Archive for the “Religion” Category

Posts concerned specifically with religion

Luther posting his 95 Theses in 1517, by Ferdinand Pauwels [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsToday is the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther posting his “95 Theses” to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. As the Associated Press reports via Religion News Service, Germany is celebrating “Reformation Day” as a holiday (Archive.Is cached article).

The history of Luther, his Theses, and the resulting schism — which continues to this day and is as entrenched as ever — is well known. The point of the Augustinian monk’s protest was to criticize the sale of indulgences. These are ways of reducing the time one must spend in Purgatory, after death, atoning for sins before reaching Heaven. It wasn’t indulgences Luther objected to per se, but rather, the Church’s sale of them.

This objection led to Luther, and others (including his friend Philip Melanchthon, who arguably was Luther’s intellectual superior and had more to do with the direction Luther’s movement would later take) to differ from the Church on more topics than just the sale of indulgences. Among the more important of these were the so-called Five Solas, declaring that salvation came from 5 interconnected sources — none of which was the Church itself or any of its personnel. The Christian didn’t need a priest, a church, or anything of the sort.

This approach to Christianity knocked the theological legs of the Church right out from under it, rendering it useless. Those who disliked the Church and competed with it for power, certainly found this sort of thinking attractive. Luther and Melanchthon made their reform movement more appealing to the numerous princes in Germany by advocating nationalizing Church treasuries within each realm. Many of them ultimately signed on, and effectively became heads of both church and state within their domains. In the 1530s, King Henry VIII of England would follow a similar philosophy in seizing control of the English Church.

But for all that came of the movement Luther launched (and for which Melanchthon, then John Calvin became the chief proponents, along with many other reformers like Ulrich Zwingli), what’s forgotten are the reformers who came before Luther and had raised similar issues themselves. Perhaps the most important of these was Jan Hus, executed for his “heresy” just over a century before Luther posted his “95 Theses,” who in turn had been inspired by John Wycliffe of England. The ideas of both these men actually continued on, through Luther’s time, and even beyond. Hus’s movement led to the establishment of a separate organization (i.e. the Moravian Church), which still exists.

And these, in turn, had forebears in the Waldenses of France in the late 12th century. Church reforms, you see, were not new. Some reform movements were internal, taking place within and inside the Church, such as the Cluniac reforms, the rise of the mendicant orders, etc.

It is true that the Church’s power was broken by the onset of the Reformation sparked by Luther’s protest, but the stage had been set for him, already, by others. What’s more, the Church had, by then, already undermined itself and its credibility as an institution, e.g. the Great Western Schism and its other attempts at meddling in European politics, like Boniface VIII’s issuance of Unam Sanctam. It’s possible to make too much of what Luther did, and to fail to realize that it’s the inherent irrationality and uncertainty of the many precepts of Christianity which helped the Church grow in power and become mighty in the first place, then to collapse as an institution subsequently as European Christendom fractured into many competing sects.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Group photo of women wearing bikinisWe all know religionists tend not to think highly of women. This is true across religions; many Muslims are notably misogynistic, as I’ve noted many times, but a lot of Christians are, too. And Orthodox Jews are no better.

But as poorly as these religions treat women, they obviously don’t think very highly of men. The idea that women must dress modestly — sometimes so modestly that they barely even seem to be human — results from their assumption that men are too primitive to exercise restraint in the presence of women who actually look like women. Usually these modesty-rules are promoted in the name of treating women with “dignity,” but honestly, there’s no “dignity” in forcing women to cover themselves up that much.

So it’s rare that any religionist openly and explicitly admits s/he thinks men are slaves to their raging libidos, but once in a while one of them lets the cat out of the bag. This happened recently when, as Right Wing Watch reports, a Christianist pastor claimed that women who dress provocatively are “sexually assaulting” men (Archive.Is cached article):

Carl Gallups, a right-wing pastor and conspiracy theorist who spoke at Trump campaign rallies during the 2016 election, spent a portion of his radio program on Friday discussing the idea that women are “sexually assaulting” men by dressing in a provocative manner.

Gallups interviewed Mike Shoesmith, who recently wrote a piece [cached] in response to the Hollywood sexual assault scandals arguing that women who wear “sexually suggestive clothing around a man” are legally guilty of sexual assault. While Gallups and Shoesmith repeatedly made clear that they were not excusing or condoning sexual assault against women in any way, they were nevertheless outraged that women are allowed to torment men by “walking around in their little sister’s skirt.”

“Men are visually stimulated and unwanted stimulation should meet the basic definition of assault,” Shoesmith said, asserting that women who dress in a suggestive manner are “guilty of indecent visual assault on a man’s imagination, which does cause mental anguish and torment.”

These two bastions of wisdom went on to relate that men are (as I mentioned above) helpless in the face of their neurophysiology and biologically incapable of resisting feminine wiles. Oh, the poor little things! How dare those awful women insolently allow others to see their bodies! How horrific!

Oh, and as for the idea that these two Christianist pricks weren’t “excusing or condoning sexual assault against women” … well, here’s what that is:*cough* Bullshit! *cough* / JaromirAzarov, via Imgur

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

P.S. I wish RWW would stop identifying outspoken evangelical pastors as supporters of the Groper-in-Chief. American evangelicals in general overwhelmingly support the GiC (cached); there’s no need to point this out when discussing them.

P.P.S. This is one of those times when the phrase “Christian Taliban” isn’t without merit (cached).

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'What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church ... such lies would not be against God, he would accept them.' -Martin Luther (PsiCop original graphic)This is the second post today where I’ve had to address something that was said at the Values Voters Summit in Washington. And it happens also to concern a lie that was told in support of Christianism. (I expect dozens of lies were told there, today … but I only have just so much time, so these two will have to do).

The liar I’ll discuss here is former Congresswoman (and current raging Christofascist) Michele Bachmann. As Right Wing Watch reports, she repeated the old fundamentalist canard that archaeology proves the Bible (Archive.Is cached article):

Apparently operating under her new anointing as pastor, Bachmann opened her remarks by celebrating the election of Donald Trump before dedicating a significant portion of the remainder of her speech to recounting the history of Christianity and the saving power of Christ.

“You know, the remarkable thing,” she said, “when you read the Bible, every archeology find that has ever come forward has only proved the authenticity of the Bible.”

This claim — while it’s widely repeated among fundies like Bachmann — is an out-&-out lie. Pure bullshit. A steaming load heaved right out the back of the barn. The cold fact is that archaeology has actually failed to confirm much of the Bible’s contents. For instance, there’s no archaeological evidence for a worldwide flood. There’s no evidence the Hebrews were captive in Egypt, nor is there any evidence of an “exodus,” the Red Sea never parted, nor is there evidence that Hebrews conquered the Levant in a military campaign.

I could go on, but it would be pointless. The number of Biblical events which have never been confirmed by archaeology is legion. It’d be easier for me to point out times they coincide; there are only a few. Among them is the Hittites, a people who were mentioned a few times in the Bible, and had been thought of as maybe-legendary, but hadn’t been encountered by archaeologists until a little over a century ago. But some ruins and tablets … and texts found in Egypt as well … confirmed that there had, indeed, been Hittites in the Near East.

So archaeologically speaking, the Bible got that right — but unfortunately for Bachmann and her fundie ilk, not much else.

Fundies tell this lie, and repeat it endlessly, because it reinforces in their minds the importance of their own strict and literal reading of the Bible texts. They’re so convinced of their mantra that “archaeology confirms the Bible” that they’ve run roughshod over the Near East, particularly Israel and the West Bank, desperately flailing around in search of stuff they think they can use to “prove” to the rest of the world that they’re right (cached). That they haven’t been able to do this, decades into their search, should speak volumes.

At any rate, I’ve added Ms Bachmann to my “lying liars for Jesus” club, where she’ll find many like-minded Christofascists.

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Orlando - Disney World - Hollywood Studios - The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights - Peace On Earth Globe & Merry Christmas SignThe end of the year is approaching, and with it — of course! — come the annual repeated appeals to a phantasmal “struggle” called the War on Christmas. This is the contention made by Religious Rightists that Christmas is being outlawed in the US (presumably as the opening salvo in a presumed effort to outlaw Christianity entirely). I call it “phantasmal” because — well! — it is!

There truly is no “war” on the Christmas holiday. Christmas trees have never been removed from anyone’s homes. Churches have never been forcibly closed on Christmas Day. It’s not illegal to buy and give Christmas presents, nor to send Christmas cards. Nothing of the sort has ever happened in the US. Not once … not anywhere … not at all. Ever.

But to hear the R.R. tell it, one would think their very lives are in danger merely because they think about Christmas.

For me, then, the so-called “war on Christmas” is an annual event on my blog. It accounts for many blog posts. And I can always rely on the R.R. to weigh in on it, year after year after year.

This year’s edition begins with our Groper-in-Chief, that legendary champion of Christmas, who — as The Hill reports — weighed in on the phony controversy at this year’s Values Voter Summit (Archive.Is cached article):

President Trump reignited the “war on Christmas” on Friday, telling a crowd of supporters that “we’re saying merry Christmas again” now that he’s president.

Speaking to a packed crowd at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., Trump argued political correctness has gotten in the way of celebrating the holiday.

The GiC rambled a bit, as he usually does, laughably and insanely trying to wax poetic about a fake effort to prevent Christianists from worshipping their Christmas, but then he dropped this extra snippet of idiotic drivel:

Trump went on to briefly pivot toward his push to cut taxes, calling for tax reform as a “Christmas gift.”

Yeah right. The Apricot Wonder’s “tax reform” isn’t going to be any “Christmas gift” for anyone except businesses or the wealthy (cached) — because, pity the poor little things, they’re just soooo beaten down and persecuted, you see.

If I haven’t been clear enough on this, allow me to repeat what I’ve said almost since this blog began: There is no effort to outlaw Christmas, anywhere in the United States. It is not happening, anywhere in the country. Yes, it had been outlawed in some colonies before the country’s independence, by dour Puritans (cached), but they’ve been gone for centuries. Ironically, perhaps, the modern Religious Right movement has a lot in common with the fiercely religionistic Puritans. One wonders why they’re so militant about celebrating a holiday which is not mentioned in their holy scripture, and which hadn’t even been celebrated by Christians in their religion’s first couple centuries. Hmm.

In addition to being clear that there is, in fact, no “war on Christmas” in the US, and it’s been legal to say “Merry Christmas” throughout the country’s history, I’d also like to add that American Christians tend to believe a lot of things about Christmas which, in the end, also are not true at all. For some reason, they seem to like to use Christmas as a kind of bludgeon, and when the reality of this holiday doesn’t suit their needs, they just go and make up shit about it.

Oh, and the GiC’s lie about “Merry Christmas” having been outlawed, places him squarely in my “lying liars for Jesus” club. He’ll enjoy that, I’m sure, since lying is perhaps the one thing he’s best at, and he’s proud of it (cached).

Photo credit: Jared, via Flickr.

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Lucifer, the fallen angel / By Gustave Doré (for Paradise Lost) [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsDespite their religiosity — or perhaps, because of it! — American Christianists oppose religious freedom. Oh sure, they stomp around trumpeting how great religious freedom is, and even whine about how they don’t have any (although that’s a fucking lie). The truth is, they have all the religious freedom they want … and the religious freedom they most want, is the “freedom” to impose their religion on everyone and to harass those who insolently defy their dour metaphysics.

Toward that end, they’ve proclaimed limits on others’ religious freedoms. For instance, many Neocrusaders insist Muslims don’t have any religious freedom, on the grounds that Islam isn’t really a religion, it’s a political philosophy instead. That political philosophies, in addition to religions, are also protected by the First Amendment, is something they appear not to understand. They also say this as though their own religion isn’t, itself, political movement, even though it most certainly is.

No, the mantra they love to spew is that the US was founded by Christians, therefore, only Christians have “religious freedom” — even though, quite obviously, the First Amendment doesn’t say a word about Christianity or any other religion specifically.

The latest Christofascist to reel off this lie, as Right Wing Watch reports, is Rick Wiles (Archive.Is cached article):

End Times radio host Rick Wiles appeared on a program hosted by Greg Hunter of USAWatchdog.com over the weekend, where Wiles declared that people have no right to worship Satan in America and warned that doing so will bring destruction on this nation.

Wiles said that our society “has been sterilized of God” and “Satan is now coming in to fill the vacuum” and is outraged by reports [cached] that city officials in Boca Raton, Florida, are allowing a satanic display to be erected in a city park during the holiday season.…

“What is happening to this country?” Wiles asked. “We’ve lost our mind. And the city council and the mayor say, ‘Well, these satanists have their rights too.’ No, they don’t. They don’t have any rights. You don’t have the right to worship Lucifer. I’m sorry, but this country was founded by Christians, you don’t have the right to worship Lucifer in this country. You’re going to bring damnation and judgment on the nation.”

Note, Wiles’s complaint is pretty much the same as had been hurled a couple years ago by a bunch of militant Christianists in Texas protesting a “Satanist church” there. What none of them understands are two things: First, Satanists have the same “religious freedom” rights as anyone else; and second, they don’t actually worship Satan … they’re just protesting militant Christofascism with an ironic counter-argument of their own. In other words, these Christofascists just aren’t getting the message. It went right over their sniveling, infantile heads.

Wikimedia Commons.

I’ll end this post with a little dig at all the Christofascists out there: Hail Satan!

Hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

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Michelangelo, Creation of Adam 04I find myself constantly amazed at the asinine bullshit that religionists throw around, in their continual effort to justify their irrational, illogical, and absurd beliefs. The Las Vegas concert massacre a week ago has produced yet more of it, but to be honest, none of this idiotic tripe is new. In fact, I addressed it five years ago after the Aurora, CO massacre — and it wasn’t new, even back then.

The bullshit I’m referring to is the desperate attempts by followers of Abrahamic religions to continue believing in a creator-deity who’s simultaneously omnipotent (i.e. having the power to do anything at all), omniscient (i.e. having knowledge of all that can ever be known), infinite (i.e. having a presence everywhere possible), eternal (i.e. unchanging, having all of these qualities throughout time), and benevolent (i.e. desiring that there be no evil or suffering).

The reality of it is, given the universe humanity has found itself in, it is logically impossible for such a creator-deity to exist. That’s Im. Poss. Ubb. Bull. It simply cannot be so. It just cannot.

That harsh reality didn’t stop the Religion News Service from publishing yet another round of laughable absurdity intended to “make sense” of this (Archive.Is cached article). This insipid crap inspired me to take my earlier blog post on this subject and render it into a static page on my blog. The bottom line, as I explain there and in an older article on my Early Christian History Web site, is that — logically — the Abrahamic deity can only be malevolent in nature. No other option is viable. I’m sure it will pain many of his/her/its followers to be told that … but too bad, so sad for them, that’s just how it is! Wanting it not to be so, and devising all manner of irrational theodicies that say otherwise, cannot and will never magically change that reality … no matter how fervently anyone wishes otherwise. It’s no more viable than insisting that the sky isn’t blue or water isn’t wet.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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UntitledIt never fails. The phenomenon I call massacre theology always follows any given mass shooting in the US. There’s always some outraged, wingnutty Christianist (or two, or three, or several) who announces that his/her deity either caused the massacre — or permitted it to happen — due to said deity’s outrage about something that’s going on. (Conveniently for the Christianist, his/her deity always just happens to be outraged about something the Christianist him/herself also is outraged about. Hmm.)

Most of my readers will have heard, by now, about the shooting in Las Vegas this past Sunday night (Archive.Is cached article). Well, some of the bodies were still warm, when (according to Right Wing Watch) the militant Christianist Marion “Pat” Robertson announced to the world what caused it (cached):

On “The 700 Club” today, televangelist Pat Robertson linked last night’s mass shooting in Las Vegas to a disrespect for President Trump, the national anthem and God.

“Violence in the streets, ladies and gentlemen. Why is it happening?” he asked. “The fact that we have disrespect for authority; there is profound disrespect for our president, all across this nation they say terrible things about him. It’s in the news, it’s in other places. There is disrespect now for our national anthem, disrespect for our veterans, disrespect for the institutions of our government, disrespect for the court system. All the way up and down the line, disrespect.”

“Until there is biblical authority,” Robertson continued, “there has to be some controlling authority in our society and there is none. And when there is no vision of God, the people run amok … and we have taken from the American people the vision of God, the whole idea of reward and punishment, an ultimate judge of all our actions, we’ve taken that away. When there is no vision of God, the people run amok.”

Yes, Patty. Obviously the entire country is “run amok.” Every city and town is mired in rioting. No American can walk out of his/her door without being shot by crazed gunmen or stabbed by armed lunatics. And it’s all because of “disrespect” for the government, courts, and your deity.

Yes, obviously, Patty. We can all see the mayhem, destruction, and death with our own eyes. It’s all around us. Each American has mere minutes left to live.

And the only solution, Patty, is for Americans to submit to “biblical authority” — as you, personally, happen to define it. Am I right?

Here’s video of his viciously religionistic comments:

I love how Patty misrepresents what happened in Vegas and makes it seem common, even universal, rather than abhorrent and unique. Second, I love how he links respect for government as well as for his deity, along with this supposed need for “biblical authority.” He certainly wasn’t singing that kind of tune back when Barack Obama was president. That linkage only came about when his Groper-in-Chief was elected. Before that, as Patty saw it, it was sacred to oppose government rather than comply with it unthinkingly.

As for the need to submit to “biblical authority,” I invite Patty to start enforcing that on Americans — and to begin with me! That’s right, I challenge Patty (and any other Christianist who thinks as he does) to track me down and force me to comply with “biblical authority.” Go ahead. Do whatever you think you need to, in order to make it happen. Lock and load! I dare you. Get off your ass and do it already!

Or, just admit you haven’t the guts for anything like that, and thus reveal yourself to be the whiney, sniveling chicken hawks you actually are. You Christofascists happily shoot off your mouths about how necessary it is for every American to make unthinking obeisance to your deity, and even to demand government force them to do so, on your behalf … but you won’t enforce that demand, yourselves, in person. Fucking cowards.

Photo credit: Daniel Oines, via Flickr.

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