Archive for the “General” Category

Posts of a general nature

King Arthur II concept art 4Most of my readers have never been part of fundamentalist Christianity. As such, they’re unaware of fundies’ very strange — and supernaturally-saturated — worldview. As a former fundie myself, I’m familiar with it, but unless you’ve been part of it, it can be difficult to comprehend. This worldview is predicated on the presumed reality of the supernatural and preternatural, with powerful and infernal forces at work in the world, actively trying to destroy the godly and saintly.

Yes, I realize this is actually a very primitive mindset, one that made sense in ancient times, when nature wasn’t very well understood. Indeed, it probably did — way back when, in prehistory — seem as though invisible metaphysical agents were at work in the world. It’s a philosophy that seems downright bizarre now that we have a much better idea of how the world works. Yet, fundies cling to it — fiercely, and even angrily. And it explains a lot of what they say and do.

Take, for example, retired Army officer Robert Maginnis, who made this pronouncement on disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker’s show (WebCite cached article):

He even said that he had “personally met” with witches [cached] who told him that they are advising high-ranking government officials in Washington, D.C. “I know that there’s demonic forces in that city,” he said. “I have personally met people that refer to themselves as witches, people that say they advise the senior leadership of the country.”

Yeah, as though any of these people Maginnis says he “met personally” actually walked up to a Christofascist like him and said, “Hey, Bob, just want you to know, I’m a witch!” I’m sorry to have to say it, but this guy is clearly spewing bullshit.

And that, my friends, is the problem with this sort of thinking. It’s easy to make up all sorts of tall tales about witches and demons and devils and all that assorted horse-hockey, because it’s all metaphysical and non-demonstrable anyway. As long as Maginnis never provides the names of any of these supposed “witches” who’re working with “demonic forces,” there’s no way anyone can even begin to confirm any of his B.S.

To be clear, however, there’s no such thing as a witch, nor are there any demons or devils. Satan exists solely as a literary character, in works such as the book of Job and Paradise Lost.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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Afghan protests against the burning of a Quran in Florida. (AP photo, via Politico)Yeah! Let’s hear it for “the Religion of Peace” (as people like then-president George W. Bush like to call it)! This weekend we were treated to a sampling of that faith’s approach to life in the form of several terror attacks.

One of these took place in St Cloud, MN, for which ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh/whatever-the-fuck-you-want-to-call-that-savage-brood claimed responsibility (WebCite cached article). That one ended with the terrorist being killed.

Then there was a series of bombings and attempted bombings in Seaside Park & Elizabeth, NJ and in New York City. The suspected terrorist in those cases was caught and wounded in a gun battle (cached).

Despite the obvious terrorist angle to all of these stories, officials spent the weekend tap-dancing around the issue of whether or not these were terrorist attacks. For instance, in this New York Times story, we read (cached):

Officials said they did not know of any motive — political or social — for any of the attacks.

Really!? I’m no expert on terrorism or crime, but it was pretty fucking obvious to me that a bomb placed in a trash can near the finish line of a race is almost certain to have been a terror attack (cached). Feigning befuddlement over motive in cases like this is — in a word — inexcusable. It’s fucking absurd!

I grant that America’s Neocrusaders will jump for joy, again, over these attacks and attempted attacks. In their minds it will “prove” how horrific Islam is, and that it must be outlawed and all Muslims banished. They’ll also see it as “proving” their own religion, Christianity, is virtuous and perfect.

What they will forget is that Christianity is far from perfect. There is such a thing as Christian terror, as I’ve blogged previously, and that has maimed and killed Americans too … even if not many people wish to admit it.

It’s long past time for believers — in all religions — to own up to the extremism that lurks deep inside religions generally. It’s true that not all Muslims are terrorists like the cretins in Minnesota and New Jersey. It’s also true that not all Christians are clinic bombers and doctor killers. In fact, the majority of Muslims and Christians are the opposite. Nevertheless, their religions have produced those terrorists. People who followed those faiths, having read their sacred texts and having followed their teachings, became violent militants.

That doesn’t happen by accident. It also needs to be fixed. And only believers can do that.

Unfortunately, too many of them don’t wish to do so. They’re too busy waving off events like this, saying “Those terrorists aren’t ‘Real’ Muslims” or “‘Real’ Christians” or whatever. They don’t want to deal with the problem of religious militancy because they’re too infatuated with the presumed virtue of their religion to do so.

More’s the pity. Because as I’ve said many times: If the followers of a religion don’t respect it well enough to police it and control the militants within it, then they can’t reasonably expect outside observers, like myself, to respect it, or them for following it.

Photo credit: Associated Press, via Politico.

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Husité - Jenský kodexI’ve noted some time ago that the Christianist trope I call the Neocrusade has gone from a mere propaganda campaign to get Islam abolished in the US, to a violent movement that’s victimizing Muslims all around the country. It hasn’t abated; if anything, it’s gotten much worse, as all these recent stories make evident:

  • According to WNBC-TV in New York City (WebCite cached article): A Muslim woman was set on fire by a stranger on a midtown street, according to the NYPD, prompting an investigation into whether it was a hate crime.…

    The 35-year-old woman, a tourist from Scotland, was window-shopping on Fifth Avenue near East 54th Street Saturday night when she suddenly felt heat on her arm and noticed her blouse was on fire, police said.

    She noticed a man standing next to her with a lighter in his hand, according to police. He ran away eastbound on East 54th Street, not saying a word.

  • According to CNN (cached): A woman yelling anti-Muslim sentiment allegedly attacked two Muslim women as they pushed their children in strollers in New York, authorities said.

    Emirjeta Xhelili, 32, allegedly tried to rip the hijab from the women’s heads during the attack in Brooklyn on Thursday.

    She struck the women in the face and body, and repeatedly shouted, “this is the United States of America, you’re not supposed to be different from us,” court documents allege.

    Xhelili allegedly told the women, “get the (expletive) out of America (expletive), you don’t belong here.”

  • According to WPEC-TV in West Palm Beach, FL (cached): A fire overnight heavily-damaged the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, a mosque once-attended by the Pulse nightclub killer and another American terrorist.

    The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office said later the fire is the work of an arsonist.

    Investigators say the person involved is shown on surveillance video.

    The video shows a man riding up to the mosque on a motorcycle, possibly a Harley-Davidson.

As I’ve also said many times, I get what the problem here is. I get that Muslim terrorists attacked Americans in Boston, in San Bernardino, at Ft Hood, and on September 11, 2001, among other times. I get that there are barbaric Islamist terror groups at large in the world, including al-Qaeda, ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh/whatever, Boko Haram, the al-Nusra Front, al-Shabaab, the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and many more. They’re all around the globe, and they maim and kill almost at will. These groups have even managed to “inspire” attacks by Muslims who don’t even belong to them. Islamist militancy is dangerous.

But what the Neocrusaders don’t comprehend is that none of this means every Muslim is a terrorist. What’s more, even if Islam were eradicated from the US, there would still be shooting sprees and other sorts of horrific violence. Some of it would even be Christian-generated (even if Americans tend to ignore Christian terrorism). And they don’t seem to notice the obvious irony of victimizing innocents in the name of — presumably — preventing innocents from being victimized.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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White House and the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2009The non-existent “war on Christmas” has been raging (solely in the vacuous minds of militant Christianists) for nearly 15 years now. This ridiculous trope is a complete fiction, as I’ve blogged so many times now, cooked up solely in order to stoke the fires of sanctimonious Christofascist outrage over the putative destruction of their religion.

That there is no effort to abolish Christmas, or to ban Christmas trees or outlaw the saying of “Merry Christmas,” doesn’t matter to these folk. They believe it’s happening anyway, because the psychopathology of their religion encourages them to think they’re “under attack”. This means they like feeling persecuted for their Jesus, and have no qualms about inventing persecution, even if there’s none going on.

Earlier this year, GOP presidential nominee Donald “it’s my own orange hair!” Trump declared himself a Christmas warrior. His son Eric, in an interview with televangelist James Robison, recently doubled down on that. This interview is in two parts (WebCite cached versions here and here), but it’s the second which contains the relevant tidbit:

[Eric’s father, little Donnie] opens up the paper each morning and sees our nation’s leaders giving a hundred billion dollars to Iran, or he opens the paper and some new school district has just eliminated the ability for its students to say the pledge of allegiance, or some fire department in some town is ordered by the mayor to no longer fly the American flag on the back of a fire truck. Or, he sees the tree on the White House lawn has been renamed “Holiday tree” instead of “Christmas tree.” I could go on and on for hours. Those are the very things that made my father run, and those are the very things he cares about.

So there you have it … among the reasons little Donnie ran for president was because “the [Christmas] tree on the White House lawn has been renamed ‘Holiday tree’.” Thus, Eric hoped to endear the would-be Dear Leader to Religious Rightists who love their whole “war on Christmas” bullshit.

There’s just this one, teeny little problem with that: It never happened! The national Christmas tree is still called “the National Christmas Tree.” It even has its own Web page (cached), which shows its official name as such:

Cropped screen shot of National Christmas Tree Web page at National Park Service (URL: https://www.nps.gov/whho/planyourvisit/national-christmas-tree.htm)

Cropped screen shot of National Christmas Tree Web page at National Park Service (URL: https://www.nps.gov/whho/planyourvisit/national-christmas-tree.htm)

Snopes has a page on this particular lie, which dates back to 2009. I don’t doubt that little Donnie’s campaign will not issue any correction of Eric’s claim, even if confronted with unassailable evidence (such as the National Christmas Tree’s official Web page, above) that it’s not true. They’ll probably just stammer about “crooked Hillary,” and — perhaps — mention the “holiday tree” in Rhode Island (which wouldn’t make Eric right, since he specifically complained that the tree on “the White House lawn” had been renamed a “holiday tree”). That will be about it.

Trumpie’s campaign being caught lying is nothing new. The Trumpster has raised lying to an art form since starting up his campaign of endless fury last summer. He and his staffers lie far more often than other presidential candidates … by a very wide margin. And to date, neither he nor they have ever taken anything back. That policy — of ignoring reality in favor of whatever bullshit they spew — will surely continue, even past this election.

Photo credits: Top, Wikimedia Commons; middle, PsiCop screen grab from NPS.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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An April 1972 Pacific Daily News file photo of Santa Teresita Church in Mangilao. Leo Tudela told Guam lawmakers this week that a former Guam priest, Louis Brouillard, molested him at the church’s rectory one night in the 1950s. (Photo: PDN file)The worldwide Catholic clerical child abuse scandal recently reared its ugly head in yet another part of the world: The island of Guam. Legislative hearings there have addressed a history of abuse by priests, and one of them — now retired — told the Pacific Island News there’s a possibility he’d abused some boys during the ’50s (WebCite cached article):

A former Guam priest who was publicly accused during a Legislature hearing this week as having molested an altar boy in the 1950s said Thursday “it’s possible” he abused altar boys on island and he’s asking for forgiveness from those he may have hurt.

Father Louis Brouillard, now 95, was removed from his position in 1985 while serving in a Minnesota diocese.

Brouillard spoke to Pacific Daily News on Thursday via telephone from his residence in Pine City, Minnesota, about 70 miles north of Minneapolis. Brouillard said he’s sorry about the possible abuses.…

Brouillard, who said he retired as a priest more than 30 years ago, also said Thursday he’s still receiving checks from the Archdiocese of Agana in Guam.

Brouillard was transferred to Minnesota in 1981 and removed from the ministry a few years later after another abuse allegation there. Guam’s Archbishop Anthony Apuron also stands accused, and has been set aside temporarily as a result.

Brouillard’s mealy-mouthed half-confession — i.e. that “‘it’s possible’ he abused altar boys” — is both laughably pathetic and outrageously chilling. He clearly engaged in a pattern of abusive behavior which spanned decades and locales … yet he can only bring himself to concede merely that “it’s possible”!? Fuck that. He knows what he did, but like a lot of career sociopaths, he’s just too much of a sniveling, crybaby coward to admit it.

In the wake of his phone interview with PDN, the Associated Press followed up with him, too, and revealed another cringe-worthy bit (cached):

A 95-year-old Catholic priest admitted to sexually abusing boys decades ago on Guam, and said he confessed his sins to other priests on the island at the time but none told him to specifically stop.

Instead, the Rev. Louis Brouillard says in a telephone interview with The Associated Press they told him to do regular penance, such as saying Hail Mary prayers.

Brouillard said he hasn’t been defrocked, and lives in Pine City, Minnesota, on a small pension from the church in Guam.

Brouillard’s absurd quasi-confession forced the Guam archdiocese’s hand, and as PDN reports, its current acting prince has had to apologize (cached):

Guam’s Catholic Church on Friday apologized to victims of a former island priest who told Pacific Daily News on Thursday “it’s possible” he abused altar boys in Guam in the 1950s.…

Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai issued the statement of apology after Father Louis Brouillard, 95, told the media he regrets the abuses and is seeking forgiveness from his victims.

“With the news that Father Louis Brouillard, a priest who served on Guam confessed to having abused altar boys on Guam in the 1950s, I convey my deepest apologies and that of the entire Church to Mr. Leo Tudela and all other persons who were also victimized,” Hon said.

Yes, folks, the case of the abuser Fr Brouillard is yet another example of how the Roman Catholic Church handles priests it knows abused children: It tells them to say their penance, shuffles them around, and when that continues long enough, they put the abuser out to pasture and pay him off for life. Oh, and when they’ve finally been caught at this little game, they issue a non-apology apology.

Well done, Catholics. Well done! What a remarkable standard of morality your Church exhibits! Why, surely Jesus himself would be proud … no?

Photo credit: Pacific Daily News.

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Nuremberg Chronicles - Devil and Woman on Horseback (CLXXXIXv) / via Wikimedia CommonsI’ve already blogged a time or two about some of the asinine things retired neurosurgeon — and militant Christianist — Dr Ben Carson has said. The guy clearly is brilliant enough to have had a remarkable medical career; no one can take that away from him. But sometimes he can be an idiot. During an address at the Republican National Convention, as CNN reports, he offered up a “proof” of sorts that Hillary Clinton is a Satan worshipper (WebCite cached article):

At Tuesday’s Republican National Convention, Carson asked attendees if they could elect Clinton given her relationship to Alinsky, who critics have long accused of harboring communist sympathies.

“Let me tell you something about Saul Alinsky,” he said. “He wrote a book called ‘Rules for Radicals.’ On the dedication page, it acknowledges Lucifer, the original radical who gained his own kingdom.”

Carson asked, “So are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model someone who acknowledges Lucifer?”

So here’s Carson’s “proof”: Alinsky is a Satan-worshipper; Hillary met him once; this means she was his sworn disciple; therefore Hillary worships Satan too. If this sounds a little Glenn Beckian to you, you’re not alone. It sounds that way to me, too.

Alinsky has long been a bee in the Right’s bonnet. They’ve been incensed over the guy since before his famous book, Rules for Radicals, was published. It does contain a reference to Lucifer (aka Satan) in its acknowledgement, but that hardly constitutes any proof that he was a Satan worshipper. Mentions or portrayals of Lucifer (aka Satan) as the original rebel aren’t exactly uncommon in literature. For example, John Milton arguably did this in his famous Paradise Lost. But I don’t know anyone who’d claim Milton had been a Satan-worshipper (quite the opposite, actually).

Also, the degree to which Alinsky was Clinton’s “role model” is open to interpretation, too. Politifact reviewed Carson’s statement, including the relationship between Alinsky and Clinton (cached):

So is Alinsky a “role model” for Clinton? The most direct connection between Alinsky and Clinton is that she wrote her undergraduate thesis about Alinsky and interviewed him before he died. At the time, Clinton was Hillary Rodham and the student government president at Wellesley College.

The New York Times reviewed the 92-page thesis and summarized [cached] her views this way:

“Ms. Rodham endorsed Mr. Alinsky’s central critique of government antipoverty programs — that they tended to be too top-down and removed from the wishes of individuals.

“But the student leader split with Mr. Alinsky over a central point. He vowed to ‘rub raw the sores of discontent’ and compel action through agitation. This, she believed, ran counter to the notion of change within the system.”

It’s also true, as Politifact explains, that Alinsky offered Clinton a job, but she refused it because of her differences with him. That is, not only in words but in her actions, Clinton showed she was no lock-step sycophant of Alinsky.

The problem with Carson’s claim is that his audience (i.e. other militant Christianists) are predisposed to believe this, so the presumption that Hillary is a Satan worshipper is one of those lies that will, no doubt, stick to her (just as the very same folks are convinced President Obama isn’t an American citizen and is a secret Muslim).

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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Picard facepalm HD / via ImgurI really love it when dissembling people show their true colors. I especially love it when they stumble into doing so and have no clue what just happened to them. A case in point is a Republican Congressman from Iowa, Steve King (of the Neocrusading show-trials five years ago). A week ago it was revealed he kept a Confederate flag on his desk (WebCite cached article); he insisted this was just fine, though, because he has other historical flags there, and his ancestors had fought to end slavery, too.

That’s quite bad enough, but really, pandering to Confederacy lovers is par for the course for a Republican in Congress, so in the grand scheme of things it’s not a big deal. What is a bigger deal is what King said, this morning, live on national television. Vanity Fair, among numerous other outlets, reports on what he accidentally revealed (cached):

During a panel discussion on MSNBC on Monday evening, Rep. Steve King of Iowa said that white people contributed more to civilization than any other categories or “subgroup of people,” causing a live segment to devolve into on-air chaos.

As the show broadcast from Cleveland, where much of the conservative establishment has gathered for the Republican National Convention, King responded to comments made by Esquire writer Charles Pierce as the panel discussed Monday’s upheaval on the convention floor.

“If you’re really optimistic, you can say that this is the last time that old white people will command the Republican Party’s attention, its platform, and its public face,” Pierce said. “Of course, I thought this was going to happen after 2012, but thanks for the good work of Congressman King, I was disappointed . . . But I’ll tell you what, in that hall today, that hall is wired. It’s wired by unhappy, dissatisfied white people.”

“This whole ‘white people’ business does get a little tired, Charlie,” King said. “I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out, where have these contributions been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about. Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”

“Than white people?” host Chris Hayes asked.

“Than—than Western civilization itself, that’s rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and the United States of America, and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world,” King said. “That’s all of Western civilization.”

Let me start by pointing out Pierce’s condescending and dismissive comments about “white people” were pretty snide. I can see how King might have been offended, which appears to have caused him to open up a little too much, but what Pierce said is nowhere near as bad as King’s remarks. Not only are they white supremacist in nature, they’re ahistorical as well. Let’s look at what non-white, non-Europeans have provided to civilization, shall we?

Yes, I get that Rep. King and his white-supremacist cohorts are upset they’ve been eclipsed, culturally and politically. But the cold fact is that “civilization” is not how he, or they, imagine it. Civilizations are enormous entities that embrace many people; they’re both widely spread and widely absorbed. They’re also nearly borderless, with fuzzy edges and lots of overlap. It’s impossible for a single “race” or ethnic group to retain sole control of one. Other sorts of people are touched by civilizations, and then influence them in return. King’s apparent carving up peoples into “groups” and “sub-groups” is pseudohistorical and invalid.

King tried to quell the uproar that erupted after he exposed himself as a probable white supremacist (cached), but he didn’t really back down from his comments … and of course, he can’t, because his fellow “old white guys” who comprise his power-base will go fucking nuts if he were to do so.

By the way, here’s video of King’s vile commments, via Youtube:

Photo credit: mistaspeedy, via Imgur.

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