shining?

      “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Bob, I agree with your observation that right-wing evangelical Christians, a category that includes Bethel, are insecure. But this notion that I or A News Cafe must report on the good things Christian churches do is in error. I write about Bethel and right-wing evangelicals for one reason, that you apparently agree with: They are attempting to remake the government in their god’s name. You know who should really be standing up to Bethel? All these other Christians doing good things you’re talking about. I haven’t heard one faith leader in this county stand up to them.

      • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

        RV, Mitt Romney, who I wrote in while you voted for Trump, has always stood up to Trump.

      • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

        In my high school journalism class, the teacher posed the question, “Why do newspapers not use the same amount of ink in the obituaries of “ordinary” people’s deaths as is used for well known people?” Of course, the reaction of the teens was indignation that ordinary folk were slighted by the press. The teacher let us rant for a while at this injustice then quietly said, “Ordinary people aren’t news.”

        Same is true about the good works of local churches and community organizations. The members and volunteers do what they feel is needed. The end result makes a difference in the lives of many; however the “doing” isn’t news.

  15. Avatar Elizabeth Andrade says:

    I agree with Carla in the tone of Anewscafe. R.V. seems little more than a one trick pony railing against primarily, Christianity. Who thought it was o.k. to threaten Carla? Bruce, that is a bit more than “getting one’s feelings hurt”. So why did you choose to selectively ignore that? Doni, clearly you had some negative experiences with Bethel when you were growing up but why continuously attack Christianity with your proxy voice R.V.? I see no negative research and commentary on any other religions- Muslim, Judaism, to name two major ones with alot of influence in our country.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Elizabeth, your claim that Doni had a bad experience with Bethel and uses me as her proxy is, frankly, insulting. When our local Jews, Muslims, Sikhs or any other Christian church starts crossing the line between church and state, I’ll be writing about them. I’m not a religion reporter, I write about a lot of different subjects, most of my stories start a good conversation, so I’m no one trick pony. You sound like one of those Christians who thinks there’s a war on Christianity, when in fact it’s the right-wing evangelicals who declared war on the rest of us.

      • Avatar Tim says:

        So there is no push to force the religious to make artistic works celebrating acts the find sinful?

        So there is no push to forcefully vaccinate those who object on religious grounds?

        So there is no push to fire people from government jobs if they extol Leviticus from their Sunday pulpit?

        • Avatar Larry Winter says:

          Do businesses get to decide what is sinful and what isn’t? Let’s take wedding cake “artists” for example. Do they ask if the work of art they are creating is for a second marriage? That’s a sin. Did they have children out of wedlock? That’s a sin. A believer marrying a non-believer? That’s a sin.

          If they ask all of these questions before putting their god created artistic talents to work, then I would say they are being consistent with their religious beliefs but if they only single out one form of sin and not other forms, then it’s discrimination based on more than just religious beliefs and there should be push back.

          • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

            The cake baker in Colorado was found, by the courts, to not have discriminated against gays. He would bake a cake for anyone but when they started telling him how to design the cake he objected.
            To the ordinary person cake artists may be a figment of their imagination but cake artists are artists are artists. There are several cake designing contests and one of the most popular classes at Hobby Lobby is cake design.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            Why shouldn’t each man be able to decide for himself what constitutes sin – or which sins you’ll tolerate in others?

          • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

            Tim,

            Why should unsuspecting people innocently walk into a business and be humiliated – very possibly in front of other customers? If business owners who claim to serve the general public don’t want to serve certain segments of it, shouldn’t they be made to place a prominent sign on their businesses informing the public of that fact?

            Of course they won’t be honest in this regard because they know they would also lose the business of prospective customers who aren’t among those groups.

          • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

            Bruce,

            I can find no evidence to support your claim. Wasn’t it just the fact that a cake for a gay wedding would of necessity look different than one for a “straight” wedding?

          • Avatar Larry Winter says:

            Tim, good question. Ask your nearest religious person for that answer. In fact, maybe you could define sin for me since growing up a Catholic, we had different levels of sin. Mortal sin, venial sin, you get the picture. The real question here is what is a society to do when somebody’s freedom to believe a non verifiable fact (sin is a fact for these people) encroaches on another’s freedom to engage in commerce as everybody else can?

          • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

            Patricia, I first read the cake decision on KUSA, but after you asked I found it was also in the NY Times and Washington Post. It was the narrowest of decisions but it said the baker wasn’t discriminating. Of course you will read it different and that is your right.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            Patricia & Larry,
            The court cases I have seen involved bakeries which served the LGBTQ community standard items, but refused to make custom ones. In one case the customers wanted to replace the bride and groom topper with a same sex couple. In another, a transgender person wanted a cake that was blue on the inside and pink on the outside to celebrate their transition.
            As for the humiliation aspect, people with controversial requests who wish to avoid a public rejection should probably call in advance. Would you expect a Jewish painter to be compelled create a mural honoring the American Nazi Party?

          • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

            Tim,

            I’m horrified by your comparison. The Nazi Regime slaughtered, starved, and committed all manner of atrocities against millions of Jewish people. Tell us what similar atrocities gay people have committed against your Old Testament-banging bakers.

          • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

            Bruce,

            I recall one case in which the Supreme Court made no determination as to whether the baker engaged in discrimination – it decided (bizarrely) that the baker shouldn’t be fined by the state because one of the state commissions involved in that decision made a perfectly accurate statement in regard to the baker’s behavior, which certain members of the current (ruined) Supreme court decided was “hostile” to the baker’s religion.

            In a more recent case it simply kicked the can down the road by sending the case back to a lower court.

          • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

            *Commissioners* (not commissions).

          • Avatar Larry Winter says:

            Tim, so the baker’s religious beliefs aren’t restrictive if they buy a cake that was made by the baker’s hands, but not custom made. But it is against their religious beliefs to sell a cake they customized? So it isn’t the labor, obviously, that violates their tenets, but the fact that a custom made cake forces them to acknowledge and accept LGBTQ as any other customer and that’s too much to handle.
            Letting “them” into the bakery to buy a cupcake and then just leave is allowed. They can handle that.
            Such a fine line

        • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

          In the Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case, the Supreme Court ruled, on very narrow grounds, that the baker’s “free exercise of religion” had be violated by the Commission, and overruled the commission. Two of the commissioners’ language were more over the top than this story, and the court on a 7-2 vote, made the right decision.

          But the court did not rule on the second issue sought by plaintiff, his claim that his “sincere religious belief” that gay people are abominations is protected free speech and free exercise, contrary to Colorado law, which says you can’t public businesses can’t discriminate against gays.

          This is why the baker is in hot water again. In his mind, he thinks he won. He didn’t. The Commission fucked up by not respecting his religious belief. But the law is still in effect, and the baker did it again. The Commission won’t make the same mistake again.

          • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

            This is indeed a fine line. The Liberals are fine with a restaurant owner kicking out Sarah Sanders because of political views but not okay with a baker not baking a cake because of religious views. For chis sake go to Walmart and buy a custom made cake.

          • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

            Bruce,

            Apparently you can’t tell the difference between discriminating against an entire marginalized group based on what is typically an immutable, in-born orientation, and refusing to serve an individual (in this case Trump’s #1 liar) based on her actions in enabling him to tear thousands of children from their parents, throw them into concentration camps, and lose a considerable number of them. The entire world was justifiably outraged over that.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            Patricia,
            That cancel culture feels like you’re saying “my list of sins is the only allowable discrimination.”

            PS: no, the “whole world” was not outraged in that incident. About half of our country and most of the developed world is fine arresting those who illegally breech their borders. Most also agree that juvenile offenders should not be jailed with adults.

          • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

            “Tim,

            “Juvenile offenders” – as in young children ripped from their mother’s arms, thrown into cages and other types of concentration camps alone, then lost? (and who will likely never see their families again). Losing your mother or child forever is pretty severe punishment just for trying to find a safe place to escape a life-threatening situation.

            And in case it escaped your notice, Trump is hated across Europe, Scandinavian, and elsewhere, and his treatment of the families of asylum-seekers is a good part (but not all) of the reason why.

            Also, you didn’t answer my question about your earlier comment, in which you compared gay people to Nazis.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            Re your earlier “question:” It isn’t about who has done whom the most injury. It is about the fact that no one is entitled to someone else’s external validation. Forcing artisans to create custom items which endorse ideas they find abhorrent is simply unAmerican.

            And I don’t find depictions of criminal detention facilities as “concentration camps” very persuasive, but I can change my mind if you’ve uncovered systemic stravation and gas chambers. Fact is, the lives of these Central American migrants are not in imminent danger on the southern bank of the Rio Grande so there is no reason they cannot wait there and legally apply for asylum.

            As for the “lost” children, I think you’ll find the percentage of missing illegal children is far less than the percentage of missing American children who find themselves “in the system.”

          • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

            Tim,

            You still haven’t explained why you think a “Christian” baker making a cake for a gay wedding is comparable to forcing a Jewish person to bake a cake for a Nazi event. Gay people haven’t done these “Christians” any harm.

            The same type of “Christians” had exactly the same objections to serving Black people, to inter-racial marriage, and to the segregation of the schools in the not-so-distant past. In fact, the “religious right”/”moral majority” movement actually began as a protest against forcing the racist, discriminatory church schools that sprang up in profusion following the desegregation of public schools to accept Black children.

            It didn’t matter then that these “Christians” wanted Black people to be kept separate, beaten down, and in an infeior position in society (based – they claimed – on their bible), and it shouldn’t matter now that they find another marginalized group abhorent, using the same pretext. Anti-discrimination laws WILL move the country forward, despite these so-called “Christians”.

            https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/05/religious-right-real-origins-107133

          • Avatar Tim says:

            A fundamentalist Christian forced to create a Gay Pride cake has been injured in the very same way a Jewish baker would be if forced to create a White Pride cake.

            Sexual orientation and race are both protected classes so you cannot deny standard services to someone because they are white or because they are gay. But you can deny to create content that advances racist or queerist beliefs you despise; doing so has nothing to do with Jim Crowe.

          • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

            Has one of these people ever been asked to create a cake for a “Gay Pride” event? And has the Gay community ever been officially designated a hate group, as the KKK, Nazis, and other white supremacist groups have? (with good reason).

            I have no doubt that these Old Testament-banging hypocrites “despise” gay people, just as their older counter-parts despised Black people and inter-racial couples 50 years ago (and beyond). None of them would have baked a cake for a Black person or an inter-racial wedding either. However, society compelled them to stop discriminating, so they moved on to other groups. I wonder if these so-called “Christians” will ever run out of people to hate.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            They keep their facility at 55°? Oh the Humanity!!!

            Seriously, check out refugee camps & detention centers in Europe, Africa, and South America. Ours ain’t bad…

          • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

            Tim,

            And of course you ignore the fact that children are sleeping on concrete with nothing, and all the other horrors in the article.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            I don’t see sleeping on an even, level, clean, dry surface as a giant cross to bear (sure beats a muddy foxhole!). It certainly doesn’t compare to starvation to the point your father sells you into sex slavery for a meal – a daily occurrence in Cucuta (and not that unusual across the globe).

        • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

          No. 1 is a violation of people’s civil rights. No. 2 is a public health criss which includes Measles being a thing again. 3. I have no idea what you’re talking about. But yeah, there’s this thing we have, called the Constitution. It’s not a libertarian document.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            No1: Christian civil rights are equally powerful to homosexual civil rights. America is not a land where we enforce Diversity & Inclusiveness through Uniformity & Exclusion.

            No2: There is no “crisis.” How many deaths this year from measles again? But I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that in 500 years mandatory vaccinations would cause America to become as fragile, epidemiologically speaking, as North Sentinel Island is today. That would be an actual crisis…

            No3. Refers to a Tennessee detective who lost his job after giving an off-duty Sunday Sermon in his church advocating the death penalty for homosexuals (you know, teaching the bible… in church…)

          • Robert V Scheide Robert V Scheide says:

            1. No, they are not. 2. Tell it to the CDC. 3. Cops are public servants and have to follow the rules.

          • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

            Tim,

            Do you actually believe that a police officer who publicly advocates murdering an entire segment of the population should be allowed to keep his job? Society needs to take that government-issued gun (and the authority to use it) away from that man as quickly as possible.

            And citing the bible is not a legitimate excuse. That brutal, primitive text also commands the killing of non-believers (men, women, and children – including “ripping open the bellies” of pregnant women), “disobedient” children, pregnant women and others who were thought to have been “promiscuous”, young brides who couldn’t prove their virginity, and a whole slew of other people. Why would an enlightened, civilized society want to go there?

          • Avatar Tim says:

            Yes, I absolutely believe police officers ought to be able to preach the bible (or Koran, or Torah) when off the clock.
            Furthermore, I believe off duty police officers ought to be able to advocate for and against laws as well as the punishments meted out – including capital punishment.

            I believe that in a society where the government employs between 10 to 40% of the workforce that anything less would abridge the freedom of speech and prohibit the free exercise of religion.

            An enlightened, civilized society should permit as much because it is enlightened and civilized. People will disagree from time to time and the truth is much less likely to be stifled when speech can be freely exercised.

            Remember that speech and action are separate. If the officer *acted* on those beliefs, especially on the job, he would not be protected by the Constitution. Without such action, the only ones violating civil rights are the lynch mobs creating a new Jim Crow society for fundamentalist Christians.

          • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

            Tim,

            There are no “lynch mobs creating a new Jim Crow society for fundamentalist Christians”. We’re just tired of these people forcing their prejudices and hatreds on the rest of the population through laws created by their politicians. And of course the only people violating anyone’s civil rights are fundamentalists, who are attempting (and succeeding to some noteable extend) to set hard-won civil and human rights for women, gay people, minorities, non-Christians, etc. back 60 years.

            In addition, your police officer wasn’t offering his opinion on existing laws involving actual criminals. He was advocating the slaughter of millions of people who are largely NOT criminals.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            Forcing people to renounce their religion to enjoy the rights afforded else creates a second-class citizenry for those who refuse, ala Jim Crow.

            He is, of course, advocating a similar thing. He’d like those with homosexual urges to repress them – or else. But he’s merely advocating repression; today’s modern day lynch mobs – the cancel culture – are actually *doing* it.

          • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

            No Tim – he’s advocating mass murder. No one has the right to incite violence and harm against an already marginalized group – even under the guise of “religious” free speech. That some people object to allowing these hate-mongering violence-inciters on college campuses, etc. doesn’t even begin to compare.

            And of course it’s actually right-wing fundamentalists who are violating the rights of others with laws allowing discrimination and the destruction of hard-won civil rights.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            You’re right that inciting violence is not constitutionally protected speech, but he was not inciting violence: he did not call for his parishioners to go round up gays and kill them – he called on the government to do so. Such speech is advocacy of public policy, which is constitutionally protected.

            As incidents like this illustrate, the right wing does not have a monopoly on violating civil rights.

          • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

            Has he actually been fired? All I’ve read is that he’s on paid leave while waiting for a “buy out” on July 19th. Paid leave is not a punishment – it’s a paid vacation.

            So now the local district attorney’s office has to review every case this cop ever testified in to makes sure he didn’t give false testimony in cases involving gay people (and who know who else – “promiscuous” women, divorced people, disobedient teenagers etc. etc.?).

            And of course there may be people of like mind who figure they’ll save the police the trouble of arresting gay people, and taxpayers the expense of executing them. The criminal who put out the heavily doctored fake video of Planned Parenthood (which has been cleared of wrong-doing by 13 Republican-led investigations) didn’t suggest that the public go out and murder abortion clinic staff. However, that didn’t stop at least one mass shooting that was a direct result of that video, and a huge upsurge in violence against women’s clinics all over the country.

            https://www.metroweekly.com/2019/06/tennessee-detective-placed-on-leave-after-saying-lgbtq-people-should-be-executed/

          • Avatar Tim says:

            He was not allowed to return to work and instead was given the golden boot: he’ll run out his sick & vacation days and then take early retirement.

          • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

            Anyone who gets up in public and raves about wanting to kill millions of people (and it doesn’t matter one iota whether they are gay people or Black people or left-handed people or blue-eyed people) shouldn’t be an armed police officer, with the official power of life a death.

            If this malignant flake was raving about killing all children of a certain ancestry or whose parents are non-believers (which is also in your brutal, primitive bible), would you still be defending his “right” to be a cop?

          • Avatar Tim says:

            Like would I defend the right of a pro-abortion activist to be a police officer? Absolutely.

            The Supreme Court precedents on the 1st amendment rights of government employees are fairly reasonable: An employee may not cause workplace disruption unless their speech relates to public policy/public interest (e.g. advocating the death penalty for behavior you believe should be criminal).
            Religious speech off the job has never been tested, but departments are allowed to deny officers who wish to wear religious head coverings or crucifixes.

            PS: It isn’t *my bible* – I’m atheist.

    • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

      Elizabeth, I read all of Carla’s articles, they were interesting because she didn’t follow the private club format, that she posted on ANews and she left, as she stated then, because she was upset with commenters not agreeing with her. As a contributing writer she had a spot where all her columns, like RV and others have, could be seen again but she took that down too. And there was no mention of her being threatened posted then, she just had her feelings hurt and I will stand by that statement.

    • Avatar Eleanor Townsend says:

      Elizabeth, Doni certainly doesn’t ‘continuously attack Christianity’ nor is R.V. her ‘proxy voice’. These really are grossly unfair and unmerited accusations. ANC provides a forum for anyone to submit rational thoughts, and they do. But please remember, it is also ‘locally interested’ and, therefore, would logically focus on a religious (or any other) group that affects our area specifically. This is not a space for positive or negative research on the religions of the country or the world. I suspect (but I cannot prove, just as you cannot prove your unjust claims) that there may be other forums for those subjects, if that is your interest.

      • Avatar Candace C says:

        Elizabeth, Born and raised in Redding I’ve watched over the years while it’s becoming increasingly right-wing evangelical and intolerant of most anything deemed “different”, lacking”, “unworthy”. Love the sinner, hate the sin is often trotted out as the dominant excuse to justify the intolerance and Bethel happens to say it loud and often when justifying their very public endorsement of local and national candidates that solely represent their perceived “Christian family values.” They and only they have willingly and enthusiastically put themselves in the limelight of the political arena. If RV or ANC is as you say “a one trick pony” by turning that light right back on them then I say one trick is good enough for me. Calling out Bethel for it’s intentional public involvement in politics does not translate into an attack on all Christianity. At least not not in my personal pony ring.

        • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

          An excellent point Candace: “They and only they have put themselves in the limelight.” If they hadn’t come out against the adult conversion therapy bill, I would have never written about them. Vallotton in particular is addicted to opening his mouth and letting whatever dumb ass thing his god has told him lately spill out of it. Yeah, that’s right, Vallotton has a personal pipeline to god. We used to call people like that crazy.

    • Welcome to ANC, Elizabeth.

      First, I don’t have enough money in the world to hire RV as my proxy voice.

      Second, I don’t know if you read my single column about my Bethel experience in my youth, but I told my truth, including some good times. I don’t have a personal vendetta against Bethel Church, and love some of the folks still affiliated with it.

      Third, nobody here thinks it’s OK to threaten anyone.

      Finally, you are welcome to write and submit your own opinion pieces to ANC.

  16. Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

    Speaking of all the right-wing fundamentalists around the country who believe Trump was “chosen by God” – it was actually Bethel leader Bill Johnson’s co-author, close associate, and fellow “apostle” Lance Wallnau who delivered million’s of votes to Trump through his book “God’s Chaos Candidate”, which gave them an excuse by comparing him to the biblical King Cyrus. Wallnau is now being described by the national media as a member of Trump’s inner circle.

    And the fact that other churches in the area AREN’T trying (successfully, in Bethel’s case) to take over everything in sight is the reason people in the know feel the need to spend so much time warning the community about this obvious threat. To focus on other local churches instead of Bethel would be like writing articles about a calm, cloudless day while ignoring the category 5 hurricane rushing toward us on the horizon.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Thanks Patricia!

      • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

        And thank YOU for all your efforts to shine a light into the darkness (you do it so well!).

    • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

      Patricia, while I write about the good things that I and others do here in Phoenix I do not ignore the fact that the Monsoons are bearing down on us.
      The fact is that doing good is not as news worthy as doing bad.

      • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

        I think one reason it’s not newsworthy is that faith-based social services simply aren’t enough to put a serious dent in complex problems such as homelessness, mental illness and drug addiction. In his speech at the Faith and Values meeting, Dahle implied that we should leave all such services up to faith-based organizations. That’s preposterous, but fitting with the conservative political ideology right-wing evangelicals share, that government shouldn’t do anything.

  17. Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

    I’m posting the Right Wing Watch article below because of its references to Bethel leader Bill Johnson. This is for anyone who still believes that Bethel is just a harmless local church with a big congregation. Bethel is a prominent part of the national and international Dominionist movement, with influence at the highest levels of government:

    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/trump-asked-prophet-to-anoint-every-door-in-white-house-says-apostle-of-joy/?fbclid=IwAR21CPtONXBDXrEDhTxDZI2mxVd57K4BLv_8XuvDpWZmlVIPc5GpJCdGm_g

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      That story is so damned funny, they just used regular old olive oil for the “anointing.” I’d like to see these lads grease themselves up for a game of Naked Twister.

      • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

        And I’m sure this story was leaked deliberately to convince Trump’s non-thinking evangelical base that he’s serious about their primitive superstitions.

  18. Avatar Colleen Adams says:

    Thank you for recommending this book! Of course, it will not be perused by the people who need to read it the most… they will continue to believe the poppycock narrative that Christian leaders feed to them. But I think that it is wise for us to be armed with the facts so we can at least battle well at the water cooler with our Christian friends and acquaintances.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      The best thing about the book is that it gives you a comeback for every tired right wing evangelical lie you’ve ever heard.

  19. Avatar Larry Winter says:

    I remember when I thought the Rev. Royal Blue and the North Valley Baptists had too much influence in Redding.

    How quaint, thinking back on it.

    • Avatar Linda Cooper says:

      Larry Winter, I thought I was done for the night. Then caught this. I remember! Quaint indeed! Thanks for the chuckle.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      You have to admit, Royal Blue is a pretty bad-ass name for a preacher.

  20. Avatar Linda Cooper says:

    I really appreciated reading this article. The reference to the book also helps. Thank you.

  21. Avatar Jeffrey P says:

    Being a staunch athiest, I’ve watched and listened to many debates on whether our country is a “Christian Nation” or “Secular Nation”. My opinion is, our Nation is whatever the incumbents claim it is as they hold power for a minimum of four years (as president) and will pass laws that that support their agendas. It really seems that few politicians seem to care about our Bill of Rights and The Constitution and haven’t for some time. Great article, Sheide, as usual!

  22. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    This Saturday as all Saturdays I will be volunteering with those White Conservative Evangelists who do not talk about some attempt to control the world but focus on feeding the needy in Phoenix. They have no requirements except show up and get free food. There are all ethnics and young and elderly, so while those on here berate us because of some fictitious seven molehill world domination theory we will be concentrating on filling empty bellies.
    And as I watch the head of Iran on the news I wonder why anyone thinks White Conservative Evangelists could dominate him and the 1.8 billion Muslims in the world.

    • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

      Bruce,

      Perhaps you missed the fact that flaming, admitted God-in-government Dominionists of the Bethel variety have been placed in charge of numerous federal agencies by the current president, and close associates/co-authors of Bethel leader Bill Johnson are now part of the inner circle of Dominionist “advisors” Trump surrounds himself with. Those close associates even report the goings-on at the White House to Johnson (per my earlier link). Quite a few Red states are also controlled by these people, as evidenced by their attempts to violate hard-won civil and human rights based on their interpretation of the bible. I don’t know about Muslims, but they’ve gone a long way toward dominating THIS country, and Bethel has gone a long way toward dominating this city.

      • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

        Patricia, I do know about Muslims as last Saturday they were the main recipients at the St. Mary’s food bank. These were Eastern Europe and Middle East. One from Romania was complaining about America letting in all the Mexicans. But, that’s another story.
        Arizona has been a solid Red State forever but that is changing. In 2016 the Arizona Republican endorsed Clinton. Now Arizona has been listed by the Trump administration as a priority state because it is turning more Blue as evidenced by the 2018 elections. It is not changing stances the winners, like Senator Sinema, have leaned more to the right and leading independents to have a choice between hard right or hard left candidates.
        The 1st District is the most solid Republican district in California, LA Times, and probably in the country. If a Democrat is going to win there they will have to lean right.
        There are about 50 front line Democrats, Democrats who won Republican seats, in the House. They say there is not enough evidence to impeach Trump, one said she was more fixed on healthcare and infrastructure.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Bruce, considering the evangelicals you’re working with are ethnic, perhaps this particular church isn’t right-wing? Not all envangelicals subscribe to dominionism and Christian nationalism, particularly African American evangelicals. The 7 Mountain Mandate is not a fiction, it’s a vital part of Bethel’s theology.

      • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

        The 7 Mountain Mandate by Bethel does not affect me in Arizona and did not affect me in Wyoming.
        My opinion on the 7 mountains worldwide is that it is fiction yet because my opinion disagrees with the opinion of others on here I am constantly being attacked by people on here that want to force their beliefs on me. Isn’t that what Bethel does? What’s next, a laying of hands on the computer screen to “cure me”?

        • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

          Bruce,

          There is a wealth of information available about 7 Mountains Dominionism (some of which has been posted on this site). There is also incontrovertible evidence that people who are working to implement it have now been given control over the highest levels of government. I recently gave you a list of people openly expressing this plan who have been placed in charge of numerous federal agencies, and who are frequent visitors to the White House as the president’s “advisors”.

          You are entitled to believe as you wish. However, please don’t expect people who are in possession of provable facts to agree with you.

  23. Avatar Candace C says:

    Bruce, I applaud you and the people with you donating your time to help those in need. I think that’s wonderful. Thank you. I also understand the concerns people have here regarding Bethel insinuating itself in government. Both things can exist separately. One does not cancel out the other.

  24. Avatar Candace C says:

    Pedro, oh, and Dahle’s anti-vax stuff at the end of his forum was also no surprise after I listened to his other moral views. Good times.

  25. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    Thank you for another great article R.V. I think Thomas Jefferson was influenced by the chaos in England as the country went from Protestant to Catholic and back again. Thousands of people died because of their religion. Sort of. Religion was a way to slay people you didn’t like because when they were in power they killed a number of your relatives. This same phenomenon has happened over an over across the globe. I believe Thomas Jefferson intentionally devised a way to eliminate religion for the governance of the new country because it ultimately creates discord, imbalance and divisiveness. The constitution is pretty clear about this.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Joanne, Jefferson and the founders were totally aware of the violent bloody religious wars that marked the Dark Ages, as well as the irrational things that happen when you take the bible literally, such as burning witches at the stake. That’s one of the main reasons they kept religion out of the Constitution. You’re correct the Constitution, combined with the Bill of Rights, is clear about this. Right-wing fundies seek to muddy the waters.

  26. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    Oh, come on folks . . . . if you get too vexed by all this deep thinking, look at some of the nature pictures posted here by Jim Dowling and oane Snyder and Matthew Grigsby, or read some Deb Stegletz or Doug Craig and realize there is still beauty in the world . . . . . then take a deep breath . . . .exhale . . . repeat . . . .
    I don’t think ANYONE is complaining about Christianity per se, or any other particular faith or religion. Like R.V. said if any one of those religious entities started moving into taking over the government, it would be time to shine the light. It’s this separation of church and state thing, folks, there’s the rub. Shine on, shine on!!!

  27. Avatar Bob says:

    R.V. Scheide — You say, “Bob… I haven’t heard one faith leader in this county stand up to them.”

    Yes you have, you read my comment. You also apparently have no idea what clarifying teaching goes on in our local churches. You are uninformed, to be frank, with too much focus on Bethel and little focus on mainline Christian churches.

    • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

      Bob,

      I’m curious. By “clarifying teaching” do you mean maintaining that your religious dogma is superior to Bethel’s, or do you mean pointing out the fact that a religious take-over of government and society in general is unconstitutional, and a threat to our freedom? (given that the separation of church and state is the only real issue here).

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage Bob, since I have no way of knowing if you’re a pastor or not. If you are a pastor, then I applaud you for commenting, your comment was reasonable and I agreed with most of it. While I don’t attend any church, I do a tremendous amount of reading on the subject, including, as I mentioned in the story, the bible. But I still disagree that it’s necessary for me to write about all the good things Christians do. As several commenters have already mentioned, that’s not news.

  28. Avatar Larry Winter says:

    I feel “blessed” to live in a Congressional district where my Congressman declares himself as a Humanist.

    “I think in this day and age, it needs to be okay for there to be a member of Congress with my particular religious views, and I will tell you there are many who would agree with me — this place is full of humanists, agnostics and folks with nonreligious views of various types who are driven to public works for reasons that have nothing to do with religion.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/11/09/this-lawmaker-is-skeptical-that-god-exists-now-hes-finally-decided-to-tell-people/?utm_term=.200c6af48c36

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      That’s an awesome link Larry! I chuckle to myself when Christians say there’s a war on Christianity when 99.9 percent of Congress calls itself Christian. Your Congressman, as the story notes, is an exception to this rule. How odd that as soon as you move from the coast to the next district inland, the situation is the polar opposite. Could it be our hellish weather?

      • Avatar Larry Winter says:

        My father was in the air conditioning business in Redding/Shasta County. In this small way, I guess you can say he was bringing Heaven on Earth to Redding also. Lol.

    • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

      Larry, I am glad to see my Senator Sinema is unaffiliated, and according to your link, was the first congress person to declare that. The 7 Mountains are, like other Red states, being kicked out of Arizona because it is a loser political argument.

  29. Avatar Gracious Palmer says:

    Thank you, R.V.

  30. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    Why is 2020 election important? Not because of Trump. The Senate just confirmed a(as Patricia would rightly say) a raving white evangelist judge in Texas. Two Democrats, Booker and Gilbrad, were too busy running for president to vote. Half a dozen states, Red states Arizona and Alabama among them split their vote. This is where the challenge is, in the senate. If Trump wins as he probably will keeping the Senate in Republican control will be priority one.

  31. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    Redding has a problem but I disagree that it is a problem worldwide. I see churches here in Phoenix protesting ICE policies, yes White churches too. In Cheyenne Pastor Roger McDaniel, a friend, has led a coalition of churches in protesting for LBGT rights. Pastor McDaniel writes a weekly column where he mostly complains about the Republicans. Pastor McDaniel is a lifelong Wyoming resident and historian who has written books about the history of Wyoming, not favorable of conservative interests.
    Redding has a church that openly discriminates against LBGT people and have even had a book signing at Barnes & Nobles. That would be met with protests and lawsuits everywhere else. Instead of fixing your problem you blame it on a world domination conspiracy. I see the opposite as churches elsewhere are in the forefront of caring for those in need.

  32. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    “If I wasn’t supposed to be in the Senate, I wouldn’t be in the Senate.” —Sen. Dahle

    By the exact same logic, the Demo supermajorities in the state senate and assembly, as well as Demos holding every elected state administrative office, are all mandated and sanctioned by God.

    I don’t know why that would be the case, but who am I to question His obvious will?

    • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

      Mark, wow another California export to the rest of the country, church cults. No wonder the rest of the country hates California. Whenever I encounter those pushing for a wall on the southern border I always respond that we need the wall on the California border. I thought it would keep liberals out but it looks like church cults are worse. Is this the result, as the link said, all that free thinking out of Sacramento?

  33. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    As the saying goes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease! Andrew Seidel, author of “The Founding Myth” and lead attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, has written an official complaint letter to Sen. Brian Dahle and Mayor Julie Winter in regard to the Faith and Values Town Hall. I imagine we might be hearing about this in other local news outlets!

    https://ffrf.org/images/CityofReddingTownHall.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3GfnxwzZvuFCiq3KF-lAQI57AaGsGxXFw9Ta2dTQWEX7tEq8vMLuwTlfU

    • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

      R.V.,

      What a fabulous letter! However, please don’t expect to see it appear in the Record Searchlight (it didn’t report on another recent letter of warning sent to the City of Redding by another national legal rights organization).

      And what a take-down for Bethel Elder Julie Winter, who (per Bethel’s 7 Mountains Mandate) undoubtedly sees her position as Mayor primarily – if not exclusively – as a vehicle to force Bethel’s religious agenda down the throats of the general population by way of local government.

      • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

        Letter made the front-page of the record searchlight this morning. So much for “nothing going on here, move along.”

        • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

          Yep – I was wrong about that. But I guess this doesn’t directly involve something the City is trying to cover up (in which case we would never see it in the RS).

    • Avatar Tim says:

      I was similarly outraged (read: not at all) when certain female city council members participated in a gender-centric town hall with a Democratic woman’s club in Shasta County.

  34. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    In Arizona many counties have banned “conversion therapy” and the state is working, Republican sponsored, to join other states in banning “conversion therapy”. One of those other states is California, so if “conversion therapy” is already banned how can Bethel still do it? There is trouble in River City and it starts with a capital B. Keep it there, we don’t want it in Arizona.

  35. Avatar Candace C says:

    Bruce , Someone correct me if I’m wrong but as far as I know Conversion Therapy for profit is legal to practice in CA with those that are over 18 years of age. There was a bill AB-2943 that would have changed that and was set to pass in 2018 but was pulled and shelved by the author due to very vocal pressure from some religious leaders and groups. Enter Bethel Church’s sermon condemning the bill and homosexuality and instructing their church members to oppose the bill and make themselves heard. Enter RV Scheide’s laser focus on Bethel Church.

    • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

      Candace, you are correct the bill that has been passed was for minors under eighteen.

  36. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    It’s not an easy task contributing to an article post on ANC. It reminds me of late night debates in college (with wine and beer) where I quoted something I had heard or read, and were squashed because I was just repeating things I hadn’t researched myself. Do you mean I can’t say anything I’m not sure is true instead of just sharing popular ideas that just sound good if delivered in a passionate tone of voice?

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Joanne, you can say just about anything you want on A News Cafe, as long as you don’t insult other commenters. I’m pretty sure it’s OK to insult me, because it happens now and then. I try to be clever and restrained with my comebacks, but sometimes my comments go over the line and are removed, for which I”m usually grateful. Feel free to defend Christianity here, I’m not an anti-Christian, I’m pro separation of church and state.

    • Avatar Richard Christoph says:

      Joanne,

      This excerpt from Vanity Fair may make you feel a bit better about your reported lack of research prior to late night college debates:

      “Some mistakes are simply too beautiful to have happened by accident—too comical to be explained by anything other than divine intervention. See, for instance, a recent petition from a Christian group calling on Netflix to cancel Good Omens, which the group considers “another step to make satanism appear normal, light and acceptable.” The problem, of course, is that Netflix does not air Good Omens; it’s an Amazon Prime series.”

  37. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    Yup, Joanne . . . . that seems to be the M.O. these days. Say whatever comes to the top of your head, but said with enough passion and sincerely, there’ll always be someone out there who’ll believe it.

  38. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    Thanks for the comments. I was disturbed by the comment that ANC has a “private club mentality” and that R.V.’s articles were anti-Christian. The first comment might seem true is you aren’t used to genuine debate that doesn’t rely on cliches and logical falacies. The second comment is not true, but it might seem that it is if you don’t read the whole article. The article is about the separation of church and state.

  39. Avatar Candace C says:

    I would like to add that had R.V.s column been “anti-Christian” ( in my view it was not) he, like any contributor on this site would have the right to express that opinion. Some jump to defend that the column is not anti-Christian and therefore “ok” illustrates the predominance of the Christian religion in our region. War on Christians? It feels the opposite to me. Here in Shasta County if feels more like a war on secularism.

    • Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

      Candace, I don’t think Doni would want to print an anti-(any religion) article. A letter to the editor can express an opinion, but a journalist has to present the facts and perhaps express an opinion about those facts. Posters have the right to express opinions, but R.V. goes by a different standard. There are so many wonderful churches in town, a Jewish Temple, a Sikh Temple and a Muslim community in Redding. He’s not writing about them because they aren’t doing the same sorts of things that Bethel is doing.

  40. Avatar Candace C says:

    Tim,
    “Remember that speech and action are separate. If the officer *acted* on those beliefs, especially on the job, he would not be protected by the Constitution.” The problem for me is that said officer carries a lethal weapon and has the ultimate discretion on the job as when to use it. The consequence of his actions vs his free speech may result in termination for him and death for someone else. Built-in bias is just that – built in. One may be aware and try to overcome those biases but police officers are human and tasked and accept the task to protect all. If they’re not interested in protecting all then no, I think they should not work in that capacity. Call me a pessimist but I don’t have that much faith in most people separating bias from action and action in this case may result in imprisonment or death.

    • Avatar Tim says:

      No one is perfect. Fire every officer with a bias and you’ll have either no officers or only officers with hidden biases. Wouldn’t you rather officers be open with their prejudices so society can more closely monitor their behavior on the job?

      • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

        Tim,

        As far as I can determine the cop hasn’t been fired – he’s been placed on paid leave while waiting for a buy-out on July 19th.

        And Candace is right – people who very publicly state they want to murder an entire segment of the population shouldn’t be armed by the government, with the power of life and death.

        It’s also unfortunate that the local district attorney now has to review every case this cop ever testified in to make sure he didn’t give false testimony against gay people (and anyone else he may believe automatically deserves punishment – “promiscuous” women, divorced people, disobedient children, etc. etc. etc.)

  41. Avatar Candace C says:

    Tim, Nowhere did I say anyone is perfect or to fire all officers that have inherent bias. . You and I both know that’s neither feasible nor practical. Police officers are meant to protect society, all society. If a police officer is openly and publicly advocating harm or disgust towards a segment of said society then no, I don’t think they should continue in that capacity while placing the burden on that same society to monitor them when they’re on the job. It’s not like hiring a racist or homophobic plumber, lives are at stake.

    • Avatar Tim says:

      Are you suggesting there is an epidemic of LGBT killed by police? Because I seriously doubt gays make up 3%+ of police shootings…

      And who gets to decide what is Wrongthink and what burden of proof is necessary? I know a lot of police officers who think drug dealers & users deserve the death penalty. That’s harm & disgust towards a segment of society – should they be fired? A lot of people on this website express disdain for fundamentalist Christians – should they be banned from public service? How about those who believe in white/male privilege?

      I think you’ll have a hard time find any police officer who agrees with every law, yet the vast majority do a fine job enforcing the laws we have and leaving their beliefs off the job.

  42. Avatar Candace C says:

    Tim, In answer to your first question, No, I do not nor did I suggest there to be an epidemic. As far as your slippery slope argument regarding who gets to decide “wrong think”? If I heard a police officer with the life altering power of ownership of a lethal firearm publicly saying that they wanted to erase an entire segment of our population off the face of the earth, yes, I would want them to not be a police officer. It’s no secret that there are some serious problems in some police departments regarding racial bias, etc. Does that mean I think all police officers are racist, homophobe or white supremacists who are incapable of enforcing laws while leaving their beliefs at home? No, I do not, which is why I’m not a fan of the slippery slope argument. I find it combative and disingenuous.

    • Avatar Tim says:

      Examining slippery slopes ensures we maintain equal protection under the law. If a rational & objective test cannot be found – if Potter’s “I know it when I see it” remains the most convincing argument – then we are likely entering the arbitrary and capricious.

      Today there is a growing segment believing it appropriate to discriminate against those in groups deemed to have privilege in order to compensate for others’ historic oppression. If this is your position, if you think enforced equality is more important than equal protection under the law, then we’ve probably reached an ideological impasse.

  43. Avatar Candace C says:

    Unfortunately for you, Barbara, it just now dawned on me belatedly that while I may be in a debating mood, you on the other hand may not be. Quite obviously I’m no “stable genius”. Please accept my apology for the intrusion on your weekend. Ugh.

  44. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    Candace, I don’t think Doni would want to print an anti-(any religion) article. A letter to the editor can express an opinion, but a journalist has to present the facts and perhaps express an opinion about those facts. Posters have the right to express opinions, but R.V. goes by a different standard. There are so many wonderful churches in town, a Jewish Temple, a Sikh Temple and a Muslim community in Redding. He’s not writing about them because they aren’t doing the same sorts of things that Bethel is doing.

  45. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    Well delete me! Second repeat.

  46. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    RV, what a great article. You have brought out more comments than most articles and I would guess half the comments are not even about the topic of your article. In fact a couple of commentators will carry this article past your next one.

  47. Avatar Candace C says:

    Hi Joanne, yes, I agree. Having worked at the RS for 33 years I’m aware of the difference between a journalist and a reader, opinion pieces and investigative fact-driven reporting. I apologize but I’m not sure why you’re addressing your comment to me? All I can think of is it’s because I used the term “opinion” when referring to R.V.? As I stated I do not think his column was anti-Christian and I’ve defended his focus on Bethel Church numerous times. I do not disagree with him. I am also aware of the other religious communities in Shasta County. I have no grievance with them. Other than my choice of words I’m at a loss because I don’t disagree with anything you mentioned (other than perhaps second guessing what Doni would or wouldn’t allow as far as a journalist’s religion pieces, anti or otherwise). The particular comment I believe you’re responding to had less to do with R.V. and more to do with my personal perception of implied intolerance towards those who are not religious.

  48. Avatar Candace C says:

    Sorry Barbara, I hope you’re asleep. I promise I’m done. Pinky swear.