Archive for the “General” Category

Posts of a general nature

Vatican flag (8583012024)The Roman Catholic Church obviously has a major problem. It’s been decades in the making, and has been on the front burner of occidental society for going on 20 years now. But it doesn’t seem to go away … because Church personnel just won’t stop doing shit they know they’re not supposed to do.

The latest case doesn’t involve abuse of children by a priest … but it’s close. As the New York Times reports, the Vatican has recalled one of their diplomats from their Washington Embassy due to kiddie porn (Archive.Is cached article):

The Vatican has recalled a high-ranking priest working as a diplomat in the Holy See’s embassy in Washington after American authorities sought to strip his immunity and potentially charge him with possession of child pornography, the Vatican said Friday.

In a statement, the Vatican said that it had been notified by the State Department on Aug. 21 of “a possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images” by a member of its diplomatic corps.

The Vatican said the priest would face an investigation and potential trial in Vatican City. But some critics saw in the Vatican’s move a reflexive step to protect its own by whisking a priest away from a justice system in a foreign land.

The statement did not identify the cleric, but Italian news media reports and an American official familiar with the investigation said it was Msgr. Carlo Alberto Capella, who was ordained in Milan in 1993 and entered the diplomatic corps in 2004. He has also worked as a diplomat in Hong Kong and as the Holy See’s liaison to Italy.

The article suggests this is standard practice for diplomats accused of crimes, but let’s be honest here: It fully coincides with the well-worn, and well-known, Church policy of vacuuming up clergy accused of wrongdoing and shuffling them off someplace else. The Times relates a story of another Vatican diplomat — an archbishop, Jozef Wesolowski, nuncio to the Dominican Republic — who was similarly brought back to Vatican City and was supposed to have been “tried” for his crimes, only to die (conveniently) before that trial. I expect something similar to happen in this case; it will languish in the bowels of the Vatican Curia long enough for the just-recalled diplomat to die or to become so old or infirm that he ends up never being tried. Guaranteed.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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‘Terrorism is still terrorism … even if your God does it!’ / PsiCop original graphicGiven the wave of similar stories I’ve blogged about the last couple weeks, I just created a static page dedicated to the topic I call “disaster theology” (and the closely-related “massacre theology”). This is when some sanctimoniously-outraged religionist declares that some catastrophe was caused — or permitted to happen — by their all-powerful deity, who’s pissed off about something.

In the US, this is a common refrain among Christianists and the Religious Right. Just recently, for example, they told us that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma were caused by the expansion of gay rights in the US. Previously, all sorts of terrible events — the earthquake in Haiti, massacres in Newtown, CT and in Aurora, CO, and much more — have been attributed to God being outraged over something.

The unstated assumption behind all this, as I’ve remarked, is that the Almighty inflicts destruction and death wantonly on people (the innocent and guilty alike) in order to get them to do what s/he/it wants (or, perhaps more importantly, whatever the religionist promoting this notion wants). In other words, it assumes God is an almighty cosmic terrorist … no different, really, from all sorts of other terrorists we’ve heard about over the last couple decades.

I find it difficult to believe that any rational person would want to venerate and worship a being they obviously believe to be this horrific and malevolent. It defies reason to wish to do so. Only irrational people could actually support such a being — angry, nasty people who have no morals to speak of. It’s disturbing to live in a country where this sort of malevolent-deity worshipper is this common. In fact, it’s downright scary.

P.S. Given what his/her/its followers commonly believe about him/her/it, it’s not really all that difficult to conclude that the Abrahamic God is actually a malevolent being.

Photo credit: PsiCop original graphic.

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WTC smoking on 9-11Update: Since I first posted this, another instance of Moore’s “massacre theology” has come to light; please see below.

I’ve blogged a few times already about Alabama’s Judge Roy Moore, who’s famous for having been thrown off that state’s Supreme Court twice for judicial misconduct, as a result of his dour and angry Christofascism.

Never one to be ashamed of anything he says he does in the name of his Jesus, Moore is running for US Senate this year. So far, he’s doing very well — which shouldn’t be surprising, Alabamans sure love their Christofascists.

During a speech in a church (where else?) earlier this year, as CNN reports, Moore engaged in some disaster theology (Archive.Is cached article):

Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore suggested earlier this year that the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks might have happened because the US had distanced itself from God.

Moore, a hardline conservative running against fellow Republican and incumbent Sen. Luther Strange in a runoff primary race, made the comments in February during a speech at the Open Door Baptist Church, a video reviewed by CNN’s KFile shows.…

“Because you have despised His word and trust in perverseness and oppression, and say thereon … therefore this iniquity will be to you as a breach ready to fall, swell out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instance,'” Moore said, quoting Isaiah 30:12-13. Then he added: “Sounds a little bit like the Pentagon, whose breaking came suddenly at an instance, doesn’t it?”

Moore, continued, “If you think that’s coincidence, if you go to verse 25, ‘there should be up on every high mountain and upon every hill rivers and streams of water in the day of the great slaughter when the towers will fall.’ You know, we’ve suffered a lot in this country, maybe, just maybe, because we’ve distanced ourselves from the one that has it within his hands to heal this land.”

Later in the same speech, Moore suggested God was upset at the United States because “we legitimize sodomy” and “legitimize abortion.”

CNN goes on to explain that Moore is hardly the first militant Christianist to play this particular game. Rather famously, the late Jerry Falwell and Marion “Pat” Robertson did so, just a couple days after the attacks (cached). And Moore himself had previously said the same thing.

The tendency of sanctimonious religionists to use catastrophes in this way, claiming they’re God’s way of getting people to do what they (the religionist, that is) wants, is truly hideous. Essentially they’re admitting their deity is nothing more than a cosmic terrorist — no different, really, than the terrorist who struck London earlier today (cached). I’m not sure why people actually want to worship a cosmic terrorist, and not only give in to his/her/its demands themselves, but force the rest of humanity to do so as well — but clearly they do.

And that, I’m afraid, is the problem here. This kind of talk is only going to help Moore’s campaign for Senate. There are a ton of people in Alabama, as well as the rest of the country, who love hearing that their deity is an almighty cosmic terrorist, and who will conclude that Moore is a righteous and holy man for having said so. We live in a dangerous country, folks. Very dangerous!

Update: CNN’s Kfile continued delving into Moore’s past material, and uncovered another example of his raging “massacre theology” (cached):

“We are losing the acknowledgment of God, and I’m standing here talking, to Christians and Pastors, and I’m telling you we’re losing the acknowledgment of God,” Moore said, before reciting several verses from the Old Testament book of Hosea that deal with lack of knowledge of God.

“You wonder why we’re having shootings, and killings here in 2017? Because we’ve asked for it,” Moore said. “We’ve taken God out of everything. We’ve taken prayer out of school, we’ve taken prayer out of council meetings.”

Moore lies, of course, when he says that “we’ve taken God out of everything.” No such thing has happened —
anywhere in the US. There’s still plenty of God all over the country. And he fucking well knows it, too. (Hat tip for this update: Friendly Atheist.)

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Leah Remini & her Emmy / David Crotty, Patrick McMullan/Getty Images, via PeoplePardon me, Dear Reader, for taking the time to rectify a major omission. I haven’t mentioned Scientology or “dianetics” (which is its core) in quite some time. And it shouldn’t have gone so long below my radar.

It’s not as though the Church of Scientology and its minions haven’t been up to no good, all this time. Oh no. Just a month ago, The Hollywood Reporter revealed yet more forged court orders directing Web search engines to purge themselves of links to sites and pages critical of its Narconon* wing (Archive.Is cached article). No, CoS is still up to its usual shenanigans, and likely will continue to be, for quite some time.

I’d just like to point out that ex-Scientologist Leah Remini’s anti-Scientology series — which just started its second season — won an Emmy award (for Outstanding Information Series), as People magazine reports (cached):

On Saturday night, Leah Remini won her first Emmy for her A&E series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.

Remini, 47, teared up as she accepted her award at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles.…

Back in the press room, Remini told reporters about how moving the experience of winning was — and how the award doesn’t really belong to her.

“Well, it’s — as an actress, you always want to get an Emmy nomination or win an Emmy and as you get a little older you realize what’s really important and you are exposed to stories like this,” Remini said. “It becomes more about doing the right thing and so it doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to our heroes and so it’s so much more fulfilling.”

Remini called her contributors “heroes” is because many of them face harassment by CoS. If you doubt that CoS is capable of destroying people, look no further than “Operation Freakout,” a plot in which they framed author Paulette Cooper, who’d written a magazine article and then a book critical of Scientology, for a felony (cached). She only got out from under this due to another CoS plot, “Operation Snow White,” in which CoS agents tried to remove unflattering information about CoS from government files. The thefts of some documents was discovered, CoS offices were raided, and documents found there laid bare the whole scheme to destroy Ms Cooper (cached). Some CoS personnel (including Mary Sue Hubbard, wife of founder Lafayette Ronald aka “L. Ron” Hubbard) were jailed, and the “Fair Game” policy which had spawned both “operations” was ostensibly rescinded.

But CoS still hounds anyone who crosses them. And for years they’ve worked to purge the Internet of anything unflattering about CoS or “dianetics.” Fortunately, that hasn’t entirely worked … in spite of things like fraudulent court orders (as I mentioned).

At any rate, I’m glad to see Ms Remini’s series was renewed, and has been getting good ratings. Hers is hardly the first exposé of Scientology’s excesses … there’s been no shortage of articles, books, or documentaries on the subject, going back almost to CoS’s origins. But this is, arguably, the highest-profile production of its kind. She’s shining a brighter light on the fetid swamp of Scientology than it has ever had to endure. Let’s hope it leads to meaningful changes, or better yet, to the destruction of CoS.

P.S. CoS only has itself to blame for having made Ms Remini their enemy. She has said her exit from Scientology was chiefly triggered by the disappearance of Shelly Miscavige, CoS agent and wife of its leader David Miscavige. Ms Remini had asked about Ms Miscavige’s whereabouts, and was harassed by CoS personnel because she’d asked about her (cached).

*Note: Even though it looks like a shortened version of its name, Narconon isn’t connected in any way with Narcotics Anonymous or NA. Both programs are bullshit, of course; Narconon is based on “dianetics,” while NA is a religion-based 12-step program.

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Hurricane Irma satellite photo / United States Navy / Navy Live / Tag archives: Hurricane IrmaI call it “disaster theology.” That’s when some sanctimoniously-enraged militant religionist declares his/her deity either caused something big and terrible to happen — or more passively, merely sat back and allowed it to happen — because said deity is just as furious about something as the religionist him/herself. (Religionists and their deities, you see, always seem to think in lockstep. Convenient, huh?)

It’s something one sees pretty much every time there’s a disaster of some kind. That disaster can be natural, like an earthquake, or man-made, like a massacre. It pretty much doesn’t matter what it is … religionists will always latch onto any kind of widely-reported awful news and use it as “evidence” that their deity is upset, and won’t tolerate any more of humanity’s insolent shit.

Or something like that.

It was inevitable, then, that the second of two back-to-back hurricanes to hit the US triggered just such an outburst. Right Wing Watch reports that a pair of Christianist twins, David & Jason Benham, declared the arrival of Irma to have been due to the expansion of gay rights (Archive.Is cached article):

Religious Right culture warriors David and Jason Benham published a video Monday in which they claimed “God is speaking” through hurricanes to send a message that America should repent for “breaching the boundaries of God” in regard to gender identity, gay marriage and homosexuality in general.…

The twins’ tie-in to the 9/11 terror attacks appears to mirror the playbook of their father, Flip Benham, the former head of the anti-abortion, anti-gay protest group Operation Save America, who has claimed he warned America that legal abortion would result in the 9/11 attacks and continues to use 9/11 as a warning that legal abortion will result in the further wrath of God.

The Benhams must be using a broken calendar, because it didn’t hit the US on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks; it made landfall early in the morning of the 10th of September, one day prior. Or, maybe September 11th on our calendar is September 10th on the Almighty’s — because, after all, we know his/her/its sense of time runs different than our own. Or something. I mean, who the fuck knows?

By the way, if you don’t know who the Benham twins are, they’re the pair who’d been slated to host a show on HGTV called Flip It Forward (that can’t have anything to do with their father’s name, could it?) … but it was canceled before it aired, due to their hateful, militant Christianist spew (cached). (I approve of that, not because they’re vile religiofsacist pricks, but because “‘reality’ shows” are as fake as hell and suck in the worst way (cached).

At any rate, it seems odd to me that, if the Almighty is upset about something his creations are doing, s/he/it seems powerless to just fucking say it to our faces and in words that make his/her/its wishes clear. As a supposedly omnipotent creator-deity, s/he/it certainly would be capable of doing so … but if the Benhams, and an enormous number of other sanctimonious wingnuts, are to be believed, that’s somehow beyond his/her/its power.

Or something.

I dunno, maybe this is yet another of those things that cold-hearted, cynical, godless agnostic heathens like myself aren’t allowed to understand. Right?

Photo credit: United States Navy / Navy Live blog.

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Chaurasi Devataon-wali Gai, or 'The Cow with 84 deities' by Raja Ravi Varma / Ravi Varma Press (1897, Life: 1848-1906) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsFor the second time in a few days, I came across a story of religious excess in the supposedly-highly-spiritual country of India. For the last couple years, sanctimonious Hindu nationalists have attacked beef-eating Muslims. Among many Hindus, cattle are sacred or divine or something, for some reason. It hasn’t always been this way, of course. In ancient times, Hindus had no objection to butchering and eating cows, however, this changed sometime in the middle of the first millennium CE (Archive.Is cached article). It’s usually attributed to the spread of non-violence in Indian culture, although it’s difficult to really say that India ever became non-violent; and other forms of livestock continued to be butchered and eaten. Only cattle was reserved as divine or sacred or whatever. So that doesn’t exactly fly as an explanation.

At any rate, while Hindus comprise a majority of India, there are religious minorities there, especially Muslims, who do consume cattle. (By contrast, they refuse to eat swine. Go figure.) This has aroused the ire of Hindu extremists, who don’t want anyone consuming cattle. That fervent impulse has led to the rise of “cow protection” rackets, and violence has ensued — especially after the election of Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi in 2014.

Modi’s government has been accused of dragging its feet where Hindu nationalist violence is concerned. As Reuters reports, India’s Supreme Court has directed the government to intervene meaningfully (cached):

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered central and state governments to appoint police officers to stop hardline Hindu activists from attacking people to protect cows….…

Chief Justice Dipak Misra said federal and state governments must take effective steps to contain the cow-protection groups.

“Appoint police officers to stop cow protection groups from taking law into their hands,” Misra said after hearing three public interest litigation cases.

Reuters notes that Modi did speak out against “cow protection” violence in June, but the Court’s directions would suggest that hasn’t been sufficient.

As I’ve noted previously, India is not the pacifist, spiritual paradise many westerners think it is. Quite the opposite, it’s home to more than a little primitive savagery. And religious extremism isn’t limited just to the Abrahamic religions. As we see, it can be — and is — found within the dharmic faiths, as well.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

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Jesus weptBelieving in their supposedly omnipotent, infinite, omniscient, yet benevolent creator-deity has tied followers of the Abrahamic religious tradition in logical knots for centuries. It’s difficult to look out at a world full of needless suffering and wanton evil and decide it was all designed, built, and is currently presided over by an almighty being who also disapproves of evil.

It’s a conundrum that led to any number of theodicies, or rationales intended to reconcile this logical conflict. All of them, however, fail the test of logic — even the vaunted and oft-spoken-of “free will” theodicy. Despite the utter failure of all known theodicies, Abrahamic believers nonetheless doggedly continue trying to justify believing in the illogic of a supposedly benevolent, omnipotent deity whose creation is rife with needless suffering and tons of unnecessary evil.

I just heard about a sterling example of the laughable extremes they’ll go to in order to rationalize this brazenly illogical concept. As Mediaite reports, Houston megapastor Joel Osteen recently came up with something so ridiculous, that it defies description, and is as sadly pathetic as it is hilarious (Archive.Is cached article):

During his televised sermon today, Osteen seemed to reference the storm that devastated huge swaths of Texas and Louisiana. And the way the preacher told it, hurricanes like Harvey are just God’s way of saying you can take a great and life-altering tragedy.

Bringing up a biblical story involving Jesus and his apostles sailing across a lake during a hurricane-like storm, Osteen said that Jesus didn’t wake up during the squall because he knew they could handle it. “If they were all going to die, he would have gotten up without them having to wake him up,” he exclaimed.…

“The reason it may seem like God is not waking up is not because he’s ignoring you, not because he’s uninterested, it’s because he knows you can handle it,” he stated.

Osteen added, “Take it as a compliment.”

The people of Houston, and other places, should “take it as a compliment” that a hurricane flooded their homes and businesses, and even killed some people — the death toll is up to about 60 as I type this (cached)? Seriously!? How the fuck did Osteen even say something that ludicrous with a straight face?

The irony here is that what Osteen said makes perfect sense, given the premises posed by the Abrahamic religious tradition. It follows naturally from the position that there is a creator-deity who’s all-powerful, all-knowing, yet who chooses (for unknown reasons) to allow horrific things to happen to people. It’s an unavoidable conclusion … given all of that. If the idiocy of such a statement doesn’t wake Abrahamic believers up to the obvious absurdity of their beliefs, then I guess nothing will.

P.S. That’s the second time in just a few days that a Texan dealing with Hurricane Harvey has said something so asinine as to force me to tag a post “you’ve gotta be fucking kidding me.” What in hell is wrong with the Lone Star State, anyway (aside from the tragedy of the hurricane)?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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