Burch: Oh, what a tangled web ...

Friday, April 12, 2013 at 1:20pm
By Michael R. Burch

Here in the religion-besotted South the victims of ancient, primitive voodoo are often children. Tennessee’s largest Christian sects can be wildly intolerant and regularly condemn non-heterosexuals to the flames and suffering of an “eternal hell” unless they “repent.”

Since the election of Pope Francis, an archconservative in matters of theology, there has been talk of Catholic churches banning gays from taking communion. But according to Roman Catholic dogma, the church’s sacraments are required for salvation. Thus, to deny people communion is to condemn them to hell. The Mormon Church also denies its salvific sacraments to gays. And other Protestant churches routinely deny membership to “unrepentant” gays. Of course it makes no sense for imperfect earthly churches to deny membership to people God will welcome in heaven, so the message is startlingly, shockingly clear: “If you are gay, hell awaits you when you die, unless our religion curses you of your terrible disease.”

But of course human sexuality is not a “disease” and none of us have ever been “cured” of our “lusts” despite the wild claims of Christian theologians (not to mention religion-addled presidential candidates like Michelle Bachmann).

Just imagine the fear and despair this crystal-clear message creates in the hearts, minds and sinking guts of gay children who can’t help being the way God made them, if there is a God. I speak from experience, as my lovely, compassionate wife Beth once became a second mother to two young Jewish boys, identical twins, who lived down the street. When they were six, she told me in confidence that she was sure they were gay. When they “came out” to her later as teenagers, she just smiled, told them that she had always known, and of course still loved them, with no unnecessary drama. (One has to wonder why the allegedly loving, compassionate, wise, just God of Christianity can’t do the same.)

According to every Christian church that I have attended here in Nashville, those boys — now fine young men — are doubly damned. First, for being gay and not “repenting.” And second, for not “believing in Christ.” But why should they believe in Christ, if he’s so petty and intolerant that he sends billions of human beings to hell for not “believing” that he could be so petty and intolerant? Ironically, most atheists, agnostics and Muslims have higher opinions of Jesus than his most fervent disciples, who make him seem like the Devil.

How did Christianity come to be one of the last relics of Dark Age intolerance? Follow the money. Prostitution has been called “the oldest profession,” but there is a far richer, much less-honest profession that may well be its elder sister: religion. For millennia religion’s witchdoctors (today euphemistically called popes, priests, pastors, ministers, evangelists, missionaries, etc.) have been peddling “influence with the gods” to the gullible. Mark Twain, perhaps America’s foremost critic of the Bible and Christianity, once said: “I found out that I was a Christian for revenue only and I could not bear the thought of that, it was so ignoble.”

Unfortunately, the majority of Americans seem to lack Twain’s intellectual capability to be embarrassed about being so unjustly fleeced. Prostitutes are honest about what they’re selling and generally deliver “the goods.” The same cannot be said about Christianity’s glorified witchdoctors who create an imaginary “hell,” then claim to be able to offer “salvation” from it. But the Hebrew prophets who claimed to speak for God, and whose visions appear in the Bible, never mentioned a place called “hell,” or any possibility of suffering after death. They spoke of Sheol (the grave) being the ultimate penalty, and of everyone being resurrected together into what sounds like a universal heaven. No one can honestly claim to “know” the source of their visions, or if they will be fulfilled, but it is hard to understand why most Christian churches ignore the best and most glorious verses in the Bible, to focus on a handful of hellish verses that popped up without any explanation whatsoever, thousands of years later.

Judaism never had a dogma of hell. Indeed, the ancient Hebrew language doesn’t even have a word that means “hell” (a very curious omission if an all-wise God was communicating with Moses and the other Hebrew prophets). And ironically we know from the Jewish historian Josephus, a contemporary of the apostles and student of Judaism, that the only first-century Jews who believed in hell were the sworn enemies of Jesus, the Pharisees!

But in any case, we don’t allow Christian adults to use their religious freedom to molest, rape or otherwise physically abuse children. So why is it “legal” for Christian adults to torture innocent children emotionally, psychologically and spiritually with the infernal dogma of “hell”? How can the South ever become enlightened when its children are terrorized and brainwashed by the witchdoctors of such a primitive, barbaric religion?

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!

Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.

Filed under: City Voices

55 Comments on this post:

By: Loner on 4/12/13 at 12:45

Once again, Mike Burch puts the spotlight on the dark matter that binds Christians together - the fear of eternal damnation and eternal agony in the fires of Hell. That's the negative reinforcement part of the belief system.

The positive reinforcement that underpins Christianity is the promise of everlasting life....blessed salvation....unending joy...eternal and exquisite euphoria in Heaven.

The first scenario is certainly dreadful, the second scenario seems to be the better option...but to me, Heaven sounds like static boredom....but boredom sure beats burning.

Mike is right, the oldest profession is that of holyman.

We should never forget that Christianity is heretical Judaism practiced by Gentiles; Christ never renounced Judaism.

Orthodox Jews believe that Christ was a blasphemous heretic who got what he deserved and that his followers are idolaters, who worship a pagan man-God. The Messiah legend is a Jewish legend, if they say Jesus was not the guy, who are we to question that?

I am a member of a Unitarian Universalist congregation; we are a dogma-free faith...the "no-hell" church with the soft seats and no kneelers. We are a welcoming community...we marry members of the GLBT community in my church. We do not normally proselytize, but this looks like a good time to do so.

Here is a link that may be of interest:


Again, great job, Mike Burch.

By: bfra on 4/12/13 at 1:04

Thanks for having a Burch article, he is always very informative & makes practical assessments. I always enjoy reading them.

The other topic, I abandoned it early & let the trolls have their vulgar hayday.

By: Loner on 4/12/13 at 1:05

I admit it, I did not know where that familiar-sounding headline came from...so, I Googled it.

Who wrote 'Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive'?

Sir Walter Scott , in Canto VI, Stanza 17 of "Marmion" (1808) an epic poem about the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513.

The meaning is, basically, that lies beget more lies, and that masking lies with more lies creates an ever-more-complex arrangement of falsehoods.


By: Loner on 4/12/13 at 1:13

Amen on that, Bfra...the Burch piece is always good to see....speaking of the UFD board, the Jug wished a massive and fatal heart attack on me...I dunno...sounds like slack-jawed online terrorism....that's out of line in my book...I'd throw the flag, if there was one to throw.

By: Captain Nemo on 4/12/13 at 1:18

That post was deleted Loner. I think he is the first to get deleted in a long time.

By: bfra on 4/12/13 at 1:22

More needs to be deleted than just that one. Better yet, block the known trolls that post nothing but lies & rumors. yogi has threatened to shoot people & that wasn't deleted.

By: bfra on 4/12/13 at 1:26

Nemo - Just checked, that post wasn't deleted, still there. There for a min. I thought somebody at NCP had some morales.

By: Loner on 4/12/13 at 1:39

Over the years, I've seen things like, "Go play in traffic..." or "Take a long walk off a short pier" and so on...it's not a serious death wish...but with Jughead, it's crudely serious; the dude is a hater with an anger management problem?

If the Jug hates me and my comments, why does he continue to read them? Gotta be a masochist.

I suppose that the price of freedom of expression is that everyone, even haters, rumor-mongers, idiots, A-holes and liars are free to express themselves....these boards become like litter boxes....they stink after a while....fresh litter is good.

By: bfra on 4/12/13 at 1:50

Loner - Don't know how that login comment got on the other board. I left that place when the trolls took control. They can have it!

By: yogiman on 4/12/13 at 2:18


What do you consider yourself to be if you aren't a troll? Something special? Happy holiday for your thoughts.

If I had the intelligence you think you have, I would welcome anyone with a disagreement. That's what this world is all about, disagree and make your point. You either win or lose.

So tell me, why should NCP preserve this site to you and yours? Only because you think the same?

By: yogiman on 4/12/13 at 2:33

Everyone's personality is theirs, Mike. A person's sexual attitude is theirs, the stile of life they live is theirs with no known reason I have ever heard of. Homosexuals have been on this earth since it's beginning, but everyone's sexuality is personal, not a public display.

So why is homosexuality being put on the "front page" constantly today. Why is there ideas of teaching it to children as normal. There has to be a political reason for it.

I noted two post I saw last night that pretty much explains why so many things are being brought out on the children of today. You can get them by going on Bing and mentioning Wild Bill - playing cowboys and communists. Then look up common core: communism re-packaged.

Did you hear that woman make the statement 'the children belong to the government'? Do the people of today want their children raised in this way of life by the government?

By: yogiman on 4/12/13 at 2:34

Sorry, bfra, I misspelled it. I meant style of life.

By: Captain Nemo on 4/12/13 at 2:56

bfra, there is only one post from Jug and it directed @ NewYork1.

By: bfra on 4/12/13 at 3:03

Nemo - Still on mine directed to Loner at 9:28AM by jughead. On the "up for debate" board.

By: govskeptic on 4/13/13 at 7:54

Those with children should be the ones to decide whether they attend church
or not, and if so which ones. It's certain not the right of the government or those
supporting a government rune country to make that decision as eager as they
are to do so.

By: yogiman on 4/13/13 at 11:48

Convince the government, govskepic. Did you hear that young woman make the remark the children belonged to the government?

The government started their takeover of the children, later to be the citizens, when they took over the children's education.

Consider the arguments on this site and consider the ages. How many of them were "educated" by the government?

The same education for the children on a nationwide basis was the big boot for the communist party to boot their takeover.

By: bfra on 4/13/13 at 12:04

The yellow-belly communist yogi is on both boards posting his propaganda & lies!

By: yogiman on 4/13/13 at 12:34

well, bfra, you seem to be able to accuse me of being a liar, so how about proving it. Just one time if you have the knowledge or intelligence to do so.

You're a simple minded accuser but not an knowledgeable prover.

Prove me wrong.

By: yogiman on 4/13/13 at 12:37

By the way, bfra, I'm also still waiting for you to prove to me your man Barry is constitutionally eligible for that office he's sitting in.

By: bfra on 4/13/13 at 2:25

How can anyone prove something to an idiot with no brains?

By: yogiman on 4/13/13 at 5:28

How can anyone prove something to an idiot with no brains? It's simple, bfra, anyone that knows what they are talking about can prove any argument they can think of. So why am I still waiting on you to present your knowledge? Or should I say lack of knowledge?

Can't one of your buddies on this site give you some help on this issue?

If I've been so wrong for 4 and a half years, why haven't you produced your evidence and proved I'm wrong?

Could just possible you your have no idea what you're talking about.

By: yogiman on 4/13/13 at 6:32

Oops: Typing too fast. The last sentence was supposed be; Could it be possible that you have no idea what you're talking about.

Maybe I should slow down on my typing.

By: Ask01 on 4/14/13 at 7:20

Parents have the right and responsibility to raise their children as they see fit. Ideally, they instill a sense of fair play, empathy for their fellow humans, a solid work ethic, a desire for learning, and at least the roots of common sense.

Religious beliefs fall within these parameters, I believe. The spiritual, however, needs to be tempered with an eye to the secular society in which we live. One of the greatest of Christian teachings is tolerance, a concept so many seemingly never learned, have forgotten, or consciously ignored. Along with so many other Christian teachings selectively applied.

Education, travel, and a questioning spirit are the keys to expanding individual knowledge and breaking the molds created by Southern community leaders who fear a loss of power and authority in the face of an educated and knowledgable populace.

By: yogiman on 4/14/13 at 8:09

I fully agree with you, Ask01, but I'm afraid our government doesn't. When I saw that woman make the remark about the government "ruling" the children irt made me think
uh oh, they're here.

I posted two articles on that issue but I doubt if anyone on this site listened to them. They must not have any children or grandchildren.

By: MusicCity615 on 4/14/13 at 8:43

Burch- why no mention of Islam's intolerance of homosexuality?

By: yogiman on 4/14/13 at 9:33

If Islam doesn't tolerate homosexuality, why is Barack Obama supporting in so much through the government when he is known to be of the Muslim faith?

Could it be because he's a homosexual drug attic?

By: Ask01 on 4/14/13 at 9:44

I suppose, MC615, because Islam, until recently, didn't have much impact on the religious indoctrination in the South.

We were told, when I was growing up, the Jews were God's chosen people, but had rejected Jesus as the Messiah. Muslims, or whatever they were called back then were pretty much ignored. Islam was, at least in the backwater, dirt road, outhouse infested South an oddity most religious groups regarded as inconsequential.

Thus, while I can't speak for Mike, I can reason that he is limiting his article to those influences most dominant during what would have been the formative years for todays blinder wearing, closed minded, Bible thumping bigots and racists.

Of course today, I suppose many of those are including Muslims in their doctrines of intolerance, as they update their rhetoric.

By the way, while it is true that many of the nations which hate the United States are Islamic Republics, it does not follow that all adherents to that religion are terrorists. Unless of course you advocate a scenario similar to that of the Japanese internment camps of World War II.

Just my humble opinion, though.

By: yogiman on 4/14/13 at 10:28


I think you should do a little research on religions before you come to a conclusion on them. You can clan to believe a particular religion but if you are actually a believer of that religion, you obviously have to "go all the way" in that belief.

I've wondered all of my life why there is so many different beliefs (religions). How did they all come to a different conclusion of what God wanted when they were created. Did Jesus teach our ancestors several different versions of his thoughts?

By: bfra on 4/14/13 at 10:41

Ask01 - Thank you for putting factual reading on the board. Then have to be followed by a total insane idiot that has no idea of anything sane to put on the board, is pathetic. That idiot should be banned from any contact with sane human beings!

By: yogiman on 4/14/13 at 12:15

Darn, I still wish I was as "smart" as you think you are, bfra/

And by the way, I'm still waiting on proof you actually what you're claiming to know.

By: bfra on 4/14/13 at 12:20

Ole fool can't remember from one sentence to the next!

By: yogiman on 4/14/13 at 2:03

I'm just repeating myself so much hoping you may one day come to the conclusion you need to "educate" me and post the "proof" you claim to have. That is, if you have any, of course.

Come on, bfra, throw it at me. As I've "said", prove me wrong and I'll apologize and convene with y'all.

By: Ask01 on 4/15/13 at 3:56

Thanks bfra.

I just ignore the toady little trolls and don't even acknowledge their existence.

After all, their sole reason for posting is usually to stir up other posters and I won't be bothered.

Have a great week.

By: yogiman on 4/15/13 at 5:54

Ignore all you wish, Ask01. If you have any children, I feel sorry for them in their future. You'll deserve what you get for not looking into the known facts for them.

You are a good writer so I presume you are reasonably intelligent, so tell me; why did Barack Obama state on page 26 of his autobiography, "I discovered this article, folded away among my birth certificate and old vaccination forms, when I was in high school"? He was writing about his father.

I'm still looking for an answer of what that birth certificate says about the man that refuses to identify himself to sit in our Oval Office.

Aren't you curious who your 'president' is?

By: Loner on 4/15/13 at 6:44

This board started out alright...nice essay...cogent commentary....then the trolls descended on the site, turning it into an insult-hurling contest.....then the NCP leaves the stinking mess up for further abuse on Monday.....why?

By: yogiman on 4/15/13 at 7:16


We are all different, and I think we are all entitled to think as we do, therefore, you are entitled to think as you do. But with your weak mind, you think I should thank as you do. No thanks, I prefer my way of thinking so let me refer you to what I just posted" Barack Obama wrote in his autobiography he "discovered this article, folded among my BIRTH CERTIFICATE and old vaccinations forms, when I was in high school."
So you don't think he should show his birth certificate to prove he is in our Oval Office legally. You'd just rather have someone as your president whom you have no idea who in the hell he is.

No thanks, think as you wish; but I prefer to know who's trying to force my nation into communism.

By: yogiman on 4/15/13 at 7:26

Ya know, Loner, being a retired postal carrier who seems to be a reasonably intelligent person, I must presume you was much like my old postal carrier before he retired. I always got my bills on time and never received one of my neighbors envelopes in my mail box.

But it looks like the quality of postal carriers have changed over the times. I have to be more aware on my bills to make sure I get them paid on time because I don't know if I'm going to miss one or not. I get mail addressed to one of my neighbors and I always put them back in my mailbox.

I hope my neighbors are doing the same but I know there has been times when I never received a bill.

By: Loner on 4/15/13 at 9:29


By: Loner on 4/15/13 at 9:57

I had hoped to read feedback from Mike Burch here...maybe he is too embarrassed by the troll droppings to come online?

By: yogiman on 4/15/13 at 10:43

Embarrassed by you or me, Loner? What kind of "troll" are you. I'll readily admit, I'm only a fact seeker.

By: Loner on 4/15/13 at 12:16

Yogi, you do not seek facts, you seek anything out there that will bolster your prejudices and reaffirm your beliefs....you site BS sources...you are being used, man...exploited as a birther dupe by the enemies of freedom. You ignore anything that contradicts your ore-conceived notions, Yogi..."fact seeker", you ain't....clueless troll "you is".

By: Loner on 4/15/13 at 12:17

"pre-conceived" notions, that is...Spellchecker went on auto-correct.

By: bfra on 4/15/13 at 12:28

Loner, when you are dealing with someone, so brainless they can't even come up with an original retort, that tells it all. If yogi didn't play on someone else's words, he would never have a response. Double dumb troll is he!

By: Loner on 4/15/13 at 12:39

Aye...Bfra...hang him from the yardarm....Aaarrrr....I'm, in a pirate mood this afternoon...got another anti-fracking protest to attend at 6 PM local time...about 25 miles from here....weather looks good right now...mild, but it could rain....gotta get psyched up for the protest.....Aaaaaarrrrr.

By: yogiman on 4/15/13 at 12:58

Don't give the race crap, Loner. Noe on on this site is more of a racist then you. The man is black and white, so what makes you argue I'm against him because of his black half?

So tell me, Loner, is Barry's autobiography a book full of BS? You constantly claim he is constitutionally eligible for that office, so I ask once again, how can a person who was an Indonesian become a natural born American citizen.

I've been waiting over four and a half years for you to simply put your information on it in writing. I'm sure you haven't because you don't have any. Prove me wrong.

By: yogiman on 4/15/13 at 1:01

Sorry, I'm busy. I meant No one on this site...

By: bfra on 4/15/13 at 1:05

Where is gdiafante? He has proved the old dumb troll wrong at every turn & the troll doesn't have enough sense to understand facts. G might have decided the trolls have ruined the site so bad, he quit. I hope not!

By: bfra on 4/15/13 at 2:15

Does this sound like anybody on this board?
COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — A neighbor says a man killed by a homemade explosive at his California home was an eccentric who distributed rambling anti-government pamphlets around his quiet neighborhood.

By: yogiman on 4/15/13 at 2:18

Sorry, bfra,

gdiafante, like you and the others, hasn't proved one thing on the eligibility issue. You can say anything, but the facts are best and I've just been quoting from Barry's autobiography. Are you claiming he's just a big liar in that book?

By: bfra on 4/15/13 at 2:48

Only in the blank brainless head of a troll!