Donating Organs to Jesus

There is a Seventh-Day Adventist church near my house on our neighborhood street corner that has a giant message board for announcements and other religious proclamations. It rarely changes and the messages are typically not worth any mention. It will announce things their Vacation Bible School dates, or advertise its food pantry giveaway (free food for the needy AFTER they attend a service and get preached at), things like that. Occasionally, it will have something hilarious on it, like the time it said that the “most honorable position is on your knees before the lord.”

I think I almost choked on my bagel on the way to work when I saw it! (I know, I shouldn’t eat while I am driving… ESPECIALLY while simultaneously reading hilarious sexual innuendos on religious property)

Either way, the other day, the Adventists decided to switch up their message to something that infuriated me probably more than it should have. It now says:

“Become an organ donor, give your heart to Jesus”

How about you become an organ donor and give your heart (or any other part of you for that matter) to SOMEONE IN NEED instead?! To be fair, I don’t believe this sign is advocating against becoming an actual organ donor, however, I would argue that the message of becoming an actual organ donor is WAAAAAAYYYYYYYY more important than the message of giving your heart to a fictional, fairytale idiot of a “savior”.

Let’s look at some statistics:

  • Nearly 120,000 men, women and children currently need lifesaving organ transplants.
  • Every 10 minutes another name is added to the national organ transplant waiting list.
  • An average of 18 people die each day from the lack of available organs for transplant.
  • In 2012, there were 14,013 Organ Donors resulting in 28,052 organ transplants.
  • 90% of Americans say they support donation, but only 30% know the essential steps to take to be a donor

Only 30% know the essential steps to take to be a donor” This statistic is remarkable to me because, literally, it is as easy as checking a box on your application for a photo ID or Driver’s License! So, wouldn’t the correct Christian thing to do in this situation be not to use a “clever” play on words in hopes of catching some poor, lost soul’s attention, but rather to take the opportunity to help your fellow human race and educate them about the shit that really matters? I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t someone who is more alive be more effective in participating in your religion and tithing than a person that is… well… dead?

There is probably nothing on this Earth that pisses me off more than how the religious people in this world have such credibility, authority and such a HUGE platform to speak on with billions of blind followers and they abuse the opportunity to talk about things that really matter in this world. Instead, they brainwash, push ridiculous agendas and cover up crimes and misconduct, all in the name of god.

It’s absolutely disgusting.

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California Dreamin’

Sometimes even a good life can get in the way of allowing you to do the things you want to do — like write. More specifically, like me having the time to write about the things I care about. I feel like I have a great life — I have a good job, an amazing husband, the cutest little (I use that term loosely) English Bulldog you have ever seen and I am about to move to arguably one of the most amazing cities in the world, San Diego.

Ahhhh… San Diego. Land of palm trees and beautiful beaches; A city where people would rather ride their bikes or walk as opposed to drive; A city that offers an easy-going lifestyle if you want it and, if you don’t, makes it hard to resist; A paradise where it doesn’t snow, it hardly rains and the weather never ventures far from a perfect 75 degrees farenheit. Ah, yes. I can see myself living there forever.

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However, getting there is another story! This move has turned out to be a lot of work!

A LOT!

Ok, any move is typically a lot of work and can be incredibly stressful but on top of this move, my husband is getting out of the Army. So that means the pressure is on both of us to work really hard to find new jobs and make sure that the gap in our income won’t be overwhelmed by our ever-present expenditures. We have been lucky enough to both be given the opportunity to pursue our dream careers but, my husband’s dream job just threw a wrench into our whole plan. They just informed him that he would need to work out of Los Angeles for a while (anyone know how long a “while” is??) before the possibility of transferring down to San Diego is an option. So… that means we will be living in 2 different cities for who knows how long. Oh boy. Sounds like fun. (shoot me)

“Why don’t you just live in LA with your husband while he has to work there and then move to San Diego when he can transfer?” you might be asking me. Because I don’t want to live in LA, that’s why! The plan has always been to end up in San Diego and I am not going to let his employer dictate where/when/how I live EVER again! (yikes, I know)

Call me selfish, but anyone who has ever been married to a person in the military knows that nothing you want ever matters. And I do mean EVER. I want to plant roots, buy a house, HAVE A CAREER and you just can’t do that being married to a serviceman/woman. It’s literally impossible to have any of those things when you are constantly being asked to uproot your life and move to the next military town with no complaints and a smile on your face. So again, call me selfish, but I am sick of following my husband around like a lost sheep. I am ready to start my career and pursue my goals and aspirations. I feel like I have sacrificed a lot already, and I’m not willing to allow myself to possibly resent my husband later on for it. The good thing is, my husband is completely on board with it all. He gets it and he isn’t offended. He wants to support me as much as I want to support him but we both understand that neither of us are budging on the issue and therefore we may have to spend some time living in different cities.

While all of this is floating around in my head, my boss breaks her wrist in 2 places and BAM! I’m putting in overtime at work which has made me too exhausted to apply for jobs which stresses me out even more and AHHHHHHHH!!!!

So, needless to say, I have had a lot on my plate as of late. The problem is, I tend to deal with stress by writing and lately, by studying world religions (it’s comforting to know that when you feel crazy, there is always someone out there that is crazier than you!) and lately I just haven’t had the time to do either one. I do think my nightly glass of wine of wine is helping though…

June 26, 2013

This day will go down in the History books as the day America FINALLY got up off of its ass and supported marriage equality for ALL.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court decided today that the federal Defense of Marriage act is unconstitutional and invalidated it. The Defense of Marriage act prevented those same-sex couples legally married in their state from receiving the federal benefits those in “traditional” marriages enjoyed. This landmark decision means that the federal government may no longer discriminate against same-sex couples and allows those legally married in their state to be treated just like everyone else.

I am completely ecstatic and couldn’t be more proud to be an American than I am right now.

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(Photos taken by Andrew Burton / Getty Images from NBCpolitics.NBCnews.com)

Ridiculous Religion: Scientology

I had to start another mini-series highlighting some of the other more interesting religions in the world because, let’s face it, Christianity is not the only one! I figured the best way to start this series is with one of the more ridiculous religions out there: Scientology.

What it’s all about:

Scientology was created by a man named L. Ron Hubbard who, after writing a sort-of self-help book called, Dianetics, determined that his findings were the foundation for a new religion. Dianetics was a psychotherapy book which used the method of auditing as a counseling technique to help people recall traumatic events. Through recalling these traumatic experiences, people were then able to become aware of and release their conscious or unconscious, negative responses to them — a process known as clearing. e-meter_0

These techniques are put to practice in the Scientology religion using Auditors and E-Meters. Auditors are higher level operating thetans (otherwise know as OTs) who are trained and trusted with helping pre-clears (those who have not cleared yet) discover their full spiritual potential. E-Meters are religious artifacts that send tiny electric pulses through one’s body, calculate the response and reflect that response back to the machine using a sensitive, reactive needle. The Church of Scientology describes the E-Meter as follows:

“The E-Meter measures the spiritual state or change of state of a person and thus is of enormous benefit to the auditor in helping the preclear locate areas to be handled. The reactive mind’s hidden nature requires the use of a device capable of registering its effects—a function the E-Meter does accurately. Different needle movements have exact meanings and the skill of an auditor includes a complete understanding of all meter reactions. Using the meter, the auditor ensures that the process covers the correct area in order to discharge the harmful energy connected with that portion of the preclear’s reactive mind. When charge lessens, the person heightens his ability to think clearly in the area being addressed and his survival potential increases proportionately. As a result, the preclear discovers things about himself and his life—new realizations about existence, the milestones that mark his gains.” (source)

After a person completes this auditing process and “clears” they then begin to move up to different levels within the religion. Different levels of people know different things and each level provides more knowledge, techniques and answers for why we are here and what we are meant to do. Each level is sworn to complete secrecy and before the records were released as evidence in a court case in 1995, no one really knew what Scientologists actually believed. The church claimed the secrecy was/is to prevent those who were not yet ready from being exposed to the information and taking it out of context. That information? Buckle your seat belts kids because here we go:

I mentioned the word, Thetan previously and you all are probably curious as to what that is. Well, a thetan is you — your essence, your soul. It is “the individualized expression of the cosmic source, or life force.” (source) A long, long time ago, thetans created the material universe for their own pleasure. They did not create it in the sense that it was then physically there, but in the sense that they all agreed it was there and therefore, it was. When the thetans began to believe in their universe and feel that it was a physical reality, they fell from grace and lost their memory of their true spiritual selves. This resulted in the thetans believing that they were physical beings. Thetans never die but are instead reborn when they “assume” new physical forms. According to L. Ron Hubbard, there have been various cosmic catastrophes imparted on the fallen thetans that he refers to as “space opera.”

So, how did humans come to Earth to be assumed by thetans you ask? The answer is obvious:

Xenu, a tyrant ruler of the galactic confederacy, brought billions of people to Earth 75 million years ago on planes, landed them by volcanos and then detonated hydrogen bombs causing the thetans to attach themselves to those humans that were still alive.

I’m serious. You can’t make that shit up. Well… I guess L. Ron Hubbard can.

Anywho, that event was the initial cause of all human trauma and as each thetan assumes body after body, each traumatic event experienced while in that body is brought forward to the next. People who reach higher OT levels are able to tap into all of these traumatic events (the ill effects of the thetan) and release them, allowing themselves to be more in tune with their original spiritual presence. The idea is that they become more and more in-tune with their spiritual presence as they assume body after body. There is even a Scientology symbol carved into the ground in Trementina, New Mexico that marks a spot for loyal followers to return back to when traveling from other galactic locations. This symbol is visible from the air and, buried beneath it, are stainless steel copies of L. Ron Hubbard’s works encased in titanium for preservation.

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Why it’s harmful to society:

Uh… do I really have to go there? It’s completely ridiculous, that’s why! Ok, ok. Believing that a virgin in the middle east birthed a white baby that walked on water, and healed the sick and dying/already dead, died a mortal, torturous death nailed to a cross but was somehow later strong enough to not only return to life but move a giant boulder away from his grave door (couldn’t use that strength previously to push his way past his prosecutors and torturers to freedom and safety) to float up into the sky and save everyone from the sins that his own father made them commit is just as ridiculous! So, fine. I’ll go there. 🙂

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Arguably the most harmful thing about this religion is that it was thought up entirely by one man and yet gained so much trust amongst its followers that it rapidly grew and continues to grow today. The scriptures consist solely of the writings of L. Ron Hubbard and the teachings/sermons during Sunday services are meant to only help one understand them, not interpret them. Christianity is harmful in the same way except that, at least in this case, we know who the author of the book is and with no room for interpretation, there can only be one sect of Scientology!

Because of its rapid growth and acceptance, Scientology has been regarded (and rightfully so, I believe) as a brainwashing cult. It is by far the most expensive religion to be a part of as each audit, and each OT level require a HUGE amount of money to complete. This tends to be why it appeals only to rich people, including celebrities. Hubbard actually decided early on in the creation of Scientology that celebrities would play a key role in the dissemination of his religion and had his followers go after specific celebrities to initiate conversion.

Scientology is not recognized by some states internationally as being a genuine religion and was even stripped of its religious organization status by America in the 1970’s. It was later reinstated in the 1990’s with its religious, tax-free affiliation after a long, drawn out legal battle ensued. The fact that any state or country would even waiver on the decision of whether a practice is actually a religion or not should be a huge red flag to any potential follower. Religions are wacky anyways, but if it is so wacky that a country won’t even recognize it, you should be even more hesitant to join.

Another harmful idea born out of Scientology is their belief that the practice of psychiatry is harmful and should be abolished. They believe that psychiatrists can not adequately and responsibly help their patients retrieve traumatic experiences and that they are even less capable of helping them deal with these experiences appropriately and in manner that won’t cause further harm to the patient. Scientologists feel that psychiatric practices are abusive and therefore do not seek help from professionals if/when they should.

Why it’s not as bad as the others:

This quote is direct form the Church of Scientology website:

Scientology believes Man to be basically good, not evil. It is Man’s experiences that have led him to commit evil deeds, not his nature. Often, he mistakenly seeks to solve his problems by considering only his own interests, which then causes trouble for both himself and others. Scientology believes that Man advances to the degree that he preserves his spiritual integrity and values and remains honest and decent. Indeed, he deteriorates to the degree that he abandons these qualities.” (source)

Ultimately, the view that humans are basically good is a beneficial one that can only positively progress society. It still holds everyone accountable to themselves, but not just for themselves, for the greater good. The focus of this religion is to become more in-tune with yourself in order to be a more useful and effective member of society. It talks a lot about helping others and making a positive impact on the world.

The Church of Scientology has been responsible for several human rights movements centered around non-discrimination of race, color and creed in either government sanctions or otherwise — which is a good thing. However, their creed talks only about the rights of “men” and makes no real mention of any of the more active human rights campaigns today (i.e. homosexual marriage, women’s equality, etc). So, while they might be on the right track, I doubt the Church of Scientology will be spearheading the success of any big human rights campaign.

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God Will Save Us. Eventually. When He Gets Around To It.

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The city I live in has recently been on fire, causing the incredibly large religious population here to spew words of prayer, miracles and “it-was-his-time”s. While I am always happy to see a community come together to support each other, it is very interesting to me to see how god comes into play so much in the aftermath of natural (or man-made) disasters. For example, when a fire (or hurricane or tornado, etc) happen, people’s first response is to pray for people.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to ______”

“#prayfor_______”

“We are keeping everyone in our prayers”

BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH

Now, obviously the fact that religious people turn to prayer right away as a coping mechanism in response to destructive events is not a new revelation; it’s a pretty typical response. My confusion comes when things start looking better.

We had 3 fires going on at the same time in different parts of the state. One was contained fairly quickly (a couple of days), one took about a week to be contained and the other is still currently at 85% containment. As these fires continue to grow in percentages of containment, people’s love for god grows too.

Emergency response personnel warned the residents of the evacuation areas to leave, sometimes even knocking on doors and helping people gather their most prized possessions and animals.

“Thank god no one was hurt.”

When people were nervously waiting on pre-evacuation status to see if they needed to flee their homes, the winds changed direction and the status was lifted.

“God is looking out for me, he made the wind blow the other way.”

After the first few days of our state being on fire, it rained.

“Thank god for the rain!”

When people were slowly being released back into their neighborhoods after evacuations were lifted, some houses were left standing while the ones next door sat as a pile of ash.

“God’s hand was in this. He protected my home!”

These are actual phrases I heard people saying in response to the heroic actions by (wo)man. People’s lives were spared because (wo)man went above and beyond to ensure their safety and well-being. They made people their priority and, as a result, there have only been 2 confirmed deaths as of today.

The winds changed because that’s what they do here… all the time… Every. Single. Day.

The weatherman had predicted the rain would arrive days before the fires even broke out. There was a system headed our direction and it was an almost inevitable reality.

But, the one that pisses me off the most is the response by those people whose homes were spared while their neighbors’ were not. Obviously, they aren’t going around boasting to their neighbors about that fact, but there was one instance in particular in which a woman’s son’s house was spared and she claimed that it was the hand of god. When asked how she could possibly think that way when so many other houses were destroyed she responded with, “Well, I had everyone I knew praying, my son had everyone he knew praying — there were a lot of people praying for this outcome. It’s just the power of prayer.” When asked to consider that maybe those who lost their homes had actually been praying too and could have possibly had even more people praying for them, she responded with, “Sometimes god does favors for people.”

This doesn’t look like a favor to me.

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Or this…

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Or even this…

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So, why is it that god is always credited with the happy ending, but never the brutal beginning? How can they honestly believe that he brought on the rain but not the fire itself? How can a lightning strike that ignites a tree that then annihilates a town be a freak act of nature, but the hardworking firefighters risking their lives to put it out are a gift from god? And why wouldn’t he/she/it quench the fires immediately instead of waiting a few days? Why not save ALL of the homes and ALL of the people instead of just some?

THIS is why it is so strange to me that people huddle closer to god in response to natural disasters because all it does is push me even further away.

Crazy Christianity: Pentecostalism

What it’s all about:

Pentecostalism was born out of a nine-year movement in Los Angeles called the Azusa Street Revival in which people, led by a preacher named William J. Seymour, experienced dramatic inter-racial worship services that included speaking in tongues, and spiritual experiences involving miracles. (source) Just about every Pentecostal church traces its roots back to this Revival, however, some left the movement with different ideas about the doctrine of the Trinity, leaving the Pentecostal Church largely divided between Trinitarian and non-Trinitarians. Each church is self-governed, however, many are affiliated with the Pentecostal World Fellowship. The latest research (conducted by the a Pew Forum in 2011) “found that there were an estimated 279 million classical Pentecostals, making 4 percent of the total world population and 12.8 percent of the world’s Christian population Pentecostal” making it “the largest Protestant denominational family.” 44% of all Pentecostals are found in Sub-Saharan Africa while 37% are found in the Americas and 16% are in Asia and the Pacific. (source)

The Pentecostal faith, like most Christian faiths, centers completely around the Bible and its inerrancy. The core of their beliefs lie in the Gospels in that through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, all sins can be forgiven. It is a requirement that all Pentecostals be born again through Christ in order to be “adopted into the family of God.” (source) A part of the born again process starts with a baptism, however, the Pentecostals practice three distinct types of baptism. One is the baptism into the body of Christ which turns a believer into a part of Christ’s body through the Holy Spirit — the Holy Spirit is the agent, Christ is the medium. The second one is called a water baptism and is the most recognizable by other Christian faiths. The water baptism is representative of dying to the world and being reborn in Christ. The third method of baptism is called baptism with the Holy Spirit. This method is similar to baptism into the body of Christ except that it is the reversal of methods — Christ now becomes the agent and the Holy Spirit is the medium.

While baptism as viewed by most Christian denominations as being vital to one’s closeness to god and their ability to be “saved”, most Pentecostals do not view baptism as being essential for salvation. Pentecostals also view other things, like the sacraments, much differently than most Christian denominations as well. They refer to the sacraments as ordinances instead as they do not believe that these rituals instituted by Christ are meant to impart grace, but rather to keep a closeness with god. For example, communion is a ritual completed because it is a command given by Christ in order to remember him. An interesting fact about Pentecostal communion is that they reject the use of wine as the blood of Christ and will use grape juice instead. Sorry, kids! No under-age sipping allowed for you!

Laying-on-of-HandsTwo other distinctive beliefs are that of divine healing and divine gifts. Divine healing occurs when a person either prays for himself or another person to be healed. When praying for another person to be healed, the common practice is for the preacher and others to put their hands on that person to represent the healing Jesus imparted while healing others. Another common practice is anointing the sick with olive oil.

Divine gifts can be given to anyone at any time but are most commonly received after one’s baptism. Gifts include the ability to speak in tongues — a gibberish language meant to be a direct line to or from god.

“According to Pentecostal theology, the language spoken (1) may be an unlearned human language, such as the Bible claims happened on the Day of Pentecost, or (2) it might be of heavenly (angelic) origin. In the first case, tongues could work as a sign by which witness is given to the unsaved. In the second case, tongues are used for praise and prayer when the mind is superseded and “the speaker in tongues speaks to God, speaks mysteries, and … no one understands him”. (source)

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A divine gift that can sometimes go along with the gift of tongues is the gift of interpretation by either the speaker or someone else to be able to understand what was just said. This can be important because most Pentecostals believe that sometimes people who speak tongues do so because they have been given the gift of prophecy. While Pentecostals do believe that anyone is capable of receiving a legitimate prophecy, those spoken by people are not regarded as always being the truth; in other words, they realize that those prophecies are susceptible to error. These prophecies are rarely, if ever, predictions of future events but merely spontaneously spoken words meant to give guidance and comfort.

Another gift is the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge. When the gift of the word of wisdom is given, the receiver has a “revelation of the Holy Spirit that applies scriptural wisdom to a specific situation that a Christian community faces.” (source) The gift of the word of knowledge entails the ability of the receiver to know god’s intentions in the life of another person.

 

Why it’s harmful to society:

slain_in_spiritWhile practicing the gift of healing, many preachers will put their hands on someone and violently push them back causing them to fall backwards. Sometimes this is exaggerated by the person being healed so as to imitate “being slain in the spirit” and other times, the preacher literally pushes so hard that they fall. I think this is bad for two reasons: One — people get so wrapped up in this ritual that they make themselves fall backwards (risking injury), convulse on the ground and speak in tongues. All of these are not natural or supernatural occurences but merely the actions of a desperate person acting out what they have seen others do. It’s all fake which makes watching it all the more disturbing. And, imagine being a child and seeing this happen to your parent! How scary that would be! Reason two — these people actually hurt themselves doing this (or allowing it to be done to them)! Sometimes people actually faint and lose consciousness! I think watching this strange practice would be both interesting and disturbing.

A lot of the practices found in the Pentecostal church have made their way into other Christian denominations. Things like lifting your hands in praise to the heavens during prayer and song, speaking in tongues and spontaneously shouting words of praise during sermons. One of my most vivid memories as a young child was being very ill at my grandmother’s house (a self-identified, practicing non-denominational Christian) and having her put her hands on my head and pray over me in tongues. I was so scared because I had never seen my grandmother act so strangely before and I was very confused as to what was going on. It made me very uncomfortable and I have never forgotten that moment. I think experiences like that can be very harmful and scary to children and should either be abstained from around them or explained thoroughly.

Some Pentecostal churches in the southeastern region of the United States practice snake handling during their worship services as a literal interpretation of these verses in the Bible:

“And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Mark 16:17-18)

“Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19)

Numerous preachers have been severely injured by the poisonous bites and others have even died from them. While this practice is not very common, it is gaining ground and growing rapidly, forcing states to legislate laws concerning the un-guarded presence of venomous animals in public spaces for their own protection.

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Why it’s not as bad as the others:

Pentecostals believe that baptism is not vital to achieve spiritual salvation which compliments their practice of a “Believer’s Baptism”. This type of baptism is done only to the willing after a profession of faith in Jesus has been made. I think this is good because it gives people the choice to enter into the religion. I have never agreed with infant baptisms (I was baptized as an infant) because I feel that they are presumptuous and selfish. Infant baptisms are for the benefit of the practicing parents, not the child, whereas adult baptisms are for the individual as a profession of and commitment to what they believe in.

Another great aspect of Pentecostalism is the lively church service. Spontaneity is highly regarded in worship which leads to (in my view) hilarious outbursts and interruptions in the middle of sermons and songs. Also, lots of members are “moved by the Holy Spirit” to dance because they are so enraptured with god’s presence. This leads to lots of movement in the aisles with everyone going pretty much bat-shit crazy over the Lord.

Diversity and inter-racial worship is a highly regarded attribute to the Pentecostal church. They believe that no matter race, gender, ethnicity, social class or religious background one is, they are all welcome to worship together and should be treated as one in the same. The downside to this is that they do not include sexual orientation in that list of anti-discriminatory practices and they hold a very strong position in the defense of traditional marriage between a man and a woman.

Crazy Christianity: Seventh-Day Adventist

What it’s all about:

The Seventh Day Adventist church arose out of a movement that took place back in the 1840’s led by a man named William Miller. Miller was a Baptist who self-converted to Adventist after his thorough reading of the Bible led him to discover prophecies of the coming of Christ. He focused mainly on a passage in the book of Daniel:

“Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to that certain one who was speaking, ‘How long will the vision be, concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled underfoot?’ And he said to me, ‘For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.’” Daniel 8:13-14

Daniel 8:14 became his obsession (I added verse 13 for a little context) as he tediously calculated (via the very popular day-year principle) that 2300 days really meant 2300 years. He determined that the start date would be 457 B.C. when the decree to rebuild Jerusalem by Artaxerxes I of Persia took place. It was 1818 when Miller made the discovery, through his calculations and interpretations, that the second-coming of Christ would be in 1843. He spent the next few decades honing in on his discovery and eventually began lecturing the public on his findings in 1831. (Source) He gathered and attracted many followers (known as the Millerites) but, after the prophesied date came and went and others attempted to predict new dates based on different calendars and those dates came and went without issue, most of the Millerites fell off the bandwagon and went back to their initial religions.

chmillhpSome Millerites did stay, however. These people decided that the text did not intend to show us the exact date or year in which the coming of Christ would occur, but merely when the cleansing process would begin. These people became known as the Adventists due to their emphasis on the imminent second-coming and later, became known as the Seventh Day Adventists due to their strict observance of the Sabbath Day. The church really took off when a woman named Ellen G. White had a spiritual vision in which she realized that the church needed international expansion. She created a missionary program and “by 1945, the church reported 210,000 members in the US and Canada, and 360,000 elsewhere; the budget was $29 million and enrollment in church schools was 140,000.” (Source)

The problem was most people viewed the church as a cult due to its unorthodox belief systems (the sabbath day is now on a Saturday?!) and its strangely large amount of church leaders living by Arian doctrine. But, after the church adopted the Trinity in the early 20th Century, all was good by the protestants and it began to take an even stronger foothold. (Source)

Today, the Seventh Day Adventist church preaches mostly about how much god loves you and how safe you are in his hands. Their website says things like, “God keeps a family album-and your picture is in it. God loves you and has a plan for your life.” (source) and is constantly reassuring its readers/followers that god is always there for them. They still put a huge emphasis on the Sabbath Day with many of its followers never doing anything secular, whether for leisure or work, on Saturdays outside of church functions and gatherings (I should note that certain things like nature walks and family activities are encouraged on sabbath days). Also, the second coming of Christ is still central to the church in many ways. They teach that death is only a “peaceful pause before the resurrection” saying, “death is almost like a wintery promise of spring.”  (source) They believe (similar to the Jehovah’s Witnesses I talked about here) that when you die you are simply awaiting the return of Christ to take you home and the “millennium” of the 1,000 year reign of Christ over Earth will be a time in which all the wicked will be judged.

Some distinctive teachings include the doctrine of an investigative judgement, in which god will individually look back on all the things you have said and done in your life to determine whether or not you are worthy of being saved and continuing on to heaven.

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Also, they include foot washing in their practice of partaking in the Lord’s supper. This is supposed to symbolize the commitment to love others as Jesus loves them. (source) They only initiate the practice of taking the Lord’s supper about 4 times a year, however, and they are made to segregate themselves by gender in order to complete the ritual (although, some married couples are allowed to participate together).

Baptisms are completed with a full body dunk to symbolize “dying to self and coming alive in Jesus. Seventh-day Adventists practice full immersion baptism because by being fully buried beneath the water [they] symbolize that God’s grace fully fills [them] with His new life for the future.” (source)

Why it’s harmful to society:

Seventh Day Adventists are living in a state of constant anticipation for the coming of Christ. I would argue that living in this state would be scary and stressful, especially for children who have a limited understanding of the doctrine. Imagine growing up thinking that your death is imminent and could happen at any moment! Not that this isn’t the case with or without religion, but who in their right mind would remind their children of that? Also, wives are commanded (by the Bible, of course) to be completely submissive to their husbands, however, the church is much more lenient on things like birth control (as long as its intended use is not for abortion purposes) and even abortion if it is being considered for reasons other than birth control, convenience or gender selection.

starving_childrenAnother cause for concern is how rapidly they are spreading. Today, missionaries are reaching people in over 200 countries! As of June 2011, the church was said to have 17,214,683 members with only 7% of them residing in the United States. It is one of the fastest growing religions in the world because of its missionary efforts in developing countries (mostly in Africa and in the Central and Southern Americas). (Source) Is it just me or does it seem wrong to travel to developing countries offering much needed medical attention and food while indoctrinating the people with your religious beliefs? If I was poor, starving, sick and uneducated and someone came offering a remedy to my misfortunes while speaking about the second coming of Christ, I think I would start believing, too!

Another bummer, although not detrimental, would be the sabbath observance on Saturday as opposed to Sunday. Pretty much everything is already closed on Sundays anyway (heck, you can’t even buy a car in the state of Colorado on Sundays!) so wouldn’t it be easier to follow the strict sabbath rules? Think of all the things they are missing out on! But, I guess that isn’t really the point, now is it?

Why it’s not as bad as the others:

Seventh Day Adventists put a huge emphasis on health. Most follow strict diets, with about 35% of members adhering to vegetarianism. They abstain from all foods listed as “unclean” in the Bible as well as alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs. They are encouraged to get adequate exercise as well as plenty of rest to take care of their bodies and, because of this, research is finding that Adventists live significantly longer than most people do.

“Research funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health has shown that the average Adventist in California lives 4 to 10 years longer than the average Californian. The research, as cited by the cover story of the November 2005 issue of National Geographic, asserts that Adventists live longer because they do not smoke or drink alcohol, have a day of rest every week, and maintain a healthy, low-fat vegetarian diet that is rich in nuts and beans. The cohesiveness of Adventists’ social networks has also been put forward as an explanation of their extended lifespan.” (source)

This is a really cool side effect of a really strict doctrine in which I see nothing but good coming to society as a result. Another positive aspect of the Adventist religion is their tolerance for other religions and their firm stance on religious liberty. While some have criticized their seemingly exclusive behaviors, the church has time and time again rebutted with its beliefs that all Christians are doing their best to worship the same god. And, while they may not agree with other practices or interpretations, those religions should be granted the same respect and freedom all Adventists desire. (source)

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