Burn Box – Demon Rost: The supression of free speech and religion
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Those were the words on a sign that was hung from the coat rack in the vestibule of the 45-member Harvest Assembly of God Church on Brownsdale Road in Penn Township, Pennsylvania. 40 members of the church, led by Rev. George Bender, held a book and video burning on Sunday night, March 25th. They burned what they considered cult material, including Jehovah Witness' and Mormon literature, humanism philosophy books, Jean Dixon books, occult literature, supernatural books and Buddha statues after singing and worship. Bender said he considers the Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons cults because "of who they believe Jesus Christ is. The Jehovah Witnesses' say that Jesus was created by god." He said they defy his church's belief in the trinity. Please excuse me but….oh, boo hoo. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs when it comes to religion, I believe it’s called freedom of religion as protected by the Constitution of the United States of America.
"Mormons believe Jesus is a god among a pantheon of gods,” he continued, “each god is assigned to a planet. This is why we are concerned. They pretend to be like us until you get into it," Bender explained. They aren’t pretending to be like anyone, they are being Mormons, I’m trying to figure out why some people can’t figure this out. Just because they have different ways to believe and different ways to worship Jesus, that means they’re pretending to be like someone else? Since when? I’m confused; I’d love to have someone explain that one to me. Consider that a rhetorical statement in that I am not implying that I am actually requesting an explanation.
As for the Harry Potter children's series, Bender said he sees it as a big problem and will burn it. "The Bible says no sorcery. This (Harry Potter) is very much wrapped around sorcery. One book is even called the 'Sorcerer's Stone,'" Bender said. So what? It’s a children’s story not intended for children to practice sorcery. I feel the same way as Betsy Gibson, director of the Butler Public Library, does; we both disagree with Bender. She said, “witches and wizards have always been a part of fairy tales”. "Little Harry Potter is a good boy fighting the forces of evil," said
Gibson. "There are a lot of books in this library that I don't like or agree with, but I am not afraid of them. When people burn books, it's because of fear and hate. We need to respect other people's beliefs," Gibson said. What’s next? Snow White? Sleeping Beauty? Cinderella? The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe? The Wizard of Oz? How many can you name that involve either a Witch or sorcery of some sort?
The Rev. George Bender said they didn’t get anything extremely far out except for this: A bound copy of “The Scripture of God — The Third Testament” and a brochure on witchcraft and voodoo. “The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway” were toast, as were several Kahil Gilbran books, including “The Prophet”. Let’s not forget the fact that they burned videos too. At least three copies of Disney’s Hercules, Pinocchio and Aladdin. “The Phenomenon”, “The Rock”, “Ace Ventura”, “The Lost World” and “The Dragonslayer” were also destined for the flames that night. The books that I mentioned are on video, last I checked, were they burned too? If they weren't burned, should they have been? If you believe the way Rev. Bender does, you would think they should have been. I wonder if they burned “Bedknobs and Broomsticks”? That clearly involves a Witch and sorcery.
"This is not a hate message," said Bender. "There are things that influence our lives that are not healthy mentally, physically and spiritually." Sounds like a hate message to me. Last I checked, we have free will to live our lives as we see fit so long as it causes no harm to others and does not involve breaking the law. If we want to read those books and watch those movies, then so be it. You don’t like it? I say, “Tough!” Who does this guy think he is to dictate what is or is not healthy for us? Betsy Gibson is concerned with his approach, saying that her mother grew up in Nazi Germany. "These things grow slowly, you go about your daily life and don't see it coming. She and her parents knew what was going on when they started burning books," said Gibson.
According to the Harvest Assembly literature, "Things that need to be destroyed are: Statues, New Age books, videos, etc., Pornographic material, Cult religious material and Occult books and items." The assembly had a fire as well as an area to smash and dispose of idols and things that won't burn. Bender explained the pyre is a public way of saying the church will honor its god according to the second commandment. He said it would encourage people to search their hearts. So, material that other people with different religious beliefs read and rely on in order to practice their beliefs should be burned?
"I work a lot with the destruction this stuff brings in people's lives," Bender added. Yeah, and I have read about the destruction that your kind of thinking has brought in people’s lives in the past. Let’s see, weren’t people burned at the stake by people that believed as you do simply because they led their lives differently than others? That’s my understanding of part of the reason behind the start of the burning times.
"I hope it does some awakening. I'm not looking to stir up trouble," said Bender. I also hope it does some awakening, I hope it makes people realize just how much trouble you are stirring up. I’m with the Rev. James Campbell, pastor of the Faith United Presbyterian Church in Butler, who disagrees with the book burning. "I think God can deal with a world where many different ideas are alive and well,” he said. Therefore, with Jesus Christ bringing God into peoples lives, they are able to discern what is good and not. “We don't need to remove all that is not agreeable from the world," said Campbell.
So, Rev. Bender, what – or who – is next to be burned?
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