Archive for April, 2013

jesus-facepalmChristians have lived in terror of “antichrists” ever since the author of the Johannine epistles coined the term (αντιχριστοι or antichristoi in the original Greek), around the turn of the 2nd century CE. At the moment, it’s most common for Christians to view the Beast of Revelation as “‘the’ Antichrist,” even though Revelation doesn’t make that connection (in fact, Revelation doesn’t contain the word “antichrist” at all).

But that doesn’t mean Christians can’t manage to find “antichrists” elsewhere, and it doesn’t mean they’re not willing to go as far as they can in order to fight them. A recent chilling example of this phenomenon happened in Chile, as reported by The Santiago Times (WebCite cached article):

Investigative Police (PDI) arrested four people Thursday and are looking for the remaining members of a cult that sacrificed a three-day-old last November in the Valparaíso Region.

The ongoing investigation by the PDI alleges that 35-year-old Ramon Gustavo Castillo Gaete, cult leader and the deceased’s presumed father, believed the baby was the “antichrist” and needed to be sacrificed to stop the world’s presumed end on Dec. 21, 2012.

In an interview with Chilean news outlet 24 Horas, PDI representative Miguel Ampuero said that none of the current detainees — including the infant’s 25-year-old mother — have shown any remorse for what has happened, believing the sacrifice “saved the world.”

These fine representatives of “the Religion of Love” certainly outdid themselves in exhibiting “compassion” for this little baby:

“The baby was naked,” Ampuero said. “They strapped tape around her mouth to keep her from screaming. Then they placed her on a board. After calling on the spirits, they threw her on the bonfire alive.”

The ST article explains a little about the history of this sect, called Antares de la Luz, including that some of its members are professionals. These people are not entirely stupid, and don’t have any rational excuse for their murderous behavior. Only a delusionally-hyperreligious mind could assume a newborn baby could possibly be a danger to anyone.

Photo credit: Oloremo, via Flickr.

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'I am the Lord your God, and I need your kids to die for me!' / PsiCop original graphicNote: See below for some recent developments in this story.

A few years ago I blogged about Herbert & Catherine Schaible, who killed their son Kent by relying on prayer instead of medicine to save him from pneumonia. Well, it seems they managed to kill off another of their children. WCAU-TV in Philadelphia reports they killed an 8-month-old son for Jesus (WebCite cached article):

A couple that was sentenced to probation after their 2-year-old died in 2009 from pneumonia have had another child die.

Herbert and Catherine Schaible, fundamentalist Christians who believe in the power of prayer ahead of modern medicine, recently had their 8-month-old son die, according to Philadelphia Police spokeswoman Jillian Russell.

Honestly, I saw this coming a mile away. These people just don’t care about their own children’s lives. They demonstrated this conclusively, already, when they allowed Kent to die for no good reason. That they let another of their children die for Jesus was inevitable. The commonwealth of Pennsylvania also ought to have known this was coming. But they chose to do nothing. In fact, despite their conviction for Kent’s death, Pennsylvania courts and officials purposely and coldly allowed them to endanger more kids:

In 2010, a jury convicted the Schaibles, who have seven other children, of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment in the death of their 2-year-old son Kent. The Schaibles were each sentenced to 10 years of probation — they could have faced prison time [cached].

Yes, folks, you read that correctly: For having been convicted of killing their own son Kent, the Schaibles were effectively unpunished, and didn’t even have their other children taken away from them so as to protect them. The commonwealth allowed them to go right back home, and just do whatever they wanted to their remaining kids. While the Schaibles are clearly deluded by their fierce, unrelenting, irrational and destructive religionism, the judge who sentenced them — and commonwealth officials who supposedly monitored them — have no viable excuse for their negligence. In a way, because of their comparatively-greater awareness of the problem, they’re actually more culpable for this second death than the Schaibles themselves!

Perhaps they, too, should now be hauled into court and tried for manslaughter. They cannot possibly have failed to know the danger. But we know they won’t be held accountable … because they, and the rest of Pennsylvania’s government, clearly just don’t fucking care about the Schaible kids. At least, they don’t care about them any more than the Schaibles themselves do — which quite obviously, is not at all.

Update: The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the death of Brandon Schaible has been ruled a homicide (cached).

Hat tip: Secular Web News Wire.

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'You will know them by their fruits.' / Matthew 7:16a, NASB / PsiCop original graphicBy now we all know … whenever something awful happens, fierce religionists just can’t help but blame it on their theological enemies, or whoever else they despise. It doesn’t matter whether or not the facts are in, or if they actually know what they’re talking about. They just rage and fume and bluster and hurl the blame everywhere they can, just because they happen to be sanctimoniously enraged that there are insolent people out there who actually dare not believe what they believe.

By now I expect all my readers have heard about this afternoon’s Boston Marathon bombing (WebCite cached article). It’s only been a few hours, but already there are lots of religionists, I assume most of them Christians, who’ve announced via social media that “godless” people are to blame for it. Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist, has done a yeoman’s job of cataloging a number of these hateful and idiotic postings (cached).

Please go to Hemant’s page and read their bilious spew; I won’t repeat any of it here. Suffice it to say, these people have absolutely no fucking idea whether or not a “godless” person or persons bombed Boston. As I type this, the New York Post reports a Saudi national has been identified as a suspect (cached). This person is virtually guaranteed to be a Muslim, and not some “godless” person.

Yeah, I get that it’s the Post reporting this, and it’s very early in the investigation and quite tentative. Nevertheless, if that marginal tidbit is best information we have at the moment, no one can rationally justify deciding the bomber(s) must have been “godless.”

Listen up, people. This is just ridiculous, and it needs to fucking stop already! Right now.

Update: The Boston Globe reports the aforementioned Saudi national is not a suspect (cached). The investigation is back to square one and, essentially, stalled out.

Photo credit: PsiCop original, based on Matthew 7:16a, NASB.

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'How are you not do as I say!' (I Can Haz Cheezburger Builder)The Religious Right in the US sincerely believes Christianity is “under attack.” There’s a war against their religion, they claim. Now, most of us know there’s no such thing going on. Churches aren’t being shuttered or bulldozed; Bibles and crucifixes aren’t being confiscated or destroyed; devout Christians aren’t being put on trial for believing in Jesus. Put as simply as possible: There’s no persecution of Christianity going on in this country. It’s. Just. Not. Fucking. Happening.

You may have heard that the great Biblical state of Kentucky passed a law protecting Christians’ freedom of religion (even though, with First Amendment protections already in place, no such law is needed — in Kentucky or in any other state). One of its proponents is outraged that there’s been criticism of this law, and penned a letter to the editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader to explain why it was needed (WebCite cached article):

Could it be a war on Christianity? Now I know your response will be that there is no attack on religious freedoms. Indeed, you will deny the very existence of such a war. Yet, tell that to the owners of Hands On Originals or Chik-fil-A, who were vehemently attacked by government officials and agencies for expressing their personal religious beliefs. Tell that to the high school coach who gets sued by the American Civil Liberties Union for offering a prayer of protection before a ballgame. Tell that to the teacher who gets sued for saying, “Happy Thanksgiving,” “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Easter.” Tell that to the valedictorian who gets enjoined from mentioning God in her graduation speech. Tell that to the county judge-executive who gets sued for posting the Ten Commandments. Tell that to the student who tries to pray or read her Bible during school. Tell that to the citizens whose governor decided the State Capitol needed a “holiday tree” as opposed to a Christmas Tree.

Rep. Stan Lee’s complaint is basically a “dump” of childish whines. There’s no cohesion to it, and Lee generously salts his bellyaching with mythology, marginal claims, and outright lies.

First of all, no business owner has been “attacked” by any officials. An “attack” is a punch in the face or being held up at gunpoint; criticism is not, and never will be, an “attack.” Second, no American — not even the owners of Chick-fil-A or Hands On Originals — is ever entitled never to be criticized. Third, using their position as bosses to coerce their employees to live their private, non-workplace lives according to the fierce, rigid strictures of their own dour metaphysics, is not merely “expressing their personal religious beliefs.” It’s quite something else.

Lee doesn’t provide any evidence of these teachers he says have been “sued for saying, ‘Happy Thanksgiving,’ ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Easter.'” It sounds like urban legend to me. There’s nothing specific, just wild claims without a stitch of support.

Valedictorians in public schools being told not to talk up God is part of an effort to keep church and state separate. Let’s face it, lots of public schools use children as proxies to force religion into them, and that’s forbidden.

Oh, and public-school students most certainly can both pray and read Bibles in school. It happens all the time. To say it can’t, is a flat-out lie, and Lee knows it.

Public-school coaches leading students in prayer, and judges putting up immense Decalogue idols in courts, are both examples of Christians using the power of government to promote their religion. And it’s illegal.

And calling a Christmas tree a “holiday tree,” harms no one! Since Christmas is a holiday, semantically speaking, this means all Christmas trees truly are “holiday trees.” To say otherwise is also a lie.

Like the rest of the Religious Right, Rep. Lee is confused. He thinks Christians being criticized for wanting to control everyone’s lives, is an “attack” on his religion. He thinks separation of church and state abridges Christians’ freedom of religion. He thinks Christians are entitled to get their way, all the time, every time, and when they don’t, it’s unacceptable.

As I’ve blogged many times already, I understand where Christians are coming from. A desire to be persecuted for Jesus is part and parcel of their religion, and it has been almost since its inception. This persecutorial delusion is embedded deep in the psychopathology of Christianity. Rep. Lee and the rest of the Religious Right really, truly want to think they’re being attacked for their beliefs. In many ways, they literally can’t help themselves.

But that’s really no excuse for remaining attached to this paranoid delusion. It’s one thing to fantasize about being a martyr, because one’s religion is founded on a martyr. It’s quite another to invent persecution that’s not even happening, and accuse others of doing things they haven’t done. The delusions don’t serve any good purpose, and really need to fucking stop already.

I have to add Rep. Lee to my “lying liars for Jesus” club. Not that he’s alone there. Lying for Jesus is a common pastime among Christians. That’s because … to paraphrase Isaac Asimov … lying is the last refuge of the insecure.

Photo credit: I Can Haz Cheezburger Builder.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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Francesco D'Andria / The remains of the site in Pamukkale, Turkey / via Digital SpyAn odd discovery has made headlines around the world. As the Christian Science Monitor reports, a team of archaeologists claim they’ve found a “gate to Hell” in the ruins of Hierapolis in Turkey (WebCite cached article):

Archaeologists say they have pinpointed an ancient — and lethal — cave that was once believed to be the entrance to the underworld.

Working at the World Heritage Site of Hierapolis in southwestern Turkey, Francesco D’Andria of the Italian University of Salento and his team found a cave featuring Ionic semi columns with inscriptions dedicated to Pluto and Kore, the underworld’s deities.

D’Andria and his team also found the remains of a temple, a pool, and multiple steps placed above the cave, which is said to closely fit the ancient writings on the site.…

Writing in the first century BC, the Greek geographer Strabo portrayed the cave as follows: “[T]his space is full of a vapour so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Now to those who approach the handrail anywhere round the enclosure the air is harmless, since the outside is free from that vapour in calm weather, but any animal that passes inside meets instant death. At any rate, bulls that are led into it fall and are dragged out dead; and I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell.”

Strabo’s deadly “vapour” — actually CO2 gas — remains in the cave, said D’Andria, who presented his findings at a recent conference on Italian archaeology in Istanbul.

It’s not difficult to comprehend why the ancients might have believed this about the toxic cave, and constructed a temple there. This is one of the rare cases in which a religious belief actually had a simple, mundane, and understandable, explanation.

Photo credit: Francesco D’Andria, via Digital Spy.

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North Carolina State Capitol, RaleighChristofascists are a really angry bunch. They’re downright incensed that things like the First Amendment have gotten in the way of them forcing their dour religionism on the American people.

I’ve been saying for years now that … if they had their way … they’d make everyone worship as they do. Well, it turns out some Republican Christofascist legislators in the great Bible Belt (aka Bobble Bay-elt) state of North Carolina, have declared their religionistic militancy openly. As NBC News reports, they’ve proposed legislation that would establish a North Carolinian state religion (WebCite cached article):

Republican lawmakers in North Carolina have introduced a bill declaring that the state has the power to establish an official religion — a direct challenge to the First Amendment.…

The bill [cached] says that federal courts do not have the power to decide what is constitutional, and says the state does not recognize federal court rulings that prohibit North Carolina and its schools from favoring a religion.

The bill was introduced Monday by two Republican representatives from Rowan County, north of Charlotte, and sponsored by seven other Republicans. The party controls both chambers of the North Carolina Legislature.

The two lawmakers who filed the bill, state Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford, did not immediately return calls Wednesday from NBC News.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued last month to stop the Rowan County Commission from opening meetings with Christian prayers. One of those prayers declared that “there is only one way to salvation, and that is Jesus Christ,” the ACLU said.

This proposed law is quite obviously unconstitutional. The law itself explicitly dismisses the incorporation doctrine, even though it’s been upheld through many court decisions and isn’t going anywhere.

Assuming these fierce Christofascists are able to pass this bill, get it signed, and have it become the law of the land in North Carolina, it’s nevertheless fraught with peril, even for the most devout Christians there. That’s because of the sectarian conflict which would have to follow. Would the North Carolina state religion be a Protestant sect? If so, Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians would be disenfranchised. If Catholicism is made the state religion, then Protestants and the Orthodox would be disenfranchised. That’s not even considering that non-Christians and non-believers would be disenfranchised, no matter which Christian sect is made the state’s religion.

The bottom line is that Harry Warren and Carl Ford are childishly furious that the First Amendment has gotten in the way of them imposing their religiosity on everyone. But I’m less worried about them, than I am about the (large) number of North Carolinian Religious Rightists who will, no doubt, immediately and happily flock to their cause and support this bill, in spite of the fact that it’s unconstitutional. Neither Warren nor Ford will suffer any serious consequences from having raised this bill; if anything, they’re assured of long careers in North Carolinian politics.

Be afraid, folks. Be very, very afraid. These people are serious, and they aren’t taking any more shit from anyone.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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