Archive for October, 2011

Satan, as drawn by Gustave Doré, in John Milton's Paradise LostI’ve already blogged about appeals to religion that lawyers for Joshua Komisarjevsky — recently convicted for his role in the Cheshire home invasion massacre — used in a (futile) effort to excuse their client. Now that they’re dealing with a death-penalty hearing, they’re pulling out all the stops. The Torrington (CT) Register-Citizen reports that they put his mother on the stand to spew their own ridiculous variation on the old “the Devil made me do it” protest (WebCite cached article):

Komisarjevsky, in his usual black suit, stared down at the defense team’s table in front of him as his mother [Jude Komisarjevsky] described how the once-obedient boy was transformed into a rebel lured by a “satanic cult.” …

By the time he was 12 or 13, he had begun listening to rock music rather than the Christian tunes they had always played in the home. She said the lyrics “encouraged rebellion, anger and misuse of other people.”

And at about the same time, she recalled, he started climbing out his bedroom window at night to hang out with local youths who were “mixed-up” and had embraced “satanic” values.

“After that, there was a lot of change in him,” she said. “A lot of anger. He seemed to have a poor self-image. He was easily manipulated and controlled by others.”

Those of you not living in Connecticut are likely unaware of this case, but we Nutmeggers know that his adoptive parents are fundamentalist Christians who were disturbed at “secular society’s” evil influences on their boy as he grew up, and took measures to indoctrinate him more thoroughly in their faith:

During her second day of testimony in the penalty phase of Joshua Komisarjevsky’s trial for the Cheshire triple homicide, his mother described years of home schooling done in an effort to instill Christian values in him.

Despite their efforts, Joshua Komisarjevsky was already a career criminal by his mid-teens. By pointing this out, I’m not saying his parents’ rigorous upbringing and fierce religiosity made him a murderer. No way. But, I do note that their beliefs weren’t enough to keep him from developing into a persistent felon. Simply put, it didn’t work.

In any event, I expect his attorneys will continue to present the jury with a parade of excuses for his behavior. “Satanic influences” — if there were any (no evidence has yet been offered that he was actually a Satanist or anything of the sort) — are but one of many more to come.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Jack O' Lantern - Witches' BrewHalloween seems to bring out the ridiculous in a lot of Americans. And the mass media have more than a little to do with it. A common mantra every year is that children are sickened and sometimes killed by trick-or-treat candy, every year, because they ingested a “treat” that had been poisoned. Unfortunately for this all-too-common myth, it simply is not true (WebCite cached article). This year, the concern voiced by local media here in Connecticut is not toxic treats, but sex offenders. For instance, WTIC-AM 1080 in Hartford offers this proud announcement that the state plans to head off this danger (cached):

Connecticut Department of Correction parole officers will be conducting unannounced home visits and surveillance of the roughly 250 sex offenders under their supervision, for Halloween.

Offenders have been advised to have no contact with minors, keep their outside lights off, and not answer the door for trick or treaters.

And the venerable Hartford Courant dutifully carries a virtually-identical story (cached):

Trick-or-treaters may not be the only ones showing up on Connecticut doorsteps this Halloween.

Parole officers will make unannounced visits to sex offenders’ homes, although the offenders may not know it, the Department of Correction announced Thursday.

They’ll be watching to make sure offenders are not having contact with minors — even those who show up at their homes. The sex offenders have been told to keep their outside lights off and refrain from answering their doors, the agency stated in a press release.

Right at the start, let me state that there is clearly a potential danger here, that some child might unknowingly knock on the door of a sex offender. Clearly that’s possible. I don’t deny it, not in the slightest.

But let’s put this in perspective. It’s exceedingly rare for any child to go trick-or-treating alone, not to mention unsupervised. (We used to go out by ourselves when I was a kid, but that never happens these days. More’s the pity.) The chances that any given sex offender might answer the door and be faced with a lone trick-or-treater he might be able to molest, are extremely remote.

Making this an even more improbable scenario, please note that we’re talking about 250 sex offenders. Yes, that’s 250 … in a state with a population in excess of 3.5 million! The average child in Connecticut will not even go near a sex offender’s home in the first place. A child trick-or-treating at 25 homes (for instance) has a 0.179% chance of encountering a sex offender. That’s right, not even .2 percent of a chance.

(Updated to add: My figures here are wrong. CT has an average household size of 2.52. This means the odds of a trick-or-treater encountering a sex offender while visiting 25 homes, is actually 0.45%. Higher than I cited, but still certainly not significant.)

Talk about a ridiculous non-story. Give me a fucking break!

P.S. In the world of Christian religionism, it turns out that some of them are more than a bit miffed that Halloween is too non-Christian a holiday. So they’ve launched a campaign to celebrate Jesus Ween instead (cached). Yes, you read that right: Jesus Ween (cached). The less said about that, the better, I think … !

Photo credit: De’Nick’nise.

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The End is Not NearI’ve blogged for well over a year about the cadaverous Bible scholar religionist crank Harold Camping and his two-pronged doomsday scenario, which failed spectacularly as of this past weekend, in spite of his insistence that it would, in fact, play out as he’d predicted. He and his organization, Family Radio, have been running silent for the last few days, in the face of that failure. But finally, the Christian Post reports, he or they have finally managed to tacitly admit that he’d been wrong (WebCite cached article):

For the past five months, Harold Camping‘s Family Radio website had posted on its main page an “explanation” of why the world did not end on May 21 and why it would truly end on Oct. 21. Four days after Camping’s failed doomsday date, however, that explanation has been removed, suggesting that Family Radio may be out of the rapture prediction business.

The move comes soon after Brandon Tauszik, a documentarian who has been attending Camping’s Oakland, Calif., church for eight months, confirmed with The Christian Post in an exclusive interview [cached] that the Bible preacher has informed those close to him that he will effectively retire.

It would have been more courageous of Camping to have overtly admitted having been wrong, rather than stealthily just deleting content from his Web site in the hope that no one will recall what he’d said. But that’s still better than what he did after the first part of his doomsday prediction (i.e. that Christ would return this past May 21) failed, when he insisted that Christ had, in fact, returned “spiritually” rather than violently in the wake of a vast, globe-spanning earthquake.

Oddly, though, the Christian Post proceeds to provide something of an apologia for the failed prophet:

Additionally, Tauszik told CP that Camping has changed his views about the possibility that one can know the exact date of the end of the world, a notion that Camping has maintained for at least 20 years; the doomsday prophet made his first public end of the world prediction in 1992, claiming the world would end in 1994.

There has been evidence of a “softer” apocalypse message from Family Radio, with more emphasis placed on perpetual readiness for judgment from God rather than a specific date on a calendar to prepare for.

Readers of this blog know that this is not true; far from “softening” his message, in the days leading up to his promised October 21, 2011 apocalypse, Camping insisted it woud still take place. I have no idea why the C.P. would choose to mischaracterize Harold Camping and his group, but they are.

Lastly, I’d like to say that I take no pleasure in the fact that Camping suffered a stroke this summer and has been forced to retire. I may find his apocalyptic religionism laughable, but don’t consider his ailment funny at all.

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Harold Camping is seen reading the Bible in his office at Family Stations Inc. offices in Oakland, California in this still image from video May 16, 2011. Credit: Reuters/Reuters TelevisionIt’s a bit after half past 9 pm where I am, which means that “the End of the World” — for me, according to the cadaverous Bible scholar religionist crank Harold S. Camping — is less than 2½ hours away. What’s more, as Reuters explains, it seems he’s trotted off somewhere in order to get himself ready for “the Big Event” (WebCite cached article):

An evangelical broadcaster whose end-of-the-world prophecy earlier this year stirred a global media frenzy has vanished from the public eye and airwaves ahead of his recalibrated doomsday date, set for Friday. …

Reached by telephone on Thursday, network spokesman Tom Evans declined to comment on Camping or his prophecies, except to say that he had “retired” as a radio host but remained chairman of the board of Family Stations Inc.

Although Camping himself and his organization has claimed to be confident that “the End” will soon be here, I’m even more confident that I will be around tomorrow just as always and that nothing will have changed all that much from tonight. I’m declaring — in advance! — that Camping will end up being proven a failed prophet. Of course, that should be news to no sane person. After all, all Biblical prophecy is 100% pure bullshit. It always was, and always will be.

Update: Hey Harold — it’s now just after midnight on the 22nd where I am. No Armageddon. You missed again!

Photo credit: Reuters / Reuters Television.

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Almudena Vista de sur-este 01Three months ago I blogged about the revelation that, for several decades, the Catholic Church in Australia had been taking newborns away from what the nuns and priests deemed “unfit mothers” by manipulation, intimidation, or even coercion, and doled them out to parents they deemed “fit.” Near the end of my post, I said, “I shudder to think what other countries this same thing happened in.”

All I can say is, how prescient of me! (Or better yet, how predictable the R.C. Church is!) The BBC reports that exactly the same thing happened in Spain, beginning during the Franco regime and continuing into the 1990s (WebCite cached article):

Spanish society has been shaken by allegations of the theft and trafficking of thousands of babies by nuns, priests and doctors, which started under Franco and continued up to the 1990s. …

The scale of the baby trafficking was unknown until this year, when two men — Antonio Barroso and Juan Luis Moreno, childhood friends from a seaside town near Barcelona — discovered that they had been bought from a nun. Their parents weren’t their real parents, and their life had been built on a lie.

Juan Luis Moreno discovered the truth when the man he had been brought to call “father” was on his deathbed.

“He said, ‘I bought you from a priest in Zaragoza’. He said that Antonio had been bought as well.”

This criminal scheme has a quick and ready scapegoat in Spain’s infamous Francisco Franco, however, it became entrenched, and outlasted him by a very long while:

The practice of removing children from parents deemed “undesirable” and placing them with “approved” families, began in the 1930s under the dictator General Francisco Franco.

At that time, the motivation may have been ideological. But years later, it seemed to change — babies began to be taken from parents considered morally — or economically — deficient. It became a money-spinner, too.

Investigating this scheme has been hindered by an amnesty that had been issued:

After Franco’s death in 1975, the major political parties agreed an amnesty to help smooth the transition to democracy.

But this amnesty law has never been repealed, so attempts to investigate Spain’s baby trafficking as a national crime against humanity have been rejected by the country’s judiciary and resisted by its politicians.

Thus, all responsible for dealing with the aftermath of this criminal scheme, have an easy excuse for doing nothing. How wonderful. (Not!)

All I can say is: Wow. It’s sickening to think that not only did the R.C. Church exploit a criminal enterprise for its own religious and ideological sake, they found a way to profit monetarily, too.

Does anyone wonder — now — why I keep repeating that the Roman Catholic Church has all the morals of the Mafia? They operated baby-stealing and -selling rings in at least two countries, that we know of. One can only assume this must have happened elsewhere, too. How many lives have been turned upside-down by this? And how long will it take the Catholic Church to admit its criminality, apologize for it, and make amends?

Hat tip: Unreasonable Faith.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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St Stephen, first Christian martyr, by Giacomo CavedoneI’ve long said that most Christians like to view themselves as being persecuted for their religion. This tendency seems to be proportional to their devoutness: The more ardently they believe, the more firmly they’re convinced they’re being attacked because of their faith. It’s a desire that goes back almost to the very start of Christianity. After all, Christians are taught that the founder of their religion was persecuted and ultimately executed because of what he believed and taught, and so too were all of his apostles. It stands to reason that martyrdom is the highest aspiration for any Christian.

While it’s true that, at some points in history (and even in a few places right now) there are Christians who are being persecuted for their religion, reality is that no Christian anywhere in the occidental world is being persecuted for his/her beliefs. It just doesn’t happen. Christianity is still the dominant religion in the occidental world; it’s impossible for someone of a majority religion to be persecuted for belonging to it. Nevertheless, devout Christians still are psychopathologically driven to view themselves as being persecuted for Jesus. This means that, essentially, they cook up fictional scenarios in which they’re being attacked — essentially, they delude themselves into thinking they’re being harassed for Jesus. In fact, they aren’t, but to a religionist, facts don’t matter. All that matters to them is that feeling of being “attacked.” To them, it’s a very real sensation.

The latest example of this false martyrdom being called down is reported by the Dallas Morning News; Anita Perry, wife of GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry, complained that her husband is being “brutalized” by the media — and pretty much everyone else in the world (WebCite cached article):

Anita Perry, campaigning for husband Rick Perry in South Carolina , suggests he’s been “brutalized” by the media and the GOP because of his faith. …

“It’s been a rough month. We have been brutalized and beaten up and chewed up in the press to where I need this today. We are being brutalized by our opponents, and our own party. So much of that is, I think, they look at him because of his faith. He is the only true conservative — well, there are some true conservatives. And they’re there for good reasons. And they may feel like God called them too. But I truly feel like we are here for that purpose.”

Mrs Perry either cannot or will not admit that maybe — just maybe! — her husband has come under fire because he’s a raging militant Christofascist, or because he lied about Social Security being a “Ponzi scheme,” or because one of his most prominent supporters claimed that Mormonism is a “cult” and that Mormons are not Christians.

Oh no. That couldn’t possibly be the case! Perry’s recent troubles can only be happening because he’s the only “‘Real’ Christian™” in the GOP field, so everyone on the planet is attacking him over it. Why, the poor man is being “brutalized” because of his religion!

I don’t know about you, but the verb “to brutalize” brings to mind someone who’s been pummeled and kicked and pounded into submission … not a politician who’s been merely criticized for his own excesses. It’s hard to know whether or not Mrs Perry is serious about this. After all, it’s not common to run into someone as thoroughly delusional as this … so one’s initial impulse is to wonder whether or not she’s making it up in order to draw sympathy. Even so, it’s not to their religion’s credit that militant Christians find such delusional sanctimony attractive.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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an epic mistranslationI have to give the guy credit for being tenacious. Even in the face of the spectacular failure of his May 21, 2011Second-Coming of Jesus” prediction, Bible scholar religionist crank Harold S. Camping remains unshaken in his claim that his “prophecy” will ultimately come to pass. His had always been a two-part prediction: That Jesus Christ would return on May 21, 2011 — ushered in by a vast globe-spanning earthquake, among other “signs” — followed 6 months later, on October 21, 2011, by an even more catastrophic “End of the World.”

Obviously the events he predicted would happen this past May never took place, but afterward Camping rationalized away his failure. WIth his promised “End of the World” coming up in just a few days, as LiveScience reports, Camping remains firmly and irrationally committed to his (already-demonstrably false) crankish scenario (WebCite cached article):

The radio preacher who predicted Judgment Day on May 21 has not backed down from his claims that the end of the world is near, despite the lack of a Rapture or world-devastating earthquakes leading up to the doomsday.

In an announcement on his Family Radio Network website, Harold Camping stands by his earlier predictions that the world will end on Friday, Oct. 21. Originally, Camping had predicted hourly earthquakes and God’s judgment on May 21, to be followed by months of torment on Earth for those individuals left behind. Using numerical codes extracted from the Bible, Camping set the date for the end of everything for Oct. 21.

The article briefly explains how — in typical crankish manner — Camping redefined both the events of this past May 21, and his own prediction about it, so as to make himself still look “correct” even though he most certainly was not:

When May 21 came and went without fanfare, Camping revised his story. The “earthquakes” he had predicted did occur, he writes on his website in a post titled “What Happened on May 21?” — only instead of shaking the Earth, God shook mankind “with fear.” Likewise, although no one was raptured, God is no longer saving souls, Camping writes.

“What really happened this past May 21st?” Camping wrote. “What really happened is that God accomplished exactly what He wanted to happen.”

I’m really not surprised at the screaming irrationality that Camping exhibits. He’s invested a lot of his time and money into his doomsday predictions (including a prior one that failed to come true back in 1994). For him to just throw up his hands — after all these years and after all these predictions — and just ‘fess up to having been wrong, would obviate all of that … not to mention it would call into question whether he should consider returning the millions of dollars in donations he and his organization have collected over the past couple years, from his sheep who believed in his obviously-wrong predictions. Simple economics and personal pride, then, all but force him to insist that “the End of the World” will take place this coming Friday, October 21, 2011. He just can’t help himself. Even if the rest of us know better.

Finally, for the record, I’d like to point out something that is also demonstrable, and that is that all Biblical prophecy is bullshit. A putrid, steaming load scooped right out of the back of the barn. All “Biblical prophecies” are false! Every stinking last one of them. Every time. All the time. And it will always and forever be so, because the very words of the Bible prove it, beyond the shadow of any possible doubt. It’s not up for debate or interpretation or number-crunching or anything else — it simply is. Period.

Photo credit: Robert Couse-Baker.

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