Archive for the “Religion” Category

Posts concerned specifically with religion

Mob with pitchforks / Rockford (IL) Register StarYes, folks, it’s true. There are actually Christians in the US who think freedom of religion is a terrible thing. Or more precisely … they like it, but when applied only to themselves. That is, they think everyone is free to be a Christian — but only a Christian; they’re not free to be anything else (cached), or to have no religion at all.

An example of this sort of thinking was evident late last week in Spring, TX. According to KTRK-TV in Houston, Christians there protested the opening of a “Luciferian” church (cached):

Protest and prayer filled the air outside of Spring’s newest church Friday evening: the Greater Church of Lucifer.…

Some protesters made their way onto the property, only to be escorted off by Harris County Sheriff’s Deputies.

“This is what we get when we have Freedom of Religion,” said protester Christine Weick.

This was the group’s first meeting at its first building, which is smack dab in the middle of Old Town Spring.

There’s more than a little magical thinking going on among this crowd of militant Christianist protesters:

“We are all Christians here, together against this,” [Weick] said. “We ought to be filling up the whole street here that they have to pass through us to get into that church.”

Clearly, Weick thinks that these horrific Luciferians having to run a gantlet of devout Christian protesters will magically make them take Jesus Christ as their Personal Lord & Savior® or something. That, of course, is just as insipid and idiotic as thinking Ten Commandments monuments in courthouses will magically make the whole country law-abiding.

As I always do when I see stories like this, I will issue this challenge to any and all Christianists who sincerely think “religious freedom” applies only to them and no one else: If you really think that, then track me down and force this cynical, godless agnostic heathen to convert to Christianity, whichever form of it you think I’m obliged to join. Go right ahead. Do it. I dare you! Lock and load. I won’t fight back, but I also won’t willingly convert … no matter what you do. That said, you’re free to give it your best shot. And why wouldn’t you? You already think I’m obliged, as an American living in your precious “Christian nation,” to become a Christian. What logical reason would you have not to at least try to make that happen with me?

Photo credit: Rockford Register Star.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments No Comments »

Police stand with the body of Faisal Arefin Deepan, a publisher of secular books. Photograph: Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images, via the GuardianIslamists in Bangladesh are clearly worked up over the existence of secularists in their country. And they’ve been doing something about it. Namely they’ve been attacking and often killing them. Two more such attacks happened yesterday, as the AP reports via the New York Times, and one secularist publisher was killed (WebCite cached article):

[Faisal Arefin Deepan, a] publisher of secular books was hacked to death and three other people were wounded in two separate attacks Saturday at publishing houses in Bangladesh’s capital, police said.

The attacks in Dhaka come amid fears about the rise of radical Islam in Bangladesh. At least four atheist bloggers have been murdered in the impoverished country this year.

Both of the publishers involved in Saturday’s attacks had published works of Bangladeshi-American blogger and writer Avijit Roy, who was hacked to death on the Dhaka University campus while walking with his wife in February.

This type of violence is not new in the country that the late George Harrison had done so much to help. Sigh.

It’s clear this is something that’s not going to stop happening, especially when there are Bangladeshi officials willing to blame secularists there for being attacked and slaughtered, and protesters have routinely accused their government of not doing more about the problem (cached).

Given this clear pattern of violence against secularists in Bangladesh, I’m reminded of how the Religious Right here in the US constantly bewails Christian persecution abroad, and specifically what they’ve determined to be President Obama’s unwillingness to do anything about it (cached, cached, & cached). Some have even gone so far as to accuse him of underwriting a campaign to wipe out Christianity around the world. Should atheists and other non-believers now take up the same reasoning, but about themselves? That Obama is allowing secularists to be massacred around the globe, as part of his effort to destroy non-belief around the world? Yes, of course that would be insane. Which should help illustrate how insane the R.R.’s thinking on the subject is.

Photo credit: Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images, via the (UK) Guardian.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments No Comments »

Better to remain silent, and be thought a fool, than to open one's mouth, and remove all doubt! (proverb) / PsiCop original graphicThe endless parade of expressions of “disaster theology” used by Christianists continues apace. It’s ridiculous, and childish, and a low thing to do (i.e. exploiting bad things that happen in order to make one’s own religion look good), but they just fucking love to do it! The latest is a particularly classy example (and of course, I’m being sarcastic). As Raw Story explains, well-known evangelist Ray Comfort was almost giddy to hear about a catastrophe that took place recently in India (WebCite cached article):

A creationist pastor mocked Hindus who were killed or injured when a religious idol fell on them as they worshipped.

One man was killed and three people were injured [cached] when a statue of the elephant god Ganesh collapsed during a worship service last month in India, and a video of the tragedy was circulated and widely reported last week.

Ray Comfort — who is probably best known for arguing that bananas disproved evolution, at least until he learned that they were the products of artificial selection by humans — posted a link to an article about the tragedy and urged his followers to donate to his Living Waters ministry.

“The Bible says that those who worship dumb idols, are just like them,” Comfort posted on his Facebook page [cached]. “How India needs the gospel! But we don’t have to go there to take it to them. We have the Internet.”

Comfort’s fans quickly picked up what he was laying down and praised God’s wrathful judgment.

Yeah, I guess that’s what those “dumb” Hindus deserve, eh? To be injured or killed by their own statute?

By the way, Comfort miscomprehends the words of the Bible. The only verses I could find that mentions “dumb idols,” in any English translation, are Habakkuk 2:18 and 1 Corinthians 12:2 in the King James Version:

What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols? (Hab 2:18)

Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. (1 Cor 12:2)

But most English translations, especially the better recent ones, don’t use “dumb.” For instance, the New American Standard Version has:

What profit is the idol when its maker has carved it, or an image, a teacher of falsehood? For its maker trusts in his own handiwork when he fashions speechless idols. (Hab 2:18)

You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. (1 Cor 12:2)

Neither verse says that worshippers of “dumb” idols (as Comfort put it) is “dumb” (and by that, I assume, he means “stupid”) are themselves “dumb.” What’s more, the original Greek of the 1 Corinthians passage, which I happen to understand, is:

οιδτε οτι οτε εθνη ητε προς τα ειδωλα τα αφωνα ως αν ηγεσθε απαγομενοι

oidate oti ethné éte pros ta eidóla ta afóna ós an égesthe apagomenoi (1 Cor 12:2)

The word quoted by Comfort, and translated by the KJV team, as “dumb” is afóna, a form of afónos, which means “silent” (the negation prefix a- followed by the Greek word for “sound,” which came into English in words such as “telephone” and “phonograph”). Granted, the word “dumb” in English did, in the King James era and also now in an older usage, mean “speechless” (for instance, in the expression “deaf and dumb”). Comfort ought to have known better … especially since — among other things — he claims to be a Bible scholar.

At any rate, one can see what Christianists like Comfort, as well as many of those who commented on his Facebook posting, really think of non-Christians. Really nice, huh?

Photo credit: PsiCop original graphic, based on proverb.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments No Comments »

Berlin Holocaust Memorial in snowFor years now, the “appeal to Hitler” (or reductio ad Hitlerum) (aka “appeal to Nazis,” reductio ad regnum tertium, etc.) has been a rhetorical weapon people have used to disparage pretty much anyone they hate. Since his election, the Right has hurled ad Hitlerums at President Obama pretty much non-stop, but prior to that, the Left often threw them at President G.W. Bush and V.P. Cheney. It’s an old habit, then, among American ideologues.

I’ve cataloged many instances of politicians, clergy and pundits using this vile propaganda technique, right here in this blog. It’s almost always invalid, because the people accused of being Nazis usually haven’t come even remotely close to doing anything like what the real Nazis really did during the 1930s and ’40s. Essentially, whenever I hear someone throwing around ad Hitlerums, I dismiss him/her as a childish whining crybaby who has nothing worthwhile to say.

In his own ongoing propaganda war against the Palestinians, as Haaretz reports, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just let loose with his own clever twist on the old ad Hitlerum (WebCite cached article):

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sparked public uproar when on Wednesday he claimed that the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, was the one who planted the idea of the extermination of European Jewry in Adolf Hitler’s mind. The Nazi ruler, Netanyahu said, had no intention of killing the Jews, but only to expel them.

In a speech before the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, Netanyahu described a meeting between Husseini and Hitler in November, 1941: “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jew. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here (to Palestine).’ According to Netanyahu, Hitler then asked: “What should I do with them?” and the mufti replied: “Burn them.”

Netanyahu’s remarks were quick to spark a social media storm, though Netanyahu made a similar claim during a Knesset speech in 2012, where he described the Husseini as “one of the leading architects” of the final solution.

Haaretz doesn’t elaborate much on what makes Bibi’s claim counterfactual, but a (UK) Guardian story on his remarks does (cached):

Yad Vashem’s chief historian, Prof Dina Porat, told the Israeli news website Ynet that Netanyahu’s claims were incorrect. “You cannot say that it was the mufti who gave Hitler the idea to kill or burn Jews. It’s not true. Their meeting occurred after a series of events that point to this.”…

n reality, the mass killings of Jews by SS mobile killing units – Einsatzgruppen – were already under way when the two men met face to face. The first was in Lithuania in July 1941, described by Yad Vashem as the “beginning” of the Final Solution.

In September 1941, again before Husseini’s meeting with Hitler, Einsatzgruppe C, commanded by Otto Rasch, killed more than 33,000 Jews over two days in the Babi Yar ravine on the outskirts of Kiev, an act of mass murder ordered by the new Nazi military governor of Kiev, Maj Gen Kurt Eberhard.

Look, I get that Israel and the Palestinians have a long, violent history. (Neither side has clean hands in that conflict … but at the moment, that’s beside the point.) I get that a new “stabbing intifada” has erupted, for purely irrational reasons (cached), and Bibi has to deal with it.

I also concede that Grand Mufti al-Husseini was, in fact, a ready student of Nazi propaganda and a raging anti-Semite. In many ways the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is perhaps the last extant relic of the Third Reich. But there’s just no way one can say he was the architect of the Holocaust. Simple chronology rules out any possibility of it.

Really, I get why Bibi would want to disparage Palestinians. I do. Honest! But … to lay the entirety of the Holocaust at their feet? When the facts don’t even come close to justifying it? Sorry, but that’s just wrong.

It’s time for everyone in the occidental world to just stop talking about Hitler and the Nazis already. Just. Fucking. Stop. If anyone feels the impulse to mention the Third Reich, s/he should stifle it and move on to something else. Or better yet, just shut up and stop talking altogether. (As the old proverb goes, it’s better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.)

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments No Comments »

Stacey Wendell ties a ribbon around a telephone pole in front of the Word of Life Church, in Chadwicks, as a memorial for the two teenage Leonard brothers who were beaten at the church on Oct 12. Lucas Leonard, 19, was killed, his brother Christopher has been released from the hospital. Wendell is the organizer of the vigil being held for the two at St. Patrick's St. Anthony's Church in Chadwicks. Michael Greenlar (mgreenlar@syracuse.com) / The Post-DispatchI blogged just a few days ago about beatings and a murder that happened at a Pentecostal church in New Hartford, NY just over a week ago. The victims’ parents, jailed on manslaughter charges, reportedly claimed the two boys they beat, one to death, had molested other children. The Syracuse NY Post-Dispatch reports on their classy legal tactic (WebCite cached article):

A mother and father charged with severely beating their sons told police afterward that they did it because their sons had molested children, according to New Hartford police.

New Hartford police and State Police officials said they found no evidence that any children were molested.

That claim by the parents was an attempt to “cover their tracks”, New Hartford police spokesman Lt. Tim O’Neill said today. The parents made the claim early in the investigation, he said.

“There is absolutely no indication of any sex abuse to any of the children,” he said.

You’ve just got to love these devout adherents of “the Religion of Love” who brutalized their two sons … one to death, the other hospitalized … and then piled onto that crime by trying to set them up for one of their own. It’s a good thing the police didn’t fall for this scheme. That’s not to say that a fatal and a near-fatal beating would have been appropriate, had either actually been guilty of child molestation. Had that been the case, the proper response would have been to pick up the phone and call police, not spend hours interrogating and beating them in a church.

But precisely this reasoning is fully in line with what another member of the same church had claimed earlier, that the two beaten boys were involved in the occult and had practiced witchcraft.

The good news is that the local community has had it with the Pentecostal church where this occurred. As the Post-Distpatch explains, they’ve started a campaign to shut it down (cached):

Hundreds of mourners gathered behind the Word of Life Christian Church on Tuesday night to remember Lucas Leonard, pray for Christopher Leonard and call for the closure of a church that event organizers said put the town “on the map” for all the wrong reasons.…

“We want them gone,” organizer Stacey Mendell told the crowd to cheers. “We want peace back in our community. We want justice for our boys.”

Mendell is organizing a fundraiser for Christopher and is trying to organize support to get the church shut down. Another organizer, Ami Loomis, said the community needs to step up for Christopher.

This sort of thing is actually not common at all. If it were more common, it very well could be an effective way of getting churches and their officials to behave. Who knows how — for example — the Roman Catholic Church might have dealt with the “priestly pedophilia” problem if all their churches had been the focus of efforts to shut them down? Maybe they’d have had some incentive to actually deal with the scandal, and with child-abusers within their ranks, more meaningfully.

Michael Greenlar / The Post-Dispatch.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments No Comments »

Jesus playing football / tackyjulie, via FlickrIt’s well known that Christianists don’t care much for the principle of “separation of church and state.” They dislike anyone placing limits on what they can do to push their dour metaphysics on others. They view such limits as an impermissible suppression of their “freedom of religion” and a form of persecution. The idea that they have license to force their beliefs on everyone by definition necessitates rejecting the idea that anyone else can have “freedom of religion” or — in their minds, worse — “freedom from religion.” As they see it, only they have any “freedom”; all non-Christians must surrender to them, since they have no rights.

This presumption is a special problem in the case of public employees who’re Christianists, because the law prevents them from using their governmental positions to impose their religion on others. A lot of them bristle at such restrictions, even if their basis is in the Constitution and Bill of Rights and can’t just be dismissed because they dislike them. The quick and easy solution for public-employee Christianists, of course, is to resign their governmental positions and take jobs in the private sector that don’t restrict their religiosity. As a rule, though, they refuse to this — largely because they deem themselves to have a “right” to those jobs, even though they won’t carry out their duties lawfully.

The latest example of a militant Christianist who thinks this way is Bremerton (WA) High School assistant football coach Joe Kennedy. As KSTU-TV in Salt Lake reports, even after being told to stop leading his student athletes in prayer, Kennedy has continued his practice (WebCite cached article):

As Joe Kennedy knelt to pray at the 50-yard-line Friday night he felt a presence around him.

And it grew.

The assistant football coach at Bremerton High School in Washington state was being joined by some of his opponents and fans — some of whom had come to the game to pray with him.

After the Knights’ homecoming loss to the Centralia Tigers, Kennedy walked to the middle of the football field, hoping to say his usual thanks to God by himself.

He had been told not to do it. The Bremerton School District had said if he prayed while on duty as a coach he would be violating federal law.

Kennedy, as he has done after most games for seven years, prayed anyway, defying the order. He opened his eyes to find a huge crowd of supporters around him.

Yes, folks … not only did Kennedy break the law and defy his superiors’ orders, he had the support of a Christianist community that showed up to “protect” him. The KSTU report is larded up with sentimentality and emotion, for instance explaining that Kennedy “cried as he spoke to reporters.” It also includes mention of an agnostic student who participates in prayers with him. That, of course, defies logic, and suggests this presumed agnostic isn’t any such thing. As if that grants him any particular right to violate the law or disobey his own school district.

The story also explains he has the backing of Liberty Counsel, headed by the Christofascist Mat Staver, who also represents Kim Davis, the now-famous gay-hating clerk of Rowan county KY. Clearly Staver and his cadre of fierce religionists are at war with separation of church and state.

Well, I have news for Kennedy, Staver, and the rest of their supporters at Bremerton High School and everywhere else: What you’re doing is something your own Jesus explicitly forbid you ever to do! That’s right, the founder of your own religion ordered you never to express your piety in public! His clear injunction is found in the gospels:

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 6:5-6)

It’s not only a violation of the law for a public high school coach to lead his team in prayers in the middle of the field, it’s a violation of the teachings of his own religion to do so! All Christians everywhere ought to reject what this guy is doing … not because it’s against the law (which it is) or because he defied his own superiors (which he did), but because it’s brazenly un-Christian to pray in such a public venue. He shouldn’t want to do that, and his fellow Christians should want him to stop. That assumes, of course, that any of them actually give a fuck about what Jesus taught. For the most part, though, strangely enough, they’ve refused to actually obey his teachings.

Photo credit: tackyjulie, via Flickr.

Hat tip: Raw Story.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments No Comments »

Group of men and women being taken to a slave market Wellcome V0050647Former Arkansas governor and current GOP presidential candidate is another of those gifts that just keeps on giving for agnostic bloggers like myself. The man just keeps on saying insane religionistic things. The latest, as the International Business Times reports, is Huckabee’s endorsement of slavery, of all things (WebCite cached article):

Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee waded into the criminal justice reform waters Wednesday with a novel statement for improving America’s system of prisons: Just sell poor convicts into slavery. Huckabee agreed with Jan Mickelson, the host of a right-wing radio show based in Des Moines, Iowa, after an extended rant in which Mickelson described biblical passages that suggest thieves should be sold into slavery.

The radio host said that the “criminal justice system has been taken over by progressives,” and continued, referencing the biblical Book of Exodus. “It says, if a person steals, they have to pay it back twofold, fourfold. If they don’t have anything, we’re supposed to take them down and sell them,” he said, according to Think Progress [cached].

While I have little sympathy for thieves, whether they’re rich or poor or in-between, I just don’t see enslavement as a justifiable punishment. Prison seems a fitting punishment, as does ordering restitution. But slavery? How fucking barbaric.

One wonders why 21st century Americans like Shucksabee and Mickelson talk as though slavery is a good thing. After all, it’s been outlawed here for 150 years. And it’s outlawed over virtually all of the rest of the planet, too. Humanity has rejected slavery. So why do these guys want it so badly?

The answer is simple. Shucksabee and Mickelson are Biblical literalists, and slavery is in the Bible. Therefore, in their minds, it can’t possibly be a bad thing. As the IBT notes, this is not the first time Mickelson suggested slavery could solve a problem that vexes him — such as illegal immigration (cached).

It’s long past time for more moderate Christians to understand the horrific lengths their more extreme co-religionists will go to in order to follow their dour metaphysics. Irrational notions like Biblical literalism have ramifications, and support for things like slavery is one of them. How much more evident could that be?

Hat tip: Rational Wiki.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments No Comments »