Archive for the “Metaphysics” Category

Aimless metaphysics of all sorts

'Armageddon: Anything one doesn't like is the equivalent of a nuclear blast' / PsiCop original graphicBeneath American Christendom lurks a stream of what I refer to as “disaster theology.” It’s the idea that pretty much anything bad that happens, occurs because God is upset about some societal failure. He’s angry with humanity, so he takes out his rage on us. This tactic is a way to invoke terror among believers, inciting them to do something about the societal failure — whatever it may be — before some other (usually worse) disaster happens. Lots of Christianists use this tactic as part of their ongoing “psy-ops” campaigns, keeping the faithful all frothed up and in a tizzy. And the faithful, of course, are too ignorant, gullible, and/or stupid to realize how asinine it all is, or understand they’re being manipulated.

The frequency with which Christianists use “disaster theology” prevents me from calling attention to all of them. Otherwise I’d do nothing all day but post examples of this phenomenon. Most of the time, I remark only on the more egregious or cruel examples of it, such as when massacres are used this way. That people would use such events as weapons in their “psy-cops” warfare is horrific, and demonstrates their total lack of character.

But today one such incident happened which isn’t cruel, it’s just plain absurd — and laughably so. As such it provides a stellar example of how truly asinine the “disaster theology” tactic is. As Right Wing Watch both explains and shows, it came from the mouth of none other than Marion “Pat” Robertson (WebCite cached article):

Televangelist Pat Robertson responded to the dramatic market sell-off today by suggesting that it was only a foretaste of God’s judgment for legal abortion and federal funding of Planned Parenthood.…

“We will pay dearly as a nation for this thing going on,” he said. “And possibly if we were to stop all this slaughter the judgment of God might be lifted from us. But it’s coming, ladies and gentlemen. We just had a little taste of it in terms of the financial system, but it’s going to be shaken to its core in the next few months, years or however long it tastes and it will hurt every one of us.”

Earlier in the program, Robertson claimed that the market crash was prophesied by Jonathan Cahn, who believes that something bad will happen in late September as part of the biblical Shemittah cycle. Today’s market turmoil, according to Robertson, is a sign that conditions will only get worse next month.

“This thing is hitting with great force and if Cahn is right on that Shemittah we could be in for some really rough days in the markets,” he said, before urging his viewers to buy gold in preparation for greater market deterioration.

This is ridiculous and laughable for two reasons:

First, the stock markets tanked for a very well-known reason. It’s one that’s been widely reported in numerous media outlets: An economic seizure in China, which has ripple effects in other markets around the world (cached). One might ask why there’s so much market trouble coming out of China, but it’s been building for a couple months, due to the popping of China’s stock market bubble in June (cached). And why, one might further ask, did China’s stock market bubble burst? That’s actually a stupid question: All market bubbles burst at some point. It’s inevitable! The question isn’t whether or not they will, it’s when. The causes of today’s stock market “correction” are well known, and something of this sort has been anticipated for a while. Appeals to the supernatural aren’t necessary … and corrections, while disruptive in the short term, are actually a normal part of healthy markets.

Second, all the caterwauling about government spending on abortions, and especially all the called lately to “defund Planned Parenthood,” ignores a very salient fact: No federal money is ever spent on abortions, due to something called the Hyde Amendment, which has been in force in one way or another since 1976. That’s right, since the mid-70s not one red cent of federal money has ever been spent on abortions! Robertson, and the rest of the bellicose Religious Right, is whining about something that isn’t actually the problem he claims it is.

Note, too, Robertson’s call to action … specifically for his viewers to buy gold. For many years now, Robertson has had a personal financial interest in gold, himself. For instance, he’s had mining interests in Africa which have caused him to get caught up in the affairs of dictators there (cached), as well as any number of other unsavory characters.

(I note a lot of folks over on the Right have a fascination with selling gold; many Rightist pundits’ shows feature gold-broker advertisements, and folks like Ron Paul are heavily invested in gold, as well (cached). These people are not looking out for the interests of their viewers/readers/listeners/followers … they’re actually trying to fatten their own wallets, at their viewers/readers/listeners/followers’ expense!)

It’s funny how a guy who’s so concerned about abortions, just happens to discern a course of action (i.e. buying gold) for his viewers to follow which — conveniently for him! — also just happens to be something he stands to profit from (via his gold-industry investments). Hmm. Coincidence? I think not!

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: PsiCop original graphic.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments No Comments »

'... but it CAN'T be TERRORISM if Christians did it!' / PsiCop original graphicYesterday the world was treated to yet another story of yet another terror attack by a sanctimoniously-enraged Islamist — this time, on a high-speed train out of Paris, during which the attacker was subdued (WebCite cached version). This kind of shit is just horrific. Clearly there’s something about Islam which triggers this sort of raging terror.

It’s not just “lone-wolf” attacks of this sort, either; Muslims around the world have massed together, rioting, maiming, and murdering over things like apostasy and blasphemy. Not to mention, there are also many Islamist organizations (e.g. ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever-the-fuck-you-want-to-call-that-savage-brood, the al-Nusra Front, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, etc.) which are currently engaged in religiously-driven wars with virtually everyone around them.

So if someone wants to posit that Islam can’t compel violence, I beg to differ. The evidence clearly demonstrates that it can, and does, promote the worst sort of violence. I concede not all Muslims are terrorists, nor do I even think most are. Nor do I think — as a lot of Neocrusaders here in the US claim — that all Muslims everywhere are prone to violence and terror. No way.

But even having admitted there’s some sort of festering sore deep in the heart of Islam, that’s not to say terrorism and violence are unique to that religion. That also is demonstrably untrue. Nearly all religions have this problem. Yes, even Buddhism — which many think is as pacifist a religion as can be found. That presumption is absolutely unfounded (cached).

Among all of this, though, is a form of terror triggered by a religion which is much closer to home to Americans. And that is, Christian terrorism. Yes, that’s what I said: Christian terrorism. Rest assured, it really exists. Unfortunately it doesn’t get anywhere near as much attention as Islamist terror does. Yes, it’s true that Christian terror attacks are much less common than those of Islamists, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a problem that needs to be addressed.

There was the assassination of Dr George Tiller by a Christianist anti-abortion crusader (cached). There were attacks on Sikh temples (cached) and on Unitarian Universalist churches (cached).

“Oh, but all of those were just crazy criminals being crazy criminals,” one might say. “What could their Christianity have to do with it?” It’s true there’s criminality in these guys, and it may also be that some or all had mental illnesses. But non-terrorist Muslims could easily say the very same about Islamist terrorists. Neither of these objections really holds up to scrutiny. The ability to use a religion to rationalize one’s own murderous impulses, doesn’t say anything good about the religion; one would think a truly divine faith taught by the Almighty himself ought not be used that way.

“Oh, and these all happened years ago,” one might also contend. “They’re in the past.” One could easily say that, since the Wisconsin Sikh temple massacre took place 3 years ago, and the other attacks were in 2008 and 2009. But … that contention ignores the fact that there have also been much more recent examples of Christian terrorism.

For instance, Larry McQuilliams — a member of the (Christian) Phineas Priesthood — shot up Austin TX just last December (cached). An avowed Christian and former GOP Congressional candidate was indicted just a couple months ago for conspiring to kill Muslims in upstate New York (cached). Another Christian and KKK member in New York state was just convicted of conspiring to kill Muslims and the president using some kind of radiation weapon (cached). And just a few days ago, one Moises Trevizo tried to bomb the Kansas clinic that Dr George Tiller had worked at (cached). None of these occurred in the deep, dark recesses of history. They’re all recent developments. They happened; the attempted bombing in Wichita was, as I said, just a few days ago. And they matter.

But you wouldn’t get that impression from the mass media. It’s not that these stories have gone unreported … obviously they aren’t, since I linked to news outlets’ coverage of them. The problem is, these Christians’ terror attacks don’t get wall-to-wall coverage, nor has there been any kind of impulsive response to Christianity because of them. That just doesn’t happen. And whenever these stories are reported, the connection with Christianity usually isn’t made clear. For instance, the just-convicted Glendon Scott Crawford is reported to have been a member of the KKK, but that organization — like all forms of white supremacy in the US — is a basically Christian one (cached) whose ideas are founded on a particular set of legends based on that religion (and forked off 19th century British-Israelism, which I’ve blogged about a couple times).

A reason for the mass media to understate the “Christian” impulses behind these attacks is both simple and obvious: Christianity is the country’s majority religion, meaning lots of readers/viewers/listeners would be offended to hear their faith provoked these incidents of terrorism. And offended readers/viewers/listeners don’t buy newspapers or magazines, they don’t keep reading articles on the Web, and they change the radio or television channel. Sadly, this means the media are pandering to Americans’ immaturity … because only immaturity can explain why one wouldn’t want to know that one’s own co-religionists are using the faith to justify terrorism. It’s time for people of every religion on earth to take responsibility for their faiths — whichever one they belong to — and start watching out for its integrity. But this takes courage, which is in short supply. More’s the pity.

Photo credit: PsiCop original graphic.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments No Comments »

Looking north from a hill in Branch Brook Park, at Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart on a sunny midday.Among the R.C. Church’s rationales for protecting abusive clergy within its ranks is a presumption that the victims are to blame for it, and — perversely — that the abusers are the true “victims.” The Church doesn’t say so out loud very often, but once in a while someone lets this presumption slip, here or there. The most recent example of this, as NJ Advanced Media reports, came from a Newark priest who’d fled to his native Ecuador in 2003 when faced with allegations he’d abused a teen (WebCite cached article):

In an extraordinary admission of wrongdoing, a priest sought by authorities in New Jersey has acknowledged engaging in a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old boy, but he deflected blame for the incident by saying the teen “wanted” it and had “evil in his mind.”

In a telephone interview with NJ Advance Media, in email exchanges and in a lengthy post he shared publicly on Twitter, the Rev. Manuel Gallo Espinoza said it was a “mistake” to have sexual contact with the boy in the rectory of a Plainfield church in 2003. He said he fled to his native Ecuador after the victim told a nun and another priest that Gallo Espinoza raped him.

“One thing that I am conscious (of) is he was at that time a teenager, and it is a big mistake for me. But I didn’t force him to do anything he didn’t want,” Gallo Espinoza wrote. “He was older (sic) enough to walk away, but I think that I was attracted to him, that is the only explanation that I can think right now.”

Gallo Espinoza added: “He had something evil in his mind. He approached me many times.”

Amazingly, Gallo Espinoza had been rather public about all of this:

Using the screen name “Unforgetables Unforgettables,” he also wrote an 864-word comment [cached] beneath the July 30 story about him on NJ.com. Gallo Espinoza, who identified himself by name in the comment, later shared a copy of it on Twitter [cached], along with one of his emails to NJ Advance Media.

For the record, here is that July 30 story (cached).

Because the victim sued the archdiocese of Newark, this vile creep even indulged in the “it’s-all-about-greedy-plaintiffs” whine:

Gallo Espinoza made reference to Ramirez’s lawsuit in his correspondence, saying the victim had revived the issue after 12 years to cash in.

“The explanation that I find to begin again with this incident after many years is ‘EASY MONEY,'” Gallo Espinoza wrote.

So in addition to having already admitted he abused a boy, the priest tried to insinuate the incident had been fabricated for money. Nice touch there, fella. Really nice!

Another nice touch in this case is that the victim’s uncle and youth minister, to whom the victim had reported the abuse and who’d confronted Gallo Espinoza about it, warned him an investigation had been started and that he should flee the country:

While the circumstances of Gallo Espinoza’s abrupt departure have never been fully disclosed, he said in the telephone interview it was [youth leader Antonino] Salazar and [victim’s uncle Jeivi] Hercules who told him to run. Hercules, who has since entered the priesthood, is now parochial vicar at Queen of Peace Church in North Arlington.

Wonderful people, eh? How marvelous of these men — whom the victim had trusted enough to report the incident — to take that trust and crush it into the dirt. All in defense of a pedophilic priest and the Mother Church to which he belonged.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments No Comments »

The Assumption of the Virgin (1612-17); Peter Paul RubensSomething I’ve long warned American Catholics about is their alliance with the Religious Right. This movement had grown out of the Southern Baptist Convention initially as pushback against segregation (WebCite cached article). And its membership remains primarily evangelical Protestant … even though the Roman Catholic bishops have joined ranks with them, and there are plenty of Catholic politicians (e.g. Rick Santorum, Sam Brownback, Newt Gingrich, and others) who are definitely part of the R.R. The reality of this Catholic/R.R. alliance is that it’s tenuous at best, predicated on only a few points in common, such as opposition to abortion and contraception. The reality is that they’ve been ecclesiastical rivals for centuries, and while they’re no longer at war with one another, each maintains its own distinct vision of Christ and Christianity.

What a lot of Catholics fail to understand — or even know about — is the degree of hatred a lot of their supposed allies in the R.R. have for them. They don’t often make a point of it, but there are occasions when evangelical Protestants find themselves unable to contain their contempt for those “saint-worshipping papists.” An example of this phenomenon emerged when TX gov. Greg Abbott — a Catholic — posted something recently to Facebook (cached):

Texaas Governor Greg Abbott (R) got a lesson in religious tolerance over the weekend after posting an image of the Virgin Mary accompanied by praise on his Facebook page, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

On Saturday the governor, who is Catholic, posted an image of the mother of Jesus [cached] on his Texans for Abbott Facebook page, accompanied by the comment: “The Virgin Mary is exalted above the choirs of angels. Blessed is the Lord who has raised her up.” Saturday was the celebration of the Assumption; the day when the Holy Mother is believed to have been accepted into Heaven.

Responses from followers on Facebook were fast and furious, with many joining in with the governor and praising the Virgin Mary, while others less accepting of his Catholicism accused him of idolatry.

“So you’re Catholic Mr. Abbott? So what? You worship idols; not something I’d be telling everyone,” one commenter wrote, while another seconded the comment, writing: “This is nothing more than idol worship.”

Another pointed out that “Jesus is The Blessed and Holy One!!!” before asking “Were you hacked ?????”

Comments ran to over 900 as people of various faiths battled over whose religion was the most righteous, argued over Scripture, and even questioned the accuracy of the Bible and whether Jesus wrote it.

Honestly, I hadn’t known the Republican Abbott was Catholic. And I suppose a lot of folks (of the evangelical Protestant sort) even in Texas didn’t know it — which is why his Facebook post elicited so much sanctimonious outrage. Had his Catholicism been more widely known, the reaction probably wouldn’t have been as extensive or vitriolic as this, because those evangelical Protestants would already have been steeled to Abbott’s Catholicism and held their tongues.

At any rate, this should provide a lesson to any Catholics out there whose political leanings are toward the Religious Right. Pay attention: These people are not your friends. Many don’t even consider you to be Christians! They may not be up-front about it, or let it show very often, but the bottom line is that they hate Catholics almost as much as they hate Muslims and atheists. If they manage to seize control of the country and make it into the “Christian nation” they’ve been screaming for, once they’ve dispensed with both of those groups, Catholics — followed closely by Orthodox Christians — will be next on their hit list. They won’t give a shit that you helped them establish their Christocracy; they’ll persecute you mercilessly in spite of it, because you’re un-Christian idolaters, as they see it. And they’ll be happy to go after you with everything they’ve got.

So Catholics, be careful. Very, very careful.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments No Comments »

Secret of my success: I'm going to succeed because I'm crazy enough to think I can …. / Motifake.ComI assume a lot of my readers will have heard about Michigan Republican legislator Todd Courser who came up with a truly bizarre scheme to deflect criticism which would come over an affair he’d been having with fellow Republican legislator Cindy Gamrat. This crazy scheme involved releasing a phony story that he’d met with male prostitutes, and — has says — had been intended to “smoke out” someone who’d been blackmailing him (WebCite cached article). I haven’t figured out how planting a “false flag” story would have done this, nor has anyone else … but since news of this broke, Courser has been petulant and defiant about it.

Given how wingnutty this scheme was, I’d assumed that mental illness somehow figured into Courser’s plans. I mean, it really is so astonishingly crazy that no person in his/her right mind would have cooked up such a scenario. So as with most cases of religiosity entangled with mental illness, I hadn’t planned to blog about it.

But Courser posted a response to the scandal raging around him on Facebook (cached) that — while it’s long and rambling and still may evince just a little mental instability — is coherent enough, and aligns well enough with Christian thinking, to indicate that the man knows what he’s doing and is motivated more by his religiosity than any mental illness he might have. The idiot begins with a statement which makes clear he intends to use his religiosity to rationalize what he did:

My lack of righteousness does not negate God’s righteousness –

From this point on it’s mostly a self-serving and self-pitying ramble of how he’s a sinner and all of that bullshit, interspersed with Bible quotations:

There has been nothing more humbling than to know each and every day that I am a sinner and need a savior – nothing in my actions negates Him or His promises. What my actions showcase are my lacking and how far off the mark this man’s condition is from God’s Holiness.

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.”…

In my life sin had its root and it worked to undo so much and has yet to undo so much more; my life, my reputation, my relationship with my wife and children and my extended family; not to mention my relationships and reputation around the world. This sin in my life has been and will continue to reap its reward. In all of this many have commented publicly and have enjoyed the spectacle of watching a man burn and have reveled in the joy it has brought in themselves, but all of this has also brought so many who have been absolutely encouraging and supportive.

He also wants us to know he’s not alone, and how reassured he’s been by knowing it:

A special group has been of those men who have come forward to express their own failures to me in fidelity and what guilt and shame they have felt for their own failures in their own faith and faithfulness to God, His holy word, and to their wives and children. Just having heard their stories has been some of the most humbling experiences of my life; with several have come forward to share their pain for participating in/and addicted to pornography and what that has wrought in themselves and their families. And finally a couple have come forward to express their guilt and shame for being faith filled but struggling with how to reconcile that with having homosexual tendencies and trying to reconcile that with their faith. In every one of these experiences it has been an incredibly humbling to me.

He also complains that he’s been criticized, and punctuates this whine with a Bible quote that implicitly threatens his critics with his God’s judgement:

It is mystifying to be in the middle of this hurricane and to be totally here and be present and feel the full fury of so much condemnation. It seems to have brought out the best in some and the most vile in others; so many words of encouragement and yet so many people who revel in piling on and watching another burn alive. I hope all of you who read this can live without having to live thru this personally and I hope that in your lives you have no sin to be held accountable for and so do not need a savior; I am just clearly in need of one; my life and my actions in no way diminish Him, or His plan, or His hope and sacrifice for all who have sinned.

Galatians 6:7 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

That’s about all of Courser’s pathetic, whining spew I can stomach repeating here. But it’s enough to make clear the theme of his argument, which is that, like everyone, he’s a “sinner”; that all he did was “sin”; that his God is great; in the end, that’s all that matters; and so he’s certainly not going to do anything like resign over it.

This ridiculous screed immediately reminded me of a common Christian slogan: “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” It’s a convenient rationale for not having to accept the consequences of their own bad behavior or their failure to live up to the standards that they believe their own Jesus taught. They can just do anything they want, any time they want, to anyone they want, and no one’s permitted to say anything about it, because after all they’re just “sinners” and can’t help themselves. He even cited John 8:7, which is the part of the story of the woman taken in adultery in which Jesus says that “He who is without sin may cast the first stone.” Courser, thus, is telling his critics that they’re just as bad as he is and therefore are not allowed to criticize him any more.

As I said, this Facebook post is long — perhaps a lot longer than it needed to be — but it was composed with a clear argument in mind, and it makes that argument quite readily. What’s more, that argument is one that a lot of Christians make when they’ve been caught doing things they shouldn’t … so it’s not really all that novel or unusual (at least, not anywhere near as unusual as the scheme Courser had been plotting which led up to it). So, contrary to my initial impression of Courser, I no longer believe he’s so mentally ill that he’s not aware of what he’s doing. He does understand what he did, and he’s doubling down on it rather than making any concessions.

This dual Christian principle … i.e. that everyone sins all the time so Christians can’t be expected to behave themselves; and whenever they do cross the line, no one is allowed to point it out, because everyone’s a sinner anyway … makes that religion one of the most dysfunctional and amoral philosophies one can imagine. And honestly, it really needs to just fucking stop. If Christians really are following the true religion taught by the true Almighty, one ought to expect that, as a population, they’d behave better, collectively, than everyone else. That they cannot or will not exhibit better behavior than the rest of humanity tends to discredit the supposed divine nature of their religion.

Photo credit: Motifake.Com.

Hat tip: Raw Story.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 2 Comments »

Christ Facepalm / Doc, via FlickrThis morning on CNN, GOP presidential candidate and former AR governor and Fox News pundit Mike Huckabee doubled down on his opposition to all abortions all the time, everywhere and under all circumstances. In an interview, he supported the Paraguayan government having forced a juvenile rape victim to give birth (WebCite cached article):

Mike Huckabee says his opposition to abortion rights in any circumstances won’t change after Paraguay refused a 10-year-old rape victim access to the procedure.

Of course, Shucksabee did offer up a rhetorical handwave in the direction of saying rape is bad, but then coupled it with a happy rationalization for abusing the rape victim a second time:

The former Arkansas governor who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination called the girl’s rape a tragedy in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” Sunday.

But he said: “Let’s not compound a tragedy by taking yet another life.”

“A 10-year-old girl being raped is horrible. But does it solve a problem by taking the life of an innocent child? And that’s really the issue,” Huckabee said.

Here’s a little note, especially for male Republicans. Whenever you stake out a position beginning with “Rape is terrible, but,” whatever you say after that “but” automatically and completely nullifies your introductory clause about how rape is bad. Because no matter how you slice it, you are — as I said — purposefully doubling the tragedy of a rape, and knowingly victimizing someone a second time. Yes, I know you think you’re reinforcing your acknowledgement that rape is bad … but what you’re really doing is saying, “Rape is bad, but there’s something else I consider worse,” which in reality is a way of dismissing — rather than reinforcing — the tragedy of rape. Telling a rape victim, “I know you were raped, and that’s awful, but” can never justify treating her in a horrific manner. It just doesn’t.

Better yet, male Republicans … maybe it’d be best for you to not to say anything at all about rape and simply shut up about it. Several of you have found it to be a minefield you couldn’t emerge from unscathed.

To be perfectly clear: Cases like the one discussed in this interview are rare, and thankfully so (cached). Yet — also to be clear — they’re no less real. The delivery in question was by cesarean section (aka surgery), which is risky in children. And a lot of children that age aren’t even able to carry babies to term. A policy of always forcing them to do so is inhumane, intolerable, and inexcusable. Period. Yet, Shucksabee and a lot of other Christofascists like him have no problem with it. None at all! It’s what their deity demands, after all, so it’s what they think must be done … to everyone, without regard to whether or not they share those beliefs. Which is why they’ve been clamoring for decades to make their beliefs the law of the land. (And it’s why I call them “Christofascists.”)

Photo credit: Doc, via Flickr.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments No Comments »

The mayor argues that this Nativity scene celebrates the town's origins. / KOAT-TVAccording to Fox News, it’s on, folks! That’s right, Christianists’ annual paranoid whining about an imagined effort to abolish the celebration of Christmas in the US has resumed early — in August! (Even so, that’s not as early as back in 2013.) This story involves the town of Belen, NM which has a nativity in a city park year-round (“Belen” is the Spanish equivalent of “Bethelehem,” so Christians there appear to believe this is somehow necessary). KOAT-TV in Albuquerque reports on this particular little controversy (WebCite cached article):

It’s an iconic symbol for Christians everywhere — the birth of Jesus Christ, known as the Nativity scene — and it’s on display in a Belen city park. But now a Wisconsin advocacy group is warning the city to take it down.

“My first reaction was seething anger,” Belen Mayor Jerah Cordova said.

It’s an iconic symbol for Christians everywhere — the birth of Jesus Christ, known as the Nativity scene — and it’s on display in a Belen city park. But now a Wisconsin advocacy group is warning the city to take it down.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation says it was contacted by a concerned local resident and, after reviewing the situation, it agrees: the Nativity scene on government property is unconstitutional because it’s not a separation of church and state.

But Cordova doesn’t see it like that. He says the scene is more historic than religious, as “Belen” is Spanish for Bethlehem.

“Our town was named Belen for a reason, because our founders wanted it to be named after Bethlehem and of course, what happened in Bethlehem was the birth of Christ, which is something we’ve expressed since our founding,” he said.

I love the editorial reference to the FFRF as “a Wisconsin advocacy group.” As though they’re a bunch of meddling outsiders trying to tell these fine upstanding locals what to do, and who have no place in New Mexico. It turns out this is a common refrain, particularly regarding the FFRF, when they intervene anywhere in the South. “How dare these ‘outsiders’ come down here and order us around?” is a frequent complaint by Christianists offended by being confronted with the law. As noted in the story, though, the FFRF had been notified of this by locals who’d requested their assistance. Besides, the FFRF’s status as “outsiders” to Belen is irrelevant. If they’re breaking the law, then they’re breaking the law, and being told so by out-of-staters cannot and will never change that fact.

As KOAT-TV relates, mayor Cordova used an appeal to the slippery slope in order to justify keeping the nativity on city property:

“Where does it stop?” Cordova asked. “If we don’t stand up for the Nativity scene in the heart of Belen, next will they be asking us to change our name?”

For the record, I know of no effort anywhere in the country to force any municipality to change its name. It has never happened. To assume it will happen merely because one imagines it might happen, is irrational and illogical. At any rate, fuelled by his sanctimonious rage and standing on a foundation of fallacy and paranoia, Cordova promised his city will defy the FFRF and take the case to court. The odds are very good that they’ll lose. What’s more, a court battle is likely to cost them a good deal of money, even if some Christofascist legal outfit promises to represent them pro bono, because after the court case is over and they’ve lost, Belen will end up having to pay the plaintiffs’ legal costs. And that won’t be cheap.

I can’t help but wonder why any of this is even necessary. First, why must this nativity — reflecting Belen’s heritage as a New World “Bethlehem” — be placed only on municipal property? Is there any reason it can’t be moved to private property? Will it somehow lose all its magical power unless it’s in a city park? Is there any reason it can’t be moved to some church’s front lawn or something?

Second, why are Christians even erecting idols to their deity — which is essentially what a nativity is — in the first place? As I point out in my page on Decalogue monuments, idolatry is forbidden to Christians, as recorded in both the Old and New Testaments:

You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a sacred pillar, nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the Lord your God. (Lv 26:1)

Those who regard vain idols forsake their faithfulness (Jon 2:8)

Let all those be ashamed who serve graven images, who boast themselves of idols; worship Him, all you gods. (Ps 97:7)

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Cor 10:14)

Little children, guard yourselves from idols. (1 Jn 5:21)

On top of this, though, a nativity put up prominently on public property is most certainly a form of public piety, which also was explicitly forbidden by none other than Jesus himself:

Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-6)

How, exactly, is a public nativity scene even an appropriate way to worship a deity who not only prohibited the construction of idols, but also public piety of any kind or at any time? Maybe it’s because I’m a cold-hearted, cynical, godless agnostic heathen and haven’t been granted the special sacred insight required to explain the illogic inherent in all of this, but I really and truly don’t get it.

Photo credit: KOAT-TV.

Hat tip: Raw Story.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments No Comments »