Archive for August, 2009

Christians love to view themselves as martyrs. They almost can’t help but do so. Jesus, the founder of their religion, died “for the cause” if you will, so they consider it a sign of their own piety for them to be persecuted for their faith, thus reflecting him. This desire to be martyrs goes back to the earliest days of Christianity, and has never let up since then.

We can add yet another name to the list of Christians who claim to have been persecuted for being Christians: Carrie Prejean, former Miss California USA. I’ve blogged several times about her antics before, including the loss of her title.

Ms Prejean and her attorney decided she’s been out of the spotlight too long, so she is suing the pageant for having to let her go, as CNN reports:

Carrie Prejean has filed a lawsuit against Miss California USA officials who stripped her of her title, accusing them of libel and religious discrimination for her views on same-sex marriage.

“We will make the case that her title was taken from her solely because of her support of traditional marriage,” her attorney, Charles LiMandri, said in a news release.

The problem is, that’s a lie. The pageant dumped her because she refused to make pageant-arranged appearances, and instead jetted around the country making herself the darling of the Religious Right and caterwauling about how she was mistreated:

When Prejean, 22, was dethroned in June, [pageant official Keith] Lewis said it was for “contract violations,” including missed public appearances.

He said then it wasn’t one thing Prejean did, but “many, many, many things.”

“She came to us and said I’m not interested in your input; I’ll make my own decision what I’m going to do,” Lewis told CNN’s Larry King in June. “You know, when you have a contract, when you’re working for someone, you have a responsibility to follow through on what that requirement is.”

Lewis said it was clear “she was not interesting in upholding the title or the responsibilities.”

This is especially ingracious of her, since the pageant had already given her a second chance, as CNN further explains:

Miss USA pageant owner Donald Trump announced in May that Prejean could keep her title despite a controversy over topless photos, missed appearances and her statements against same-sex marriage.

Trump later reversed himself.

“I told Carrie she needed to get back to work and honor her contract with the Miss California USA organization, and I gave her the opportunity to do so,” Trump said. “Unfortunately, it just doesn’t look like it is going to happen, and I offered Keith my full support in making this decision.”

It’s time for Ms Prejean and her attorney to stop lying about her own conduct, admit she failed to live up to her responsibilities, and accept the consequences of having made that choice, like a mature adult. That they refuse to do so, and instead represent her (falsely) as a martyr, places them squarely in my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on Another Christian Martyr

One facet of anti-Semitism has been the notion of blood libel, the claim that Jews sacrifice non-Jews for ritual or other purposes, especially cannibalistic. Throughout the history of Christianity, blood libel have been used to justify many atrocities against Jews. One would think that, in the occidental world of the 21st century, the blood libel would be found only among the “lunatic fringe” of anti-Semitic folks.

But one would be wrong to think that.

Recently an allegation along the lines of blood libel has been leveled against Israel, and it was found in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, as reported by the Israeli paper Haaretz:

Top Sweden newspaper says IDF kills Palestinians for their organs

A leading Swedish newspaper reported this week that Israeli soldiers are abducting Palestinians in order to steal their organs, a claim that prompted furious condemnation and accusations of anti-Semitic blood libel from a rival publication.

“They plunder the organs of our sons,” read the headline in Sweden’s largest daily newspaper, the left-leaning Aftonbladet, which devoted a double spread in its cultural section to the article. …

The report quotes Palestinian claims that young men from the West Bank and Gaza Strip had been seized by the Israel Defense Forces, and their bodies returned to the families with missing organs.

“‘Our sons are used as involuntary organ donors,’ relatives of Khaled from Nablus said to me, as did the mother of Raed from Jenin as well as the uncles of Machmod and Nafes from Gaza, who all had disappeared for a few days and returned by night, dead and autopsied,” writes author Donald Boström in his report.

The original Aftonbladet article may be found here (in Swedish).

The nation of Israel and Jews around the world have condemned this report, based on otherwise-unsubstantiated claims by Palestinians, as anti-Semitic. And since this report fits the centuries-old mold of the blood libel, it’s hard to refute that. Nevertheless, Aftonbladet stands by the story and claims it is not anti-Semitic, as Haaretz reports in a follow-up story:

A Swedish newspaper provoked outrage in Israel and drew condemnation from Sweden’s ambassador on Wednesday after it ran a story on transplant organ theft, a report an Israeli official branded anti-Semitic “hate porn”.

The editor of Aftonbladet, Sweden’s largest daily newspaper, hit back hard, at both Israel and at the Swedish envoy for attacking his paper’s coverage.

Donald Boström, the Swedish journalist whose article accusing Israel Defense Forces soldiers of killing Palestinians to obtain their organs evoked outrage, denied on Tuesday that he was motivated by anti-Semitism. “I’m very sad to hear people accuse me of anti-Semitism,” Boström told Haaretz on Tuesday.

Gee, I dunno … it sure looks like ages-old anti-Semitism, so how unreasonable is it to assume it is?

The Swedish paper is even offended that the comparison to blood libel has been made:

Aftonbladet editor Jan Helin said: “It’s deeply unpleasant and sad to see such a strong propaganda machine using centuries-old anti-Semitic images in an apparent attempt to get an obviously topical issue off the table.

He accused the Swedish ambassador of “a flagrant assault on freedom of speech” for her criticisms.

Helin called it an opinion piece raising questions of Israel in the context of a suspected link to Israel in that U.S. case. He denied any suggestion of anti-Semitism from his paper.

Calling it “an opinion piece” relieves them of the obligation to show the accuracy of the report, and effectively removes them from critique over its weak sources. Here in the US a lot of “commentators” on news channels often use the same excuse to explain why they have no duty to be accurate … so there’s nothing new here.

In other words, it’s a weaselly evasion.

The persistence of anti-Semitism in Europe is just one of the many disgusting legacies of Christianity’s history. When, exactly, are we going to finally realize this sort of thinking has no place in the 21st century?

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on Blood Libel Just Won’t Die

There have been many attempts over the years to finally track down the elusive Loch Ness Monster. Numerous searches have been conducted to find the fabled aquatic monster (Wikipedia lists them), but all have failed, including an extensive search sponsored by the BBC in 2003. This stunning lack of evidence for Nessie’s existence has caused at least one veteran Nessie-hunter, Robert Rines, to give up … but not because there was never any monster there (no, he could never admit that!); rather, he thinks Nessie was killed off by global warming, you see. In his view, Nessie was there, but is now dead, so that explains why the monster will never be found. Convenient, no?

But the complete lack of evidence for Nessie’s existence hasn’t stopped people from continuing to believe the monster exists. They’ve simply turned to another venue to find “proof” it’s there. This time, that proof has been provided by Google Earth, as reported by the (London) Daily Mail:

It promised the world views of the entire planet from their laptop. But could Google Earth have unravelled our favourite mystery of the deep?

One internet fan claims he found the legendary Loch Ness monster in satellite images on the virtual globe.

Security guard Jason Cooke said the 65ft oblong shape followed by thin strands is actually the highly contested creature supposed to inhabit Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands.

Here is the image as provided by the Mail:

Loch Ness Monster on Google Earth?

Loch Ness Monster on Google Earth?

If you think this may merely be a picture of a boat, not an aquatic monster, you aren’t the only one … it sure looks that way to me! This may be one of those times when people are leaping to conclusions based on very meager evidence. It’s not the first time this has happened with images from Google Earth, and I doubt it will be the last.

Anyone care to venture what strange thing will next be found on Google Earth? The lair of Bigfoot/Sasquatch? The lost continents of Lemuria or Mu? A portal to the Hollow Earth? The ruins of El Dorado? What’s next to be uncovered by Google Earth’s just-fuzzy-enough-to-be-tantalizing pictures of odd things?

Tags: , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on Loch Ness Monster Found – By Google Earth!

I blogged previously about an effort by the Kentucky legislature to use that commonwealth’s Homeland Security office to proselytize. Well, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports they’ve been dealt a blow by the courts:

A Franklin circuit judge Wednesday declared unconstitutional a reference to God in a 2006 law creating the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security.

In an 18-page order, Judge Thomas Wingate said the General Assembly created an official government position when it passed a law requiring the office to acknowledge “the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth.”

The law requires the executive director of the office to include a statement asserting the state’s reliance on God in training materials and on a plaque at the state’s Emergency Operations Center.

Of course, this law’s proponents haven’t given up:

Rep. Tom Riner, D-Louisville, who inserted the language into the 2006 legislation, said Wednesday that he hopes [KY Attorney General Jack] Conway will ask Wingate to reconsider his decision. Conway has 10 days to do that and 30 days to appeal.

Riner, who is pastor of Christ is King Baptist Church in Louisville, said the decision is a “very disconcerting thing.”

He cites a precedent elsewhere which, he says, supports his view:

Riner said the provision was akin to the use of the phrase “In God We Trust” on American currency.

“In God We Trust is an affirmation that we trust in God,” he said. “That doesn’t make that a church doctrine.”

Riner is incorrect here: Telling people that they must “trust God,” is in fact a “doctrine” and does set the government up as a church. That fact, as well as the way in which religionists like Riner use coinage as a precedent allowing them to proselytize in any other way they can imagine, is why “In God We Trust” must be removed from US currency … the sooner, the better.

Just once I’d like to see a religionist like Riner just come right out and admit, honestly, what his motive is in coming up with stuff like this … i.e. it’s to proselytize. That’s all it’s good for. They know it, and I know it, and we all know it. They damage their own credibility and integrity by insisting that this is not their goal.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on Setback For Religionists In Kentucky

The Religious Right is all fired up over two school officials from Pace High School in Santa Rosa county, Florida, who may go to jail because they led students in prayer, thus defying a consent decree they’d agreed to abide by (as CNN reports):

Two Florida school administrators face contempt charges and possible prison time for saying a prayer at a school luncheon.

Frank Lay, principal of Pace High School, and Athletic Director Robert Freeman are accused of violating a consent decree banning employees of Santa Rosa County schools from endorsing religion.

They face a non-jury trial September 17 before U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers. The statute under which they are charged carries a maximum penalty of up to six months in prison, subject to sentencing guidelines.

The consent decree had been the negotiated conclusion to an earlier case the school was involved in:

The ACLU filed suit last year against the district on behalf of two Pace students who alleged that “school officials regularly promoted religion and led prayers at school events,” according to an ACLU statement.

Both parties approved the consent decree put in place January 9, under which district and school officials are “permanently prohibited from promoting, advancing, endorsing, participating in or causing prayers during or in conjunction with school events,” the ACLU said.

Sounds like a simple agreement … but as it turns out, they could not manage to abide by it:

On January 28, “Lay asked Freeman to offer a prayer of blessing during a school-day luncheon for the dedication of a new fieldhouse at Pace High School,” according to court documents. “Freeman complied with the request and offered the prayer at the event. It appears this was a school-sponsored event attended by students, faculty and community members.”

Their claim that this event included “consenting adults” and thus did not fall under the consent decree, which dealt with how the school handled its students, not adults. However, it turns out that students were present at the event, and they admitted it:

In a February 4 letter to district Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick in which Lay acknowledged the incident, he said that although past football booster club members “and other adults associated with the school system” were at the luncheon, culinary class students were in charge of food preparation and serving.

So he knew he was in violation of the consent decree.

Of course, the Religious Right is furious about this, and — as is usual for them — misrepresenting the situation. They say the two are being sent to jail for praying on the orders of the ACLU.

But that is not true.

First, they haven’t been jailed yet, and they may not be. Second, the ACLU hasn’t asked for them to be jailed, as CNN goes on to explain:

The ACLU did not request the criminal contempt charges against Lay and Freeman, he said; the judge initiated them after seeing a reference to the incident in a motion. …

“We certainly never suggested that anyone go to jail,” [Glen] Katon [of the Florida ACLU] said.

Third, they aren’t in jeopardy of jail merely because they prayed; they’re in jeopardy because they knowingly violated a court-approved consent decree, and thus are in contempt of court.

It really is just that simple. I’m not sure how or why they believe there’s a religious exception to having to obey negotiated consent decrees … but apparently these folks think there is one.

If they were ethical people, though, they’d have taken responsibility for their wrongdoing, wouldn’t be purposely misrepresenting the situation, and accept the punishment that goes along with it.

But we all know that religionists don’t possess the integrity to do that.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on Religious Exception For Consent Decrees?

Religionism is alive and well in Oklahoma, as I’ve blogged a few times already. In another sterling example of out-of-control religiosity, a Republican mayoral candidate in Tulsa wants to shove a creationism display into that city’s zoo (as reported in a Tulsa World editorial):

Sometimes a person simply has to make choice on a career path. In Anna Falling’s case it’s either be a politician or a minister.

Falling, the founder of several nonprofit Christian groups and a former city councilor, is running for mayor of Tulsa in the Sept. 8 Republican primary. Several issues are facing the city, not the least of which is a struggling economy.

But No. 1 on Falling’s priority list for the city is to place a Christian creationism display at the Tulsa Zoo.

“It’s first. If we can’t come to the foundation of faith in this community, those other answers will never come. We need to first of all recognize the fact that God needs to be honored in this city,” she said.

But rest assured, this religiofascist isn’t going to stop there. No, she intends to do much more to advance the cause of Christianity, as Tulsa’s mayor:

Then, she wants to appoint people to boards, authorities and commissions who will “honor God.”

Note that this would, of course, violate the Constitution’s “no religious test” clause (found in Article VI section 3). But hey … one can’t let little things like Constitutionality get in the way of proselytizing! Doesn’t Jesus demand that a faithful believer violate the rule of law in order to carry his gospel to everyone and force them to accept it?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on God In The Zoo

I’ve blogged a couple times, earlier this year, about a then-recently-passed law in Afghanistan which legalizes the mistreatment of Shi’ite women by their husbands. President Hamid Karzai appeared to put the brakes on this law, and placed it under review, which — temporarily at least — prevented it from taking effect. At the time I suspected this “review” would be short-lived and the law would quietly take effect, with Karzai hoping no one would notice. As it turns out, I was correct, although Karzai didn’t get his wish. It was noticed, as the New York Times Lede blog reports:

Afghan Husbands Win Right to Starve Wives

Bowing to international pressure and unprecedented protests by hundreds of women on the streets of Kabul, the Afghan government promised in April to review a new law imposing severe restrictions on women in Shiite Muslim families.

Last week, though, Human Rights Watch discovered that a revised version of the Shiite Personal Status Law had been quietly put into effect at the end of July — meaning that Shiite men in Afghanistan now have the legal right to starve their wives if their sexual demands are not met and that Shiite women must obtain permission from their husbands to even leave their houses, “except in extreme circumstances.” …

When the law was first approved, President Barack Obama called it “abhorrent,” but has not yet responded to reports that it has now been revised and put into effect, perhaps because Afghanistan’s election is just days away.

That the law’s proponent, Sheik Muhammad Asif Mohseni, was able to find women who supported it, is not meaningful, because the word of this women cannot be trusted as genuine … they may have been pressured, either directly by the Shi’ite clergy and their own husbands, or indirectly by centuries of religiously-enforced oppression, to say they like this law, in spite of it not being in their best interests.

Moreover, as the blog entry points out, although this law applies — as written — only to Shi’ites in Afghanistan, it nevertheless appeals to the Sunni majority, creating a danger that it will be applied to all Afghan women:

Although the law applies only to Shiites, Soraya Sobhrang, commissioner for women’s rights at the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, said in April that it could influence a proposed family law for the Sunni majority and a draft law on violence against women. She told The Times in April, “This opens the way for more discrimination.”

Normally this type of reasoning would be called “slippery-slope” thinking, however, in this case it’s not entirely fallacious; such policies were in effect for all women during the Taliban regime. It’s not impossible that Afghanistan might revert to Taliban-like administration.

Makes me wonder what coalition forces have been fighting for, since the end of 2001. Sure, we toppled the Taliban regime, but Taliban sentiment is nevertheless alive and well in that backward country.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on Afghanistan Enters A New Dark Age