Archive for the “Religion” Category

Posts concerned specifically with religion

Christianity / License to Sin / 'You can't judge me, you're a sinner too!' / PsiCop original graphicI just added a static page about the Christian slogan, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” It’s a way that many Christians grant themselves license to do anything they want without having to suffer any repercussions over it. I recall having seen and heard it quite a bit back when I was a fundamentalist Christian (and yes — full disclosure — I probably said it a time or two, myself).

Now, a lot of my Christian readers out there (yes, even this cynical, cold-hearted godless agnostic heathen blogger has some!) may deny this is a Christian slogan, or that it’s commonly used. But it’s both. And Christians like it. They like it so much, they put in on bumper stickers, t-shirts, hats, etc. For those who need proof of how common it is, here you go:

Google Image search: 'christians aren't perfect just forgiven' / Screen shot (9/13/2015)

This is something American Christianity is going to have to address, whether it wants to or not, because the reasoning exposed by this slogan underlies a lot of what Christians say and do. It’s very common for Christians faced with wrongdoing to use this sort of thinking to justify having done it and to rationalize not doing anything about it, even after their wrongdoing was revealed. It’s a license for maliciousness, and it needs to fucking stop. Check out that page to find out more about why it’s a problem going back almost to Christianity’s origins.

Photo credit: Top, PsiCop original graphic; center, Google Image search screen shot.

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White FlagOne of the Religious Right’s main tactics is a very simple and direct one: Intimidation. They relentlessly bully their opposition at every turn. They never let up, not for any reason, until they get their way. Unfortunately, this is a tactic that works, all too often, because those opposing them typically lose their nerve at some point and drop the fight. This is precisely what just happened in the case of Rowan county KY clerk Kim Davis; as the New York Times reports, she was released from jail today (WebCite cached article):

Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed last week after she defied a court’s order that she issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was ordered released on Tuesday.…

[Federal district] Judge [David L.] Bunning ordered that Ms. Davis “shall not interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.” He said any such action would be regarded as “a violation” of his release order.

That this would happen was virtually a given, once the R.R. — captained by the likes of Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Mat Staver, “Flip” Benham, and an assortment of other militant Christianist characters — had made the whole affair into a fucking circus (cached and cached). It was inevitable that Judge Bunning would bend over for this Christofascist mob. Yes, he ordered her not to interfere with the distribution of marriage licenses, but she doesn’t intend to obey him; her lawyer has said she plans to stop the granting of licenses (cached). And that, you may remember, has been her goal all along. Once she does so, she’ll have scored a victory. And on top of it all, she’ll have made herself a martyr, and will be able to milk that as a career, no matter how her tenure as a county clerk turns out.

At some point, people need to figure out how to “gird up their loins” (to use a Biblical phrase) and stand up to the R.R. consistently, without caving in all the time. Unfortunately, cowardice is far too deeply ingrained in human nature to allow that to happen. More’s the pity.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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General Audience with Pope FrancisA month ago, Pope Francis told his Church to be more welcoming toward divorced-&-remarried Catholics. The Church’s doctrines are an incentive to bar them; Catholics who remarry without having first getting an official annulment aren’t allowed to receive Communion, among other things. Annulments can be difficult to get, though, to the point where some divorced Catholics don’t even bother trying to get them.

Pope Francis is taking steps to change this. As the AP reports via ABC News, he’s making changes so that annulments are much easier to get (WebCite cached article):

Pope Francis radically reformed the Catholic Church’s process for annulling marriages Tuesday, allowing for fast-track decisions and removing automatic appeals in a bid to speed up and simplify the procedure.

Francis issued a new law regulating how bishops around the world determine when a fundamental flaw has made a marriage invalid. Catholics must get this church annulment if they want to remarry in the church.

But the process has long been criticized for being complicated, costly and out of reach for many Catholics, especially in poor countries where dioceses don’t have marriage tribunals.

In the document, Francis insisted that marriage remains an indissoluble union and that the new regulations aren’t meant to help to end them. Rather, he said, the reform is aimed at speeding up and simplifying the process so that the faithful can find justice.

The overall aim of the reform, he said, “is the salvation of souls.”

The upshot of the changes are that uncontested annulments can be “fast tracked” and handled entirely by the local diocese, without “automatic appeals” being invoked unnecessarily. It seems an obvious move for Francis to make, in order to keep divorced Catholics in the fold.

On this issue, I must admit being impressed. As I noted a month ago, the Church’s treatment of divorced-&-remarried Catholics has, historically, amounted to slamming the door in their faces. Its policies have effectively driven people right out of the Church. Telling the Church to be more welcoming of such folks — which the Pope did a month ago — is one thing, but actually greasing the ecclesiastical skids to make it easier to do, could make a material difference.

Of course, these changes can’t alter the attitudes of conservative Catholics, many of whom comprise the Church’s hierarchy. It’s possible they could still throw impediments in the path of divorced Catholics, and it certainly won’t immediately reduce their prejudices against them. Still, this is a tangible change that could have a positive effect.

Photo credit: Catholic Church England & Wales, via Flickr.

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Refugee children from Syria at a clinic in Ramtha, northern Jordan (9613477263)Europe is in the throes of a migrant crisis — due to refugees fleeing the intractable morass of Syria’s long civil war — which doesn’t show any signs of letting up. I blogged a couple weeks ago about Slovakia refusing to accept any migrants who aren’t Christian (and updated that post today to note Hungary’s position is the same). But leave it to Pope Francis to lead in the opposite direction. As the New York Times reports, he instructed all the Catholics of Europe to take in the migrants (WebCite cached article):

Pope Francis on Sunday called on every parish, religious community, monastery and sanctuary in Europe to shelter refugees fleeing “death from war and hunger,” adding that the Vatican’s two parishes would lead the way by taking in two families.

In a speech to thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square, the pope said it was not enough to say “have courage, hang in there” to those marching toward what he described as “life’s hope.”

Note that the Pope didn’t just give a blanket instruction to Catholics to embrace the migrants; he said that “every parish, religious community, monastery and sanctuary” should do so. That’s remarkably specific … and remarkably clear. The various arms of the Catholic Church collectively have a tremendous presence in Europe and, I’m sure, could do a lot to assist the migrants. This is a great opportunity for it to put those resources to good use.

Slovakia — as I noted previously — is a majority-Catholic country. I wonder what they’ll make of their own Pope’s orders? Will they follow them? I have no idea.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Baby boy crying sad mad / Alice Keeler, via FlickrChristofascists are nothing if not consistent, as well as fiercely tenacious. When they get into a conflict over something, they don’t let go — ever. They just dig their heels in harder and jam their spikes into new turf, even as they’re being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Nothing that happens fazes them; they never relent for any reason.

A case in point is Mat Staver, who runs the Christianist legal outfit known as Liberty Counsel and attorney for Kim Davis, the Rowan county KY clerk who’s now in jail because she defied court orders to issue marriage licenses. This morning, without her present to prevent it, her assistants issued a license to a gay couple. I wondered then if Staver would say or do something about this. He’d previously said no one in her office had permission to issue them. Well, as the Washington Post reports — and true to the consistency inherent in his Christofascism — he ended up wading into the subject (WebCite cached article):

An attorney for jailed Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis said that the marriage licenses issued Friday to a series of same-sex couples here are not valid.

“They are not worth the paper they’re written on,” Mat Staver said outside the Carter County Detention Center, where Davis is being held on a contempt charge.

“Our position and the position of the clerk of Rowan County is that those licenses are void,” Staver said at an afternoon news conference in Grayson, about 35 miles from the Rowan County Courthouse.

Staver said the licenses issued Friday aren’t valid because they were issued under the county clerk’s authority — but Davis hasn’t granted that authority.

This is exactly what I predicted would happen. It shows Staver and his client aren’t done fighting this battle. They’re furious that gay marriage is legal nationally and plan to pitch fits as long as that’s the case.

Oh, and just so we’re clear on it: As I’ve said many times, Staver’s group’s name is a misnomer. They don’t really want “liberty” for anyone except militant Christianists like themselves. Their goal is to force the entire country to have to live according to the terms of their own dour metaphysics.

Photo credit: Alice Keeler, via Flickr.

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Rainbow Flag / Karl Schultz, via FlickrUpdate: As it turns out, sanity might not be returning to Rowan county, yet. See the next blog post for more.

This is a brief follow-up to a few recent blog posts. The Louisville Courier-Journal reports a gay couple finally got a marriage license from the Rowan county clerk’s office in Kentucky (WebCite cached article):

William Smith and James Yates obtained a marriage license in Rowan County from Deputy Clerk Brian Mason around 8:15 a.m. Friday.

Some of the many folks standing by outside the office, supporting the couple, were actually Christians:

Marsha Moors-Charles, pastor of Bluegrass United Church of Christ, stood with gay-rights supporters and said she was willing to perform marriages if any couples asked. Across the walkway, other ministers shouted damnation.

While new civil rights are often slow to be accepted by some, she said, the “onslaught of bigotry and prejudice” that has followed the Supreme Court ruling has been “heartbreaking.”

This demonstrates the Religious Right is lying when it says gay marriage is an attack on “Christianity” and part of an atheistic effort to eradicate Christianity from the country. It’s not. It’s something some Christians — and perhaps even most Christians — oppose. But it’s not something all Christians oppose. SO the idea that gay marriage will wipe out Christianity is just plain fucking bullshit. A steaming load heaped straight out of the back of the barn.

Based on one of Mat Staver’s statements during the trial — that Ms Davis hadn’t granted any of her deputies permission to issue marriage licenses — I’d wondered yesterday if he might try to interfere, but it seems he didn’t. At least, he hasn’t yet. Time will tell, I suppose, if he somehow raises a legal objection.

Photo credit: Karl Schultz, via Flickr.

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Perpetua, Felicitas, Revocatus, Saturninus and Secundulus (Menologion of Basil II)I’ve already blogged about Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses because she’s afraid it would somehow entangle her in people’s gay marriages, which she (erroneously) says her Jesus forbid. A legal case followed from her refusal to obey court orders given her. Today, as Reuters reports, she was held in contempt and jailed for her childish defiance (WebCite cached article):

A county clerk in Kentucky who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on religious grounds was held in contempt of court by a U.S. federal judge on Thursday and sent to jail.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, 49, was led away by U.S. marshals who confirmed she was under arrest.

Davis’s assistants are now the judge’s targets:

Davis’ deputies still face their own reckoning as [District Court Judge David] Bunning assigned each of them attorneys and said their fate would be determined at a hearing later on Thursday. He warned they could face fines or jail.

We’ll see whether or not they comply with Bunning’s orders to give marriage licenses. I suspect Davis’s attorney, the dour and angry Christofascist Mat Staver, will try to prevent them from doing so, if any are willing, on the grounds that Davis herself never gave them any authority to do so.

And with that, Dear Reader, the Religious Right has a new martyr! Ms Davis will sit in prison, looking as wan and pathetic as she can, while her attorney and other champions run around telling everyone she’s being “persecuted for Jesus.” It’s not clear what will happen if this drags on. It’s possible she might be removed from her job, but the only mechanism for that — which I’m aware of — is for the Kentucky legislature to impeach her … but since that’s dominated by other Religious Rightists, odds are that won’t happen.

Of course, that’s the real solution here: For Davis to resign from a job whose duties she no longer wants to perform. But she won’t do that, because … let’s face it, folks! … this whole case is all about her! She set herself up to become a martyr for her Jesus and she plans to cash in on that. Imagine what will happen once this case is over — however it gets resolved. Ms Davis will at the very least go on the evangelical Christian lecture circuit and publish a memoir of her supposed persecution. She’ll make a fortune just on those two moves. She could also establish a ministry, likely an anti-gay one, and that also will gin up a pretty solid income. She might also land a gig as a radio or television host, which will be all the more lucrative. A run for public office is also very possible, if not likely. Her friend Mat Staver and his organization will also profit from this, in the form of massive donations which I’m sure he’s been reeling in for the last few weeks over this.

In short … as of today, this woman is set for life. And her friend Mat Staver and his outfit are, too. Her time in jail — and his legal work on her behalf — will end up being small investments with a colossal return.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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