Archive for the “American Religio-Politics” Category

Religion as it relates to U.S. politics

The cross that for decades was lit for Christmas at Happy Acres Farm has been moved to private property down the road at Judd's Construction. Sherman officials said it was inappropriate to send a religious message with the cross now that the town owns Happy Acres. Monday, Dec. 22, 2014. Photo: Carol Kaliff, via the Connecticut PostChristmas is only a few days away, and as usual, militant Christianists around the country are furiously trying to get Christmas displays onto government property — and where they’re thwarted, they’re angry about it. An example of this is in the western part of my home state of Connecticut, as the Connecticut Post reports, in the little town of Sherman (WebCite cached article):

The Christmas cross that shone for decades atop the main silo at Happy Acres Farm has gone dark this year.

Tony Hapanowich, who owned the farm until his death in 2013, erected and lighted the cross every year during the Christmas season. But after the town’s acquisition of the property earlier this year, town attorney Jeff Sienkiewicz advised the Board of Selectmen that religious symbols like the cross should not be displayed on municipal property.…

Selectwoman Andrea O’Connor said that from a legal point of view, the display raised issues of separation of church and state.

“We felt, given the advice of our town attorney, that we couldn’t put the cross up,” O’Connor said.

For many, that’s just not acceptable:

Resident Gary Albert wondered why it’s acceptable for the town to put up a Christmas tree and other decorations at Mallory Town Hall, and to put candles in the windows at Happy Acres farmhouse, but not acceptable to display the cross.

“People all over town have started putting up their own crosses,” Albert said. “I’ll bet at this time there must be upwards of 25 to 30, including one at my house.”

I applaud Christianists in Sherman, CT who got off their asses and put their own lighted crosses on their own roofs. That’s exactly how this is all supposed to work! If you’re Christian and want to display your Christianity at Christmastime for all to see — despite the injunction against public piety left behind by the founder of your religion — then go right ahead and do it, on your own fucking property. There’s no reason it must be on government property … unless there’s some provision to this effect in scripture that I’m not aware of. I invite anyone out there so inclined, to provide such a citation, if it exists. I would really love to hear what it could be. Honestly.

As for why decorated trees and lighted candles are acceptable in government buildings, but lighted crosses aren’t allowed atop them, I suppose the reasoning is that those things aren’t overtly religious enough to be problematic. Crosses, however, being associated solely with one particular religion — i.e. Christianity — are a different matter. If it were up to me, all of it would have been yanked … but what the hell could this cynical, cold-hearted, godless agnostic heathen possibly know about such things?

P.S. Note, had the town of Sherman gone around to all those lighted-cross-building homeowners and ripped them all down, that might have constituted a “war on Christmas,” and it’s something I’d oppose. But that hasn’t happened here, nor is anything like it happening anywhere else in the country. Hence, no “war on Christmas.”

Photo credit: Carol Kaliff / Connecticut Post.

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'This is America ... founded by White Christians seeking religious liberty. ... Where people know their place. This is YOUR America! Keep it White and Christian!' / Christian Right Propaganda Posters: America as a Christian Nation, America as a White Nation / Photo Credit: Image © Austin Cline, Licensed to About; Original Poster: National ArchivesOne thing you learn about the Religious Right is that they’re consistent … stubbornly, ferociously, and even foolishly so. They remain locked in on ideas, no matter how absurd or idiotic they are, even long after they’ve been debunked or shown to be stupid or wrong. Former US Senator and GOP presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, is no exception to this rule. Nearly three years after he railed against separation of church and state, he’s still blustering and fuming moronically against it. As Right Wing Watch explains, he told a Religious Right conference that SOCAS is un-American, and even communist in nature (locally-cached article):

In a conference call with members of right-wing pastor E.W. Jackson’s STAND America that was posted online today, former senator Rick Santorum disputed the existence of the separation of church and state in the U.S. Constitution, dismissing it as a Communist idea that has no place in America.

A listener on the call told Santorum that “a number of the things that the far left, a.k.a. the Democrat [sic] Party, and the president is pushing for and accomplishing actually accomplishes a number of the tenets of ‘The Communist Manifesto,’ including the amnesty, the elevation of pornography, homosexuality, gay marriage, voter fraud, open borders, mass self-importation of illegal immigrants and things of that nature.” The likely presidential candidate replied that “the words ‘separation of church and state’ is not in the U.S. Constitution, but it was in the constitution of the former Soviet Union. That’s where it very, very comfortably sat, not in ours.”

Rick’s Christofascist whine that “the words ‘separation of church and state’ [are] not in the U.S. Constitution” is a very old one, and while it’s literally true — a search of the Constitution and its amendments will in fact never turn up that phrase — it’s not true there’s no Constitutional basis for separation of church and state. The Constitution certainly does support it … e.g. Article VI paragraph 3, and the First Amendment. Moreover, the man who wrote the Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment and its establishment clausesaid so, very clearly.

Rickie punctuated his comments later by bitching and whining about Barack Obama and race, mentioning that the president “cavorted with Al Sharpton.” I have no idea what that has to do with anything, but Rickie thought it was relevant. To something. Somehow. I guess. To be clear, I’m no fan of Sharpton myself; he’s a huckster, no doubt. But he is influential, without regard to whether or not he has any right to be, and he’s someone who needs to be dealt with, like it or not. So the president met with him — big fucking deal! The president meets with a lot of people. It doesn’t mean he does their bidding, nor does it mean he “cavorts” with them.

Now, one might ask why Rickie would insist that the U.S. doesn’t have separation of church and state, even after having been pounded for saying so years ago and having been revealed thereby as a moronic, childish buffoon? The answer lies in the psychopathological compulsion the Religious Right has toward “consistency.” The R.R. doesn’t take kindly to any kind of change in expression. They condemn it as “flip-flopping” and frequently turn on people who do it. It’s possible his chance to become the GOP presidential nominee in 2016 could be torpedoed instantly, should he ever say anything that contradicts his now-at-least-3-year-old stance against separation of church and state. So he’s forced to double down on it, rather than admit he was wrong.

P.S. I note the caller whose question triggered Santorum’s stupidity, is even more of an idiot than Rickie is. The Communist Manifesto, however, says nothing about “amnesty,” homosexuality, gay marriage, voter fraud, or any of the other childish hang-ups cited. Like most people who reference that particular book in a negative way, the caller obviously has never actually read it.

Photo credit: Austin Cline, About.Com; Original Poster: National Archives.

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Baphomet.pngAlmost 4 years ago I blogged about Satanists performing their rites in Oklahoma City and about Christians there protesting. It seems they just couldn’t handle Satanists being in their midst. But the Satanists haven’t backed down; as the Christian Post reports, later this month they plan to have a black mass and Satanist exorcism there (WebCite cached article):

The Satanist group that will stage a controversial “black mass” at an Oklahoma City civic center has said that all 88 tickets for its Sept. 21 event are sold out. The co-founder of the group revealed that the ritual will go ahead despite strong Christian protests and will feature a satanic exorcism, but will be “toned down” to comply with state health laws.

“One of the dictates of the church is not only to educate the members but to educate the public, and to debunk the Hollywood-projected image of our beliefs,” Dakhma of Angra Mainyu’s Adam Daniels told ABC News [cached].

He added that the group will comply with state health laws and substitute vinegar for actions involving urine as part of the satanic ceremony.

Daniels said that the ceremony will also feature Dakhma of Angra Mainyu deacons and priest who will stomp, spit on and use explicit language on an unconsecrated host, a wafer presented as a form of the resurrected Jesus Christ.

Christians are upset about this and plan to protest it, because — you see — this is just too insulting for the poor little things to take:

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, Catholic Archbishop Paul Coakley, and over 80,000 people who have signed an online petition have all condemned the upcoming event.

Fallin called the black mass a “disgusting mockery of the Catholic faith,” saying that it should be “equally repellent to Catholics and non-Catholics alike.”

“It may be protected by the First Amendment, but that doesn’t mean we can’t condemn it in the strongest terms possible for the moral outrage which it is.

If we’re going to talk about “repellent” behavior that — supposedly — just can’t be tolerated, Governor & Archbishop, then by all means, let’s do so! I mean it. Let’s talk about all of the following “repellent” things said by your own co-religionists:

If we move away from the insensitivity, insults, and viciousness of Catholics and include other Christians, we have the following:

I could post hundreds more examples of similarly “repellent” words and behaviors by Christians, both Catholic and not. Why is it such an intolerable outrage when some Satanists poke fun at Christianity (and yes, that’s all they’re doing), given the horrible words and behaviors of Christians themselves — which other Christians never seem able or willing to correct?

Here’s a thought for Gov. Fallin, Abp. Coakley, and any other Oklahoman Christians who’re pissed off at these insolent, outsider Satanists daring come int their midst to lampoon their religion: Get your own fucking house in order before you go bellyaching about what other people are doing. Grow up, toughen up, and deal with your own, and only then will you have the moral standing to complain about what you find “repellent.” OK? It really is that simple.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Embers 01I suppose this is one of those stories that could only have come from a militantly religionist state like Alabama, where fundamentalist Christianity reigns supreme. As AL.Com reports, an agency of “the Yellowhammer State” recently invoked the Lord as the reason Alabamans must defy federal environmental regulations (WebCite cached article):

Alabama’s coal industry will lose jobs and consumers will see their utility bills increase should the EPA implement proposed regulations on coal-fired power plants, Alabama regulators said at a press conference in which they invoked the name of God in the fight over fossil fuels.

Two members of the Alabama Public Service Commission, a member-elect and an Alabama representative to the Republican National Committee said proposed EPA regulations that aim to reduce power plant carbon emissions by 30 percent represent “an assault on our way of life” and are a purposeful attempt by the Obama administration to kill coal-related jobs.

“We will not stand for what they are doing to our way of life in Alabama,” said PSC President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh. “We will take our fight to the EPA.”

These officials laid out their rationale for defying the Feds rather plainly:

At their news conference today Cavanaugh and PSC commissioner-elect Chip Beeker invoked the name of God in stating their opposition to the EPA proposal. Beeker, a Republican who is running unopposed for a PSC seat, said coal was created in Alabama by God, and the federal government should not enact policy that runs counter to God’s plan.

“Who has the right to take what God’s given a state?” he said.

Cavanaugh called on the people of the state to ask for God’s intervention.

“I hope all the citizens of Alabama will be in prayer that the right thing will be done,” she said.

The upshot of this, as far as I can see, goes something like this: “The Lord gave us coal; his plan is for us to burn it; therefore we must burn it all; and it’s profane for the Feds to tell us we can’t.” Or something like that. And Alabamans are being ordered to pray doom down on the EPA. Or something like that. (Their call for imprecatory prayer reminds me of all the “pray for Obama Psalm 109″ talk that went around a few years ago. How fucking mature.)

Alabamans largely won’t see this kind of idiocy for what it is, and I’m guessing they actually like hearing this sort of talk from state officials. They must … because otherwise they wouldn’t allow these people to run their state. All the more reason for me never to set foot there!

Hat tip: RationalWiki.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Universal Church of the Lord God, Incorporate (PsiCop original graphic)Given the Supreme Court’s ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, released this morning, which exempts corporations from the ACA’s contraception mandate if they have religious objections to doing so (WebCite cached article), I expect corporations’ religious objections to just about everything to expand immensely.

Just think: If a corporation has a religious objection to paying minimum wages (for example), by the Court’s reasoning, they should be exempted from that. If they religiously object to having to provide a safe workplace, they can be exempted from OSHA regulations. If they religiously object to registering vehicles, they should be allowed to skip going to their state’s DMV. And so on.

“But wait!” you, Dear Reader, are no doubt objecting. “There’s no religion that objects to any of those things!” That may be so … but that problem can be easily fixed. All one needs to do is create a new religion which does object to them.

Let’s create a “Universal Church of the Lord God, Incorporate.” Its main tenet is that, since the Lord called his followers together to join as a Church, likewise people join together to form Corporations. As such, each and every Corporation is a reflection of the Lord God’s holiness. Each is inviolate and sacrosanct.

This new corporatist church could easily teach that Corporations should never be constrained or limited in any way. Government regulations would not apply to any UCotLGI-following Corporation. They can’t be taxed — taxation reduces profits, you see, and because profits are the reason Corporations exist, forcing them to pay taxes would violate their sanctity. Even things like simple liability would go right out the window for a UCotLGI-following Corporation. Too bad for you, if you’re hurt or killed by some defect in a UCotLGI-following Corporation’s products!

So let’s get moving on this new Universal Church of the Lord God, Incorporate! Make all CEOs its clergy. Have them all get together (hey, those rotten little anti-trust laws that would normally prevent such conferences are an unacceptable limitation on Corporate behavior!) and figure out how best to exploit all the possibilities. And those possibilities might even include things like the restoration of slavery!

Of course, there’s just one little problem here: Does anyone know precisely how it is that a corporation can have religious beliefs? I’m still not clear on that. Just wondering. Anyone care to fill me in on that?

Photo credit: PsiCop original graphic.

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Columbo facepalm, via ButterfunkThe line between ideological ferocity and childishness is a thin one. It might even be so thin as to be non-existent. Consider that the very reason a lot of people cling to arbitrarily-assembled packages of notions is that they’re desperate for easy, simple answers to problems they find incredibly vexing. They can’t emotionally handle that they’re vexed, so they latch onto whatever they think explains why they’re vexed and grants them the right to tell everyone what to do about it … and to rage and fume at whoever it is they decide is vexing them.

After having spent about a decade as a Republican activist, I can tell you that a lot of these folks are very immature. But for those who haven’t dealt with these people as much as I have, it can be hard to see just how pervasive this immaturity is. Well, here’s an example that turns out to be very public. Time magazine reports on what someone did in the urinals at a Faith and Freedom Coalition conference this weekend (WebCite cached article):

President Barack Obama made a cameo at a conservative conference in Washington on Friday—in the restroom.

The Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference, which draws some of the biggest conservative icons and presidential hopefuls looking to make inroads with the grassroots, was heavy on criticism of Obama’s domestic and foreign policy agenda. And small figurines of Obama’s head, first spotted by the Huffington Post‘s Igor Bobic, were placed inside the urinals in the mens’ restroom outside the conference hall where the likes of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were addressing a crowd of several hundred.

Here’s the photo Bobic tweeted (cached):

'Scene from a Faith & Freedom restroom #RTM2014' / posted by Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) of Huffington Post, via Twitter

‘Scene from a Faith & Freedom restroom #RTM2014′ / by Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) of Huffington Post, via Twitter

Well done, guys. Really. I mean that. Thanks for putting your childishness on display for all to see. Now we truly know what sort of character you have … which is to say, you have none. You must be so proud!

Note, this example and discussion of Rightist immaturity shouldn’t be taken as an assertion that Leftists can’t be juvenile. Of course they can! A lot of them are. I don’t deny that at all. It’s just that, in this case, it’s Rightist childishness we’re talking about. And we’re talking about it in the context of a conference run by a religious organization, where one would expect attendees to behave with far more maturity than one would find elsewhere … since we all know that religion automatically makes adherents upright and moral.

Or does it … ? Hmm.

Not to mention, the fact that there are some immature Leftists doesn’t grant Rightists license also to be childish. To believe so is to fall for the “two wrongs make a right” fallacy.

Photo credit, top: Butterfunk; middle: Igor Bobic of HuffPo, via Twitter.

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Dinesh D'SouzaPoor Dinesh D’Souza. Just a couple years ago he rode the crest of a Right-wing wave, when he released a paranoid Christofascist video based on own his paranoid Christofascist diatribe against Satan Barack HUSSEIN Obama. The Religious Right worshipped the guy, and viewed his documentary and book as an indictment of the president and grounds to have him removed from office. D’Souza incessantly pumped both the video and the book on television, and had speaking engagements up the wazoo. He basked in the adoration of the Right and stood on top of the Right-wing world.

But oh, how the mighty have fallen!

Since then, as I blogged, he took up with another woman and was engaged to her, while still married to his wife (whom he later divorced). When he was caught doing so, and was mildly criticized for it, he promptly — and very publicly — threw his soon-to-be-ex-wife under the bus and denied having the slightest clue that it wasn’t a good idea to get engaged to another woman while still married to someone else.

To make matters worse, early this year he was indicted for campaign-finance fraud. As Politico reports today, D’Souza suddenly pled guilty in court (WebCite cached article):

Conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza entered a guilty plea Tuesday to a charge that he used straw donors to make $20,000 in illegal contributions to Republican Senate candidate Wendy Long in 2012, officials said.

The unexpected guilty plea came on the same day the trial for the strident critic of President Barack Obama was set to open in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

I’m surprised at this myself, because I was sure D’Souza wouldn’t plead out. To date he’s insisted he did nothing wrong, and has been unjustly persecuted by Obama because of his book and video. So, too, have his defenders, as Politico explains:

“Dinesh D’Souza, who did a very big movie criticizing the president, is now being prosecuted by this Administration,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said in a portion of a January CBS interview edited out by the network but posted online by Cruz’s office. “Can you image the reaction if the Bush administration had went, gone and prosecuted Michael Moore and Alec Baldwin and Sean Penn?”

Cruz’s statement is a sterling example of the screaming illogic of Rightist thinking: Because Cruz imagines there’d be an uproar had Bush gone after Leftist documentarians critical of him, he concludes that Obama prosecuting D’Souza is utterly unacceptable. That’s right, Cruz has made decisions about reality, based solely on things he imagines might have happened. For him, imagination and reality are blended. If that’s not a recipe for delusion, I don’t know what is.

Moreover, one ramification of this notion is that no Rightist can ever be prosecuted for anything, ever, by a Leftist administration. In other words, Rightists must automatically be viewed as totally incapable of committing any crime. I’m not so sure I buy that.

In any event, these whiny crybaby claims of innocence-&-persecution now ring hollow, given what D’Souza admitted in court:

At the court hearing Tuesday, D’Souza admitted he knew what he did was against the law.

“I knew that causing a campaign contribution to be made in the name of another was wrong and something the law forbids,” D’Souza said, according to Newsday [cached]. “I deeply regret my conduct.”

D’Souza had also objected to the charges on the basis of “selective prosecution.” This is the idea that he, and he alone, was being singled out for something that others are doing, but weren’t charged with crimes over. I’m not sure how well this looks for him, though. It’s a kind of “two wrongs make a right” thinking; it’s fallacious and it contradicts the kind of absolute morality that guys like him demand of everyone.

Despite D’Souza’s clear and unambiguous admission of wrongdoing and the fact that the old “but everyone’s doing it!” excuse is asinine and childish, my guess is, he and his defenders will continue to pronounce him totally innocent, and the victim of a president who won’t tolerate anyone saying the slightest thing bad about him. (If that were really the way Obama worked, tens of thousands of “birthers” around the country would have been jailed years ago and would still be rotting in prison.)

P.S. I note that campaign-finance fraud seems to be something Rightists have a lot of difficulty with, over the past couple of years. I know they dislike such laws because they think they think it infringes on “freedom of speech,” but that only makes sense if one accepts the premise that “money” equals “speech.” I don’t, because the last I knew, poor people could generally talk as much as the wealthy.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, via Flickr.

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