Archive for January, 2011

Joel Osteen at Lakewood ChurchMegachurch pastor Joel Osteen recently made an incongruous claim, during an interview on Piers Morgan’s new show on CNN. CNN described his laughable equivocation in his own words (WebCite cached article):

Well, it’s strictly back to what the scripture says. I mean, I can’t grab one part and say God wants you to be blessed and live an abundant life, and not grab the other part that says, you know what? You know, live that kind of life. So it comes back to the scripture. I’m not the judge. You know, God didn’t tell me to go around judging everybody.

There it is. Osteen is judging gays to be sinners, but then states that he’s not judging anyone.

Fucking hilarious. Or at least it would be, if Osteen weren’t rationalizing treating a whole class of people as lesser human beings by virtue of how they were born.

Of course, this is not Osteen’s only incongruity. He’s a “prosperity gospel” preacher who thinks Christians are entitled to be — and in fact should be — millionaires … even though the founder of his religion explicitly and unambiguously condemned being wealthy:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

“Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:25)

“But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.” (Luke 6:24)

“For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:25)

By claiming not to judge others when he is, in fact, judging others, and by preaching that amassing wealth is what Jesus wants his followers to do, when in fact, Jesus stated the opposite, Osteen is engaging that time-honored Christian tradition known as “hypocrisy” — and that, too, is in spite of Jesus’ own words clearly telling his followers never to be hypocritical.

Oh, and because he lied when he said he wasn’t judging others, I’m putting Osteen into my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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A Coptic Orthodox Christian cries for her relatives who were victims of Saturday's bomb attacks outside a Coptic Orthodox church, during a prayer ceremony at a home in Alexandria January 3, 2011. REUTERS/Asmaa WaguihAlmost a year ago, I blogged about how word of religious violence that happens in Egypt is suppressed by local and national authorities. It’s not openly discussed, and few would admit when it occurs, even when they know about it. For some reason, that one post generates the second-largest number of hits on my blog (with the top hit-generator being the one on how dismally poor Sylvia Browne’s prognostications are).

Obviously this trend has changed, with the New Year’s Day bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria. That event generated a great deal of worldwide media attention; e.g. this Reuters story (cached here); the Egyptian government could not successfully suppress reporting or discussion of it.

It’s also equally obvious that, in light of the uprising that began this past January 25, the decades-old Hosni Mubarak regime is changing. Al Jazeera has been reporting on the uprising since it started and continues to provide the latest word on events there.

At any rate, we’re now watching history unfolding in a land where a great deal of it has already unfolded and which is ancient beyond compare.

Update: At long last, after a couple of weeks of defying protestors, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has resigned, leaving the country in the hands of the military (cached). What Egypt’s future will be without him at its helm, is anyone’s guess … but for now, the protestors have proven victorious. Here’s some video of the triumph, courtesy of Al Jazeera:

Photo credit: Reuters/Asmaa Waguih.

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AuschwitzThe overuse of the reductio ad Hitlerum, or appeals to Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime, is a trend I’ve remarked on many times so far — and likely will have to again. Over the last couple of months, Fox News has become a particular outlet for this sort of fallacious antic, having been used by (probable) paranoid schizophrenic Glenn Beck and his boss, Roger Ailes. The Washington Post reports that a group of rabbis have called out these screaming, bellicose crybabies on their use of this childish tactic, ironically using Fox News’ “sister publication” to do so (WebCite cached article):

A coalition of rabbis wants Fox News chief Roger Ailes and conservative host Glenn Beck to cut out all their talk about Nazis and the Holocaust, and it’s making its views known in an unusual place.

The rabbis have called on Fox News’s owner, Rupert Murdoch, to sanction his two famous employees via a full-page ad in Thursday’s editions of the Wall Street Journal – one of many other media properties controlled by Murdoch’s News Corp. …

The rabbis were prompted by Beck’s three-part program [cached] in November about liberal billionaire philanthropist George Soros, whom Beck described as a “Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps” during World War II.

My skepticism caused me to wonder why the rabbis waited a couple of months to take out their ad, but the Post explained its timing:

Thursday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day [cached], an observance established by the United Nations in 2005.

For the record — and as I posted earlier — I do not think Beckie-boy or his boss are anti-Semites. They are, rather, furious with the Left, and so juvenile that they think they’re entitled to stoop to any kind of rhetoric — no matter how fallacious or vile it may be — to discredit the Left. Their anger and immaturity are so overwhelming that they just can’t help but act like tiny little children.

Can’t we all put away the tired, worn tactic of the reductio ad Hitlerum? Isn’t it time for a little more maturity and a little less caterwauling?

Photo credit: féileacán.

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Stephen Colbert holding a pitchforkHere, Gentle Reader, is the second “peasants with pitchforks” moment in less than a week.

It seems the town of Enfield has become Connecticut’s crucible of Rightism, a New England microcosm of Kansas in the late ’90s and early ’00s — and more recently, Oklahoma. Last year, ardent Religious Rightists there chose to defy the law of the land and hold the town’s high school graduation in a church. As expected, they were rebuffed in this effort, mainly because of their lies, but they most certainly haven’t given up enforcing Rightism. The town’s Republican mayor recently ordered the Enfield library not to show Michael Moore’s Sicko documentary, as the (Manchester, CT) Journal Inquirer reports (WebCite cached article):

The Enfield Public Library on Wednesday canceled Friday’s screening of filmmaker Michael Moore’s controversial documentary “Sicko” under pressure from most Town Council members and the mayor, who threatened to cut the library’s funding if the film was shown.

Let me state up-front that I’m no fan of Michael Moore. He’s a shameless propagandist, and I despise propaganda; “propaganda” and “dishonesty” all too often are one and the same thing. But honestly … what the fuck? You people can’t tolerate a couple hours of Moore’s extreme Leftism? Really!? Are you that thin-skinned?

What a bunch of fucking whiners!

Enfield’s militant Rightists came up with a list of rationales for their censorship, beginning with “it’s for the children”:

Councilman Patrick Crowley, also a Democrat, said he didn’t think the effort to cancel the screening amounted to censorship, saying the library should be age-appropriate for young children.

“We want it to be a place for relaxation and fun for the kids,” Crowley said.

Yeah. As if any kids who show up are actually going to sit through more than a couple minutes of Sicko.

Then, it was “but this film is too controversial”:

[Mayor Scott R.] Kaupin said the library should steer clear of controversial material like “Sicko.”

My guess is Hizzonner has never seen the movie and thus knows nothing about its “controversy,” except what Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, etc. have told him about it. The curious thing about controversies is that, without actually examining the elements of the controversy, one never knows what the controversy is. Controversies don’t go away if we clamp our eyes shut and plug up our ears.

There were even some who denied this was even censorship at all:

Resident Dominic Alaimo, who is also chairman of the Thompsonville Board of Fire Commissioners, said at Tuesday’s meeting that canceling the screening is not censorship because the film is “available anywhere you want.”

“Censorship does not start from the bottom and work up. Censorship starts in like Red China, Russia,” Alaimo said.

Aha. There you have it. This can’t be censorship, because Enfield is in the US, and censorship only happens in “Red China” and Russia! Why, I’m so glad to have that cleared up! Whew!

The only good part about this particular childish dust-up is that the Rightists in Enfield have learned their lesson from their legal smackdown earlier this year, and have relented — slightly. Rick Green of the Hartford Courant reports Sicko will be screened, after all — as part of a package of “balanced” film screenings. As though a couple hours of Moore being shown in the Enfield library, one time, needs to be “balanced” … when talk-radio and cable news are stuffed to the gills with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week of unrelenting, undiluted Rightism. Personally, I think propaganda needs to be “balanced” against rationality and truthful information. Unfortunately there are no critical-thinking movies out there … at least, none that I know of.

Photo credit: (UK) Daily Mail.

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Puritan with musket in Central ParkWith the Religious Right having gained added political power, and working generally on behalf of the wealthy and corporate America, it goes without saying that corporations are increasingly doing their Christofascist bidding. We’ve seen exactly this scenario played out already. If this Fox News story is to be believed — and I’m not entirely sure it’s not exaggerated, but for the moment, take it for what it is — a Religious Right organization will soon succeed in forcing an influential mass-media outlet to obey its dour religiofascist tenets (WebCite cached article):

MTV’s controversial drama “Skins” is losing advertisers faster than some of its characters lose their clothes.

As FOX411 reported, Taco Bell was the first sponsor to withdraw advertising from “Skins,” quickly followed by Wrigley, Subway, Foot Locker, L’Oreal and Shick.

The group responsible is the Parents Television Council, which in spite of its name does NOT represent “parents,” it represents Christofascism. This a collection of sanctimonious, angry Puritans who want no “entertainment” on television; they’d much prefer that every channel offer nothing but the 700 Club 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Since the evangelical-in-chief George W. Bush left the White House, the PTC no longer can force the FCC to do its bidding, so now, they order corporations not to sponsor the shows they hate.

Full disclosure: I have not watched “Skins,” and am never likely ever to watch it. Teenage bedhopping shows are nothing new, and not really all that interesting to me. I mean, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all. That said, I like this little thing known as “freedom,” and see no reason why any private citizen or group should ever presume the power to force MTV to take any of its shows off the air merely because it has subjectively determined the show to be “dangerous.” What would be truly dangerous, would be to grant fervent Puritans that kind of authority, even if they believe themselves to be religiously entitled to possess that power.

Photo credit: peterjr1961.

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It's not Fascism when Christians do it! Christian Fascism in America: If Fascism Comes to America, It Will Come Wrapped in the Flag & Carrying the CrossThe blogosphere has raged over the past few days over the remarks of former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum’s comments about abortion. Naturally, he’s against it — even when the mother’s life is in danger — which follows his Catholic religion’s teaching that women’s lives are forfeit the moment they become pregnant. His remarks that have sparked controversy came in an interview with CNS News, where he said the following, as Huff reports (WebCite cached article):

A conservative Republican from Pennsylvania, Santorum has signaled he’s mulling a run for the White House in the next election cycle. During the interview, he voiced his staunchly pro-life stance, as well as his belief that when life begins “is not a debatable issue,” before going on to criticize the president.

“The question is, and this is what Barack Obama didn’t want to answer — is that human life a person under the constitution?” he said. “And Barack Obama says no. Well if that human life is not a person then I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say ‘now we are going to decide who are people and who are not people.'”

Video of his remarks is courtesy of Youtube:

The buzz that’s erupted around the Internet is that “Santorum is a racist!” Well, I’m no fan of Santorum. He’s a ferocious Christofascist who probably has not had an original thought in his head for the last 3 or 4 decades; he’s only capable of continuously spewing religious and ideological doctrine told to him by others. So don’t think I’m defending him … I’m not. But really, I’m not sure this is evidence he’s a “racist.”

His comments are actually an indirect, implied version of the fallacious reductio ad Hitlerum, a reprehensible propaganda device I’ve blogged about on many occasions already. Now, Dear Reader, if you’re the critical thinker I hope you are, you must be wondering where I got that from … and you’d be 100% right to ask how I could draw such an inference. So here goes.

Santorum’s remark suggests that abortion is used to control the population of “undesirables” or as a tool of discrimination. This is, basically, eugenics. As such, this alludes to the Third Reich and its various policies intended to eliminate “degenerates” and — supposedly — improve the “Aryan race.”

I concede that Santorum never mentioned Hitler or the Nazis, however, the Religious Right frequently states explicitly that abortion choice equates with eugenics, which equates with Hitler. Here is one example of what Santorum is alluding to, and here’s another, and here’s yet another.

There is no way that Santorum’s intended audience would have failed to recognize his reference.

Isn’t it time for this kind of baseless, fallacious, personal demonization of others to stop? It’s childish at best, and disingenuous at worst. I don’t care for the reductio ad Hitlerum when the Left uses it, and find it still less appropriate for the Right — which prides itself on having upstanding morals — to engage in it.

Here’s my personal rule when it comes to this propaganda device, paraphrased from a saying used by the character Salvor Hardin in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation: “The reductio ad Hitlerum is the last resort of the intellectually bankrupt.”

My final note is that people like Rick Santorum — who would like to turn the US into a Christianized fascist regime — are hypocritical to accuse their ideological opponents of being Nazis. Of course, no Religious Rightist ever fails to disobey Jesus’ own explicit, clear injunction against being hypocritical … but hey, what can you expect from irrational militant religionists like Santorum?

Photo credit: Austin Cline / Atheism/Agnosticism at About.Com.

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Battle of Ascalon 1099The great Neocrusade against Islam in the US has been simmering for months; now that Religious Rightists have control of the House of Representatives, the heat is being turned up. Tellingly, we’ve reached the point where the Neocrusaders have started turning on their own. The religiofascists at World Net Daily have picked up on allegations by furious Rightist Frank Gaffney that “radical Islamists” are infiltrating the American conservative movement, and in particular, the Conservative Political Action Conference (locally cached version):

With the Conservative Political Action Conference under fire for allowing participation by a homosexual activist group called GOProud and for a financial scandal in which some $400,000 was misappropriated under the watch of current leadership, Frank Gaffney, a leader of the conservative movement for the last 30 years, charges that CPAC has come under the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is working to bring America under Saudi-style Shariah law.

Gaffney, deputy assistant secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan, is founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and co-author of the new book “Shariah: The Threat to America.” He told WND that Islamism has infiltrated the American Conservative Union, the host of CPAC, in the person of Washington attorney and political activist Suhail Khan and a group called Muslims for America.

Like most WND articles, this one is laced with links to purchase the books it mentions. Because this is advertising and not useful reference material, I’ve chosen not to preserve them here.

Of course, it’s not just Frank Gaffney being paranoid. The equally enraged religiofacist Debbie Schlussel is also leveling accusations against Rightist darling Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey (WebCite cached article):

Are you a fan of Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a darling of the Tea Party activists? Are you planning to support him for the Republican nomination for President in 2012, for which he’s rumored to be planning a run? The conventional wisdom is that Christie’s biggest drawback is his obesity. But he’s got a much weightier problem: his big, fat love affair with HAMAS Muslims in New Jersey. …

To that end, Christie is nominating an extremist Muslim (redundant phrase), Sohail Mohammed, lawyer to assorted Islamic terrorists, to a Passaic County Superior Judgeship. Yup, Chris Christie rewarded those Muslim mobs who cheered on U.S. soil for the mass murder of 3,000 Americans with a judgeship.

Of course, Schlussel provides no evidence that Mohammad is a member of Hamas. But that’s only to be expected: Little things like “facts” and “documentation” don’t carry any weight in Schlussel’s sanctimonious universe.

Normally I’d be gratified to see the Right turning on itself in these ways … but actually I find it frightening. It’s the paranoid conspiracy theorists among the Right who are becoming most vocal, and it’s never good for any ideology when the PCTs among it become this vocal. Moreover, it’s the angriest and most religious wing of the Right which is carrying the standard of the Neocrusade; historically, anger and religiosity usually prevail, in these contests over future of the Right. So be afraid … be very afraid.

Hat tip: Talking Points Memo.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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