Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What if it had been Minneapolis?

So I'm wondering --- if Monday's tornado down in Moore, Oklahoma, had wiped out a suburb of Minneapolis instead, would voices have been raised in Oklahoma and elsewhere declaring the devastation God's judgment against a new marriage equality state? Probably.

But since Oklahoma, where the death toll has been lowered to 24, is the buckle of both the Bible and tornado belts, there's been little of that. Except for Fred Phelps. Who found reason to declare, "God hates Oklahoma." It had something to do with Jason Collins. Seriously.

In general among angry God theorists, however, judgment always is relative --- depending upon whose ox has been gored.


Caustic comic and notable nonbeliever Ricky Gervais stirred up a little excitement Tuesday morning by responding to an MTV tweet reporting celebrity prayers for Oklahoma with, "I feel like an idiot now. I only sent money." Gervais followed that up by urging his 4.6 million followers to each give $10 to Red Cross disaster relief efforts.

Not that there's anything wrong with "sending prayers" --- for many just a way of phrasing an outpouring of general love and concern --- although there certainly are those who actually believe a careless and cantankerous God can be prayed from naughty to nice.

Cash probably is a better bet. But "sending prayers" sounds so much more caring than "sending cash."


Oklahoma senators Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn, both Republicans, as well as a variety of state representatives, have been notably cranky about federal disaster aid directed to other parts of the country --- as well as to FEMA funding. Now, of course, aid is needed at home and the situation's "different." Go figure.

Coburn says he'll demand that any aid directed to Oklahoma be deducted from federal funds budgeted for other purposes. Fine with me --- so long as it comes out of Oklahoma's allocation.


This also is the week of the big vote among Boy Scouts of America delegates on whether or not to ditch the current ban on gay scouts --- those wicked little Cubbies wearing rainbow socks. It'll be interesting to see how it goes, especially since Iowa's Zach Walls has been a leading advocate against the ban.

Walls and others also want the ban on gay leaders lifted, too, but it's already a given that this won't happen, now at least.

This is an issue mostly because so many of the chartered organizations affiliated with scouting are tied to Christian denominations. Lifting the ban on gay scouts has the support of the LDS church, by far the largest sponsor of scouting organizations with nearly 38,000 charters (United Methodists are next, with 11,000 charters).

The loudest noise, however, has been coming from Baptists (only 4,000 charters) and other more marginal right-wing protestant sects. Which is a little odd.

Back in the day when I was failed Cub Scout, Baptists and others were screeching and hollering about Godless Boy Scouts (Scouting focuses on belief in a supreme being, but doesn't make it clear that this being has been born again and baptized by immersion).

The result was an organization called AWANA (Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed --- whatever the heck that's supposed to mean), offered as the truly Christian alternative to scouting. Obviously, however, not all who might have abandoned the scouting ship for Godlier craft did so.

Oh, by the way --- atheist kids: Boy scouting won't want you no matter how the vote goes Thursday. It's always a relief to find out that there's something worse than being gay.

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