Archive for October, 2011

Who Gets to Define Christianity? Me.


You mean she's a shiksa?

Coyne and Rosenhouse  are having a dustup with some mental midget “journalists” (one of these guys is actually named “douchehat”, I shit you not) regarding the centrality of original sin (caused by women, of course) to the Abrahamic tradition. This becomes a big bugaboo for Christians (and Jews and Muslims, actually) because original sin is what necessitates a “savior”, ergo Jesus. The douchehats believe that they can pretty much read whatever they want into the sacred texts, but still keep their baby Jesus, thus avoiding the nasty fact that Adam and Eve didn’t exist and that the minimum start size for our type of hominids was way more than 2….In response, Rosenhouse ask in frustration Who Gets to Define Christianity? I have an answer. Me. I’m a fucking sociologist of religion, it’s my job. And, it is really important for another little dust up going on over in the Republican Party regarding Mitt Romney’s Magik Underwear.

Christianity began as a cult movement out of Judaism, arguing that the messiah prophesied in their sacred texts had come, and articulating the mission of the messiah and his sacrifice for the sin born by all because of women (eve, garden, snake, apple….you get it?). Once the movement made this claim (a generation or so after Jesus’ death, if you look at real scholarship on the subject) and began adding new sacred texts to the classical Jewish canon–a new religious movement was born–what we call a “cult” in the sociology of religion. A cult is a movement with new revelations about supernatural rewards and compensators, and most cults are born in the same way as Christianity—adding to an existing tradition or set of traditions, rather than just making everything up anew (like Scientology). After a while, you have to stop calling cults cults, because they aren’t really new anymore. I’m giving it four generations, or 150 years after the death of the originator of the cult. By that time, there is nobody alive who knew the original religious entrepreneur, and scarcely any who knew anyone who knew him or her. So, by the Sherkat criteria, in 1994 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints made the transition from a “cult” or “new religious movement” to an independent religious tradition. BUT I HAVE TO AGREE WITH THE FUNDIES ON THIS ONE, MORMON IS NOT CHRISTIANITY.

Joseph Smith added new sacred texts to the Christian Canon, and they were doozies!!! Spirit families, majik underwear, shit like that. It is not Christianity, just as Christianity is not Judaism. Indeed, new religious movements can be born by jettisoning key principles of religious traditions as well. Unitarians are NOT CHRISTIAN. They don’t believe in the divinity of Christ. No Jesus, no Christianity. When they forged new organizations rejecting the divinity of Jesus, they were a cult. By the Sherkat principle maybe we can say they became a “not new” religious movement about 1924.

Of course, the scientists are right—liberal Douchehats are a strange and small group compared to more orthodox non-fundies and fundies.


Fred Shuttlesworth, 1922-2011—the great one is gone.



Fred Shuttlesworth, hero

Fred Shuttlesworth was the greatest hero of the civil rights movement, and his death at the age of 89 marks the end of an era. It was Shuttlesworth, not King or Abernathy, who sparked direct confrontation with the system of white supremacy in the United States. He was the courageous warrior who led the SCLC to confront Alabama and Bull Connor in the deadly and protracted Birmingham campaign. Without Fred, that would have NEVER happened.

It’s the Patriarchy, Stupid.


Adjusted personal income for married men and women: 1973-2010 GSS

Right-wing propagandists have been fond of touting patriarchy as a solution to all varied social problems, real or imagined. If only women would go back to being little mommies and leave the big bad world to the big strong men then there would be no inequality, no crime, global happiness, and most importantly no homosexuality–which means you could take a pee in public bathrooms without waiting from some guy to blow a wad in some other guy’s mouth. Of course, this is all bullshit. In the last post I presented the basic problem of inequality and religion—wacko sectarians who believe in gods and hell and heaven and shit like that tend to fair poorly on a variety of stratification outcomes–and of course, those are the same wackos militating for wifely submission and successfully eliminating birth control from health care plans (they don’t need birth control, since their teeny pricks never get hard enough in the presence of a woman to necessitate the prevention of implantation, and they own their housewives in the event that they sometimes might be heterosexual). Back in the real world, egalitarian couples do really well, in worldly terms like education, income, and wealth, and in terms of relationship quality–most objectively indicated by rates of divorce. Egalitarian couples marry latter, after they’ve had sex with other people! And, they establish separate and fulfilling careers, which they respect for both women and men. And, oh look. Who has the highest incomes? Patriarchs with separate spheres? No. Unitarians, where estimates suggest women earn just as much as men. And, of course, the highest divorce rates are also on the sectarian side of the continuum. No money, no honey.