Archive for the “Christianity” Category

Christians and their religion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Associated Press, via Politico.

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Missionaries of Charity Mother HouseThe canonization of Mother Teresa has been brewing since her death in the late 1990s. The Pope at the time, John Paul II, had been a serious fan of hers, and greased the skids so as to speed up her sainthood — something that usually takes decades, if not centuries. He arranged for her beatification (the first step in the process) in 2003, and many in the Vatican have worked hard since then to get her sainted. As the Religion News Service reports, she is now “Saint Teresa of Calcutta” (WebCite cached article):

Mother Teresa, the tiny nun who devoted her life to the poor, was declared a saint by Pope Francis at the Vatican as he celebrated her “daring and courage” and described her as a role model for all in his year of mercy.

At least 120,000 people crowded a sun-drenched St. Peter’s Square for the canonization of the acclaimed nun who may have worked in the slums of Kolkata but was a force to be reckoned with by political and religious leaders around the world.

Mother Teresa’s reputation for charity goes beyond just the Catholic Church, largely thanks to her having won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. But the reality of her work doesn’t support this reputation. She’s been accused of not having actually helped all the ailing in her “hospital,” due to her devotion to the idea that it’s actually good for people to suffer (good for them, and for humanity as a whole).

Among her critics was the late British journalist Christopher Hitchens, who hosted a documentary and wrote a book explaining that her charitable reputation was undeserved. You can watch that documentary, Hell’s Angel, right here:

But for many fans of Mother Teresa, particularly devout Catholics, wouldn’t accept anything Hitchens had to say about her; after all, he was one of those horrific “New Atheists” and isn’t to be listened to. But she had other critics, including Dr Aroup Chatterjee, who’d worked for her clinic for a time (cached), and a team of Canadian academics, whose review of her work concluded she was “anything but a saint” (cached). None of those folks has any anti-Catholic or anti-religious axe to grind. So their criticisms should get some attention … even if they weren’t enough to prevent her canonization.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Pacific Daily News.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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1099 Siege of JerusalemIt’s been a disappointing week for former House speaker Newt Gingrich. He’d presumed himself to be Donald “it’s my own orange hair!” Trump’s choice as running mate, but alas, it was not to be. That “honor” fell to Indiana’s evangelical-in-chief Mike Pence. In the wake of the recent attack in Nice, France (WebCite cached article), the Newtster decided to lash out, just when it became apparent the Trumpster had rejected him. His targets were, as one might suspect, Muslims in the US. As US News & World Report explains, Newtie demanded that Muslims in the US who like “shari’a law” be deported forthwith (cached):

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is responding to Thursday night’s truck attack in France by arguing for the expulsion from the U.S. of any Muslim who believes in Sharia law.

Gingrich is being considered as a possible running mate by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

The former Georgia congressman said on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” that the U.S. “should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background, and if they believe in Sharia, they should be deported. Sharia is incompatible with Western civilization.”

What’s more, he blamed this attack on none other than President Barack Obama:

Gingrich is calling the attack in Nice, France, which killed at least 80 people, “the fault of Western elites who lack the guts to do what is right, to do what is necessary, and to tell us the truth, and that starts with Barack Obama.”

Yes, Newtie. It’s certainly the case that Obama metaphorically put a gun to a sociopathic French Muslim’s head and forced the guy to go on a truck rampage through a Bastille Day crowd. Absolutely! Why, it can’t possibly have worked any other way!

I’m curious as to how the Newtster plans to carry out his “test” of American Muslims’ reverence for “shari’a law.” Imagine a scenario in which a Muslim who actually supports “shari’a law” — but who wants to stay so that he can work with the Muslim Brotherhood and President Obama to make sure it’s enforced here — would deal with it:

ICE agent: Mr Muslim, do you believe in “shari’a law”?

Shari’a-loving Muslim: (lying) No!

ICE agent: Oh, well, OK Mr Muslim, you can stay!

Shari’a-loving Muslim: Wow! Thanks, Mr ICE Agent! (goes back to plotting a takeover of the US)

I mean, seriously … what the fuck? I won’t even go into how Newtie-boy thinks the government is supposed to determine which immigrants comes from “a Muslim background.” As I’ve noted many times before, Neocrusaders like Newtie haven’t the first clue what “shari’a law” is, in the first place. As it turns out, it’s not a single iconic entity; it means different things to different Muslims, and is interpreted variously. Also, not all Muslims even want it; many who’ve come to the US have done so because they’re avoiding it!

It’s true there are murderous, savage Muslims in the world. There’s no doubt of it! It’s also true that some of them are right here in the US and have carried out horrific attacks in the name of their fierce religiofascism. But with that said, a proper response to one form of religiofascism is not to be religiofascist right back at it! Meeting sanctimonious rage with more sanctimonious rage, doesn’t cure the sanctimonious rage. A lot of the American Muslims whom the Newtster would like to deport, aren’t our enemies — and might even be our allies. All it takes is to spend some time figuring out what they’re all about, in order to know the difference. Castigating them all in one swoop, based on the bogeyman of “shari’a law,” isn’t going to cut it. It’s time for Newtie and his fellow Neocrusaders to fucking grow the hell up for once and stop acting like spoiled children. Their juvenile act is getting really old.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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