Archive for the “Religion” Category

Posts concerned specifically with religion

Pope Francis Photo 1Pope Francis has been making headlines continually since his election nearly two years ago. And I’ve blogged about a lot of them. Some of his remarks have been reasonable — remarkably so, given the institution he heads — but others border on, or are, irrational and weird. An example of the latter, as the (UK) Guardian reports, is a statement he made just a few days ago (WebCite cached article):

Pope Francis has chided couples who choose not to have children, saying the decision is a “selfish” act. The statement, made in his general audience in St Peter’s Square, will be seen as especially controversial in Italy, which has recorded a steady drop in its birth rate for decades.

“A society with a greedy generation, that doesn’t want to surround itself with children, that considers them above all worrisome, a weight, a risk, is a depressed society,” the pope said. “The choice to not have children is selfish. Life rejuvenates and acquires energy when it multiplies: It is enriched, not impoverished.”

As is usual for religious figures, the Pope seems to think his own subjective notions apply to everyone on the planet. He compounds this by making subjective judgements about people who don’t do what he thinks they should. The premise that everyone on the planet is obligated to live in the way he personally prescribes, is of course laughable and absurd. Couples do not, in fact, have to have children. They’re free to decide to do so, or not, whatever they wish. Yes, even Catholic couples. And contrary to what Francis said, there are many reasons couples might choose not to have children; they might, for example, not wish to pass on some genetic problem; they might not think they have the economic wherewithal to raise a family; and, of course, they simply may not wish to have any children. Those choices aren’t necessarily predicated on the childless couple being “selfish” or part of “a greedy generation.” So the Pope has no reason to assume so.

What’s also remarkable about this statement is that it appears to contradict something he’d said a few weeks ago, as the National Catholic Reporter explained at the time (cached):

The pontiff has also made what appears to be an unprecedented statement that Catholics may have a moral responsibility to limit the number of their children, while reaffirming Pope Paul VI’s ban on artificial means of birth control.…

… Francis made a statement that seems without precedent for a pope, suggesting that parents may have a responsibility to limit the number of their children, saying: “This does not signify that the Christian must make children in series.”

Telling the story of a woman he met in a parish in Rome several months ago who had given birth to seven children via Cesarean section and was pregnant with an eighth, Francis asked: “Does she want to leave the seven orphans?”

“This is to tempt God,” he said, adding later: “That is an irresponsibility.” Catholics, the pope said, should speak of “responsible parenthood.”

One wonders, then, exactly what it is that Pope Francis thinks about couples having children? Maybe he thinks each couple must have one or two kids each, but no more. I can’t really say, but that sort of thing seems to be what he was veering toward, taking both statements together.

I suppose this weird shuffle is a natural product of the fact that Roman Catholicism encourages couples to have children — due to its doctrinal presumption that sex is solely for procreation and its prohibition on contraception — in light of the fact that children are an economic and societal burden, so that having too many can create a lot of problems (both within families and societies at large). The result of this is that Catholic leaders like the Pope can’t help but swerve back and forth on the topic, because there’s no logical way to resolve the paradox (which, I note, they have constructed for themselves).

I won’t even touch the inherent ridiculousness of a celibate man doling out life-instructions to normal couples. It goes without saying that — by definition as well as by choice — they haven’t a fucking clue what they’re talking about … and that’s all one needs to say about it.

Hat tip: RationalWiki.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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This is the image by Lars Vilks published in Nerikes Allehanda along with the editorial. With permission by the Artist. Via Wikipedia.Notice: There’s been additional news from Copenhagen through the day; please see below for updates.

Today there was another eruption of violence over cartoons that, supposedly, “insult” Islam and its prophet, and in the minds of many Muslims, are utterly forbidden to all (not just Muslims). CNN reports on this morning’s shooting in Copenhagen (WebCite cached article):

Gunmen in Copenhagen, Denmark, stormed a building where controversial cartoonist Lars Vilks and his supporters had gathered Saturday, killing one man and wounding three police officers before driving away from the scene, police and witnesses said.…

The attackers fled the scene in a dark Volkswagen Polo, according to Copenhagen police.

Copenhagen Mayor Frank Jensen tweeted that he was “dismayed and deeply concerned by the shooting,” which French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called a “terror attack.”

Lars Vilks has been targeted by Islamists since 2007 when he produced cartoons portraying Islam’s prophet Muhammad as a dog. There have been several attempts on his life, and in 2010, Islamists tried to set his house on fire (cached). This time they got a lot closer to him, and someone died because of it.

One thing 'Bombhead' by Kurt Westergaard / Jyllands-Posten's Muhammad Cartoons, 2 / Jyllands-Posten, via About.Comthat really needs to stop is for scholars, pundits, and media outlets to trumpet repeatedly that the Qur’an doesn’t forbid depictions of its prophet. Maybe it does; maybe it doesn’t. But even if it doesn’t, that makes no difference: Clearly there are Muslims in the world who think it does, and who’re willing to murder people over it. Nothing else is relevant here.

That said, Lars Vilks Muhammad cartoon, via GawkerI fail to see why a religion’s imperatives must be obeyed by everyone, even those who don’t belong to that religion. It seems irrational for Muslims to assume non-Muslims would adhere to the strictures of their faith and behave as though they’re Muslims. I really don’t get why someone could think that.

I can only assume this sort of killing is the result of infantilization. Unfortunately, religious infantilization is hard to defeat; it takes courage and effort to take on one’s own co-religionists, discipline them, and force them to grow the fuck up. Most human beings don’t have enough courage, and don’t want to put forth that kind of effort. So they just stand back and let the infantilization — and its attendant rage and fury, and occasional riots and killings — keep right on going. It’s much easier that way.

As I always do in cases like this, I’ve added some gratuitous Muhammad cartoons to this blog post. Maybe it will sanctimoniously enrage some more violent Islamists. Go ahead, little crybabies — rage and fume all you like. The more you do, though, the more you reveal yourselves as the overgrown infants you actually are. Wah wah wah.

Update 1: When I wrote this earlier today there had only been the one attack that I mentioned. But a second took place later on, near a synagogue. The CNN story reflects this news, but my quotation above does not (to see what it looked like when I first wrote this post, see the cached page; to see what it looks like as I added this update, see this cached copy). So, unsurprisingly, the Islamist tantrums over cartoons continue.

Update 2: I awoke this morning to discover, as reported by the (UK) Guardian and others, the suspect in these shootings has been killed (cached).

Update 3: Authorities named the deceased suspect as one Omar el-Hussein, as the (UK) Telegraph and other outlets report; he’s Danish-born and had a history of violence, including a crime for which he’d been released from prison only weeks ago (cached).

Photo credits: Top, Nerikes Allehanda via Wikipedia; middle, Jyllands-Posten via About.Com; bottom, Nerikes Allehanda via Gawker.

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Westminster KnightIn my experience, Christians are hypersensitive to any mention of the Crusades (along with other glorious parts of Christianity’s history such as the Inquisitions, witch-hunts, and more). They just don’t want to hear about them … even if they’re actually part of the history of their religion. They petulantly refuse to acknowledge these events as examples of their religion’s history, and get their knickers in knots when anyone dares confront them with them.

Naturally, then, what President Barack Obama said last Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast has them in a towering rage (WebCite cached article). The Washington Post, among many other media outlets, reported on their anger and fury (cached):

President Obama has never been one to go easy on America.…

His latest challenge came Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast. At a time of global anxiety over Islamist terrorism, Obama noted pointedly that his fellow Christians, who make up a vast majority of Americans, should perhaps not be the ones who cast the first stone.

“Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history,” he told the group, speaking of the tension between the compassionate and murderous acts religion can inspire. “And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

These remarks kicked up so much sanctimonious outrage among the “Christian Nation” that NASA scientists probably picked up the sound of it from their New Horizons probe out by Pluto.

Some Republicans were outraged. “The president’s comments this morning at the prayer breakfast are the most offensive I’ve ever heard a president make in my lifetime,” said former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore (R). “He has offended every believing Christian in the United States. This goes further to the point that Mr. Obama does not believe in America or the values we all share.”…

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, called Obama’s comments about Christianity “an unfortunate attempt at a wrongheaded moral comparison.”

As someone who studied the Crusades in college — unlike all these outraged commentators — I think it’s time to clear up a lot of misconceptions about them:

  1. Christians these days think the Crusades were a legitimate military response to the military threat posed by Muslims. While it’s true that Muslims in the east did threaten Christians near them, and had been fighting the Eastern Roman Empire (or Byzantium) for centuries, one must remember the Crusades were carried out by western Europeans … mostly of French origin. In the 11th century when the Crusades were launched, no Muslim was a threat to the French. Not even close! The Muslim advance into western Europe which began around the turn of the 8th century had been halted at the Battle of Tours in 733/4. In the over three centuries which followed, the Muslim state in Spain had been surrounded and eroded by its Christian neighbors. The Emirate of Granada did not, in any way, threaten any of the mostly-French lords who embarked on the First Crusade.
  2. While it’s true that the Byzantine Empire was engaged in fighting against Muslims — which was the reason its Emperor Alexius I Comnenus wrote to Pope Urban II to request assistance in 1095 — the First Crusaders ultimately ended up not helping shore up Byzantine defenses. Quite the opposite: They left the region near Constantinople in the dust and plunged straight through Anatolia (at a frightful cost in terms of lives lost, since they had no idea what they were doing and weren’t prepared for such a venture) and into the Levant as quickly as they could. Once there, and once they’d made some conquests (e.g. retaking Antioch), they didn’t restore those lands to the Byzantines; instead, they kept them for themselves.
  3. The Holy Land itself had been in Muslim hands since the early 7th century, but there were still Christians living there, and western Christians had been able to go on pilgrimages there pretty much the entire time. The Muslim rulers had allowed monks to tend to pilgrims there (most of them needed some assistance after their long journey). That Muslim overlords held the region hadn’t really put a dent in Christians’ ability to live and worship there.
  4. The main danger posed by Muslims to Christendom, at the time the Crusades began, was not in the Holy Land, and didn’t involve the French. The real danger was that the Seljuk Turks would overwhelm Byzantium and other Christian states near it. Had the French — who, living as they did at the western end of the Mediterranean and weren’t threatened by Muslims — really wanted to help defend Christendom, the proper strategy would have been for them to place themselves at the disposal of Alexius and work with the Byzantines to rebuild their state and reacquire their lost territory. Then they would have helped Byzantium maintain more defensible borders.
  5. In fact, a little over a century after the First Crusade embarked from western Europe, a subsequent expedition — the Fourth Crusade — didn’t even bother going to the Holy Land at all. Instead, its armies went after their fellow Christians, the Byzantines. They drove out two Emperors in succession, sacked Constantinople, made one of their own Emperor, and left the Eastern Roman Empire a shell of its former self. Byzantium later recovered somewhat, but it was never the same again, and entered into a long decline.
  6. The idea that the Crusaders were trying to defend Christianity is belied by the way in which they treated the eastern Christians they came across. In addition to fighting with the Byzantines more than they cooperated, they also seized Edessa, an Armenian Christian state. They drove out the local Orthodox hierarchy, including the Patriarch of Jerusalem, installing a replacement of their own who was loyal to the Pope. Overall, their relations with eastern Christians were never very good, and the Crusaders never actually acted like their guardians.

In sum, the idea that the Crusades were a rational and proper military response to a genuine military threat, is — quite simply — fucking laughably ridiculous. French armies had no legitimate business making a beeline through many hundreds of miles of territory and trying to home in on the Holy Land. Their expedition was hideously expensive — in terms of money, resources expended, and lives lost — and punctuated by atrocities like the massacre that took place when they captured Jerusalem in 1099. None of that contributed in the slightest to the defense of Christendom against Muslim expansion. Again, had this been the Crusaders’ true goal, they’d have assisted the Byzantines in rebuilding and refortifying their Empire.

It was also often said — particularly back in the ’80s when I was studying the subject in college — that the Crusades weren’t motivated by religion, but rather by a desire for new territory. But this makes little sense. Most of the princes who made up the First Crusade had been engaged in various military expeditions for years, before deciding to embark on their expedition to the Holy Land. Bohemond of Taranto, for example, had invaded the Balkans and fought the Byzantines there some 15 years prior, and he’d engaged in a few other minor wars and skirmishes. Had he stayed home, he’d have continued those same expeditions, and could well have won new lands that way. The same was true of Raymond of St Gilles, who had fought Muslims in Spain already, and could certainly have continued doing so, had he wished to, instead of crossing the Mediterranean. There’s quite simply no way these princes’ desire to reach and retake the Holy Land in particular makes any sense, unless they’d been at least partly motivated by religion.

Getting back to the main point: Obama’s mention of the Crusades as well as other things like slavery and Jim Crow, was not an “attack” on Christians or Christianity. They are an actual part of Christian history. To deny this is to be delusional. They happened … period. Maybe modern Christians would prefer not to hear about them, but too fucking bad. Complaining that the Crusades were “1,000 years ago” (they weren’t, if you recall they were a sequence of expeditions that began in the 1090s but ended with the fall of Acre in 1291) also isn’t going to help. “It’s history,” Obama’s self-righteous critics say. “They’re in the past. They’re over. So what?” It may be true that the Crusades and Inquisitions have been over for centuries, but they were only two of Obama’s examples of the use of religion to support immorality. The others (slavery and Jim Crow) are both much more recent. Witch-hunting, which Obama didn’t mention, happens to be a present-day pastime of African Christians.

Obama also didn’t “blame” modern Christians for the Crusades; that objection is just more delusional paranoia. He also didn’t say Christians are as bad as ISIS; that too is a childish fabrication which multiple Rightists have spewed.

The real lesson Obama had delivered — and which the “Christian Nation” refuses to hear, no matter how true it may be — is that any religion can be used to justify evil. Yes, even Christianity! It happened in the past — both in the distant past, and in more recent times — and it could, conceivably, happen again. That it offends Christians to be told this, only shows how childish they really are. It’s time for them to pull on their big-boy pants and act their ages instead of getting all bent out of shape because they like thinking that the president they despise, Barack HUSSEIN Obama, is “attacking” them for something.

P.S. I still don’t get how or why Christians find it necessary to host big splashy events like “national prayer breakfasts.” After all, the founder of their own religion explicitly and unambiguously ordered them never to express their piety publicly. So why do they insist on doing it? Why won’t they obey their own Jesus?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Mark Peterson/Redux, via the Daily BeastAs I blogged a few days ago, Louisiana’s Christianist governor Bobby Jindal has essentially kicked off his campaign for the nation’s Preacher-in-Chief. As part of this campaign, he’s angling for the Neocrusader vote, which is a sizable chunk of the Republican party, and — one assumes — he hopes he can use to win the GOP nomination next year. At least, this is the only explanation for the depths of fact-deprived insanity to which he’s recently stooped.

Caught in a lie about the so-called “no-go zones” in Europe, in which Islamic shari’a law prevails rather than the law of the country, as CNN reports, he not only doubled down on this lie, he added to it by piling on another (WebCite cached article):

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Wednesday stood by his controversial comments about “no go zones” in European cities, insisting that some Muslim immigrants are trying to “colonize” European cities and “overtake the culture.”

And the United States could be next, warned Jindal, a Republican who is considering a 2016 presidential run.

“They may be second, third, fourth generation, they don’t consider themselves part of that country. They’re actually going in there to colonize, to overtake the culture,” Jindal said. “If people don’t want to come here to integrate and assimilate, what they’re really trying to do is … overturn our culture.”

Earlier, Jindal had talked about “no-go zones,” which do not, in fact, exist. That whole notion has been thoroughly debunked. Even the man responsible for this myth, Daniel Pipes, has acknowledged his error and said they don’t exist. The Bobster elaborated on his “invasion” lie, Buzzfeed reports, on a radio show run by his fellow Christianists at Focus on the Family (cached):

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a potential Republican candidate for president, warned in an interview Monday on the Family Research Council’s Washington Watch radio program of the possibility of so-called Muslim “no go zones” coming to America, focusing later on what he called a possible sharia “colonization” and “invasion” of America.

“If we’re not careful the same no-go zones you’re seeing now in Europe will come to America,” said Jindal singling out those in “academic” and “media elite” who he said “don’t want to proclaim American exceptionalism.”

I’m not going to get into the notion that Muslims have launched an “invasion” of the United States in order to overturn its government and force shari’a law on the country. It’s fucking obvious to anyone with half a brain and one working eyeball that it’s not happening. A mature man with integrity, caught in lies, will admit them and apologize — as Pipes and Fox News have already, where this issue is concerned — and move on already. But not the Bobster. He’s far too childish to make any such admission, and too caught up in his own crazy, disingenuous rhetoric to find something else to talk about so he can finally stop embarrassing himself.

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Redux, via the Daily Beast.

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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal waves with a Bible in his hand, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2015, in Baton Rouge, La. Gov. Jindal continued to court Christian conservatives for a possible presidential campaign with a headlining appearance at an all-day prayer rally hosted by the American Family Association. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman, via Washington Post)Louisiana’s Republican governor Bobby Jindal — a fierce Religious Rightist, if not an outright Christofascist — led a prayer revival yesterday at Louisiana State University. As the Washington Post explains, it’s a strong indication that he plans to run for president in 2016 (WebCite cached article):

Skipping an Iowa event that drew a number of 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls in favor of a controversial Louisiana prayer rally, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) called for a national spiritual revival and urged event attendees to proselytize on behalf of their Christian beliefs.

Jindal had insisted the day-long evangelical event hosted by the American Family Association on the campus of Louisiana State University was a religious and not political gathering. And, indeed, his 15-minute long remarks to the group consisted entirely of a highly personal testimony about how he had come to his Catholic beliefs. Jindal was raised by Hindu parents but converted to Catholicism in high school.

But Jindal’s keynote address at the event came as he has been courting Christian conservatives in advance of a possible run for president, meeting with pastors in the early battleground states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Former Texas governor Rick Perry hosted the same event, known as “The Response,” in 2011, just before announcing he was running for president.

The Bobster’s revival meeting didn’t go unnoticed by others, as the Post reports:

The event drew protests outside the basketball arena where several hundred were gathered because of accusations that the American Family Association promotes discrimination against gays and is hostile to non-Christians. Jindal briefly referred to the protests in his appearance, asking the rally’s attendees to pray for the demonstrators.

Ah. The old “I’ll pray for you” thing hurled at those who refuse to believe. I’m sure he knows this is an insulting tactic, even if it sounds all compassionate and shit. Well played, Bobby! Well played.

The Bobster even included a gratuitous little story which likely reflects how he intends to inject his fierce, dogmatic religionism into government:

Jindal recalled a girl in high school who said she wanted to grow up to be a Supreme Court justice, so she could “save innocent human lives” from abortion.

He put these words in the mouth of someone else, but this tale illustrates how he views participating in government. And that’s not to uphold the laws that are written, as they’re written, but instead to wrench and manipulate them to coincide with the Almighty’s dictates, whatever he thinks those are, and without regard for what those laws actually say.

Not that the Bobster really cares much, but here’s my response to his “response”:

Gov Jindal, if you think the country needs more God, then start with this one American: Track me down and make me turn to your God. I dare you. If it’s mandatory for all Americans to do so, then what reason would you have not to do it? Go ahead. I invite you to try your best — if you dare. Should you not do this, to me or to any other insolent non-believer, then I must presume that Americans turning to your deity can’t actually be as imperative as you said it is. That would demonstrate your cowardice, not to mention your hypocrisy — which, for supposedly-dutiful Catholics such as yourself, was explicitly forbidden to you by the founder of your own religion.

One last observation: The irony of a Roman Catholic leading a Protestant-style prayer revival — sponsored by a Protestant group — is especially precious. By leading an event of this kind, the Bobster openly admits he needs to curry the favor of devout Protestants, especially of the evangelical variety. But in the end, they’re his ecclesiastical enemies, not his friends. Just as America’s Catholic bishops have done, he’s forging what, ultimately, can only be called an unholy alliance. Should he get elected and start bending the country toward the Christocracy he wants, eventually he and his fellow Catholics will end up in evangelicals’ crosshairs. Many of them consider Jindal’s Church “the Whore of Babylon” mentioned in Revelation. A lot of those evangelicals would happily throw “Mary-worshipping papists” like Jindal into the flames of eternal perdition, if ever given the chance. Just saying.

Photo credit: AP Photo / Jonathan Bachman, via the Washington Post.

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'Allahu FUBAR' / PsiCop original graphicIf you haven’t figured it out by now, much of the Muslim world — though certainly not all of it! — is, essentially, infantile. They’re mired deep in centuries of religionistic immaturity and they just refuse to grow up, because they think their al-Lah has granted them exclusive license not to have to grow up, and they think it’s up to the rest of the planet to accommodate their hyperjuvenile nature. The latest issue of Charlie Hebdo, with its Muhammad cartoon cover (which includes the incredibly uplifting message “All is forgiven”), has — both sadly and predictably — set off violence around the planet among Muslims who just can’t handle it. Here’s a selection of reports on the mayhem, death and destruction:

  • BBC News: Charlie Hebdo: Niger protesters set churches on fire (WebCite cached article)

    At least three people have been killed and six churches attacked in Niger amid fresh protests against French magazine Charlie Hebdo’s cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

    Protests began outside Niamey’s grand mosque and reportedly spread to other parts of the country, a day after five were killed in Niger’s second city.

  • Reuters: Protesters clash with Pakistan police near French consulate (cached)

    Pakistan police fired tear gas and water cannon at about 200 protesters outside the French consulate in the southern port city of Karachi on Friday when a demonstration against the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo turned violent.

  • USA Today: ‘Hebdo’ protests turn violent in Muslim nations (cached)

    Angry reactions to the cartoon triggered street demonstrations as wide-ranging as several hundred people gathering on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Friday to slogans chanted by Muslim activists in Hyderabad, India.…

    In Jordan, the Muslim Brotherhood organized a crowd of 2,000 protesters who clashed with police in the capital of Amman as they moved toward the French Embassy. Police used batons to break up the gathering.

Terry Firma over at the Friendly Atheist provides a catalog of many more such incidents from around the world.

Oh, and … Jyllands-Posten's Muhammad Cartoons, #10 (Jyllands-Posten, via About.Com) / URL: http://middleeast.about.com/od/religionsectarianism/ig/Muhammad-Cartoons-/Muhammad-Cartoons--10.htmwhile we’re on the subject of the Muslim world’s approach to depictions of Muhammad … can we please just fucking stop already with the bullshit objections that Islam doesn’t forbid such things (cached)? Effectively it does forbid them — because millions of Muslims clearly believe it does, and because a lot of them are willing to riot, maim, burn and kill over that belief! Don’t tell me, or the rest of the occidental world, that riots like this are un-Islamic. It won’t do any good. If these raging clowns are wrong about Islam’s teachings on the subject, it’s up to other Muslims — who are clear on the matter — to rein in and discipline those who disagree and coerce them to stop this childish, riotous shit already. And they need to do it before someone else gets killed. The rest of the world simply can’t wait any longer for these overgrown children to start acting like mature adults.

As I always do when stories like this erupt, I’m including a gratuitous Muhammad cartoon in this post. The more these fucking Islamist crybabies rage and riot, the more I’ll post them. If there are Muslims out there who don’t like it … the solution is to grow up, calm down, and stop going up in flames over them all the time. It’s just that simple.

And one last comment: It’s time the White House stopped evading the reality that atrocities like those in and around Paris, not to mention beheadings by ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever-the-fuck-you-want-to-call-that-barbaric-brood or massacres of villages by Boko Haram, aren’t examples of “Islamist terror.” They are exactly that; refusing to use that phrase just makes the administration look like total clowns. Yes, I get it’s mostly the Right-wing that objects to the White House’s refusal to call it that (cached). And they have an agenda in making this complaint; mostly it’s because they’re Christianist Neocrusaders trying to bolster their own religion at the expense of what they consider their chief rival religion. Still, just as even a broken clock is correct twice a day, they’re correct on this point. Sugar-coating it helps no one. This particular kind of atrocity is — at the moment — a product of how a lot of Muslims follow their religion. Other Muslims who disagree with them are, for better or worse, the only ones who can correct them. Implying that Islam isn’t a problem here, or that it’s not a factor in this barbaric violence, won’t help, because it relieves those moderate Muslims of the task of correcting and disciplining their presumably-wayward co-religionists. Perhaps it’s not fair to them, but that’s just the way it is.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: Top, PsiCop original graphic; middle, Jyllands-Posten via About.Com.

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Open BibleGiven what happened in Paris over the past week, it was inevitable, I suppose, that a bunch of angry Christofascists would respond with what amounts to an outcry of “More Jesus! More Bible! More Christianity!” Down in Mississippi, deep in the heart of the Bible Belt Bobble Bay-elt, the AP reports via ABC News, plans are afoot to make the Bible the “state book” (WebCite cached article):

Mississippi is the birthplace of William Faulkner, Richard Wright and recent U.S. poet laureate Natasha Trethewey. However, some lawmakers say they want to look beyond the secular literary world and designate the Bible as the state book.

At least two bills are being filed during this state election year to make the holy book a state symbol.

One is from Republican Rep. Tracy Arnold of Booneville, who is the pastor of a nondenominational Christian church. The other is from Democratic Reps. Tom Miles of Forest and Michael Evans of Preston, who say they have promises of bipartisan support from more than 20 colleagues.

Their intentions, of course, are perfectly noble, and not an effort to proselytize; we know this because … well … they pinky-swear:

Miles told The Associated Press on Monday he’s not trying to force religion — or even reading — on anyone.

“The Bible provides a good role model on how to treat people,” Miles said. “They could read in there about love and compassion.”

Enough already. I have to call bullshit on this. Not that there’s no love or compassion in the Bible … there is, some anyway. A little. Here and there. The problem with the Bible is that it has a far larger amount of cruelty, hatred, and violence. Horrific, cosmic-scale, raging cataclysm-type shit. Let’s have a look at just a small sampling of it, shall we?

  • YHWH drowns every living thing on the planet (Gen 6-7), sparing only 2 of each animal and 8 human beings. All because of “the wickedness of man” (Gen 6:5) … which the reader is led to believe must have been pretty horrific, but since the nature of that “wickedness” is never mentioned, we have no way actually to know what it was. Such is YHWH’s “love,” I guess.
  • YHWH later magically slew Er the son of Judah for (again!) unstated “evil”, then magically slew his brother Onan because “he wasted his seed on the ground” (Gen 38:7-10). Yeah, that’s “compassion” all right. Oh yeah.
  • YHWH also staged one of the worst atrocities since the Great Flood when he afflicted Egypt with a series of devastating plagues, slaughtered all the first-born in the land, and then wiped out one of the largest armies in the ancient world (Gen 3-14). Yup, that’s “love.” No doubt.
  • YHWH then tells the Hebrews to conquer Canaan — as an expression of his love for the Canaanites, I suppose. In the process he orders not just one (Ex 17:8-18:16) but two (1 Sam 15:1-9) genocides of the Amalekites. Definite “compassion” there, no?

OK, enough of this. I can’t take it any more. This is as far as I could get in relating stories of Biblical “love” and “compassion” without vomiting. Note, I left out of the above list the manner in which Sodom and Gomorrah were “loved” (Gen 19:1-29), not to mention Lot’s wife. Someone will, I’m sure, inform me that I left out “context;” for instance, Sodom & Gomorrah deserved to be wiped off the face of the earth and reduced to an ashen ruin because its citizens were “inhospitable,” and that the Amalekites were slaughtered to the last infant because they’d insolently fended off the Hebrew migration into their land. Sorry, but those defenses just don’t stack up to the sheer amount of violence perpetrated; if “inhospitability” were enough to raze cities in fiery holocausts, there would be none left anywhere, and a nation defending its territory is generally not considered a crime worthy of a genocide. And don’t even get me started on why Lot’s wife needed to be changed into a pillar of salt — because that whole thing is just ridiculous bullshit, period. So pardon me if I don’t buy the whole “context” protest. I’m nowhere near stupid enough to fall for any of that.

The only reason representatives Arnold, Miles, and Evans could plausibly say the Bible teaches only “love” and “compassion” is if they never actually read the thing. Which, of course, is probably the case, since as I explained long ago, nearly all Christians have never actually read it and haven’t a fucking clue what it truly says.

Needless to say, getting up in front of a legislature … and a state … to pronounce the Bible the “state book” could be construed as public piety, which is something Jesus clearly, specifically, and unambiguously forbid his followers ever to do. Not that these people are aware of that — even if that injunction is contained within the pages of the very Bible they want their state to venerate (Mt 6:1-6, 16-18)!

Photo credit: Ryk Neethling, via Flickr.

Hat tip: Raw Story.

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