Archive for the “Religion” Category

Posts concerned specifically with religion

Hurricane Irma satellite photo / United States Navy / Navy Live / Tag archives: Hurricane IrmaI call it “disaster theology.” That’s when some sanctimoniously-enraged militant religionist declares his/her deity either caused something big and terrible to happen — or more passively, merely sat back and allowed it to happen — because said deity is just as furious about something as the religionist him/herself. (Religionists and their deities, you see, always seem to think in lockstep. Convenient, huh?)

It’s something one sees pretty much every time there’s a disaster of some kind. That disaster can be natural, like an earthquake, or man-made, like a massacre. It pretty much doesn’t matter what it is … religionists will always latch onto any kind of widely-reported awful news and use it as “evidence” that their deity is upset, and won’t tolerate any more of humanity’s insolent shit.

Or something like that.

It was inevitable, then, that the second of two back-to-back hurricanes to hit the US triggered just such an outburst. Right Wing Watch reports that a pair of Christianist twins, David & Jason Benham, declared the arrival of Irma to have been due to the expansion of gay rights (Archive.Is cached article):

Religious Right culture warriors David and Jason Benham published a video Monday in which they claimed “God is speaking” through hurricanes to send a message that America should repent for “breaching the boundaries of God” in regard to gender identity, gay marriage and homosexuality in general.…

The twins’ tie-in to the 9/11 terror attacks appears to mirror the playbook of their father, Flip Benham, the former head of the anti-abortion, anti-gay protest group Operation Save America, who has claimed he warned America that legal abortion would result in the 9/11 attacks and continues to use 9/11 as a warning that legal abortion will result in the further wrath of God.

The Benhams must be using a broken calendar, because it didn’t hit the US on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks; it made landfall early in the morning of the 10th of September, one day prior. Or, maybe September 11th on our calendar is September 10th on the Almighty’s — because, after all, we know his/her/its sense of time runs different than our own. Or something. I mean, who the fuck knows?

By the way, if you don’t know who the Benham twins are, they’re the pair who’d been slated to host a show on HGTV called Flip It Forward (that can’t have anything to do with their father’s name, could it?) … but it was canceled before it aired, due to their hateful, militant Christianist spew (cached). (I approve of that, not because they’re vile religiofsacist pricks, but because “‘reality’ shows” are as fake as hell and suck in the worst way (cached).

At any rate, it seems odd to me that, if the Almighty is upset about something his creations are doing, s/he/it seems powerless to just fucking say it to our faces and in words that make his/her/its wishes clear. As a supposedly omnipotent creator-deity, s/he/it certainly would be capable of doing so … but if the Benhams, and an enormous number of other sanctimonious wingnuts, are to be believed, that’s somehow beyond his/her/its power.

Or something.

I dunno, maybe this is yet another of those things that cold-hearted, cynical, godless agnostic heathens like myself aren’t allowed to understand. Right?

Photo credit: United States Navy / Navy Live blog.

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Chaurasi Devataon-wali Gai, or 'The Cow with 84 deities' by Raja Ravi Varma / Ravi Varma Press (1897, Life: 1848-1906) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsFor the second time in a few days, I came across a story of religious excess in the supposedly-highly-spiritual country of India. For the last couple years, sanctimonious Hindu nationalists have attacked beef-eating Muslims. Among many Hindus, cattle are sacred or divine or something, for some reason. It hasn’t always been this way, of course. In ancient times, Hindus had no objection to butchering and eating cows, however, this changed sometime in the middle of the first millennium CE (Archive.Is cached article). It’s usually attributed to the spread of non-violence in Indian culture, although it’s difficult to really say that India ever became non-violent; and other forms of livestock continued to be butchered and eaten. Only cattle was reserved as divine or sacred or whatever. So that doesn’t exactly fly as an explanation.

At any rate, while Hindus comprise a majority of India, there are religious minorities there, especially Muslims, who do consume cattle. (By contrast, they refuse to eat swine. Go figure.) This has aroused the ire of Hindu extremists, who don’t want anyone consuming cattle. That fervent impulse has led to the rise of “cow protection” rackets, and violence has ensued — especially after the election of Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi in 2014.

Modi’s government has been accused of dragging its feet where Hindu nationalist violence is concerned. As Reuters reports, India’s Supreme Court has directed the government to intervene meaningfully (cached):

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered central and state governments to appoint police officers to stop hardline Hindu activists from attacking people to protect cows….…

Chief Justice Dipak Misra said federal and state governments must take effective steps to contain the cow-protection groups.

“Appoint police officers to stop cow protection groups from taking law into their hands,” Misra said after hearing three public interest litigation cases.

Reuters notes that Modi did speak out against “cow protection” violence in June, but the Court’s directions would suggest that hasn’t been sufficient.

As I’ve noted previously, India is not the pacifist, spiritual paradise many westerners think it is. Quite the opposite, it’s home to more than a little primitive savagery. And religious extremism isn’t limited just to the Abrahamic religions. As we see, it can be — and is — found within the dharmic faiths, as well.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

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Jesus weptBelieving in their supposedly omnipotent, infinite, omniscient, yet benevolent creator-deity has tied followers of the Abrahamic religious tradition in logical knots for centuries. It’s difficult to look out at a world full of needless suffering and wanton evil and decide it was all designed, built, and is currently presided over by an almighty being who also disapproves of evil.

It’s a conundrum that led to any number of theodicies, or rationales intended to reconcile this logical conflict. All of them, however, fail the test of logic — even the vaunted and oft-spoken-of “free will” theodicy. Despite the utter failure of all known theodicies, Abrahamic believers nonetheless doggedly continue trying to justify believing in the illogic of a supposedly benevolent, omnipotent deity whose creation is rife with needless suffering and tons of unnecessary evil.

I just heard about a sterling example of the laughable extremes they’ll go to in order to rationalize this brazenly illogical concept. As Mediaite reports, Houston megapastor Joel Osteen recently came up with something so ridiculous, that it defies description, and is as sadly pathetic as it is hilarious (Archive.Is cached article):

During his televised sermon today, Osteen seemed to reference the storm that devastated huge swaths of Texas and Louisiana. And the way the preacher told it, hurricanes like Harvey are just God’s way of saying you can take a great and life-altering tragedy.

Bringing up a biblical story involving Jesus and his apostles sailing across a lake during a hurricane-like storm, Osteen said that Jesus didn’t wake up during the squall because he knew they could handle it. “If they were all going to die, he would have gotten up without them having to wake him up,” he exclaimed.…

“The reason it may seem like God is not waking up is not because he’s ignoring you, not because he’s uninterested, it’s because he knows you can handle it,” he stated.

Osteen added, “Take it as a compliment.”

The people of Houston, and other places, should “take it as a compliment” that a hurricane flooded their homes and businesses, and even killed some people — the death toll is up to about 60 as I type this (cached)? Seriously!? How the fuck did Osteen even say something that ludicrous with a straight face?

The irony here is that what Osteen said makes perfect sense, given the premises posed by the Abrahamic religious tradition. It follows naturally from the position that there is a creator-deity who’s all-powerful, all-knowing, yet who chooses (for unknown reasons) to allow horrific things to happen to people. It’s an unavoidable conclusion … given all of that. If the idiocy of such a statement doesn’t wake Abrahamic believers up to the obvious absurdity of their beliefs, then I guess nothing will.

P.S. That’s the second time in just a few days that a Texan dealing with Hurricane Harvey has said something so asinine as to force me to tag a post “you’ve gotta be fucking kidding me.” What in hell is wrong with the Lone Star State, anyway (aside from the tragedy of the hurricane)?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Girl praying / StockSnap, via PixabayAll over the world, people want to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey, which flooded Houston and caused lots of damage elsewhere around the Gulf of Mexico. And support is streaming in. But too often — as one would expect of the affected region, given that it’s all part of America’s Bible Belt — solutions keep veering back to religion. I already blogged about how Texas’ secretary of the state turned away help from the province of Quebec, asking for prayers instead. But as Real Clear Politics and other outlets report, our Groper-in-Chief also declared today a day of prayer for Harvey’s victims (Archive.Is cached article):

The president announced Friday that this upcoming Sunday would be a national day of prayer for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

“I just authorized and signed a proclamation for prayer,” the president said. “And we’re going to have, on Sunday, a prayer Sunday… So I think it’s going to be something to see and to witness. Will be — it’s been a long time, and our country deserves it, frankly.”

It’s time for a little truth, here. Prayers aren’t going to do a fucking thing for anyone, because they’re useless. What Harvey’s victims need — and deserve — is meaningful, tangible help. For the most part, that means they don’t need “things”; monetary donations are actually the best way to help (except if you happen to be nearby, and can either deliver needed items directly to agencies you know can take them, or physically help by providing shelter or with cleanup and rebuilding). Here are some options:

There are other options, too, so look around, and avoid obvious scams. Here are a few pages that list bona fide options:

Note that I don’t advocate donating to the American Red Cross; they have a track record of collecting a ton of money, but not spending it where donors intended, or worse, not even being certain where it’s going (cached). That history goes back a very long way, and in spite of scandals that followed from their responses to Superstorm Sandy (cached), the Haiti earthquake (cached), Hurricane Katrina (cached), and even the 9/11 attacks (cached), the Red Cross has refused to change their ways. I’m not the only one saying this about the Red Cross, either (cached).

But even if giving to the Red Cross doesn’t trouble you, please know they’ve already set donation records and have all the money they can use. The charities I’ve listed above aren’t so donation-rich, meaning your donations there will have a much greater effect on their operations.

Photo credit: StockSnap, via Pixabay.

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Auguste Rodin-The Hand of God-Metropolitan Museum of ArtI still haven’t been able to figure why a man who’s been married three times, was a well-known womanizer, and who happily bragged about habitually sexually assaulting women (cached), managed to become the champion of America’s Religious Right … you know, the exact same crowd who tried to run Bill Clinton out of office because he’d had an affair. I mean, assuming they’re sincere about their love for “family values,” one would think they ought to have condemned the Groper-in-Chief instead of electing him.

But I guess it’s too much to ask that they be consistent with their dour moralizing. Maybe their reverence for the Apricot Wonder is another of those things this cold-hearted, cynical, godless agnostic heathen isn’t permitted to understand.

Even so, “reverence” is a good word to describe their feelings for the GiC. Case in point: As AOL News reports, his spiritual adviser, evangelical preacher Paula White, propounded his sanctity (cached):

Paula White, a televangelist and spiritual adviser to Donald Trump, appeared on television Tuesday to defend the president amid recent controversy using an unlikely Biblical comparison.

While speaking on a panel on “The Jim Bakker Show,” White said that Trump’s presidential victory was similar to a story from the Hebrew Bible where a woman named Esther was chosen to be queen, since both parties were unlikely to be selected for their roles.…

On Tuesday, White compared Trump to Queen Esther, saying that he, too, was selected by God to carry out a divine plan.

“They say about our president, ‘Well, he is not presidential.’ Thank goodness. Thank goodness. Thank goodness,” White said. “And I mean that with all due respect. Because, in other words, he is not a polished politician. In other words, he is authentically, whether people like it or not, has been raised up by God.”

So according to White, the Groper-in-Chief is, by definition, “presidential” specifically because he’s not “presidential” at all, and an example of a good Christian specifically because he’s a lousy example of a good Christian.

Or something like that. I think. I mean, that must be another of those impenetrable notions that this cold-hearted, cynical, godless agnostic heathen can never figure out.

Even more than this ridiculous crap, however, White went so far as to equate the Groper with the Almighty himself:

“God says that he raises up and places all people in places of authority,” she continued. “It is God who raises up a king. It is God that sets one down. When you fight against the plan of God, you are fighting against the hand of God.”

She’s saying anyone who opposes the GiC, by definition opposes her deity.

Wow. I mean, just “wow.”

I recall just a few years ago the Religious Right had a very different attitude toward the previous president. Rather than viewing him as an appointed agent of their God, many of them went so far as to pray for their deity to kill him, citing Psalm 109:8. As I said before, consistency isn’t their strongest suit.

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Flag-of-QuebecHurricane Harvey has devastated the coast of Texas, and particularly the city and environs of Houston, which was flooded. People around the country, and the world, have provided all kinds of assistance. One would think the government of Texas welcomes such aid from anyone willing to provide it.

But, incredibly, they don’t.

As CBC News reports, Texas refused aid from the province of Quebec, and wants only their prayers instead (Archive.Is cached article):

Quebec is offering to help Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and is at the ready for when officials there say they need it, says Minister of International Relations Christine St-Pierre.

St-Pierre says she spoke with Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos Tuesday early afternoon, offering to send equipment and crews to help restore power and to provide blankets, beds, pillows and hygienic products.…

Pablos declined the aid for now, instead asking for “prayers from the people of Quebec,” the minister said. “He was very touched by the fact we called him.”

Now, I get that Texans are proud, viewing themselves as independent and resilient … but in the face of a disaster like this, help is help, and (I would think) they wouldn’t turn their noses up at it. When we in New England and the northeast were assailed by Hurricane Irene, the Snowtoberocapalypse, and Superstorm Sandy, utility crews from Hydro-Québec helped us rebuild … and we appreciated it. Pablos should have swallowed his Texan pride, said, “Thanks, send what you can!” and left it at that.

But no. Instead of tangible assistance, he wants prayers instead. Yes, prayers … that won’t accomplish a single fucking thing. I’m going to have to tag this one you’ve gotta be fucking kidding me.

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Harvey Geostationary VIS-IR 2017You’ve got to hand it to Christianists. They sure as hell are consistent. They can always be counted on to use natural disasters to propound their dour metaphysics and bludgeon everyone else with them. Once Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast, you just knew they’d declare that Harvey was God’s retribution for some outrage. Right Wing Watch reports on three such incidents so far.

The first militant Christianist on this list, is activist “Coach” Dave Daubenmire (Archive.Is cached article):

While Religious Right leaders have been oddly reticent about declaring that Hurricane Harvey is God’s judgment for America’s sin, far-right activist Dave Daubenmire is not shy about proclaiming just that, asserting on his “Pass The Salt Live” webcast yesterday that the storm is divine punishment on Houston for abortion and for recently having a lesbian mayor.

“Houston, we got a problem here,” Daubenmire said. “Could some of the problems be the result of the judgment of God coming your way because of the slaughter of unborn children? You had a lesbian mayor who wanted to look at the prayers of pastors in their churches. It’s debaucherous.”

Militant Christianist broadcaster Rick Wiles soon concurred with “the Coach” (cached):

End Times radio host Rick Wiles used his “TruNews” broadcast yesterday to declare that the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey is God’s punishment for Houston’s “affinity for the sexual perversion movement.”

“This is a proud city that, in recent years, has boasted of its allegiance, its dedication, its devotion to the homosexual/lesbian agenda,” he said.

Wiles asserted that Houston is under God’s judgment because it formerly had a mayor who is a lesbian, currently has “a pro-homosexual mayor,” has persecuted Christian pastors in the city and is among “the top-tier, most gay-friendly cities in America.”

And they were followed by yet another Christianist pastor (cached):

Extremist anti-LGBTQ pastor Kevin Swanson is joining other radical Religious Right activists in declaring that Hurricane Harvey is God’s judgment on Houston and other cities that refuse to repent for their embrace of “sexual perversion.”

“Jesus sends the message home, unless Americans repent, unless Houston repents, unless New Orleans repents, they will all likewise perish,” Swanson said on his radio program today. “That is the message that the Lord Jesus Christ is sending home right now to America.”

Yes, these three are true spokesmen for “the Religion of Love,” are they not? I can’t think of more stellar examples of what Christianism stands for. Can you?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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