Archive for November, 2011

666 DiceA fundamentalist Christian in Georgia is suing the company that fired him because he refused to wear a sticker with the number “666” on it. The AP reports via the Washington Post On Faith blog on this metaphysical lunacy (WebCite cached article):

A Georgia factory worker claims in a federal lawsuit that he was fired after he refused to wear a ‘666’ sticker he feared would doom him to eternal damnation.

Billy E. Hyatt claims he was fired from Pliant Corp., a plastics factory in northern Georgia near Dalton, after he refused to wear a sticker proclaiming that his factory had been accident-free for 666 days. That number is considered the “mark of the beast” in the Bible’s Book of Revelation describing the apocalypse.

Hyatt, who said he’s a devout Christian, had worked for the north Georgia plastics company since June 2007 and like other employees wore stickers each day that proclaimed how long the factory had gone without an accident.

Most of us would consider 666 accident-free days in a plant to be a good thing, not a bad one, but Hyatt’s metaphysical beliefs don’t permit that kind of a rational conclusion.

CNN also offers this video report on Hyatt and his lawsuit:

Note about this interview: The reporter refers to the final book of the New Testament as “Revelations,” but that’s not its name. It’s “Revelation.” Singular. Just one “revelation,” not many “revelations.” This is a common mistake, but many people make it nonetheless.

Two more observations about the video: About the 0:55 mark, Hyatt claims “it’s not just a sticker.” Unfortunately for him, the truth of the matter is that it most assuredly is “just a sticker,” and nothing he says about it can ever make it anything other than “just a sticker.”

Also, Hyatt apparently imagines himself a martyr for Jesus. Around the 1:18 mark — right near the the end of the piece — he says:

“One of these days, I know I’m going to lose my life for not wanting to accept the Mark of the Beast.”

That’s right, folks … the guy actually fantasizes about being martyred. Who says the age-old Christian persecution complex isn’t alive and well, and living in Dalton, GA?

Photo credit: connerdowney.

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Children run back to class following a recess at Mormon Hills School in the polygamous community of Bountiful, B.C. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press) via CBCIn the wake of British Columbia’s Supreme Court upholding that country’s laws against polygamy a few days ago (WebCite cached article), Canadian authorities are headed to Texas, as the CBC reports, in order to investigate possible trafficking of child brides by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka FLDS) in both countries (cached):

RCMP officers from British Columbia are heading to Texas next month to dig deeper into allegations of child trafficking.

The investigation was launched after U.S. police found documents that described how leaders of a breakaway Mormon sect shuttled children over the border to be married to much older men.

Three years ago, Texas police said they discovered a hidden vault of records when they raided a compound belonging to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Trafficking is a natural — if illegal — consequence of trying to maintain a polygamous community. Such communities require a high ratio of girls to boys, if all the boys are to grow up to have more than one wife. Bringing in child brides is one way to overcome that inconvenient (for them!) demographic reality.

At any rate, an FLDS compound in Bountiful, BC is reportedly involved:

Affidavits filed by B.C.’s attorney general allege the two leaders of separate FLDS sects in Bountiful, B.C. — Winston Blackmore and James Oler — may have been witnesses at U.S. marriage ceremonies involving child brides, may have provided their own daughters or were married themselves to children.

The RCMP won’t divulge who is being investigated, said Cpl. Dan Moskaluk.

“These allegations are historical allegations that occurred in the late ’90s upwards to as late as 2006,” Moskaluk said.

Apparently the God for whom the FLDS prophets claim to speak is somehow not powerful enough to ensure that more girls than boys are born to them. Thus, those prophets are forced to use more worldly means to deal with the matter. Hmmmm. Kinda makes you wonder why their God is so deficient?

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

Photo credit: Jonathan Hayward / Canadian Press, via CBC.

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Marion 'Pat' Robertson, via MediaiteIt’s been a while since I blogged about famed Christianist Marion “Pat” Robertson. I’d thought perhaps he’d mellowed with age, but it turns out that’s not the case. He’s still the same boorish idiot we’ve always known him to be. Right Wing Watch and the Huffington Post recently reported on his most recent remarks about President Obama during an appearance on the 700 Club (WebCite cached article):

Televangelist Pat Robertson revived conspiratorial talk about President Obama’s childhood Thursday, claiming that he was driven by some sort of Muslim inclination because of his upbringing in Indonesia. …

“They say he’s going back to the place that he spent his childhood, he spent four years in Indonesia, I don’t know if he was trained in a madrassa, one of those Muslim schools, but nevertheless that is his inclination,” Robertson claimed, during a discussion about Obama attending the ASEAN conference in Indonesia.

These claims about the religious nature of his schools have been debunked. In fact, according to a New York Times report [cached], one school he attended was Roman Catholic, while the other was a prestigious and wealthy primary school founded by Dutch colonialists. Obama has also frequently repeated that he is a Christian who attends church.

Here’s a Youtube video of Robertson’s remarks:

Note how clever Robertson is with this. He admits he doesn’t really know the circumstances of Obama’s youth in Indonesia, but blathers on about it anyway; and he says merely that Obama has a Muslim “inclination,” an indefinite enough word that no one can call him out on it, while his target audience (which presumably thinks Obama is a Muslim) will hear it as “Obama is a Muslim,” thus confirming — in their minds — what they already believed. Yet Robertson will be able to say, and with literal truth, that he never said “Obama is a Muslim.”

P.S. I don’t normally use ideological machines like Huff or RWW as sources; but in this case the Youtube video above substantiates what’s reported.

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

Photo credit: Mediaite.

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Late Thursday evening U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kwan issued the ruling, acknowledging the tremendous work put in by Chapman University, the diocese's competitor, which offered as much as $59 million for the 40-acre Crystal Cathedral campus. The diocese will get the property for $57.5 million. FILE: ANA VENEGAS, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTERI’ve blogged several times already about that monument to Christian ostentatiousness known as “the Crystal Cathedral” in Garden Grove, CA. Years of incredible profligacy left the C.C. teetering on the financial brink, and eventually the church had to declare bankruptcy. A bankruptcy court directed the sale of the property in order to pay off the colossal debts (something like $50 million). As the Orange County Register reports, it looks as though the Roman Catholic diocese of Orange (Calif.) will be the buyer (WebCite cached article):

A court hearing is in progress to confirm the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange as the buyer for Orange County’s iconic Crystal Cathedral property.

The Crystal Cathedral’s board decided Wednesday night to select the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange as its preferred buyer. The board last month named Chapman as its preferred buyer, but last night’s decision changed that stance. It is still up to the judge to decide who will eventually buy the cathedral.

Naturally, there’s some discontent in the pews over this. The C.C. is, after all, an evangelical Protestant congregation, with little fondness for those “Mary-worshipping Catholics”:

Many longtime congregants who have been attending the court hearings say they are shocked and disappointed by the board’s decision. Several who spoke in court Thursday stated they want Chapman to purchase the property so the ministry can continue its work and they can continue to attend their Protestant church at the iconic location.

What I still cannot understand is how and why, exactly, such an opulent edifice is an appropriate place to worship Jesus Christ, who taught the virtues of poverty and humility, and who explicitly opposed splashy displays of piety. Anyone out there care to explain … ?

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

Photo credit: Orange County Register.

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Human-Male-White-Newborn-Baby-CryingAmerica’s Catholic bishops have had enough of not being in control of the country. They’ve taken their gloves off and slammed them down. At issue — they say — is their “religious liberty.” In yet another expression of the Christian martyr complex, they’re griping and bellyaching that they no longer have the influence they once did; that government is no longer bending over for them on demand; and that society is leaving them behind. USA Today‘s Faith & Reason blog reports on their latest petulant, sniveling whine (WebCite cached article):

The U.S. Catholic bishops Monday blasted “aggressive secularism” and the Obama administration for attacking the Church — and all believers — on religious liberty by curtailing the voices of faith in the public square. …

Their leader, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, told the annual gathering of 300 prelates to employ their passion for Jesus and the Church to face down the “chilling statistics” of people leaving the church and the cultural onslaught of critics of the Church.

The bishops are carrying the standard of “religious liberty,” because in their minds, their “freedom of religion” equates with “everyone in the country doing whatever they say.” Anyone who insolently dares not to follow the strict dogma of Roman Catholicism is — by their definition — depriving them of their religious liberty.

Well, boo fucking hoo, bishops. Your “religious liberty” stops at your own front doors; it does not entitle you to control the lives of anyone else. Grow the fuck up and stop presuming the power to tell everyone — Catholic or not — what they can or cannot do. OK?

If you think my refusal to obey you somehow diminishes your “religious liberty,” well then … by all means, I invite you to track me down, come right here and assert your control over me. Go ahead! I dare you. Do it. Now!

If you cannot do so — or don’t possess the courage to try — then you’ve shown yourselves to be just a bunch of crybaby cowards who simply want to weep and wail that you aren’t getting your way any more. Wah wah wah! Too fucking bad, your Excellencies. The Roman Catholic Church did run the show, once upon a time … but the rest of humanity outgrew you. The Catholic Church doesn’t control the occidental world any longer. The sooner you grow the fuck up and accept that, the better off you’ll be.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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a flickr christmas cardIt’s that time of year again, folks. The time when the Religious Right gets its knickers twisted into knots over their delusion that Christmas either has been, or soon will be, outlawed in the U.S. This “war on Christmas” trope is usually good for about a dozen blog posts each year, and likely will continue to be … because the R.R. is so predictably outraged over this manufactured controversy.

The Aledo (IL) Times Record reports that Congressman Joe Walsh has proffered what he calls the “Save Christmas Act” in an effort to “defend” his supposedly-beleaguered holiday (WebCite cached article):

Yesterday, Congressman Joe Walsh (IL-8) introduced the ‘Save Christmas Act’ to permanently end the Obama Administration’s new tax on Christmas trees. This tax was established to fund yet another unnecessary government board, the Christmas Tree Promotion Board. This is clearly the most ridiculous in a long list of new taxes and regulations proposed by the Obama Administration.

Walsh stated: “The sheer audacity of a tax on Christmas trees is ridiculous. Are we going to start taxing Halloween candy and pumpkins or turkey and apple pie? Are we going to tax the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny too? Are we going to tax hotdogs and hamburgers and American flags for the Fourth of July?

There are actually several problems with this. Yes, the proposal to levy a 15¢ fee per tree sold on sellers of live Christmas trees was a genuine one. And it was announced by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture recently. However, as Snopes makes clear (cached), it is not a “tax.” Rather, it’s a cooperative program — first requested by the Christmas-tree-growing industry, I might add! — intended to promote the sale of live Christmas trees.

Of course, these little facts didn’t get in the way of the Right-wing flaring up with sanctimonious outrage. In light of this shitstorm, the White House quickly put the kibosh on this idea … even though those who raged and railed against it were angry for all the wrong reasons. If the Right-wing fury over this supposed “Christmas tree tax” was predictable, so too was the Obama administration’s eagerness to cave into it.

But beyond the problem of the Right’s outrage over this being counter-factual, is that even the scenario they were telling themselves was in play — i.e. that Obama and his evil cohorts were taxing Christmas trees in order to hinder the celebration of Christmas by Christians around the country — makes absolutely no sense! A 15¢ tax is nowhere near enough to put a dent into sales of Christmas trees, which normally cost upwards of $20; and it wouldn’t have been limited just to real trees, artificial ones would have been “taxed” too.

Time to get over yourselves, Christians, and grow the fuck up. Not everything is intended to abolish your religion and/or its trappings. Really. Moreover, if you guys are really fans of the private sector and want to help industry, you’d have supported this 15¢-per-tree fee, because it was the Christmas tree industry itself that originally came up with it!

P.S. There’s almost nothing truly or genuinely “Christian” about Christmas trees, as I explain in my page on the myths about Christmas that the R.R. clings to so irrationally.

Photo credit: julian.

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Plan9SaucerShadowIn a move that’s sure to enrage, rather than calm, paranoid extraterrestrial conspiracy-mongers, Universe Today reports that the White House has denied that our planet has been visited by E.T.s (WebCite cached article):

The White House has responded to two petitions asking the US government to formally acknowledge that aliens have visited Earth and to disclose to any intentional withholding of government interactions with extraterrestrial beings. “The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race,” said Phil Larson from the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, on the website [cached]. “In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public’s eye.”

5,387 people had signed the petition for immediately disclosing the government’s knowledge of and communications with extraterrestrial beings, and 12,078 signed the request for a formal acknowledgement from the White House that extraterrestrials have been engaging the human race.

These petitions are predicated on the usual kind of logic that E.T.ers love to employ: Subjective, anecdotal evidence, not to mention the fallacy of argumentum ad populum:

“Hundreds of military and government agency witnesses have come forward with testimony confirming this extraterrestrial presence,” the second petition states. “Opinion polls now indicate more than 50% of the American people believe there is an extraterrestrial presence and more than 80% believe the government is not telling the truth about this phenomenon. The people have a right to know. The people can handle the truth.”

Unfortunately for these folks, neither personal testimonies nor public-opinion polls constitute objective, verifiable evidence of anything other than that people are willing to believe in crazy notions. That people think we’ve been visited by extraterrestrials, doesn’t mean we actually have been.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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