Archive for August, 2017

Harvey Geostationary VIS-IR 2017You’ve got to hand it to Christianists. They sure as hell are consistent. They can always be counted on to use natural disasters to propound their dour metaphysics and bludgeon everyone else with them. Once Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast, you just knew they’d declare that Harvey was God’s retribution for some outrage. Right Wing Watch reports on three such incidents so far.

The first militant Christianist on this list, is activist “Coach” Dave Daubenmire (Archive.Is cached article):

While Religious Right leaders have been oddly reticent about declaring that Hurricane Harvey is God’s judgment for America’s sin, far-right activist Dave Daubenmire is not shy about proclaiming just that, asserting on his “Pass The Salt Live” webcast yesterday that the storm is divine punishment on Houston for abortion and for recently having a lesbian mayor.

“Houston, we got a problem here,” Daubenmire said. “Could some of the problems be the result of the judgment of God coming your way because of the slaughter of unborn children? You had a lesbian mayor who wanted to look at the prayers of pastors in their churches. It’s debaucherous.”

Militant Christianist broadcaster Rick Wiles soon concurred with “the Coach” (cached):

End Times radio host Rick Wiles used his “TruNews” broadcast yesterday to declare that the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey is God’s punishment for Houston’s “affinity for the sexual perversion movement.”

“This is a proud city that, in recent years, has boasted of its allegiance, its dedication, its devotion to the homosexual/lesbian agenda,” he said.

Wiles asserted that Houston is under God’s judgment because it formerly had a mayor who is a lesbian, currently has “a pro-homosexual mayor,” has persecuted Christian pastors in the city and is among “the top-tier, most gay-friendly cities in America.”

And they were followed by yet another Christianist pastor (cached):

Extremist anti-LGBTQ pastor Kevin Swanson is joining other radical Religious Right activists in declaring that Hurricane Harvey is God’s judgment on Houston and other cities that refuse to repent for their embrace of “sexual perversion.”

“Jesus sends the message home, unless Americans repent, unless Houston repents, unless New Orleans repents, they will all likewise perish,” Swanson said on his radio program today. “That is the message that the Lord Jesus Christ is sending home right now to America.”

Yes, these three are true spokesmen for “the Religion of Love,” are they not? I can’t think of more stellar examples of what Christianism stands for. Can you?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Followers of Indian religious leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh throw stones at security forces during clashes after the controversial guru was convicted of rape in Panchkula, Aug. 25, 2017. Getty photo, via CBS NewsA lot of people in the US, where I live, have a lot of preconceptions about India. Many of them view that country through the lens of some of its most famous figures … in particular, Mahatma Gandhi. There’s no doubt that Gandhi left his mark on the world; he instigated India’s independence from British rule, and in the process showed that civil disobedience and non-violent resistance could change history. A lot of Americans, therefore, tend to view India as a land of pacifists.

It’d be nice if the world’s second-largest country by population were actually a collection of pacifists, but that’s not so. I don’t say that to denigrate India. I only say that, because that’s just how humanity is: Pacifism, in the long run, is the exception rather than the rule — by far! An example of how things really are in India made itself evident, as CBS News reports, just a few days ago, with catastrophic consequences (Archive.Is cached article):

At least 30 people were killed and more than 200 injured in violence in the two Indian states of Haryana and Punjab after a court convicted a spiritual guru of rape, incensing his loyal followers to riot.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted Friday of raping two women 15 years ago, but an estimated 100,000 of his followers had already gathered in the town of Panchkula, in Haryana, ahead of the verdict.

The violence left at least 30 people dead and more than 200 others wounded, Haryana state government officials told CBS News.…

When the guilty verdict was announced, the gathered members of Singh’s sect clashed with police and paramilitary forces, set several buildings and part of a gas station on fire and attacked television news crews. Several government offices were also reportedly vandalized by followers of the so-called “godman.”

This “guru” is extremely popular, and influential, in spite of the charges against him or (now) his conviction:

In a show of strength, the guru, who heads the powerful Dera Sacha Sauda sect, arrived to court in Panchkula on Friday in a 200-car cavalcade. He has featured in a number of self-produced movies where he has played the lead character, of a messiah.

India is home to many gurus like Singh, some of whom amass followings in the millions, and who become incredibly wealthy in the process.

I suppose these “gurus” might be a rough equivalent of American megapastors or televangelists … perhaps. Maybe. At any rate, it’s sickening to see this kind of religious loyalty turn into mayhem and death. Americans’ visions of India as a paradise of deep, abiding spirituality clearly is unjustified. As I’ve said many, many, many, many times … all metaphysics is liable to lead to extremes. All of them! No matter what kind. It’s as inevitable as death and taxes. Many people erroneously think religious extremism comes only from the Abrahamic religions of Islam and Christianity. It’s true those two do lead to a lot of militancy and violence … but that doesn’t mean other religious milieus, such as the dharmic faiths that saturate India, don’t lead to extremes, either.

Photo credit: Getty photo, via CBS News.

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'One Nation, Under God: Remember, if you don't believe in God, you're not a REAL American. Keep prayer and God in school, where they belong!' / Image © Austin Cline, Licensed to About; Original Poster: University of GeorgiaIn case you haven’t heard, militant Christianism is alive and well in the US of A. Yes, even in the 21st century, a strangely medieval form of Christofascism is doing just fine, thank you — even though its sanctimoniously-enraged adherents insist, repeatedly (despite the facts), that Christianity is being wiped out and all Christians in the US are in dire peril of being slaughtered at any moment.

Or something like that. I think. Yeah, I know it sounds extreme, but they certainly believe all that. And they believe it fervently … so how could it possibly not be true?

Naturally, these folk focus on the future. Yes, they focus on the future they sincerely — but delusionally — fear (and lie about), the one in which Christianity no longer exists, because of vicious, evil “secular progressives” in concert with their (supposed) friends the radical Islamists; and they focus on the future they earnestly desire, one in which Christianity is alive and well, and their form of it is worshipped uniformly by everyone in the world (after first being made into the national religion of the US).

In order to bring about the latter future, the one they would love to bring about, they work hard at getting their Christianism into schools, assuring (they think) that the next generation will worship their Jesus the way they demand he be worshipped by everyone. It’s a game they’ve played for decades, and have persisted with, in spite of setbacks like Engel v. Vitale (1962) and Abington S.D. v. Schempp (1963). Little things like the rule of law don’t matter to American Christianists; they work for Jesus, you see, so they need not worry about such petty concerns.

This explains why the good Christianist folk of the good Christianist state of Arkansas passed a good Christianist law ensuring the good Christianist public-school students all see a good Christianist slogan* constantly. KARK-TV in Little Rock explains their good Christianist impulse (Archive.Is cached article):

The official motto of the U.S. written across our money and monuments could soon appear on the walls of Arkansas public schools.

A new law [cached] states elementary and secondary schools shall display a framed picture or poster of “In God We Trust” above an American flag in their libraries and classrooms.

The article includes a quote by a good Arkansas Christianist affirming the good Christianists’ desperate need for this law:

“It should be there,” said Sharon Sumpter from Mulberry. “We need to turn more back to our religion, our roots and why our country was founded.”

“If you take ‘In God We Trust’ out, I mean that’s basically telling them God’s dead, you know?,” said Doug Wilburn from North Little Rock.

This insane piece of drivel practically screams “illogic.” To be clear, Ms Sumpter: No, not seeing “In God We Trust” constantly does not — in fact — tell us that your God is dead. It just fucking doesn’t — and that you think it does, constitutes proof of your religionistic derangement.

The article goes on to explain the mechanism by which the good Christianists who wrote and passed this good Christianist law hope to make it legal:

Taxpayers won’t be fronting the bill for the new displays.

Act 911 states they either have to be donated from a private organization or purchased with funds made available through voluntary contributions to the local school boards or the Building Authority Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

Oh, and it’s not only schools that must display “In God We Trust” all over the place:

The law also requires the motto to appear in any public building that’s maintained or operated by state funds.

Whew! That was close! I was afraid, for a moment there, that only public-school kids in the good Christianist state of Arkansas would constantly be confronted by that good Christianist slogan*; I can be comforted knowing that any good Christianist in Arkansas who spends time in any state-funded building will be comforted by the constant sight of a good Christianist slogan*.

I sure am glad I don’t live in Arkansas. But if I did, it wouldn’t matter. I do not trust in the Christianists’ God — or any other, for that matter — nor will I ever do so, no matter how many times I’m told I must. I just won’t. And there’s absolutely nothing that American Christianists can do about it.

Nor can they change the fact that there are non-Christianists in the world … yes, even in their own precious and holy “Christian nation.” Waaah wah waah, little babies. Waah wah!

* I say “In God We Trust” is a “Christianist” slogan, because — well! — that’s exactly what it is! It was first put on US coins during the Civil War due to a religious impulse. It was later added to paper currency as the Cold War heated up, at the instigation of the Knights of Columbus.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: Austin Cline/About.Com, aka ThoughtCo; Original: University of Georgia.

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crying-babyPardon me, Dear Reader, for yet another largely off-topic post. A lot needs to be said right now — and I’m going to say it.

First of all, let’s clear the air over what happened at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA. The rally hadn’t even formally begun before it became violent and police broke it up. Shortly after that, an angry white supremacist from Ohio drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 19 others (Archive.Is cached article). The driver reportedly had longstanding Nazi sympathies (cached). In other words, he was a card-carrying member of the “alt right” which had assembled in what is, basically, Thomas Jefferson’s hometown, to bluster and fume about the impending removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from a city park (cached).

Shortly after, on Saturday, the Groper-in-Chief made some comments condemning the violence at that rally, which had mostly been planned for him, but he added (twice!) an additional “on many sides,” entirely on his own (cached). In other words, he was blaming both sides for the violence and death — which was definitely not the case. He took some heat for that, from his own party, even (cached)! On Monday afternoon, he read a perfunctory condemnation of white nationalists, which he thought would end the matter (cached). But the hubbub triggered by his initial equivocation and false equivalence didn’t die down.

So today, the Apricot Wonder met with some assembled reporters and proceeded to launch into a full-blown, ten-alarm, all-hands-on-deck infantile meltdown (cached).

That’s the only description that fits this fucking debacle. Really. It’s juvenile beyond words. Quoting any of it would be pointless, and give it more dignity than it deserves. If you feel the need to, you can watch it, courtesy of PBS News Hour, via Youtube (cached):

You can also read a transcript, courtesy of CNBC (cached). Some of the more salient points of the Groper’s raging shit-show, are:

  1. He refused to say when he would speak with Ms Heyer’s family, but twice mentioned nice things her mother had said about him
  2. He refused to say when he’d go to Charlottesville, but mentioned his house — and winery — there
  3. He refused to call the car attack “terrorism,” claiming he needed more “facts,” even though he never previously let “facts” get in the way of venting his spleen
  4. His answer to the problem of racism in the US was talking about jobs, and everyone making so much money that it would just die out … somehow
  5. He invented a new word, “alt-left,” and claimed that the car driver had been responding to them “charging” at the alt-right

Honestly, this is about as fucked up a situation as I’ve ever seen from Washington — and I’m someone who remembers the Watergate scandal.

Turning away from the walking trainwreck that is our Groper-in-Chief, I came across something else hideous — and yes, it had to come from the Right-wing’s house organ, of course (cached):

The leader of a Ku Klux Klan group based in North Carolina said he was “glad” that a woman died and others were injured after a man allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters Saturday at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va.…

Justin Moore, the leader of the Grand Dragon for the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, told WBTV’s Steve Crump in a voicemail that he was “glad” Heyer was killed and others were injured in the vehicle attack.

“I’m sorta glad that them people got hit and I’m glad that girl died,” Moore said. “They were a bunch of communists out there protesting against somebody’s freedom of speech, so it doesn’t bother me that they got hurt at all.”

Is this really what’s become of the United States of America? Can it really be that we have such an infantile president and people who actually think it’s justifiable to drive cars into crowds merely because of them have “communist flags”?

This country is fucked. Royally. Right up the goddamn ass.

Photo credit: Brandon Baunach, via Flickr.

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A vehicle plows into a group of protesters marching along 4th Street NE at the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville on the day of the Unite the Right rally on Saturday, August 12, 2017. Photo/Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily ProgressFolks, it sure looks as though the Civil War has broken out again! No sooner did I finish blogging about last night’s torch-carrying mob of sanctimonious Confederates in Charlottesville, VA, but as The Daily Progress reports, a second rally today (called “Unite the Right”) turned deadly (Archive.Is cached article):

Update: 3:30 p.m.

Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer says one person has died after a car plowed into a mass of Unite the Right counter-protesters.

“I am heartbroken that a life has been lost here. I urge all people of good will–go home,” he wrote.

Police have not yet confirmed the fatality.

This is all in the name of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, which the city of Charlottesville voted to remove from a public park. Latter-day Confederates and “alt rightists” — precious snowflakes that they are — decided this was the equivalent of a physical attack on their persons, and reacted with lawsuits, riots, violence, and now murder — i.e. a car having been driven into a crowd of counter-protestors.

As I’ve argued many times, Confederacy-worship is asinine, irrational, and stupid. The Confederacy lost the Civil War. In every conceivable way — militarily, economically, politically, diplomatically, administratively, societally — it was a failed state. It’s gone. Over. Finished. Done. Toast. Relegated to the dustbin of history. Confederate relics have only one place in the modern US, and that’s in fucking museums.

It’s time for angry Southerners (and other “alt rightists” from other parts of the country who’ve taken up their juvenile cause) to fucking grow the hell up, for the first time in their sniveling little lives, and get over the fact that their precious Confederacy is the failed state it was. I understand they like feeling like martyrs … but they’re inventing persecution which, in fact, does not exist. No one and nothing is harmed by the removal of a General Lee statue from a public park. No one! It literally cannot cause them any fucking damage … at all.

It’s time for Confederacy worship to end — period. End of discussion.

Photo credit: Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress.

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The peasants are - well, you know! (via TV Tropes)It’s difficult to believe that, of all places, Charlottesville VA has become the latest Civil War battleground. This town is home to the University of Virginia, which was founded by several Founding Fathers, one of whom — Thomas Jefferson — was from the area. It’s generally a very progressive island within the sea of Virginia’s conservative interior. In fact, that may be why it has become a battle-zone. Some time ago, the city decided to take down some Confederate statues on city property … and today’s Confederates went berserk over that. Ever since, they’ve been raging and fuming about it. Apparently, taking down a statue is the same thing as physically attacking the poor little things.

This “controversy” has led to yet another literal “peasants with torches” moment. There was another such event last night, as Charlottesville’s Daily Progress reports, but unlike the one in May (which fizzled) this one was punctuated by violence (Archive.Is cached article):

Echoing the May 13 rally at the foot of Charlottesville’s Robert E. Lee statue, hundreds of torch-wielding white nationalists who are attending Saturday’s Unite the Right rally gathered at the University of Virginia and marched to the Rotunda, chanting, “You will not replace us.”

After the march, which began at UVa’s Nameless Field, reached the Rotunda, police later declared an unlawful assembly. Protesters and opponents alike reported being affected by pepper spray.

At the feet of a statue of Thomas Jefferson, fights began breaking out and some wielding tiki torches swung them at people. At least one person was arrested, and several people were treated at the scene for minor injuries.

The ralliers shouted many of the same chants at the May event, such as “blood and soil,” but this time, they declared that Charlottesville was their city now.

Yessirree Bob, dey’s not gonn’ let dem dere libruls take away deir Genrul Lee!

This Confederacy worship is asinine and juvenile, not to mention irrational and pointless. I’ll repeat here what I said back in May:

The way some Southerners venerate Confederates is, quite frankly, pathetic. It’s almost as though they aren’t aware the South lost the Civil War and they’re still fighting it … or wishing they could. It’s all very childish. The Confederacy, ultimately, was a failed attempt to break from the Union and establish a new state. Yes, folks, that’s right: It was a failure … militarily, economically, administratively, and in every other conceivable way. Continuing to worship it makes no sense at all. None! It’s all very childish, in fact.

Yes, I know all about the “Lost Cause of the Confederacy” trope, which holds that the Confederacy was a righteous, noble state defeated by insidious and unjust forces in the North. Far from being a failure, the Confederacy was right, and remains so to this day. All of that, of course, is rank bullshit … a steaming load heaped right out the back of the barn. But you can’t tell Southerners that. They’re not listening, at all, because telling them otherwise is a way of trying to demolish their “heritage” and wipe them all out. None of that is happening, of course, but they prefer to believe it is because it makes them feel better to feel downtrodden and put out.

It’s time for these latter-day Confederates to grow the fuck up already, stop worshipping their precious (failed!) Confederacy, and act like real Americans, fercryinoutloud.

Photo credit: TV Tropes.

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Law enforcement officials investigate an explosion at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minn., on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017. Bloomington police Chief Jeff Potts said Saturday that investigators are trying to determine the cause of the blast. Authorities say the explosion damaged one room but it didn't hurt anyone. (David Joles, Star Tribune)The movement I’ve called “the Great Neocrusade” — made up of Religious Rightists who object to the existence of Islam, and want it abolished in the US and then eradicated from the planet — became violent quite some time ago, and it continues apace. As the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports, a Bloomington MN mosque was bombed early Saturday morning (Archive.Is cached article):

A blast caused by what the FBI called “an improvised explosive device” rocked a Bloomington Islamic center before dawn Saturday, just as a small group of Muslim worshipers had gathered for the day’s first round of prayers.

The blast was reported at 5:05 a.m. as about a dozen people gathered in a room nearby for morning prayers and jolted awake many residents of the neighborhood. Congregants and neighbors expressed relief that there were no injuries, but also reacted with shock and dismay.

As I’ve said many times in the past, I understand the motivation behind the Neocrusade. Really, I do. I get it. I know all about the September 11, 2001 attacks; the Fort Hood shooting; the Boston Marathon bombing; the shootings in San Bernardino and in an Orlando night club; not to mention the attacks in Paris; and many other terror attacks around the world. I know them. I do. Honest! Really, I get it. I know Islamist terror exists and that it has caused much mayhem and killed many. I definitely am not unaware of the danger posed by Islamofascism.

What I don’t see, is how bombing mosques in the US is a valid or useful response to Islamist terror. Truthfully, Americans are in much greater danger from mundane things like automobile accidents, drug overdoses, and violence at the hands of ordinary, everyday sociopaths and criminals, than they are from violent Islamist terrorists. Responding to the irrational, sanctimonious violence of some Muslims with yet more irrational, sanctimonious violence against all Muslims, simply will not help. If anything, it will make the situation worse.

Besides, most Neocrusaders are Christians, who’ve been explicitly ordered by the founder of their religion never to be violent:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38-42)

Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52)

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.” (Luke 6:27-29)

Christians are, quite simply, not allowed to be violent. And that includes in self-defense! I admit this kind of pacifism is a counterproductive and potentially perilous philosophy, but those are the words early Christians included in the scriptures they wrote, and which Christians today claim to venerate; making sense of them, and following them, are not my problem. Christians chose their religion, and should just fucking follow it, fercryinoutloud, instead of conjuring rationales for evading the clear instructions they’re supposed to obey.

Photo credit: David Joles, Star Tribune.

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