Flashback: This Is Legally a Charity?

In anticipation of the shutdown of Apple’s MobileMe service, I am re-posting ome of my old blog entries before they become harder to retrieve.

This entry was originally posted on July 3, 2004.

Internal Revenue Code section 501 describes the processes by which an organization may be considered a charity, and, by extension, exempt from taxation. Most charities become so defined in section 501(c)(3).

I have written before about the ChildCare Action Project (CAP) Ministry . (Please see my pre-blog essay, entitled “I am offended ” for a copy of the e-mail that I sent to the president, Thomas Carder, of that web page after my first visit.) I first went there after a friend of mine mentioned it to me, as something very funny.

I initially did consider it to be a very funny site, but I quickly realized that any humor to be derived from that website is strictly unintentional. This guy takes himself, and his faith, far more seriously than befits any single person.

In describing this website to friends, I recommend thinking of the “Family Filmgoer” columns in most newspapers nowadays, but to put it on steroids, and give it an evangelical Christian spin. Now I have no inherent problem with protecting children from excessive violence and sex in movies, and I think that the newspaper pretty much gets it right.

The first movie that I ever saw reviewed by the CAP Ministry, was South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. I loved it. He hated it. To his credit, Mr. Carder is not afraid to state when he likes a movie, even when it is not appropriate for children. That said, to date, there has been exactly one movie that both he and I liked: I Am Sam. Beyond that one movie, I think it’s safe to say that if I liked it, he didn’t (such as Fight Club or Scary Movie), or if he liked it, I didn’t (such as The Green Mile or Passion of the Christ.) In the case of American Psycho, I walked out of the theatre thinking that it wasn’t anything special, although I did love the ending. When he said it had absolutely no redeeming value, that made the movie somewhat more appealing to me.

All of this brings me to the point of this blog. There are movies out there that are not afraid to delve into theological topics. With the exception of The Passion of the Christ, most modern theological films involve some degree of challenge to the religious powers that be. I think it was best summed up by Chris Rock in the movie Dogma, when he points out what should be common sense to every Christian: “You can believe that Mary bore Jesus without having known a man’s touch. That’s a leap of faith. But to believe that she and Joseph were married all that time and never got it on, well that’s just plain gullibility!”

Incidentally, when Mr. Carder first saw the movie, he left before he could hear that line.

I don’t believe in Jesus. That much is a given for me. The more I think about it, I sincerely doubt that the person a billion people around the world consider their savior ever even existed. Outside of the writings of four of his twelve alleged apostles, there is no evidence that can be used to prove his existence. Considering that more people have written about King Arthur, it’s fair to wonder why anyone would claim to think that Jesus was a real person.

That being said, if you’re willing to look at Jesus as another mythological figure, you can appreciate some of the writings about him, especially with regard to the fact that he essentially challenged most, if not all, of the conventional authority that stood before him. I’m honestly not sure what the crime was to justify his execution, but certainly inciting a rebellion must have at least been part of it.

As of the writing of these words, I haven’t yet seen the movie Saved, but I do want to. (And I did before Mr. Carder posted his review…) If you don’t know what this movie is about, it’s about a Christian High School that is scandalized when one of the girls who goes there becomes pregnant. It’s essentially a movie that challenges evangelism and the religious right.

There is one scene where the pastor who runs this school apparently refers to Jesus as “the ultimate rebel.” And it is here where Mr. Carder officially and completely loses all credibility with regard to his beliefs. Mr. Carder writes “Jesus was not a rebel. Jesus was and is the standard by whom all others are measured. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. All those who opposed, rejected and defied Him (sic) were (and are) the rebels. To say Jesus is a rebel is to say Jesus was wrong about being ‘ the way, the truth, and the life.'”

So let me get this straight. He was executed for inciting a rebellion, but at the same time, he was not a rebel? He challenged authority everywhere he went! If someone went around doing that today, he or she absolutely would be considered a rebel.

To a group of teenagers looking to spread their wings and experience life on their own, being a rebel is definitely appealing. Teenagers associate with rebels and are rebellious in their very nature. To call Jesus a rebel is virtually inviting teenagers to become Christian. But apparently this is a lie and therefore is an “Offense to God (sic)” as Mr. Carder sees it.

Other than the fact that the only book Mr. Carder reads is the Bible, I truly don’t understand why this organization can be legitimately considered a charity.

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