Category Archives: Religion
There’s been much written about the scarcity of Nintendo’s Wii this holiday season, but last week Wal-Mart sold out of another popular toy: the Talking Jesus Messenger of Faith doll. The 12-inch doll is made by one2believe of Valencia, Calif., which also sells Nativity scenes and other Bible action figures such as Samson and Goliath Spirit Warriors.
Check out our last Jesus at Wal-Mart post here…
The toys were sold at about 600 Wal-Mart stores and online at Target.com.
Almost 20 percent of the Wal-Mart stores that sell Talking Jesus are in Texas, as you may have imagined.
Norma Venning was surprised to encounter Mary, Moses and Noah in the toy aisle of her local Wal-Mart on a recent morning, but there was no sign of Jesus – the son of God had already sold out.
“I didn’t even know it existed. I think it’s a wonderful idea,” the retired school worker said of Tales of Glory, a line of talking, Bible-based dolls on the shelf at the Wal-Mart off Battlefield Boulevard.
For the first time, the world’s largest retailer is stocking a full line of faith-based toys along with its usual cast – including a GI Joe Combat Squad action figure with a gun the size of his body, and a 3-foot remote-control concept car dubbed “Big Time Muscle.”
Wal-Mart is test-marketing the posable figures in 425 locations; two are in Chesapeake and one is in Virginia Beach.
Toys like the “Deluxe Aggression” and “Fury Unmatched” wrestling figures a couple aisles over are the kind that Jesus, with his pointable plastic index fingers, homespun tunic and velvet sandals, was put here to counter – or perhaps…maybe to save?
Jesus’ maker, David Socha (be careful you might offend some of the fundamentalist Christians with that kind of talk), said he created the biblical toys to give girls an alternative to dolls in G-strings and boys a source of amusement not modeled on “demons” and “spawns of Satan.”
Even though spawns of Satan are cool…besides, did these people forget that the bible is packed with violence?
Socha has an answer for that of course…
“The Bible’s full of violence, but I don’t think violence is glorified in the Bible,” said Socha, CEO of California-based one2believe. “When I was growing up, I was always GI Joe. I was never the bad guy. Now, I think some kids are playing the bad guy. We’re trying to bring wholesomeness back.”
Yeah, because Wal-Mart is all about charity and wholesomeness.
But the biblical figures aren’t just about redeeming the toy box: Sales of Christian products topped $4.5 billion last year.
Josh Livingston, a spokesman for one2believe, said his firm manufactured more than 100,000 figures, and expects the hottest sellers, Jesus and Mary, to be sold out before Christmas. The dolls also are available online at Target.com (but not in Target stores) and at one2believe.com.
The Wal-Marts stocking the dolls are mostly in the Midwest and South (go figure), including 20 stores in Virginia. Each store is near a large number of churches or has a history of strong sales of faith-based products. The retailer is not selling the toys online, said Jami Arms, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman.
At the Wal-Mart off Battlefield Boulevard, faith-oriented merchandise included a Bible-themed coloring book, a “Read and Learn Bible” for children and books by Christian authors including Rick Warren. DVDs of “Evan Almighty,” a Hollywood comedy about a modern-day Noah, also were for sale.
When Jesus is in stock, he sells for $14.97. “I am Jesus,” he says when you press a button on his back. “I am the son of God.” The talking dolls speak for nearly a minute, giving their biographies, then recite three Bible verses.
The biblical toys, which include smaller-scale nonposable figures depicting the Nativity scene, Noah’s Ark animals and a pious-looking Daniel with eyes cast toward heaven, pleased Janet Taylor, a retired nurse from Portsmouth.
“I have a new grandbaby that’s going to be born Oct. 31 and I would gladly buy this for him,” she said of the toy line.
Venning, the retired school worker, said Tales of Glory figures could supplement the Christian education children get in Sunday school or at home.
“It’s better than buying them superheroes. It’s an opportunity for a Christian parent and Christian grandparents to not buy something that transforms into an ugly creature.”
I suppose God appearing as ‘fire’ is okay though.
She pressed a button on Mary’s back to hear the virgin speak – “I am Mary. I am the mother of Jesus” – and compared Moses’ face to the popular standard.
“He almost looks like Charlton Heston.”
I’d ask if looking like Charlton Heston is a good thing?
So what happens to Talking Jesus when he gets home?
Knowing how quickly kids can tire of their toys, he could end up buried in a toy chest with Power Rangers, Batman and Ninja Turtles – and there’s something unsettling about that.
At least we won’t be seeing Talking Jesus on the clearance shelf with tacky leftover Bratz Dolls.
This is article #2 in a 10 part series that will appear each Sunday: Does God Have a Future?
Digest of past articles…
Link to article #1 here…Does God Have a Future? Part I…An Introduction
Overall, a diverse body of data shows that spirituality is up everywhere including the U.S., while church attendance and alliance to religion is on the decline. Does this mean that more people simply do not believe in God or does it mean that the way society views the traditional idea of God is changing?
Dr. Ralph Winter of the U.S. Center for World Mission, reports that there is a worldwide movement afoot that is indisputable. Biblical faith is growing to all corners of the earth at an unprecedented pace. “One in every ten people on the planet is of the bible reading, bible-believing stream of Christianity,” says Winter. The report goes on to say that, “The Protestant growth rate in Latin America is three times the biological birth rate, Protestants in China have gone from 1 million to 80 million in fifty years, and believers in “mission field countries” are sending their own missionaries back to their former colonial sponsors.”
It is generally believed that in the face of such flourishing belief in God, that church attendance is also climbing. However this is not the case.
It is true that many Americans still attend church in the U.S., however, church attendance is trending downward. The Barna Research Group reported in 2005 that, “47% of American adults said they attend church in a given weekend, not including a special event such as wedding or a funeral.” This number is down from 51% in 1991 and many studies and polls have the number as of 2006 as low as 40%.
And even within these numbers there are some interesting variables…
Various studies in recent years have cast doubt on the generally accepted 40% value. For instance, public opinion polls do not report real events, only what they are told by pollees. Pollees often answer the way they think they should answer, especially when it comes to church. For example, when asked how much money they give to church every week, 17% of those polled said they give 10% to 13% of their income, when in reality only 3% do.
Other reports put church attendance in Ohio at 20% for Protestants and only 28% for Catholics (.M. Chaves, K. Hadaway & P. Marler, “What the Polls Don’t Show: A Closer Look at U.S. Church Attendance,” American Sociological Review, 1993).
When these same Catholic parishes were polled later regarding attendance, 51% said they attended regularly, however the actual numbers only reflect 24%. Most were simply lying. To validate the research, Chaves, Hadaway, and Marler conducted additional research in 1998 and again in 2004. They were quoted as saying:
“We believe that too much trust has been placed in survey data and not enough attention given to membership records, patterns of giving, and even the incredulity of local church pastors when they hear that 40 percent of Americans attend church during an average week (M. Chaves, K. Hadaway & P. Marler, “”Overreporting Church Attendance in America: Evidence that Demands the Same Verdict,” American Sociological Review, 1998-FEB)”.
The 50% to 51% figure also appears to apply in the UK. Author Monica Furlong commented on the Church of England data:
“…people questioned about how much they go to church, give figures which, if true, would add up to twice those given by the churches (Monica Furlong, “C of E: The State It’s in,” Hodder & Stroughton, (2002), Page 216).”
Hadaway and Marler noted that when Gallup asked people in Great Britain what they did during the previous weekend, and presents a list of likely activities, they found that 14% said they went to church. But when the question that Gallup asks in the US (“Did you, yourself, happen to attend church or synagogue in the last seven days?”) is asked in Great Britain, the weekly attendance rate miraculously rises to 21%. They state that:
“… figures from the 1989 English Church Census and additional attendance data from the 1996-97 UK Christian Handbook indicate that only around 10 percent attend worship services each week.”
There was a surge in church attendance after the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington on September 11th, 2001.
Some religious leaders predicted that the phenomenon would be short lived. Others saw it as the start of a major revival in the U.S. According to the New York Times, Franklin Graham, son of the well known Christian evangelist, Rev. Billy Graham, hailed it as an enduring turn toward God. On November 20th, Christian fundamentalist Pat Robertson said that the attack was “bringing about one of the greatest spiritual revivals in the history of America…People are turning to God. The churches are full.” It appears that, with the exception of the New York City area, the increase lasted only about two months.
By November 26th, 2001, attendance had returned to normal. The New York Times cites data from the Gallup Organization, which shows that religious attendance rose from 41% in May 2001, to 47% by September 2001. By early November, attendance had sunk back to 42%. The director of the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University, Robert Wuthnow, said that the terrorists’ attacks have not changed the basic makeup of the U.S. :
“We are in some ways a very religious country, especially compared to Western Europe. But, we’re of two minds, and the other mind is that we are really pretty secular. We are very much a country of consumers and shoppers, and we’re quite materialistic. And as long as we can paste together a sense of control through our ordinary work and our ordinary purchases, we’re pretty happy to do that.”
Some other interesting stats:
In 2001 more than 29.4 million Americans said they have no religion, up from 12 million in 1990. Today that number reflects 3% of all people in some states to as high as 25% in others.
A USA Today/Gallop Poll in 2002 showed that 50% of Americans call themselves religious, down from 54% in 1999. Also, 33% called themselves spiritual rather than religious, up from 30% over that same time period. And these trends are continuing in 2007.
So what does it all mean?
Is the age of the church and organized religion encountering it’s end days? Could it be that an idea of something parallel to God is taking over our collective consciousness, and that parallel idea of God is embodied less and less in religion and church? Is church and religion as a social construct coming to an end? All one needs to do is pick up a newspaper, if you are Catholic, to track the latest parish closings.
Maybe the decline of church and religion is a good thing.
I believe we can live in a culture where people can simply be followers of Jesus or whatever spiritual ideal they identify with, without the need for organized religious constructs. Whether many of us care to believe it or not, we are socialized into Christian ideals at a very early age and live our entire lives not knowing why we believe or even if we should. More often than not, we believe because we must, or simply because we cannot cannot critically analyze why we shouldn’t.
The central issue here is that religion, as a social construct based on the belief in God, is declining. But more importantly, that very religion which has been used to, in essence, sell God to modern society, may very well take God down along with it.
One can easily make the argument that the modern church is an exercise in futility as it exists in the modern consumerist capitalistic state, and that the need for organized religion has fufilled it’s role as an explanation to the unknown, and seen it’s best days as it continues into the neo-modern era. Maybe secular humanism is the cleansing-by-fire that is needed for what many see as a corrupt Christianity, that is based on exploitation and fear.
In the end, that very secularization that Christians, in particular fundamental Christians, rally against, is what may ultimately lead to a more convenient “religion-less” and ultimately “God-less” form of spirituality that more and more people seem to be heading toward.
I am one of them.
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has vaulted over all major GOP challengers to take a commanding lead in the race to win the Iowa caucuses, while Barack Obama continues to edge ahead of Hillary Clinton among Democrats likely to participate. This is according to a new NEWSWEEK poll.
The most dramatic result to come from the telephone based interview based on 1,408 registered Iowa voters on Dec. 5 and 6, is Huckabee’s emergence from no-wheres-ville in the GOP race into the front runner’s spot in just two months. Huckabee is an ordained Southern Baptist minister and now leads Romney by a two-to-one margin (told you the Mormon thing would kill him in the end), 39 percent to 17 percent, among likely GOP caucus-goers. In the last NEWSWEEK survey, conducted Sept. 26-27, Huckabee polled a only 6 percent to Romney’s 25 percent, which then led the field.
Huckabee has also opened up a wide margin over the next three leading candidates, who all show signs of fading like cheap paint in the Arizona sun. Rudy Giuliani, who dropped from 15 percent in the last survey to 9 percent in the current one; Fred Thompson, who fell from 16 percent to 10 percent; and John McCain, who slipped from 7 percent to 6 percent, are all looking up at Huckabee now.
The poll, which has an overall margin of error of 3 percent, also indicated that on the Republican as well as the Democratic side Iowa is increasingly becoming a two-person race. Among likely GOP caucus-goers, 57 percent name Huckabee as their first or second choice and 39 percent give Romney as their first or second choice. On this measure, Thompson is a distant third, with just 20 percent.
“You rarely see anything like Huckabee’s surge,” says Larry Hugick, who directed the polling for Princeton Survey Research Associates. Hugick added that the reason has as much to do with a leeriness of the other candidates among Republican voters as Huckabee’s folksy success on the stump. “He’s filling a vacuum,” Hugick said. “Nobody on the Republican side was getting strong support.”
Say what you will but Huckabee comes off genuine and articulate. I’ve blogged about this recently here…
Sure he might be construed as another Christian fundamentalist nut, but he’s a likeable Christian fundamentalist nut…and that may be enough in Iowa.
What people don’t seem to wrap their mind around is that America is thirsty for honesty from a President in any form, even if that President has some weird baggage. While evangelicals are carrying Huckabee in Iowa, it is the other 50% of plain old Republicans that are putting him over the top! Why? Because Romney looks too slick (and he’s a Mormon), Giuliani looks too much like Bush (wrong answer there), McCain is just plain crazy, and Thompson talks like he is just plain stupid.
The best analogy I can come up for Huckabee is that he’s Reagan, only holding a really big cross, like those guys who shout bible verses at you downtown on a Wednesday afternoon. Iowa voters appear to be willing to take the chance he won’t impale us on it.
Who would have thunk it?
A second Christian ministry is refusing to meet a Thursday deadline for a Senate investigation into preachers’ salaries, perks and travel, The Associated Press has learned.
See related Shadow Democracy post and comment thread here…
Benny Hinn of World Healing Center Church Inc. and Benny Hinn Ministries of Grapevine, Texas, said in a statement to the AP on Thursday that he will not respond to the inquiry until next year.
A lawyer for preacher Creflo Dollar of World Changers Church International in suburban Atlanta had said Wednesday that the investigation should be referred to the IRS or the Senate panel should get a subpoena for the documents.
Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, sent lengthy questionnaires a month ago to six ministries so he could review whether pastors were complying with IRS rules that bar excessive personal gain through tax-exempt work.
Because these are “Religious” Non Profit organizations, the IRS has already deemed that they’re NOT required to turn over information regarding their finances.
Do you believe in God?
Well even if you don’t, you an I can apply to the IRS for our own Religious non profit status and become exempt from paying federal taxes. Then we can go out and encourage wealthy people to withdraw their investments from 401K’s and other tax shelter investments and funnel their income through our bogus ministry and it will be perfectly legal. You can make a bundle!
Do you know how to sing???
I’ve got some old Jimmy Swaggart Gospel tapes that you can take home and practice from. I’ll brush up on my evangelical street type of ministry lingo and convince a few homeless people to come and visit us every Sunday at a low rent two bedroom house just to convince the IRS that we actually have a congregation. After acquiring our 501(c)(3) provision, we’ll take out business loans in order to hire expert accountants and financial advisors who will counsel our wealthy solicited investors.
We’ll make a fortune, and then we can ignore Congress too 🙂
Posted by: Dimitri Lawrence
(This post is part one of a 10 part series that will appear each Sunday)
The past several years have seen a remarkable turn of events in the socio-political conscious of Americans and indeed people worldwide. The Cold War is fifteen years over, but the prospects of a New World Order, an order designed and manipulated by the power elite in the United States, appears to be quite more ominous than anything we have seen in years past.
The ecology also looms. As a civilization, we are faced with new ‘Super-Viruses’, a resurgence of AIDS world-wide, global climate change, and a planet that will see its population double within the next generation, with not enough food or resources to support it.
Where will God fit in to this dynamic?
Many argue that God is needed in our lives more than ever. But why is he needed? Is he needed for the traditional purposes of control – to explain away unimaginable events?
For thousands of years God was used and adapted by all civilizations to ‘explain the unexplainable’ and comfort those who fear what was ‘unexplained.’ However in our time, the ubiquitous power of the ‘unexplained’ has begun to fade, and the very need for God may very well be fading along with it.
This central question is what these series of posts will attempt to examine. Is God an idea of the past whose time and need is over? American Scholar Peter Berger notes that we often live a double standard when we compare our time with the past (1). But in this case, science and reason seem to be winning the eternal battle between the secular humanists and those who see themselves as believers. The evidence is all around us.
In the United States Catholic churches are emptying, while larger churches that I refer to as “Retail Churches”, are flourishing. Catholics attend to discover faith, the latter seems to attend in order to buy it. In Europe most churches are emptying as well and atheism is no longer a taboo subject not to be discussed in certain company, or among a few fringe scholars. More and more, people seem unaffected by the prospect of a life without God, as religious holidays have de-evolved into orgies of over consumption and vanity, less and less resembling generally accepted traditions rooted in the church we knew as children.
A new world economy is also a factor.
People simply no longer have the time, or quite frankly the energy to attend services, much less volunteer extra time to the poor or to other church activities. On a more academic level, those of us who had an issue with God find it a bit liberating to be rid of a God who only existed to ensure we kept our Sunday and holiday schedule of attending church, less we be damned to the eternal fires of Hell. Parents are all working two jobs or more just to survive, and the very idea of another ‘activity’ added to the weekly run of endless soccer games, boy scouts, cheer-leading and various other after school activities, seems almost too much to take. Something must lose, and more people are choosing to opt out of church.
So this is the background. Given these ideas, I will attempt to support my assertion that God is becoming less relevant and less common. In the end we must all deal with the idea that the sometimes hideous and conspicuously absent deity that we have experienced through religion, and that is accepted as authentic by Christians, Muslims, and Jews, may be nothing more than an unfortunate aberration that has been used by those in positions of power to control populations and cultures in the name of material gain.
We must also face the fact that this same deity may also have run it’s course as a convenient and necessary explanation, that has helped to fill a hole in human consciousness and understanding.
Maybe we have grown up and much like children who shed their belief of Santa, various cultures are shedding the practice of theism.
1. Peter Berger, A Rumor of Angels (London, 1970), p. 58
Starting this Sunday we will publish the first of several articles regarding God’s future in American culture.
Are the secular-humanists winning the battle of God? Is Jesus no more than a marketing scheme? Are churches revenue centers and nothing more? Does American culture still need God or even want him?
The posts will attempt to answer these questions as well as examine the continued relevance and resiliency of mono-theism in the modern era, and what the trends are telling us. This series hopes to engage those interested in religion and those who only wish to learn more about religion and it’s place in American culture, both today and tomorrow.
As usual, your comments are always welcome.
Throughout history mankind has celebrated the bountiful harvest with thanksgiving ceremonies.
Before the establishment of formal religions many ancient farmers believed that their crops contained spirits which caused the crops to grow and die. Many believed that these spirits would be released when the crops were harvested and they had to be destroyed or they would take revenge on the farmers who harvested them. Some of the harvest festivals celebrated the defeat of these spirits.
Harvest festivals and thanksgiving celebrations were held by the ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Hebrews, the Chinese, and the Egyptians.
The ancient Greeks worshipped many gods and goddesses. Their goddess of corn (actually all grains) was Demeter who was honored at the festival of Thesmosphoria held each autumn.
On the first day of the festival married women (possibility connecting childbearing and the raising of crops) would build leafy shelters and furnish them with couches made with plants. On the second day they fasted. On the third day a feast was held and offerings to the goddess Demeter were made – gifts of seed corn, cakes, fruit, and pigs. It was hoped that Demeter’s gratitude would grant them a good harvest.
The Romans also celebrated a harvest festival called Cerelia, which honored Ceres their goddess of corn (from which the word cereal comes). The festival was held each year on October 4th and offerings of the first fruits of the harvest and pigs were offered to Ceres. Their celebration included music, parades, games and sports and a thanksgiving feast.
The ancient Chinese celebrated their harvest festival, Chung Ch’ui, with the full moon that fell on the 15th day of the 8th month. This day was considered the birthday of the moon and special “moon cakes”, round and yellow like the moon, would be baked. Each cake was stamped with the picture of a rabbit – as it was a rabbit, not a man, which the Chinese saw on the face of the moon.The families ate a thanksgiving meal and feasted on roasted pig, harvested fruits and the “moon cakes”. It was believed that during the 3 day festival flowers would fall from the moon and those who saw them would be rewarded with good fortune. According to legend Chung Ch’ui also gave thanks for another special occasion. China had been conquered by enemy armies who took control of the Chinese homes and food. The Chinese found themselves homeless and with no food. Many staved. In order to free themselves they decided to attack the invaders.The women baked special moon cakes which were distributed to every family. In each cake was a secret message which contained the time for the attack. When the time came the invaders were surprised and easily defeated. Every year moon cakes are eaten in memory of this victory.
Jewish families also celebrate a harvest festival called Sukkoth. Taking place each autumn, Sukkoth has been celebrated for over 3000 years. Sukkoth is know by 2 names – Hag ha Succot – the Feast of the Tabernacles and Hag ha Asif – the Feast of Ingathering. Sukkoth begins on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Tishri, 5 days after Yom Kippur the most solemn day of the Jewish year.Sukkoth is named for the huts (succots) that Moses and the Israelites lived in as they wandered the desert for 40 years before they reached the Promised Land. These huts were made of branches and were easy to assemble, take apart, and carry as the Israelites wandered through the desert.When celebrating Sukkoth, which lasts for 8 days, the Jewish people build small huts of branches which recall the tabernacles of their ancestors. These huts are constructed as temporary shelters, as the branches are not driven into the ground and the roof is covered with foliage which is spaced to let the light in. Inside the huts are hung fruits and vegetables, including apples, grapes, corn, and pomegranates. On the first 2 nights of Sukkoth the families eat their meals in the huts under the evening sky.
The ancient Egyptians celebrated their harvest festival in honor of Min, their god of vegetation and fertility. The festival was held in the springtime, the Egyptian’s harvest season. The festival of Min featured a parade in which the Pharaoh took part. After the parade a great feast was held. Music, dancing, and sports were also part of the celebration.When the Egyptian farmers harvested their corn, they wept and pretended to be grief-stricken. This was to deceive the spirit which they believed lived in the corn. They feared the spirit would become angry when the farmers cut down the corn where it lived.
The United States
In 1621, after a hard and devastating first year in the New World the Pilgrim’s fall harvest was very successful and plentiful. There was corn, fruits, vegetables, along with fish which was packed in salt, and meat that was smoke cured over fires. They found they had enough food to put away for the winter. The Pilgrims had beaten the odds. They built homes in the wilderness, they raised enough crops to keep them alive during the long coming winter, and they were at peace with their Indian neighbors. Their Governor, William Bradford, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving that was to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native American Indians.The custom of an annually celebrated thanksgiving, held after the harvest, continued through the years. During the American Revolution (late 1770’s) a day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress.In 1817 New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom. By the middle of the 19th century many other states also celebrated a Thanksgiving Day. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of thanksgiving. Since then each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday.
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, is gathering strong support from Christian conservatives, and has surged past three of his better-known presidential rivals and is now challenging former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney for the lead in the Iowa Republican caucuses, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News Poll.
Huckabee support is up 200% since late July, eclipsing former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, former senator Fred D. Thompson (Tenn.) and Sen. John McCain(Ariz.). Moreover, his support in Iowa appears stronger and more enthusiastic than that of his rivals.
The poll found that overall, 28 percent of likely GOP caucus-goers support Romney, while 24 percent support Huckabee. Thompson ran third in the poll at 15 percent, with Giuliani at about the same level, with 13 percent. McCain, whose Iowa campaign appeared to derail earlier this year over his stance on immigration, had 6 percent and was tied with Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.), who rose from 2 percent in July.
Huckabee’s gains were concentrated among the party’s conservative core, which translated into a 28-percentage-point bounce in support, mainly from Protestants, and a 19-point rise among conservatives. Huckabee also benefited from the decision of Sen. Sam Brownback (Kan.) and others to quit the race. Brownback and Huckabee had been competing for many of the same religious and conservative voters. Moreover, Huckabee’s gain in this poll does not come at the expense of those still running, all of whom are faring about the same as they were in July.
But almost half of Huckabee’s supporters (48 percent) said they would definitely vote for him in January and only a quarter said there was a good chance that they would change their minds before the caucuses. In contrast, just 29 percent of Romney’s backers said they would definitely vote for him, while 42 percent said there was a good chance that they could vote for someone else.
The enthusiasm among Huckabee supporters is interesting, particularly in a year in which Republicans have been considerably dissatisfied with a field of mediocre candidates. Half of those who now back the former Arkansas governor said they are very enthusiastic about him, compared with 28 percent of Romney’s backers.
It is also primarily social issues that galvanize Huckabee’s backers.
More than four in 10 Huckabee voters call abortion or broader moral or values issues the race’s top one or two concerns. That is nearly double the number of Romney supporters to highlight these issues. Overall, three-quarters of likely GOP voters think that abortion should be illegal in most or all cases, and among the 24 percent who want the procedure to be unlawful in every instance, 36 percent support Huckabee and 22 percent Romney.
But, many issues drive likely GOP caucus-goers.
A quarter of those surveyed said immigration is their biggest or second-biggest concern when considering whom to back on Jan. 3. The same percentage, 24 percent, highlighted the war in Iraq, and nearly as many, 21 percent, singled out terrorism and national security.
Ten percent or more cited five other issues: the economy, health care, abortion, taxes, and morals and family values. Overall, eight issues ranked in the double digits, making the discussion in the Republican contest potentially more wide-ranging than that on the Democratic side. Among likely Democratic caucus-goers, only three issues reach 10 percent, and two — Iraq and health care — dominate voters’ concerns.
On immigration, Romney has an edge: 27 percent said the former Massachusetts governor is best on the issue, while Huckabee received 13 percent. No candidate is clearly preferred on the other top issue, Iraq, with Giuliani, McCain and Romney each considered the best by about two in 10. Giuliani doubles up the competition, however, on handling the terrorism fight.
Romney tops the field as the candidate most trusted to handle the economy and the federal budget deficit. He and Huckabee are preferred by about equal percentages on social issues, such as abortion and same-sex civil unions.
About six in 10 likely caucus-goers said they have been called by one of the campaigns. Twenty-nine percent have attended a campaign event, up six percentage points from July, but far less than the percentage of Democrats who have attended an event (52 percent). A third of GOP voters have visited one of the candidates’ Web sites and 29 percent have received e-mail. About one in five has spoken with or shaken hands with one or more of the GOP candidates. Fifteen percent have contributed money.
Romney has an advantage on the question of who has the “best experience to be president,” after a 10-point increase from July, when he was about even with Giuliani and McCain. Romney had held a marginally significant edge on “best understands problems of people like you,” but while he has stayed at 21 percent on this question, Huckabee has soared from 10 percent to 25 percent.
In July, Romney had the lead on “most honest and trustworthy” at 21 percent. He has risen to 25 percent, but Huckabee jumped from 10 percent to 26 percent.
On top of all this, there’s another intangible at work here I believe.
Huckabee seems really intelligent and genuine to me.
I had a chance to watch Huckabee during a recent television interview and I was quite impressed. His answers were well thought out and lucid, he conveyed his ideas and positions with honesty and candor, and he seemed prepared to lead. Unlike Romney, Giuliani, and the others, Huckabee was clear on his positions, never wavering, and never back pedaling.
Moreover, he wasn’t afraid to hide his Chritianity and clearly explained how he would not project his beliefs on others or use it as a political leveraging tool.
I like that.
If Republicans are smart, they’ll keep one eye on this guy. He has Romney’s charm, Giuliani’s grit, McCain’s humor, and Paul’s libertarian ideals, without out all the extra nuttiness and baggage. I will be interesting to see just how far he can go.
An Atlanta mega-church took in $69 million in 2006, according to a financial statement the church’s minister released in response to a Senate investigation into him and five other well-known televangelists.
The Rev. Creflo Dollar (excuse me as I snicker a bit) disclosed the World Changers Church International’s financial information to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but said the money he spends is his own.
I’m sure it is. Every last dollar from every last gullible donor.
The good reverand said his income comes from personal investments, but the church gave him a Rolls Royce, which he mainly uses for special occasions.
Don’t pre-judge! It was just a tiny Rolls.
‘Without a doubt, my life is not average,’ he said. ‘But I’d like to say, just because it is excessive doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong.’
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa disagrees.
He launched an investigation into the finances of six ministers after hearing reports of some preachers’ excessive lifestyles. In a letter last week, he requested answers by Dec. 6 to questions about their executive compensation and amenities, including use of fancy cars and private jets.
Besides Dollar, the letters were sent to faith healer Benny Hinn, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Texas, David and Joyce Meyer of Missouri, Randy and Paula White of Florida and Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga.
Dollar questioned the investigation’s focus on religious groups.
Boy, you gotta love the balls on this guy.
The minister is among the religious leaders who preach the ‘prosperity gospel,’ the teaching that God will shower faithful followers with material riches. But he said he uses only his personal finances to pay for his luxuries.
‘My lifestyle does not come out of the church’s bank account,’ he said.
So, do you still think these ‘Big Box Retail Churches’, as I like to call them, still shouldn’t be taxed??
Rolls Royce Creflo?
I wonder what kind of Gods work he does in the back seat and with whom?
Wake up my fellow church going sheep!
Anyone who gives money to a mega-church is naive and foolish. Giving money to ANY church benefits very few people as it is, with mega-churches being the worst offenders. Maybe the good minister Creflo could tool around in a Mercedes instead. Maybe a nice “E” Class and use the left over money from the sale of the Rolls Royce to feed 20 or so hungry families in greater Atlanta for oh, I don’t know, maybe two years!!!
The name itself was enough to keep me in laughter until the New Year. “
“Dollar!” You’ve gotta be kidding me!
Can someone please administer an I.Q. test to all of Creflo’s followers? I’m dying to know the results, but I have a suspicion that the average score would be a tad low.
Those “investments” Dollar spoke of were purchased with funds taken from desperate poor people who watch his show while he begs for people to “plant a seed of faith”. These tele-evangelists are nothing but corporate thieves, no different than the ones who have outsourced our economy to China in the name of profit, while taking a giant dump on the middle class.
Think about it for a minute. Most people who watch the program give the church money they’d normally use for medicine, food, shelter, clothes. The minister makes them think they’ll get a windfall blessing in their bank account if they only “plant a seed of faith”. GOD says for us to work, WORK, for a living…so we might give 10% to our church. The Bible states nothing about planting seeds.
www.ministrywatch.com is a great site that tells cold, hard, sinful truth about these tele-thieves.
This is just another tale of people using religion to pad their own pockets, as they prey on the poor and uneducated. Thanks to our government’s unfair endorsement of religion, they do not pay a dime in taxes. Since God apparently will not punish Creflo, we will have to do it ourselves.
He can start by paying taxing his scam operation.
The fact that God didn’t strike Creflo Dollar dead on the spot, in itself, may be proof that there is no god at all!
For all those on the fringe, including white supremacists I hear, who are getting really excited about anti-war, libertarian Republican Ron Paul, it’s worth noting that he’s is nothing more than a racist and anti-Semite hiding behind Constitutional rhetoric. Of course this makes sense as well seeing our founding fathers were racists as well. You remember that whole 3/5 of a person thing…right?
Mr. Paul once wrote that “By far the most powerful lobby in Washington of the bad sort is the Israeli government” and that the goal of the Zionist movement is to stifle criticism. (ref. Wonkette)
These and many other racist comments, some veiled, some not, have been out there since the mid-1990s, but Ron Paul has been below the radar until now. The problem for him now is that his fringe supporters cannot un-ring the bell, and they get downright snooty when the issue comes up. If Ron Paul is going to stay in this fight then debate moderators should press him on a few of these ramblings…
A 1992 newsletter by Republican congressional candidate Ron Paul highlighted portrayals of blacks as inclined to criminal behavior and lacking sense.
For instance, on gang crime in Los Angeles, Paul commented:
“If you have ever been robbed by a black teen-aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be.”
Paul is also quoted as saying…
“Given the inefficiencies of what DC laughingly calls the criminal justice system, I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”
In that same 1996 AP story, Ron Paul said his 1992 comments were taken out of context.
“These aren’t my figures,” Paul said this week. “That is the assumption you can gather from” the report.
He also wrote:
“Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions, i.e. support the free market, individual liberty and the end of welfare and affirmative action.”
I guess meaning the other 95% don’t?
I have not been shy about the fact on this blog or my radio show that I believe many Republicans are racists by default anyway. Ron Paul is trying to cover his racism and anti-Semitism by back peddling during campaign stops and claiming that the Constitution dictates where he stands on race.
Paul is a good old fashioned country boy from Texas and if he had his way, we would have Christian theocracy, a white landscape, no Jews and a full scale retreat to Jacksonian ideals. His social conservative agenda is dangerous and outdated. Turning backward will not solve the complex problems that face our nation today, only level headed, progressive, common sense policies in the areas of international trade and domestic policy will help us out of this current funk. Three out of the last four presidents, all Republiacn handed us the hand we have now by the way…do we really need another one, moreover…this one?
One can only hope Ron Paul’s effort fizzles with white supremacists and fundamentalist Christians. I believe we need a long overdue break from that crowd.
I can’t help but notice that most Christians are in ‘historical denial.’ That is to say, most of them tend to conveniently ignore universally accepted historical facts when those facts do not fit neatly into their generally touted mantra, that Christians are ‘right’ and everyone else is ‘wrong.’ More to the point, they tend to perch themselves on a pedestal of righteousness of their own making and look down upon those with slightly different or ‘non-Christian’ beliefs. Of course this holds true of most organized religions but the Christians take it a step further by claiming that Muslims and others are more violent and ultimately are responsible for more deaths throughout history as a result of that violence, than Christians. In turn, this flawed logic has run amok and evolved into a sinister vehicle of racism by some and justification for torture and continued war by others. This post, to some degree, will set the record straight…
The fact is that Christians, historically speaking (and some in recent history) are by far the most violent, blood thirsty, murderous group of people that this world has seen since the end of the Roman Empire.
The herd of the ,Big Media ignorant, which includes the likes of Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly and others of similarly, historically uninformed, conveniently point out that Christians, unlike Jews, follow the teachings of the New Testament and that this portion of biblical scripture does not contain all of the Draconian and generally twisted teachings found in the Old Testament.
“I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence. (Luke 19:26-27)
“Do not think that I have come to send peace on earth. I did not come to send peace, but a sword. I am sent to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Matthew 10:34-35)
So much for that theory.
How about some Western European history?
A list of historical facts that can be verified at any local library confirming that Christians are the most murderous and violent people afoot for the past 1500 years…
Saint Augustine’s Cognite Intrare (“lead them in”—i.e. “force them to convert”). The Qur’an says the exact opposite: There is no compulsion in religion ( Qur’an 2:256 ). Augustine’s selfish idea that all must be compelled to “conform” to the “true Christian faith” has ultimately unleashed centuries of unparalleled bloodshed. In fact, I would put forth the argument that Christians have suffered more under the rule of Christian civilizations than under Roman rule or any other rule in history for that matter. Neo-modern Christian doctrine would have the world believe the exact opposite.
Millions were tortured and slaughtered in the name of Christianity during the periods of the Arian, Donatist and Albigensian heresies.
Then there were the crusades. European armies were slaughtering both Christian and Muslim Arabs and saying: “Kill them all, God will know his own.”
During Europe’s Reformation and Counter Reformation Era, two thirds of the Christian population of Europe was slaughtered by Christians.
Christians slaughtered at least 10 million Africans by most accounts in the name of economic expansion and slave trade. The Colonial Conquests estimates for the number of Native Americans slaughtered by the Europeans in North, Central and South America run as high as 20 million within three generations.
The 20th hasn’t escaped the wrath of violent Christians either. Western Civilization has taken murder to a whole new level. A conservative estimate puts the total number of brutal deaths at the hands of Christian dominated cultures in the 20th century at more than 250 million. Of course I’m sure they all had it coming right? Just like those pesky abortion doctors.
The greatest death totals come from World War I (about 20 million – 90 % from Western European Christian countries) World War II ( about 90 million, 50% of which were inflicted by Christians).
How about more recent brutality?
In 1994, Rwanda saw the slaughter of 900,000 Rwandans in 1994 in a population that was over 90 % Christian. Worse yet, the other Christian nations stood by and did nothing. Of course Rwanda is a ‘balck’ nation so that is no surprise to me really. We had a similar situation in New Orleans remember?
How about the Bosnian genocide in 1991-1995 of over 300,000 Muslims, including the systematic rape and torture of over 100,000 Muslim women by Christian Serbs?
Christians think of themselves as peaceful, but in fact the gentleness and peace of the New Testament, has hardly been proved out through history. I probably could right for three more days. The Salem Witch Trials, The Ku Klux Klan, The Neo-Nazi White Supremisist movement, etc.
Many Christians seem to simply ignore the facts.
All of the hate and death outlined here has taken place on a historical stage built by Western Christian culture.
In the end, if conservative Christians just read something other than the bible once in a while, they would look much less foolish to thinking people. This is not an attack, it is hopefully sound advice. Only then will peoples of varying beliefs be able to co-exist in this world village and possibly reconsider pursuing acts of terrorism. When or if the end days come, the one who judges may very well cast Christians down first, as they have illustrated themselves to be the most evil. The historical record cannot be denied, however should be acknowledged Christians and embraced as a valuable lesson on what not to do in the future.
When is it going to stop? That is to say, when are television and radio outlets going to ban Ann Coulter? Hasn’t the insanity gone far enough and hasn’t this idiot offended enough people? There must be a point where a decision maker somewhere must look at Ann Coulter and realize that the point of diminishing returns has definitely been reached.
This time, Coulter fired at the Jews saying that they should be “perfected” by accepting Jesus and America would be better off if everyone was a Christian.
Perfected in the image of the Christian ideal? Since when are Christians representative of perfection? Most Christians I know are inflexible racists, much like Coulter. They claim they are peaceful and compassionate, yet more have been murdered in the name of Christ than for all other reasons combined through recorded history. In the modern era, Christians have demonstrated their perfection by burning churches, dragging people to death behind pick-up trucks, lynching innocent people simply because their skin color was incorrect, starting wars based on monstrous lies, and murdering abortion doctors. Evidently Coulter is too busy picking out the latest and greatest push-up bra for her next schizophrenic television appearance, rather than engaging in some light historical reading or looking at the paper once in a while.
A national Catholic organization also criticized Coulter’s remarks.
“I’m just dumbfounded that a Christian would even say this in America,” said Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United. Korzen also said it was “particularly dangerous” to be mixing religious conversion with discussions of what it means to be an American, and he said Coulter’s comments reminded him of John McCain referring to the US as a “Christian nation.”
This is not what the founding fathers wanted, no matter how many times fundamentalist Christians try to ram it down our throats. Anyone who has read American history knows better. The problem is I think most conservatives don’t read at all.
“I don’t believe I read anything in the constitution about Jesus Christ dying for our sins,” Korzen said, and he is right. Much like other lunatics, including Ron Paul, Coulter believes that this nation is inextricably tied to Christianity and that all other denominations are basically inferior, irrelevant, or criminal in their purpose. These fools have conveniently forgotten that the fundamental reason why this continent was settled by Western Europeans was a direct result of religious persecution in their home countries! These comments by Coulter simply reinforce her ignorance and unbridled hubris.
“We just want Jews to be perfected, as they say,” Coulter said.
Speaking to Donny Deutsch, on the magazine show, The Big Idea, she went on to say, “I don’t want you being offended by this. This is what Christians consider themselves, because our testament is the continuation of your testament. You know that. So we think Jews go to heaven. I mean, Rev. Jerry Falwell himself said that, but you have to follow laws. Ours is ‘Christ died for our sins,'” Coulter said. “We consider ourselves perfected Christians. For me to say that for you to become a Christian is to become a perfected Christian is not offensive at all.”
I’m having trouble just following that statement based on Coulter’s incoherence. Is she saying that Jews must follow Christian doctrine while their alive? She said she believes that Jews go to heaven anyways, so why are they less ‘perfect’ again?
Another Catholic group blasted Coulter’s remarks, saying they “show profound ignorance of both religion and American history.” “Ms. Coulter embarrasses Christians with her arrogance and insensitivity,” said Alexia Kelley, Executive Director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and she does not speak for those Christians and Jews who struggle together every day for justice and the common good.”
Ann Coulter’s latest insensitive, ignorant and racist comments are indicative of the latent lack of intelligence that plagues all fundamental Christians. Most thinking people are reasonably familiar with American history as it encompasses politics, science, culture, and war, along with the internal dynamic of tolerance that has kept this country peaceful and free for over 200 years. This continual attack by Coulter and other zealots who anoint themselves as the ‘perfect’ and the righteous, as well as experts in the area of Western Judeo-Christian values, are the very same people who are working to destroy the fabric of tolerance within our culture. Much the same way they accuse liberals of being secular humanists, who try to use the education system and the media to destroy Christian values, Coulter and the Christian posse of the ignorant, have a goal of transforming America through its education system, by taking control of colleges, textbook publishers and the media, with the help of conservative state legislatures and the Bush administration. This is evident in a recent push by some Southern school districts to supplement or replace Darwinian teachings with curriculum referred to as ‘Intelligent Design’, and a vote just days ago by the FCC to further relax restrictions on monopolization of media markets by gigantic conservative corporate interests – many of whom are these same racist Christians.
Christians are deliberately trying to put a strangle hold on our culture by brainwashing youth and destroying their sense of cultural and religious tolerance. They are people who fervently believe, with a religious zeal, in a radically different worldview than the one in which average Americans believe, and one in which this nation was founded and which has underpinned every bit of its moral and economic success.
This is a cultural war between the informed and the ignorant. Coulter’s view is based on faith in a divine creator, and a moral imperative to love and obey Christian doctrine at all costs, even if that means burning the American village to acheive that.
The other view is based on rejection of hatred and ignorance along with tolerance for the views and beliefs of others. People who follow this other world view do not pray on the desperate, not not kill those who disagree with their religious or philosophical views, are not racists, and attempt to advance American culture through mutual understanding, instead of trying to impose the often bizarre and violent teaching of the bible upon us.
In my opinion, Jesus would be embarrassed and appalled by Ann Coulter.
I do not support Ron Paul. In my eyes he is akin to so many other, few-sandwiches-short-of-a-picnic social conservatives that seem to travel through life wearing horse blinders while they’re busy thimping a bible. All the symptoms are there. He talks of crazy conspiracy theories, thinks theocracy can work in America, and prides himself on being a Constitutional expert. So, I checked some of his writings, only because his name has popped up a bit more than usual this past week due to his increase in fundraising.
How well does he know the Constitution you ask? He wrote this:
The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers. On the contrary, our Founders’ political views were strongly informed by their religious beliefs. Certainly the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God, would be aghast at the federal government’s hostility to religion.
“Replete with references to God?” That seemed odd to me, so I checked it out. By the way, replete means abundantly supplied or filled. So…how many times is God mentioned in the Constitution? Roughly about zero. I confirmed that fact by visiting Ron Paul’s own congressional website where he has posted a copy of the text. If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, just do a page search for “God” and you will be bombarded with all zero results that are returned.
Jefferson himself was lukewarm on the teachings of Christians and had little compassion for priests. Jefferson believed he was a Christian only in one sense, that he thought the moral teaching of Jesus made sense. I tend to agree with him. He did not believe in prayer, divine revelation, the trinity or the resurrection..and all this is documented in case Mr. Paul wants to check it out. However, right wing lunatic Christian fundamentalists are busy pushing their their view of American history in order to fit their theocratic brainwashing agenda. To this end, as his writings suggest, Ron Paul is willing to contribute.
I must assume Ron Paul has read the constitution. Why lie? He brags about his in depth study of the Constitution. He has the Constitution on his website. So why claim that it is filled with references to God when there is not a single mention of God anywhere in the document? The answer, concentration of political power around the Chritian right with an eye on imposing their theocratic agenda on this country…no matter what it takes – lying included.
The problem with Ron and all the other Christian fundamentalists who yearn to control government is that their views are rigid and their agenda reactionary. They simply do not critically analyze things and think through the consequences of their actions to the logical conclusions. A few examples…
If Roe v. Wade was overturned, as Ron Paul and other Christians would like to see, what would happen to all those seeking abortions? Answer – they would still get them…1920’s style – in some store front backdoor clinic or by some quack in their own bedrooms. Of course death rates among these women would skyrocket, but hey, all is good in the name of Christ. How about a return to strict constitutionalism? Well, I guess that means we bring back slavery. Ron Paul is so in tune with the founding fathers, then he must know most owned slaves. You can also kiss the U.S. Federal Reserve System goodbye, all social safety nets enacted during the New Deal, the U.S. Tax Code and everything it funds, the U.S. Highway System…I could go on but why waste any more time. The mere thought of all this is shear lunacy.
It is well know by the liberal bloggers that Ron Paul’s cult (and that is exactly what they are) spreads vicious rumors around the Internet with the goal of boosting him and his Christian revisionist lies, while ambushing anyone who disagrees with him, labeling those people socialists and liberal conspiratists. He is also up in the fundraising race because other like minded Christian-Jesus-Freaks are fueling his hateful and deceptive message, much the way they fueled another liar…George Bush. If America has an ounce of brainpower, they will avoid Paul and the like during this and every other election cycle. I’ll stick with candidates that actually think before they speak…thanks.
Too bad we couldn’t reincarnate Jefferson.
Okay kids, pay attention, this is important life learning you will not get anywhere else.
I have a theory.
After visiting my local Starbucks and eavesdropping on conversations, I have concluded there is an indisputable link between coffee, politics and sex. To support my theory, I have devised a coffee-politics-sex matrix that allows the causal observer to identify ones political and sexual orientation by simply observing how random people order their coffee.
Anarchist > Espresso > Asexual
Radical > Black Coffee > Heterosexual -or- Homosexual
Liberal > Cappuciono w/Straw > Gay
Centrist > House Blend > Heterosexual (Not monogamous)
Conservative > Maxwell House w/Viagara Pill > Closet Homosexual
Libertarian > Vanilla Steamer > Only one gay encounter in college
Christian Right > Water > Hard to tell…wasn’t allowed to attend Sex-Ed class
Know anyone who fits these??? I do.
Powerful stuff my freinds…powerful stuff 🙂
Wal-Mart is set to release a new Jesus Christ action figure into select stores. You knew this was coming. My question is, next to Spiderman and Superman, what kind of “action” would a Jesus action figure do that would appeal to violence addicted kids? Let us examine the situation.
The new Jesus doll wears a white robe, and has Kung-Fu grip. He doesn’t come with loaves and fishes, he apparently doesn’t perform any miracles, and he has no weapons (because Jesus is anti-violence and anti-killing for that matter…remember?) So in order to actually use the Kung Fu grip he’ll have to steal a sword or machine gun from another figure…oops, wait a minute…thou shall not steal either? Boy this is rapidly evolving into a marketing nightmare.
He’s 12″ tall, so he’s compatible with dolls like Barbie and G.I. Joe, but he can’t date Barbie or fight G.I. Joe? So what will he do exactly beesides be ‘Jesus?” Turns out he talks via an embedded computer chip and he says Jesus-like-things, for instance, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Swingers will love that. Maybe you can simply have him be the perpetual martyr. You can have GI Joe beat the crap out of him constantly while Joe calls him a lefty loon and remind him that the ‘REAL’ Jesus is in favor of the war in Iraq…just ask the Republicans. He could tie Jesus to the back of his jeep and drag him around Texas to make his point I suppose. Come to think of it, maybe Jesus should just keep his mouth shut altogether.
I’ve got it! They can make Jesus a campaign toy for the 2008 election. You could press his forehead and he could try to convince future voters that the Republicans really are compassionate instead of the narrow minded racists that they really are. Or maybe they can just simplify the speech feature to some catch phrases for American kids with short attention spans like, “9/11 bad!”, “Globalism good.”, and “Terroists everywhere, beware!”
As long as Jesus keeps his mouth shut, you can enage in all sorts of good old fashioned anti-Muslim fun. How about pretend Jesus has actually enlisted in the army, to fight side by side with G.I. Joe as he uses divine powers to make the American army invincible (because we all know the U.S. government and Christians are right and the rest of those people who live in the sand are wrong.) Maybe you could pretend that terrorists have kidnapped Jesus and use that as a news story, written by Barbie of course, to promote the struggle against fundamentalist Islam. If he was lucky enough to not get dead, he could maybe hook up with Barbie and learn to drive the convertible or crash at the beach over some wine and complain how all the 7-11 stores are owned by Muslims. Now that I think about it, the possibilities are endless.