Archive for August, 2011

Michelle BachmannDemonstrating that religionistic stupidity doesn’t have any gender boundaries, Congresswoman, GOP presidential candidate and religiofascist Michele Bachmann tossed out a little “disaster theology” at a rally in Sarasota, Florida. It was mentioned only near the end of a St Petersburg Times article on this event (WebCite cached article):

[Bachmann said] “I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.”

Video of her statement comes from WSMV-TV in Nashville, via Mediaite (cached).

In Bachmann’s world, the Almighty — you see — can get the attention of politicians only by sending a deadly and destructive hurricane around. He has no other choice, apparently, and can’t come up with any other means of communication with them. He can only communicate by causing widespread devastation.

I guess. Somehow. I must have missed when “omnipotence” was redefined from “the power to do anything at all at any time” to “unable to do things except in one way” … ?

Bachmann’s office claims she had said it “in jest” in order to make a point (cached). I for one am nowhere near stupid enough to buy that little evasion. I don’t see the slightest bit of humor in her delivery, and no one in the crowd reacted as though they’d just heard a joke. Her office will have to look a little harder to find someone dumb enough to believe that sniveling excuse.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

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Glenn BeckIf it sounds like I’m beating the same drum over the last couple of days, I confess, I am. But it’s not because I want to. It’s because the country’s religionists want to! They want to keep using disasters to their own personal and ecclesiastical advantage, via the rhetorical tool known as “disaster theology.” The latest example comes from America’s most famous paranoid, Glenn Beck. According to the Washington Post On Faith blog, he said the following on his radio show (WebCite cached article):

“How many warnings do you think you’re going to get, and how many warnings do you deserve? This hurricane that is coming thorough the East Coast, for anyone who’s in the East Coast and has been listening to me say ‘Food storage!’ ‘Be prepared!’ ‘Be somebody that can help others,’ you’ve heard me say this for years. People have made fun of me. That’s fine, I don’t care. I’ve been telling you, ‘Don’t be in a panic situation.’ If you’ve waited, this hurricane is a blessing. It is a blessing. It is God reminding you — as was the earthquake last week — it’s God reminding you you’re not in control. Things can happen. Be prepared and be someone who can help others so when disaster strikes, God forbid, you’re not panicking.”

Mediate offers a recording of the Glennster’s vicious spew:

You see, according to ferocious religionists like Glennie, the Almighty has nothing better to do with his omnipotent power except rain disasters down on people in an effort to “remind them” that they aren’t “in control.” Whatever that means. One would think an omnipotent being might find some better things to do with all that power, like wipe out cancer, cure hunger, comfort the bereaved, etc. No way … those things would be too useful and too productive! Much better to inflict terror and misery on millions of people at a time.

Oh yeah, that kind of cosmic terror-monger is precisely the kind of God I want to worship! Where do I sign up to join you, Glennie?

… Just kidding; there’s no way I’d be depraved enough to worship that sort of being! No one should. Such a creature ought to be scorned, not praised, by all thinking, moral beings.

Hat tip: Mark at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore on Flickr.

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Televangelist Pat Robertson said he thought the crack in the Washington monument caused by the August 23 earthquake could be a sign from God. / AP photo via Huffington PostOne of the more frequent employers of the “disaster theology” tactic is Marion “Pat” Robertson. You know, the guy who thought the Haiti earthquake was the result of God having cursed that country for having thrown off the yoke of French colonialism, and who agreed with the Reverend Falwell that the September 11, 2001 attacks happened because of the ACLU, feminists, and gays (WebCite cached article; audio available here.).

It seems Patty-boy can’t get enough of his disaster theology; according to the Washington Post On Faith blog, Robertson did it again, with respect to the Virginia earthquake a few days ago (cached):

Pat Robertson, natural disaster interpreter extraordinaire, said on Wednesday’s 700 Club that the earthquake that struck the Washington region Tuesday “means that we’re closer to the coming of the Lord.”

On Thursday’s broadcast, Robertson pointed to the damage to the Washington Monument in the earthquake as a possible ‘sign’ from God:

“It seems to me the Washington Monument is a symbol of America’s power. It has been the symbol of our great nation. We look at the symbol and we say ‘this is one nation under God.’ Now there’s a crack in it… Is that sign from the Lord? … You judge. It seems to me symbolic.”

The idea that any given catastrophe is a signal that Jesus is finally coming back, is as old as Christianity itself, dating back at least to the evangelists:

The televangelist Wednesday cited Matthew’s Gospel, and the earthquake’s “upheaval in the earth” as a sign that the End Times are nearing. Natural disasters, war and “one world government,” Robertson said, citing Scripture, are all “birth pangs” of the world to come.

So you see, there’s nothing original here. This is really just “End Times” talk that no rational person need bother paying attention to. The problem is, there are too many irrational people in the US, and many of them are, sadly, paying attention to jabbering ignoramuses like Patty Robertson. Even worse … a lot of them vote!

Hat tip: Mark at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

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Michael BloombergNew York City’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, sparked the fury of religionists when he decided against inviting clergy to speak at the tenth anniversary service in memory of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. The Wall Street Journal reports on the outrage that resulted (WebCite cached article):

Religious leaders are calling on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to reverse course and offer clergy a role in the ceremony commemorating the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. …

City Hall officials, who are coordinating the ceremony, confirmed that spiritual leaders will not participate this year—just as has been the case during past events marking the anniversary. The mayor has said he wants the upcoming event to strike a similar tone as previous ceremonies.

“There are hundreds of important people that have offered to participate over the last nine years, but the focus remains on the families of the thousands who died on Sept. 11,” said Evelyn Erskine, a mayoral spokeswoman.

The article lists any number of sanctimoniously-enraged religionists who’re demanding that clergy officiate at this event. According to the article, clergy have not been part of the annual memorial services. The rage over their exclusion this year does seem to have a source, though:

But the mayor’s plans this year have drawn increased scrutiny and some disapproval, as the event will attract an international audience and President Barack Obama will attend.

There, you see? It’s all about Barack Obama! What these outraged religionistic Obama-haters don’t know is, the service also will include his predecessor, former evangelical-in-chief George W. Bush, as CNN reports (cached):

On July 29 Bloomberg spoke about the ceremony during his weekly radio show. He announced that President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush would both be attending and participating, as well as other politicians and elected officials.

It’s curious that the WSJ doesn’t mention that the presence of the reviled Obama will be balanced by that of the Younger Bush. Hmm. I wonder why … ?

One last thing I’d like to note is something that’s glaringly obvious, to me at least, and that is that the September 11, 2001 attacks were caused by … drumroll please … religionism! Using the anniversary of a religionistic attack to make religionistic demands, is the height of arrogance and hypocrisy. Isn’t it time for people to just fucking grow the hell up for the first time in their lives?

I for one hope that the Mayor sticks to his guns and keeps the assorted religionistic catastrophe-users off the stage.

Photo credit: David Berkowitz.

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Earthquake Location, Magnitude 5.8 VIRGINIA, 2011 August 23 17:51:04 UTC / USGSI just love talking about what I call “disaster theology.” That’s when some hateful religionist claims that God caused some disaster or other, because he’s angry about something. Really, it’s not God that’s angry … it’s the person appealing to disaster theology. Theirs is the kind of sanctimonious anger that causes one to revel in the misery and suffering of others, because they — of course! — are much too pious to fall victim to it, themselves. I can think of few ways to show the vile nature of fierce religionism, than this tendency to dance for joy because of a catastrophe.

The latest example of it comes from a true master of “disaster theology” about whom I’ve blogged previously, Rabbi Yehuda Levin, and it’s reported by the Huffington Post because apparently the mass media can’t be bothered reporting on the ravings of enraged religiofascists (WebCite cached article):

A New York rabbi claims gay marriage and the earthquake that shook the East Coast are directly connected.

In a video uploaded to YouTube, Levin says gay rights legislation, like the gay marriage law passed in New York, are responsible for earthquakes, like the one that struck Washington, D.C. Tuesday.

“The Talmud states, ‘You have shaken your male member in a place where it doesn’t belong. I too, will shake the Earth,'” Levin says.

Here is this ferocious religiofascist’s video on Youtube:

Incongruously, this sanctimoniously-outraged bigot claims not to be a bigot after all:

“We don’t hate homosexuals,” he says. “I feel bad for homosexuals. It’s a revolt against God and literally, there’s hell to pay.”

OK, I get it. You don’t hate homosexuals, you just claim they’re “revolting against God” and that it’s God who hates them — not you! — and will make them “pay” for their rebellion.

Yep, I definitely got that little maneuver. You personally hate gays, but in order to swerve out of the way of having to admit you hate gays, you attribute the hatred instead to your God, and then say that God, not you, is the one doing all the hating.

There’s another word for that: Cowardice! The rabbi is too cowardly to admit the “hatred” and bigotry are his own, so like a sniveling crybaby, he hides behind his God.

I also note that, if God caused this earthquake because he’s angry that the state of New York now permits gay marriage, he missed his target; the middle of Virginia is a long way from New York. I have to wonder if it’s even possible for the Almighty to have missed his target … ?

Rabbi Levin is hardly the only person who’s used an earthquake to advance his own religionistic philosophy. The earthquake in Japan a few months ago, and the one in Haiti a year and a half ago, were both used to the same effect, by lots of ferocious, militant religionists. “Disaster theology” is as old as history itself, and it’s long past time humanity outgrew it.

Hat tip: Mark at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: USGS.

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God hates Westboro Baptists (they're fags!)I’ve blogged about the inbred cadre of howling morons known as “the Westboro Baptist Church” already, including an occasion when they ventured here to liberal Connecticut. Well, in the wake of the death of a Navy SEAL from Stamford, Bridgeport’s Connecticut Post reported yesterday that they’d threatened to return to the Nutmeg State to attend his funeral today (WebCite cached article):

A renegade fundamentalist Kansas church professing the demise of the United States because of its liberal policies on homosexuality, abortion and divorce is threatening to protest the Friday funeral for fallen Stamford SEAL Brian Bill.

Fred Phelps Jr., spokesman and son of Topeka’s Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred W. Phelps, said Wednesday that five or six church members are on their way to Stamford for Bill’s services.

“That’s the idea. We are doing as many SEAL funerals as we can,” he said in a phone interview from Kansas.

But now I’m pleased to report that the Westboro Baptists turned “yellow” and never showed up, as the Stamford Advocate reported just a short time ago (cached):

The funeral for U.S. Navy Petty Officer Brian Bill was conducted at the Church of St. Cecilia without incident and with hundreds of friends and family attending. …

In front of the church more than 120 Patriot Guards — a volunteer group dedicated to ensuring military funerals go smoothly — stood vigil, although no protestors from the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., appeared at the funeral, as threatened.

Phelps & Co. apparently didn’t have the courage to show up. Whodathunkit?

It would be better, of course, if Christianity as a religion had never given birth to this congregation of insanely hateful freaks, and I continue to wonder why it tolerates their existence … but I guess that’s asking too much.

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Michele BachmannWith Christofascist Michele Bachmann leaping to the fore of the pack of Religious Rightists who are climbing all over each other to become the Republican candidate for president next year, and she being a rigid fundamentalist Christian, I suppose it was inevitable that the scriptural role of women in Christianity (especially in Bachmann’s version of it) would come up. She appeared on all the Sunday shows — since she won the more or less useless Iowa Straw Poll — and addressed this on Face the Nation, as CBS News reports (WebCite cached article):

Appearing on “Face the Nation” Sunday, Rep. Michele Bachmann stood by her comment in Thursday’s Republican debate that when she said that wives should be submissive to their husbands, she meant that married couples should have mutual respect.

In 2006, Bachmann said her husband had told her to get a post-doctorate degree in tax law. “Tax law? I hate taxes,” she continued. “Why should I go into something like that? But the lord says, be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.'”

Naturally, therefore, this dutiful scriptural Christian wife did precisely as her husband had told her to do. In other words, she was obedient. However, when questioned on this, Bachmann said something very different:

“I respect my husband, he respects me,” she said. “We have been married 33 years, we have a great marriage…and respecting each other, listening to each other is what that means.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t see how “obedience” can be “mutual,” a word which implies “equality.” Continued questions only caused Bachmann to fall into even more ridiculous semantic claims:

“Do you think submissive means subservient?” O’Donnell asked.

“Not to us,” Bachmann said. “To us it means respect. We respect each other, we listen to each other, we love each other and that is what it means.”

Unfortunately, neither “submissive” nor “subservient” even comes close to implying the kind of equanimity that Bachmann outlines in that last sentence.

Those not familiar with fundamentalist Christianity may not understand what this is all about. It comes from two Bible verses, nearly identical, found in two different deutero-Pauline epistles — Ephesians 5:22 and Colossians 3:18. These are translated into English variously:

Ephesians 5:22

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (New American Standard Bible)
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. (King James Version)
Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. (New American Bible)

Colossians 3:18

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. (NASB)
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. (KJV)
Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, as is proper in the Lord. (NAB)

In the original Greek, these verses are as follows (courtesy of Unbound Bible):

αι γυναικες τοις ιδιοις ανδρασιν υποτασσεσθε ως τω κυριω (Ephesians 5:22)

αι γυναικες υποτασσεσθε τοις ιδιοις ανδρασιν ως ανηκεν εν κυριω (Colossians 3:18)

The Greek word in question, then, is ‘υποτασσεσθε (hypotassesthe), a form of the verb ‘υποτασσω (hypotassō) which can mean any of the following: “to submit to,” “place under,” “be subordinate to,” “to obey,” “be under the authority of,” etc. but which is assuredly related to ‘υποτιμω (hypotimō), which means “to abase.” Not one of the possible meanings of ‘υποτασσω comes anywhere near to expressing the kind of parity or mutuality that Bachmann suggests it means. In fact, the context of the verse — both in Greek and in English translation — only further confirms that it means anything but equality, and that is in the mention of “lordship” (e.g. “as unto the Lord” or τω κυριω). The concept being conveyed in both verses is that the husband-&-wife relationship is the equivalent of the Jesus-Christ-to-his-Church relationship, in which the latter is decidedly subject to (or subordinate to, or under the authority of, however you want to say it) the former. There is absolutely no equality, either stated or implied, in either of these verses. Not one iota of it. (Pun intended.)

The bottom line of both these verses is that wives — and by extension, all women — constitute a second-class within Christianity. No other interpretation of these verses makes any sense, because the exact words here cannot be construed to mean anything else — if one assumes (as Bachmann and her fellow fundamentalists supposedly do) that the Bible can only be read strictly and literally. If on the other hand one assumes these epistles were written by mere human beings, and specifically by male authors trying to propound their authority over women … well … that’s something else.

Really, this whole idiotic episode is just Bachmann’s way of veering out of the way of the strict scriptural directive that women are to be subordinate to men, so that she can then justify running for president, an office in which she would have authority over men (if she were elected). There’s no way around it.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr.

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