Archive for the “U.S. Politics” Category

Politics in the United States

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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A Youtube video shows a mass baptism at Villa Rica High School from August 17th. (Photo: YouTube, via WXIA-TV)America’s Christianists have a lot of trouble with separation of church and state. To be blunt, they don’t fucking want it. They despise court decisions like Engel v. Vitale (1962) and Abington S.D. v. Schempp (1963) which took religious instruction out of public schools … because, quite obviously, kids can’t get that kind of instruction at home, in church, or in Sunday school.

Oh wait, they can. Woops. I forgot. Christianists need to make sure their religion saturates everyone’s daily existence, because without it … well, I guess everything goes “poof.” Or something.

Anyway … Christianists aren’t about to let little things like the Supreme Court get in the way of doing their deity’s bidding. They consistently and repeatedly violate the law and act as though there’s nothing wrong with it. Because Jesus.

An egregious example of this, as WXIA-TV in Atlanta reports, happened a couple weeks ago in western Georgia (WebCite cached article):

A Georgia school district is investigating after video of a mass baptism was posted on YouTube.

The video, posted by First Baptist Villa Rica, was shot on school grounds just before football practice. “We had the privilege of baptizing a bunch of football players and a coach on the field of Villa Rica High School! We did this right before practice! Take a look and see how God is STILL in our schools!” the caption with the video reads.

By Tuesday evening, the video had been removed from YouTube.

Someone, apparently, thought better of having stuck evidence of this SOCAS violation on the Internet … but it wasn’t enough. The cat’s out of the bag.

Note the church’s language (i.e. “God is STILL in our schools!”). Thus, this baptism was an act of Christianist defiance. The church may have deleted it from Youtube, but others associated with Villa Rica High School football haven’t shied from their fierce public-school religionism; this post from the Villa Rica Touchdown Club’s Facebook page makes that evident (locally-cached version).

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has asked the school district to investigate and remedy the situation. It’s possible the school district will do the right thing, firing any staff who may have arranged this baptism, and prevent them from happening again. But then, this is the Bible Belt Bobble Bay-elt, and for all we know, the school district doesn’t see anything wrong with it. Who knows?

Photo credit: YouTube, via WXIA-TV.

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Crying baby / a4gpa, via FlickrI blogged about Kim Davis, county clerk for Rowan county KY, who’s launched a legal war over gay marriage. In order to avoid granting licenses to gay couples she has refused to issue any marriage licenses at all, since the Obergefell v. Hodges decision came down from the Supreme Court.

Things ratcheted up when the Supreme Court refused to grant Ms Davis any relief from lower court orders yesterday, and couples showed up this morning to get licenses. As the Washington Post reports, like a little child, she still refuses to do her job and obey court rulings that directed her to grant licenses (WebCite cached article):

Kim Davis, the county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite a Supreme Court ruling against her request to be excused from doing so, said at the Rowan County Courthouse on Tuesday that she was acting “under God’s authority.”

WaPo relays a defiant rant she issued via her collaborators at Liberty Counsel/a> run by Christofascist Mat Staver, who’s acting as her attorney — but who, in all likelihood, is calling the shots for her. (To be clear, Staver and his militant outfit do not want “liberty” for anyone but themselves. What they want is to force each and every American to have to live according to the strictures of their own dour metaphysics, whether they wish to or not.)

This rant — which I won’t dignify here by quoting it or linking to it — claims Ms Davis has authority from God to defy even the US Supreme Court; implies she will go to Hell if she obeys court orders; and asserts she’s doing what she did because she loves Jesus (who, she says, died for her), and that in turn happened because she went to church to please her then-dying mother-in-law. Yes, it’s a pathetic, sappy, sentimental, self-pitying diatribe which his sure to tug at the heartstrings of her fellow Christianists but really says nothing of importance.

One of the claims in her piteous whine is the assertion that gay marriage violates Jesus’ teachings as recorded in scripture. That is absofuckinglutely untrue. The Bible does not report that Jesus ever said a single fucking word about gay marriage. Those words are not there. At all. I defy anyone to cite chapter and verse from the gospels that says otherwise. For her to say so is a lie. This places the sanctimonious Ms Davis in my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

Oh, and the kicker here is that, while she’s refusing to issue any marriage licenses in an effort to uphold what she says is Jesus’ injunction against gay marriage, Ms Davis has, herself, violated Jesus’ teachings about divorce. Buzzfeed reports she’s been divorced not just once or twice, but three times (cached):

According to Rowan County records obtained by BuzzFeed News, Davis has been divorced three times. When she married Joe Davis on Aug. 24, 2009, it was her fourth marriage — and her second to Joe, whom she previously married on the same day 13 years earlier. After her first marriage to Dwain Wallace in 1984, she married Thomas McIntyre Jr. in 2007 in between her marriages to Joe Davis.

The curious thing about this is, while Jesus is not reported in the pages of the Bible to have issued any prohibition against gay marriage, he did condemn divorce:

It was said, “Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce”; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Mt 5:31-32)

Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery. (Lk 16:18)

Trying to block gay marriage while having divorced, all in the name of her Jesus, makes Ms Davis a flaming hypocrite. Unfortunately for her, hypocrisy is something her Jesus explicitly also forbid her to engage in. Woops!

The AP reports via Yahoo News that Ms Davis and her staff have been summoned to federal court on Thursday (cached). A contempt citation is certain. I doubt that will change this Christofascist woman’s mind. I suspect she’ll continue this legal war until she’s somehow driven out of her job … but how long that might take, I have no idea. It’ll depend on the amount of patience the federal courts have.

Photo credit: a4gpa, via Flickr.

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Rainbow flag breezeThe Religious Right is still pitching fits all over the place over the fact that gay marriage is now legal throughout the US. It’s natural that they’d go apeshit over Obergefell v. Hodges, because it forces them to treat gays as equals rather than as second-class citizens. And they can’t stand that.

But it seems Rowan county, Kentucky has become a nexus of contention over the matter. County Clerk Kim Davis has decided that, due to her Christianity, no gays in her county should be able to marry. Her Christianity, you see, prevents her from letting it happen. WKYT-TV in Lexington reports on how legal warfare is beginning to pile up over her childishness (WebCite cached article):

A flurry of activity happened Friday afternoon in the case of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, including an apparent effort to have her charged with official misconduct.

Friday afternoon, Davis, who refuses to issue marriage licenses despite a court order, said in court documents that she filed an emergency petition with the Supreme Court to have a justice review her appeal. A spokeswoman with the Supreme Court told WKYT they had not received the petition as of Friday afternoon.

Davis apparently submitted that filing to the Supreme Court and then asked U.S. District Judge David Bunning to extend his stay– which is scheduled to expire Aug. 31 — on his marriage license order while she appeals to the Supreme Court. Bunning responded hours later, denying that request.

Meanwhile, the Rowan County Attorney’s Office said on Friday that it has referred to the Attorney General’s Office a charge of official misconduct against Davis.

If Ms Davis doesn’t want to do her job according to the law and issue licenses for gay marriages, there’s a simple and easy solution that doesn’t require her to violate her religion, and that is for her to just fucking resign and let someone else take over the job who’s willing to do it.

See how easy that was? What need is there to resort to the Supreme Court … again? Especially when she’s likely to lose?

Oh wait, I can answer that: It’s because she wants to feel persecuted for Jesus because that desire is part and parcel of the psychopathology of her religion. Going to court and losing is, in a perverse way, exactly what she wants!

Update: Yesterday the Supreme Court turned aside her request (cached). She’s going to have to decide whether or not to fulfill her duties as a county clerk.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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'Armageddon: Anything one doesn't like is the equivalent of a nuclear blast' / PsiCop original graphicBeneath American Christendom lurks a stream of what I refer to as “disaster theology.” It’s the idea that pretty much anything bad that happens, occurs because God is upset about some societal failure. He’s angry with humanity, so he takes out his rage on us. This tactic is a way to invoke terror among believers, inciting them to do something about the societal failure — whatever it may be — before some other (usually worse) disaster happens. Lots of Christianists use this tactic as part of their ongoing “psy-ops” campaigns, keeping the faithful all frothed up and in a tizzy. And the faithful, of course, are too ignorant, gullible, and/or stupid to realize how asinine it all is, or understand they’re being manipulated.

The frequency with which Christianists use “disaster theology” prevents me from calling attention to all of them. Otherwise I’d do nothing all day but post examples of this phenomenon. Most of the time, I remark only on the more egregious or cruel examples of it, such as when massacres are used this way. That people would use such events as weapons in their “psy-cops” warfare is horrific, and demonstrates their total lack of character.

But today one such incident happened which isn’t cruel, it’s just plain absurd — and laughably so. As such it provides a stellar example of how truly asinine the “disaster theology” tactic is. As Right Wing Watch both explains and shows, it came from the mouth of none other than Marion “Pat” Robertson (WebCite cached article):

Televangelist Pat Robertson responded to the dramatic market sell-off today by suggesting that it was only a foretaste of God’s judgment for legal abortion and federal funding of Planned Parenthood.…

“We will pay dearly as a nation for this thing going on,” he said. “And possibly if we were to stop all this slaughter the judgment of God might be lifted from us. But it’s coming, ladies and gentlemen. We just had a little taste of it in terms of the financial system, but it’s going to be shaken to its core in the next few months, years or however long it tastes and it will hurt every one of us.”

Earlier in the program, Robertson claimed that the market crash was prophesied by Jonathan Cahn, who believes that something bad will happen in late September as part of the biblical Shemittah cycle. Today’s market turmoil, according to Robertson, is a sign that conditions will only get worse next month.

“This thing is hitting with great force and if Cahn is right on that Shemittah we could be in for some really rough days in the markets,” he said, before urging his viewers to buy gold in preparation for greater market deterioration.

This is ridiculous and laughable for two reasons:

First, the stock markets tanked for a very well-known reason. It’s one that’s been widely reported in numerous media outlets: An economic seizure in China, which has ripple effects in other markets around the world (cached). One might ask why there’s so much market trouble coming out of China, but it’s been building for a couple months, due to the popping of China’s stock market bubble in June (cached). And why, one might further ask, did China’s stock market bubble burst? That’s actually a stupid question: All market bubbles burst at some point. It’s inevitable! The question isn’t whether or not they will, it’s when. The causes of today’s stock market “correction” are well known, and something of this sort has been anticipated for a while. Appeals to the supernatural aren’t necessary … and corrections, while disruptive in the short term, are actually a normal part of healthy markets.

Second, all the caterwauling about government spending on abortions, and especially all the called lately to “defund Planned Parenthood,” ignores a very salient fact: No federal money is ever spent on abortions, due to something called the Hyde Amendment, which has been in force in one way or another since 1976. That’s right, since the mid-70s not one red cent of federal money has ever been spent on abortions! Robertson, and the rest of the bellicose Religious Right, is whining about something that isn’t actually the problem he claims it is.

Note, too, Robertson’s call to action … specifically for his viewers to buy gold. For many years now, Robertson has had a personal financial interest in gold, himself. For instance, he’s had mining interests in Africa which have caused him to get caught up in the affairs of dictators there (cached), as well as any number of other unsavory characters.

(I note a lot of folks over on the Right have a fascination with selling gold; many Rightist pundits’ shows feature gold-broker advertisements, and folks like Ron Paul are heavily invested in gold, as well (cached). These people are not looking out for the interests of their viewers/readers/listeners/followers … they’re actually trying to fatten their own wallets, at their viewers/readers/listeners/followers’ expense!)

It’s funny how a guy who’s so concerned about abortions, just happens to discern a course of action (i.e. buying gold) for his viewers to follow which — conveniently for him! — also just happens to be something he stands to profit from (via his gold-industry investments). Hmm. Coincidence? I think not!

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: PsiCop original graphic.

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The Assumption of the Virgin (1612-17); Peter Paul RubensSomething I’ve long warned American Catholics about is their alliance with the Religious Right. This movement had grown out of the Southern Baptist Convention initially as pushback against segregation (WebCite cached article). And its membership remains primarily evangelical Protestant … even though the Roman Catholic bishops have joined ranks with them, and there are plenty of Catholic politicians (e.g. Rick Santorum, Sam Brownback, Newt Gingrich, and others) who are definitely part of the R.R. The reality of this Catholic/R.R. alliance is that it’s tenuous at best, predicated on only a few points in common, such as opposition to abortion and contraception. The reality is that they’ve been ecclesiastical rivals for centuries, and while they’re no longer at war with one another, each maintains its own distinct vision of Christ and Christianity.

What a lot of Catholics fail to understand — or even know about — is the degree of hatred a lot of their supposed allies in the R.R. have for them. They don’t often make a point of it, but there are occasions when evangelical Protestants find themselves unable to contain their contempt for those “saint-worshipping papists.” An example of this phenomenon emerged when TX gov. Greg Abbott — a Catholic — posted something recently to Facebook (cached):

Texaas Governor Greg Abbott (R) got a lesson in religious tolerance over the weekend after posting an image of the Virgin Mary accompanied by praise on his Facebook page, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

On Saturday the governor, who is Catholic, posted an image of the mother of Jesus [cached] on his Texans for Abbott Facebook page, accompanied by the comment: “The Virgin Mary is exalted above the choirs of angels. Blessed is the Lord who has raised her up.” Saturday was the celebration of the Assumption; the day when the Holy Mother is believed to have been accepted into Heaven.

Responses from followers on Facebook were fast and furious, with many joining in with the governor and praising the Virgin Mary, while others less accepting of his Catholicism accused him of idolatry.

“So you’re Catholic Mr. Abbott? So what? You worship idols; not something I’d be telling everyone,” one commenter wrote, while another seconded the comment, writing: “This is nothing more than idol worship.”

Another pointed out that “Jesus is The Blessed and Holy One!!!” before asking “Were you hacked ?????”

Comments ran to over 900 as people of various faiths battled over whose religion was the most righteous, argued over Scripture, and even questioned the accuracy of the Bible and whether Jesus wrote it.

Honestly, I hadn’t known the Republican Abbott was Catholic. And I suppose a lot of folks (of the evangelical Protestant sort) even in Texas didn’t know it — which is why his Facebook post elicited so much sanctimonious outrage. Had his Catholicism been more widely known, the reaction probably wouldn’t have been as extensive or vitriolic as this, because those evangelical Protestants would already have been steeled to Abbott’s Catholicism and held their tongues.

At any rate, this should provide a lesson to any Catholics out there whose political leanings are toward the Religious Right. Pay attention: These people are not your friends. Many don’t even consider you to be Christians! They may not be up-front about it, or let it show very often, but the bottom line is that they hate Catholics almost as much as they hate Muslims and atheists. If they manage to seize control of the country and make it into the “Christian nation” they’ve been screaming for, once they’ve dispensed with both of those groups, Catholics — followed closely by Orthodox Christians — will be next on their hit list. They won’t give a shit that you helped them establish their Christocracy; they’ll persecute you mercilessly in spite of it, because you’re un-Christian idolaters, as they see it. And they’ll be happy to go after you with everything they’ve got.

So Catholics, be careful. Very, very careful.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Secret of my success: I'm going to succeed because I'm crazy enough to think I can …. / Motifake.ComI assume a lot of my readers will have heard about Michigan Republican legislator Todd Courser who came up with a truly bizarre scheme to deflect criticism which would come over an affair he’d been having with fellow Republican legislator Cindy Gamrat. This crazy scheme involved releasing a phony story that he’d met with male prostitutes, and — has says — had been intended to “smoke out” someone who’d been blackmailing him (WebCite cached article). I haven’t figured out how planting a “false flag” story would have done this, nor has anyone else … but since news of this broke, Courser has been petulant and defiant about it.

Given how wingnutty this scheme was, I’d assumed that mental illness somehow figured into Courser’s plans. I mean, it really is so astonishingly crazy that no person in his/her right mind would have cooked up such a scenario. So as with most cases of religiosity entangled with mental illness, I hadn’t planned to blog about it.

But Courser posted a response to the scandal raging around him on Facebook (cached) that — while it’s long and rambling and still may evince just a little mental instability — is coherent enough, and aligns well enough with Christian thinking, to indicate that the man knows what he’s doing and is motivated more by his religiosity than any mental illness he might have. The idiot begins with a statement which makes clear he intends to use his religiosity to rationalize what he did:

My lack of righteousness does not negate God’s righteousness –

From this point on it’s mostly a self-serving and self-pitying ramble of how he’s a sinner and all of that bullshit, interspersed with Bible quotations:

There has been nothing more humbling than to know each and every day that I am a sinner and need a savior – nothing in my actions negates Him or His promises. What my actions showcase are my lacking and how far off the mark this man’s condition is from God’s Holiness.

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.”…

In my life sin had its root and it worked to undo so much and has yet to undo so much more; my life, my reputation, my relationship with my wife and children and my extended family; not to mention my relationships and reputation around the world. This sin in my life has been and will continue to reap its reward. In all of this many have commented publicly and have enjoyed the spectacle of watching a man burn and have reveled in the joy it has brought in themselves, but all of this has also brought so many who have been absolutely encouraging and supportive.

He also wants us to know he’s not alone, and how reassured he’s been by knowing it:

A special group has been of those men who have come forward to express their own failures to me in fidelity and what guilt and shame they have felt for their own failures in their own faith and faithfulness to God, His holy word, and to their wives and children. Just having heard their stories has been some of the most humbling experiences of my life; with several have come forward to share their pain for participating in/and addicted to pornography and what that has wrought in themselves and their families. And finally a couple have come forward to express their guilt and shame for being faith filled but struggling with how to reconcile that with having homosexual tendencies and trying to reconcile that with their faith. In every one of these experiences it has been an incredibly humbling to me.

He also complains that he’s been criticized, and punctuates this whine with a Bible quote that implicitly threatens his critics with his God’s judgement:

It is mystifying to be in the middle of this hurricane and to be totally here and be present and feel the full fury of so much condemnation. It seems to have brought out the best in some and the most vile in others; so many words of encouragement and yet so many people who revel in piling on and watching another burn alive. I hope all of you who read this can live without having to live thru this personally and I hope that in your lives you have no sin to be held accountable for and so do not need a savior; I am just clearly in need of one; my life and my actions in no way diminish Him, or His plan, or His hope and sacrifice for all who have sinned.

Galatians 6:7 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

That’s about all of Courser’s pathetic, whining spew I can stomach repeating here. But it’s enough to make clear the theme of his argument, which is that, like everyone, he’s a “sinner”; that all he did was “sin”; that his God is great; in the end, that’s all that matters; and so he’s certainly not going to do anything like resign over it.

This ridiculous screed immediately reminded me of a common Christian slogan: “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” It’s a convenient rationale for not having to accept the consequences of their own bad behavior or their failure to live up to the standards that they believe their own Jesus taught. They can just do anything they want, any time they want, to anyone they want, and no one’s permitted to say anything about it, because after all they’re just “sinners” and can’t help themselves. He even cited John 8:7, which is the part of the story of the woman taken in adultery in which Jesus says that “He who is without sin may cast the first stone.” Courser, thus, is telling his critics that they’re just as bad as he is and therefore are not allowed to criticize him any more.

As I said, this Facebook post is long — perhaps a lot longer than it needed to be — but it was composed with a clear argument in mind, and it makes that argument quite readily. What’s more, that argument is one that a lot of Christians make when they’ve been caught doing things they shouldn’t … so it’s not really all that novel or unusual (at least, not anywhere near as unusual as the scheme Courser had been plotting which led up to it). So, contrary to my initial impression of Courser, I no longer believe he’s so mentally ill that he’s not aware of what he’s doing. He does understand what he did, and he’s doubling down on it rather than making any concessions.

This dual Christian principle … i.e. that everyone sins all the time so Christians can’t be expected to behave themselves; and whenever they do cross the line, no one is allowed to point it out, because everyone’s a sinner anyway … makes that religion one of the most dysfunctional and amoral philosophies one can imagine. And honestly, it really needs to just fucking stop. If Christians really are following the true religion taught by the true Almighty, one ought to expect that, as a population, they’d behave better, collectively, than everyone else. That they cannot or will not exhibit better behavior than the rest of humanity tends to discredit the supposed divine nature of their religion.

Photo credit: Motifake.Com.

Hat tip: Raw Story.

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