Counterpunchin’ preacher cries foul on Pontiff’s #FakeNews

In his Feb. 2 (Groundhog Day of all days…) ‘Take a Bite and See the Light’ Rev. William Alberts, he might be calling out Papal Bull, if you don’t mind a bit of a pun.  But he also calls BS on the Genesis ‘Garden of Eden’ story as well.  I’ll not bring the chapters and verses, you can read it all if you care to track them here (in Francis’s  document copyrighted epistle©  [what a way to get that Good News out there, dude!  not Creative Commons?], “The truth will set you free”; Fake news and journalism for peace, or at Rev. Albert’s essay linked above.

“According to Pope Francis, fake news, rather than a recent phenomenon, has plagued society since the beginning of the human race.  In a World Communications Day message on “Fake news and journalism for peace,” Francis states that “the first fake news” was “employed by the ‘crafty serpent’ in the Book of Genesis . . . at the dawn of humanity . . . marking the beginning of “the tragic history of human sin . . . against God, neighbor, society and creation.

In the Genesis creation story, the first human being, Adam, had a good deal in the Garden of Eden paradise God created for him..  He was provided with “every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food,” with a flowing river to water the Garden.  God also made “every animal of the field and every bird of the air,” and even allowed Adam to name “every living creature.”   And to top it off: so that Adam would not be alone,  God made a woman – from Adam’s own rib – as a partner, and also allowed Adam to name her, which he did, calling her “Woman, because she was taken out of “Man.”  There was only one catch: God told Adam, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

From Pope Francis:

‘In the account of the first sin, the tempter approaches the woman by pretending to be her friend, concerned only for her welfare, and begins by saying something only partly true: “Did God really say you were not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?” (Gen 3:1). In fact, God never told Adam not to eat from any tree, but only from the one tree: “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you are not to eat”. The woman corrects the serpent, but lets herself be taken in by his provocation: “Of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said, “You must not eat it nor touch it, under pain of death” Her answer is couched in legalistic and negative terms; after listening to the deceiver and letting herself be taken in by his version of the facts, the woman is misled. So she heeds his words of reassurance: “You will not die!”

The tempter’s “deconstruction” then takes on an appearance of truth: “God knows that on the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil”.  God’s paternal command, meant for their good, is discredited by the seductive enticement of the enemy: “The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and pleasing to the eye and desirable” This biblical episode brings to light an essential element for our reflection: there is no such thing as harmless disinformation; on the contrary, trusting in falsehood can have dire consequences. Even a seemingly slight distortion of the truth can have dangerous effects.’

Rev. Albert again:

“Pope Francis automatically gives credence to the Genesis creation story’s lesson on disobedience as the cardinal sin of humankind.  He moralizes:  “God’s paternal command, meant for their good, is discredited by the seductive enticement of the enemy: ‘The woman saw the tree was good to eat and pleasing to the eye and desirable.’  Francis omits the Genesis story’s next phrase:  ‘…and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise’.  Instead, he continues to moralize: “This biblical episode brings to light an essential element for our reflection: there is no such thing as harmless disinformation; on the contrary, trusting in falsehood can have dire consequences.” (Ibid)

How, as Pope Francis presumes, is “God’s paternal command meant for their good” and why is “the seductive enticement” of the serpent bad?  What is so sinful about wanting to take a bite and see the light?  Where is the falsehood in desiring to open one’s eyes and become wise, knowing the difference between good and evil, like God?  What is wrong about the wish to move from a womb-like-Garden-of-Eden- dependency on God — or Church or State — to moral clarity and self-determination and solidarity with others?  What is so evil about saying no to obedience to a religious or political status quo and yes to inquisitiveness, which is the avenue of self-development and the inspiration for community building?    Adam and Eve model the rise, not the fall, of humankind.  Any questioning that enables people to open their eyes and become wise enough to know the difference between good and evil is to be encouraged, not moralized as evil.  Desperately needed today is moral clarity, not conformity to biblically-interpreted beliefs.”

He says that Franicis flirts with Fake News by conflating ‘the truth’ with the ‘living God’ and the Bible, and by extension, Christianity. He then equates truth with the Bible, and again asserts that Christ’s ‘I am the truth’ equates to Francis ‘The truth will set you free’ (Jn 8: 32), so that’s what Rev. Albert sees as the Pope’s message, which the church preserves and perpetuates.

He’s seriously vexed that Francis treats the Genesis story as the truth, when he ardently believes that Christians use it to spread Fake News, as in ‘all humans are born in sin due to the fact that Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of good and evil so that they might become wise, like God, and be able to discern good from evil for themselves.

He further contends that the story brings more Christian falsehood: the belief that ‘God sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, into the world and allowed him to be crucified on the cross as atonement for sinful humanity’, and that the only way for people to be secure from eternal damnation is to accept that fact, and confess him as their Savior.  This must seem logical to most Christians, but it took me a few reads to kina see where they’re heading:

“Consider the spiritual catch 22 facing Christians in certain denominations.  The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” puts it this way: “389 The doctrine of original sin is, so to speak, the ‘reverse side’ of the Good News that Jesus is the Savior of all men, that all need salvation and that salvation is offered to all through Christ.”  And, “The Church, which has the mind of Christ, knows very well that we cannot tamper with the revelation of original sin without undermining the mystery of Christ.”  

Here the truth is a matter of divine revelation that is surrounded by “mystery” and not to be “tampered with.”

Next he brings a few paragraphs on various churches’ statements on sinfulness and salvation, all babies are born in sin, etc.: United Methodist, Anglican/Episcopal,  Episcopal, Assembly of God, Baptist, Presbyterian and Lutheran Churches; he provides a link to Mary Fairchild’s ‘Compare the belief’s of Christian Dominations’, then notes and deconstructs:

“These Christian denominations’ repeated use of the word “man” in referencing the Bible’s creation story betrays an embedded patriarchy, which is an insidious form of fake news that makes women and girls invisible – and vulnerable.

Being punished for wanting to become wise and know the difference between good and evil.  The Christian interpretation of the creation story is about right belief, not just behavior.  It is about the exclusivity of faith, not the inclusivity of love.  It is about evangelism, not empathy.  It is about obedience to the biblical Word of God as interpreted by priests, pastors and evangelists.  Foremost, it is about gaining power over and controlling believers.

After writing on some New Rules as to how and the many ‘why’s’ that Trump gets a mulligan’ on his sexist deeds by Christian Evangelical leaders, he blasts back:

“Babies are contaminated with sin?”  All children are born human, predisposed to respond to nurture and love with trust and love in return.  What is sinful is a gospel of self-hatred that makes them feel unworthy and in need of a church’s biblical dispensation to alleviate their guilt and make them feel acceptable.  Babies can, however, be contaminated by religious belief.

While countless people find security in believing that Christ died for their sins, countless others live life and face death fearing that divine retribution hangs over their heads.”

He then shares a longish vignette about visiting a terminally ill black man in his capacity as a hospital chaplain, and which of Rev Albert’s messages to him proved the most…soothing and reassuring to him.  Spoiler alert: that he would not be alone, wherever he was after his demise, but that the good Rev would search for him.  It caused me to think once again of John Truell’s poignant line: ‘They’re trying to isolate us in a dimension called loneliness’.

To god:  we hope you don’t mind but we would like to talk to you; there are some things we need to straighten out, it’s about these christians they claim to be from your nation but man you should see the things they do all the time blaming it on you: manifest destiny, genocide, maximized profit, sterilization, raping the earth, lying taking more than they need in all the forms of the greed. we ask them why, they say it’s god’s will.

Damn god they make it so hard. Remember jesus? Would you send him back to them, tell them how to kill him, rather they should listen stop abusing his name and yours.

We do not mean to be disrespectful but you know how it is, our people have their own ways we never even heard of you until not long ago, your representatives spoke magnificent things of you which we were willing to believe, but from the way they acted we know we and you were being deceived.

We do not mean you and your christian children any bad, but you all came to take all we had we have not seen you but we have heard so much it is time for you to decide what life is worth we already remember but maybe you forgot.’

Rev Albert winds up:

“Actually, in eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve cut the “umbiblical” cord of a god created in the image of man and gave birth to themselves.  They represent, not a theology of self-hatred, but one of self-empowerment and moral sensitivity.

What is the difference between good and evil?  Good is whatever makes life more human for people.  Evil is whatever diminishes and destroys people’s lives.  Good is recognizing that people themselves have the capacity and the right to decide what makes life more human [I’ll assume he mean ‘humane’, rather] for them.  Evil is sitting in the shade of one’s own tree of the knowledge of good and evil and deciding what is right and wrong for everyone else.  Good is being secure enough in one’s own identity to affirm and protect the right of others to be different.  Evil is the failure to recognize that to be different is not to be evil but merely to be different.  Good is the attempt to use democracy to secure life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all people.  Evil is the attempt to capitalize on democracy to secure more power, privilege and profit at the expense of the common good of all people.

Living in community and in peace with others depends on knowing the difference between good and evil – and acting on the basis of that difference.  Take a bite and see the light.

Rev. William E. Alberts, Ph.D., a former hospital chaplain at Boston Medical Center, is both a Unitarian Universalist and United Methodist minister. His new book, The Counterpunching Minister (who couldn’t be “preyed” away), with a forward ‘Drawing the Line’, written by Counterpunch editor, Jeffrey St. Clair.

(cross-posted at

23 responses to “Counterpunchin’ preacher cries foul on Pontiff’s #FakeNews

  1. According to the story the Serpent didn’t lie, and man gained knowledge!
    So the Pope is saying that knowledge is bad!

    • And the flaw of man wasn’t that he chose knowledge but that he didn’t choose eternal life’s?

    • at least according to both the pope’s bible and rev albert’s bibles, the tempter (the serpent) said that, and yes: no eternal life (who’d want that, anyway?). the pope is saying that we must not tamper with the truth from ‘the living god’, the bible, or christianity, is how i get it. i didn’t get into rev albert’s ‘punishment’ that god handed down for the crime of disobedience:

      “God sentenced her — and all women thereafter — to pain in childbearing, putting her in a catch 22 with: “I will make your pangs in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children.” And then this catch 22: “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3: 16) Thus the veneration of patriarchy: with men biblically licensed to rule over women in the family and Church – with the sexual abuse of women – and children – encouraged by patriarchally-controlled relationships.”

      God condemned him [adam] – and the human race thereafter – “cursing the ground” because of Adam, filling it with “thorns and thistles,” and requiring him to toil for food by “the sweat of your brow.” Never mind that Adam was supposedly created in the image of God. His unpardonable sin was wanting to become like God. As “the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”

      both adam and eve had apparently passed the buck to the serpent, and ‘So, God cursed the serpent and condemned him to snakehood, and from that day on the serpent has received bad press.’ lol.

      there are so many different versions of the bible it makes my head swim, but a couple i checked were pretty similar in their translations. as i’m not a believer, it gets a bit complicated for me to think that for many, the bible is The Word.

      welcome to the café, robert. nice to have you here.

      • And yet the ultimate conclusion is that knowledge is bad! This suggests at the preference of God to ignorance and his required rejection of knowledge! And Jesus was big on sheep; be a sheep, be a sheep be a stupid ignorant Sheep!
        You really have to wonder whose real interests this script works in favor of? If the sheep accepts its own shearing and slaughter, then maybe the Sheep has been conned?

        • lol. well, yes, but not ALL knowledge. only ‘approved knowledge is good’, and the rabble must not be able to tell good from evil by themselves. on edit: how many preach LGBT folks as evil from the pulpit? or being any other religion besides christian? i always loved that zionists loved christians united for israel, even though those pastors thought jew’s woul go to hell if they didn’t convert. weird diconnect, but more about $$$ than any belief system, i reckon.

          well, it works for many churches (name above), evangelizing, and those who decide who should go into the kingdom of heaven, and who should be barred. this piece i wrote on ‘Apostle of Hatred Rev. Franklin Graham and Three Murdered Muslim Students’ in 2015 features a lot of rev albert’s condemnations of such ugliness.

          but really, christ may indeed have liked sheep, but he was a carpenter. dunno how that might be tweaked for your metaphor. but yes, dictates like:’women, be subject to your husbands’, and so on. okay let’s check in with Pontifex. how does this grab you? a subtweet ask that he should pray for abuse survivors, same woman says she’d been waiting for three years to do so. i assume, abuse from priests. (click the tweet if those don’t come thru):

          • So the truth(knowledge)is not the authority, the authority is the authoritarian himself! To deny the authority isn’t is the real sin, the real sin is denying his dictates…irrespective of truth!

            • hmmm. ‘Truth’ as an absolute gets a bit foggy for me. but at the very least, i think we’d need to search within ourselves to discover what’s ‘closest to the truth’ to offer ourselves and our social lives, gospels if you will, as worthy formulas, dictates. for me, it starts with ‘know thyself’, a discussion we had here not long ago, which of course includes checking our inner lives, so very hard to be honest about.

              come to think of it, a friend told me once that the christian sect that believes that god is both within one and without one is considered heretical, as well. later i’ll remember the name of it…

              is your whispy avatar by way of a whirling dervish by chance?

              • Truth depends on reliability and is seldom an absolute! I find that religion is highly unreliable, unless I mentally lobotamize myself!

                Man chose knowledge before eternal life. The truth is the bible promotes slavery and ignorance before knowledge!
                Be a sheep, be a sheep be an ignorant mindless sheep and don’t fight the fleecing and slaughter!
                Christianity is as much a slave religion as much as it promotes stupidity!

                • i’ll agree that Truth should be reliable, and can’t be absolute. i’d tried to edit an earlier comment (the ‘new and improved’ wordpress defeated my efforts) saying that for some preachers is the pulpit, LGBTQ folks wi go to hell, as will adherents to other religions. and that it’s always slayed me that zionist love ‘christians united for israel’ (pastor john hagee devotées) ven though their credo is that jews’ll go to hell unless they convert. of course, it’s all about the dollars, and the ‘truth’ that until ‘israel stands alone’…christ won’t return to planet earth.

                  i’ll need to ask: are there other major religions that don’t promote ignorance and aren’t slave religions? oh, and mr. wd reminded me that it’s the gnostics who believe in god within, god without. such subversives they are! can’t have that, can we?

                  • Algorithms are true constructs that define their elements and relationships precisely. They apply in science for limited cross sections of constraints! The universal gas law works perfectly until it doesn’t. Algorithms are absolute truths but are no more reality than you are your name!
                    Freedom is understood by its contrast slavery. When you have no choices then you are a slave. When you have a lot of choices then you have freedom. Religions control people by restricting their choices, particularly mental choices and freedoms. Without mental freedom you have no freedom.
                    Freedom by providing too many choices can increase dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Some people prefer the slavery of religion because they are more satisfied and happier with less freedom and fewer choices!
                    But to force, coerce or punish people to accept religion is evil! It restricts some people into unhappiness and stupidity that they find uncomfortable!

                    • i’m unable to decode your higher math constructs, robert. but yes,fewer choices DO equal freedom for some, although they likely have had their senses dulled by the money search, the next consumer item to be had then tossed in the trash for the next one is endemic to this society.

                      but for the interrum, as calvinist betsy devos is now the secretary of mis-education, church and state intersections are again on the rise via, esp. charter schools and vouchers for religious (ooops: christian) schools k-12.

                      advertising in the Imperium has reached a fevered pitch, thus few even challenge what themes have been reified as to US exceptionalism and exporting democracy to beleaguered nations and continents that the US has beleaguered…on purpose. oh, dear, i’m wandering; i’ll stop now and close at the bottom.

  2. but lol and OMG, while we’re on the subject:

  3. i’m out for the night, exhausted. here’s a lullaby from playing for change, whirled peas thru music:

  4. Speaking of Fake News: Christians don’t get the flu. Really. Flu season is all in our heads, Texas televangelist says: ‘Inoculate yourself with the word of God’

    More than 70 people are dead in North Texas after one of the worst bouts of flu in recent years.

    But Tarrant County televangelist Gloria Copeland, a faith adviser to President Donald Trump, wants you to know there is no such thing as flu season.

    “We got a duck season, a deer season, but we don’t have a flu season,” she said in a Facebook video posted last week that’s making headlines. “And don’t receive it when somebody threatens you with, ‘Everyone’s getting the flu!'”

    She went on: “Jesus himself gave us the flu shot. He redeemed us from the curse of flu.”

    • lol! yep, televangelism. at least she didn’t say that one of the blocks to receiving god’s medicine was that they failed to send bucks to the copleand ministries!

      thanks greyson smythe; we were just discussing prosperity doctrine ministries over yonder at c99%. fancy that this diary has 57 comments over there already. sure glad i cross-posted it; very interesting comment thread, so many issues and different thoughts represented. the link is at the end of the diary in case you’re interested. ;-) tough blogging software for mine eyes, but i’m verrrry sensitive, i admit.

  5. i’m signing off for the night, and offer this cover from playing for change, world peace thru music:

  6. yesterday the counterpunchin’ preacher critiqued the nov. ‘Boston Declaration’, issued by 300 christian leaders who ‘challenge’ the corruption of amerikan christianity, most especially ‘the white supremacy of evangelical Christians, which leads them to support politicians whose promotion of policies of “exclusion, exploitation, and hatred” promises to maintain white privilege and “the normalizing of oppression.” his main criticism is that the document doesn’t speak truth to power in naming names, of identifying and elaborating on specific oppressive governmental policies, and of proposing concrete actions, but does contain words condemning false ideologies as ‘not the jesus way’. yes, the list is good…for what it contains.

    rev albert posits that its vagueness is likely do to some of the signatories’ ecclesiastical superiors are casting their shadows over their deliberations. now the declaration names as one false ideology: ‘“homophobia and transphobia and all violence against the LGBTQ community”, although albert notes that:
    “At this moment, The United Methodist Church is threatening to split over its decades-long discriminatory position on homosexuality. Hopefully, the Council of Bishops will help enable the Church to remove from its Book of Discipline the “despicable” words about and discriminatory practices against LGBTQ persons. Specifically: “Para 304.3: The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.”(small wonder in any hierarchical organization, there are always compradors, plus it’s interesting that it’s one of the churches he belongs to.)

    it also looks as though victims and their alllies of ‘priestly’ sexual abuse were callin’ papal bull on francis in peru and chile during his recent ‘good will tour’ to heal the sex abuse scandals’.

  7. as much as i’m down on Protestantism, one can see merits in breaking with Rome. bastion of reaction.

    anyway, i’ll just say that of course the greatest book ever written will be, uh, controversial. and highly ambiguous. and perhaps with even an entirely unbelievable central character (to quote Woody A.) and if there weren’t a lot of killing in it people would bitch that it’s unrealistic & boring. a frickin’ deity can’t win.

    best book ever written…until you get to Paul-Nietzsche. you know, the unrealistic & boring part. the fruit of the spirit is…snoooooooooze.

    • “people don’t want love. they want a great big slice of revenge.” the drunk commie butler Tuck in “the ruling class.”

    • sorry, but i’m too weary by now to even partially grasp your comment. tomorrow, okay? but thanks for your comment (she sayed hopefully). ;-)

    • great quip by woody allen; i hadn’t ever seen that. but of course rev albert seemed to believe that the garden of eden story was a true one, and just had quibbles with the way the pope had spun it.

      i liked that he seriously pushed back on ‘babies are born in sin’ and the pope’s male authoritarianism, causing me to remember alice’s miller’s ‘poisonous pedagogy’ anew. and of course trump’s coming military parade down pennsylvania ave. is similarly reactionary born of fear thru failing bullying, so ramp it up! my button (penis) i bigger than yours!

      but yeppers, to me the pope’s abject failure to end sex abuse by priests is fucked up beyond words, and the televangelist big box mega-churches have similar qualities. someone over yonder had provided a link that noted that oprah has had (gag) joel osteen on her show…a lot. another commenter said that the satanist church believe that the serpent was right. i’d finally twigged to the need to ask: so they believe the story, not just as an allegory?

      he said he reckons that they just kinda ‘stipulate’ that the story happened, as most Xians believe it. ;-)

      • yeah, there’s some nice poetry in it. b/n the bloodletting.

        anyway, the thin gruel served up by the Jesus cheerleaders is the state religion. I wonder if extra special forces aren’t behind the rising numbers of evangelicals around the world? the avant-garde of neo-lib colonialism?

        part of this thin gruel is that the bible is the special property of every little snowflake out there. “you, sparklepony, what does the 3rd commandment, “Don’t take Jehovah’s name in vain,” mean?” “well, let me see, I think it means not making poopy jokes & not talking like certain black comedians. like that Rock fellow. and being nice.” yes, I had a conversation just the other day w/a very pious way overeducated guy that amounted to something just that silly. the point being these jesus goblins & Christ potatoes, no matter how much bible readin they did, have never read the bible at all.

        all right, let’s talk about the ideology of the Family here. the James Dobson radioactive family. how many times have I heard this: “You know that in every instance of polygamy in the Old Testament, it turns out bad. So despite the prevalence of polygamy (et al!), the OT really teaches polygamy is wrong.” excepting the like 6 times in the Torah when a male is commanded to be polygamous. yeah, maybe. I mean, go sell that retarded shit to the Mormons. let’s not even get into the fact these Christ cows moo in only two tones: right & wrong.

        but the deeper question is of course why does one go hunting & pecking around the stories of David & Abraham to find the model or affirmation for the post 1950 suburban USaian household. it is so fucking ridiculous. says a lot about how unfulfilling that household is and how much ideological, hell-fire & brimstone nonsense go into its maintenance.

        • so fucking beautiful, no to mention hilarious, j in oly. lotsa competition for best phrasing, but: ‘jesus goblins & Christ potatoes’ is among the top. thing about mo-mos is that only the males can be polygamous, and even 5-yr olds can be wed. warren jeffs, and they are in effect laves, to boot. swear to gawd, the sole louis lamour book i liked was about just that.
          (gads, these keys are gettin’ stickier and stickier…)

          james dobson: yes, we could devote a whole thread to the evil he does. i put the ‘poisonous pedagogy’ diary up at c99%, and one man showed me that the satanic church actively tries to protect chirren from corporal punishment. take that, dobson and family fundies!

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