Archive for the “Religion” Category

Posts concerned specifically with religion

89 - Cry Baby!The nation’s Christianists have been whining and fuming for the last 5 years about Barack Obama’s election as president. They’ve made numerous accusations about him … such as that he’s a Kenyan citizen and not American, he’s a Marxist, a “secret Muslim,” a minion of the Muslim Brotherhood, and that he’s the Antichrist.

Although some Religious Right figures are willing to make statements of this sort openly, a lot have been more circumspect about it. They prefer to wink in the direction of such ideas rather than espouse them explicitly. It’s a kind of triangulation that maintains their appeal among angry, militant Rightists who genuinely believe in one of those insane Obama hypotheses, without appearing nutty, themselves, to the rest of us.

One Religious Rightist who recently decided to engage in this sort of triangulation, as the Religion News Service reports, is famed Texas megapastor Robert Jeffress (WebCite cached article):

Already no stranger to controversy, the Rev. Robert Jeffress, a Dallas megachurch pastor, is coming out with a book that claims President Barack Obama is clearing the way for the Antichrist.

Jeffress, head of the 11,000-member First Baptist Church of Dallas, writes in his book “Perfect Ending” that he does not believe Obama is the Antichrist, yet he links Obama’s support of gay marriage to the coming of the Antichrist. Many Christians believe Jesus’ Second Coming will feature a confrontation with an enemy called the Antichrist, based on interpretation of passages 1 John and 2 John.…

“While I am not suggesting that President Obama is the Antichrist, the fact that he was able to propose such a sweeping change in God’s law and still win reelection by a comfortable margin illustrates how a future world leader will be able to oppose God’s laws without any repercussions.”…

Jeffress wasn’t claiming that Obama is the Antichrist, and said he was not questioning the president’s faith. “But what I am saying is this: the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist.”

Jeffress’s crybaby gripes center around the two current bogeymen of the R.R.: gay marriage and the contraception mandate. While it’s true he explicitly said he doesn’t think Obama is the Antichrist, that he connected Obama with this terrifying figure out of Christian legend can only be a potential appeal to other hateful Christianists who view the president as being in league with Satan.

The RNS article mentions the word “antichrist” was coined by the author of the Johannine epistles (specifically, it’s found in 1 Jn 2:18, 22; 1 Jn 4:3; and 2 Jn 1:7). But it’s not clear it refers to a single person or spirit. 1 Jn 2:18 reads:

Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.

Clearly the Johannine author is saying there are many “antichrists”; but all the other mentions of “antichrist” are in the singular, and appear to refer only to a singular being. So which is it? Your guess is as good as mine. Although most fundamentalist Christians view “the Antichrist” as some future person, and connect him/her with “the Beast” of Revelation, the Bible itself makes no such connection, and 1 Jn 2:18 certainly contradicts that (since it mentions more than one Antichrist, contemporaneous with its author to boot).

The RNS story also mentions another stupid thing Jeffress said:

In his book, Jeffress makes his case that Christians should study prophecy more closely. “Evangelist Billy Graham once observed that ‘the most neglected teaching in the church today is the second coming of Jesus Christ,’” he said.

This is idiotic on two counts: First, because all Biblical prophecy — every last stinking bit of it — is pure, unfiltered, 100% grade-A bullshit. Simple as that. Second, that Biblical prophecy is somehow “neglected” is a flat-out lie. For the last few decades there’s been endless “End Times” talk streaming out of Christian fundamentalism. The success of the Left Behind publishing empire all by itself thoroughly disproves Jeffress’s (and by extension, Graham’s) contention that Christian prophecy is being ignored.

Photo credit: eyeliam, via Flickr.

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Crying newborn, via Wikimedia CommonsI already blogged about one sanctimoniosly-enraged religiofascist going on a hunger strike over gay marriage in Utah. But there’s a lot more going on in that mostly-Mormon state. As KSTU-TV in Salt Lake City reports, there was a rally for a revolt against that state’s government (WebCite cached article):

Billed as a call for an uprising, opponents of same-sex marriage gathered for a meeting in Highland on Saturday.

Former Graham County, Ariz., Sheriff Richard Mack spoke about issues concerning the U.S. Constitution, including same-sex marriage.

Mack says that since it appears that Herbert and other elected leaders have failed at their jobs, it’s up to law enforcement and everyday citizens to deny same-sex marriage.

“The people of Utah have rights, too, not just the homosexuals. The homosexuals are shoving their agenda down our throats,” Mack said.

Cherilyn Eager, who helped organize the event, says that it’s time for the citizens of Utah to speak up for their rights.

“We need people to stand up and speak out. We need to get noisy. We need some outrage,” Eager said. ”It is about the sheriffs now coming out to protect the people.”

Here’s the station’s video report:

In the course of supporting his call for revolution, Mack claimed that federal law doesn’t supersede state law … which is absolutely not true. There’s this little thing in the Constitution (Article VI, section 2 to be exact) known as the supremacy clause, which explicitly states this. So Mack is lying when he, ironically, says federal supremacy is a lie. That, in turn, makes him a lying liar for Jesus.

These people have a lot of trouble with the concept of granting others (for instance, gays) certain freedoms (for instance, the ability to marry). They appear to think this somehow affects them. But it doesn’t! Allowing gays to marry doesn’t prevent heterosexual couples from marrying and it doesn’t force people into gay marriages against their will. If a couple of gays somewhere get married, it doesn’t affect them in any way. They really need to grow up and get over themselves already, and move on with their lives … which are not changed in the slightest by Kitchen v. Herbert.

What’s more, calling for a revolt against the governor and state government which is doing its best to appeal the ruling, makes no sense to me. But then, what could this cynical, godless agnostic heathen possibly know about anything this important?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Bundesarchiv Bild 102-04062A, Nürnberg, Reichsparteitag, SA- und SS-AppellThe sad reality of life is that things happen to people. Sometimes, very bad things. Terrible things. Things like injuries or medical reactions that lead to incapacitation or even death. An example of this is the case of Jahi McMath, a 13-year-old who ended up brain-dead as a result of something that happened during a tonsillectomy (WebCite cached article).

The details of this case — especially regarding what, exactly, went wrong during the tonsillectomy — aren’t all in yet. But doctors who’ve examined her — including independent neurologists — have declared her brain-dead … meaning she is, unfortunately, gone. As one would expect, her family isn’t going along with this, and they’re in denial. They don’t want to admit Jahi is dead, although in fact, she is.

As they did with the Terri Schiavo case nearly a decade ago, the Religious Right is going to bat for her family, propping up their state of denial, and going hard after the medical industry. They’ve re-armed themselves with every rhetorical tool they used back then. Among these is the old reductio ad Hitlerum, which the Raw Story reports was wielded by none other than Fox News’s Mike Huckabee (cached):

Fox News host Mike Huckabee on Saturday warned that a California girl who was declared brain dead after tonsil surgery last month could lead to situations like Nazi death camps and forced abortions in China if the hospital took her off life support.

The former Arkansas governor and ordained pastor began his Fox News show by admitting that he did not have the medical experience necessary to understand 13-year-old Jahi McMath’s condition but he encouraged her family to fight against any attempts to remove her from life support even though doctors said she technically “died several weeks ago.”

“Every life has value and worth,” Huckabee told his viewers on Saturday. “There is no such person who is disposable, one whose life has been deemed by others to be less than others and therefore expendable, I can’t share that.”

In his effort to paint the Children’s Hospital of Oakland as latter-day agents of the Third Reich, he pulled in another of the R.R.’s hang-ups, that being abortion:

He continued: “The road that starts that way in deciding that some lives have less value and are unworthy of protection, that leads to a culture that tolerates the undeserved killing of over 55 million unborn children in this country. It leads to China’s birth policy that limits the number of children for a family and enforces forced abortion if they deviate from the state-determined ideal.”

The McMath family is trying to get Jahi moved to another facility so they can keep her alive — a virtual zombie — desperately hoping for some sort of miracle that will resurrect her. Until she’s moved, the poor girl’s body is currently in the care of Children’s Hospital. I can’t see how Huckabee calling them Nazis is going to accomplish anything good … for her, or them. But hey, what can this cynical, cold-hearted, godless agnostic heathen possibly know about such important things?

If the R.R. really wanted to help the McMath family in any meaningful way, they’d pay for sound counseling to help them with their grief, so they can put Jahi to rest, and then live the rest of their lives. And possibly investigate what happened during the surgery, so that if there had been any malpractice, they can be compensated for it. But the R.R. doesn’t truly want to help the McMaths. They’d much rather use this tragedy to pitch fits about how the country isn’t being run the way they demand it be run. They’d rather devise ways to throw this case in the faces of their enemies, without regard to its relevance, so they can feel as though they’re getting control of the country back. They’d rather use it as fuel for their sanctimonious rage over the fact that they no longer run the show.

It’s all very childish, of course, but then, religionism itself is a form of immaturity, so what can one expect?

P.S. Contrary to what Huckabee said, declaring people brain-dead has nothing to do with deciding that someone is “disposable.” Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals don’t generally go into that business because they think some people are “disposable.” Brain-death is declared when someone’s condition warrants it … not because of any perceived “disposability.” By making this claim, Huckabee insulted the entire medical profession … and he should fucking apologize for it.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Waaah!Note: There’s been an update to this story; see below.

The matter of gay marriage continues to drive the nation’s Christianists insane. State after state is adopting it … either due to court decisions or legislative action. Over the last couple of months alone, it’s become law in three states: Hawai’i, Illinois, and New Mexico.

To make things worse for gay-hating Christianists, in the very-conservative state of Utah, gay marriage is currently legal there (WebCite cached article), pending that state’s appeal of a federal judge’s decision in Kitchen v. Herbert. As one would expect, they’re not taking this news too well. As KTVX-TV in Salt Lake City reports, one of them thinks he’s found the solution to this vexing problem (cached):

A Utah man is vowing to go without any food until the state stops allowing same sex marriages. He claims if Utah wants to protect traditional marriage, it has an option it’s not using, and he’s fasting until it does it.

When same sex marriage became legal in Utah, people immediately reacted. Couples stormed county clerk buildings. State attorneys tried to stop it, and Trestin Meacham started fasting.

“I’m very disappointed,” said Trestin Meacham, fasting to stop Utah same sex marriages.

For the past 12 days Meacham hasn’t eaten anything. He’s surviving solely on water and an occasional vitamin.…

Meacham tells Reporter Brian Carlson he’s fasting to convince Utah to exercise the option of “nullification.” It’s posted on Meacham’s blog. According to his interpretation of states’ rights, Utah can nullify the recent federal court ruling by simply choosing not to follow it.

Here’s the station’s video report on Meacham’s tantrum over gay marriage:

His “nullification” is an interesting little nugget of pseudolaw that has no basis in reality. Every time it’s been attempted … for instance by a number of Southern states in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) … it failed to gain any traction or accomplish anything. Meacham is delusional if he thinks his proposal is going to work.

In any event, he claims to want to “protect traditional marriage,” however, there’s just one tiny little problem with that: Permitting gay marriage doesn’t cause it any harm! Allowing gays to marry, cannot and will never by itself prevent heterosexual couples from marrying, if they wish to. Allowing gays to marry, cannot and will never by itself force heterosexual people to enter into gay marriages against their will. Allowing gays to marry, cannot and will never by itself alter the lives of heterosexuals — in any fucking way!

Let me make this as clear as I can make it: Permitting gays to get married causes no one else any harm. It just doesn’t.

I dare Mr Meacham to show me how a gay couple getting married someplace, changes his life at all. I further dare any militant Christianist to demonstrate the harm that’s caused to him/her by gay couples getting married. I eagerly await evidence of any kind of identifiable, tangible damage that’s caused to anyone else by a gay couple getting married.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Update: The U.S. Supreme Court put gay marriage on hold in Utah pending the state’s appeal of Judge Shelby’s decision (cached). No doubt Mr Meacham will declare his hunger strike “worked,” and credit his deity (and by implication, himself) for this; but really, neither of those had anything to do with it. The stay on gay marriage is a product of how federal litigation works, and was issued by the Court, not by anyone or anything else. And the issue hasn’t been resolved in his favor … just tabled while the machinery of the courts grinds away in its usual slow manner.

Hat tip: Rational Wiki.

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PsiCop graphic / “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men  to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward  with your Father who is in heaven.” ~Mt 6:1, NASBThe mayor of the Dallas-Ft Worth suburb of Flower Mound, TX has declared 2014 to be “the Year of the Bible.” As KXAS-TV in Ft Worth reports, this is problematic (WebCite cached article):

The mayor of Flower Mound is receiving a lot of attention after declaring 2014 the “Year of the Bible.”

Flower Mound Mayor Tom Hayden made the proclamation during a regularly scheduled city council meeting in the Dallas-area suburb last month.

“I ask that you join with me, Tom Hayden, Mayor of the Town of Flower Mound, Texas, in Proclaiming 2014 to be the ‘Year of the Bible’ in Flower Mound, Texas, and encourage all residents in their own way to examine the principles and teachings found in the Bible,” Hayden said during the Dec. 16 meeting.

Here’s the station’s video report:

It appears Flower Mound isn’t exactly some backwater town in the wilds of Texas where everyone is a card-carrying, Bible-thumping member of some Protestant evangelical church. As the story explains, it’s much more cosmopolitan (in terms of religion) than that:

There are dozens of churches in Flower Mound, which has a population of more than 66,000 people. The majority of the churches are Christian-based, but at least five of the organized religions with places of worship in Flower Mound are not. There is an Islamic mosque, a Hindu temple, a Baha’i temple, a Zoroastrian church and a Jewish synagogue.

Well done, Yeronner, you’ve successfully alienated a bunch of your constitutents. Well done! You must be so proud!

Like any shifty Christofascist who’s been caught saying or doing something for Jesus that he shouldn’t have done, Hayden is veering all over the place trying to avoid responsibility for what he did and downplaying its SOCAS implications:

Hayden added that he is disappointed that the focus for some concerning the “Year of the Bible” proclamation has been on him and not, as he intended, on the teachings in the Bible.…

Hayden reiterated to NBC 5 Monday this proclamation was not an order on behalf of the municipal government, but was instead an action taken specifically and solely by him.

That last part is a lie, of course. I will repeat what he said when he made his proclamation (emphasis added):

“I ask that you join with me, Tom Hayden, Mayor of the Town of Flower Mound, Texas, in Proclaiming 2014 to be the ‘Year of the Bible’ in Flower Mound, Texas, and encourage all residents in their own way to examine the principles and teachings found in the Bible,” Hayden said during the Dec. 16 meeting.

That’s right: He explicitly and overtly made this proclamation as Mayor of his town! Also — if you look at the video above, you’ll see Hayden made his proclamation with the Flower Mount, TX emblem as a backdrop. So when he told the reporter he did this as a private citizen and not as Mayor, he was lying. This little bit of disingenuity places Mayor Hayden squarely in my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

Of course, Hizzonner also is disobeying his own Jesus. You see, merely by standing up and trumpeting his own reverence for the Bible, he’s engaging in the practice of “public piety,” which the founder of his own religion clearly and unambiguously forbid him ever to do:

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Mt 6:1-6)

It’s quite obvious to me that a lot of Christians like Hizzonner have a great deal of trouble with this particular passage. They ignore it because, let’s face it, what good is it to be an upright, dutiful Christian, if one doesn’t go around impressing others with how uprightly and dutifully Christian one is? So what if Jesus forbid that?

Photo credit: PsiCop graphic, based on Mt 6:1, NASB.

Hat tip: Hypervocal.

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Help! Help! I'm being repressed! (Dennis the constitutional peasant, Monty Python & the Holy Grail)Now that the uproar over Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson’s interview in GQ (WebCite cached article) has died down and he’s been un-suspended by the A&E network (cached), I find that the whole thing has been illuminating and instructive. Christians have taught me quite a bit about their religion, over the course of this controversy. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned:

  1. A Christian can say anything s/he wants, and no one is permitted to be offended by it. To not like anything they say is to deprive them of their First Amendment rights … or something. One must always be happy with everything they say or do. Each time, every time, and in every case. Failing to praise their every utterance and deed is “persecution” that they cannot, and will not, tolerate.
  2. Christians have a special license to be hypocrites. For instance, they can bluster and fume over the insolence of “sinful” gays by citing scripture, after having amassed a vast fortune, in direct contravention of that same scripture. Really, it’s OK for them … in spite of the fact that the founder of their faith told them they couldn’t be hypocritical.
  3. While Christians normally object to anything that’s even remotely suggestive or risqué, they have, themselves, no reservations about being potty-mouths. For instance, they can talk about vaginas and anuses all they wish — but no one else can. In fact, being a potty-mouth for Jesus is a holy endeavor that no Christian apologizes for (cached). (Yep, that would be more of the aforementioned hypocrisy.)
  4. While Christians cannot and will never tolerate one of their own being disciplined of fired for being outspoken about his/her beliefs, they have no reservations at all about disciplining or firing non-believers for expressing what they think (cached). Wait, is that more of the hypocrisy that their own Jesus forbid them to engage in? You betcha! It sure was!
  5. Christians view things as being good or bad based solely on their own subjective criteria. For instance, white Christians can declare racial segregation and Jim Crow laws in the South to have been just fine, because they, themselves, didn’t happen to see any harm in them. And after all, the blacks were happier, back then. Weren’t they? (I mean that sarcastically, of course. Even if white southern Christians don’t.)
  6. Whenever one Christian is persecuted, others leap to his/her defense — automatically. In some cases, by the tens of millions. It doesn’t matter what the Christian actually said or did. All they know is a Christian somewhere got “dissed,” that this is utterly impermissible, and they’re pissed. They also don’t care how much trouble they cause (cached) … it’s all for Jesus, you see, and that makes it OK.
  7. Contracts mean little to Christians, where their religiosity is concerned. A Christian might agree to watch his/her mouth (cached), and maybe even sign a “morals clause” that permits discipline or firing for bad behavior … but s/he is free to break such agreements — without penalty! — so long as s/he does it for Jesus.
  8. Whatever tens of millions of Christians want, they get! Facts are irrelevant. Right and wrong don’t matter. Even massive corporations knuckle under to their bullying. If there are any Christians who’re disturbed by the sanctimonious fury of their co-religionists, they never speak up. Quite the opposite: They happily let the masses of other Christians carry on in their outrage like spoiled children.
  9. Christians view actual persecution of their faith — which quite unacceptably is happening (cached) in various places around the world (cached) — as inseparable from, and identical to, phantasmal forms of it (such as mere criticism of Christianity or its followers). Christians feel as though they’re “under attack,” therefore they believe they are under attack. Emotion and reality; fact and delusion; the subjective and the objective; rational and irrational; reasonable and fantastic; these are fused and conflated in Christianity and in the minds of its followers. There’s no difference between them … and no Christian will accept anyone telling him/her there is one.

Another way of putting it is, this sad debacle merely reinforced things I already knew about Christians and their religion. It also made clear that, when the nation’s Christofascists get angry enough and react fiercely enough, they get their way. No one stands up to them. The combination of their power over others, their unyielding militancy, and their delusional thinking, makes them extremely dangerous. We should all be worried … very, very worried.

Photo credit: Based on Monty Python & the Holy Grail.

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Fist, by jnatoli, via DeviantartThis is only my second post on “the War on Christmas” during 2013, not because there’s no material to draw on; Christofascists’ campaign to force every American — Christian or otherwise — to celebrate their holiday as they demand it be celebrated continues apace, and media outlets have filed many stories on it. It’s just that, after several years of commenting on it here, I’m selecting only the most remarkable of them to blog about.

The most recent that I came across, qualifies as that. It’s an example of the metaphorical “war on Christmas” resulting in very-real violence. KNXV-TV in Phoenix, AZ reports on this scuffle (WebCite cached article):

Some might call it the December Debate — do you greet people with “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”?

A Valley woman, who’s also a bell ringer for the Salvation Army, says she was assaulted for choosing the wrong one.

Kristina Vindiola says a woman hit her outside the Wal-Mart on 91st Avenue and Thomas Road after she said “Happy Holidays.”

“The lady looked at me,” said Vindiola. “I thought she was going to put money in the kettle. She came up to me and said, ‘Do you believe in God?’ And she says, ‘You’re supposed to say Merry Christmas,’ and that’s when she hit me.”

Here’s their video report:

The story goes on to partially excuse the attacker:

Shoppers we spoke with understand how some people can get offended.

It then quotes several Christians who commented on “Happy Holidays” vs. “Merry Christmas.” Of course, none of them came right out and said explicitly that they approve of someone being punched out over it … but just saying one “understands” the concern, is a mild, tacit approval.

Police aren’t taking action because videotape of the attack, they say, isn’t enough for an arrest. The story doesn’t explain this any better than that.

Photo credit: jnatoli, via Deviantart.

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