algae blooms

The Media Fails To Report Why Toledo’s Water Is Contaminated

Would You Drink This?
Would You Drink This?

The water is finally safe to drink, says the mayor of Toledo, Ohio, although some skepticism still remains.  “Residents of Toledo, its suburbs and small areas of southeastern Michigan began lining up for water Saturday after news of the contamination surfaced,”reported USA Today.  Most media outlets have failed to mention what caused the exuberant toxic, algal blooms. They are reporting the effect, not the cause.

This is not merely a result of Mother Nature randomly throwing a fit and creating a mess of Cyanobacterial blooms.  The amount of phosphorus going into the lake has risen every year since the mid-1990s, and toxic algal blooms will increase as more toxic runoff from fertilizer changes the ecosystem.  Unless the runoff from big farming is curtailed, this problem will continue to grow.  Imagine if an area as large as Chicago or NYC suffers from contamination like this Lake Erie mess. The NOAA Great Lakes Center For Excellence says, 

The increased presence of nutrients such as phosphorous is largely due to poor farming practices such as high use of fertilizers and presence of livestock near water supplies, as well as effluent and run-off from towns and cities near waterways…Pesticides and other chemicals may affect the natural grazers which would otherwise control algal growth and their presence increases the risk of blooms.

The view from above: Algae Blooms Gone Wild
The view from above: Algae Blooms Gone Wild

Naturally, Republicans will ignore the harsh reality that the lack of regulations on disposal of waste from industrialized farming caused the crisis.  They will deny that climate change could also be bringing more intense spring rains, which would wash more agricultural runoff into Lake Erie.  Remember the West Virginia crisis? Somehow, Speaker Boehner blamed President Obama for not enforcing those pesky EPA regulations. In 2012, the St. Louis Beacon touched on the reality of the EPA vs. the GOP:

The GOP-controlled U.S. House – in particular, the Energy and Commerce Committee – has taken aim at EPA regulations. In the first year after Republicans gained a House majority in 2010, about 160 votes were held against various environmental protections, including more than 80 votes on amendments or bills targeting the EPA.

True, environmental groups and water researchers have urged community leaders to cut down on the amount of fertilizer runoff into the shallowest of the Great Lakes.  But legislators in these Republican-controlled states have stopped short of mandating the restrictions leveled upon farmers.  As per usual, they know they are turning a blind eye to man-made pollution but will happily tell you it’s Mother Nature just acting crazy.  These folks push the fallacy that it’s impossible for man to destroy our planet.  What do you expect from idiotic evolution deniers?

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Lindsey Graham Blames Obama For Every Problem On Earth While David Gregory Nods

The Most Lopsided Interview To Date: Gregory (left) Lets Graham (right) Off The Hook
The Most Lopsided Interview To Date: Gregory (left) Lets Graham (right) Off The Hook

I jokingly predicted earlier this week in a tweet Next on Sunday’s Meet The Press: Lindsey Graham and John McCain discuss how Obama arranged the downing of MH Flight 17.  Once again, Mr. Deference to Republicans with a side of hardline questions to Democrats, David Gregory, has engineered another episode of Meet The Press that could double as a commercial for the RNC.  After an interview with Secretary of State Kerry, where facts were given regarding Gaza, MH 17 and the Border Crisis, a smirking Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) appeared on the screen.  I recorded it and the transcript below is directly from the interview.  With regards to the Kerry comments, he said,

“That was the most delusional summary that I can imagine.  It scares me that he (Secretary Kerry) believes that the world is in such good shape.  America is the glue that holds the free world together.  Leading from behind is not working, the world is adrift, and President Obama has become the King of Indecision. His policies are failing across the globe and it will come here soon.”

Gregory asked what Kerry left out, saying “what is the administration not yet prepared to do that you think must be done?” (Since Graham deserves the final say on the matter,as his foreign policy ideas have been the model of peace and prosperity for the U.S.)

“What he didn’t call Putin the THUG that he is.  He didn’t call for the arming of the Ukraine so they can defend themselves against local separatists supported by Russia.  All the enemies of our nation are being well supplied, Russia and Iran are helping Syria, a 160,000 have been slaughtered, John Kerry, by Russian-supplied weapons to Assad. Syria has become a safe-haven for terrorists to attack our nation.” (from Syria?) He then commented on how the Europeans weren’t going to lead on the issue of laying heavy sanctions on Putin and we can’t keep “leading from behind. There’s a battle of wills between the KGB colonel and the “Community Organizer” (aka black guy) and the colonel is winning. “

Next Graham went into harsh criticism mode on the “deliberative” nature of the president.  He said, “it comes off as indecisive, he’s trying to be thoughtful, it comes off as weakness.”  He then supported aggressive US-European sanctions on Russia, especially in the banking sector and he finished up his rant on how we should rebuild the missile defense systems “that Obama took down.”

The final comment was regarding the border crisis.  Gregory asked if his party was prepared to move with the President on this.  He predictably said, “there will be NO MONEY….we have to streamline and quicken deportations, there will be no immigration reform because of the crisis on the border, I blame OBAMA for this moment.” He then stated the 2015 “Republican Congress” with the House leading (of course) will need to solve this immigration crisis or they won’t win the White House in 2016. However, they are not prepared in any way to cooperate with anyone to change anything.

The South Carolinian best bud of Senator McCain, in a very short time, blamed Obama for the border crisis, the crisis in Palestine and the Ukrainian mess.  Naturally, David Gregory had absolutely no challenges to any of those assertions and, in fact, followed up the interview with a largely Republican panel who parrotted Graham’s delusional ravings.

 

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Tea Party: Don’t Give Us Your Huddled Masses, We Are Too Xenophobic

Tea Party Hates Brown People
Tea Party Hates Brown People

When a group is met with 

disdain or anger when they act against the established norm (e.g. when they don’t know or refuse to learn the language). 

it goes directly against the message inscribed on the Statue of Liberty.  When people are willing to risk never seeing their children again just to help them escape squalor, violence and instability, these people deserve a helping hand. The obvious hatred, especially from citizens of areas who largely vote Republican, for Central American refugees comes through loud and clear.  By waving American flags and signs like “return to sender,” these terrified people are greeted with the worst America has to offer: racist, ignorant bigots.

Happy Independence Day used to mean celebrating our freedom by fighting oppression and giving folks a fair chance for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Hard-working, destitute folks who simply want a chance to live free and raise their families are, like the early 1900’s, met with hateful protest.  Of course, in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, the animosity was directed at Jews and Italians.

The most dramatic case of lynching occurred in 1891 New Orleans, when 11 Italians were lynched by a mob. 

Italians, especially more olive-skinned Sicilians, were treated with distrust and hatred.  Sicilian-Americans like Justice Antonin Scalia would never be where he is today if America continued to treat immigrants like filthy refuse.

In Murietta California, the Mayor, Alan Long, urged residents to protest the federal government’s decision to move the recent influx of undocumented, largely Central American women and children, into the Riverside County City. The mayor gave this statement:

 “Murrieta expects our government to enforce our laws, including the deportation of illegal immigrants caught crossing our borders, not disperse them into our local communities…”  

It is antithetical to the American spirit of inclusiveness and acceptance to publicize these angry xenophobes, especially on this Independence Day.  Thankfully, there’s a counter movement which will hopefully make this trying time for these poor, undocumented people a little more bearable.  Their signs say things like “Americans ARE Immigrants,” which gives us hope our nation isn’t going the way of the Koch Brothers’ hate group, the Tea Party.

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Not One Manufactured GOP Scandal Can Compare To Christie’s Malice Aforethought

If a person devises a plan to cause harm to a person or persons, the intent is a crime known as mens rea or malice aforethought. By definition, malice aforethought is criminal intent; the thoughts and intentions behind a wrongful act (including knowledge that the act is illegal). Until very recently, one of the most highly acclaimed, “bipartisan” politicians of our day was portrayed by the mainstream media as an honest, straight-shooter. 2016 Republican Presidential hopeful and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is the subject of a growing list of charges of extreme malice aforethought. The media’s obsession with comparing Christie’s malfeasance with a scandal on the other side (Democratic) of the aisle is not only sensationalism, it’s patently false and irresponsible journalism.

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The Republican Party has an uncanny knack for denouncing exactly what they are guilty of themselves. The Benghazi incident of September 11, 2012 was indeed a tragedy where four Americans were killed. None of the outraged Republicans who thirst for retribution against any Democrat in the administration at the time, mention this minor detail: House Republicans have consciously voted to reduce the funds allocated to the State Department for embassy security since winning the majority in 2010. Even Senator John McCain (R-Az) admitted slain Ambassador Chris Stevens turned down extra security, thus proving Benghazi conspiracy theories all as ridiculous as the effectiveness of Marcus Bachmann’s gay conversion therapy.

Another talking point repeated ad nauseum by those advocating the both sides angle is the alleged targeting of Conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status by the IRS. When the smoke (and mirrors) cleared, the targeting of both Democratic and Republican groups were simply the result of an algorithm which was triggered by key words such as occupy AND patriot which equally targeted both sides (for once!). What began as a scandal of epic proportions ended, once again, with a whimper.

When our twice elected President Obama risked his political future and the Democratic Party’s reputation by fighting hard to pass the Affordable Care Act, Republicans were outraged he accomplished this feat, despite Herculean efforts to defeat the measure. Much of the law is based on the policy ideas of Republicans, namely the Heritage Foundation, and is a far cry from the Single-Payer system most people, if they understood what it entails, would support. Once enacted, the website was laden with glitches and some people found the insurance they thought they could keep was no longer in accordance with the minimum standards of Obamacare. This was labeled “the lie of the year,” perhaps even the century, if you listened to the talking heads on almost EVERY news station. Turns out, these policies were such a ripoff, they didn’t even meet minimum standards to prevent bankruptcies from unforeseen exorbitant medical costs. President Obama explicitly stated how unfair medical bankruptcy is and sought to eliminate this uniquely American injustice. Mistakes were made, but the bottom line: the President wanted to alleviate suffering; he wanted to make things better for the majority.

Now with the revelation of the “Bridgegate” scandal and the questions arising from other areas of abuse by the Christie administration, the parallels to Democratic misadventures are uttered in tandem with each sordid development. The idea that if a bipartisan media-darling like Christie could perpetrate several underhanded revenge scenarios, the Democrats must have also done something similar. With each passing day, more Democratic New Jersey Mayors who allegedly backed the Christie Administration are coming forward with the real impetus for their unexplained support: threats of retribution from Trenton. The victims would be the unsuspecting and unfortunate electorate of their cities.

Christie’s aura of self-importance that is paramount over ethics and his sworn oath to serve the people, is beyond dangerous. It is vindictive, petulant and unforgivably corrupt. Fox News’ anchor, Brit Hume refers to this “old-fashioned tough guy,” as a victim of a feminized atmosphere. Make no mistake, Chris Christie is the embodiment of petty, mob-style politics eerily similar to the days of Tammany Hall and Boss Tweed.

All too often, a Republican is always portrayed as a martyr, because a right-wing-owned media is incredibly adept at skewing the perception of the guilty as innocent victims of random circumstance. Ultimately, Chris Christie will show his true self: the quintessential Republican only interested in furthering his own ambitions with no regard for the people he was elected to serve.

Gun Appreciation Day Perpetuates Violence and Paranoid Dystopia

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In order to completely disrespect every family who is currently grieving over the loss of a family member, (a child in particular) to gun violence, the Council on Promoting Gun Violence and Exploiting the Dead (my embellishment) has decided, in their infinite paranoia, to declare Saturday, January 19th “Gun Appreciation Day.” to be ironic, these fine folks chose the very weekend we celebrate the birth of a champion of non-violence, MLK. These people, who clearly pervert the Second Amendment, must make certain if any crazed, violent loon has the inclination, he or she has access to as much ammunition and high-powered weaponry as they so desire.

The number of people in America killed by firearms is extraordinary compared to other nations. If we’re not a bloodthirsty culture, as wars seldom reach our shores, we need to look at everything we can do to safeguard our people. These gun rights rather than human rights advocates clearly have a violent, profit-driven agenda in mind.

General Stanley McChrystal, a member of our conservative armed forces said, “we need to take a look at why we’d even consider allowing these (military-style assault weapons) in our society… I personally don’t think there’s any need for that kind of weaponry on the streets, and particularly around the schools in America,” McChrystal continued. “I believe that we’ve got to take a serious look. I understand everybody’s desire to have whatever they want, but we’ve got to protect our children, we’ve got to protect our police and we’ve got to protect our population. And I think we’ve got to take a very mature look at that.”

Prominent leaders’ assassinations have been the catalyst for legislative action via public outrage in our past. The 1960’s were a volatile time where we lost some of America’s greatest leaders to senseless gun violence. Martin Luther King was fatally shot by sniper’s bullet on April 4, 1968. Death was the result of a horrific gunshot wound (to the chin and neck with a fatal transection of the lower cervical and upper thoracic spinal cord and other structures in the neck), a violent end to a life of noble purpose. Just two months later, RFK was also taken out by an assassin with a gun. The nation’s hopes and dreams for peace died right along with him.

The Johnson Administration passed new gun control measures, reasonable means to minimize tragic shootings, without denying Second Amendment “rights.” Johnson’s bill banned all mail-order and out-of-state sales of handguns, shotguns and rifles; prohibited the sale of guns to minors; and required national registration of all guns and licensing of all gun owners. No reasonable citizen could argue these measures were, and still are, very logical. Unfortunately reason, logic and mental health are sadly lacking from so many who pervert the second amendment to mean they should own as many military-style automatic weapons as they can fit in their closets next to their Confederate memorabilia and Hank Williams Jr. concert shirts.

Johnson’s words were as apropos then as they are today.

“The voices that blocked these safeguards were not the voices of an aroused nation. They were the voices of a powerful gun lobby, a gun lobby, that has prevailed for the moment in an election year. . . . We have been through a great deal of anguish these last few months and these last few years – too much anguish too forget so quickly. So now we must complete the task which this long needed legislation begins.”

Somehow reason prevailed and we were able to pass some common sense safety measures.

During Vietnam War protests, outrageous gun violence was an issue compromised mainly of police brutality. The incident at Kent State, May 4, 1970 focused our gun injustices on our police and authorities’ lack of restraint. The number of massacres at the hands of police, however, pales in comparison to the carnage of all the mass shootings we’ve experienced in the last twenty years. The gun lobbyists claim violent video games, lack of prayer and lack of universal gun ownership are more to blame than the easy acquisition of high-powered firearms which they proliferate at thousands of gun shows .

The NRA has immense political power, and associates themselves with unsavory, paranoid lunatics like Alex Jones and the Chairman of National Gun Appreciation Day, Larry Ward. Their type of manufactured dystopian hysteria creates a culture more concerned with contrived future scenarios than the problem of constant gun massacres. This is evidenced by comparisons of President Obama to Chairman Mao, Stalin and Hitler. Generally, once Hitler is used as a reference, proponents of such absurdity have lost their argument and their minds.

There is utter disbelief expressed by ALL wealthy, industrialized nations looking upon us in horror at this manageable problem. We wanted fewer deaths from drunk driving, and voila, in just thirty years we’ve lowered fatalities by 50% with movements such as M.A.D.D. We raised the legal drinking age and sure enough, death rates fell. Since so many of these crimes are perpetrated by people in their twenties, maybe closely scrutinizing gun ownership by this demographic would be a great way to start.

With the recent unfathomable carnage of Newtown and Aurora, I’m hopeful the level of outrage has reached a tipping point. A recent Newtown visit by Gabby Giffords and husband, Mark Kelly has, once again, exposed the fringe element in the NRA-owned GOP. The Facebook exchange below shows just how convoluted their thinking has become.

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You can’t engage a cross-section of your acquaintances without running into one or two quintessential “Obama is coming for our guns” morons. If we lessen the exposure and power of these paranoid miscreants, we may be able to make assault rifles and the proliferation of arsenals by the deranged as unfashionable as the Jim Crow South. The only way we’ve successfully conquered opposing forces clinging to outdated and inhumane policies is by collectively expressing our desire for change and forcing legislators to LEGISLATE SANITY!

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Sports Heroes Attribute Success to God; Churches Use These Profits to Fund Hate

When Gabby Douglas won the Olympic Gymnastics All-Around gold, she proclaimed, “…I give all the glory to God, it’s kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to Him and the blessings fall down on me.” She will be reiterating this sentiment in front of thousands of fans at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas December 1st and 2nd, 2012. This is a paid speaking engagement, the church communique explains: The church enjoys bringing these inspirational guests in for our community and congregation and sets aside funds each year for special services like these. The congregation provides untold sums of money, not a penny of which any tax is paid back to the city that provides the roads, power, water, fire and police services. Instead of the largely charitable contribution to society the church should provide, the unregulated and tax-free donations are often spent on promotional events, such as financing celebrities for the purpose of recruiting more worshippers. Tim Tebow spoke there earlier this year and naturally he attracted capacity crowds.

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Canyon Ridge’s motto: God First
The Tim Tebow appearance at Canyon Ridge

When I learned of Gabby Douglas’ appearance, I didn’t think too much about it, as I presumed it was merely meant to inspire young athletes and patrons alike. After seeing so many elaborate color-printed cards displayed at various Las Vegas locations advertising her visit, I thought I’d look into this church a little further. Gabby is an outstanding Olympic athlete who, unfortunately, is not a dynamic public speaker. Like the Tebow visit, Gabby’s appearance is mainly orchestrated to attract potential new congregants.

First here are some basic facts about Canyon Ridge. It is most definitely a “mega-church”, which is by definition any church with a weekly attendance of over 2,000 people. With an average weekly attendance of 6,000, Canyon Ridge can hold up to 3,000 at one time. There are two other mega branches of the church in the Las Vegas Metropolitan area: Central Christian Church, a church where over 5,000 members can attend at once. The third branch, The Crossing is a smaller version, but still qualifies as a mega-church. According to Christian Standard, The Crossing was planted by Canyon Ridge Christian Church on September 24, 2000, and is the youngest megachurch with an average worship attendance of 2,224 last year. Canyon Ridge, located in the northwest valley of Las Vegas, was birthed by Central Christian Church in 1993 and averaged almost 6,000 in attendance last year. Central Christian, also in Las Vegas, averaged close to 18,000 in worship last year. Those are some great church planting genes! I recognize many churches do charitable deeds, like many in the NY/NJ area are currently doing for victims of Hurricane Sandy. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what most megachurches do other than to try to increase their bottom line.

Like so many religions, Canyon Ridge is interested in promoting their faith by expansion all over the globe. They have partnered with the leader of Uganda’s anti-homosexuality movement (AKA “Kill the Gays”), Martin Ssempa. Denounced by Pastor Rick Warren, who led the invocation at President Obama’s Inauguration in 2009, Canyon Ridge’s Pastor Kevin Odor refuses to cut ties with Ssempa citing the need to reduce HIV in Africa. Perhaps someone needs to inform Pastor Odor that HIV is rampant in Sub-Saharan Africa due to poverty, polygamy, lack of education and gender inequality, not just homosexual behavior. The law goes so far as to threaten imprisonment to anyone knowing active homosexuals and not reporting their “illegal” activities. He has yet to change his stance on this issue, which ascertains the conservative, fundamentalist agenda of this church.

As abhorrent as this is, I find the entire concept of brainwashing youth into a culture where God controls all the action creates superficiality and trivializes this contrived sense of morality. If God controls everything, isn’t it presumptuous to interfere with the divine plan? I know many people take comfort in a supernatural deity, and I have no problem with that. What troubles me is the thinking God is so concerned with one’s athletic success while this same God is ignoring plight, allowing babies to be born into abject poverty with AIDS. This creates a selfish culture which rewards obedience to an organization that enriches itself with absolutely no financial disclosure or accountability, while ignoring the real issues we as human beings should truly be concerning ourselves with. Merely praying for someone, or even charging money to have prayers answered is no substitute for food and medical assistance. It is a fraud, and deep down, most people know this.

Religion has a stranglehold over our culture. It’s ironic we never hear about God’s role in a post-game interview where the team loses. “We’d like to thank the almighty for this ass-kicking. Apparently it was exactly what we deserved.” Largely this is a phenomenon of American athletes.

Giving God credit and thanks for opportunity in life, or the motivation to strive, is all but universal among the faithful. But something more seems to be going on here. Athletes are not just thanking God for opportunity and fervor — they are crediting God for a competitive victory. This, in turn, seems to be suggesting something very specific about the inclinations of the Almighty. Has anyone paused to consider that for every winner, there is a loser (in fact, often a whole batch of losers) — and that if God is choosing winners, then God must be choosing losers, too? Are the athletes who attribute their victory to God willing to “blame” God for the often-bitter disappointments of the vanquished?
Is it reasonable to hold God accountable for defeat and failure? Is it reasonable if the losers are good people — just as good as the winner? Is it still reasonable if they are not only just as good, but also practitioners of the same faith, and just as pious? And what if they are just as good, just as pious, just as fervid, practicing the same religion, and worked just as hard? On what basis is God making such decisions? I suppose we might, as people tend to do when matters of faith are questioned, just throw up our hands and ascribe this all to the unknowable particulars of God’s grand plan. But if winning and losing are equally prescribed in the grand plan, then are they really winning and losing? Isn’t everyone doing an equally good job of doing the job God decided to give them? If the losers are every bit as good at doing what God wants them to do as the winners, then who are we to presume to declare them losers — and give medals to the other guys?

Canyon Ridge Church provides spiritual enrichment for many of the faithful and of course is viewed as a positive influence in their lives. It’s the young, impressionable children who are forced to believe this propaganda (which includes a God who always needs more money) who could be most easily manipulated. I watched a few online videos by Pastor Odor and found most of them were quite reminiscent of 700 Club solicitations . He’s mainly concerned with reinforcing the belief in a higher being, as “God” is the answer to all things. That’s paramount to his organization’s success.

It seems this Las Vegas megachurch engages in the same level of deception many televangelists have been found guilty of in years past. Simply click on the giving link and you’ll see how generosity is equated with holiness, which is deplorable in my opinion. I believe it is a form of abuse to influence children in this indoctrinating manner. By furthering an organization steeped in preaching intolerance and denouncing equal human rights, we are doing no service to the morality and emotional well-being of our youth, nor are we truly helping humanity. Jesus preached a message of love that didn’t include a tax-free operation laden with corruption. Helping the poorest and neediest, including homosexuals, is more in line with his teachings.

Sports Heroes Attribute Success to God; Churches Use These Profits to Fund Hate

When Gabby Douglas won the Olympic Gymnastics All-Around gold, she proclaimed, “…I give all the glory to God, it’s kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to Him and the blessings fall down on me.” She will be reiterating this sentiment in front of thousands of fans at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas December 1st and 2nd, 2012. This is a paid speaking engagement, the church communique explains: The church enjoys bringing these inspirational guests in for our community and congregation and sets aside funds each year for special services like these. The congregation provides untold sums of money, not a penny of which any tax is paid back to the city that provides the roads, power, water, fire and police services. Instead of the largely charitable contribution to society the church should provide, the unregulated and tax-free donations are often spent on promotional events, such as financing celebrities for the purpose of recruiting more worshippers. Tim Tebow spoke there earlier this year and naturally he attracted capacity crowds.

20121121-100159.jpg
Canyon Ridge’s motto: God First
The Tim Tebow appearance at Canyon Ridge

When I learned of Gabby Douglas’ appearance, I didn’t think too much about it, as I presumed it was merely meant to inspire young athletes and patrons alike. After seeing so many elaborate color-printed cards displayed at various Las Vegas locations advertising her visit, I thought I’d look into this church a little further. Gabby is an outstanding Olympic athlete who, unfortunately, is not a dynamic public speaker. Like the Tebow visit, Gabby’s appearance is mainly orchestrated to attract potential new congregants.

First here are some basic facts about Canyon Ridge. It is most definitely a “mega-church”, which is by definition any church with a weekly attendance of over 2,000 people. With an average weekly attendance of 6,000, Canyon Ridge can hold up to 3,000 at one time. There are two other mega branches of the church in the Las Vegas Metropolitan area: Central Christian Church, a church where over 5,000 members can attend at once. The third branch, The Crossing is a smaller version, but still qualifies as a mega-church. According to Christian Standard, The Crossing was planted by Canyon Ridge Christian Church on September 24, 2000, and is the youngest megachurch with an average worship attendance of 2,224 last year. Canyon Ridge, located in the northwest valley of Las Vegas, was birthed by Central Christian Church in 1993 and averaged almost 6,000 in attendance last year. Central Christian, also in Las Vegas, averaged close to 18,000 in worship last year. Those are some great church planting genes! I recognize many churches do charitable deeds, like many in the NY/NJ area are currently doing for victims of Hurricane Sandy. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what most megachurches do other than to try to increase their bottom line.

Like so many religions, Canyon Ridge is interested in promoting their faith by expansion all over the globe. They have partnered with the leader of Uganda’s anti-homosexuality movement (AKA “Kill the Gays”), Martin Ssempa. Denounced by Pastor Rick Warren, who led the invocation at President Obama’s Inauguration in 2009, Canyon Ridge’s Pastor Kevin Odor refuses to cut ties with Ssempa citing the need to reduce HIV in Africa. Perhaps someone needs to inform Pastor Odor that HIV is rampant in Sub-Saharan Africa due to poverty, polygamy, lack of education and gender inequality, not just homosexual behavior. The law goes so far as to threaten imprisonment to anyone knowing active homosexuals and not reporting their “illegal” activities. He has yet to change his stance on this issue, which ascertains the conservative, fundamentalist agenda of this church.

As abhorrent as this is, I find the entire concept of brainwashing youth into a culture where God controls all the action creates superficiality and trivializes this contrived sense of morality. If God controls everything, isn’t it presumptuous to interfere with the divine plan? I know many people take comfort in a supernatural deity, and I have no problem with that. What troubles me is the thinking God is so concerned with one’s athletic success while this same God is ignoring plight, allowing babies to be born into abject poverty with AIDS. This creates a selfish culture which rewards obedience to an organization that enriches itself with absolutely no financial disclosure or accountability, while ignoring the real issues we as human beings should truly be concerning ourselves with. Merely praying for someone, or even charging money to have prayers answered is no substitute for food and medical assistance. It is a fraud, and deep down, most people know this.

Religion has a stranglehold over our culture. It’s ironic we never hear about God’s role in a post-game interview where the team loses. “We’d like to thank the almighty for this ass-kicking. Apparently it was exactly what we deserved.” Largely this is a phenomenon of American athletes.

Giving God credit and thanks for opportunity in life, or the motivation to strive, is all but universal among the faithful. But something more seems to be going on here. Athletes are not just thanking God for opportunity and fervor — they are crediting God for a competitive victory. This, in turn, seems to be suggesting something very specific about the inclinations of the Almighty. Has anyone paused to consider that for every winner, there is a loser (in fact, often a whole batch of losers) — and that if God is choosing winners, then God must be choosing losers, too? Are the athletes who attribute their victory to God willing to “blame” God for the often-bitter disappointments of the vanquished?
Is it reasonable to hold God accountable for defeat and failure? Is it reasonable if the losers are good people — just as good as the winner? Is it still reasonable if they are not only just as good, but also practitioners of the same faith, and just as pious? And what if they are just as good, just as pious, just as fervid, practicing the same religion, and worked just as hard? On what basis is God making such decisions? I suppose we might, as people tend to do when matters of faith are questioned, just throw up our hands and ascribe this all to the unknowable particulars of God’s grand plan. But if winning and losing are equally prescribed in the grand plan, then are they really winning and losing? Isn’t everyone doing an equally good job of doing the job God decided to give them? If the losers are every bit as good at doing what God wants them to do as the winners, then who are we to presume to declare them losers — and give medals to the other guys?

Canyon Ridge Church provides spiritual enrichment for many of the faithful and of course is viewed as a positive influence in their lives. It’s the young, impressionable children who are forced to believe this propaganda (which includes a God who always needs more money) who could be most easily manipulated. I watched a few online videos by Pastor Odor and found most of them were quite reminiscent of 700 Club solicitations . He’s mainly concerned with reinforcing the belief in a higher being, as “God” is the answer to all things. That’s paramount to his organization’s success.

It seems this Las Vegas megachurch engages in the same level of deception many televangelists have been found guilty of in years past. Simply click on the giving link and you’ll see how generosity is equated with holiness, which is deplorable in my opinion. I believe it is a form of abuse to influence children in this indoctrinating manner. By furthering an organization steeped in preaching intolerance and denouncing equal human rights, we are doing no service to the morality and emotional well-being of our youth, nor are we truly helping humanity. Jesus preached a message of love that didn’t include a tax-free operation laden with corruption. Helping the poorest and neediest, including homosexuals, is more in line with his teachings.