Archive for the “Christianity” Category

Christians and their religion

Merry Christmas Lights / Eric Kilby, via FlickrIf one of the minions of the Groper-in-Chief-elect is correct, I may no longer have to post about the Religious Right’s annual — and delusional — “war on Christmas.” According to Corey Lewandowski, erstwhile campaign manager for the next president, then CNN talking head, the phantasmal campaign against Christianity’s winter solstice holiday is over! The Hill reports on his appearance on Fox News, in which he made this declaration (WebCite cached article):

Corey Lewandowski claimed Tuesday evening that people are now allowed to say “Merry Christmas” again because of Donald Trump’s election victory.

“You can say again Merry Christmas because Donald Trump is now the president. You can say it again. It’s OK to say,” Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager, said on Fox News’ “Hannity.”

“It’s not a pejorative word anymore.”

Whew! Boy, am I glad that’s over! I mean, it’s been ages since I’ve been allowed to say, “Merry Christmas.” Until the Groper-in-Chief’s election, I wasn’t able to utter it. I’d have been arrested, or executed, or something … I’m sure. But now, I can say “Merry Christmas” all I want, without worry. Solely because of the Groper-in-Chief! Hooray!

Wait … what … ? You mean, none of that was true? I could have been saying “Merry Christmas” all this time, if I’d wanted? Really!?

</sarcasm>

To be clear: It has never been illegal to say “Merry Christmas.” No such law or ordinance has ever been proposed, much less passed and enacted, anywhere in the US. Not at the federal, state, county, or municipal levels. It has never happened. Period. And the Groper-in-Chief’s didn’t suddenly and magically dispense with any such laws or ordinances. That, also, has never happened. Period.

It’s long past time for Christianists to grow the fuck up already and stop inventing forms of persecution just because they like thinking they’re being martyred for Jesus. Unfortunately, this compulsion is very strong with them … being inherent in the psychopathology of their faith. Still, that’s no excuse for kvetching and moaning that they’re being prevented from celebrating Christmas, when in reality, they’re not.

Oh, and it’s hilarious that Lewandowski would try to sell the public on his boss’s incredible magical powers, by trumpeting that he made it possible, at last, for Americans to say a phrase they’ve always been able to say. Yeah, that makes a whole fucking lot of sense!

Photo credit: Eric Kilby, via Flickr.

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CT Comptroller Kevin Lembo / CT News Junkie file photoAt the outset, I have to concede this is something of a tempest in a teapot. We aren’t talking about very much money here, and the stakes aren’t very high, on either side of this conflict. Still, it is an example of someone daring to take on a well-known and vocal Religious Right group, which is actually rare, since they’ve been so successful at intimidating others and bullying them into acquiescence.

Now then, on to the story … !

The state of Connecticut has a program by which its employees can have money deducted from their paychecks and sent directly to a number of charitable organizations. To be included in this program, charities must sign up and agree to abide by certain standards. But in the case of the American Family Association, that proved to be a problem. CT’s comptroller, Kevin Lembo, whose office administers the program, wants to find out if the AFA is actually living up to that agreement; but as CT News Junkie reports, the AFA is none too happy about that (WebCite cached article):

After asking a Christian organization that’s against LGBTQ rights for more information about how it conforms with Connecticut’s nondiscrimination clause to qualify for state employee payroll deductions, state Comptroller Kevin Lembo became the group’s newest target.

The American Family Association, a Mississippi-based group that is known for its anti-gay and anti-transgender boycotts of businesses, is flooding Lembo’s office with calls and emails. As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, Lembo said his office had received 4,455 emails from people associated with AFA.…

Last week, Lembo, who is the Connecticut’s first openly gay constitutional officer, announced that his office was investigating [cached] whether the group conforms with the anti-discrimination policy for the Connecticut State Employee Campaign for Charitable Giving program. Lembo said the group signed the anti-discrimination clause, but their website seems to offer a different story.

As one would expect, the AFA went ballistic over Lembo’s investigation. It probably didn’t help that Lembo is openly gay. They claim his move is an “attack” on their religious freedom, and Lembo’s way of trying to wipe out devout, dutiful Christians like themselves … but it’s not. At stake here is just one very small question: Whether or not the AFA is allowed to remain in CT’s payroll-deduction program for state employees. That’s all. Nothing more. Whether they’re in this program or not, will not change their lives in the slightest. It won’t force them to give up their beliefs. It won’t close any of their churches, it won’t rip Bibles out of their homes or hands. It won’t do anything of the sort, even if they claim it would. What’s more, as CTNJ explains, we’re talking about a small amount of money:

Between 2011 and 2016, AFA has receive $202 from three state employees. Since the group is part of a larger group of 13 charities within the account, it’s unknown exactly how much it received in undesignated funds. The group of 13 charities under the Neighbor to Nation heading received a little more than $4,000 a year between 2011 and 2014.

That kind of money isn’t going to make or break the AFA. It just won’t, no matter how sanctimoniously enraged they may be at this insolent, profane gay man who dared take them on, even in a small way such as this.

Really, the problem here is with the AFA. They reached an agreement with the state of CT in order to be included in this program, and that agreement included anti-discrimination terms, which they haven’t abided by, and which they even insist they’re obliged to ignore by dint of their religious beliefs. In other words … they signed an agreement whose terms they damned well knew, from the very start, that they never intended to live by. They weren’t coerced into signing up for that program or signing that agreement; no one put a gun to their heads and forced them to do so. They did that of their own volition. It now appears they did so dishonestly. I salute the Comptroller for pointing out their duplicity and for taking them on … even if the end result won’t accomplish very much (at best, the AFA will be deprived of a few hundred dollars a year in contributions, should they be removed from the program).

Really, for me — as I stated at the beginning of this post — what’s significant here is that Lembo was even willing at all to try to take on the AFA. Most of the time, public officials won’t contend with Christofascists. Rather, they tend overwhelmingly to bend over for them and give in to their bullying tactics. This is how they’ve succeeded as much as they have over the last three or four decades. They always seem to resort to their claim of sincere belief and “religious freedom,” as though this means all of humanity is required to knuckle under to all their demands, all the time, and that they’re never to be questioned, ever, for any reason. The world doesn’t work that way, and there’s no reason officials should act as though it does.

Photo credit: CT News Junkie.

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Shellie Sylvestri, via KNOE-TVThis year’s annual edition of “the War on Christmas” rages on. This is something I’ve blogged about ad nauseam; it’s a propaganda trope in which American Christianists pretend that their religion is being wiped out, initially via an insidious campaign to outlaw the celebration of Christmas.

This is delusional, of course; Christianity is in no danger in the US, and people are still free to celebrate Christmas. That won’t change … but you can’t tell Christianists that. They refuse to accept it, and claim their religion is standing at the precipice of total destruction and that they’re just a moment away from being killed off.

The latest skirmish in this annual juvenile exercise comes from the fine Bible Belt Bobble Bayelt state of Louisiana. KNOE-TV in Monroe, LA reports on a battle that erupted over — of all things — atheist billboards (WebCite cached article):

The Atheist Americans holiday campaign debuted in Monroe yesterday with two digital billboards near Hwy 165 and Pecanland Mall.

“It’s definitely a strong Christian community and a lot of strong believers in this area,” says Kyle Klitzke of Monroe.…

The billboards lasted less than two hours in Monroe before the billboard company, Outfront Media, suggested the organization take it down.

Nick Fish, program director for American Atheists, took the words right out of my mouth:

“They need to get over themselves and realize this is a country with a lot of viewpoints, and they’re not the only ones with a view on this,” Fish says.

He’s absolutely correct that Louisiana’s Christianists “need to get over themselves” and understand that they’re not the only ones … but they never will do so. They view the fact that they’re not alone in the country as an intolerable burden that they simply cannot withstand, and will never tolerate — not even for a second.

As I often do when remarking on “the War on Christmas,” I remind American Christendom that many of its beliefs about Christmas are false. Absolutely, totally, 100% wrong. Not that most of them care very much about facts … but I do, and I plan to throw as many of them as I can in their faces. No matter how much they dislike it, or how vehemently they deny those facts.

Photo credit: Shellie Sylvestri, via KNOE-TV.

Hat tip: Raw Story.

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Praying Crusader / ModlicisekrizakNow that Donald “it’s my own orange hair!” Trump has been elected president, he’s begun assigning roles to the various men (many of specious character and/or ability) who supported his campaign. The transition process has turned out to be a clusterfuck, which should surprise exactly no one (WebCite cached article).

One of his appointees, retired general Michael Flynn, is an outspoken Neocrusader (i.e. a Religious Rightist who wants Islam banned in the US at the very least, and — if possible — eradicated from the planet). Among other things, the soon-to-be National Security Advisor as Right Wing Watch explains, he’s said that Islam isn’t a religion (cached):

In August, the Dallas Morning News reported that Flynn had delivered a speech to a Dallas gathering of the anti-Muslim group ACT for America, in which he had called Islam “a political ideology” that hides behind “being a religion,” and “a cancer.”…

“Islam is a political ideology.… It definitely hides behind this notion of it being a religion. And I have a very, very tough time because I don’t see a lot of people screaming ‘Jesus Christ’ with hatchets or machetes or rifles shooting up clubs or hatcheting, literally axing families on a train, or like they just killed a couple of police officers with a machete.”

Note: The original Dallas Morning News article referred to is no longer on the paper’s Web site, but an Archive.Org cached version is available.

RWW provides video of this event, via Youtube:

Flynn’s complaint that Islam isn’t a religion, but rather a political ideology, is an old one among Religious Rightists. By saying Islam isn’t a religion, the R.R. rationalizes outlawing that religion and robbing Muslims of their religious freedom. Their assumption that Islam could be abolished in the US if it’s found to be a political ideology and not a religion, is — of course — foolish, since in addition to religious freedom, we also have political freedoms. The R.R. could no more ban Islam-as-a-political-ideology than it could the ideology of Leftism (which it would very much like to do, but can’t).

What’s more, Flynn’s contention that Christians never kill based on their Christianity, is untrue: Christians can, and do, terrorize and kill in Jesus’ name. Almost a year ago, Robert Dear shot up a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado (cached); he didn’t (as Flynn idiotically suggested) shout “Jesus Christ” while doing so, but he did mention “baby parts” after he was captured. As such, he was obviously motivated by the release of videos by a “pro-life” Religious Right group a few months prior. (Now, PP wasn’t actually selling baby parts, but sanctimonious pro-lifers don’t really care about facts. They only care about their outrage.)

As I’ve blogged many times before, these Neocrusaders view Islam as the chief rival of their own religion (which, for nearly all of them, is Christianity). Their “war” against it is basically just a form of religious one-upmanship … i.e. a way of pushing the narrative that their god is bigger than the Muslims’ god. By agitating against Muslims, they hope to “prove” the virtues of their own religion and make Muslims cave in to them.

As such, it’s all very childish, but this is the ideology that elected Donald “it’s my own orange hair!” Trump. So what can one expect?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Church interior / Immaculate Conception Catholic Church San Diego Web siteLast I knew, the Roman Catholic Church’s position is that its parishes and clergy aren’t supposed to meddle in politics. Clergy are even prohibited from holding public office (something John Paul II reminded them of back in the early 1980s). Also, as non-profit entities, they’re legally forbidden, in the US, from campaigning (WebCite cached article).

None of that, unfortunately, means Catholic parishes never violate those policies or laws. Four years ago I blogged about an El Paso parish that campaigned against Barack Obama’s re-election. As the San Diego Union-Tribune reports, something similar just happened in a parish in that city (cached):

Between requests for prayers for the sick and a notice for an upcoming chastity luncheon, a newsletter from a Catholic church in Old Town that doubles as an election-day polling site included a flier that told parishioners they’ll go to hell if they vote for Democrats.

Two Sundays later, the message had changed: Satan was working through former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The Oct. 16 bulletin from the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church was stuffed with a flyer written in both English and Spanish that cited five legislative policies — support for abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, human cloning, and embryonic stem cell research — that will doom a politician and their supporters to eternal damnation.

“It is a mortal sin to vote Democrat … immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell,” the flyer said. It cited the five public policy issues from the “Voters Guide for Serious Catholics” and said that Democrats violate each of them, while Republicans cross none.

The diocese admits this flyer was given out in violation of Catholic policy and professed that they hadn’t done it:

The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego on Wednesday said the messages in the flier and bulletin do not reflect Catholic teaching or diocese policies, are inappropriate, and that voters should use their conscience to determine which candidates to support.

“It’s not a mortal sin to vote for Democrats, number one. And number two, the church doesn’t take positions on this, and we’re not going to,” diocese spokesman Kevin Eckery said.…

The diocese said the flier was not authorized by the parish, but it was somehow inserted into the Oct. 16 bulletin.

The problem with this “it wasn’t authorized” defense is that it happened twice, not just once; you’d think the parish priest(s) and staff would have been on alert for someone stuffing crap into their bulletins, after it had happened the first time. That it occurred a second time can only mean they are — at best — unconcerned about it, and — at worst — they approve of it.

As for Hillary being a Satanist by virtue of her links to Alinsky, I addressed that just this summer, when former GOP candidate Ben Carson trotted out that trope. I said then, and will repeat here, that Alinsky was no Satanist at all, and that Clinton was not his sycophant. Yes, it’s true that Religious Rightists despise Alinsky and many of them truly do believe him to have been a Satanist … but their belief, no matter how sincere it might be, cannot magically make that true. Because it’s not. And Clinton herself differed with Alinsky, to the point of refusing a job offer he made.

Although this is a blatant violation of the IRS code, I’m sure that feared agency will do nothing about this. At all. For decades they’ve consistently bent over for the Religious Right, and I have no reason to think they’re going to change, any time soon.

Photo credit: Immaculate Conception Catholic Church Web site.

Hat tip: Raw Story.

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Bergen Catholic Chapel, via Bergen Catholic High School Web siteThe Catholic child-abuse scandal continues making news. This should be no surprise, given that it went on for decades at the very least (and in fact we have no reason to assume it doesn’t go back centuries), and was worldwide in scope, not to mention pervasive within the R.C. Church. The latest revelations to emerge describe abuse that took place many decades ago, as NJ Advanced Media reports, at a private Catholic school in New Jersey (WebCite cached article):

Eight more former Bergen Catholic High School students have come forward to accuse former staff members at the school of sexual abuse.

The eight have levied their allegations since it was revealed in August that the all-boys high school in Oradell had reached a $1.9 million settlement [cached] with 21 men who said they were sexually abused at the school.

The eight men, who are now between the ages of about 55 to 75 years old, say they were sexually abused when they were teens between the years of 1956 and 1977, said Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston lawyer who represented some of the previous alleged victims.

The timeframe of the alleged attacks is similar to the one provided by the other alleged victims who settled with the school. They had said they were abused between 1963 and 1978.

The school itself, not the archdiocese of Newark (in which it’s located) or the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers (the priests who staff it), reached the settlement with the victims. Apparently the archdiocese plays no role in the school’s administration, so — at least for now — they’re not involved.

Note that the Christian Brothers who run this school are part of the worldwide order of Christian Brothers who, back in 2003, filed suit to block the Irish Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, and succeeded in preventing that body from releasing the names of abusive priests (cached). Despite that, the Christian Brother order figured prominently in abuse investigations in Ireland, and elsewhere.

At any rate, I expect Catholic apologists will repeat their old rationale for why they don’t think their holy Church or its clergy did anything wrong: The accusers are just in it for the money, and some of them — so far — were paid off. There was no abuse, they’ll say; accusers made it all up long after they left school, just to get some money for themselves and their attorneys.

While I agree money might motivate some accusers, the “profit motive” can’t explain all the accusations that have been leveled, around the world, for decades, nor does it account for the fact that many investigations — again, from all around the world — have substantiated that abuse did, in fact, take place, and moreover, that in a lot of cases the Church hierarchy did, in fact, cover it up and on occasion enable the abusers by moving them around.

I expect to hear more about this. I also expect to hear a lot more whining from Catholic apologists about how terrible it is that accusers are coming forward now and how terrible it is that some have already been paid off. It’s as though the victims somehow owe it to the Holy Mother Church to keep silent — forever — about the abuse they’d endured, because … well! … it’s the Holy Mother Church. Or something. Because for some reason, no one is supposed to say anything bad about the Holy Mother Church. Or something.

Photo credit: Bergen Catholic High School Web site.

Hat tip: Secular Web News Wire.

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SiegeOfAcre1291For almost a year now, I’ve said the movement I call “the Great Neocrusade” — i.e. an effort by fierce Rightists in the US to eradicate Islam from their precious “Christian nation” — turned violent. There’s been a lot of vigilante “justice” meted out, over the last year, to various Muslims (and to non-Muslims who were assumed to be Muslims). The Neocrusaders would say this is just a counter-Islamist-terror campaign, except for the fact that none of the victims were terrorists, and hadn’t said or done anything (aside from appearing Muslim) to make anyone suspect they were terrorists. They simply happened to cross the path of one or more sanctimoniously-enraged Neocrusaders.

The reality is that — notwithstanding events like the San Bernardino, Boston Marathon, and Ft Hood massacres — Islamist terror is still extremely rare in the US. Americans are more likely to fall prey to domestic, Right-wing terror, and vastly more likely to be victimized by ordinary, simple, mundane sociopaths not motivated by any religion or particular ideology at all. So really, there’s no reason for Neocrusaders to stomp around beating up on random Muslims — even if they view it as justified in order to save Americans from terrorism.

You’d be surprised where Neocrusaders are lurking. There are more of them than you think, and not just in cosmopolitan parts of the country (i.e. big cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc.) where one expects to find Muslims and other foreign faiths. They can be found even among the reserved, quiet, pious folk of “middle America.” An example of this, as KWCH-TV in Wichita KS reports, is a plot the feds recently broke up in the “heartland” town of Garden City, KS (WebCite cached article):

Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall says Curtis Allen, 49, Gavin Wright, 51, and Patrick Stein were all charged with domestic terrorism.

Beall said the three were planning to bomb an apartment complex and mosque in Garden City occupied by a Muslim community of about 120 Somali refugees.

Beall said the men planned to carry out the attack on Nov. 9, the day after Election Day.…

Beall said the men wrote a manifesto, which they wanted published after the bombing.

According to an affidavit, the were a part of a group called the Kansas Security Force and the Crusaders.

“These are militia groups whose members support and espouse sovereign citizen, anti-government, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant extremist beliefs,” read the affidavit.

Beall said the men’s arrest is a part of an eight month long investigation.

For the last year, the Right — led by GOP presidential nominee Donald “it’s my own orange hair!” Trump — has blustered and fumed over Muslim refugees living among us, and how horrifically dangerous they are. Supposedly. It’s only natural, after all, because isn’t it obvious that all Muslims everywhere are terrorists, bent on killing “infidels” wherever they may be? Wouldn’t it make sense, therefore — according to Neocrusaders’ thinking — that it’s better to kill them before they kill us?

Fortunately for the country, but unfortunately for the Neocrusaders, those Somali refugees in Kansas aren’t very likely to become terrorists … but sanctimonious Christianists don’t let little things like “facts” get in the way of their towering fury.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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